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Empress Liu could be said to be a virtuous and shrewd woman.
On the matter of naming a Taizi, she wavered. After all, First Wangzi was a Di son and the eldest.
Other women would have certainly killed First Wangzi while her husband was in power. But Née Liu did not do so and actually treated her husband’s deceased wife’s son well. Even when the Emperor was discussing naming a Taizi, she prevented her family from interfering.
Finally, the Emperor named Née Liu’s eldest son as Taizi. She was afraid that First Wangzi would be upset, so she took her Taizi son and swore an oath in front of First Wangzi to never harm his big brother.
So when Xuanwu Emperor ascended the throne, he immediately bestowed the title “Ning Wang” to his older brother.
Ning Wang and Née Liu had a very good relationship. They were as close as biological mother and son.
Actually, this Liu Empress Dowager was Zi You’s Aunt Née Liu’s distant cousin. Née Liu’s father, Liu Ruiyuan, was a second-rank senior minister. He was the Empress Dowager’s cousin’s son, from a different branch of the family.
There was another Wei Wang, the Emperor’s third brother. Wei Wang’s mother was the previous Emperor’s favored Liang Fei.
This Wei Wang was one of the powerful contenders of the throne then. If not for Empress Dowager Liu and her father Duke Anguo obtaining the previous emperor’s trust and respect, the throne would not be the current Emperor’s.
To make a metaphor: the previous Emperor was like Li Shimin, Empress Dowager Liu was like Empress Changsun, and Liang Fei was like Li Ke’s mother: Yang Fei [all historical figures and references].
The last to mention was the Emperor’s younger brother: An Wang.
An Wang, Shangguan Yixuan, was the previous Emperor’s sixth son. He was thirty-four years old and the current Empress Dowager’s most beloved son.