Southern dynasty

Zhang Yao’er 章要儿’er

Empress Xuan, also known as Zhang Yao’er, was an empress of the Chinese Chen Dynasty. She was married to the founding emperor, Emperor Wu (Chen Baxian). Zhang Yao’er was described as knowledgeable in mathematics, poetry, and literature. Despite facing captivity during periods of political turmoil, she played a significant role in supporting her husband’s ascent to the throne. Emperor Wu honored her as empress dowager after his death, and she continued to hold influence during Emperor Wen’s reign. However, her power waned over time, and she passed away in 570, buried with honors alongside Emperor Wu.

Artist’s Note


Emperor Xuan of Chen 陳宣帝

Emperor Wu of Chen, also known as Chen Baxian, was the founding emperor of the Chen dynasty in China. He rose to prominence as a general in the Liang dynasty, particularly during the campaign against rebel general Hou Jing. Through his military successes, he earned promotions and eventually seized power in 555 by overthrowing his superior, General Wang Sengbian. In 557, he compelled Emperor Jing of Liang to abdicate, establishing the Chen dynasty. Upon his death in 559, his nephew Chen Qian succeeded him as Emperor Wen, as his only surviving son, Chen Chang, was held captive by the Northern Zhou dynasty.

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