Emperor Yang

Image Source: Public Domain

About Emperor Yangdi / Mingdi

Reign Years:604-618 A.D

Given Name: Tang Guang

Reign Name:Emperor Yang

Emperor Yang – Sui Dynasty

Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty ruled for 14 years until his death by assassination. Many controversies were associated with him when he assumed the throne. Yang Guang, also known as Emperor Yang (other aliases: Ying, Amo, Emperor Ming), was the second Chinese emperor of the Sui Dynasty.

The Sui Dynasty (581-618 C.E) ruled briefly in China, acknowledging only two emperors, the father and son Emperor Wendi and Emperor Yang, respectively. While Wendi was considered the most suitable emperor of his time, his son Yang was known as one of the worst tyrants in Chinese history.

Yang’s era was considered an ambitious one. He tried to continue the legacy his father started by lavishly spending on the construction of infrastructures. He also expanded his and the dynasty’s influence inside and outside of China. However, history attests that all of these efforts were in vain.

The two Sui Dynasty emperors were incomparable. It was the rise and fall of the Sui dynasty. China probably has seen the two sides of the coin under the Sui Dynasty: its full glory under Emperor Wendi and its darkest times under Emperor Yang.

Who is Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty?

Emperor Yang was the second son of Emperor Wendi, the first emperor of the Sui Dynasty. Yang was named Yang Ying but was renamed Yang Guang after oracles advised his father to change his name. He had an older brother named Yang Yong, the Crown Prince, representing the aristocrats of the north at the time of their father’s era.

He was considered to be his parent’s favorite son. Before China’s unification, he was given the title of the Duke of Yanmen on account of his father’s achievements. Known to be courageous and valiant from a young age, Yang was in charge of five armies in his father’s conquest in the Southern Chen Dynasty.

The “Perfect” Prince

Before he snatched the crown from his older brother, Emperor Yang became a marshal. He spearheaded in defeating kingdoms in Southern China. As a result of defeating the biggest kingdom in the south, he became the representative of the new landlords. Southerners stopped rebelling and respected the Sui Dynasty.

Since Yang was the favorite son, he was able to convince his parents to strip his older brother from being the crown prince. While it’s true that the Crown Prince Yang Yong lived extravagantly with vices, Yang Guang was good at pretending to act otherwise. He successfully led Emperor Wendi to name him the Crown Prince and banish his older brother.

As the Crown Prince, he was highly commended by his subjects.


Traditional historians believe that Emperor Yang is one of the worst leaders in Chinese history. Even before his reign, there were already controversies tackling his assertion of the emperorship.

It was widely believed that Yang had killed his own father. Though there were no claims to prove this theory, it was ingrained in the traditional Chinese mindset that Emperor Yang was willing to have someone murdered — whether his older brother, other brothers, nephews — who are essentially a threat to his throne.

The Finest Antiques for Sale

Yuan Dynasty Plate

Gently hand-painted by ancient artisans, this antique Chinese porcelain charger plate once belonged to a member of the Yuan dynasty royalty More info

Ming Dynasty Plate

Exquisitely preserved, this rare and unique plate from the distant Ming Dynasty, the quality suggest it was used in the imperial palace. More info

Yuan Dynasty Charger Plate

Rare blue and white porcelain charger plate from the Yuan dynasty military, this rare plate feature a beautiful and complex inverted painting. More info

Yang in Action

Patron of Arts

Emperor Yang was a patron of the arts. He was considered a talented and gifted artist. His love for music, arts, literature, and education pushed him to open colleges that offered opportunities for his subjects.

However, his relatively evil nature drove him to murder his co-artists, who he considered competitions.

Death of the Six Million Workers

In the hopes of continuing his father’s legacy, several major construction projects were set into place during his reign: larger canals, roads, palaces, and the continuous reconstruction of the Great Wall. However, he was heavily criticized for the death of six million workers.

Life of Luxury

Emperor Yang attempted to modernize China through construction projects like luxurious palaces and massive food storages. He spent lavishly on these projects that severely affected the royal treasury and the country’s financial resources.

His ruthlessness and extravagant spending frustrated the people. Even more so when he imposed excessive taxes on people to enable corruption within his government.

Blue and White Porcelain Ming Vase Warrior Riding a Horse

This magnificent ฺBlue and White Ming vase is perfectly preserved with traditional cobalt oxide blue tones that still glow like the first day. The piece begins with a slim foot that makes way for exquisitely defined arches spread across the base.

Buy Now!

Early Ming Chinese Antique Blue and White Porcelain Jar with Characters

The blue glaze of the traditional cobalt oxide of this early Ming Dynasty porcelain jar shines like the first day.Its base with a slim foot opens the way to a double-line medallion that cements the main figure

Buy Now!

Early Ming Dynasty Blue and White Porcelain Vase with Characters

This elegant blue and white Ming vase was painted exclusively in exquisite blue tones of traditional cobalt oxide has been superbly preserved. Its base begins with elegant floral arches between two double medallions.

Buy Now!

Military Campaigns under Yang

Emperor Yang inherited his militaristic talent from his father. He led extensive military campaigns to control more territories and proliferate his influence. He maintained the Chinese empire in Vietnam and explored more territories to conquer. However, these expeditions were at the expense of the depletion of China’s financial resources.

Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty – Assassination

The Chinese emperor’s misrule sparked major rebellions across the country. 618 rebellious army officers staged a coup and attacked the palace. It was said that Emperor Yang tried deceiving the rebels by attempting suicide by poison, but rebels discovered the scheme. The Sui Dynasty emperor was then strangled by a rebel using his own scarf.

Supporters, high-ranking officials, and relatives were killed along with Emperor Yang. While this coup was staged to defeat Yang’s ruthlessness, it was also the beginning of the Sui Dynasty’s downfall.