Empress Xu (Ming dynasty)

  (Redirected from Empress Renxiaowen)

Empress Xu (徐皇后) (1362 – July 1407), formally Empress Renxiaowen (仁孝文皇后), was the empress consort to the Yongle Emperor and the third empress of China's Ming dynasty. She was well educated, compiling bibliographies of virtuous women, an activity connected with court politics.[1]

Empress Renxiaowen
Empress Consort of Ming China
Reign1402 – 1407
PredecessorEmpress Xiaominrang
SuccessorEmpress Chengxiaozhao
Nanjing, Yuan dynasty
DiedJuly 1407 (aged 45)
Nanjing, Jiangsu, Ming dynasty
SpouseYongle Emperor
IssueZhu Gaochi, Hongxi Emperor
Zhu Gaoxu, Prince of Han
Zhu Gaosui, Prince Jian of Zhao
Princess Ancheng
Princess Xianning
Posthumous name
Empress Rénxiào cíyì chéngmíng zhuāngxiàn pèitiān qíshèng wēn
FatherXu Da
MotherLady Xie


Lady Xu was born in 1362, as the eldest daughter of Xu Da and Lady Xie (謝氏). She had four brothers—Xu Huizu (徐輝祖), Xu Tianfu (徐添福), Xu Yingxu (徐膺緒), and Xu Zengshou (徐增壽)—and two younger sisters, who were the wives of Zhu Gui, Prince Jian of Dai (thirteenth son of the Hongwu Emperor) and Zhu Ying, Prince Hui of An (twenty-second son of the Hongwu Emperor). On 17 February 1376, she married the Zhu Di, Prince of Yan, the Hongwu Emperor's fourth son. After Zhu Di ascended the throne as the Yongle Emperor on 17 July 1402, Consort Xu, as his primary wife, was created empress in December 1402.

A devout Buddhist, Xu is the first person credited with transcribing a Buddhist sutra from a dream revelation. The work is entitled Da Ming Ren xiao Huang hou meng kan Fo Shuo di yi xi yu da gong de jing (The sutra of great merit of the foremost rarity spoken by the Buddha which the Renxiao empress of the great Ming received in a dream). In her introduction to the sutra, the empress wrote that one night after meditating and burning incense, Guanyin appeared to her as if in a dream, and took her to a holy realm where the sutra was revealed to her in order to save her from disaster. After reading the sutra three times, she was able to memorize it and recall it perfectly upon awakening and writing it down. The sutra conveys conventional Mahayana philosophies, and the mantras for chanting were typical of Tibetan Buddhist practices.[2]


  • Father
  • Mother
    • Lady Xie (謝氏), second daughter of Xie Jianxing (謝再興)
  • Husband


Number Name Formal Title Born Died Spouse Issue Notes
1 Zhu Gaochi
The Hongxi Emperor 16 August 1378 29 May 1425 Lady Zhang, Empress Cheng Xiao Zhao
11 concubines
Zhu Zhanji, Xuande Emperor
Zhu Zhanxun, Prince Jing of Zheng
Zhu Zhanyong, Prince Jing of Yue
Zhu Zhanyin, Prince Xian of Qi
Zhu Zhanshan, Prince Xian of Xiang
Zhu Zhangang, Prince Xian of Jing
Zhu Zhanyu, Prince Jing of Huai
Zhu Zhankai, Prince Huai of Teng
Zhu Zhanji, Prince Zhuang of Liang
Zhu Zhanyan, Prince Gong of Wei
Princess Jiaxing
Zhu Yuantong, Princess Qingdou
Princess Qinghe
Princess De'an
Princess Yanping
Princess Deqing
Princess Zhending
2 Zhu Gaoxu
Prince of Han
30 December 1380 6 October 1426 Consort Wei
Zhu Zhanhe, Heir Apparent Yi Zhuang
Zhu Zhanqi, Heir Apparent
Zhu Zhanci, Prince of Jiyang
Zhu Zhanyu, Prince of Linzi
Zhu Zhanyi, Prince Zichuan
Zhu Zhanxing, Prince of Changle
Zhu Zhanping, Prince of Qidong
Zhu Zhandao, Prince of Rencheng
Zhu Zhanchang, Prince of Haifeng
Zhu Zhanbang, Prince of Xintai
3 Zhu Gaosui
Prince Jian of Zhao
19 January 1383 5 October 1431 Lady Xu
(daughter of Xu Zhang (徐章))
Lady Mu
(daughter of Mu Cheng (沐晟))
Zhu Zhanba, Heir Apparent Daoxi of Zhao
Zhu Zhanque, Prince Hui of Zhao
a son
Created Prince of Zhao on 12 May 1404


Number Title Born Died Date Married Spouse Issue Notes
1 Princess Ancheng
1384 16 September 1443 1402 Song Hu
(second son of Song Cheng, Marquess of Xining)
2 Princess Xianning
1385 27 July 1440 1403 Song Ying
(third son of Song Cheng, Marquess of Xining)


  1. ^ Ellen Soullière, "Palace Women in the Ming dynasty: 1368-1644" (Doctoral dissertation, Princeton University, 1987) 19, 22-24.
  2. ^ Yü, Chun-fang. "Ming Buddhism" The Cambridge History of China v.8. pp 913-915
Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Xiaominrang
Empress of China
December 1402 – July 1407
Succeeded by
Empress Chengxiaozhao