Southern dynasty

Liu Jingyan 柳敬言

Empress Liu (531 – 20 March 615) was the empress of the Chen dynasty in ancient China. Born as Liu Jingyan in 531, she became the wife of Emperor Xuan (Chen Xu) after being married to him in 552. They had a son named Chen Shubao. Empress Liu briefly served as regent during her son’s illness in 582. She was known for her beauty, humility, and grace as empress consort.

The historical account details the challenging times during the political upheavals, including Emperor Xuan’s rise to power, conflicts within the imperial court, and the eventual ascendancy of Chen Shubao to the throne. Empress Liu played a significant role in stabilizing the situation after an assassination attempt on Chen Shubao, assuming the title of empress dowager.

Following Chen’s fall to the Sui dynasty in 589, Empress Dowager Liu and Chen Shubao were taken to Chang’an. She later resided in Luoyang and passed away in 615. Empress Liu was buried in Luoyang, separate from her husband Emperor Xuan.

Artist’s Note

“我是陈宣帝陈顼的皇后,柳敬言。出身名门, 又长得极其漂亮,身材修长,教养风度都很出众。我们郎才女貌,十分恩爱。生长子陈叔宝。我宽仁,识大体。后宫有一贵妃钱氏,是陈顼早在家乡,先于我娶的,陈顼爱她多年,做皇帝后宠幸未变。我毫不嫉妒,真心相待。四方进贡之物,总是挑好的留给钱妃。自己则取次一等的宽厚待人,决断处事。”

Emperor Xuan of Chen 陳宣帝

Emperor Xuan of Chen (陳宣帝) (530–582), personal name Chen Xu (陳頊), also called Chen Tanxu (陳曇頊),[1] courtesy name Shaoshi (紹世), childhood name Shili (師利), was an emperor of the Chen dynasty of China. He seized the throne from his nephew Emperor Fei in 569 and subsequently ruled the state for 13 years. He was considered to be a capable and diligent ruler, who at one point militarily expanded at the expense of the Northern Qi. After the Northern Qi fell to the Northern Zhou in 577, however, the Chen dynasty was cornered, and soon lost the gains it had previously made against Northern Qi. Emperor Xuan died in 582, leaving the state in the hands of his incompetent son Chen Shubao, and by 589, the Chen dynasty would be destroyed by Northern Zhou’s successor state Sui dynasty.

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