Tuoba Huang was born in 428, as Emperor Taiwu's oldest son. His mother's name was render as Consort He , but since both the Helan and Helai clans later changed their names to He , it is unclear whether her name was Helan or Helai. She died the year that she gave birth to him, suggesting that she might have died in childbirth, but there is no conclusive evidence that it happened.
In 432, Emperor Taiwu created Tuoba Huang crown prince, at the same time that he created one of his consorts, , empress. He became a highly ranked official in his father's administration that same year, although, at age four, the position was likely nominal. In 433, Emperor Taiwu tried to negotiate a marriage between Crown Prince Huang and one of the daughters of Emperor Wen of Liu Song, but Emperor Wen, while not immediately rejecting the proposal, did not agree either.
In 439, when Emperor Taiwu was on a campaign to conquer Northern Liang, he had Crown Prince Huang assume imperial authority at the capital Pingcheng , assisted by the high-ranking official Qiumuling Shou , to guard against a Rouran attack. However, Qiumuling, not believing that Rouran would actually attack, took little actual precautions, and when Rouran's Chilian Khan Yujiulü Wuti attacked, Pingcheng was caught nearly defenseless. Qiumuling wanted to escort Crown Prince Huang to the hills south of Pingcheng and take up defense position there, but at the opposition of Emperor Taiwu's wet nurse Empress Dowager Dou, Crown Prince Huang remained in Pingcheng, and when Northern Wei forces subsequently defeated Rouran forces, Yujiulü Wuti was forced to withdraw.
By 442, Crown Prince Huang appeared to be already a devout Buddhist, and when his father, at the suggestion of Cui and the Taoist monk Kou Qianzhi, built the very high and difficult-to-construct Jinglun Palace , he tried to oppose on account of cost, but Emperor Taiwu did not agree.
In 443, Crown Prince Huang accompanied his father on a campaign against Rouran, and when theysuddenly encountered Yujiulü Wuti, Crown Prince Huang advised an immediate attack, but Emperor Taiwu hesitated, allowing Yujiulü Wuti to escape. From that point on, Emperor Taiwu began to listen to Crown Prince Huang's advice in earnest, and in winter 443, he authorized Crown Prince Huang to carry out all imperial duties except the most important ones, under assistance from Qiumuling, Cui, Zhang Li , and Tuxi Bi . Crown Prince Huang soon instituted a policy to encourage farming -- by mandatorily requiring those who had extra cattle to loan them to those without, to be animals of burden, with the lease being paid for by those without cattle by tilling the grounds of the cattle owners, increasing the efficiency of the farmlands greatly.
After Emperor Taiwu's partial transfer of authority
In 446, while Emperor Taiwu was attacking the Xiongnu rebel Gai Wu , he found a large number of weapons in Buddhist temples in Chang'an. Believing that the monks were aligned with Gai, he slaughtered the monks in Chang'an. Cui Hao used this opportunity to encourage Emperor Taiwu to slaughter all monks throughout the empire and destroy the temples, statues, and sutras, and notwithstanding Kou Qianzhi's opposition, Emperor Taiwu proceeded to slaughter the monks in Chang'an, destroy the statues, and burn the sutras. He then issued an empire-wide prohibition of Buddhism. Crown Prince Huang, however, used delaying tactics in promulgating the edict, allowing Buddhists to flee or hide, but it was said that not a single Buddhist temple remained standing in Northern Wei. This was the first of the Three Disasters of Wu.
By 450, Crown Prince Huang appeared to be in direct conflict with Cui over administration of the state. When Cui recommended a number of men to be commandery governors, Crown Prince Huang objected strenuously, and yet the men were commissioned over his objection at Cui's insistence. It appeared that Crown Prince Huang had a hand when, later in 450, Cui was put to death with his entire clan, on account of having defamed imperial ancestors, as Crown Prince Huang argued hard to spare one of Cui's staff members, , and during that process, Gao gave some statements regarding Cui that could be viewed either as exculpatory or inculpatory.
In fall of 450, when Liu Song's Emperor Wen sent his general Wang Xuanmo to attack Huatai , Emperor Taiwu personally led an army to relieve Huatai, and subsequently, after defeating Wang, advanced deeply into Liu Song territory, all the way to the Yangtze River. During Emperor Taiwu's campaign against Liu Song, pursuant to his instructions, Crown Prince Huang was on the northern border, defending against a potential Rouran attack.
Death and aftermaths
Crown Prince Huang was described to be high observant, but trusting of his associates and also spending much effort on managing orchards and farms, to earn money from them. Gao Yun tried to advise him against engaging in commercial ventures and in overly delegating authorities, but he did not listen. Rather, in 451, he became embroiled in a conflict with the eunuch Zong Ai, whose corruption he had found out and whom he disliked immensely. Zong, apprehensive that Crown Prince Huang's trusted associates Chouni Daosheng and Ren Pingcheng would accuse him of crimes, acted preemptorily and accused Chouni and Ren of crimes. In anger, Emperor Taiwu executed Chouni and Ren, and many other associates of Crown Prince Huang were entangled in the case and executed as well. In fear, Crown Prince Huang became ill and died.
Emperor Taiwu soon became aware that Crown Prince Huang was not involved in any crimes, and he regretted his actions greatly. Around the new year 451, he created Crown Prince Huang's oldest son the Prince of Gaoyang, but soon removed that title on the account that the crown prince's oldest son should not be a mere imperial prince -- a strong sign that he was intending to create Tuoba Jun crown prince eventually. Zong, in fear that Emperor Taiwu would punish him, assassinated Emperor Taiwu in spring 452, and then seized power, killing a number of officials and Crown Prince Huang's younger brother Tuoba Han the Prince of Dongping, while making another younger brother of Crown Prince Huang's, Tuoba Yu the Prince of Nan'an emperor. Zong controlled the imperial regime, and when Tuoba Yu tried to assert his own power in fall 452, Zong assassinated him as well. Officials led by Yuan He, Baba Kehou , Dugu Ni , and Buliugu Li rose against Zong and killed him, making Tuoba Jun emperor, and Tuoba Jun, after he took the throne as Emperor Wencheng, posthumously honored Tuoba Huang as an emperor.
** Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei
** Consort Helai or Helan , posthumously honored as Empress Jing'ai
* Major Concubines
** Consort Yujiulü, sister of Yujiulü Pi the Prince of Hedong , mother of Prince Jun, posthumously honored as Empress Gong
** Consort Yuan, mother of Prince Xincheng
** Consort Weichi, mother of Princes Zitui and Xiaoxincheng
** Consort Yang, mother of Prince Tianci
** Consort Meng, mother of Prince Yun
** Consort Dugu, mother of Princes Zhen and Changshou
** Consort Murong, mother of Prince Tailuo
** Consort Weichi, mother of Prince Hu'er
** Consort Meng, mother of Prince Xiu
** Tuoba Jun , initially created the Prince of Gaoyang , later Emperor Wencheng of Northern Wei
** Tuoba Xincheng , Prince You of Yangping
** Tuoba Zitui , Prince Kang of Jingzhao
** Tuoba Xiaoxincheng , the Prince of Huaiyin
** Tuoba Tianci , Prince Ling of Ruiyin
** Tuoba Wanshou , Prince Li of Lelang
** Tuoba Luohou , Prince Shang of Guangping
** Tuoba Yun , Prince Kang of Rencheng
** Tuoba Zhen , Prince Hui of Nan'an
** Tuoba Changshou , Prince Kang of Chengyang
** Tuoba Tailuo , Prince Jing of Zhangwu
** Tuoba Hu'er , Prince Kang of Leling
** Tuoba Xiu , Prince Jing of Anding
** Tuoba Shen , the Prince of Zhao, died early
** Princess Anle
** Princess Boling