January 27, 555 – Death of Yuan Di, emperor of the Liang Dynasty

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Part of the paying tribute to Chinese emperor painting

Emperor Yuan of Liang (16 September 508 – 27 January 555 was an emperor of the Chinese Liang Dynasty. After his father Emperor Wu and brother Emperor Jianwen were successively taken hostage and controlled by the rebel general Hou Jing, Xiao Yi was largely viewed as the de facto leader of Liang, and after defeating Hou in 552 declared himself emperor.

In 554, after offending Yuwen Tai, the paramount general of rival Western Wei, Western Wei forces descended on and captured his capital Jiangling (江陵, in modern Jingzhou, Hubei), executing him and instead declaring his nephew Xiao Cha (Emperor Xuan) the Emperor of Liang.

Emperor Yuan was a renowned writer and collector of ancient books, but was criticized by historians for concentrating on eliminating potential contenders for the throne rather than on fighting Hou Jing.

As Jiangling was besieged by Western Wei troops, Emperor Yuan set his collection of more than 140,000 volumes of ancient books on fire, and this is commonly considered as one of the greatest disasters for the study of ancient works in Chinese history.

Tony Simon

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