Growing up in the household of the Marquis, Wei Zifu was trained in singing and dancing and served the Princess of Pingyang as a singer.
Wei Zifu met her future husband, Emperor Wu, at Princess Pingyang's house. As Emperor Wu, still in his teens, had not produced a son, the Princess of Pingyang prepared a collection of young women to offer for her brother's concubinage in order to establish herself political leverage. However, the plan did not work — all her candidates failed to impress the young emperor. Then Princess Pingyang ordered her singers to entertain him. Emperor Wu was very impressed by Wei Zifu. He immediately conferred a thousand piece of gold to his sister as a reward, who in turn offered the new girl to him as a gift. Emperor Wu then took Wei Zifu back to Chang'an.
As Empress Chen didn't want to see Wei Zifu as a concubine she demoted her to an insignificant palace maid, where Wei Zifu was largely neglected. More than a year later, feeling hopeless with her life inside the palaces, Wei Zifu blended into a queue of palace maids waiting to be expelled. However, Emperor Wu happened to be there inspecting the expulsion process, and love soon re-flamed when he saw the tearful girl pleading to go home. So, Wei Zifu was made to stay.
Empress Chen's mother, the Grand Princess Liu Piao, was also jealous of the growing power of the Wei clan and imprisoned one of Wei Zifu’s brothers, Wei Qing, intending to have him put to death, but Wei Qing’s friends managed to have him released. Emperor Wu was displeased with the behavior of Liu Piao and immediately appointed Wei Qing Director of Jianzhang Palace and Palace Attendant.
In the spring of 128 B.C., Consort Wei gave birth to a son, Liu Ju, and was appointed empress of the twenty-eight-year-old Emperor Wu. Six years later her son was appointed heir apparent. In time, however, Empress Wei’s beauty began to fade and she lost her grip on the emperor. However, he continued to respect Empress Wei's judgment and entrusted her to govern palace affairs when he was absent from the capital, and assigned her son Crown Prince Liu Ju as the regent for governmental affairs.
Some years later, an official named Jiang Chong impressed Emperor Wu with his impartial investigation of a case of immorality and incest. In 91 B.C., Jiang Chong was made responsible for investigating crimes of sorcery. Two of Empress Wei’s daughters were implicated and put to death for practicing witchcraft. Realizing that the emperor, already sixty-six years old, was ill and fearing retribution at the hands of the heir apparent Liu Ju, Jiang Chong manipulated the evidence to implicate Liu Ju and Empress Wei in sorcery. Liu Ju took the initiative, however, and had Jiang Chong arrested and put to death.
Unfortunately, the affair appeared to Emperor Wu to be an attempt on the part of Liu Ju to rebel. The defeated heir apparent hanged himself, while his wife, his concubines, his sons, and his daughter were all put to death; only one grandson survived. Empress Wei was stripped of the imperial seal and ribbon and she took her own life.
18 years after her death, her great-grandson Liu Bingyi ascended to the throne in 74 B.C. as Emperor Xuan. Emperor Xuan then had his great-grandmother's name officially cleared and rebuilt her tomb to a larger mausoleum and gave her the posthumous title Wei Si Hou.
Wei Zifu was recorded as a modest, careful and low-key empress, who tried her best to keep her clan members in line and out of trouble.
Wei Zifu was the second wife of the famous Emperor Wu and his spouse of 49 years. She had three daughters and a son.