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Xiao Yanyan
File:Empress Dowager Xiao 1892.jpg
from one 1892 print of the novel Legends of Generals of the Yang Family (楊家將傳)[1]
Empress Dowager Chengtian of Liao
Personal details
Born 953
Died December 23, 1009(1009-12-23)
Spouse(s) Yelü Xian (Emperor Jingzong)

Xiao Yanyan (Chinese: 蕭燕燕; 953–1009) was a Khitan empress of imperial China's Liao dynasty. Her other 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).

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 life[edit | edit source]

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 thorough 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 is one of the greatest women in Liao history. It is said that she have a marriage promise with Han Derang who is the important man in the Liao history.[3]

Modern references[edit | edit source]

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Literature[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  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

Sources[edit | edit source]

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