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Xiao Yanyan (Chinese: 蕭燕燕; 953–1009) was a Khitan empress and military leader of imperial China's Liao dynasty. Her another Chinese name was Xiao Chuo (蕭綽). Her original Khitan family name was Bali (拔裏氏).[2] She married Emperor Jingzong of Liao. At his death in 982, she became regent for her son Emperor Shengzong. She was formally referred to as Empress Dowager Chengtian (承天皇太后).

Xiao Yanyan
Empress Dowager Chengtian of Liao
Empress Dowager Xiao 1892.jpg
from one 1892 print of the novel Legends of Generals of the Yang Family (楊家將傳)[1]
regent of Liao dynasty
empress dowager13 October 982 - 23 December 1009
RegentEmperor Shengzong, son
Died(1009-12-23)December 23, 1009
SpouseYelü Xian (Emperor Jingzong)
  • Yelü Longxu (Emperor Shengzong), son
  • Yelü Longqing (耶律隆慶), son
  • Yelü Longyou (耶律隆祐), son
  • Yelü Guanyinnü (耶律觀音女), daughter
  • Yelü Changshounü (耶律長壽女), daughter
  • Yelü Yanshounü (耶律延壽女), daughter
Full name
Family name: Xiāo ()
Khitan name: Yanyan (燕)
Chinese name: Xiāo Chuò ()
Regnal name
Empress Dowager Ruìdé Shénlüè Yìngyùn QĬhuà Chéngtiān (皇太后)
Posthumous name
Empress Shèngshén Xuānxiàn (皇后)
Empress Ruìzhì (皇后)
FatherXiao Siwen (蕭思溫)
MotherYelü Lübugu (耶律呂不古)

She commanded her own army of 10,000 cavalry which she stayed at the head of until she was near the age of sixty. Song dynasty troops attacked the Liao in 986, but they were pushed back and later defeated in 989. She was known for her great skills in civil administration and retained great influence until her death.

Early lifeEdit

Xiao Chuo was the 3rd child of Xiao Siwen (蕭思溫), Liao's chancellor. At a young age, she distinguished herself from her sisters by being very thoroughly sweeping the floors. Impressed, her father chose her to marry the new Emperor Jingzong as a consort. Soon afterward, she was given the title of empress; she later gave birth to Emperor Shengzong. She was one of the greatest women in Liao history. It is said that she made a marriage promise with Han Derang who was an important man in the Liao history.[3]

Modern referencesEdit

Film and televisionEdit


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Essentially the same novel, with slight modifications by publishers and editors, as the second half of Records of the Two Songs, South and North (兩宋南北志傳) written by Xiong Damu (熊大木) in the late 16th century.
  2. ^ 遼史.卷七十一.后妃傳:"後族唯乙室、拔裏氏,而世任其國事。太祖慕漢高皇帝,故耶律兼稱劉氏;以乙室、拔裏比蕭相國,遂為蕭氏。...景宗睿智皇后蕭氏,諱綽,小字燕燕,北府宰相思溫女。"
  3. ^ Biographical Sketches, p.44


  • Toqto'a; et al. (1344). Liao Shi (宋史) [History of Liao] (in Chinese).
  • "Biographical Sketches". Chinese Studies in History. 35: 11–93. 2002. doi:10.2753/CSH0009-4633350211.
  • " Women in power 750-1000" from, last accessed January 13, 2007