Empress shown on the left of this painting
Empress Liu, also known as Empress Sumingshunsheng or Empress Suming, was an empress of the Tang Dynasty in China. Her background is not well-documented, but she was married to Emperor Ruizong, who became emperor after a series of political changes in the Tang Dynasty.
Initially, she was the wife of Emperor Zhongzong, but his mother, Empress Dowager Wu (later known as Wu Zetian), deposed him and replaced him with Emperor Ruizong. As a result, Empress Liu became the empress, and her son Li Chengqi was made crown prince.
Tragically, in 693, Empress Dowager Wu falsely accused Empress Liu and one of Emperor Ruizong’s concubines of witchcraft. She had them killed and buried secretly inside the palace. Emperor Ruizong, fearing his mother’s actions, kept silent about the loss of his wife and concubine.
In 710, Emperor Ruizong (also known as Li Dan) became emperor after the restoration of the Tang Dynasty. He honored Empress Liu with the title Empress Suming and tried to locate her body for proper reburial, but it couldn’t be found. After his death in 716, Empress Liu was eventually honored and worshipped together with him at the imperial ancestral temple in 732.
Empress Dou (Empress Zhaocheng)
Empress shown on the right of this painting
Empress Zhaocheng, also known as Dou, was a concubine of Emperor Ruizong of the Tang Dynasty and the mother of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang. She came from a prestigious family, being the great-granddaughter of Dou Kang, who was related to Empress Taimu, the consort of Emperor Gaozu.
She gave birth to Li Longji, who later became Emperor Xuanzong, during Emperor Ruizong’s reign. She had two more children, Princess Jinxian and Princess Yuzhen. When Wu Zetian deposed Emperor Ruizong, Dou and the Emperor’s family moved to the East Palace.
In 693, a servant girl falsely accused Dou and Empress Liu of using witchcraft to curse Wu Zetian. As a result, Dou and Empress Liu were allegedly killed by Wu Zetian, and their remains were never found. Dou’s younger sister, Dou Shu, took on the responsibility of raising Li Longji.
After the death of Emperor Ruizong, Dou was posthumously named Empress Dowager because she was the mother of the successor emperor. Her relatives received favorable treatment from Emperor Xuanzong, with many of them holding high positions in the government. However, some of her brothers had bad reputations, but they were still favored by Emperor Xuanzong.
Spouse: Emperor Ruizong of Tang
Emperor Ruizong of Tang (22 June 662 – 13 July 716), personal name Li Dan, also known at times during his life as Li Xulun, Li Lun, Wu Lun, and Wu Dan, was the fifth and ninth emperor of the Tang dynasty. He was the eighth son of Emperor Gaozong and the fourth son of Emperor Gaozong’s second wife Empress Wu. He was wholly a figurehead during his first reign when he was controlled by his mother, and he was the titular and puppet ruler of the Tang Empire from 684 to 690. During his second reign after his mother’s death, significant power and influence was exercised by his domineering sister Princess Taiping.