Empress Dowager Liu
Who is Empress Dowager Liu?
Empress Dowager Liu, briefly further honored as Empress Dowager Shenggan, was an empress dowager of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty. She was a concubine of Yang Zhao, who was crown prince during the reign of his father Emperor Yang, and she was the mother of Yang Tong, the last person to claim the Sui throne.
Little is known about her background. During the time that Yang Zhao was crown prince, she carried the title of Liangdi, which appeared to be the highest of the ranks among a crown prince's concubines. She was younger than another Consort Liu, who bore Yang Zhao's oldest son Yang Tan. It is not known when she bore Yang Tong, likely the second of his three sons. After Yang Zhao died in 606, her activities were not clear.
In 618, when the Sui state was already engulfed in various rebellions, Consort Liu was at the eastern capital Luoyang, where her son Yang Tong, then the Prince of Yue, had been left in charge of Luoyang while Emperor Yang was away at Jiangdu. In spring 618, Emperor Yang was killed in a coup led by the general Yuwen Huaji, and when news arrived at Luoyang, the officials at Luoyang declared Yang Tong emperor. Yang Tong posthumously honored Yang Zhao Emperor Xiaocheng, and honored Consort Liu as empress dowager.
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