Empress Yu Wenjun

Empress Yu Wenjun (庾文君) (297–328), formally Empress Mingmu (明穆皇后, literally "the understanding and solemn empress") was an empress of jin dynasty (265-420). Her husband was Emperor Ming of Jin.

Empress Yu's father Yu Chen (庾琛) was the governor of Kuaiji Commandery (會稽, roughly modern Shaoxing, Zhejiang ), and later served on the staff of Sima Rui the Prince of Langye (later Emperor Yuan) when Sima Rui was posted at Jianye. She was considered kind and beautiful, and Sima Rui took her to be his son Sima Shao's wife. Her brother Yu Liang became a key friend and advisor to Sima Shao. Later, after Sima Rui declared himself emperor and created Sima Shao crown prince, she became crown princess. After Emperor Yuan died in 323 and Sima Shao succeeded to the throne as Emperor Ming, she became empress. She bore him two sons, Sima Yan and Sima Yue).

Emperor Ming only ruled briefly and died in 326. Initially, he left a balance of power between high level officials that he entrusted the four-year-old Crown Prince Yan (who succeeded to the throne as Emperor Cheng) with, but after Empress Yu was honored as Empress Dowager Yu, she was encouraged by these officials to be regent, and soon Yu Liang became alone the most powerful official of the empire. He became apprehensive of the generals Su Jun, Zu Yue (祖約), and Tao Kan, each of whom suspected Yu of erasing their names from Sima Shao's will, which promoted and honored a large number of officials, and he also was apprehensive of Emperor Ming's stepuncle Yu Yin (虞胤) and the imperial princes Sima Zong (司馬宗) the Prince of Nandun and Sima Yang (司馬羕) the Prince of Xiyang, all of whom were powerful during Emperor Ming's reign but who had been removed from powerful positions under Empress Dowager Yu's regency. In winter 326, he accused Sima Zong of treason and killed him, demoted Sima Yang, and exiled Yu Yin. This led to the people losing confidence in him.

In 327, Yu Liang further resolved on separating Su, then the governor of Liyang Commandery (歷陽, roughly modern Chaohu, Anhui ) from his troops, and he promoted Su to be the minister of agriculture—a post that did not involve commanding troops. Su saw his intent and declared a rebellion, with Zu's assistance. Yu Liang initially thought that Su could be easily defeated, but instead Su quickly arrived at the capital early 328 and captured it. Yu Liang was forced to flee. Meanwhile, Su pillaged the capital, and it was said that even Empress Dowager Yu's servant girls became spoils for his troops. Further, it was said that Su himself "humiliated" Empress Dowager Yu—although the method of humiliation was not specified in history. She died in distress and fear. Her son Emperor Cheng would become Su's captive for months before other provincial generals would converge on Jiankang and defeat Su.

Last update 05-04-2012

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