Empress Yin (He)

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Empress Yin (陰皇后, personal name unknown) (died c. 102) was an empress during Han Dynasty. She was Emperor He's first wife.

She was the daughter of Yin Gang (陰綱), the grandson of Emperor Guangwu's wife Empress Yin Lihua's brother Yin Shi (陰識). She became an imperial consort in 92 and quickly became a favorite of Emperor He. She was described as beautiful but short and clumsy, and often unable to carry out the ceremonies that empresses are to perform with physical grace. She was also described as arrogant due to her noble heritage.

In 96, Emperor He made her Empress. In 97, he gave her father, Yin Gang, the title of the Marquess of Wufang.

As the years went by, Empress Yin began to lose Emperor He's favor, particularly because she was jealous of another favorite of his, Consort Deng Sui, who came from a noble lineage herself—she was the granddaughter of Emperor Guangwu's prime minister Deng Yu. Compared to Empress Yin's arrogance, Consort Deng was described as humble and always trying to maintain peaceful relations with other consorts and ladies in waiting. She, concerned that Emperor He was continually losing sons in young age, often would recommend other consorts for Emperor He to have sexual relations with, while Empress Yin did not. She therefore became more and more popular.

Once, when Emperor He was ill, Empress Yin made the remark that if she became empress dowager, the Dengs would be slaughtered—and upon hearing that remark, Consort Deng considered committing suicide, and one of her ladies in waiting saved her by falsely telling her that the emperor had recovered. However, the emperor did soon recover, so Consort Deng and her family escaped a terrible fate.

In 102, Empress Yin and her grandmother, Deng Zhu (鄧朱), were accused of using witchcraft to curse imperial consorts (probably including Consort Deng). Lady Deng and her sons, as well as Empress Yin's brother Yin Fu (陰輔), died under interrogation and torture. Empress Yin was deposed, and her father Yin Gang (陰綱) committed suicide. The rest of her family was exiled. She herself died in sorrow, probably in 102 as well. After she was deposed, Consort Deng was created empress to replace her.

Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Dou
Empress of Eastern Han Dynasty
Succeeded by
Deng Sui