Birth and childhood
Xiao Tong was born to Xiao Yan, then a Southern Qi general nearing final victory in a civil war against the cruel and violent emperor Xiao Baojuan, in winter 501. He was born at Xiao Yan's power base of Xiangyang, to Xiao Yan's concubine Ding Lingguang . After Xiao Yan's victory later in 501, he forced Emperor He of Southern Qi, whom he had supported as a rival claimant to the Southern Qi throne, to yield the throne to him in 502, ending Southern Qi and starting Liang Dynasty . The officials requested that he make Xiao Tong, then an infant, the crown prince, and while Emperor Wu initially declined on account that the empire had not been pacified, he did so in winter 502, when Xiao Tong was only one year old. After Xiao Tong was created crown prince, his mother Consort Ding, while not made empress, was given a special status co-equal with her son.
Xiao Tong was said to be intellilgent, kind, and obedient to his parents from his childhood. As per customs of the time, in 506, he was housed in the Yongfu Mansion , the residence for the crown prince, in his childhood, but he missed his parents, and so every few days or so Emperor Wu would spend several days at Yongfu Mansion. In 515, he went through his rite of passage and was declared an adult, and Emperor Wu bestowed him a crown.
As Emperor Wu was an avid Buddhist, Xiao Tong also became one, and he studied sutras intently, often inviting Buddhist monks to his palace to preach and to discuss Buddhist doctrines. After his rite of passage, Emperor Wu also began to gradually have him handle more and more matters of state, becoming less involved in the day-to-day operations of the empire.
In 522, Xiao Tong's uncle Xiao Dan the Prince of Shixing died. By custom, a crown prince would not hold a mourning period for an uncle, but Xiao Tong believed this custom to be unfilial, and therefore requested the officials to further discuss the matter. After the official Liu Xiaochuo suggested that he hold a one-month mourning period, he agreed, and in fact made this a precedent for Liang Dynasty.
During this period, Xiao Tong compiled a compendium of ancient poetry and texts, which he referred to as ''Wenxuan'' , which was later known after his death, by his posthumous name, as the ''Zhaoming Wenxuan'' . It is a work of historical importance, as it preserved many ancient texts which otherwise might have been lost.
In 526, Consort Ding grew ill, and Xiao Tong spent his days attending to her without rest. She died in winter 526, and Xiao Tong was so saddened that he ate nothing. It was after Emperor Wu tried to console him by pointing out that he should not harm his body and that he still had his father that Xiao Tong began to take porridge, but he ate nothing further. He was described to be fairly obese until that point, but he lost a lot of weight during the mourning period for Consort Ding.
The death of Consort Ding brought about a disastrous effect in Xiao Tong's relationship with his father, however. Xiao Tong sought out an appropriate place to bury Consort Ding, but while he was doing so, a land owner bribed the eunuch Yu Sanfu into convincing Emperor Wu that that piece of land would bring good fortune for the emperor, and so Emperor Wu bought the land and buried Consort Ding there. However, once Consort Ding was buried, a Taoist monk informed Xiao Tong that he believed that the land would bring ill fortune for Consort Ding's oldest son -- Xiao Tong. Xiao Tong therefore allowed the monk to bury a few items intended to dissolve the ill fortune, such as wax ducks, at the position reserved for the oldest son. Later on, when one of Xiao Tong's attendants, Bao Miaozhi , was squeezed out of Xiao Tong's inner circles by another attendant, Wei Ya , he, in resentment, reported to Emperor Wu that Wei had carried out sorcery on Xiao Tong's behalf. When Emperor Wu investigated, waxed ducks were found, and Emperor Wu became surprised and angry, and wanted to investigate further. He only stopped the investigation when he was advised to do so by the prime minister Xu Mian, executing only the Taoist monk who had suggested the burial of wax ducks. Xiao Tong became humiliated in the affair, and was never able to clear himself completely in his father's eyes.
Xiao Tong died in 531. Even when he was very ill, because he was afraid to make Emperor Wu be concerned about him, he still personally wrote submissions to his father. After his death, Emperor Wu personally attended his wake and buried him at a tomb appropriate for an emperor. He also summoned Xiao Tong's oldest son, Xiao Huan the Duke of Huarong back to the capital Jiankang, preparing to create Xiao Huan crown prince to replace his father. However, still resentful over the wax duck affair, he hesitated for days without carrying out the creation, and finally did not do so. Instead, against popular opinion, he created Xiao Tong's younger brother, also by Consort Ding, crown prince. In 551, when Xiao Gang, then emperor but under control and virtual house arrest by the general Hou Jing, Hou, to try to show off his power, deposed Emperor Jianwen and made Xiao Tong's grandson Xiao Dong the Prince of Yuzhang emperor. It was then that Xiao Tong was posthumously honored an emperor.
** Emperor Wu of Liang
** Consort Ding Lingguang , posthumous name Mu
** Crown Princess Cai, the Crown Princess Jing, later posthumously honored as Empress Jing
* Major Concubines
** , mother of Prince Cha and possibly Prince Yu
** Xiao Huan , initially the Duke of Huarong, later Prince An of Yuzhang
** Xiao Yu , initially the Duke of Zhijiang , later Prince Wuhuan of Hedong
** Xiao Cha , initially the Duke of Qujiang, later the Prince of Yueyang , later Emperor Xuan of Western Liang
** Xiao Pi , the Prince of Wuchang
** Xiao Jian , the Prince of Yiyang