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Yu Wenjun (Chinese: 庾文君; 297– March or April 328, formally Empress Mingmu (明穆皇后, literally "the understanding and solemn empress") was an empress of the Chinese Jin dynasty by marriage to Emperor Ming. She served as regent during the minority of her son Emperor Cheng from 2 November 325 to early March 328, when the capital Jiankang fell to Su Jun and Emperor Cheng became Su's captive.
Empress Yu's father Yu Chen (庾琛) was the governor of Kuaiji Commandery along the southern shore of Hangzhou Bay and later served on the staff of Sima Rui the Prince of Langye (later Emperor Yuan) when Sima Rui was posted at Jianye. She was considered kind and beautiful, and Sima Rui took her to be his son Sima Shao's wife. Her elder brother Yu Liang became a key friend and advisor to Sima Shao. Later, after Sima Rui declared himself emperor and created Sima Shao crown prince, she became crown princess. After Emperor Yuan died in 323 and Sima Shao succeeded to the throne as Emperor Ming, she became empress. She had two sons with him, Sima Yan and Sima Yue, the future emperors Cheng and Kang respectively.
Emperor Ming only ruled briefly and died in 18 October 325. Initially, he left a balance of power between high-level officials with whom he entrusted the four-year-old Crown Prince Yan, who later succeeded to the throne as Emperor Cheng on 19 October 325. Empress Yu was honored as Empress Dowager Yu on the same day, and the officials encouraged her to become regent. Under this arrangement, Yu Liang became the most powerful official of the empire. He became apprehensive of the generals Su Jun, Zu Yue, and Tao Kan, each of whom suspected Yu of erasing their names from Sima Shao's will, which promoted and honored a large number of officials. Yu Liang was also apprehensive of Emperor Ming's step-uncle Yu Yin (虞胤) and the Imperial Princes Sima Zong (司馬宗) the Prince of Nandun and Sima Yang (司馬羕) the Prince of Xiyang, all of whom were powerful during Emperor Ming's reign but who had been removed under Empress Dowager Yu's regency. In winter 326, Yu Liang accused Sima Zong of treason and killed him, demoted Sima Yang, and exiled Yu Yin. This led to the people losing confidence in him.
Deposition, death and burialEdit
In 327, Yu Liang further resolved on separating Su, then the governor of Liyang Commandery (歷陽, roughly modern Chaohu, Anhui) from his troops, and he promoted Su to minister of agriculture—a post that did not involve commanding troops. Su saw his intent and declared a rebellion, with Zu's assistance. Yu Liang initially thought that Su could be easily defeated, but instead Su quickly arrived at the capital in early March 328 and captured it. Yu Liang was forced to flee. Meanwhile, Su granted himself and Zu various titles on 5 March 328 and allowed his troops to pillage the capital; it was said that even Empress Dowager Yu's servant girls became spoils for his troops. Further, it was said that Su himself "humiliated" Empress Dowager Yu— although the method of humiliation was not specified in history, it is believed that she was raped by the troops. Empress Dowager Yu died in distress and fear at the age of 32 (by East Asian reckoning). Her son Emperor Cheng became Su's captive for months before other provincial generals converged on Jiankang and defeated Su. The empress dowager's body was eventually recovered and she was buried on 19 May 328.
- ^ According to Emperor Cheng's biography in Book of Jin, Empress Dowager Yu died on the bingzi day of the 3rd month of the 3rd year of the Xianhe era of his reign. However, there is no bingzi day in that month; the month corresponds to 27 Mar to 25 Apr 328 in the Julian calendar. [(咸和三年)三月丙子，皇太后庾氏崩。] Jin Shu, vol.07
- ^ According to Emperor Cheng's biography in Book of Jin, Empress Dowager Yu assumed regency on the guimao day of the 9th month of the 3rd year of the Taining era of his father's reign. This corresponds to 2 Nov 325 in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. [(太宁三年)秋九月癸卯，皇太后临朝称制。] Jin Shu, vol.07
- ^ According to Emperor Cheng's biography in Book of Jin, Su Jun occupied Jiankang on the bingchen day of the 2nd month of the 3rd year of the Xianhe era of his reign; the date corresponds to 4 Mar 328 in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. [(咸和三年二月)丙辰，峻攻青溪栅，因风纵火，王师又大败。尚书令、领军将军卞壸，丹阳尹羊曼，黄门侍郎周导，庐江太守陶瞻并遇害，死者数千人。庾亮又败于宣阳门内，遂携其诸弟与郭默、赵胤奔寻阳。于是司徒王导、右光禄大夫陆晔、荀嵩等卫帝于太极殿，太常孔愉守宗庙。贼乘胜麾戈接于帝座，突入太后后宫，左右侍人皆见掠夺。是时太官唯有烧余米数石，以供御膳。百姓号泣，响震都邑。] Jin Shu, vol.07
- ^ According to Emperor Cheng's biography in Book of Jin, he ascended the throne on the jichou day in the leap month of the 3rd year of the Taining era of his father's reign. This corresponds to 19 Oct 325 in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. [(太宁三年闰月)己丑，太子即皇帝位，...，尊皇后庾氏为皇太后。] Jin Shu, vol. 07
- ^ According to Emperor Cheng's biography in Book of Jin, Su Jun granted himself and Zu Yue the titles on the dingsi day of the 2nd month of the 3rd year of the Xianhe era of Emperor Cheng's reign; the date corresponds to 5 Mar 328 in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. [(咸和三年二月)丁巳，峻矫诏大赦，又以祖约为侍中、太尉、尚书令，自为骠骑将军、录尚书事。] Jin Shu, vol.07
- ^ (及苏峻作逆，京都倾覆，后见逼辱，遂以忧崩,时年三十二。) Jin Shu, vol.32
- ^ According to Emperor Cheng's biography in Book of Jin, Empress Dowager Yu was buried on the renshen day of the 4th month of the 3rd year of the Xianhe era of his reign. This corresponds to 19 May 328 in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. [(咸和三年)夏四月...壬申，葬明穆皇后于武平陵。] Jin Shu, vol.07
- Book of Jin, vol. 07, vol. 32, vol. 73.
- Zizhi Tongjian, vols. 90, 92, 93, 94.