Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Yuwen Xian

Yang Su , courtesy name Chudao , formally Duke Jingwu of Chu , was a powerful general during Sui Dynasty whose authority eventually became nearly as supreme as the emperor's. Traditional historians generally believed that he was involved in the suspected murder of in 604, at the behest of Emperor Wen's son . His son Yang Xuangan later rebelled against Emperor Yang in 613 but was defeated and killed, and Yang Su's other sons were also executed.

During Northern Zhou

It is not known when Yang Su was born. His grandfather Yang Xuan was a mid-level official during Northern Wei or its branch successor state Western Wei. Yang Su's father Yang Fu served as a general for Western Wei's successor state Northern Zhou, but in 571, while defending Dingyang , Yang Fu was defeated and captured by the Northern Qi general Duan Shao . Yang Fu refused to surrender and was kept in captivity for the rest of his life, but it is not known when he died.

After Yang Fu's death, Yang Su, who was considered highly talented in his youth, repeatedly sought posthumous recognition for his father from Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou. Eventually, Emperor Wu was so pestered that he ordered that Yang Su be killed -- perhaps stating the order publicly to scare Yang Su so that he would relent. Instead of begging for forgiveness, however, Yang Su yelled out, "I serve a ruthless emperor, and it is proper for me to die!" Emperor Wu, impressed with Yang Su's fortitude, released him and gave Yang Fu posthumous honors, including the title of Duke of Linzhen. He made Yang Su an official in his administration, and once, when he had Yang Su draft an edict for him and was impressed by both the fast speed that Yang Su wrote the edict aned the beauty of the language, he commented, "Just work hard. Honor and wealth will come to you." Yang Su responded, "I am worried that I will be forced to accept honor and wealth, as I have no desire for them." In 575, when Emperor Wu launched a major attack on Northern Qi, he granted Yang Su's request to lead the remains of Yang Fu's old army. While Emperor Wu was soon forced to abandon the campaign, Yang Su was, for his contributions, created the Viscount of Qinghe. When Emperor Wu relaunched the attack on Northern Qi in winter 576, Yang Su served under Emperor Wu's brother and major general Yuwen Xian the Prince of Qi, and during a battle, when Yuwen Xian was ambushed by forces under Northern Qi's emperor Gao Wei, it was Yang Su who fought hard to save Yuwen Xian. Thereafter, he continued to make contributions under Yuwen Xian during the campaign against Northern Qi. After Emperor Wu conquered Northern Qi in 577, he promoted Yang Su's title to Duke of Chen'an. In 578, he served under the general Wang Gui in defeating the Chen Dynasty general Wu Mingche, and for this contribution, Emperor Wu created his brother Yang Shen the Marquess of Yi'an. After Emperor Wu's death later in 578 and succession by his son , Emperor Xuan conferred the title of Duke of Linzhen, which Emperor Wu had posthumously created Yang Fu, on Yang Su, transferring Yang Su's title of Duke of Cheng'an to his brother Yang Yuē . Yang Su subsequently served under the general Wei Xiaokuan in capturing the region between the Yangtze River and the Huai River from Chen.

In 580, Emperor Xuan, who had by that point become retired emperor, died, and Emperor Xuan's father-in-law seized power as regent over Emperor Xuan's son . Yang Su became close to Yang Jian, and Yang Jian made him the governor of the important Bian Province . However, before Yang Su could report to Bian Province, the general Yuchi Jiong, suspicious of Yang Jian's intentions, rose against him. One of Yuchi's supporters, Yuwen Zhou the governor of Ying Province defended Hulao Pass against Yang Jian's forces, and Yang Jian sent Yang Su against Yuwen Zhou. Yang Su was able to defeat Yuwen Zhou, and after Yuchi had been defeated and had committed suicide, Yang Jian made Yang Su the commandant at Xu Province and promoted his title to Duke of Qinghe, transferring his title of Duke of Linzhen to his brother Yang Yuè .

During Emperor Wen's reign

In 581, Yang Jian had Emperor Jing yield the throne to him, ending Northern Zhou and establishing Sui Dynasty as its Emperor Wen. Yang Su continued to serve in Emperor Wen's administration. In 584, during an argument with his wife Lady Zheng, he angrily stated, "If I become emperor, you will not be empress!" Lady Zheng, in anger, reported the comment to Emperor Wen, who removed Yang Su from his post as a punishment. In 585, Emperor Wen restored him and made him the commandant at Xin Province to prepare an attack against Chen down the Yangtze River. While at Xin Province, he built large ships in anticipation of the attack.

In winter 588, Emperor Wen launched the attack, commissioning his sons the Prince of Jin and , along with Yang Su, to command the three main prongs of the attack, with Yang Guang in overall command of the operations. Yang Su's responsibility was to take his forces down the Yangtze and attack cities on the river. He passed through the Three Gorges and defeated the Chen general Qi Xin . He soon ran into heavy resistance by the Chen general Lü Zhongsu and initially was repelled, but eventually was able to defeat Lü. With Chen Shubao's cousin Chen Huiji abandoning the region to make one last ditch attempt to reach the Chen capital Jiankang to help defend it against Yang Guang's attack, Yang Su encountered no further resistance, and soon news that Jiankang had fallen arrived, and the local provinces all surrendered to him or Yang Jun, whom he met at Hankou . Emperor Wen subsequently promoted Yang Su to the greater title of Duke of Yue and transferred his title of Duke of Qinghe to his son Yang Xuanjiang , while making his heir apparent Yang Xuangan a mid-level official. He was briefly made the commandant at Jing Province , but in summer 588 was recalled to the capital to be the head of the examination bureau -- one of the most important officials in the imperial government. In 590, he was made the head of the legislative bureau .

Later in 590, with Chen's former territory up in rebellions due to the formerly Chen people's unaccustomed to the imposition of Sui laws, Yang Su was put in command of a large army to attack the various rebel leaders. He defeated Shen Xuanhui and Gao Zhihui , eventually quelling much of the former Chen territory. Emperor Wen awarded him with many gifts. Based on Yang Su's conduct during the campaign, the historian Sima Guang, in his ''Zizhi Tongjian'', commented:

:''When Yang Su commanded large armies, he showed flexibility and much tactical capability. His military discipline was harsh, and before each battle, he always sought out soldiers who had faults to execute in order to show his power -- sometimes more than a hundred, and sometimes no less than 20. As their blood flowed before him, he treated as if it were nothing, and continued to smile and talk. When it came time for battling, he would send out somewhere between 100 to 200 soldiers as a forward corps to attack first. If they were unsuccessful in penetrating the enemy lines and returned, regardless of how many survived, they would all be executed. He would then repeat the process, but with 200 to 300 soldiers. All officers and soldiers tremored with fear, and all fought with resolution to fight to the death. Therefore, he was always victorious and considered a great general. At that time, Yang Su was powerful and favored by the emperor. Whatever he suggested was not refused, and so Yang Su's followers, even if their contributions were small, would be rewarded for their contributions. The soldiers under the other generals often had their contributions denied by the civilian officials and not rewarded. Therefore, even though Yang Su was cruel, his soldiers were willing to follow him.''

Around the new year 593, Yang Su was made a co-head of the executive bureau with Gao Jiong, effectively serving as co-prime ministers, replacing Su Wei in that role. It was said that by this point, Yang Su had become very arrogant, and among the officials, he only respected Gao, Niu Hong , and Xue Daoheng , looking down at and bullying the rest. It was commented by traditional historians that he was more talented and had more foresight than Gao, but that he was not as fairminded or well-behaved as Gao.

In spring 593, Emperor Wen commissioned Yang Su to oversee the building of his vacation palace, Renshou Palace . Yang Su spent much effort building it to be a luxurious palace, needing not much architectural work but landscaping of the nearby hills and valleys. Much human life was lost -- numbering in the tens of thousands. The palace was completed in spring 595, and when Emperor Wen inspected it, he, by nature frugal, was initially displeased and stated, "Yang Su expended money and effort to build this palace, and he made the people hate me." Yang Su was fearful of punishment, but when Emperor Wen's wife Empress Dugu Qieluo arrived, she pointed out to Emperor Wen that Yang Su knew that they had little other pleasures, and therefore built the palace in this manner. She gave Yang Su awards in both money and silk.

In 598, both Empress Dugu and Yang Su's wife Duchess Zheng were ill, and suspicions came on the official Dugu Tuo -- who was Empress Dugu's half-brother and whose wife was Yang Su's half-sister. Dugu Tuo was accused of having his servant girl Xu Ani employ cat spirits to curse Empress Dugu and Duchess Zheng, and was nearly executed, but at Empress Dugu's urging was spared and only reduced to commoner rank.

In spring 599, Yang Su was one of the major generals commissioned to attack Tujue's Dulan Khan, Ashina Yongyulü, along with Gao Jiong and Yan Rong . He encountered Ashina Yongyulü's subordinate khan, the Ashina Dianjue. Contrary to prior strategies to first protect his army before engaging, he quickly engaged Ashina Dianjue and defeated him, forcing Ashina Dianjue to flee.

Sometime around that time, Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, who generally had a loving relationship, had a major conflict -- over an affair by Emperor Wen with Yuchi Jiong's granddaughter, who had become a servant in the palace. Empress Dugu killed Lady Yuchi, and in anger, Emperor Wen rode away from the palace. Yang Su and Gao had to track him down and persuade him back to the palace. Yang Su and Gao subsequently held a banquet for them to allow them to reconcile.

In winter 599, Emperor Wen sent Yang Su again to attack Ashina Yongyulü, but before his army could depart, Ashina Yongyulü was assassinated and replaced by Ashina Dianjue , and so Yang Su did not launch his army. In 600, when Ashina Dianjue attacked, Emperor Wen sent Yang Su and Shi Wansui , along with his sons Yang Guang and Yang Liang, to resist, and Ashina Dianjue was fought off.

By 600, Emperor Wen's crown prince Yang Yong had lost the favor of Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, over his wastefulness and having many concubines . Yang Guang, whom Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, had for some time plotted to replace Yang Yong, sent his associate Yuwen Shu to persuade Yang Su's brother Yang Yuē that, as Yang Su did not have a good relationship with Yang Yong, that if Emperor Wen died, Yang Su and his brothers would soon be in danger under Yang Yong's rule. Rather, Yuwen suggested, Yang Su should form a pact with Yang Guang and try to have Yang Guang made crown prince. Yang Su agreed, and began to discuss with Empress Dugu in earnest the possibility of replacing Yang Yong with Yang Guang. Empress Dugu was pleased, and requested Yang Su to persuade Emperor Wen as well. By fall 600, Yang Guang had Yang Yong's associate Ji Wei falsely accuse Yang Yong of plotting treason. Emperor Wen commissioned Yang Su to investigate, and Yang Su intentionally misinterpreted evidence and manufactured additional evidence, causing Emperor Wen to believe that Yang Yong was indeed plotting treason. Emperor Wen deposed Yang Yong and created Yang Guang crown prince instead.

In winter 601, Emperor Wen commissioned Yang Su to command an army, in association with Qimin Khan Ashina Rangan , to attack Ashina Dianjue. In spring 602, Yang Su achieved a great victory, and for his victory, Yang Xuangan's post was upgraded, and another son of Yang Su, Yang Xuanzong , was created the Duke of Huainan.

By 602, Yang Guang was concerned that his brother, the Prince of Shu, who as the commandant at Yi Province was in control of the modern Sichuan and Chongqing region, would eventually make trouble for him. He had Yang Su collect evidence of Yang Xiu's wastefulness and inappropriate behavior. Emperor Wen summoned Yang Xiu back to the capital, and had Yang Su investigate. Both Yang Guang and Yang Su manufactured additional evidence against Yang Xiu, and Yang Xiu was reduced to commoner rank and put under house arrest.

Also in 602, Empress Dugu died. Yang Su was in charge of the funeral arrangements, and in appreciation, Emperor Wen created yet another son of Yang Su the Duke of Yikang. Upon accusations by the official Liang Pi that Yang Su was becoming overly powerful and abusive, Emperor Wen began to distance himself from Yang Su, although he continued to confer honors on Yang Su. The actual authority over the executive bureau was instead exercised by Su Wei and Emperor Wen's son-in-law Liu Shu .

In summer 604, while at Renshou Palace, Emperor Wen became ill. Yang Su, Liu, and Yuan Yan attended to him. Emperor Wen soon died, and Yang Guang, after ordering Yang Su's brother Yang Yuē to have Yang Yong killed, announced Emperor Wen's death and took the throne as Emperor Yang.

During Emperor Yang's reign

Upon hearing Emperor Yang's ascension, Yang Liang, then the commandant at Bing Province and in control of the territory north of the Yellow River, rebelled -- inexplicably declaring, as his reason for rebelling, that Yang Su had committed treason. Emperor Yang sent Yang Su to attack Yang Liang, and Yang Su, after capturing Yang Liang's general Xiao Mohe, forced Yang Liang's surrender. For Yang Su's contributions, Emperor Yang gave his sons Yang Wandan , Yang Renxing , and Yang Xuanting all mid-level imperial posts and much treasure, previously owned by Yang Liang.

In spring 605, Emperor Yang began to expand Luoyang to serve as the eastern capital. Yang Su was commissioned to head the project.

It was said that although Yang Su had much contributions for him, Emperor Yang actually was very suspicious of Yang Su. When imperial astrologers informed Emperor Yang that the Sui region would have a major funeral, Emperor Wen created Yang Su the Duke of Chu, technically a greater title -- believing that the Chu and Sui regions were close enough that he could use Yang Su to deflect the ill fortune. When Yang Su grew ill in 606, Yang Guang sent the imperial physicians, along with the most precious medicines, to treat Yang Su, but closely monitored Yang Su's conditions, hoping that Yang Su would die. Yang Su himself knew of Emperor Yang's intentions, and therefore refused all treatment and did not take good care of his own body, stating to Yang Yue, "Why should I want to live?" He died in fall 606, and Emperor Yang honored him with a magnificent funeral. After Yang Xuangan rebelled in 613, all of Yang Su's sons were killed. Yang Su's tomb was destroyed, and Yang Su's body was burned by the general Wei Wensheng .

It was said that one of Yang Su's favorite dishes was fried rice and that he popularized the dish.

Yuwen Hu

Wei Xiaokuan , formal personal name Wei Shuyu , known by the Xianbei name Yuwen Xiaokuan during late Western Wei and Northern Zhou, formally Duke Xiang of Xun , was a general of the /Xianbei states Western Wei and Northern Zhou. He first became a prominent general during Western Wei as he defended the fortress of Yubi against a vastly larger army commanded by rival Eastern Wei's paramount general Gao Huan, and he eventually contributed greatly to the destruction of Eastern Wei's successor state Northern Qi by Northern Zhou. His final campaign, in 580, saw him siding with the regent against the general Yuchi Jiong in Northern Zhou's civil war, allowing Yang to defeat Yuchi and take over the throne as Sui Dynasty's Emperor Wen.

More so than other prominent generals at the time, Wei was known for using atypical strategies in both offense and defense, including extensive use of espionage and forgeries to undermine the morale of opposing forces.

During Northern Wei

Wei Xiaokuan was born in 509, during Western Wei's predecessor Northern Wei -- specifically, during the reign of . His clan was a prominent one in the Sanfu region, and both his grandfather Wei Zhishan and Wei Xu were commandery governors during Northern Wei. Wei Xiaokuan's given name was actually Wei Xiaoyu, but for reasons lost to history, he became known to others largely by his courtesy name of Xiaokuan.

In Wei Xiaokuan's youth, he was described to be studious and calm. When the general Xiao Baoyin rebelled in 527 and seized the Chang'an region, he was at the capital Luoyang, and he volunteered to serve in the army against Xiao. He served as an officer under Zhangxun Chengye the Duke of Fengyi and contributed to the army's success, and he was given a post as a teacher at the national university in Luoyang, and then an acting commandery governor. He later served under the prominent official Yang Kan , guarding the Tong Pass, when Yang, impressed by him, gave a daughter to him in marriage. Wei became a general during the reign of and was created the Baron of Shanbei. During the subsequent reign of , he served under the official Yuan Zigong , the governor of Jing Province as a commandery governor. It was at this time he became friends with fellow general Dugu Xin , who was also a commandery governor in Jing Province.

In the subsequent reign of , Wei was given the task of defending Jing Province, although he was not then governor. Subsequently, when Emperor Xiaowu, seeking to evade the influence of the paramount general Gao Huan, fled west to Chang'an, then controlled by Yuwen Tai, in 534, the empire became divided into Western Wei and Eastern Wei . It is unclear when or how, but Wei eventually joined the Western Wei regime in Chang'an, but it is not clear whether that happened before or after Emperor Xiaowu's death in 535 and replacement by his cousin Emperor Wen of Western Wei.

During Western Wei

In 538, during a major campaign between Western Wei and Eastern Wei, Wei Xiaokuan accompanied Emperor Wen, and he was made the governor of Hongnong Commandery . He subsequently entered Luoyang with Dugu Xin, and for some time tried to defend the city, but eventually they were forced to withdrew from the vicinity of Luoyang. As Wei was then stationed on the borders with Eastern Wei, he became concerned that the Eastern Wei general Niu Daoheng was capable at drawing the common people of the border region to join Eastern Wei's cause. Wei employed a tactic that he would reuse later -- first sending spies to steal samples of Niu's handwriting, and then employing forgers to forge letters purportedly from Niu to Wei offering to defect to Western Wei. He then intentionally allowed spies sent by Niu's superior Duan Chen to steal the forgeries, causing Duan to suspect Niu's loyalty and begin to refuse to follow Niu's suggestions. Once Wei was sure of the dissension within the Eastern Wei forces, he made a surprise attack and captured both Duan and Niu, taking the locale for Western Wei.

In 539, Emperor Wen promoted Wei's title from baron to marquess.

In 542, Wei was made the governor of Jin Province , and by the recommendation of the prominent general Wang Sizheng , was given by Yuwen Tai the responsibility of defending the important fort of Yubi , which Wang himself had defended earlier. He managed to pacify the province against raids by the ethnic Xiongnu tribesmen in the area.

In 546, Gao Huan launched a major attack on Western Wei, and as Yubi was an important fort on his path, he put it under siege. He built earthworks to surround the city, hoping to be able to breach Yubi's defenses on top of the walls, but Wei managed to build on top of the towers on top of the walls, always maintaining a higher vantage point than the earthworks and therefore stopping the Eastern Wei attack. Gao then tried digging tunnels below the walls, but Wei was able to anticipate this and dig tunnels himself to connect with Eastern Wei's tunnels, and then setting fires within the tunnels, burning the Eastern Wei soldiers to death. He further set fires to the Eastern Wei army's battering rams, and for every offensive strategy Gao was able to think of, Wei was able to counter it. Gao had his secretary Zu Ting write a letter to Wei, urging him to surrender, but Wei refused. Gao was unable to capture the fort after 60 days of siege, and he grew angry and ill and was forced to withdraw. For Wei's contributions, he was created the Duke of Jianzhong.

In 553, during the reign of Emperor Wen's son , Wei was made the governor of the capital region, Yong Province . In 554, Wei participated in the campaign commanded by Yu Jin against Liang Dynasty, which eventually captured its capital Jiangling and its emperor . After this campaign, Wei's title was changed to Duke of Rang, and as at the time, Yuwen Tai was choosing prominent generals to have their names changed to Xianbei names, Wei's name was changed to Yuwen, probably as a sign of respect and endearment on Yuwen Tai's part. In 556, when Yuwen Tai was carrying out a tour of the northern provinces, he returned Wei to the responsibility of defending Yubi.

During Emperors Xiaomin and Ming's reigns

Yuwen Tai died later in 556, leaving his son and heir under the guardianship of his nephew Yuwen Hu. Around the new year 557, Yuwen Hu forced Emperor Gong of Western Wei to yield the throne to Yuwen Jue, ending Western Wei and founding Northern Zhou, with Yuwen Jue taking the throne as Emperor Xiaomin, but with the alternative title of "Heavenly Prince" . Wei was made the deputy minister of the interior. After Yuwen Hu removed and killed Emperor Xiaomin later in 557 and replaced him with another son of Yuwen Tai, the Duke of Ningdu , Wei took on the additional responsibility as an imperial researcher. In 560, Yuwen Hu poisoned Emperor Ming to death, and Emperor Ming's brother the Duke of Lu became emperor .

During Emperor Wu's reign

In 561, in recognition of Wei's great victory at Yubi previously, Yubi and the surrounding area was made into Xun Province , and Wei was made its governor. During this tenure, Wei was said to be gracious to the people of the province while continuing to effectively employ a network of spies. For example, when his officer Xu Pen defected to Northern Qi, Wei sent spies after him, and was quickly able to have him killed.

Around this time, Xun Province continued to be plagued by raids by the ethnic Xiongnu who, while not submitting to either Northern Zhou or Northern Qi, were based within Northern Qi territory and cut off river traffic on the Fen River . In order to cut off the route of their raids, Wei sent his officer Yao Yue to build a fort near the Fen River. Yao initially was fearful that as his troops were building the fort that Northern Qi would launch an attack against him, but Wei warded off Northern Qi attacks by setting up bonfires in the surrounding hills, making Northern Qi forces believe that Yao was being reinforced by a large army, and therefore did not attack Yao, allowing Yao to complete the fort.

In 564, Wei helped negotiate an agreement where Northern Qi returned Yuwen Tai's sister and sister-in-law to Northern Zhou in exchange for peace. When, late in 564, Yuwen Hu nevertheless was preparing to launch an attack on Northern Qi (in order to placate the northern ally Tujue, Wei sent his secretary Xin Daoxian to try to dissuade Yuwen Hu, but Yuwen Hu nevertheless launched the attack, which was unsuccessful. In 570, the two states were stalemated while fighting for the control of the city of Yiyang . Wei, believing that Yiyang was not worth the effort and instead was apprehensive that Northern Qi would encroach on territory north of the Fen River, sent a proposal to Yuwen Hu to build forts north of the Fen River to guard the territory. Yuwen Hu, however, responded, "While Duke Wei has many descendants, they do not yet number a hundred. Who will be able to guard those forts?" Thereafter, the forts were not built.

Later in 570, Wei's title was promoted to Duke of Xun. That winter, as forewarned by Wei, the Northern Qi general Hulü Guang encroached on Northern Zhou territory north of the Fen River and built forts there, seizing substantial territory. Wei personally met Hulü on the border to try to dissuade him from the campaign, but Hulü did not relent. The armies stalemated after Yuwen Hu sent reinforcements commanded by Emperor Wu's brother Yuwen Xian the Duke of Qi, but territory was already lost.

By 572, however, Hulü was in conflict with the powerful officials Zu Ting and Mu Tipo, both of whom were trusted by the Northern Qi emperor Gao Wei. Wei, hearing this, wanted to create further suspicions in Gao Wei's mind against Hulü, and he decided to try to create a sense that Hulü would rebel. He wrote two songs in couplets, one of which read:

:''A hundred ''sheng'' will fly up to the heavens,''
:''A bright moon will shine over Chang'an.''

The other read:

:''The high mountain will collapse on its own,''
:''The daimyo oak will stand straight on its own.''

He sent spies to spread the songs near Northern Qi's capital , and the songs soon became popular. Zu, exploiting the situation himself, added two more lines:

:''The blind man will bear a great axe,''
:''The talkative woman will be unable to speak.''

Both Zu, who was blind, and Mu's mother Lu Lingxuan both discussed the songs with Gao Wei, and Gao Wei, his suspicions having been aroused, eventually agreed to have Hulü put to death, greatly weakening the Northern Qi military efforts.

After Hulü's death, Emperor Wu became particularly ambitious at conquering Northern Qi, and seeing this, Wei submitted three strategies for conquering Northern Qi to Emperor Wu. Also around this time, on account of his old age, Wei repeatedly made offers to resign and retire, but Emperor Wu repeatedly responded with edicts of kind words requesting him to stay.

In 576, when Emperor Wu launched a major attack on Northern Qi, he visited Yubi and praised Wei for his defense of the fort. Wei offered to be the forward commander for the attack, but Emperor Wu declined on reason that he needed Wei to defend Yubi still. However, he sent Wei to assist his brother Yuwen Zhao the Prince of Zhao in a secondary campaign near Yubi. After Emperor Wu conquered Northern Qi in 577, he returned to Yubi and took Wei back to the capital Chang'an with him, promoting Wei to the post of minister of agriculture. Subsequently, however, Emperor Wu made Wei the governor of Yan Province , in charge of the surrounding provinces.

During Emperors Xuan and Jing's reigns

Emperor Wu died in 578, and his son the Crown Prince succeeded him . In 579, Emperor Xuan passed the throne to his young son the Crown Prince , although he held onto power as retired emperor (with the atypical title of "Emperor Tianyuan" . Later that year, Emperor Xuan made Wei Xiaokuan in charge of Xu Province and the surrounding provinces, and Wei subsequently participated in the campaign against rival Chen Dynasty that allowed Northern Zhou to seize the region between the Yangtze River and Huai River from Chen. Wei's contribution was in capturing the important city of Shouyang, and when Emperor Xuan's cousin Yuwen Liang the Duke of Qi, angry and fearful that Emperor Xuan had recently raped his daughter-in-law , tried to ambush Wei to seize his troops to further act against Emperor Xuan, Wei defeated Yuwen Liang. For these achievements, one of Wei's sons was created the Duke of Hua.

In 580, Emperor Xuan died, and Emperor Xuan's father-in-law the Duke of Sui -- the son-in-law of Wei's great friend Dugu Xin -- became regent. Yang, suspicious that the general Yuchi Jiong , in charge of Xiang Province and the surrounding regions, tried to replace Yuchi with Wei. Weichi, however, was suspicious that Yang was intending to usurp the throne, decided to rise against Yang. When Wei approached Xiang Province, he realized this, and he pretended to be ill, and instead tried to flee to Luoyang -- on the way, leaving instruction to each post to give feasts to Yuchi's soldiers if they gave chase. Weichi indeed sent soldiers after Wei, but the soldiers were slowed by the feasts given to them, and were not able to track Wei down. Once Wei reached Luoyang, he carefully guarded the city, and although the ethnically Xianbei soldiers in the city considered rising in support of Weichi, they ultimately did not do so.

Yang then put Wei in charge of the army against Weichi. He first defeated Yuchi's general Xue Gongli , who was attacking Huai Province , and then crossed the Yellow River north. He defeated Yuchi's son Yuchi Dun near Weichi's headquarters at Yecheng
and then put Yecheng under siege. The city soon fell, and Yuchi Jiong committed suicide. Wei slaughtered the core troops that remained loyal to Yuchi to the end. Wei returned to Chang'an victoriously, and died a month later.

Gao Anagong

Emperor Wen of Sui , personal name Yang Jian, also known by the Xianbei name Puliuru Jian during Northern Zhou, nickname Naluoyan , was the founder and first of China's Sui Dynasty. He was a hard-working administrator and a micromanager. As a Buddhist, he encouraged the spread of Buddhism through the state; however, his government officially supported Confucianism.

As a Northern Zhou official, Yang served with apparent distinction during the reigns of Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou and Emperor Xuan of Northern Zhou. When the erratic Emperor Xuan died in 580, Yang, as his father-in-law, seized power as regent. After defeating the general Yuchi Jiong, who resisted him, he seized the throne for himself, establishing the new Sui Dynasty .

Generally speaking, Emperor Wen's reign is a great period of prosperity not seen since the Han Dynasty. Economically, the dynasty prospered. It was said that there was enough food stored for 50 years. The military was also powerful. At the beginning of his reign, Sui faced the threat of Tujue to the north, and neighbored Tibetan tribes to the west, Goguryeo in the northeast, and the kingdom known as Champa threatening the south. By the end of Emperor Wen's reign, Tujue had split into an eastern and a western kaganate, eastern one beeing nominally submissive to Sui, as was Goguryeo. Linyi was defeated and, while not conquered, did not remain a threat.

Emperor Wen is also famous for having the least amount of concubines for an adult Chinese emperor. Emperor Wen was known for having only two concubines , with whom he might not have had sexual relations until after the death in 602 of his wife Empress Dugu Qieluo, whom he loved and respected deeply. Emperor Taizong of Tang, by comparison, is said to have over 3000 concubines in his palaces.


Yang Jian's clan was from Hongnong Commandery . His ancestor Yang Xuan , who served as a commandery governor for either Former Yan or Later Yan, claimed to be an 8th-generation descendant of the Han Dynasty prime minister Yang Zhen . Yang Xuan's son Yang Yuanshou served as a military officer at Wuchuan Garrison during early Northern Wei, and his branch of the family settled down at Wuchuan. Yang Yuanshou's son Yang Huigu and Yang Huigu's son Yang Lie both served as commandery governors during Northern Wei, and Yang Lie's son Yang Zhen served as a general. Yang Zhen's son Yang Zhong was Yang Jian's father. During the breakup of Northern Wei into Eastern Wei and Western Wei, Yang Zhong followed the general Dugu Xin in supporting Western Wei's paramount general Yuwen Tai, and they eventually fled to Yuwen Tai's realm and served under him. Eventually, due to Yang Zhong's battlefield accomplishments, during Northern Zhou, founded by Yuwen Tai's clan, Yang Zhong was created the Duke of Sui and given the Xianbei surname Puliuru -- as Yuwen Tai gave his important generals Xianbei surnames.

Yang Jian was born in 541. His mother Lady Lü was probably Yang Zhong's wife. Yang Jian was said to be serious in his young age, and even his closest friends did not dare to engage him in frivolous games. In 554, he began to serve as a low level official under Xue Shan , the mayor of the capital Chang'an. In 555, on account of Yang Zhong's accomplishments, Yang Jian received several official ranks, including the title of the Duke of Chengji . In 557, Dugu Xin, impressed with Yang Jian, gave Yang Jian his daughter as his wife. He was 16, and she was 13. He loved her greatly, and it was said that he swore an oath to her that he would never let another woman have his children. They would eventually have five sons and at least three daughters.

Emporer Wen was a great and wonderful emperor. He did many things to help his empire. After Yuwen Tai's son Emperor Ming of Northern Zhou came to the throne later that year, Yang Jian was made the vice minister of internal affairs, and he was created the greater title of Duke of Daxing . Subsequently, during the reign of Emperor Ming's brother , Yang Jian was further promoted in military authority. After Yang Zhong's death in 568, he inherited the title of Duke of Sui. In 573, Emperor Wu took Yang Jian's daughter to be the wife and crown princess of his son the Crown Prince, and further honored Yang Jian. It was said that, however, that Yang Jian was so unusual in his appearance that some of Emperor Wu's close associates suspected Yang Jian of eventually harboring treasonous intent. Both Emperor Wu's brother Yuwen Xian the Prince of Qi and the general Wang Gui were said to have suggested that Emperor Wu execute Yang Jian, but Emperor Wu resisted. Still, Yang Jian heard rumors and tried to hide his own talent to avoid trouble. It was not until 575 when Emperor Wu involved Yang Jian in a major campaign against rival Northern Qi. Yang Jian also participated in the 576-577 campaign that saw Emperor Wu being able to destroy Northern Qi and seize its territory.

In 578, Emperor Wu died, and Yuwen Yun took the throne as Emperor Xuan. Emperor Xuan immediately began to show erratic behavior, and while he created Yang Jian's daughter Crown Princess Yang empress, he suspected Yang Jian deeply, although he made Yang Jian the minister of defense. In 579, Emperor Xuan passed the throne to his young son and became retired emperor . In spring 581, he had Emperor Jing yield the throne to him, ending Northern Zhou and establishing Sui Dynasty, as its Emperor Wen.

Early ''Kaihuang'' era

Emperor Wen abolished Northern Zhou's governmental organization of six departments, instead establishing five main bureaus -- executive bureau , examination bureau , legislative bureau , archival bureau , and eunuch bureau , with two additional independent agencies, 11 other independent departments, and 12 military commands. He posthumously honored his father Yang Zhong and mother Lady Lu as emperor and empress. He created his wife Duchess Dugu empress and their oldest son Yang Yong crown prince; he created his brothers and his other sons imperial princes. He initially created Northern Zhou's Emperor Jing the Duke of Jie, but soon slaughtered all grandsons of Yuwen Tai, and eventually put the Duke of Jie to death as well. He entrusted most of the important governmental matters to his officials Gao Jiong, Yang Su, and Su Wei. Agreeing with some officials' assertions that Northern Zhou fell because its imperial princes lacked power to protect the central government, he sent his sons out to key provinces with broad powers. He further commissioned the official Pei Zheng to carry out a project of simplifying the penal code and decrease the penalty from the harsh laws -- a reform that was later largely accepted by the succeeding dynasties.

Emperor Wen did not maintain as submissive of a relationship with Tujue, which brought resentment from Tujue's Shabolüe Khan Ashina Shetu, and Ashina Shetu's wife, Northern Zhou's Princess Qianjin particularly hated Emperor Wen for destroying Northern Zhou. Ashina Shetu therefore carried out a series of border attacks against Sui, allied with Gao Baoning , the former Northern Qi general who was still holding Ying Province . In response, Emperor Wen, under advice from the general Zhangsun Sheng , Emperor Wen carried out the strategy of placating Ashina Shetu's subordinate khans -- his uncle Datou Khan Ashina Dianjue , cousin Abo Khan Ashina Daxianbian , and brother Ashina Chuluohou -- to create dissension within Tujue, and gradually, the strategy worked, causing Tujue to be unable to take unified actions against Sui.

In 581, Emperor Wen commissioned a major attack on Chen, and while it was initially successful, Emperor Wen withdrew the attack in spring 582 after hearing that Emperor Xuan of Chen had died and believing it wrongful to attack a state whose emperor had just died.

In 582, believing that Chang'an was too small of a city, Emperor Wen built a new capital nearby, which he named Daxing, and in spring 583 he moved the capital to Daxing.

Also in 582, Emperor Wen, thankful for the refusal by the vassal Emperor Ming of Western Liang to support Yuchi Jiong in 580, withdrew his forces from Western Liang's capital Jiangling, permitting Western Liang a degree of self-governance. He also took Emperor Ming's as the wife and princess to his son, the Prince of Jin.

By spring 583, Tujue's internal dissension had become serious enough that Emperor Wen felt comfortable enough to commission his brother Yang Shuang the Prince of Wei to command a major attack against Ashina Shetu. Yang Shuang achieved a great victory, and part of his army, commanded by the general Yin Shou , defeated Gao, forcing Gao to try to flee to the , but on the way, Gao was killed by his own subordinates, ending the very last bit of Northern Qi resistance. After the defeat, the various subordinate khans further engaged in battles among themselves and against Ashina Shetu, with Sui watching by, refusing to give aid to any side. By 584, Ashina Shetu submitted to Sui, and even the resentful Princess Qianjin referred to Emperor Wen as "father." He created her the Princess Dayi.

In summer 584, believing that the Wei River, on account of its sandbars and treacherous waters, was becoming too difficult of a route for food transport to Daxing, commissioned the official Yuwen Kai to construct a canal between Daxing and Tong Pass, parallel to the Wei River, named the Guangtong Canal , greatly easing the transport of food and other supplies to the capital region Guanzhong. Nevertheless, on account of a famine in Guanzhong in fall 584, Emperor Wen briefly took up residence in Luoyang.

In 586, the officials Liang Shiyan the Duke of Cheng, Yuwen Xin the Duke of Qi, and Liu Fang the Duke of Shu -- all three of whom were friends of Emperor Wen but all of whom believed that they had been slighted by Emperor Wen -- were accused of plotting rebellion, and all three were executed.

In spring 587, continuing his canal-building regime, Emperor Wen built the Shanyang Canal between the Yangtze River and the Huai River to improve the transport of material between those two rivers.

In fall 587, Emperor Wen summoned Western Liang's Emperor Jing to Chang'an to meet him. Emperor Jing complied with the direction. While Emperor Jing was away, however, Emperor Wen, believing that Jiangling would not be guarded well, sent his general Cui Hongdu to Jiangling. Emperor Jing's uncle Xiao Yan the Prince of Anping and Xiao Huan the Prince of Yixing instead believed that Cui was intending to attack the city, and they took the populace of the city and surrendered to the Chen general Chen Huiji , the cousin to Chen's emperor Chen Shubao. In response, Emperor Wen abolished Western Liang, directly seizing its territory, while creating Emperor Jing the Duke of Ju. Emperor Wen, who had been planning to conquer Chen for years, now further enhanced his planning in earnest. In spring 588, Emperor Wen publicly announced a campaign against Chen, commanded by Yang Guang, another of his sons the Prince of Qin, and Yang Su, with Yang Guang in overall command. Gao Jiong served as Yang Guang's assistant.

In spring 589, the Sui general Heruo Bi crossed the Yangtze at Jingkou , and the Sui general Han Qinhu crossed the Yangtze at Caishi . Meanwhile, Yang Su was advancing from the west down the Yangtze, and Yang Jun was stationed in the middle Yangtze region, cutting off any Chen forces that might have been able to come to the aid of Chen's capital Jiankang. Heruo soon defeated and captured the Chen general Xiao Mohe, who was making a final attempt to repel Heruo and Han's forces from Jiankang, and Jiankang fell immediately after. Chen Shubao was captured but not harmed. Rather, he and his clan members were transported to Chang'an, where Emperor Wen treated them as honored guests. Some Chen generals briefly resisted, but soon the Sui had control. The Southern and Northern Dynasties period was over, and Sui had united China. Much as how he had torn down Yecheng after Yuchi defeat, Emperor Wen tore down Jiankang, establishing only a minor garrison at the nearby Shitou as Jiang Province .

Late ''Kaihuang'' era

In 590, apparently jealous of the talent of the official Li Delin, who had been key in his takeover of power as regent and who had contributed to the strategies in conquering Chen, Emperor Wen, believing in several false accusations against Li, removed Li from his office and made him a provincial governor. Li would not return to the central government for the rest of his life.

After Chen was conquered, Sui began to apply its laws over Chen's former territory -- which brought resentment from the gentry, as they had been treated preferencially under Chen and its predecessor dynasties in the south. Su Wei further wrote a work known as the ''Five Teachings'' which is no longer extant but thought to be a work about loyalty to Sui and ordered that all former Chen subjects read and memorize it, leading to further resentment. When a rumor spread that Sui would move Chen subjects into the Guanzhong region in 590, nearly all of former Chen realm rose in rebellion, but in an unorganized manner. Emperor Wen sent Yang Su to quell the rebellions, and the rebels were no match for Yang Su; within the year, the rebellions were put down.

In 591, Tuyuhun sought peace and, as per custom, its khan Murong Shifu offered his daughter to be a concubine for Emperor Wen. Emperor Wen accepted the peace offer but declined the offer of Murong Shifu's daughter.

In spring 592, the official He Tuo , who, despite his senior status over Su Wei's son Su Kui , was losing out against Su Kui over a debate as to the designation of official music styles for Sui. In anger, He Tuo accused Su Wei of factionalism, and after investigation by Emperor Wen's son and the official Yu Qingze , Su Wei was removed from office. After Su Wei's removal, Yang Su and Gao Jiong became effectively the co-prime ministers. When Heruo Bi, who believed that he should have been prime minister, complained, Emperor Wen removed him from his post as well and stripped him of his ducal title, but restored the ducal title a year later.

Also in 592, Emperor Wen, reacting to an overflowing abundance of food and silk in the governmental stores, reduced the taxes heavily, and he also sent messengers around central China, redistributing land to give the poor farming land.

In 593, Emperor Wen commissioned a summer vacation palace, Renshou Palace , away from Chang'an, with Yang Su in charge of the project. The palace was far more luxurious than Emperor Wen expected, and its construction cost many lives.

Also in 593, knowing that the Princess Dayi was still resentful of him, Emperor Wen had the official Pei Ju inform the cousin and subordinate khan to Tujue's Dulan Khan, Ashina Yongyulü, the Ashina Rangan that he would let Ashina Rangan marry a Sui princess if Ashina Rangan was able to get Princess Dayi killed. Ashina Rangan, in response, accused Princess Dayi of adultery, and Ashina Yongyulü killed her and requested another marriage with Sui. Instead, Emperor Wen agreed to marry a princess to Ashina Rangan, in order to create greater friction between them.

In 594, in response to another famine in the Guanzhong region, Emperor Wen again temporarily took up residence in Luoyang. He also, to share in some of his people's suffering, abstained from meat for a year.

Late in 594, Yang Guang submitted a petition that Emperor Wen carry out the ancient ceremonies of worshipping the heaven and earth gods at Mount Tai. Emperor Wen declined to carry out a full set of ceremonies due to its costs, but in spring 595] carried out an abbreviated version to seek blessings from the gods due to the ongoing drought.

Also in spring 595, Emperor Wen ordered that no weapons be held by private individuals and that all of them be collected and destroyed, although he exempted the border provinces from this edict.

In 596, Emperor Wen created a daughter of a clansman the Princess Guanghua and married her to Murong Shifu, to cement the peaceful relations with Tuyuhun.

In 597, Cuan Wan , the chief of the Nanning Tribe , rebelled. Emperor Wen sent the general Shi Wansui the Duke of Taiping against Cuan, forcing him to surrender. Initially, Shi was to take Cuan to Chang'an to be presented to Emperor Wen, but Cuan bribed Shi, and so Shi allowed him to stay. Also in 597, Li Guangshi , the chief of the aborigine people in Gui Province , also rebelled. Emperor Wen sent the generals Wang Shiji and Zhou Fashang against Li, and Zhou was able to defeat and kill Li. However, in the fall, Li Shixian , who might have been related to Li Guangshi, rebelled at Gui Province, and Emperor Wen sent Yu Qingze the Duke of Lu to attack Li Shixian; Yu was successful in suppressing the rebellion. Subsequently, however, Yu's brother-in-law Zhao Shizhu , who had an affair with Yu's concubine, falsely accused Yu of treason, and around the new year 598, Yu was executed.

Also in 597, Emperor Wen felt that the punishment for official misconduct was too light, and authorized that supervising officials would be permitted to batter their subordinates with large canes if they felt that the legally prescribed punishment was too light in comparison to the degree of misconduct. Further, also believing that there was too much theft and robbery throughout the realm, he increased the punishment for theft to death -- a law that he subsequently abolished.

Also in 597, Emperor Wen's son the Prince of Qin, the commandant at Bing Province , was poisoned, but not to death, by his jealous wife Princess Cui. After Yang Jun was taken back to Chang'an for treatment, Emperor Wen discovered that Yang Jun had been wasteful at his post, and removed him from all of his offices, allowing him to only retain the title of imperial prince. When Princess Cui's poisoning was discovered, Emperor Wen ordered Yang Jun to divorce her, and subsequently ordered her to commit suicide. When Liu Sheng and Yang Su suggested that the punishment against Yang Jun was overly severe, Emperor Wen responded to Yang Su:

:''I am the father of just five sons, not the father of all people over the land. If I agreed with you, does that mean I have to draft a ''Penal Code for the Emperor's Sons''? Even a man as kind as the Duke of Zhou executed his brothers, the lords of Guan and Cai, for their crimes. I am nowhere as capable as the Duke of Zhou, so I can break my own laws?''

Also in 597, Ashina Rangan arrived at Chang'an, and Emperor Wen gave him the daughter of a clansman, whom he created the Princess Anyi, to be his wife, and awarded Ashina Rangan with much treasure, to try to break the bond between him and Ashina Yongyulü. From this point on, whenever Ashina Yongyulü would prepare to attack, Ashina Rangan would report his plans to Emperor Wen, allowing Sui forces to become prepared.

In 598, Gao Yuan attacked Ying Province, and while the governor of Ying Province, Wei Chong , fought off the Goguryeo attack, Emperor Wen was angered. He sent his son Yang Liang the Prince of Han and Wang Shiji to serve as commanding generals, with Gao Jiong serving as Yang Liang's assistant, and the former Chen general Zhou Luohou serving as the commander of the navy, to attack Goguryeo. However, the forces ran into food supply problems, and the ships ran into a storm and suffered great losses. Nevertheless, Gao Yuan became fearful and submitted, and so Emperor Wen called off the campaign.

Also in 598, Cuan Wan rebelled again, and Yang Xiu accused Shi of accepting bribes from Cuan earlier. Emperor Wen considered executing Shi, but ultimately chose only to remove him from his posts, and it appeared soon after Shi was restored to his post.

In 599, after Ashina Rangan reported that Ashina Yongyulü was planning to attack, Emperor Wen took preemptive action and had Gao Jiong, Yang Su, and Yan Rong command a three-pronged attack against Ashina Yongyulü, with Yang Liang in nominal command but not at the frontline. In response, Ashina Yongyulü and Ashina Dianjue made a joint attack against Ashina Rangan, defeating him and largely seizing his tribe. Ashina Rangan fled to Sui, and Emperor Wen treated him as an honored guest. Subsequently, both Gao Jiong and Yang Su engaged Tujue forces and repelled them.

Also in 599, with Wang Shiji's subordinate Huangfu Xiaoxie accusing Wang of treason after Wang refused to shield Huangfu after he committed crimes, Emperor Wen believed Huangfu and executed Wang.

By this point, Yang Yong the Crown Prince had lost the favor both Emperor Wen and Empress Dugu, over his being overly wasteful and having many concubines . They therefore considered deposing him and replacing him with Yang Guang. When Empress Dugu hinted as such, Gao Jiong stated clear opposition. Meanwhile, Emperor Wen himself had engaged in sexual relations with Yuchi Jiong's granddaughter, who had been made a servant after her grandfather's defeat -- and when Empress Dugu found out, she had Yuchi Jiong's granddaughter killed. Emperor Wen was exceedingly angry and rode away from the palace on a horse, returning to the palace only at the urging of Gao and Yang Su -- but with Gao further angering Empress Dugu when Gao referred to her as "a woman." In 599, Gao was accused of associating with Wang Shiji and removed from his posts. Subsequently, Gao was accused of cursing Emperor Wen, but when the sentence of death was recommended, Emperor Wen commented that he could not kill Gao soon after killing Yu and Wang, and therefore only reduced Gao to commoner rank.

In winter 599, Emperor Wen created Ashina Rangan Qimin Khan, and commissioned Zhangsun Sheng to build the city of Dali to house Ashian Rangan's people, and also sent an army to protect Ashina Rangan. By now, the Princess Anyi had died, and Emperor Wen married another daughter of a clansman, whom he created the Princess Yicheng, to marry Ashina Rangan. Soon thereafter, Ashina Yongyulü was assassinated, and Ashina Dianjue declared himself Bujia Khan. In summer 600, Ashina Dianjue attacked Ashina Rangan, and Sui forces fought off Ashina Dianjue's attack, further causing Ashina Rangan to be grateful to Sui.

In fall 600, with Yang Guang and Yang Su forming a faction, with tacit support of Empress Dugu, they had Yang Yong's associate Ji Wei falsely accuse Yang Yong of plotting treason. Emperor Wen deposed Yang Yong and replaced him with Yang Guang. Emperor Wen also put a number of officials whom he believed to be part of Yang Yong's faction, including Shi and Yuan Min the Duke of Wuyuan, to death.

''Renshou'' era

In 602, Empress Dugu died, and Emperor Wen was greatly saddened. Thereafter, he began to engage in sexual relations with his concubines, favoring Consorts Chen and Cai.

Also in 602, Yang Guang, believing that Yang Xiu would eventually create trouble for him, had Yang Su collect evidence of Yang Xiu's wastefulness and use of items that were only appropriate for emperors. Yang Su submitted the evidence to Emperor Wen, and Emperor Wen, in anger, recalled Yang Xiu to the capital. After Yang Xiu arrived at the capital, Yang Guang further manufactured evidence that Yang Xiu had cursed Emperor Wen and Yang Liang. In anger, Emperor Wen reduced Yang Xiu to commoner rank and put him under house arrest.

In 603, Ashina Dianjue, faced with rebellions from the Tiele and Pugu tribes, surrendered to Ashina Rangan. By now, Ashina Rangan became the undisputed khan of the Tujue.

In spring 604, Emperor Wen, as per his custom, went to Renshou Palace to avoid the heat, despite warnings from the sorcerer Zhangchou Taiyi that if he went, he would never return. While there, he grew ill, and in fall 604, he died. He was buried with Empress Dugu, but not in the same burial chamber.

How Emperor Wen died, however, is a matter of historical controversy. Most traditional historians relay and believe an account in which, while Emperor Wen was ill, Yang Guang tried to rape Consort Chen. When she reported the attempted rape to Emperor Wen, he became angry and had the officials Liu Shu and Yuan Yan the Duke of Longgu summon Yang Yong, intending to restore him. When Yang Guang found out, he, in association with Yang Su, had Liu and Yuan arrested, and then sent his associate Zhang Heng to kill Emperor Wen, and Zhang did so. Soon thereafter, he forced Consorts Chen and Cai to become his concubines and had Yang Yong put to death, and only then announced Emperor Wen's death and took the throne .

The historian Sima Guang, in his ''Zizhi Tongjian'', borrowing parts of analyses from the ''Book of Sui'' and the ''History of the Northern Dynasties'', opined:

:''Gaozu was by nature cautious and solemn, and he always made sure that his orders are carried out, whether it be an order for an affirmative act or for a prohibition. He got up early in the morning to host imperial gatherings, and he would not appear tired even after noon. Although he was himself stingy, but he did not hold back his awards when rewarding the people with accomplishments. He gave much compensation to the families of soldiers who died in battle, and sent messengers to comfort them. He loved his people, encouraging them to till the field and grow mulberries, and decreasing their labor and tax burdens. He himself lived simply and frugally, and the vessels and clothes he used, even after they became worn out, continued to be patched and used. Except at feasts, his meals would contain a single meat dish. The clothes of the palace women were continued to be used even after they were washed. Based on his influence, during his reign, men only wore cotton and cloth, not silk, and their decorations were made of copper, iron, bones, and horns, not gold, silver, or gemstones. There were bountiful productions of food and textile, so much so that the storage was insufficient for them. At the start of his reign, the census rolls only had less than four million households, but at the end of his reign, there were almost nine million households, and Ji Province by itself contained one million households. However, he was suspicious, critical, and picky, believing many alienating words of his officials. Therefore, even of those with the most accomplishments and his old friends, not one was able to maintain the relationship from start to end. He even treated his own sons as enemies. These were his faults.''

Wendi also established seven orchestras comprising musicians from across Asia at his court; these orchestras were expanded to nine by his son Emperor Yang of Sui.

Era names

* ''Kaihuang'' 581-600
* ''Renshou'' 601-604

Personal information

* Father
** Yang Zhong , Duke Huan of Sui
* Mother
** Lady Lü, probably Yang Zhong's wife
* Wife
** Empress Dugu Qieluo , mother of all of Emperor Wen's children
* Major Concubines
** Consort Chen , daughter of Emperor Xuan of Chen
** Consort Cai
* Children
** Yang Yong , the Crown Prince
** Yang Guang , initially the Duke of Yanmen, initially the Prince of Jin , later the Crown Prince , later Emperor Yang of Sui
** , Prince Xiao of Qin
** , initially the Prince of Yue , later the Prince of Shu
** Yang Liang , the Prince of Han
** , empress to Emperor Xuan of Northern Zhou, later the Princess Leping
** Yang Awu , the Princess Lanling
** Princess Guangping