An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Empress Dowager Liang 梁太后

Dec 27, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Empress Liang 梁后 or Empress Dowager Liang 梁太后, personal name Liang Na 梁妠, was the main consort of Emperor Shun 漢順帝 (r. 125-144) of the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE).

Her father Liang Shang 梁商 hailed from Anding 安定 (modern Pingliang 平凉, Gansu) and was a general who was entrusted with important matters in the central government. After his death, his oldest son Liang Ji 梁冀 took over the government for the sovereigns in succession, the emperors Chong 漢沖帝 (r. 144-145 CE), Zhi 漢質帝 (r. 145-146 CE) and Huan 漢桓帝 (r. 146-167), while his sister was officially given the title of regent.

The family Liang produced seven marquesses, three empresses, six secondary imperial consorts and two generals. For decades, they decided over the fate of the Han dynasty with the help of the court eunuchs. On the other hand, Liang Ji was intelligent enough to seek the support of the Confucian officials, too, sponsored the National University 太學. Empress Dowager Liang officially gave back the regency to Emperor Huan in 150 BCE and died shortly later. She was buried together with Emperor Shun in the tomb mound Xianling 憲陵.

Emperor Huan was finally courageous enough to make a complot against Liang Ji, with the help of some court eunuchs he could trust. Liang Ji was forced to commit suicide and a lot of his relatives were executed.

Chen Quanli 陳全力, Hou Xinyi 侯欣一, ed. (1988). Diwang cidian 帝王辭典 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin jiaoyu chubanshe), 47.