Emperor Mingyuan of Northern Wei - Late Reign

Late Reign

In 418, Emperor Mingyuan launched a major attack on Northern Yan and put the Northern Yan capital Helong (和龍, in modern Jinzhou, Liaoning) under siege, but was unable to capture Helong and forced to retreat.

In 420, Emperor Mingyuan's wife Consort Yao died, and he posthumously honored her as an empress.

In 422, Emperor Mingyuan suffered a major illness, apparently caused by medicines that alchemists had given him that were supposedly capable of extending lifespans. He consulted Cui Hao on what he should do to prepare for events after his death. Cui Hao predicted that he would recover, but advised him to create his oldest son, 14-year-old Tuoba Tao the Prince of Taiping, crown prince, and then transfer some of the authorities to the crown prince so that his own burdens could be lessened. Baba Song also agreed, and Emperor Mingyuan created Tuoba Tao crown prince, and further had Crown Prince Tao take the throne to serve as the secondary emperor. He commissioned his key advisors Baba, Cui, Daxi Jin, Anchi Tong (安遲同), Qiumuling Guan (丘穆陵觀), and Qiudun Dui (丘敦堆) to serve as the Crown Prince's advisor. From this point on, most matters, particularly domestic matters, were ruled on by Crown Prince Tao, while Emperor Mingyuan himself only ruled on important matters.

Later in 422, after hearing about the death of Liu Yu (who had seized the Jin throne in 420 and established Liu Song), Emperor Mingyuan broke off relations with Liu Song and called his council, informing the advisors that he planned to attack and seize three major cities south of the Yellow River from Liu Song—Luoyang, Hulao, and Huatai. Cui Hao opposed the action, and commissioned Daxi as the commander of the forced to attack Liu Song.

Daxi first put Huatai under siege, but after he was unable to capture it quickly, Emperor Mingyuan personally led an army south to aid Daxi. He also had Crown Prince Tao lead an army to the northern border, to guard against a Rouran attack. Huatai then fell, and Daxi then approached Hulao and Luoyang. Meanwhile, Emperor Mingyuan also sent the generals E Qing (娥清), Lü Dafei (閭大肥), Pu Ji (普幾), and Yizhan Jian (乙旃建) east, capturing several commanderies in modern western Shandong. However, while other cities in Song's Qing Province (青州, modern central and eastern Shandong) fell as well, the Northern Wei forces were unable to capture the capital of Qing Province, Dongyang (東陽, in modern Qingzhou, Shandong), and were eventually forced to withdraw after food supplies ran out and a large number of soldiers grew ill. Northern Wei forces also stalled in their siege of Hulao, defended by the capable Liu Song general Mao Dezu (毛德祖), but were meanwhile able to capture Luoyang and Xuchang (許昌, in modern Xuchang, Henan) in spring 423, cutting off the path of any Liu Song relief force for Hulao. In summer 423, Hulao fell. The campaign then ceased, with Northern Wei now in control of much of modern Henan and western Shandong.

In 423, Emperor Mingyuan also started a major building project—the building of a wall on the northern borders to defend against Rouran attacks.

In winter 423, Emperor Mingyuan died. Crown Prince Tao took the throne as Emperor Taiwu.

Read more about this topic:  Emperor Mingyuan Of Northern Wei

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