Empress Xuanmu Huiwen – The victim of a fatal love triangle




Xuanmu Huiwen
Empress Xuanmu Huiwen as portrayed by Wang Weilin in Oh My General (Screenshot/Fair Use)

Empress Xuanmu Huiwen has often been portrayed in a negative light. She has been known to bring about the downfall of her rival and former sister-in-law, Empress Yeli. She was the favourite of Li Yuanhao, the founder of the Western Xia dynasty. She ruled as regent for her one-year-old son, Emperor Yizong. Yet, her greatest legacy was her sponsorship of Buddhism and the building of the Chengtian Temple. Unfortunately, love proved to be her biggest downfall. She would become a victim of a fatal love triangle.

Empress Xuanmu Huiwen lived during the Western Xia dynasty. The Western Xia dynasty was one of the three empires ruling in Northern China during the Song era.[1] The Western Xia Empire covered lands from modern-day regions of Shaanxi to Gansu.[2] The ethnicity of the Western Xia dynasty were the Tanguts, who were relatives of the Tibetans.[3] The founder of the Western Xia dynasty was Li Yuanhao, who would be Empress Xuanmu Huiwen’s second husband.[4] Li Yuanhao ascended the throne as Emperor Jingzong of the Western Xia Dynasty.

The birthdate and birthplace of Empress Xuanmu Huiwen are unknown. Her first name also remains unrecorded.[5] Xuanmu Huiwen was her posthumous name. Empress Xuanmu Huiwen was from the Mozang clan. While her parents are unknown, Lady Mozang did have an older brother named Mozang Epang, who would later play a major role in her life.[6] Lady Mozang was known to be a very beautiful woman.[7]

Lady Mozang was first married to General Yeli Yuqi, who was the older brother of Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia’s Empress, Yeli (formally known as Empress Xiancheng).[8] Because General Yeli Yuqi suffered many defeats against the Song Dynasty, Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia saw him as a liability.[9] Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia ordered General Yeli Yuqi to be killed, and his house ransacked.[10] To escape from being harmed, Lady Mozang sought refuge in a Buddhist temple. Empress Yeli felt sorry for her sister-in-law.[11] She ordered Lady Mozang to be brought to Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia’s harem and become his concubine.[12] 

The moment Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia saw Lady Mozang, he was immediately smitten with her beauty.[13] She quickly became his favourite. Empress Yeli was angry that her own husband preferred her sister-in-law over her.[14] She wanted to kill Lady Mozang and her entire clan.[15] However, Lady Mozang acted quicker than Empress Yeli. In 1047 C.E., Lady Mozang accused Empress Yeli of adultery. While Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia may not have believed the trumped-up charges against the Empress, he saw it as an opportunity to eliminate his Empress because the Yeli clan were no longer in power since General Yeli Yuqi’s death.[16] Thus, Empress Yeli was forced to become a Buddhist nun.[17] Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia continued to shower his affections on Lady Mozang and began to promote her family.[18]

On 5 March 1047 C.E., Lady Mozang gave birth to a son named Ningling Liangcha. In 1048 C.E., Emperor Jingzong was assassinated by his son, whom he had with Empress Yeli, the Crown Prince Ning Lingge.[19] Crown Prince Ning Lingge was so angry that his father took the woman he wanted as his own that he cut off the Emperor’s nose.[20] Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia died from nasal trauma.[21] He was forty-six years old.[22] Crown Prince Ning Lingge was executed for murdering his father.[23] This paved the way for Lady Mozang’s son to be Emperor. Ningling Liangcha ascended the throne as Emperor Yizong of Western Xia.[24] He was one year old.[25] Lady Mozang became regent for her son and was made Empress Dowager.[26] While Empress Dowager Mozang was named Regent, the person who actually controlled the empire was her brother Mozang Epang.[27]

In 1055 C.E., Empress Dowager Mozang paid tribute to Emperor Song Renzong.[28] In return, she received many Buddhist texts.[29]  She also patronized the building of the Chengtian Temple.[30] It was opened later that year, and she invited Uyghur monks to preach in the temple.[31] Empress Dowager Mozang also had affairs with two men. This love triangle was to prove fatal for her. Empress Dowager Mozang had an affair with Li Shougui.[32] However, she discarded him in favour of Buxiqi Duosi. Li Shougui was very jealous of the Empress Dowager’s new relationship with Buxiqi Duosi and could not stand seeing them together.[33] He decided to kill the two lovers.

In 1056 C.E., Li Shougui assassinated Empress Dowager Mozang and her lover, Buxiqi Duosi, en route back to the capital after the couple hunted in the Helan Mountains.[34] When Mozang Epang found out that Li Shougui murdered his sister, he executed him and annihilated his whole family.[35] In 1061 C.E., Mozang Epang was murdered by his fourteen-year-old nephew, Emperor Yizong of Western Xia in order to rule by himself.[36] Empress Dowager Mozang was given the posthumous name of Empress Xuanmu Huiwen. Thus, while there is very little information about Empress Xuanmu Huiwen’s early life, it is clear that she made a large impact on the Western Xia dynasty through her sponsorship of Buddhism. It is truly tragic that this fascinating Empress had to die in an extremely cruel way at the hands of her former lover.

 Sources:

DayDayNews. (2019, October 18). “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”. Retrieved June 6, 2022 from https://daydaynews.cc/en/history/187415.html.

iMedia. (n.d.). “Song Dynasty Story Li Yuanhao, the Founding Emperor of Xixia”. Retrieved June 6, 2022 from https://min.news/en/history/0b3607ce467085116a28985389fa786e.html.

Shi, J. (2021). The Economy of Western Xia: A Study of 11th to 13th Century Tangut Records. (Hansong, L. Ed. and Trans.). Boston, MA: Brill.

Zhang, X. (2021). Devotion to Tara in Tangut Buddhism– Based on an Art Exploration of Tara Murals in Dunhuang Caves [Doctoral dissertation, University of the West]. University of the West Institutional Repository.

 


[1] Shi, 2021

[2] Shi, 2021

[3] Shi, 2021

[4] Shi, 2021

[5] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[6] Zhang, 2021

[7] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[8] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[9] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[10]DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[11] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[12] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[13] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[14] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[15] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[16] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[17] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[18] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[19] iMedia, “Song Dynasty Story Li Yuanhao, the Founding Emperor of Xixia”. n.d.

[20] iMedia, “Song Dynasty Story Li Yuanhao, the Founding Emperor of Xixia”. n.d.

[21] iMedia, “Song Dynasty Story Li Yuanhao, the Founding Emperor of Xixia”. n.d.

[22] iMedia, “Song Dynasty Story Li Yuanhao, the Founding Emperor of Xixia”. n.d.

[23] iMedia, “Song Dynasty Story Li Yuanhao, the Founding Emperor of Xixia”. n.d.

[24] iMedia, “Song Dynasty Story Li Yuanhao, the Founding Emperor of Xixia”. n.d.

[25] Zhang, 2021

[26] Zhang, 2021

[27] Zhang, 2021

[28] Zhang, 2021

[29] Zhang, 2021

[30] Zhang, 2021

[31] Zhang, 2021

[32] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[33] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[34] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[35] DayDayNews, “Xiao Xiong saddened by Beauty Pass: Nine Women of the Xixia Emperor Li Yuanhao”, 2019

[36] Zhang, 2021






About Lauralee Jacks 110 Articles
I am a third grade elementary teacher in Tennessee. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal and Civic Studies from St. Mary’s College of California, a master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the College of Saint Mary. Because my family are from East Asia, I have a passion for historical Chinese and Korean television shows. I always wanted to separate fact from fiction in dramas. Writing articles from History of Royal Women gives me a chance to dig deeper and explore these royal women as they might have been in real life. Also, it gives me a chance to look at the history and culture of where my family originated. I love researching East Asian royalty because they rarely get enough attention in the West often being overshadowed by European royalty. I find these royal women to be just as fascinating and their stories deserve to be told. Thus, I am excited to write for History of Royal Women!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.