Tuoba Huang

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Tuoba Huang (拓拔晃) (428 – July 29, 451[1]), formally Crown Prince Jingmu (景穆太子) (literally "the decisive and solemn crown prince"), later further formally honored as Emperor Jingmu (景穆皇帝) with the temple name Gongzong (恭宗) by his son Emperor Wencheng, was a crown prince of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was the oldest son of Emperor Taiwu, and was created crown prince in 432 at the age of four, and as he grew older, Emperor Taiwu transferred more and more authority to him. However, in 451, he incurred the wrath of his father due to false accusations of the eunuch Zong Ai, and many of his associates were put to death. He himself grew ill in fear, and died that year.

Early life[edit]

Tuoba Huang was born in 428, as Emperor Taiwu's oldest son. His mother's name was render as Consort He (賀夫人), but since both the Helan (賀蘭) and Helai (賀賴) clans later changed their names to He (during the reign of Tuoba Huang's great-grandson Emperor Xiaowen), it is unclear whether her name was Helan or Helai. She died the year that she gave birth to him, suggesting that she might have died in childbirth, but there is no conclusive evidence that it happened.

In 432, Emperor Taiwu created Tuoba Huang crown prince, at the same time that he created one of his consorts, Consort Helian, empress. He became a highly ranked official in his father's administration that same year, although, at age four, the position was likely nominal. In 433, Emperor Taiwu tried to negotiate a marriage between Crown Prince Huang and one of the daughters of Emperor Wen of Liu Song, but Emperor Wen, while not immediately rejecting the proposal, did not agree either.

In 439, when Emperor Taiwu was on a campaign to conquer Northern Liang, he had Crown Prince Huang assume imperial authority at the capital Pingcheng (平城, in modern Datong, Shanxi), assisted by the high-ranking official Qiumuling Shou (丘穆陵壽), to guard against a Rouran attack. However, Qiumuling, not believing that Rouran would actually attack, took little actual precautions, and when Rouran's Chilian Khan Yujiulü Wuti attacked, Pingcheng was caught nearly defenseless. Qiumuling wanted to escort Crown Prince Huang to the hills south of Pingcheng and take up defense position there, but at the opposition of Emperor Taiwu's wet nurse Empress Dowager Dou, Crown Prince Huang remained in Pingcheng, and when Northern Wei forces subsequently defeated Rouran forces, Yujiulü Wuti was forced to withdraw. (By this point, although he was only 11, Crown Prince Huang was apparently already participating in major military and policy decisions, as he had opposed his father's Northern Liang campaign, but was overruled by his father, who trusted Cui Hao's advice that Northern Liang was easily defeatable.)

By 442, Crown Prince Huang appeared to be already a devout Buddhist, and when his father, at the suggestion of Cui and the Taoist monk Kou Qianzhi, built the very high and difficult-to-construct Jinglun Palace (靜輪宮), he tried to oppose on account of cost, but Emperor Taiwu did not agree.

In 443, Crown Prince Huang accompanied his father on a campaign against Rouran, and when they suddenly encountered Yujiulü Wuti, Crown Prince Huang advised an immediate attack, but Emperor Taiwu hesitated, allowing Yujiulü Wuti to escape. From that point on, Emperor Taiwu began to listen to Crown Prince Huang's advice in earnest, and in winter 443, he authorized Crown Prince Huang to carry out all imperial duties except the most important ones, under assistance from Qiumuling, Cui, Zhang Li (張黎), and Tuxi Bi (吐奚弼). Crown Prince Huang soon instituted a policy to encourage farming—by mandatorily requiring those who had extra cattle to loan them to those without, to be animals of burden, with the lease being paid for by those without cattle by tilling the grounds of the cattle owners, increasing the efficiency of the farmlands greatly.

After Emperor Taiwu's partial transfer of authority[edit]

In 446, while Emperor Taiwu was attacking the Xiongnu rebel Gai Wu (蓋吳), he found a large number of weapons in Buddhist temples in Chang'an. Believing that the monks were aligned with Gai, he slaughtered the monks in Chang'an. Cui Hao used this opportunity to encourage Emperor Taiwu to slaughter all monks throughout the empire and destroy the temples, statues, and sutras, and notwithstanding Kou Qianzhi's opposition, Emperor Taiwu proceeded to slaughter the monks in Chang'an, destroy the statues, and burn the sutras. He then issued an empire-wide prohibition of Buddhism. Crown Prince Huang, however, used delaying tactics in promulgating the edict, allowing Buddhists to flee or hide, but it was said that not a single Buddhist temple remained standing in Northern Wei. This was the first of the Three Disasters of Wu.

By 450, Crown Prince Huang appeared to be in direct conflict with Cui over administration of the state. When Cui recommended a number of men to be commandery governors, Crown Prince Huang objected strenuously, and yet the men were commissioned over his objection at Cui's insistence. It appeared that Crown Prince Huang had a hand when, later in 450, Cui was put to death with his entire clan, on account of having defamed imperial ancestors, as Crown Prince Huang argued hard to spare one of Cui's staff members, Gao Yun, and during that process, Gao gave some statements regarding Cui that could be viewed either as exculpatory or inculpatory.

In fall of 450, when Liu Song's Emperor Wen sent his general Wang Xuanmo (王玄謨) to attack Huatai (滑台, in modern Anyang, Henan), Emperor Taiwu personally led an army to relieve Huatai, and subsequently, after defeating Wang, advanced deeply into Liu Song territory, all the way to the Yangtze River. During Emperor Taiwu's campaign against Liu Song, pursuant to his instructions, Crown Prince Huang was on the northern border, defending against a potential Rouran attack.

Death and aftermaths[edit]

Crown Prince Huang was described to be high observant, but trusting of his associates and also spending much effort on managing orchards and farms, to earn money from them. Gao Yun tried to advise him against engaging in commercial ventures and in overly delegating authorities, but he did not listen. Rather, in 451, he became embroiled in a conflict with the eunuch Zong Ai, whose corruption he had found out and whom he disliked immensely. Zong, apprehensive that Crown Prince Huang's trusted associates Chouni Daosheng (仇尼道盛) and Ren Pingcheng (任平城) would accuse him of crimes, acted preemptorily and accused Chouni and Ren of crimes. In anger, Emperor Taiwu executed Chouni and Ren, and many other associates of Crown Prince Huang were entangled in the case and executed as well. In fear, Crown Prince Huang became ill and died.

Emperor Taiwu soon became aware that Crown Prince Huang was not involved in any crimes, and he regretted his actions greatly. Around the new year 451, he created Crown Prince Huang's oldest son Tuoba Jun the Prince of Gaoyang, but soon removed that title on the account that the crown prince's oldest son should not be a mere imperial prince—a strong sign that he was intending to create Tuoba Jun crown prince eventually. Zong, in fear that Emperor Taiwu would punish him, assassinated Emperor Taiwu in spring 452, and then seized power, killing a number of officials and Crown Prince Huang's younger brother Tuoba Han (拓拔翰) the Prince of Dongping, while making another younger brother of Crown Prince Huang's, Tuoba Yu the Prince of Nan'an emperor. Zong controlled the imperial regime, and when Tuoba Yu tried to assert his own power in fall 452, Zong assassinated him as well. Officials led by Yuan He, Baba Kehou (拔拔渴侯), Dugu Ni (獨孤尼), and Buliugu Li rose against Zong and killed him, making Tuoba Jun emperor, and Tuoba Jun, after he took the throne as Emperor Wencheng, posthumously honored Tuoba Huang as an emperor.

Personal information[edit]

  • Father
  • Mother
    • Consort Helai or Helan (d. 428), posthumously honored as Empress Jing'ai
  • Major Concubines
    • Consort Yujiulü, sister of Yujiulü Pi (郁久閭毗) the Prince of Hedong (d. 452), mother of Prince Jun, posthumously honored as Empress Gong
    • Consort Yuan, mother of Prince Xincheng
    • Consort Yuchi, mother of Princes Zitui and Xiaoxincheng
    • Consort Yang, mother of Prince Tianci
    • Consort Meng, mother of Prince Yun
    • Consort Dugu, mother of Princes Zhen and Changshou
    • Consort Murong, mother of Prince Tailuo
    • Consort Yuchi, mother of Prince Hu'er
    • Consort Meng, mother of Prince Xiu
  • Children
    • Tuoba Jun (拓拔濬), initially created the Prince of Gaoyang (created and uncreated 451), later Emperor Wencheng of Northern Wei
    • Tuoba Xincheng (拓拔新成), Prince You of Yangping (created 457, d. 470)
    • Tuoba Zitui (拓拔子推), Prince Kang of Jingzhao (created 459, d. 477)
    • Tuoba Xiaoxincheng (拓拔小新成), the Prince of Huaiyin (created 461, d. 467)[2]
    • Tuoba Tianci (拓拔天賜), Prince Ling of Ruiyin (created 462, reduced to commoner rank 490)
    • Tuoba Wanshou (拓拔萬壽), Prince Li of Lelang (created 462, d. 463)
    • Tuoba Luohou (拓拔洛侯), Prince Shang of Guangping (created and d. 461)
    • Tuoba Yun (拓拔雲) (b. 447), Prince Kang of Rencheng (created 464, d. 481)
    • Tuoba Zhen (拓拔楨), Prince Hui of Nan'an (created 468, d. 496)
    • Tuoba Changshou (拓拔長壽), Prince Kang of Chengyang (created 468, d. 474)
    • Tuoba Tailuo (拓拔太洛), Prince Jing of Zhangwu (d. and posthumously created 468)
    • Tuoba Hu'er (拓拔胡兒), Prince Kang of Leling (d. and posthumously created 463)
    • Tuoba Xiu (拓拔休), Prince Jing of Anding (created 468, d. 494)
    • Tuoba Shen (拓拔深), the Prince of Zhao, died early
    • Princess Anle
    • Princess Boling


  1. ^ 兩千年中西曆轉換
  2. ^ The Bei Shi also somewhat contradictorily indicated that Tuoba Xiaoxincheng's posthumous name was "Duke Hui", which, if accurate, suggests that he was only created a duke in his lifetime, and that the Prince of Huaiyin title was posthumously awarded.