标题: 100 Famous Women in China
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100 Famous Women in China

1,嫘祖 Leizu (discoverer of silk)

Leizu (?--?) was the wife of Xuanyuan Huangdi (Huangdi literally meaning Yellow Emperor, living round 2550 BC. Chinese people, i.e., Han tribe, deem themselves the posterity of Huangdi.) A legend had it that Huangdi had a war with another tribe, whose leader was Chiyou, who, it was said, had the ability to raise heavy fog so that the army of Huangdi could not find the way where to go. And it was also said that Huangdi invented a guide cart, on which there was a flat plate with a magnet in the shape of a big spoon. The spoon could turn round and the handle of the spoon always pointed south. It was the earliest type of compass.
        When Huangdi defeated Chiyou, he returned in triumph and had a feast of celebration. All of a sudden the goddess of silkworm came to offer the silk to Huangdi for congratulations. Huangdi gave it to his wife, who loved the glistening thin thread very much. She began to breed silkworm and wove the thread into silk cloth and made a gown for her husband. She also taught people to breed silkworm. She was thus called Lady Silkworm, and in later history was deemed the Goddess of Silkworm. She died on the way in company of Huangdi when he traveled over the country.
        But there was another legend about the original goddess of silkworm. A girl and her father lived together. The father went to fight for Huangdi. There was a horse in the house. One day the girl thought of her father badly, and she said to the horse, “Oh, horse, if you can bring back my father, I will marry you.” the horse ran away immediately and after some time the father came home on the horseback. The girl was glad, but she forgot her promise to marry the horse entirely. However, the horse remembered it and got sick. The father asked his daughter about the sick horse. The girl was reminded of her promise and told it to her father, who, of course, would not let her daughter marry a horse. Therefore he killed the horse and flayed the hide of the horse. Then he lay the hide on the ground in the sun to make it dry. The daughter came close to the hide and said, “You, horse, how can I, a human, marry you, a horse?” Then she stamped her foot on the hide. Suddenly the hide flew up and wrapped around the girl. The girl was frightened out of her senses and ran off from home to the nearby woods with mulberry trees.  Then she began to eat mulberry leaves and spewed out silk threads.

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2,薑嫄  Jiangyuan (mother of planting)
Jiangyuan (?--?) was born in the present Wugong town of Shaanxi province and was the wife of Gao, the great grandson of Huangdi. One winter day, she was walking in the countryside and saw a giant footprint by the Wei river. She trod in it and when she was back home, gradually she felt that she was pregnant. She conceived the baby for twelve months and then gave birth. The baby looked ugly with a very big head. The mother thought that it was a monster and so deserted it for three times. But every time the baby was saved. At last the mother took it back and brought it up. So the baby was named Qi (meaning to desert). Later he was called Huoji. The mother gave him good education. He was the earliest ancestor of Zhou dynasty (1121—476 BC). From early boyhood he was interested in plants and when he grew up, he taught people how to grow grains, etc. that was the beginning of agriculture in China. People remembered his mother and historians gave her the title of mother saintess.

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3. 蘇妲己 Su Daji (cruel beauty)
Su Daji (?--?) was the wife of King Zhou (?--1046 BC), who was the last king of Shang dynasty (1765—1122 BC), and proud of his great strength. She came from Su clan. Her father was Su Hu, the chieftain of the clan. She was a pretty girl and could dance. In 1147 BC, King Zhou conquered Su clan. Su Hu had to give his daughter to King Zhou as his trophy. It was the tradition in ancient China that the conqueror always demanded valuables and pretty girls from the defeater. Since Daji was very beautiful, the king made her his queen after he got some pretense to kill his original queen.  This queen had two sons, who were exiled. The king did these to please his new queen, if not secretly required by her. As the new queen could dance, the king ordered the palace musician Shijuan to compose some decadent music.  Daji danced to the obscene music to please the king. The king was so doting on her that he would grant all her wishes, no matter how absurd and cruel her desire was. There were some facts recorded in the history books.
        The king had a garden built having a pond filled with wine and a forest with dried meat fillets hanging from the boughs of the trees. He often held a banquet there, with as many as three thousand officials gathering there. They played and chased each other naked among the trees. The king and the queen liked to row on the wine. Anyone could drink the wine from the pond.
        Daji ordered a huge deep pit dug and put in hundreds of snakes. She would have her offenders thrown into it to feed the snakes. She also invented some torture equipment. The most cruel one was a bronze pillar with inside vacant. Then firewood and coal filled it and burned. When the pillar was hot, a criminal was brought and made to embrace it till he was burned to death with shrill bitter cries.
        Once in winter when she saw an old man walking on ice with bare feet. He seemed not to feel cold. She thought that he might have something special in the bone of his shin. Therefore she ordered to have the man brought to her presence and to have his foreleg cut down to see if anything special inside his bone.
        Another time, when she and the king sat on the terrace to look at the street. At the time, a women with child walked by. She said that the woman would have a girl while the king said that she would have a boy. So they bet who would guess right. Then the woman was brought in and her belly was cut open to see it was a boy or a girl. Two lives lost for their absurd bet. Besides these, all the courtiers who criticized their misbehavior were executed.  Finally they lost the support of courtiers and people and was at last subdued by Zhou dynasty. The king burned himself and Daji hanged herself.

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4,齊文姜 Qi Wenjiang (an able and adulterous woman)

Qi Wenjiang (733—673 BC) was the second daughter of Duke Xi (?--698 BC) of Qi dukedom  bordering on the East Sea. She had a sister Qi Xuanjiang. Both girls were beautiful, well-known to all states in China at the time. It was in the first warring period (770—221 BC) in the history of China. All the dukedoms, marquisates, and earldoms etc. became independent though the king of Zhou dynasty was still in reign in name only. His power could only reach within the territory of his kingdom.
        Duke Ling (540—493 BC) of Wei dukedom wanted to have the elder sister Xuanjiang to be the wife of his son. Her father agreed and sent her to Wei dukedom. But when Duke Ling set eyes on the girl, her beauty stunned him, and he took the girl as his own wife, to the disappointment of his son. There was even a folk song to sing the praise of her beauty. Since that day, Duke Ling stuck to his young wife day and night. If he could not see her even for a moment, he would look like his soul had left his body.
        Then Duke Xi declared that he would find a husband for his second daughter. The news spread and all the sons of the rulers of other states came to the capital of Qi dukedom to seek for the hand of the girl. It happened because of two reasons. Firstly, the girl was a beauty known in all states. Secondly, Qi Dukedom was a big state. If a small state had the relationship with a big state, the small state would have more safety against other neighboring small states. In that period, there were much more small states than big states. They often wanted to merge others to become big. Among all the suitors, the girl selected the son of Zheng State. But when the son went back to his own state, he regretted of the marriage and broke the agreement, because he was afraid that the daughter of a big state would certainly bully the son of a small state. He would not be bullied by his wife. When the girl learned the decision of the boy she had chosen, she turned irritating and then woeful. She became languish and sick, because the breech of the marriage from the boy's side was an insult to the girl in the public eye, which meant that the girl might have some defects in her moral or character.
        She had a brother and they played together since childhood. As the brother knew that his sister was sick, he came to see her, desiring to comfort her.  Young girl and young boy, no matter what was their relationship, when meeting in certain condition, would easily give themselves up for love action. At that time, there were no moral rules for such things like in present days. A beautiful girl and a handsome boy were surely a destined pair.
        Lu dukedom was just next to Qi dukedom. Duke Huan (731—694 BC) of Lu state just succeeded to the throne and was in need of a wife. Qi dukedom was a large state while Lu dukedom was a bit smaller, and not so strong. Duke Huan thought that if he got a wife from a big state, he would have a strong support for his rule. So he married Qi Wenjiang though he knew the abnormal relationship between the girl and her brother. Different people have different ideas to a certain thing. Duke Huan did not care for it as long as he had a beautiful wife and strong support. After the wedding, the husband and the wife got along well and they had two sons.
        After several years, Duke Xi of Qi dukedom died and his son, the brother, turned to be the new duke, called Duke Xiang (729—686 BC). The rulers of other states went there for the ceremony. Duke Huan of Lu dukedom went there, too, but he did not bring his wife together, though the wife begged to go with him. He feared that if the sister and the brother met again, their fire of love might rekindle. However, if he never took his wife back to her mother state, it would look weird to other states. So after eighteen years, he did go to visit Qi dukedom with his wife, who was already in her forties. But women in forties are still in need of that.  
        Duke Xiang was glad that his sister came at length after long years of separation. He recalled their happy time together. When the duke of Lu state and his wife settled down in the guest room in the palace, the duke of Qi state asked his sister to see his wife in the rear of the palace. The duke of Lu state could not say NO to this request. Once in some back room, the brother and the sister fell into action right away like dry wood caught fire. For several days, the duke of Lu state was left alone and so one day he trespassed into the rear palace and witnessed their action. He slapped his wife on the face and dragged her away from the room. He and his wife started immediately back to Lu dukedom. He let his wife go ahead and he himself attended the farewell party given by the duke of Qi state, the brother. He left the palace in a coach after bidding adieu, but was killed in the coach by a knight of Qi dukedom. The knight overtook the wife and reported to her of the death of her husband. The wife clearly knew what had happened to her husband, but she said nothing. She let the knight go to back to tell the news to her brother, who hurried here to meet his sister. The sister stayed on the border of the two dukedoms for a while. And the brother often came to meet her. Finally she had to return to Lu dukedom with the news that the duke of Lu state died suddenly on the way back. Although the courtiers of Lu state suspected something, but they had no evidence, and had to keep silent. Later the knight was executed on some excuses to keep the murder a secret. But on the execution spot, the knight told the secret to all the people present at the top of his voice.
        When Lu dukedom was informed of the sudden death of their duke, the elder son of the diseased duke became the ruler. He was Duke Zhuang.  As he was still young and so his mother, Qi Wenjiang, helped him to manage the state affairs. She was a capable woman and made Lu dukedom strong and once defeated Qi dukedom in a battle, though Qi dukedom was her parental state. Anyway, Qi dukedom should not fight Lu dukedom as they were brother and sister.

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5. 西施 Xishi (the first beauty of the four beauties)
Xishi (?--?) lived in the first warring period, later than Qi Wenjiang, who lived in the earlier time of that period. Xishi was born in Ningluo village in the suburb of Zhuji town in Zhejiang province. Her real name was Shi Yiguang. As Ningluo village was divided in two parts, the east part and the west part. Since Shi Yiguang lived in the west part, and so she got the nickname “Xishi” (Xi means west).
        She was one of the four beauties, the earliest one, in the history of ancient China. The other three were Wang Zhaojun, Diaochan, and Yang Yuhuan, whose story was told in another book of mine titled “Love Tales of Ancient China.”  There were so many beautiful women in the history of China, why were these four women that grouped as the four beauties, not others? None nowadays can tell the reason. We just tell the stories as they were. Xishi often washed gauze clothes in a stream in her village, and thereby she got another nickname “gauze-washing girl.”
        There were two states bordering each other: Wu kingdom and Yue kingdom, both in the present Zhejiang province. In the latter part of the first warring period, the Zhou kingdom already perished. Therefore, all survived states after merging called themselves kingdoms. In 494 BC, Wu kingdom defeated Yue kingdom and captured the king of Yue kingdom, Gouqian by name. Guoqian (520—465 BC) showed himself to be a very tame captive and vowed that if he could be allowed to go back to his own state, he would always be loyal to Fucha (?--473 BC), king of Wu kingdom. Guoqian also bribed Bopi, a favorite courtier of King Wu to throw good words for him. King Wu was a good-for-nothing while King Yue was a capable man. Why Yue kingdom was defeated by Wu kingdom was because a very famous strategist as well as an able general served Wu kingdom. This famous strategist Sun Zi (545-470 BC) had written a world renowned military book titled  Arts of War. He was deemed as martial saint. Some famous rules in the book are “know your enemy as well as yourself so that you can always be victorious,” “always give your enemy a false move so as to mislead them.”
        At length, Guoqian was released and went back to Yue kingdom. Every year, Guoqian sent a lot of tributes to Wu kingdom to show his faithfulness. But secretly he wanted to have revenge. One of his courtiers, Fan Li, suggested a strategy that Guoqian should send the King Wu some dancing girls so that King Wu would always enjoy the dancing and neglect his state affairs, which would provide Yue kingdom a chance to conquer Wu kingdom.
        Fan Li (536—448 BC) began to look for beautiful girls within the state and he found Xishi one day when she was washing her gauze by the stream. As soon as he set eyes on her, he felt that she was the right girl he was looking for. So he took the girl to the palace to be taught singing and dancing. After some special training, she was sent to King Wu, who liked the girl very much and did indulge in singing and dancing of the beauty. She could dance clog-dancing and she had plenty of tiny bells sewed on her skirt so that when she danced the bells gave out tingling to the rhythm of her dancing.  The king made her his queen and had a new palace built for her, inside which there was a special corridor called “clog-sounding corridor.” It was built like this—hundreds of big vats were put side by side and wooden planks were laid on top of them. When the girl danced on the planks, wearing clogs, the empty vats echoed with a hollow sound to meet with the rhythm of the dancing. The king did neglect his state affairs, and seeing this, Sun Zi left Wu kingdom and lived somewhere as a hermit. Wu kingdom was finally defeated by Yue kingdom. King Wu made suicide.
        There were two legends about the end of Xishi. The first one was that when the king of Wu kingdom died, she was drowned in a river. The second one was that Fan Li took her with him, fearful that if King Yue saw her, he might be charmed by her beauty and also neglect his state affairs. Fan Li became a merchant and lived with Xishi happily till the end of their lives.

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6. 鍾無鹽 Zhong Wuyan (an ugly and wise woman)
Zhong Wuyan (?--?) (wuyan literally meaning no beauty) was ugly, but wise and could fight. How ugly was she? There was a description: a big belly, a big head, her forehead and eyes looking like sucked in, and her skin very dark and course. She was suspected that her mother or father came from abroad, not the offspring of Han tribe. Most famous women in Chinese history were beautiful. Only this one was ugly. As she was so ugly, no man would marry her. She was still single when she reached the age of forty.
        At that time, King Xuan (?--301 BC) of Qi state was on the throne. He was not a capable man with a quick temper. He liked flattering. There was corruption all over the state and other states were watching for some opportunity to invade Qi state. The famous Mencius had come to give him advice, but he would not listen. Qi state at the time had a clever premier Yan Ying (?--500 BC), who was short in stature. Qi state had three haughty knights at the same time. They even sometimes refused to obey the king. So Yan Ying was afraid that they might endanger the state. One day there came a chance. There grew a peach tree in the palace. The peach tree produced some large fruits that day. Yan Ying  suggested to the king to give two of the peaches to the three knights. One knight ate one and another knight ate the other. The third one had none. Yan Ying said to him that it was a disgrace to him that he could have none to eat while the other two ate theirs. The third one was ashamed of  himself, and drawing out his sword, he killed himself. The other two knights said that the three of them were like brothers. They should not eat the peaches without thinking of their brother. They felt ashamed of themselves for the neglect. Therefore, they killed themselves on the spot. This event in the history was called “Killing three knights with two peaches.”
        One day the king went hunting with Yan and met Wuyan in the forest. Wuyan was an ambitious woman and had certain opinions about the state. She seized the opportunity to come forth to talk to the king. She analyzed the dangerous situation the state was now in and made good suggestions to him. Therefore, at the advice of Yan, the king took her to the palace and made her his queen. When Yan state, which was to the north of Qi state, sent a messenger there to test the wisdom of the king. The messenger brought two jade rings connected together. The king was asked to separate them. Just when the king did not know what to do with it, Wuyan came out. She brought a small hammer and used it to knock one ring into two pieces. The rings were thus separated. However, Yan state yet sent the army in an intention to conquer Qi state. Wuyan led the army of Qi state to meet the army of Yan state and defeated it. She helped the king to make Qi state strong.

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7. 孟母 Mother of Mencius (392—317 BC) (a considerate mother)
Mencius (372—289 BC) was naughty when a boy. His father died when he was only three. Her mother brought  him up and educated him. In his teenage, he liked to imitate whatever he saw. At first they lived in the countryside, close to a graveyard. When people came to bury corpses, crying. He would dig a small pit in the ground and put in a piece of wood, and cried. When his mother saw it, she thought that this was not a good place to live. They moved into the nearby town, close to a market. There were a slaughter house to slay pigs and also a black smithery with noises of striking iron. All such distracted her son from studies. Besides, the son imitated how to sell things like merchants in the market. Then they moved to the east side of the town, close to a school. Therefore, the son imitated how the students read and write in the classroom. The mother liked the place and settled down forever. So Mencius became a famous scholar. This story was called “three moves of the mother of Mencius.” The story shows that neighborhood is very important in grow-up of children.
        Another story told us how the mother of Mencius educated her son. Once her son played truant at school. The mother was weaving a cloth at the loom when the son came home. The mother cut the cloth on the loom into two. The son curiously asked why. The mother said that her son played truant while learning was just like she severed the cloth in the process of weaving.
        We can still visit the grave of the mother of Mencius at Mt. MaAn (meaning saddle) in Anhui province.

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8. 趙姬 Zhao Ji (mother of the first emperor)
Zhao Ji (?--228 BC) was the mother of the first emperor of Qin dynasty. (Hence we call him Emperor Qin in this story.) At that time King Zhaoxiang (325—251 BC) was on the throne. He appointed his son Anyangjun as the crown prince. Anyangjun had more than twenty sons. One of them was Yiren. When Qin kingdom and Zhao kingdom had a war, Qin kingdom was beaten. As a rule, Qin kingdom must send a royal family member as hostage to Zhao kingdom. Yiren was chosen and went to live in the capital of Zhao kingdom.
        There was in Zhao kingdom a jewelry merchant, by name of Luu Buwei (292—235 BC), who was very clever and knew how to calculate his profits. His famous quotation was, “If I invest in fields, I can get profit ten times . If I invest in jewelry, I can get profit a hundred times. If I invest in supporting an emperor, I can be rich and powerful all my life.” He pinned his hope on the hostage Yiren. He bribed the guardsman to let him get in touch with Yiren. Then he befriended the hostage and satisfied him for any demands he had. Then he got acquainted with the sister of Ladyship Huayang, who was the wife of the crown prince, the father of the hostage. As ladyship Huayang had no children of her own, she was persuaded to adopt Yiren as her son. Every wife or concubine of the royal family wanted her son to be the crown prince. So ladyship Huayang persuaded Anyangjun to make Yiren his crown prince when he became the king after the death of his father, the present king.
        Then he selected a pretty clever dancing girl and offered her to Yiren. She became his formal wife. Afterwards, she gave birth to a boy, who was later the first emperor of Qin dynasty. Yiren was soon summoned back to Qin state. Not long before, King Zhaojiang died and the crown prince Anyangjun became the king, King Xiaowen. And his son Yiren was naturally made the crown prince.
        As King Xiaowen led a life of dissipation all day long, his health worsened quickly and died soon. Accordingly, Yiren succeeded to the throne. He was King Zhuangxiang (281—247 BC). He made his son the crown prince and Luu Buwei the premier for all he had done for him. Lately, Buwei turned to be more powerful. Yiren got on alert, fearful that Buwei might kill him and make himself the king. It was not impossible. Buwei also felt that the king might harm him. So he advised Zhao Ji, the wife of the king, to do something about it. Zhao Ji reached the position as queen through Buwei. She was grateful to him, and besides, he was her favorite man while her husband Yiren was only their tool to get rich and powerful.
        Zhao Ji induced the king to drinking and merry-making, which caused his health to deteriorate fast and the king died soon. Then the crown prince was put on the throne at the age of thirteen, too young to handle state affairs. Therefore, Zhao Ji was now the queen dowager and Buwei handled all things. Although the boy was young, he was shrewd and ambitious. He knew that Buwei was a bad man for power. And Buwei knew that the young king was not an ordinary boy. There was a rumor that the king was the son of Zhao Ji and Buwei.
        Before Buwei gave up Zhao Ji to Yiren, they had already made love to each other. Now that Yiren died, how could Zhao Ji quenched her thirst for love? She and Buwei met secretly. But they were afraid that their relationship might be discovered by the young king. Then Buwei found a man called Miudu, whose specialty was to have a giant penis. Buwei sent him into the palace disguised as a eunuch to satisfy Zhao Ji so that he himself could be away from danger. Presently, the queen dowager was pregnant. She feared that her son, the king, might find out. Therefore, she told her son that she wanted to travel. The son did not doubt anything yet and consented. So she went to live in a temporary residence with Miudu. They had two children.
        When the new king came of age, he took all power back in his own hands. When he was on the throne for nine years, in 238 BC, someone informed him that Miudu was a fake eunuch and had two children with the queen dowager, who promised Miudu that if the king died, she would make one of their sons the king. At that time, the king was twenty-two. As Miudu was told that the king learned their secret, Miudu immediately decided to attack the palace with his followers. The guards of the palace fought them. The latter was put to rout and Miudu was captured and executed. The two children were killed too. Luu Buwei was exiled and drank poison to end his life. As for the queen dowager, his mother, she was driven out of the palace to live somewhere else. The son vowed that he would never see the mother for the rest of his life. Four years after the death of Buwei, Zhao Ji died of grievance.

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9. 呂后 Empress Luu (the first empress who had political power)
Empress Luu (241—180 BC) was the wife of Liu Bang (256—195 BC), the first emperor of Han dynasty (206 BC—220 AD). Liu Bang was at first only a petty officer in Pei town, where the father of Empress Luu was a wealthy resident. Once when it was the birthday of the father, as he was a close friend of the mayor, Liu Bang had to go for the celebration. He did not bring any gift, but he lied that he had given a precious gift. When the father found it out, he was angry and wanted to expel Liu Bang. However, when he looked at Liu Bang, he changed his mind because he could read face. The face of Liu Bang showed that he would be a noble man in the future. Therefore, he married his daughter to him. It was towards the end of Qin dynasty.
        There were many revolts at that time. Liu Bang was the leader of one among them. When Liu Bang was riotous, his wife was arrested and put in jail by the local yamen. She experienced all the hardship of the prison. At last Liu Bang managed to get her out. From the day she was released, she lived among the army with her husband. Generally there was no woman allowed in the army, especially a woman who could not fight.
        Another rebellious group was led by Xiang Yu (232—202 BC). They both aimed at Qin dynasty. They wanted to replace Qin dynasty. Xiang was the first to enter the capital of Qin. He overthrew Qin dynasty and burned their palace. The fire lasted for months. Now as the old dynasty no longer existed, the two groups fought each other to decide who would create a new dynasty. In 205 BC, the two groups had a war and Liu Bang was defeated and his wife was captured by Xiang Yu. Then Liu Bang gathered his troops and met Xiang Yu's army again. Xiang Yu had his wife brought out to the front of his array. He said to Liu Bang that if Liu did not surrender, he would cook his wife like a pig. Liu Bang answered smilingly, “If you cook her, please give a piece of her flesh to me.” Xiang Yu felt that his ruse of threat was useless, and they fought once more. As no one could subdue the other, they had a truce, and the wife was released and returned to Liu Bang after two years as a captive.
        Not long afterwards, Liu Bang and Xiang Yu had battles again. Finally, Liu Bang used the tactics of Han Xin (231—196 BC), a famous general in history, to lay ten ambushes and conquered Xiang Yu, who had only a handful of followers left. He was advised that he could go back to where he came from. There he could gather more supporters and fight Liu Bang once more. But he always thought of himself a hero. A hero should never fail. Now he failed and was ashamed of himself. He refused to go back and killed himself at Wu River. His homeland was just across the river. He was a real hero while Liu Bang was a rascal in his character and doings. People of that time thus thought of each of them.
        Now as no rivals any more, Liu Bang founded a new dynasty known as Han dynasty. His wife was duly the empress. She had born two children for Liu Bang. The son, Liu Ying, was made crown prince later, then became Emperor Hui (210—188 BC) after the death of his father. The daughter was Princess Luyuan. Liu Bang had also a pretty concubine called Ladyship Qi, who bore a son, Prince Ruyi. Since Ladyship Qi was the favorite of the emperor, she tried to persuade the emperor to make her son the crown prince, but courtiers all opposed. So her plan failed. But Empress Luu began to hate her.
        Chen Xi (?--195 BC) was a general of Liu Bang. In 197 BC, when Liu became the emperor, he was given the title of Marquis Xinyang. He was originally under Han Xin. That year when Liu Bang suspected him for rebellion and summoned him to the capital, intending to kill him, he had to rebel. So Liu Bang led a large army to fight him. Empress Luu stayed in the capital to control the situation. When she was told that Han Xin would support Chen Xi to rebel, she made some excuse to send for Han Xin to the capital. When Han Xin arrived, she killed him. Some historians commented that if Han Xin rebelled too, he might defeat Liu Bang and became the emperor of another dynasty as he was a great strategist, but he was not a politician. He did not have political insight. Former historians said that it was a pity that such a great strategist was killed by a woman. The woman was an excellent politician. At last Chen Xi was defeated and killed in the fight.
        When Liu Bang died, the crown prince was still under age, and so Empress Luu became the empress dowager and administrated the empire. She then used pretenses to eliminate some powerful Liu family members one by one, and gave some important positions to her Luu family members. The young emperor disagreed to what his mother did, but he could do nothing about it. Then Empress Luu poisoned Prince Ruyi and had his mother Ladyship Qi's four limbs cut off, her eyes blinded and her ears deafened. Her body was put in a pig pen. She was called human pig. Such a cruel thing did happen, recorded in the history. The young emperor grieved to the heart. So he gave himself up for drinking and merry-making and died young. Empress Luu maintained her power till her death. Then her Luu family members were all eliminated by Liu family members.

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10. 虞姬 Beauty Yu (a woman died for her lover)
Beauty Yu (?--202 BC) was the concubine of Xiang Yu (see above). She was beautiful and could dance with swords. When Xiang Yu became the leader of rebels in the area of Suzhou city, where lived Beauty Yu's family, Beauty Yu admired him. Xiang Yu had great strength and was looked  upon as a hero. A beauty always felt for a hero. So she married him. But historians called her concubine, not wife. She followed him everywhere in battles and danced the sword dance for him at night in his tent.
        After several battles with Liu Bang, escaped from ten ambushes, Xiang Yu was surrounded at Wu river. He could break through and cross the river, but he wound not do it (see above). Beauty Yu danced her last dance for him in the tent while she sang. After she finished, she cut herself at the throat with the sword in her hand. She died like a heroine. She sacrificed her dear life for her lover, the hero in her eyes. Then Xiang Yu ended his life with his own hand, too. Her story touched people at large to the heart. The name of Beauty Yu was handed down and turned into a well-known Beijing opera. An Anonymous poet in Qing dynasty wrote a poem about it in the words like what she would say:
        My hero breathed his last breath in the south of Yangtze River;
        It was not right for my humble person to enter Han palace*.
        My loyal blood would turn into the grass by the river;
        And the blossoms would be redder than azalea flowers.
*It means that she would not surrender and be taken to Han palace—the palace of Liu Bang.

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11. 竇太后 Empress Dou (an empress dowager through four generations)
Empress Dou (205—135 BC) was the wife of Emperor Wen of Han dynasty. She was born in a common poor family. Her father was drowned falling into a river. Her mother died early, too, leaving behind three orphans. In her teenage, she became a palace maid. She thought that she would be a maid all her life, but she was satisfied because she lived better than before. At the time, Liu Bang was the emperor. When Liu Bang died, Empress Luu gave each of the remaining Liu princes five maids. As her home was close to  Zhao fief, she bribed the eunuch who was in charge of the distribution. But the eunuch forgot and sent her to Dai fief. So Empress Dou was given to Prince Dai, who liked the pretty girl and married her. She bore two sons and a daughter for him. After the death of Empress Luu, Prince Dai was supported by all courtiers to be the new emperor, Emperor Wen (202—157 BC), and his wife was made the empress, Empress Dou, and his elder son was made the crown prince, later Emperor Jin (156—87 BC). Empress Dou never dreamed when she was a maid that she could be empress. But some years after she was the empress, misfortune befell her. She was blind.
        Then she was no longer the favorite woman of the emperor. His new favorite woman was concubine Shen. But Empress Dou kept her mind peaceful and never showed any sign of jealousy. She was always lenient. That was why she could live through four generations without anyone to vie for her position.
        When her husband died, her elder son,  Emperor Jin, succeeded the throne. She was empress dowager. But as a matter of fact, Empress Dou liked her second son, Prince Liang, better. She wanted Prince Liang to be the successor of his brother. Emperor Jin was a filial son and could not refuse the request of his mother, but all the courtiers opposed it because it was the rule in the feudal system that the son succeeded the father. No one should break the rule. Anyway, as she was a talented woman, she helped her son to handle the national affairs. Then, after the death of her son, her grandson became the emperor, Emperor Wu. Now she was grand empress dowager, and the first grand empress dowager in the history of China.
        The grandson was an independent young man and would not let her grandmother to interfere with his administration. She had to retire to the back palace to enjoy the rest of her life. In the reign of Emperor Wu, the Han dynasty expanded its territory. The emperor adopted the works of Confucius as the reading stuff in schools. Confucius was thus made well-known since then.

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12. 王娡 Wang Zhi (from a common woman to the empress)
Wang Zhi (?--125 BC) was the second wife of Emperor Jing (188—141 BC) of Han dynasty. She was born in a common family and married an ordinary man called Jin Wangsun, and bore a daughter for him by name of Jin Su. Presently, Wang Zhi deserted her husband and daughter, and entered the palace of the crown prince disguised as a virgin. Emperor Jing made her his concubine. His first wife was Empress Bo, who had no children of her own. Another concubine Li Ji had three sons and the eldest son was made the crown prince. Then Wang Zhi bore for the emperor three daughters and a son. At four years old, the son got the title of Prince Jiaodong.
        As Empress Bo did not give any birth, the emperor wanted to depose her from the position of empress and make Li Ji the empress. Emperor Jing had a sister Liu Piao, who had a daughter named Chen Ah Jiao. Liu Piao wanted to marry her daughter to the crown prince.  The concubine Li Ji did not like Ah Jiao, and so did not grant the wish of the mother. Therefore, the sister hated Li Ji. When Wang Zhi learned the relationship between Liu Piao and Li Ji, she said that she was willing to let Ah Jiao marry here son, the future crown prince, who turned out later to be Emperor Wu. Therefore, the sister married her daughter to her son, Emperor Wu.
        Then the sister told Emperor Jing that if he made Li Ji the empress, when her son, the present crown prince, succeeded the throne, and as Li Ji was a cruel woman, she would certainly make Wang Zhi, his favorite concubine, be the second human pig. The only solution, she added, was to decrown the present crown prince, the eldest son of Li Ji so that she could never be empress dowager and could never do any harm to Wang Zhi. At first emperor Jing did not believe her. Once he wanted concubine Li Ji to promise that when he died, she should treat other concubines well, but Li Ji did not make the promise. Therefore, Emperor Jing decided not to make Li Ji the empress, and moreover, decrowned the crown prince and made him Prince Lingjiang. Li Ji got seriously sick and died soon.
        In 149 BC, Emperor Jing made Wang Zhi the empress and her son the crown prince. In 141 BC, Emperor Jing died and the crown prince became the emperor, Emperor Wu (07/14/156—03/29/87). And Wang Zhi was then empress dowager.
        When Emperor Wu learned that his mother had a daughter Jin Su with her ex-husband, he sent someone to look for her. As Jin Su knew that someone was after her, she was afraid and escaped and hid herself somewhere. At last she was found and brought to the presence of the emperor, who let her go to see the empress dowager, her mother. Empress Dowager was happy for the reunion with her first daughter. In 126 BC, Wang Zhi died and was buried with Emperor Jing.
        Emperor Wu was a great emperor of Han dynasty. He conquered the minority in the north and expanded the territory of Han dynasty to the west.

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13.  陳阿嬌 Chen Ahjiao (a quick-tempered empress)
Chen Ahjiao (?--?) was the wife of Emperor Wu, and was made the empress. When both were children, the mother of the girl, who was the sister of Emperor Jing, held the young Emperor Wu on her lap. There were an array of palace maids waiting on them. The mother asked the boy, “When you grow  up, do you want to get married?” the boy said, “Sure.” then the mother pointed to the maids and asked the young Emperor Wu, “Who do you like?” The little boy said that none of them he liked. Then the mother, pointing to her daughter Ahjiao and asked, “Do you like  her?” The little boy answered that if he could get her, he would build a house of gold to let her live in. This story is known to all Chinese people.
        When they both grew up, Emperor Wu did marry Ahjiao and made her his empress. Emperor Wu wanted to have some kind of reform, but was opposed by some powerful courtiers. Even the grand empress dowager Dou had different opinions. But Ahjiao supported him and her parents supported their son-in-law, which made the emperor tide over the crisis.
        Ahjiao was a girl with a quick temper, and besides, she did not have any children for the emperor for ten years. Gradually the emperor got tired of her. The emperor always had many girls round him.  The most favorite one among them was Wei Zifu (?--90 BC). Out of jealousy, Ahjiao went to see the emperor and chided him for neglecting her. The emperor blamed her not to have any children for him. That was why he should have another girl for the posterity's sake. He must have at least a son to succeed the throne. Ahjiao could have nothing more to say and had to retire to her own room. She sent for a doctor after another in hopes of being pregnant, but in vain.
        Ahjiao wanted to get rid of Wei Zifu, but Wei was with the emperor everyday, and she had no chance to have her wish fulfilled. Then she found a witch and asked her to exercise her magic power to win back the favor of the emperor, but no result for several months. The emperor heard of this and was infuriated. He ordered the witch to be executed and confined Ahjiao in Changmen Hall after she was deposed from her position of empress. She died in melancholy. Wei Zifu was made the empress.

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14. 衛子夫 Wei Zifu (from a singer to the empress)
Wei Zifu (?--90 BC) was the second wife of Emperor Wu. Wei Zifu was originally a sing-song girl in the residence of Princess Pingyang and her husband Marquis Pingyang. Once Emperor Wu visited the princess and saw the girl. He liked her on the spot and took her back to the palace.
        When Wei Zifu was taken into the palace, the empress then was Ahjiao, who hated the beautiful new-comer and made her a maid only. And she could not see the emperor, who seemed forgot her entirely. Once the emperor let all the maids gather in his presence and wanted to dismiss some old ones. Wei Zifu was then among them, and she asked the emperor to let her leave the palace. The emperor saw her and refreshed his liking of her. He gave her the title of Ladyship Wei, next to the empress. In 128 BC, she bore a son for the emperor, named Liu Che, and thus was made the empress, since the ex-empress had already been deposed and confined in Changmen Hall. In 122 BC, the son was declared the crown prince.
        When grown up, the crown prince showed himself a lenient and clever man. His father, the emperor, liked him very much. But as now the empress grew old, the emperor ignored her. He always preferred new young pretty girls. He had later Ladyship Li, Ladyship Xing, Ladyship Yin and Ladyship Zhao. Ladyship Xing and Ladyship Yin were more jealous of each other and wherever Ladyship Xing was present, Ladyship Yin would not come, and vice verse.
        There were some wicked courtiers. The most wicked one was Jiang Chong. He often slandered the crown prince before the emperor. He knew clearly that when the crown prince became the emperor, the new emperor would certainly punish him for his evil doings. But the emperor would not listen to him. At the time, some witches exercised black magic of cursing the emperor for his death. It was found out and all the witches were executed. Then the emperor let Jiang Chong investigate who was behind all this. Jiang Chong seized the opportunity to frame the crown prince. He sent someone secretly to bury a wooden doll with the birthday of the emperor engraved on it. This was used at the time for curse of death of someone whose birthday was engraved on the wooden doll.
        The crown prince was a clever man and knew that Jiang Chong would do something to harm him. He would act first. He went with his bodyguards to see the emperor intending to reveal the scheme of Jiang Chong, just when Jiang Chong led some soldiers to his residence intending to dig up the doll and take it to the emperor so that it would be a proof that the crown prince was cursing the emperor for death. They met in the street and fought each other. At last Jiang Chong was killed.
        The emperor sent a messenger to see what was happening. The messenger came back and reported untruthfully to the emperor that the crown prince was rebelling. So the emperor sent army to subdue the rebellion and the crown prince was defeated, because he really did not want to rebel and had few fighters with him. The crown prince had to escape and hide himself somewhere. Afterwards he was detected and hanged himself. When his mother, the empress, heard of it, she hanged herself, too. She held her position of empress for thirty-eight years, a very long period of time. Finally the truth was known to the emperor, and he killed all those who joined in the pursuit of the crown prince.
        By the way, Empress Wei Zifu had a stepbrother, Wei Qing by name. He was a famous general in defense of the northern frontier of Han territory. He was promoted to the position was because of his stepsister, the empress. If he was an ordinary man, he would not have the chance to be promoted to the generalship.

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15, 趙飛燕 Zhao Feiyan (a good dancer of an empress)
Zhao Feiyan ( 45—1 BC) was the wife of Emperor Cheng (51—7 BC). She was so beautiful and a legendary woman in the Han dynasty. When she was born, her parents put her in the fields, supposed to let her die. But three days afterwards, when the parents went to check on her, she was still alive. So her parents took her home and brought her up. In her girlhood, she was sent to the residence of Princess YangA to learn dancing. She was so skillful a dancer and had a special style like a flying swallow. So she was later known as Zhao Faiyan (meaning flying swallow). She was said to be so light and lean physically that she could dance on the hand of a big man. Literary men often compared her with the Imperial concubine Yang, who was on the chubby side. The comparison showed a lean beauty with a fat beauty.
        Emperor Cheng liked merry-making and once visited Princess YangA. When he saw Feiyan dancing, he immediately fell in love with her and took her to the palace and made her a concubine. Not long after, he deposed the empress and made Feiyan the empress. She did not bear any children for him. But the emperor did not live long. After his death, the sons of other concubines vied to be the new emperor. Prince Dingtao became the emperor, Emperor Ai (25—1 BC), because his mother bribed Zhao Feiyan. In return Feiyan was made the empress dowager. Only several years later, Emperor Ai died. The next emperor was Emperor Ping (9 BC—5 AD). He was the nephew of Emperor Cheng and a cousin of Emperor Ai. When he became the emperor, he was only nine years old. A courtier Wang Mang seized the power. He deposed the empress dowager Feiyan and confined her somewhere. She at last made suicide.

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16. 班夫人 Ladyship Ban ( a poetess)
Ladyship Ban (?--?) was a concubine of Emperor Cheng (51—7 BC). She was not only beautiful, but also versed in poetry, with a good temper. She would do everything properly, to the palace etiquette. Once the emperor wanted to go out and let Ladyship Ban sit beside him on the coach, but Ban refused, saying, “Your Majesty, your humble concubine read books from olden time that a wise emperor let his good courtier sit beside him. A stupid emperor let his favorite beauty sit beside him. If your humble concubine sits beside Your Majesty, does it mean that Your Majesty is a stupid emperor?” The emperor thought that she was right and let her go.
        When the empress dowager learned it, she really appreciated Ban. She said, “There was Fan Ji in Chu State (in the first warring period). She refused to eat meat because the king liked to hunt. People respected her. Now there is Ban in our palace. She can be compared with Fan Ji in moral.”
        Zhao Feiyan, the great dancer, was not the empress yet at the time. She was jealous of the empress and Ban. She always slandered them both, saying that they were cursing the emperor to death. Since the emperor now preferred her to other women, he often believed what she said. So he deposed the empress and made Zhao Feiyan the empress. The emperor also sent for Ban to blame her for cursing him. Ban pleaded herself, saying, “Your Majesty, your humble concubine heard that life and death, wealth and nobleness are all fated by Heaven. If there are deities, they know everything. They won't grant the wish of anyone who curses his master. If there are no deities, what is the  use to curse? So I won't do anything like curse,” The emperor thought that she was right and did not punish her. On the contrary, he gave her a hundred catties of gold as a reward.
        Ban knew that she was in danger, and offered to live with the empress dowager and wait on her. She died there. She had written a poem “Gauze Fan”. The fan at that time was composed of a round frame of wood or bamboo, with a piece of gauze fixed on it. The poem goes like this:
        Newly cut the gauze from Qi area,
        It is as white as frost and snow.
        It is cut to make a Happy-Union* fan,
        As round as the bright moon.
        It is stored in your sleeve,
        It gives breezes when waved.
        I often fear that the autumn comes;
        The cool wind takes away the heat.
        The fan will be deserted in a box,
        The love for it will end midway.
In this poem the poetess meant that she was like a fan. When it was not needed, it was just thrown in a box and forgotten.
        *It is the name of the fan. The couple share the fan and feel in happy union.

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17. 上官小妹  Shangguan Xiaomei (the youngest empress)
Shangguan (double surname) Xiaomei (89—37 BC) was the wife of Emperor Zhao (94—74 BC), and the daughter of Shangguan An (126—80 BC) and the maternal granddaughter of Great General Huo Guang (130—68 BC), who was the most powerful man at that time. Her paternal grandfather was Shangguan Ji, Left General, (140—80 BC). Left general and right general were the titles of generals, just under the great general.
        In the second moon of 87 BC, Emperor Wu died. His son succeeded to the throne, and was Emperor Zhao, who was then only eight years of age. Therefore, all courtiers decided that Princess Eyi should move and live in the palace to take care of the boy emperor. Princess Eyi (117—80 BC) was the daughter of emperor Wu and big sister of the present emperor. The father and the grandfather of Xiaomei both went  to the palace to befriend Princess Eyi. When the emperor was twelve, he reached the age to have a wife. The father of Xiaomei wished his daughter to be the empress. She was then only six. As she was so young, her maternal grandfather, Great general Huo Guang, did not consent.
        Princess Eyi had a lover called Ding Wairen (?--80 BC). When the husband of Princess Eyi died,  she found him, who was an acquaintance of her son. Then the father of Xiaomei went to see Ding and asked him to persuade Princess Eyi to let his daughter be the empress, promising that Ding would be given an official title when his daughter became the empress. So Ding went to see Princess Eyi and made the request. Princess Eyi agreed and in 83 BC, Xiaomei was made the empress, the youngest empress in the history of China.
        To keep the promise to Ding, the father and the grandfather of Xiaomei both went to see great general Huo Guang to ask him give Ding a title. But Huo Guang rejected. So the father and the grandfather, and also Princess Eyi had a grudge against Huo Guang. They plotted to kill him, but Huo Guang learned their scheme and sent troopers in his control and killed the father and the grandfather and Ding. Princess Eyi made suicide.
        Empress Xiaomei was then only eight years old. She knew nothing about the coup d'état and so she was safe. Besides, she was the granddaughter of Huo Guang. When she was grown up, she did not bear any children for the emperor. When Emperor Zhao died in 74 BC, as he did not have a son, Huo Guang and courtiers decided that Prince Changyi, a grandson of Emperor Wu, should be the new emperor, and Xiaomei be the youngest empress dowager. But Prince Changyi was a lewd man and disappointed Huo Guang and courtiers. After twenty-seven days, he was deposed. Then after serious discussion, they made Liu Xun, the great grandson of Emperor Wu, be the emperor, Emperor Xuan (91—48 BC). According to Chinese generation sequence, Xiaomei, the present empress dowager, should be the great grandmother of the new emperor. So she was now the grand empress dowager. She was at the time only fifteen years old, the youngest grand empress dowager in the history.
        The wife of great general Huo Guang poisoned the wife of Emperor Xuan, the legal empress,  with the intention to marry her daughter to the emperor and to be the empress. In the third moon of 68 BC, the great general Huo  Guang died. Both the grand empress dowager and the emperor attended the funeral, a great honor to the diseased. But in the fourth moon of 67 BC, the Huo family members rebelled and were conquered. As the grand empress dowager, though she was the granddaughter of Huo Guang, did not even know the rebellion, her position as grand empress dowager was not affected till she died at the age of fifty-two. She was buried with her husband, Emperor Zhao. It was the tradition in the feudal China.

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18, 王昭君 Wang Zhaojun (the second beauty of the four beauties)
Wang Zhaojun (52—19 BC) was one of the four beauties, the second beauty in the sequence of the year. She was a great beauty at the time, but with a bitter destiny. She was clever, and could read and paint. She could also play lute and chess. In the spring of 36 BC, when she was seventeen, Emperor Yuan (75—33 BC) gave the edict to select beautiful girls and sent to the palace. He would choose the most beautiful ones among them to be his concubines, and the rest of them would be the maids. As there were so many girls, the emperor was busy and could not see every girl himself. Therefore, he ordered the palace painter Mao Yanshou to draw a portrait of each of them and presented them to the emperor. It meant that the emperor would choose from portraits.
        Almost every girl bribed the painter and asked him to draw her a bit prettier than she really was. But Wang Zhaojun did not bribe him as she was so confident of her beauty. So the painter drew her with a bit of contortion. As a result, she was not selected. She did not have any chance to see the emperor for three years.
        Han dynasty since establishment was in continual war with a northern minority called Xiongnu tribe. The chieftain of the tribe, Uhaanyehe by name (58—31 BC), at that time was weary of war and wanted peace for his people. Therefore, Chieftain Uhaanyehe came to the capital ChangAn city to see the emperor. He requested to have some girl in the palace to be his wife so that the relationship between him and the emperor would be close as relatives, and then there would thus have long peace for the two peoples. The emperor liked the idea. When the emperor was considering who would be chosen as the wife of the chieftain, Wang Zhaojun came forth, offering herself to be the one.
        At the feast held for the departure of the chieftain and his chosen wife, Wang Zhaojun should surely be present, fully attired. When the emperor saw such a beauty, he did regret letting her go. But he could not go back on his words in the presence of the chieftain while the chieftain was so happy to have such a beauty for his wife. After the feast, the chieftain and Wang Zhaojun left the capital for the north to the homeland of the Xiongnu tribe. Then the emperor found out the truth why he missed her. It was because the painter drew her with a contortion. So he had the painter beheaded.
        The people of Xiongnu tribe welcomed Wang Zhaojun warmly and looked upon her as the guarantee of peace. But life for Zhaojun in the strange land was hard. First, she was not used to such food she had never eaten before. Then the life style was also different to her as her former life style. In 31 BC, Chieftain Uhaanyehe died. He had a son who succeeded to the position of chieftain. The son was the stepson of Wang Zhaojun. According to the tradition of Xiongnu tribe, the son could marry his stepmother. So Wang Zhaojun became the wife of her stepson. She bore two daughters for him. In 20 BC, the stepson died. Wang Zhaojun became the widow. One year later, she died at the age of thirty-three. She was buried in the southern suburb of the present Hohhot city, at the foot of a green mountain and by the Yellow River. Her tomb was called Green Tomb by people in later dynasties.

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19. 班昭 Ban Zhao (a blue stocking, a female scholar)
Ban  Zhao(49—120 AD)was the first female historian and a literary woman. She inherited her family talent. Her father, Ban Biao (3—54 AD) was a famous learned scholar at the time. He had been the mayor of Xu town before he retired. Her eldest brother Ban Gu (32—92 AD) was a historian. Ban Zhao also helped her eldest brother in the writing of a history book, titled “Book of Han.” As a matter of fact, this history book was begun to be written by her father. When her father died, her eldest brother Ban Gu continued the work while her second brother Ban Chao (32—102 AD) joined the army and became a famous general, fighting at the frontier.
        When Ban Gu died, she continued the work, too, till it was finished. It was a great work after the “Records of History” by Sima Qian (145—87 BC). When Emperor He (79—105 AD) read her book, he greatly appreciated it and sent for her into the palace. The emperor wanted her to be the tutor of the empress and his concubines. The empress dowager Deng also liked her. At the age of fourteen, she had married to Cao Shishu (?--?), who died early and she became a widow, and never married again.
        At her old age, she was still writing. Another famous book of hers was the “Female Commandments.” she wrote this book with the intention to tell the female members of her family what females should do and what they should not. At first it was only read within the family. Then people outside the family copied it and circulated it till the book became circulated.
        The gist of the book was that women must obey men. Especially wife must obey husband. Thus it began the non-equality between men and women for thousands of years till the beginning of the republic. The topics in her book were three obediences and  four moral rules. The three obediences were those that before marriage, women must obey parents; after marriage, women must obey their husbands; and after the death of husbands, they must obey their sons, i.e., when they became widows and if they had different opinions from their sons, they must listen to their sons. But there were exceptions for this. As many sons were taught to be filial, any of them would listen to their mothers. And a woman could not remarry after the death of her husband while a man could marry as many times as he liked. It would be looked upon as a shame if a woman remarried, though many a woman did remarry in the history because of some reason or others, like she was too poor to keep her children alive or the mother of her late husband drove her away, etc.
        Four moral rules were that a woman must be demure, quiet, avoiding misbehavior; a woman must not gossip and must say everything fit to the situation and listeners; a woman must keep proper appearance, wearing clean suitable dress; a Woman must be able to weave, sew and cook for family members and guests.

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20, 蔡文姬 Cai Wenji (a female musician and poetess)
Cai Wenji (176--249 AD) was the daughter of the famous literary man and calligrapher, Cai Yi (133-1932 AD). He also knew mathematics, astronomy, and music. Growing up in such a family environment, Cai Wenji was talented and versed in music. She was a musician as well as a poetess. She could play zither and had the ability to tell which string on the zither was broken by the sound when other people were playing and a string suddenly broke.
        She was married to Mr. Wei, but he died after only one year. As she did not bear any children for him, she was sent back to her father's home. Then when Xiongnu tribe in the north invaded the area where she lived, she was captured and was forced to marry the chieftain at the age of twenty-three. She gave birth to two sons for him, and stayed there for twelve years. She learned to play the reed pipe, a musical instrument of the tribe, and also learned their language.
        When the warlord Cao Cao (155—220 AD) was in power, he thought of Cai Wenji, the daughter of Cai Yi, who had been his tutor when he was young. So Cao Cao sent a messenger to give the chieftain a thousand taels of gold and a pair of white jade to redeem Cai Wenji, who was then back to her family alone, leaving her two son with the father. Then she was married to Dong Si and bore a son and a daughter for him. Her father already died. She wrote down four hundred articles of her father's writing from memory. It was because in the warring chaos, most of her father's writings were lost. She handed down to us only a long autobiographic poem and song words to the music of the reed pipe, called “Eighteen Beats of Reed Pipe.” (A beat means a stanza in her poetic song words.) These were her own composition.

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21. 荀灌娘 Xun Guanniang (a kungfu girl)
Xun Guanniang (303—360 AD) was the first girl in the history of China, who had kungfu and could fight on horseback. She was born a hundred years earlier than Hua Mulan (412—502 AD). She was the great great granddaughter of Xun Yu (163—212 AD), who was a famous adviser of the warlord Cao Cao.
        It was in the second warring period (265—589 AD), and in the third moon of 317 AD, when Xun Guanniang was only thirteen. Her father, Xun Song (263—329 AD) was a general guarding Wan town. Du Zeng, a magistrate, wanted to betray the emperor and took Wan town as his base. He commanded his two thousand soldiers and came to surround the town. There were only one thousand men for the defense. The attack lasted for several days and Du Zeng could not take the town yet. But casualties on both sides increased. Besides, the provisions were less and less in the town since it was surrounded by the enemy. The situation was so serious that someone must volunteer to break enemy's surrounding line to get reinforcement from other cities. For a couple of days, no one volunteered. General Xun Song wanted to go himself. But as he was the commander, people could not defend the town without his leadership. At that critical moment, the girl of thirteen stood forth for the difficult task. Others were doubtful whether a girl of such age could succeed. She analyzed that the enemy's soldiers were all exhausted. They looked okay in the daytime, but in the night they must fall in sound sleep. She added that if she could have a few bravest fighters with her, they could steal through enemy's line under the cover of night. No one could disagree, or they would all die, if not in combat, but of starvation.
        Thus they broke through the line with little fighting. When they reached the nearest city, the magistrate there agreed to help. So when the reinforcement came to attack the enemies from the back, the defenders in the town went out to attack from front. Du Zeng was defeated and the town was safe. The girl was praised by all the townsfolk that she could finish such a difficult job at so young age.

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22, 劉蘭芝 Liu Lanzhi (a woman of tragic death)
Liu Lanzhi (?--?) was the wife of a petty official, Jiao Chongqing (?--?), living in Lujiang town of present Anhui province, towards the end of East Han dynasty (25—220 AD). She was a nice girl from a well-to-do family. She could weave at thirteen, could make dress at fourteen, could play harp at fifteen, and could read classics at sixteen. She married her husband at seventeen.
        Jiao family consisted of the old widow, his mother, her mother-in-law, and his young sister. At first the couple lived a harmonious life. But his mother was very picky and fastidious. She did not like her daughter-in-law for no reason at all. Perhaps, like other old widows, she depended on her son as her life company after the death of her husband. Now the daughter-in-law came and it seemed as if she took away her life company and left her alone. Therefore, she hated the wife of her son and tried to drive her away.
        She often complained to her son that his wife was not nice to her and disobeyed her. In fact, the daughter-in-law was very nice and filial to her. She listened to her mother-in-law for whatever she said. Anyway, the mother decided to get rid of his wife. In old China, there were seven rules for a wife to be driven back to where she came from, i.e., the house of her parents. The seven rules were that she disobeyed her mother- or father-in-law; that she did not bear a son (a daughter did not count); that she was lewd; that she jealous if her husband had concubines; that she had severe diseases; that she liked to gossip; and that she stole from her husband's house for the family of her parents. She did not bear any children for her son yet.
        Jiao Chongqing was a filial son and under the pressure of his mother, who often threatened her son with suicide if he did not send his wife away. He had one day to harden up his heart and bid farewell to his wife. He promised her to get her back some day when he persuaded his mother to accept her. But Liu Lanzhi had no confidence about it. She went back to the home of her parents, to whom it was a disgrace that their daughter was sent back. So they had to marry their daughter to another man. The daughter could not disobey her parents and agreed to marry again. But in her mind, she determined to end her life to the rule that a woman should never remarry. The night before her wedding day to another man, she went out and threw herself in a pond near her home. When Jiao Chongqing heard of the death of his ex-wife, he hanged himself on the branch of a tree in the courtyard of his home. They were buried together at the foot of Huagai Mountain. Local people grew pine trees and cypresses around their grave. An anonymous poet wrote a long poem about their sad story.
        A legend developed that there were a pair of mandarin ducks flying about the trees, crying bitterly. Young couples in the subsequent dynasties came to visit their tomb in hopes that the deceased couple would bless them to have a happy result for their love.

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23. 貂蟬 Diao Chan (the third beauty of the four beauties)
Diao Chan (?--?) was the third beauties of the four beauties in the history of China. (As for the fourth beauty Imperial Concubine Yang, please read my book Love Tales of Ancient China.) Her surname was Ren and her given name was also unknown. Her own parents were unknown, too. Being beautiful and clever, she was selected at the age of fifteen to enter the palace and appointed to be a handler of headwear for the empress and concubines. Her job title was Diaochan. Hence, historians called her Diaochan.
        Then there was a riot in the palace, and Diaochan escaped from the palace. She was then  adopted by Wang Yong (137—192 AD) as his daughter. Wang Yong was an official of high rank towards the end of East Han dynasty. At that time, Dong Zhuo was in power as head of courtiers. He was a corrupt man. Wang Yong and other courtiers wanted to kill him. Once Cao Cao, a petty officer then, went to assassinate him, but failed and escaped. The event was that Cao Cao had a good dagger and knew that Dong Zhuo liked good weapons. Therefore, carrying the dagger, he went to see Dong Zhuo, who was then napping. When Cao Cao was about to draw out  the dagger to stab Dong, suddenly Dong opened his eyes and asked Cao what he was doing. Cao said that he got a good dagger and came to offer it to Dong. As Dong took it, Cao bade farewell and fled out of the capital secretly.
        So Wang Yong had no chance to kill Dong. When he adopted the girl, a wonderful idea struck him. Dong was a lewd man and liked beautiful girls. Therefore, Wang Yong made up a scheme called “Beauty Entrapment.” Dong Zhuo had an adopted son by name of Luu Bu (?--199 AD), who was known as the bravest and more skillful knight at the time. Luu was young and still single.
        The trick was carried out like this. First Wang Yong invited Luu for dinner at home. When dinner went on midway, Wang let Diaochan come out to toast Luu. At the first sight of the girl, Luu fell in love with her right off as she was such a beauty. Wang thereby promised to marry the girl, declared as his daughter, to Luu. Luu was glad and grateful.
        Next day, Wang Yong invited Dong Zhuo for dinner at his home. When Dong came, Wang let Diaochan come out to toast Dong. The girl was declared to be a singsong girl to entertain guests. As she was so beautiful, Dong liked her at once. When dinner was over, Dong took the girl with him even without asking for the permission of Wang. If the girl was declared as Wang's daughter, Dong could not take her away so freely. But a singsong girl had no status in society, Dong could do anything with her as he liked. Because Dong was so powerful, Wang could not say NO to him. If the girl was declared to be his daughter, Wang could say NO. That was the point of the trick. So far so good for the ruse.
        A few days later, Luu Bu came to ask when the wedding could take place. Wang was silent. Luu inquired again, and again no answer. At last, Luu forced Wang for an immediate reply. Want sighed and said with tears in his eyes, “A few days ago, I invited your (adoptive) father for dinner. When he saw my daughter, he just took her away without even asking my permission.” Hearing this, Luu began to hate Dong for robbing him of his wife. But he did not go to see Dong to demand an explanation. He was a bit afraid of his adoptive father.
        One day, Luu came to Dong's residence and met Dong in the Fengyi Arbor in the garden. Chinese people liked to give names to their arbors and pavilions so that when they mentioned the names they knew where they would meet. When they were talking in the arbor, Diaochan intentionally came bringing cups of tea. She looked at Luu with teary eyes as if saying that she really loved Luu, but was unwillingly taken by Dong. Luu met with Diaochan's eyes, but he could say nothing before Dong. Dong detected the love eye contact between the girl and Luu. He flared up and wanted to kill Luu, but Luu ran away. When Dong told it to one of his advisers, he said that Dong should not offend such a brave general for a girl and that Dong should give the girl to Luu so Luu would be thankful to him and even willing to die for him. Dong considered it over and over and made his final decision to follow the advice. When he talked to the girl, she started to cry bitterly, saying that she did not like Luu, and that if she was forced to leave Dong, she would rather kill herself. Finally Dong let her stay with him. The trick went on smoothly.
        At last all courtiers encouraged and instigated Luu to kill Dong. They said that as a young hero, Luu should not let his wife be occupied by another man and that he must take her back. The only way to take the girl back was to kill Dong. Luu thus made up his mind and killed Dong. Then he took Diaochan to his residence and married her.
        No long afterwards, some Dong's followers revolted and Luu escaped with Diaochan to a small town called Xiapi. Wang Yong was killed by the followers. After the death of Dong Zhuo, Cao Cao rose in power and conquered the followers. Then he attacked Luu Bu, who was killed. As for the end of Diaochan, there were two legends. One was that she hanged herself to follow her husband Luu Bu to Hades. The other was that Cao Cao captured her after the death of Luu, and no one knew what became of her later.

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24. 謝道蘊 Xie Daoyun (a famous poetess)
Xie Daoyun (350—405 AD) was a famous poetess in the history. With the above two, Ban Zhao, Cai Wenji and she were known as the three talented women in the early history of China. She was the niece of Xie An (320—385 AD), a famous politician and general, and the daughter-in-law of Wang Xizhi (303—361 AD), a renowned calligrapher. The most known event of her was that one day in winter when it was snowing heavily, the flakes were hovering down. Xie An, one of his nephews and the girl were gathering to look at the flying snow flakes. Xie An asked who could use something in comparison to describe the flying snow flakes. The nephew said, “Casting salts into the air is the right comparison.” But the girl said, “It's better to compare it to the catkins flying in the wind.” Catkins were better comparison than salts to the snow flakes. So poets in subsequent dynasties said that she had catkin talent.
        It was a tradition that on the third day of her marriage, a girl could return to the home of her parents and the parents would inquire her what she felt about the marriage. So did her parents to her, she was dissatisfied with he husband. When her parents said that he was a good man without any defects in his character. She answered that he was okay, but a good-for-nothing while his cousins and his brother were all talented and had their own careers. Once the brother (also a famous calligrapher as the father) of her husband was cornered in a debate by a quest. She came out to his rescue. She put the guest in a corner by her eloquence and reasoning.
        Then some rebels came and killed her husband. When she heard of it, she ran out with a sword, but was captured after she killed several rebels. The leader of the rebels respected her bravery and faithfulness to her husband, and let her go. She lived the rest of her life as a widow. The magistrate learned her fame and came to visit her. She had a screen put between herself and the guest. They had a pleasant conversation. After it, the magistrate expressed his admiration of her talent.

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25. 劉楚玉 Liu Chuyu (having thirty love mates)
Liu Chuyu (446—465 AD) was princess Shanyin. Her husband (446—482 AD) was the son of an official of high rank. Once the princess said to the emperor, his brother, “We come from the same father. Although we have the difference of sex, why you can have many women while I can have only one man? It's not fair to me.” Therefore, the emperor, Liu Ziye (449—465 AD), got thirty handsome men for her. Courtier Zhu Yuan (435—482 AD) was very handsome. But he was an upright person.
        However, the princess wanted to take a look at him first, secretly, to see if she liked him. The emperor sent for the courtier in his royal study, and the princess peeped at him from behind a screen. After she set eyes on him, she liked him very much. She asked the emperor to let him accompany her for ten days. So the emperor ordered Zhu Yuan to stay in a special pavilion for ten days. In the night of the first day, the princess went to see him and wanted to sleep with him. But as soon as the princess approached him, Zhu Yuan stood up to salute the princess. For the whole night, he stood there with little move about. The princess said, “You look a man, but you don't act like a man.” He replied, “As a man, I can't do such a thing.” Whatever the princess did to force him, he would never give in. On the last day of the ten days, the princess had to let him go.
        Liu Yu (439—472 AD) was the uncle of the emperor. He always thought that the throne should belong to him. Then on the twenty-ninth day of the eleventh moon in 465 AD, he sent someone to kill the emperor and made himself the emperor, Emperor Ming. Next day, he gave an edict in the name  of the empress dowager to order the princess to commit suicide for the reason that she was a lewd woman. The princess must obey the order of her mother. Therefore, she hanged herself.

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26. 潘玉兒 Pan YuEr (a woman who could whip the emperor)
Pan YuEr (?--?) was not only beautiful with white skin and fine figure, but the most famous feature of her beauty was her lovely little feet. She was born in a vendor's family. Her father, almost illiterate, gave her the name called Nizi (literally meaning “Little Girl”). Such a name was deemed vulgar. But her beauty attracted everyone who caught sight of her. They lived from hand to mouth, and so, when she grew into teenage, she often went to help her father sell things. She was familiar with market and trading. Once her mother had a chance to enter the palace as a wet nurse to feed the crown prince.
        It was not until 498 AD when the crown prince succeeded the throne and became the emperor. As he often heard the mother, his wet nurse, talk about the girl, he had always yearned for her. Now he sent for her to the palace and made her the imperial concubine. Her beauty stunned him as he first set eyes on her. Her white skin glittered like pure jade. So he changed her name to YuEr (literally meaning “Jade Girl”). He had a new hall built for her. The floor was covered with engraved lotus patterns so that every step of her landed her on a lotus pattern. It was called that her steps produced lotus flowers.
        Her feet were so small and lovely. He was a foot fetishist. He liked to caress her white feet and kiss her toes one by one and licked them in turns. Sometimes he bit her big toe and when she felt a big painful, she beat his back with a stick. And he liked it. He was a masochist. In the long Chinese history, Pan YuEr was the sole concubine who could beat the emperor like whipping a slave. Instead of a concubine waiting on the emperor, this emperor liked to wait on her. He made tea for her and massaged her back and legs.
        Once she said to the emperor that she had liked the life in a market place. Therefore,  he built a market for her, and let maids and eunuchs play the roles of traders and customers. Sometimes, the emperor would let some traders pretend to offend some rules and be brought to the presence of Pan YuEr, who would decide how to punish them. She enjoyed this very much. Once YuEr pretended to be the owner of a wine shop and stood behind the counter to sell wine, and the emperor played the part of the customer. And sometimes the emperor acted like a butcher standing behind a booth to sell pork, and the concubine came as a buyer.
        This life style of the imperial couple enraged courtiers. Some of them criticized the emperor. The emperor killed them. He even killed his kinsfolk till one day his brother, afraid of being killed, too, could no longer endure it. He marched his troops to surround the capital and killed the emperor. He gave the girl to one of his generals as a reward for his merits. The general held a banquet to celebrate it. When all the guests wanted to see the beauty that they had heard of so much and so long, the general led them to his bedroom, where the girl should stay to wait for his arrival for the night. But as the door was opened they saw the girl hanging herself from the beam, and still looking beautiful.

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27. 徐昭佩 Xu Zhaopei (the woman having makeup on half of her face)
Xu Zhaopei (?--549 AD) was the wife of Emperor Yuan of Liang dynasty (502—557 AD), which was a short dynasty during the second warring period. In the twelfth moon of 517 AD, she went to where the emperor lived. On her way there, there were strong winds that blew down houses, then snow storm came. When she arrived there, there were pealing thunders that shattered a pillar. All these were considered as bad omen.
        After marriage, she bore a son and a daughter for him. As the emperor had one eye blind, Xu did not like him and was often rude to him. The emperor disliked her, too. Once when he went to her room, she only put the makeup on half of her face to imply that the emperor had only one eye good. So the emperor was enraged and seldom to see her ever since.
        She then had adultery with some other people. The first one was a monk and she often went to his temple. The second one was Ji, a favorite courtier of the emperor. They had the action in the temple, too. After the action, they lay on bed and composed poems to each other.
        Xu was a jealous woman. Whenever the emperor liked someone, she would find a way to murder her. Although the emperor disliked her, he liked her son and made him the crown prince. But the son died in a battle. The emperor forced her, the mother, to commit suicide. Finally she threw herself into a well and drowned inside it. Then the emperor revealed her lewd action to let people know it so that he forced her to make suicide was not without reason.

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28. 婁昭君 Lou Zhaojun (she married a common man, who became emperor finally)
Lou Zhaojun (501—562 AD) had a legendary life. Her father was a courtier of high rank. When she grew up, many official families came to see her father to ask for her hand, but she denied all the suitors. She wanted to find a man fit to be her husband.
        One day, she saw a man, a general, called Gao Huan (496—547 AD), doing some work at the battlements. She knew how to read the face. His face showed that he would be a leader of a state some day. Therefore, she married him. Although a general, he had no money. She gave him money and let him use it to make friends with all the known heroes of the time. Besides, she offered stratagems so that he could win merits in battles. He was promoted to be the premier.
        When Gao Huan got powerful enough, she helped him to establish a new state, named North Qi. Gao became the emperor and she was the empress. She had born six sons and two daughters for him. Three of her sons were emperors in different times. Her daughters both became empresses of other states. She was frugal by nature. As the empress she would weave and sew herself. She treated her own children and the children of other concubines equally. Once she made sacrifice for her husband.
        To strengthen his power for the situation, he should marry the princess of Ruru State. When he asked his empress if this was right for him to do, Empress Lou gave her ascent without hesitation. When Princess Ruru came, she let her be the empress and herself be the concubine. For that, she was praised by people in the small empire. The emperor had one wife and ten concubines. He had fifteen sons and three daughters in all.
        Once when she was pregnant and got into hard labor, someone wanted to send urgent massage to the emperor, but she would not agree. At last she gave birth to twin babies, a son and a daughter. When the emperor returned and learned the condition, he was greatly moved.
        Once he was defeated. A general came to offer to lead an army for the revenge. The emperor was glad and about to consent, but empress Lou said no. She explained that if the general had an army under command, whether he won or lost in the fight, he would never come back to obey him any more. He would be independent with an army in his control. So the emperor did not let the general go. The general later did betray another emperor in another state.
        When the emperor, Gao Huan, died, his eldest son Gao Cheng became the emperor. Lou Zhaojun, as empress dowager, controlled the power. When Gao Cheng died, her son Gao Yang took the throne. Not long later, Gao Yang died, too. His son, Gao Yin, succeeded the throne. Gao Yin was the grandson of Lou. As Gao Yin was not a good emperor, the empress dowager deposed him and made him Prince JiNan. Then her another son Gao Yan was made the emperor. Not long afterwards, Gao Yan also died. She made her another son Gao Zhan the emperor, and made two other sons the princes. She died at the age of sixty-two.

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29. 穆黃花 Mu Huanghua (an empress became the bawd)
Mu Huanghua (?--?) was the third empress of the emperor Gao Wei, the last emperor of North Qi dynasty. Her mother was a maid in the family of some courtier. Then she was raped by the courtier and bore the girl. When the girl grew up, she went to the palace. At first she was the maid of the first empress of the emperor. Once the emperor saw her and liked her. She became his concubine. In 572 AD, she was made the empress when the original empress died. In 577 AD, another state invaded North Qi and took the capital. The emperor and Mu had to escape. But the emperor was captured, and Mu ran away to ChangAn city, where to make her living, she opened a brothel and became the bawd. Her brothel was at the time well-known on both sides of the Yangtze River. This was a weird experience to her from an empress to a bawd.

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30. 花木蘭 Hua Mulan (the first of the four heroines)
Hua Mulan (412—502 AD) was one of four heroines in Chinese history, fighting in the battlefield. The other three were Fan Lihua (Tang dynasty), Mu Guiying (North Song dynasty), and Liang Hongyu (South Song dynasty). Her story goes back to the second warring period. She had an elder sister and younger brother. But both of them could not fight. When Mulan was still young, a minority in the north invaded her country. Then an order was issued that every family must have one man to join the army for defense against the invasion. Mulan's father was too old. Her brother was too young. When a little girl she liked to learn how to fight as her father knew the fighting skills. She was just grown up, and so she offered to go instead of her father,  but in disguise of a young man, using her brother's name,.
        At that time, the government of the country did not supply a fighter with necessary equipment such as weapon, horse, armor and helmet, etc. Therefore, she had to go to the market to buy all these for herself. She was attired as a man should wear. Then she rode to the registration at the recruit's site. She was sent to the frontier with other recruits. She fought bravely in the battlefields and won a lot of merits. No one knew that she was a woman. After twelve years, she returned victoriously. Then she was known to her fellow fighters that she was a woman, which was at the time deemed cheating. The  emperor received her and for her great merits, she was pardoned for the cheating of a good kind. The emperor wanted to let her be an official of high rank in the government, but she excused herself, saying that her father was old, and she must go home to take care of  him. So the emperor let her go.
        Her legend was written down in a long poem called “Song of Mulan.” In Tang dynasty, a temple was built in memory of her, and a statue of her was carved and put in the temple.

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31. 楊麗華 Yang Lihua (sharing the title of empress with other four women)
Yang Lihua (561—609 AD) was the wife of Emperor Xuan (559—580 AD) of North Zhou dynasty (557—581 AD), a short dynasty in the northern China in the second warring period. Her father was Yang Jian (541—604 AD). Later he began a new dynasty, Sui dynasty, and became emperor Wen. Sui dynasty ended the second warring period and united China. Her mother was Empress Dugu.
        In 573 AD, when she was only thirteen, she married Emperor Xuan and became one of the four empresses. It was the only emperor in the history, who made all his four women empresses. Then he liked the wife of his nephew, who had to rebel and was killed. The emperor took the nephew's wife as his fifth empress. As the emperor led a lewd life, all the courtiers opposed him. Yang Jian at the time was a powerful courtier and supported by others, he deposed the emperor, who died soon after. Then Yang Jian became the emperor of Sui dynasty (581—618 AD). Yang Lihua, his daughter, could not still have the title of empress, and so her father made her Princess Lepin, till her death at the age of forty-nine.

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32. 張麗華 Zhang Lihua (empress with special long hair)
Zhang Lihua (560—589 AD) was the favorite concubine of Chen Shubao (553—604 AD). When Chen Shubao was still the crown prince of Chen dynasty (557—589 AD), located to the south of Yangtzer River towards the end of the second warring period, Zhang Lihua was then only ten and entered the palace as the maid to a concubine of the crown prince. When she grew up, she was so beautiful and clever. The most conspicuous thing about her was her long black hair, more than two meters long. She was proud of her long hair. Every morning she spent a lot of time to comb her hair and did her hair up into a stylist knot. When the crown prince saw her one day, her beauty was so attractive to him that he took her as his concubine. He liked her long hair very much, which was unique. The crown prince was a famous poet.
        In 582 AD, the crown prince succeeded the throne and Zhang became his favorite concubine. This emperor was talented in music and literature. His poems were so well-known and many handed down to us. One of his famous poems runs as follows:
        Up on west tower alone, wordless,
        The moon looks like a hook.
        With the solitary Chinese parasol,
        The deep backyard locking the cool autumn in.

        Scissor'd, but not sever'd,
        Put in order, yet in disorder,
        Is the parting sorrow;
        There's an unusual sensation at heart.
As Zhang Lihua could dance gracefully, the emperor composed a famous piece of music, and Zhang Lihua danced to it. The imperial couple led a lewd and dissipated life. At that time, all the separate independent states to the north of the Yangtze River were conquered by Sui dynasty. Only the Chen dynasty to the south of the Yangtze River still survived. In 589 AD, Sui army came to the capital. When  the imperial couple was reported that Sui army entered the city, they tied themselves together and jumped into a well. But as the well was an old one without water in it, they did not die. Then Sui soldiers got them out. Zhang Lihua was killed because the commander thought that as she was so beautiful, if the Sui emperor saw her, he would take her to be his concubine, which might cause Sui dynasty to collapse like this Chen dynasty. The Chen emperor was captured and taken to be imprisoned and died a few years later.

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33. 獨孤皇后 Empress Dugu (empress who'd not let emperor have other women)
Empress Dugu (543—602 AD) was the wife of Yang Jian (541—604 AD), Emperor Wen of Sui dynasty (581—618 AD). She bore a daughter, Yang Lihua (see above), and sons, Yang Yong (568—604 AD) and Yang Guang (569—618 AD).
        Dugu married the emperor at fourteen. She was a very jealous woman. When she married him, they had an agreement that he would never touch any other women. She abolished the system that an emperor could have many concubines. She would not allow her husband to have any concubines. Once he had an action with a girl in the palace, the girl was later killed by Dugu. Luckily for her, she had born children for him. She also forbade her sons to have more than one woman. She forbade the palace maids to put on makeup and to gain access to the emperor without her permission. She even interfered with the courtiers in their marital affairs. Once a courtier's wife died, and he married another woman. Dugu let the emperor demote him, because her idea in marriage was that if a man could not be faithful to his wife and needed another woman, how could he be loyal to the sovereign? So she wanted to maintain one husband and one wife system. Besides, if a woman was not allowed to remarry as a tradition, a man should not be allowed to remarry, too.
        Anyway, she was just in dealing with state affairs. She often offered her opinions to the emperor and he always thought that her opinions were right. Once one of her cousins committed some severe crime, and according to the law, he must be executed. However, the emperor, considering his relationship with the empress, intended to pardon him from his death sentence. When Dugu learned it, she said that the law must be just, and could not be disregarded owing to special conditions. The cousin thereby was executed.
        Once an official presented to her a box of costly pearls. She said to him, “This is not what I need. You can use them as rewards to soldiers who are fighting at the frontier.” She never gave her relatives positions of high ranks. At first, as Yang Yong was the eldest son, he was made the crown prince. Nevertheless, he sought obscenity and merry-making, which the emperor and empress disliked. Besides, the crown prince had four concubines and ignored his wife. All that was against the wishes of the empress. Therefore, he was deposed and his brother Yang Guang was made the crown prince. The empress died before the emperor in the eighth moon of 602 AD, at the age of fifty.

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34. 蕭美娘 Xiao Meiniang (an empress married many times)
Xiao Meiniang (582 AD--? ) was the wife of Emperor Yang (Yang Guang) of Sui dynasty. He was the second and last emperor of Sui dynasty. She was a princess of Emperor Ming (542—585 AD) of West Liang dynasty (555—587 AD). As she was born in the second moon, superstitious tradition said that a girl born in the second moon could not bear sons. So she was given to the uncle, and when the uncle died, she was adopted by her maternal uncle, who was poor, and she must do all the housework.
        When Yang Guang was still crown prince, his father wanted to choose a wife for him. The superstitious tradition had it that the birthday and birth time of both the girl and the boy should be given to a fortune-teller, who would tell if that of the girl and that of the boy were fit to each other. If they were not fit, and the girl and boy married, misfortune would befall them. All the girls in the area were not fit to be the wife of the crown prince by the calculation of the fortune-teller. Finally a fit girl was found. She was Xiao Meiniang. Therefore, she became the wife of the crown prince. When the crown prince succeeded the throne, she was made the empress. She bore two sons and a daughter for him.
        The emperor was a lewd  and corrupt man. But he had a great job done. It was the Great Canal, beginning from Luoyang city to Hangzhou city. It made the transportation of goods from south to north easier than before. It was finished by connecting some natural rivers through a lot of digging. But some historians said that the purpose of the emperor wanted to make the Great Canal was that he wanted to travel comfortably on the ship to Yangzhou city, where the most beautiful peonies grew. And it was also said that women in Yangzhou city were all beautiful. When he stayed there to enjoy his extravagant days, he was murdered by a general he trusted. Then there rose many warlords all over the nation.
        There were two legends about her end. One was that after the death of the emperor she left the palace and wandered with her grandson like vagabonds till her death without remarrying. The other was that she was taken by the general who had murdered the emperor. When the general died, a warlord got her. Then she was captured by the chieftain of a minority in the north. Finally the famous Emperor Taizong (599—649 AD) of Tang dynasty (618—907 AD) conquered the minority and took her back to the capital. It was said that she became the wife of the Tang emperor.

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35. 紅拂女 Hongfu (literally meaning red duster)
Hongfu (?--?) was the nickname and her real name was Zhang Chuchen. But better known as Hongfu in the history. Her father was a general and killed in a battle. Her mother was taken by Yang Su (544-606 AD) a general, and later the first courtier of Sui dynasty, as a wet nurse. She brought her daughter with her. So Hongfu grew up in the residence of Yang Su, and in her girlhood, she became a waiting girl to Yang Su. She often stood a little behind him when he sat on the chair to receive guests. On such occasions, She often held a red duster in hand, hence her nickname.
        There was a young man by name of Li Jing (571—649 AD). He was a man of talent and ambition, a strategist as well. Therefore, he came to the capital to seek for fame and a bright future. As he could not directly go to see the emperor, he went to see Yang Su first and became one of Yang's hangers-on, which meant people having food and board in Yang's residence working like advisers. At first, Yang did not think much of Li Jing as he had so many hangers-on in his residence. Once Yang had a talk with him and came to know that this man was talented. But he did not recommend him to the emperor, which was what Li desired. Therefore, Li was disappointed.
        When Yang had the talk with Li, Hongfu was present and had also such opinion of him. She admired him to much that one night she went to see him in his room, just as Li was sad and uncertain of his future. When he heard the knock at his door he opened it and saw the girl who had stood behind Yang in his conversation with Yang. When Hongfu was invited in and sat down, she revealed her purpose to come. She offered herself to be his life mate. Li was so happy and accepted. Then they eloped under the cover of night.
        The couple were disguised as merchants and went to ChangAn city where another Li family lived as magistrate, and afterwards, this Li family united the whole country and established Tang dynasty (618—907 AD). Li Jing went to visit Li Shiming, the famous Emperor Taizong later, to offer his service. Li Shiming thought highly of him. When Sui dynasty collapsed with the murder of the Sui emperor, there arose many warlords. Although there were constant wars among the warlords, historians did not define this period  of time as  a warring period, because it lasted very short, only for seven years and the whole nation was united by Tang dynasty. As Li Shiming wanted to unite the nation,he accepted all the known heroes that came to serve him. In the wars conquering other warlords, Li Jing and Hongfu, who could fight, achieved a lot of merits. When the Tang dynasty united the country, Li Jing was rewarded with the title of Duke Weiguo. And Hongfu was his ladyship.

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36. 平陽公主 Princess Pinyang (a female commander)
Princess Pinyang (580—623 AD) was the sister of Emperor Taizong by the name of Li Xiuning. She was the only woman in the history who organized and commanded an army. Other women before her, if they could fight, just fought as a female general, not commanding an army.
         In the fifth moon of 617 AD, Li family decided to subdue all the warlords and united the country. At the time Princess Pinyang was in ChangAn city while the Li family lived in Taiyuan city. She was married to a general and lived in ChangAn city with her husband. When she got the information that her family would take up arms against all the warlords, she started to recruit enough men to form an army. Her husband went to Taiyuan city first to join in the combats. There were some small groups of rebels. She sent someone to persuade them one by one to join her army, which enlarged greatly. She even defeated several attacks from the army of Sui dynasty.
        After the death of Emperor Yang of Sui dynasty, there were warlords occupying separate  independent areas. It was the duties of Emperor Taizong now to wipe out all the warlords. And the princess only stayed in the pass called Woman Pass, which was the throat to enter where there was the base of Li family. She must guard it. Her task was very important. If any warlord entered the Pass, the safety of her family would be threatened. Anyway, she defended the Pass well against any attacks till the unity of the nation. The name of the Pass was in memory of her. When she died, the army under her command held a military funeral for her. It was the only funeral that was held by an army for a female in the history.

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37. 長孫皇后 Empress Changsun ( a virtuous woman, never jealous)
Empress Changsun (03/15/601—07/28/636 AD) was the wife of the famous Emperor Taizong  (599—649 AD) of Tang dynasty (618—907 AD). Her father was a general in Sui dynasty and died when she was only eight years old. She was brought up by her maternal uncle. She married Emperor Taizong at the age of thirteen when Emperor Taizong was then only Prince Qin. She was the ladyship of the prince Qin. The crown prince was the eldest brother of Prince Qin, and he had a younger brother. The three of them vied for the throne, of course, like in many dynasties.  The crown prince was no good as a ruler, and the younger brother was a fighter, not fit to be a ruler. To be a ruler needed many qualities. Only Prince Qin had such qualities. Therefore, all the generals of Tang dynasty supported him. It was not just because they thought Prince Qin was a talented man, suitable to be the emperor, but also because they had fought together with him so long in the process of subduing all the warlords.
        On the second day of the seventh moon in 626 AD, there was a coup d'état. Helped by the generals, Prince Qin killed his two brothers and became Emperor Taizong. His father was on the throne at the time, but he could not control the situation as all the generals did not listen to him, and only obey his second son. Therefore, after the coup d'état, the father gave up the throne to the son  and became the retired emperor.  Ladyship Zhangsun was due to be the empress. She bore for the emperor three sons and four daughters. Later her youngest son became the crown prince and then the emperor, Emperor Gaozong, the husband of Empress Wu the Great. That's another book I wrote.
        She was a virtuous woman, never jealous. She treated other concubines and maids and eunuchs nicely. So the palace was peaceful, no competitions between concubines for the special favor of the emperor. She often educated the children, no matter those of her own or those of other concubines, equally that they must be frugal, not extravagant. She always gave the emperor good advice, and whenever the emperor made any mistakes, she would persuade him to correct them. She even dissuaded the emperor to give her own brother a powerful position, lest the brother turned arrogant because he had power and then made unpardonable mistakes.
        When she was seriously sick, the emperor wanted to have a ceremony in a temple to pray for her quick recovery, but she disagreed to it. She was not a superstitious person. She did not believe in prayer to make sickness better. She died at the age of thirty-six. When she was sepulchered in imperial grave, the emperor did two things for her that no other emperors did before or after for their spouses. Firstly he had a collage built in front of her grave and let some maids live there like to wait on her as if she was still alive. Secondly he had a high tower built in the palace so that whenever he thought of his empress, he could mount it to watch her grave. However, for this tower, he accepted the advice of a courtier later and demolished it.

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38﹐ 樊梨花 Fan Lihua (the second of the four heroines)
Fan Lihua (?--?) lived in the reign of Emperor Taizong. She was one of the four heroines. Her father was originally a general of the Sui dynasty. When this dynasty was overthrown, he escaped to a minority in the west of present China. When Tang dynasty sent army to conquer that minority, Fan Lihua helped her father to resist Tang army. But once when she saw the son of the commander of Tang army, who came out of the camp, to fight, she fell in love with him. Therefore, she and her father  surrendered to Tang dynasty and Fan Lihua married the son of the commander of Tang dynasty. She had great fighting skills and knew strategies. She helped the Tang army to conquer the minority. Later when some tribe in the northwest invaded Tang dynasty, Her father-in-law was made the commander of Tang army again. She went as a female general and fought together with her husband against the invaders.
        When her father-in-law died in the battlefield, she, not her husband, succeeded the position of the commander, as she could fight better and knew how to use stratagems while her husband could only fight. They returned after victory and owing to her great merits, she was given the title of Marquise of Weining. She bore four sons. The third son was a naughty one, and often did something wrong. Once, by accident, the third son killed a prince. That was a serious crime. Therefore the whole family were executed. Only Fan Lihua and two of her sons escaped before the execution happened.

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39﹐ 武媚娘 Wu Meiniang (the sole female sovereign in China)
Wu Meiniang (02/27/624—12/16/705 AD) was the concubine of Emperor Taizong (599—649 AD), and after the death of emperor Taizong, she was the empress of emperor Gaozong (628—683 AD), the son of emperor Taizong. Such thing happened in the history of China. After the death of emperor Gaozong, she was the empress dowager, and then the empress sovereign.
        She was summoned to the palace at the age of fourteen and was assigned to be in charge of the emperor Taizong's clothes. Soon the emperor was serious sick and the crown prince came everyday to the sick bed to look after his father. As Wu was the woman always waiting on the emperor, she would see the crown prince every time he came. As she was beautiful, the crown prince fell in love with her. When Emperor Taizong died, the crown prince took the throne and became emperor Gaozong. He wanted to make Wu as one of his concubines, but there was an obstacle. As a rule, all the women formerly serving the late emperor must become nuns. Wu was sent to a nunnery. However, the new emperor often went to the nunnery on the excuse to worship Buddha there. In fact, he went there to meet Wu and had affairs with her.
        Anyway, rule or no rule, the emperor could do anything he liked. So one day Wu was carried in a palanquin into the palace, into a special room prepared for her. The empress disliked it, but she must obey the emperor. Wu bore some children for the emperor, but the empress had no child. Therefore, Wu of course became the favorite of the emperor. One day Wu's baby girl was dead and she framed the empress for killing the baby. So the empress was removed from the position, and Wu was made the empress. As the new emperor was not healthy and could not read many of the reports from courtiers, he let Wu help him. Gradually Wu was familiar with how to handle state affairs. By degrees, Wu controlled the situation and had power.
        When Emperor Gaozong died, one of her sons became the new emperor, Wu was the empress dowager. As all the courtier listened to her, she stayed in power. Her son was only a puppet. Supported by courtiers, she declared herself to be the sovereign empress just like the emperor. Her son became a prince. She was the sole female sovereign in the history of China. Under her rule, the country was prosperous. She stayed in such position for tens of years. Some of the courtiers did not like a woman to be the sovereign of the nation, but they did not dare to oppose her openly.
        When Wu grew old, over eighty, and her health was not good, these courtiers who supported the son forced Wu to give up the throne to her son. Therefore, she had to retire and died at age of eighty-four. There was a legend about her. One day in the cold weather, she wanted to have a tour in her imperial garden, and so she gave an order in the poetic form to all the flowers in the garden that they must bloom the next day. The order was like this:
I will go to see the imperial garden tomorrow,
And send this message to Spring right away;
All flowers must be in full bloom overnight,
Don’t wait for morning winds to make them blow.
Tomorrow when she was there, all flowers did blossom except peony. She was angry and sent the flower to Yangzhou city at the Yangtze river. That was why the peony in that city was very flourishing.

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40. 文成公主 Princess Wencheng (the princess married to Tibet)
Princess Wencheng (623—680 AD) was the daughter of Emperor Taizong. She was pretty and clever, and was familiar with Chinese culture. She believed in Buddhism.
        Tibet was then independent of China. It became a vassal state to China only in Qing dynasty, but still only in name. It ruled itself independently, even under KMD government, till CPC sent its army into Tibet and actually ruled it. At that time, sometimes it was friendly to Tang government and sometimes invaded Tang territory. It depended on who ruled Tibet. At the time, Songtsen Gampo was the king of Tibet.
It was a leap year in 640 AD. The lunar calendar has a double month in the leap year. There were two tenth moons in that year and in the bissextile tenth moon, the king of Tibet sent someone to the capital of Tang dynasty with five thousand taels of silver and hundreds of gems and other valuables, asking for the hand of one of the princesses. Emperor Taizong was on the throne at that time and agreed to marry Princess Wencheng to the Tibetan king.
On the fifteenth day of the third moon in 641 AD, Emperor Taizong ordered Prince Jiangxia, his cousin, to escort Princess Wencheng to Tibet for the wedding ceremony. When the princess arrived, the king was very happy and had a palace of Tang style built for her. The king also liked the clothes and etiquette of Tang style. Whenever he went to see the princess, he put on gauze clothes of Tang style. According to the history record, the princess brought Tang culture there together with silkworm eggs, which affected the life and customs of Tibetan people. They began to breed silkworms and made silk clothes. She also brought a statue of Sakyamuni, and the king built Ramoche Temple for it. The princess was the second queen of the Tibetan king. His first queen was a princess from Nepal.
In the fifth moon of AD 650, died the king of Tibet, the husband of Princess Wencheng and so the brother-in-law of the present Emperor Gaozong, son of Emperor Taizong, who already died.  Emperor Gaozong was the brother of Princess Wencheng. The son of King Songtsen Gampohad died early and so his grandson was made the king. As the grandson was a child, the prime minister Ludongzan had all the power to rule Tibet. He was talented and so Tibet became strong.
In the second moon of 679 AD, another king of Tibet died, and his son, eight years old, succeeded to the position of king. In the tenth moon, the sad news of the death of the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo, her husband, sent by Princess Wencheng, who was still alive, arrived in the capital of Tang Dynasty. A courtier Song Lingwen was sent to attend the funeral.
During the tenth moon of 680 AD, Princess Wencheng died in Tibet.

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41. 太平公主 Princess Taiping (a lewd and ambitious woman)
Princess Taiping (670—713 AD) was the daughter of Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu the Great. She was pretty and ambitious like her mother. Her real name was Li Lingyue and Taiping was  her Taoist name. Once the king of Tibet wanted to marry her and sent a messenger to the capital. The emperor and empress would not let her marry so far, and so let her become a female Taoist, but only in name, because a female Taoist could not marry so that she could refuse the king of Tibet without offending him. Hence, historians call her Princess Taiping (literally meaning peace). Instead, Princess Wencheng married the king of Tibet (see above).
        In 681 AD when the princess was sixteen, she married her husband, the nephew of Emperor Gaozong. This was her first marriage, which ended in 688 AD, because the brother of her husband joined in a rebellion and was executed. Her husband, though innocent, was put in jail and starved there.
        Her second husband was the nephew of Empress Wu. The couple lived for twenty-two years and the husband died one year before her. During her second marriage, she often had adultery with whomever she liked, sometimes a courtier, and sometimes a monk, who was stout and could have longer action than others. Her husband did not dare to say anything as she was the favorite princess. Empress Wu liked her this daughter better than her other children, because she was more like her mother in appearance and character. To please her mother, she sometimes brought strong men into the palace to entertain her mother. The monk was one of them. When the monk became the favorite of empress Wu, he turned to be arrogant and did a lot of things against the law. The monk was later killed because of his misbehavior.
        When Empress Wu grew old, she made her son Li Xuan the crown prince. In 705 AD, Premier Zhang Janzhi (625—706 AD) had coup d'état and forced Empress Wu to retire and give the throne to the crown prince, who was Emperor Zhongzong (11/26/656—07/03/710 AD). His wife was Empress Wei. She had a daughter, Princess Anle (?--710 AD), who yearned for power, too, and even asked the emperor to make her crown princess so that she could be the successor to the throne. At the same time, Princess Taiping became more powerful as she had supported the emperor to get his throne.
        Empress Wei did not love the emperor. She was also an ambitious woman, and wanted to be the empress sovereign like Empress Wu, who was them dead. So she conspired with her daughter to poison the emperor, her husband. After the death of Emperor Zhongzong, her brother, Princess Taiping and Shangguan WanEr (see next) drafted the will of the diseased emperor to make Prince Wen the crown prince. Empress Wei was the regent and supplanted members of Li family and supported members of her Wei family. So the two family members fought each other. At last, Li family gained the day and killed empress Wei and her family members. In this event, Princess Taiping had a finger and she supported Li Dan (662—716 AD), another son of Empress Wu, also her brother, to be the emperor, who was Emperor Ruizong.
        In the seventh moon of 712 AD, Emperor Ruizong retired and gave the throne to his son, who became Emperor Xuanzong (09/08685—05/03/762 AD), who was the husband of the famous Imperial Concubine Yang, the fourth beauty of the four beauties in the history. Princess Taiping vied with Emperor Xuanzong for power, but she failed at length, and was forced to hang herself at home.

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42. 上官婉兒 Shangguan WanEr (a poetess and talented woman)

Shangguan (double surname) WanEr (664—710 AD) was a poetess and worked as a secretary for Empress Wu the Great. When her grandfather was killed by Empress Wu, because he opposed her to be the empress, she and her mother were taken to the palace as slaves. She was then still a child. Under the education of her mother, she became a girl of talent. She developed a good memory. Later when Empress Wu found her talent, she liberated her from slavery and also her mother. As she could write well and exercise good calligraphy, Empress Wu made the girl her secretary and let her draft edicts for her. She endeavored to please Empress Wu and soon became her favorite. Empress Wu let her handle some state affairs and by degrees, she got some power.
        In 705 AD, during the rule of Emperor Zhongzong, the emperor let her draft all the imperial edicts, which was a very important position. The emperor trusted in her so much that her power grew as well as her ambition. It was said that she had adultery with the emperor. Next year, she had adultery with Wu Sansi, a nephew of Empress Wu. In the seventh moon of 707 AD, the crown prince led his bodyguards to attack the residence of Wu Sansi and killed him. The crown prince wanted to kill Shangguan WanEr, too, because she supported Wu family. WanEr escaped to the palace and the emperor's mother, Empress Wei, protected her. Then the imperial guards came forth to defeat the crown prince, who was killed in the combat.
        In 710 AD, when Princess Taiping became more powerful, WanEr tended to support Princess Taiping. When Emperor Zhongzong was poisoned by Empress Wei, she and Princess Taiping drafted the will of the late emperor to make Prince Wen as the crown prince and Empress Wei became the regent. In the seventh moon, Prince Linzi, son of Emperor Ruizong, led the imperial guards to enter the  palace and killed Empress Wei, her daughter Princess Anle, and also Shangguan WanEr, who was thought to be the follower of Empress Wei. When the son later became Emperor Xuanzong, he admired the poetic talent of WanEr and gave order to collect her poems into a book. One of her poem runs as follows:
        Just as leaves fall on the Tongting Lake,
        I think of you ten thousand miles away.
        The dew is dense and the scented quilts are cold;
        The moon sets and the brocade screen is empty.

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43. 楊玉環 Yang Yuhuan (the fourth beauty of the four beauties)
這個故事太長﹐所以分段上貼。
Imperial Concubine Yang (06/01/719—08/15/756 AD) was born in Yongle of the present Shanxi province. Her maiden name was Yuhuan (literally meaning Jade Ring), or Yunu (literally meaning Jade Slave).  She was very beautiful, though a little chubby, and was one of the four beauties famous in the history of China. The standard beauty in Tang Dynasty (618—907 AC) should be a little chubby. Men of that time didn't like girls skinny. A legend about her beauty goes like that once when she went round the imperial garden and touched some flowers, the flowers she had touched bent down like in timidity. So it was said that she had the ability to make flowers feel shy.
        The other three were Xi Shi (date of birth unknown and died in 448 BC) who lived in a village in the present Zhejiang province, the area belonged to Yue State in the earliest War Period (472 BC—221 BC). A legend about her beauty goes like that when she went to wash her gauze clothes in a nearby stream, the fish in there, seeing her beauty, sank to the bottom of the stream in bashfulness. At that time, Yue State was defeated by Wu State and the king of Yue State wanted to revenge. His famous courtier Fan Li (516 BC—448 BC) had a plan and he went round to find beautiful girls. One day he came across Si Shi who was washing her clothes by the stream. Her beauty stunned the courtier Fan. He took her to the palace and she was trained to sing and dance. Then she was sent to the palace of Wu State. The king of Wu State liked the girl very much, enchanted by her great beauty. He made her his queen and watched her sing and dance everyday. He neglected his state affairs. The king of Yue State secretly gathered and trained his army till one day he thought he was strong enough and invaded Wu State and conquered it. Then he thought of the beauty Xi Shi and wanted to send for her for his own enjoyment, but the beauty was nowhere to be found. History had it that the courtier Fan was afraid that the king of Yue State would be enchanted by her beauty, too, and so he took Xi Shi with him to where the king could not find her. Fan later became a rich businessman. He and Xi Shi died in the same year.
        The second beauty was Wang Zhaojun (52 BC—19 BC) in West Han Dynasty (206 BC—8 AD). A legend about her beauty goes like that when she went to marry the Mongolian prince and on her way there, and when the wild geese in the north saw her beauty and became so listless that they fell down from the sky. When in teens, Wang was selected to be a palace maid. All maids in the palace wished to get in the preference of the emperor and be made an imperial concubine. They asked the palace painter Mao Yanshou to paint their portraits beautiful because the portraits would be sent to the emperor who would choose the most beautiful as his imperial concubines. Most maids bribed the painter, but Wang refused to bribe him so that he painted Wang with some facial defects. She was of course not to remain as a maid. The Mongolian in the north often made war against Han Dynasty, and to maintain peace along the border, Han Dynasty often held out the olive branch by marrying a princess to the Mongolian prince, but actually, a palace maid was chosen and sent to Mongolia as a princess. This time Wang was chosen for the purpose. Before her departure, as a rule, she was summoned to the presence of the emperor. When the emperor, seeing her beauty, regretted to marry her away. However, for the peace of the nation, he had to keep his promise. Anyway, he killed the painter for painting Wang so ugly. Wang died in Mongolia at the age of 33. (1)

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The third one was Diao Chan (dates of birth and death unknown) who lived in East Han Dynasty (25 AD—220 AD). She liked to worship the moon goddess in the courtyard when it was full moon in the sky every month. A legend about her beauty goes like that whenever she worshiped the moon goddess, the moon lost its sheen as if shaded by her beauty. Her family name was Ren and her maiden name was Hongchang. She was very clever and at the age of fifteen, was chosen to work in the palace as a maid in charge of the emperor's clothes and headgear. Her job title was Diao Chan, hence she was known in history by her job title. Except for certain historians, common people don't know her real name. When the palace fell in chaos, she escaped and was adopted by the high official Wang Yong (137-192 AD). Then a bad courtier Dong Zhuo (141—05/22/192 AD) controlled the court. The emperor was only a puppet. He had an adopted son, Luu Bu (birth day unknown and died on 02/07/199), who was the bravest knight at the time. Dong and Luu were both lewd men. Wang Yong always wanted to get rid of Dong Zhuo and restore the power to the emperor. Hr harbored a scheme, the Chinese called Beauty Strategy. First he invited Luu to his home for dinner. During the dinner time, he let Diao Chan come out to dance before Luu. Since Luu was a lewd man, he immediately fell in love with the beauty. Luu expressed his wish to marry the girl and Wang gave his ascent. Only he needed time to prepare for dowry, which was reasonable. So Luu left in great ecstasy. Next day, Wang invited Dong Zhou to his home for dinner. At dinner he also let the girl come out to dance before Dong, who liked the girl at the first sight. Dong ordered Wang to send the girl to his residence, which Wang never dared to refuse. A few days afterwards, when Luu came to ask to fix a date for his wedding, Wang told him that his adoptive father Dong took his future wife, which enraged Luu. One day he met the girl in the garden of Dong, the girl instigated him to kill Dong and marry her, which he did. And he did marry the girl.
        Since Yang's was a big family, they had a huge residence divided in three sections. The front section was the servant quarters. The middle section was the main living part for family members. The last section was the place for the worshiping of the ancestors. They had a large garden in the back of the residence with an artificial lake and a zigzag bridge over it. There were grottoes and  some pavilions dotting here and there among flowers and trees. This was typical Chinese architecture for a big family residence in old time. There was a small pond, later called Imperial Concubine Pond, below Watch-River Pavilion. It was said that the girl Yang used to wash her hair in the lucid pond.
        Her father, Yang XuanTan, was an official in Shuzhou and died when Yang was ten. Then she went to live with her uncle, Yang XuanGui, also an official, in HeNan province. Generally, girls in big families were well educated. They were taught to read and write, to dance and play some musical instruments, and to paint. Yang Yuhuan was talented in dancing.(2)

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Her brother was Yang Gua, who was an official in the central government.
        Her famous male cousin was Yang Guozhong (birth day unknown and died in the fifth moon of 756 AD). When young, he was nothing, despised by all the neighbors for leading a low life. Then he joined the army in Sichuan province and later was promoted to be a petty officer. But he was still poor. At the end of his three year's term, he had even no money to pay for his board and food in any inn to return home. Anyway, he often visited the family of Yang Xuantan, though Xuantan was already dead. He had an affair with the second sister of Imperial Concubine Yang, who had three sister and one brother, besides this cousin.
        The most active sister was Yang Yuyao, who was also beautiful and had affairs with her cousin Yang Guozhong. She was afterwards married to Pei and gave birth to a son and a daughter for him. Pei died soon.
        At that time, the emperor on the throne was Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty (618—907 AC). He was the grandson of Empress Wu the Great. Now the emperor wanted to find a girl as the wife of his favorite son, Prince Shou, who had already reached the age to marry. Generally, the Tang emperors would look for girls for their sons from Wei family, Yang family, or Wu family.
        Yang XuanAo, the uncle of Yang Yuhuan, had worked as a matchmaker to select girls for sons of the imperial family, and of course, he learned the message that the emperor wanted to find a girl for his son. Since Yang Yuhuan was his niece and was the most beautiful girl among all girls of Yang family, he decided to make his niece be the wife of Prince Shou. Through his influence with the new matchmaker, he succeeded in putting the name of his niece in the list of selection. After several interviews like through a sieve, Yang Yuhuan was at last chosen to be the wife of the imperial son. She now crossed the threshold to enter the imperial circle. (3)

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The wedding ceremony of Prince Shou and Princess-in-law Yang took place in Luoyang city. They lived there less than a year and then Prince Shou took his wife back to ChangAn city, the capital, to see his father, the emperor, in the tenth moon of 736 AD. But he could never imagine that as soon as he arrived in the capital, he was unexpectedly involved in a political plot, schemed by his mother, the imperial concubine Wuhui. The imperial concubine Wuhui always wanted her son, Prince Shou to be the crown prince and looked for a chance to get rid of Crown Prince Ying.
        In the eleventh moon of 736, Crown Prince Ying, the eldest son of the emperor, Prince E, the fifth son , and Prince Guang, the eighth son, gathered in their palace residence and complained about their mothers out of the favor of the emperor. Yang Hui, the son-in-law of the imperial concubine Wuhui, came to know it and reported to Wuhui. Wuhui found a chance to report to Emperor Xuanzong, adding that the three princes formed a clique. The emperor hated anyone to form a clique behind his back, afraid that they would plot against him. The emperor fell in great fury and summoned the premier to consult him about deposing the crown prince and other two princes.
        The premier Zhang Jiuling (678—740) was an upright man. He said to the emperor that as there was no evidence against them, His Majesty should not rashly make the decision to depose them. The imperial concubine Wuhui learned it and sent someone to bribe Zhang, who refused and reported to the emperor about the bribery. The emperor was moved and made up his mind not to depose the three princes. Wuhui's scheme failed.
        Some time afterwards, Wuhui created some rumors about Premier Zhang and caused Zhang to be demoted. The next premier was Li Linfu (683—752), who was a wicked sly person. To please the imperial concubine Wuhui, he often sang praises of Prince Shou before the emperor.
        In the fourth moon of 737, Wuhui secretly told her son-in-law to spread rumor that the crown prince and other two princes were planning a mutiny. When the emperor was told the rumor, he sent for Premier Li for consultation. Li said that it was the emperor's family affairs and the emperor could make whatever decision he thought fit. Therefore, the three sons were executed and deprived of their titles of prince. (4)

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However, after a few days, the emperor thought that there was something wrong with the case. He killed three of his own sons without any evidence. He regretted. Just then, Premier Li came to see him and reminded him of the vacancy of crown prince, adding his suggestion that Prince Shou should be the right person for it. The emperor didn't say anything about it.
        One day, a courtier Pei Zhen came to see the emperor and said that he heard that someone had suggested Prince Shou to be the crown prince. He reminded the emperor of the fact that people were all complaining that the crown prince had been wrongly killed. So it was not the right time to make Prince Shou the crown prince. Besides, through seniority, there were some elder brothers to be considered first. The emperor knew that it was the right consideration. When Premier Li put up his proposal again to make Prince Shou crown prince, the emperor said, “I won't select him.”
        The emperor had a favorite eunuch named Gao Lishi. Although a eunuch was low in social status, as a favorite eunuch of the emperor, who often listened to him, he had great power. One day the head eunuch said to the emperor, “Your slave know that Your Majesty can't decide which princes to be the crown prince. In your slave's humble opinion, it should go by seniority.” The emperor said, “You are right.” In the sixth moon of 738, the emperor declared his decision that his third son, Prince Zhong, should be the crown prince. The hope and plan of imperial concubine Wuhui ended in nothing. She died soon.
        Prince Shou and Yang Yuhuan retired to their own residence and lived a peaceful life for the next five years. During these five years, Yang Yuhuan didn't bear any sons, nor daughters, for Prince Shou. Readers may think that Yang Yuhuan would thus lead her smooth life till the end.
        However, her fate was differently arranged. She was destined to give us readers a touching romantic love story. On the eleventh day of the tenth moon in 740, when she was twenty-two years old, the turning point of her fate befell her. That day, the emperor came to Huaqing Palace on a short vacation as usual. It was the twenty-second time to come here. But on the day, he summoned Yang Yuhuan to the Huaqing Palace to meet him. Why did he want to see the wife of Prince Shou there? It was because since his imperial concubine Wuhui died, the emperor had had an empty feeling for his sex life. To make him happy, his head eunuch went to the Yangtze River area to seek beautiful girls for him. At last, he found a beautiful girl by the name of Jiang Caiping, daughter of a doctor. She was so talented. She could read and write, versed in poetry, a renowned poetess in the neighborhood. She could also paint, and play zither and chess. The head eunuch took her to the capital in the north. The emperor liked her very much and made her his Imperial Concubine Plum because the girl loved plum blossoms. The emperor ordered plum trees to be planted round where she lived. After several years, the emperor grew tired of Imperial Concubine Plum and needed a new girl. (5)

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The head eunuch knew the emperor best and hinted to have Yang Yuhuan as his next favorite. That year, Yang was only twenty-two while the emperor was already fifty-six, with age difference of thirty-four years. When Yang arrived in the palace, the emperor just expressed his wish to have Yang for his imperial concubine. Of course, Yang could not reject the emperor, who could decide her life or death. After a few days' stay, Yang was allowed to return to her own residence, as she was still the wife of his son.
        During her stay, the famous tune of “Rainbow-Colored and Feather-Adorned Dress” was played and Yang Yuhuan danced to the tune. When she left, the emperor gave her a gold hairpin and a jewelry box inset on the surface with gold, silver, and jade specks.
        People always are curious to know why Yang Yuhuan was really in love with the old emperor, thirty-four years older than she. The emperor could have been her father. The reasons were, besides yielding to the power of the emperor, the emperor was a handsome person and also talented in many respects, while her present husband Prince Shou was not romantic, without talents. The emperor could practice calligraphy well. Traveler can still see the tablet with his calligraphy on in XiAn city. The place is called Tablet Forest with a lot of other tablets there. He also liked music, could compose music and play some musical instruments, especially could beat a kind of drum called Jie Drum beautifully. A Jie drum was made of wood, somewhat round like a barrel, but thinner in the middle. The two ends were covered with dried goat skin. It was placed levelly on a shelf and was played on both ends with two drumsticks. (Readers can see pictures of Jie drum by copying and pasting these two Chinese characters 羯鼓 into Google image search box.) Therefore, Yang Yuhuan could dance to the beating tune of the drum played by the emperor. They could really form a music couple in spite of the great age difference. They had true love between them and so handed down to us the moving love tale.
        In Tang Dynasty, moral for marriage was loose. The grandmother of the emperor, Empress Wu the Great (readers can get the fact from my book of this same title), became a nun after her first husband died and before she married her second husband, the son of her first husband. Therefore, the emperor followed this example, with a little change, and so Yang Yuhuan became a female taoist in the imperial temple. What is the difference between a nun and a taoist? Besides the different clothes, a nun must shave off all her hair, while a taoist put up her hair in a knot. When a nun wants to shift back to be a lay person, she must let her hair grow long, while a taoist is easy to shift back by just letting her hair down. So the emperor chose to make Yang Yuhuan go the easy way.(6)

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When Yang Yuhuan was back home, she felt restless. But Prince Shou knew nothing about it and passed his everyday as usual. The emperor was more restless and wanted to have the beauty beside him right away. Anyway, that a father-in-law possessed his daughter-in-law by force was really a scandal though no one could say NO to him. It was better to get her in a roundabout way. So Yang Yuhuan became a female taoist in the imperial temple, belonging to the imperial family. And her taoist name was Taizhen. So sometimes people called her Yang Taizhen. Before the emperor took Taizhen to his palace, he found another wife for his son to comfort him.
        In winter of 741, Taizhen went with the emperor to Huaqing palace on Mt. Li, where there was a hot spring for bath. So Huaqing palace was also called Huaqing Pond, a small artificial pond for bath. That time, the emperor and Taizhen stayed longer, from the nineteenth day of the tenth moon to the fourteenth day of the eleventh moon. This time, when the emperor went back, he took Yang Taizhen with him to his residence—Xingqing Hall, not to return to the temple. From then on, Yang Taizhen began to live with the emperor though she didn't get the title of imperial concubine yet. The emperor was still afraid of gossiping among people.
        After three years of living together, the emperor at length conferred the title of imperial concubine to Yang Taizhen. That was in 745 after the emperor appointed the daughter of the courtier Wei Zhaoxun to be the next wife of his son Prince Shou. In feudal society of China, an emperor could do anything he liked. He could take the wife of his son to be his concubine. He could also the daughter of any courtier to be the wife of any son of another courtier. The parents could not refuse. On the contrary, they must think it was a great honor to them and must thank the emperor. If the son and the daughter could not get along well after marriage, it was their fate. They could not make any complaints against the emperor.
        The emperor gave a new wife to his son as a compensation and then he rightfully declared his son's old wife to be his new imperial concubine. There was no empress any more. Anyway, the emperor didn't make Yang the empress, and in reality, Yang enjoyed her status in the palace like an empress.
        Before Imperial Concubine Yang entered the palace, Imperial Concubine Plum had been the  favorite of the emperor. As the time elapsed, her beauty gradually faded. When Imperial Concubine Yang came, beautiful and young, the emperor's favor transferred from Imperial Concubine Plum to Imperial Concubine Yang. Besides, it was said that Imperial Concubine Yang a little resembled the deceased Imperial concubine Wuhui. So Imperial Concubine Plum was ignored and led a lonely and quiet life. (7)

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One night, the emperor went to sleep alone in West Cuihua Pavilion. He suddenly thought of Imperial Concubine Plum and sent a eunuch to fetch her there. They lay side by side in bed, resuming their former heart-to-heart talk. Then Imperial concubine Yang came to know it and rushed to the pavilion. Fearing that the two women might quarrel or even fight, emperor bade Imperial Concubine Plum to hide somewhere in the room. Imperial Concubine Yang dashed into the room and asked the emperor, “Where is the Plum Genie” The emperor said, “In her own pavilion.” Yang said, “Why not send for her and we can make merry together.” The emperor made no answer and ignored her. Yang began to cry and left for her mother's home. Before long, the emperor thought of her and sent a eunuch to fetch her to the palace.
        Once the emperor thought of Imperial concubine Plum again and sent a eunuch to give her a pearl necklace. She returned the necklace with a poem, which read like this:
        My two eyebrows are not drawn for long,
        My tears smear my torn and worn red gown.
        I've never put makeup in my pavilion ever since,
        Why give me pearl necklace to solace my loneliness?
What was the end of Imperial concubine Plum? Many years hereafter, when a warlord An Lushan rebelled and marched into the capital, the emperor and Imperial Concubine Yang escaped southwest, and Imperial Concubine Plum made suicide by throwing herself into a well, fearful of being raped by the rioters.
        After Yang Taizhen became an imperial concubine, her former husband, Prince Shou, turned to be her stepson. When he came to visit the emperor, his father, if Imperial Concubine Yang was present, he must kowtow to her and call her stepmother. A weird relationship. (8)

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As a rule, once a girl became an imperial concubine, all her family members would get titles. First,her deceased father was given a posthumous honor of the title of the duke of Qi, and her uncle, yang XuanGui, was made the head of the department in charge of feast. Her brother was promoted, too. Especially her male cousin, Yang Guozhong, a low cad before, got promotion after promotion, because he could please the flatter the emperor, till at last, he was made the premier after the death of Li Linfu, the former premier. Yang Guozhong did a lot of bad things like taking briberies and appointing those bribers to be high officials. His two sons married two princesses.
        Yang Guozhong was apt to play a kind of game called E-Pu. Each player had five chessmen and whoever moved the chessmen to the end line won the game. Luckily for him, the emperor also liked to play this kind of game. When he found that Yang Guozhong could play so well, he liked Yang so much that he made Yang his premier despite that Yang had no ability to run the country well.
        The emperor was so fond of Imperial Concubine Yang, who was like his inseparable shadow, he neglected his levees. He stopped receiving his courtiers and discussing with them the national affairs. He trusted everything to Yang Guozhong, who became the most powerful man of the time. No courtiers dared to offend him unless he didn't care misfortunes befalling him or even death. But Yang Guozhong had gradually and unawares made a lot of personal enemies. His greatest and decisive foe was the warlord An Lushan. In Tang Dynasty, a warlord had really the title of lord administered a certain area, but still obeyed the central government. Only he had his own army. He obeyed the central government solely in name.
        Back to the brief biography of Yang Guozhong. In 745, he was appointed a staff official, and  hen promoted to be a judge in a city to sentence criminals. In 747, he was summoned to the capital to be a secretarial clerk in the central government. In 748, he had fifteen titles, and four years later, in 752, he became the premier. He reached the peak of his life. His titles were almost as many as forty more. The comparatively important ones were: equivalent to the head of the prosecutor's department; equivalent to the minister of the fiscal ministry; equivalent to the general manager of central bank; equivalent to the head librarian of the national library; equivalent to the minister of the human resources ministry; equivalent to the minister of the labor ministry, etc. etc.
        In Tang Dynasty, female relatives of the imperial concubine would get honorary titles, generally Her Ladyship so-and-so. First, her mother was conferred the title of the Ladyship of Liang. Her eldest sister the ladyship of Han, her third sister the ladyship of Guo, and her eighth sister the ladyship of Qin. As Imperial Concubine Yang often thought of her sisters, the three sisters were allowed to move and live in the capital. But Imperial concubine Yang could not foresee that her third sister would give her trouble once she arrived in the capital. (9)

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Ladyship Guo (?--756) had the maiden name Yang Yuyao while other sisters' maiden names were unknown. Ladyship Guo was beautiful, but lewd. She had had affairs with Yang Guozhong, her distant cousin, before she was married. Then she was married to the Pei family and gave birth to a son Pei Hui and a daughter. When she became Ladyship Guo, her son married a princess and her daughter was the wife of a prince.
        As the three sisters moved into the capital, the emperor gave each a big residence and often summoned them to the palace. They feasted and made merry together. The three sisters, especially the Ladyship Guo, all got in the favor of the emperor. Before long, the lewd Ladyship Guo had affairs with the emperor, for which Imperial Concubine Yang had quarrels with this sister. Ladyship Guo could even directly go into the palace without waiting for the summon from the emperor. A famous poet Zhang Gu wrote a poem about her:
        Ladyship Guo enjoys the imperial favor,
        She often rides into the palace at dawn.
        She's afraid make-up will dirty her beauty,
        Only pencils eyebrows lightly to see the emperor.
She became another favorite of the emperor, and even the daughters of the emperor were afraid to offend her or the Yang family. Once two princesses did offend the Yang family, the emperor was angry and took back all the things that he had gifted to those two daughters, and as a result, their husbands were expelled from government offices.
        Now the end of the Ladyship Guo. In the rebellion of the warlord An Lushan and his successor (the events will be narrated in the later chapters), Imperial Concubine Yang and her cousin Premier Yang Guozhong both died. The other two sisters were also killed in the chaos. Ladyship Guo, her son and the wife of Premier Yang escaped from the capital to Chencang town. The mayor of the town hated the Yang family just like all people at large since the Yang family members did lots of bad things. When he was told that the three of the Yang family came to the town, he wanted to catch them and began to chase them. Ladyship Guo killed her son and the wife of her cousin. She wanted to kill herself too, but did not succeed. The mayor got her and put her in prison. Later she died in the prison and was buried in a suburb of the town. (10)

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An Lushan (703—01/29/757) was a man of minority in the north. He fought for Tang Dynasty and won great martial merits so that he became a lord ruling over three administrative districts. At first, he and Yang Guozhong had joint benefits, but later, when An became a lord, Yang was so jealous of him and started to hate him. Thus, yang laid the foundation of An's rebellion.
        As a lord, An must from time to time come to the capital to report to the emperor what had happened in his districts. Sometimes, he saw Imperial Concubine yang with the emperor. He was also struck with her beauty. On the side of Imperial Concubine Yang, she was fully aware of the great age difference between the emperor and  herself. Generally speaking, the old emperor must die before her and she knew that the successor, anyone of the emperor's sons, would do unfavorable things to her. She must have someone to back her up for her own safety. She thought that An was a man she could rely for the purpose. Therefore, she often sent for An to see her when the emperor was attending to national business.  Gradually, they made love to each other as An was much younger and stronger than the old emperor.
        A legend about their love affairs goes like that once during the love-making, An accidentally made a scratch on the skin of one of her breasts. Imperial Concubine Yang was afraid that the emperor would see it when they were together, and so she put a piece of brocade over the spot as a decoration. It was said that this was the origination of the bra nowadays. Believe it or not.
        An had a potbelly, and once the emperor asked him what was inside his big belly. An replied that inside was his loyalty to the emperor, who was very happy to hear it. Imperial Concubine Yang liked to take bath and often went alone to Huaqing Pond for it. On her way there, her bodyguards would hold up long pieces of cloth on both sides to form a lane so that no bystanders or passers-by could see her in a imperial coach.
        Sometimes she took An along with her to have bath there. Once after An finished his bath, yang ordered her palace maids to put big swaddling clothes on An as if he was a baby. To flatter Yang, An began to call Yang mom. When the emperor heard of it, he gave An baby bath gift. From then on, An openly called Yang mom, but he never called the emperor dad. When asked why, he said that the minority he belonged to only knew mothers, never knew fathers. The emperor laughed it off. (11)

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Li Bai (02/08701—12/762) was one of the best known poets in Chinese history. He was a poetic genius and people named him a deity of poetry. He also knew some foreign language. Historians think that he was born in the present Kyrgyzstan in Mid-Asia (At that time, it belonged to Tang Dynasty) and at the age of five, his family moved to Sichuan province in the west of China. Emperors of Tang Dynasty, their family name was also Li. Historians think that the imperial family and Li Bai's family came from the same ancestors.
        Li Ke, Li Bai's father, was an officer in Ren town. In 705, Li Bai began his education and in 710, he began to learn all the Chinese classics. In 715, he started to learn swordsmanship. He liked traveling and loved to drink wine, often until drunken. So in the olden time, almost every wine house had put up on the wall a placard, bearing these words, “Drink is the good habit of Li Bai.”
        In the eighth moon of 742, he went to the capital. As the emperor had long heard his fame, he summoned Li Bai to his presence. Then Li had the chance to know Imperial Concubine Yang, and whenever the emperor and Yang went to Huaqing Pond, they would take Li along and asked Li to write poems for the occasion. Li became the palace poet, if this could be his title. He was not a courtier, nor an official.
        A legend about Li Bai goes like this: there was Bohai State in the northeast of China, which was a vassal state to Tang Dynasty. However, any vassal state always wanted to be independent. So they sent a messenger carrying the Credentials in their own language, saying that if Tang Dynasty had such a talented man that could read their language and write a letter of reply to them, they would always obey Tang Dynasty, or they would be independent. At a levee, the emperor showed the Credentials to all the courtiers, but none of them could read the language. When Li Bai was told about it, Li offered to write the letter of reply. So he came to the levee and translated the Credentials to the emperor. Then he was asked to write a letter of reply, he put up some demands. Because he was eccentric, he had offended some courtiers, including premier Yang Guozhong, by looking down on them as no rivals to him in learning. The head eunuch Gao Lishi didn't like him, too. Now Li took this opportunity to avenge on them. When he sat down at a table, he wanted the head eunuch to take off his shoes so that he could sit cross-legged more comfortably. Then he wanted premier Yang to grind the ink bar in water on the ink slab of stone so that he could dip his brush in the inky water and write on paper. These were thought as insult. Anyway, Li wrote the letter of reply in the language of Bohai State. The messenger was subdued and got the letter back to his state. (12)

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Although Li Bai had offended some important persons, the emperor and Imperial Concubine Yang still liked him. One day in the late spring of 743, when the emperor and Imperial Concubine Yang were in the Eaglewood Pavilion and watched the peony in bloom. The emperor summoned palace musicians and wanted them to sing something new. But Li Guinian, the head musician and singer, had nothing new to provide. Therefore, the emperor sent him to find Li Bai so that he could compose new poems to the music. Li Guinian went to the wine house Li Bai frequented and saw Li Bai there, but drunk. Li Bai was carried to the palace. Imperial Concubine Yang bade a maid to sprinkle some cold water on his face, and presently, Li Bai came to like from a swoon. The emperor asked him to get some new poems. So Li Bai wrote three poems to sing the praise of Yang. They read respectively in the following:
The first one,
        Clouds think of dress while flowers think of visage,
        Spring winds brush the railing, and dews dense.
        If not seen on top of the Jade Mountain*,
        Will meet at Jade Terrace* under the moon.
        *Are places where goddesses dwell.
The second one,
        A red peony with dew spread fragrance,
        Goddess on Wu Hill heart-broken in vain*.
        If Ask who is like her in Han Palace,
        It's lovely Flying Swallow** wearing new dress.
        *meaning no need to meet goddess when he had his Yang.
        **Flying Swallow is the name of the queen in Han Dynasty.
The third one,
        Flowers and the Beauty are both happy,
        They have Emperor look at them smilingly.
        Spring breezes solace Emperor in his sorrow,
        As he leans on north railing of Eaglewood Pavilion.
Then someone who hated Li Bai complained to Imperial Concubine Yang that it was not a good comparison of Yang to Flying Swallow in Han palace, because Flying Swallow was not a good woman. So Imperial Concubine Yang began to dislike Li Bai.(13)

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Li Bai felt that it would not be good for him to stay longer in the palace. Next year, he left the capital forever. Then he started to travel again. He met Du Fu (712—770) and they turned to be best friends ever since. When An Lushan rebelled, wishing to help quench the rebellion, Li Bai accepted the invitation of Prince Yong in the twelfth moon of 756, to be his counselor. But before long, Prince Yong offended the emperor, and was executed. All his men were taken as prisoners. Li Bai was exiled to somewhere in the present Guizhou province in the southwest of China. On the way, he was pardoned. He was then fifty-nine. When he reached the age of sixty-one, he was told that General Li Guangbi was commanding a large army to attach the rebels, he wanted to join them, but he had to return halfway, because he fell sick. Next year he died of some kind of disease and was buried at Dangtu.
        A legend about his death goes like that he was watching the bright moon, as he had written a lot of poems about the moon, but he was then drunk. He wanted to pick up the moon in the water and fell in the river and was drowned. A romantic death.
        When Imperial Concubine Yang found the secret meeting of the emperor with Imperial Concubine Plum, she was unhappy. The emperor was so fond of Yang and did not want her to be unhappy. So on the Double Seventh Night (7th night of 7th moon every lunar year), the emperor met Yang in Longevity Hall in the palace. There is a legend about Double Seventh Night. The youngest daughter of the mother goddess, the girl weaver, stole from heaven to the human world to enjoy herself. Then she came across the cowboy, a mortal. She fell in love with him. The mother goddess learned it and got infuriated. She ordered the daughter to come back to heaven and her daughter had to obey. But the cowboy did not want to part with the beautiful girl and ran after her. The mother goddess used her hairpin and drew a line between her daughter and the cowboy. The line she drew became a celestial river (denoting the Milky Way in the sky). The cowboy could not cross it and cried himself to be sick. The daughter sympathized with the cowboy and begged her mother to have pity on the cowboy. Therefore, the mother goddess agreed for them to meet once a year on the Double Seventh Night. But the cowboy had no way to cross the celestial river. It was said that magpies formed a bridge, magpie bridge, to help the cowboy to go over the river. However, there is another end for the legend. The mother goddess changed her daughter, the girl weaver, to be Vega and the cowboy to be Altair so that they could only look at each other across the Milky Way.(14)

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On that night, the emperor and Yang made their love vow about their eternal love, not just in this life, but also in every next life, till eternity. Imperial Concubine Yang liked to eat litchi, which only grew in the south of China (at that time). To please the girl he deeply loved, the emperor ordered fresh litchi to be fetched to the capital by military dispatch on horseback. Du Mu, a famous poet of Tang Dynasty, had a couplet to describe this event:
        As a horse gallops through dusts, the imperial concubine smiles;
        And no one knows that it’s the litchi that is coming.
The poet's sarcasm lies there: military dispatch should be used for conveying urgent military messages, not for the purpose to satisfy the personal taste of an imperial concubine.
        Once Imperial Concubine Yang had a quarrel with the emperor. Generally no one dared to bicker with the emperor. Only Yang knew that the emperor loved her so much that he would not take it to heart if she quarreled with him. But this time, the emperor got furious and drove her away from the palace. Yang had to go back to her mother's residence. Anyway, after a while, the emperor thought of Yang and sent the eunuch Zhang Taoguang there to see how the imperial concubine passed her days. Seizing the opportunity, Yang cut a strand of her hair and let the eunuch take it to the emperor. Seeing this, the emperor was scared, because in old Chinese tradition, if a girl cut a strand of her hair and sent it to the boy, it meant that she would have nothing to do with the boy any more. Their relationship would thus end. That's why the emperor was afraid as he was so fond of Yang. Therefore, he sent his favorite eunuch Gao Lishi to fetch Yang back to the palace. Imperial Concubine Yang used it just as a method to go back to the side of the emperor. So when Gao Lishi came to take her back to the palace, she was delighted and immediately got into the coach. And the emperor and Yang reconciled.
        The second offense happened one morning in the seventh moon of 746. She made the emperor enraged, and the emperor drove her away again. But at lunch time, the emperor began to think of her and he refused to eat anything. His favorite eunuch wanted to assuage the emperor and mentioned that since the imperial concubine left in a hurry, she did not take all the stuff she needed. Could his slave gather all the things and take to her? The emperor gave his consent. Then her clothes, cosmetic things, her trinkets, and so on and so forth, loaded one hundred carts. The emperor also let the eunuch bring her the food she liked. In the afternoon, the emperor thought of Yang more and got restless. The eunuch implored the emperor by continuous kowtowing to let the imperial concubine back to the palace. So in the evening, Imperial Concubine Yang was permitted to come back. Yang also admitted her wrong doing and begged the pardon of the emperor. So the emperor and Yang made up again.
        The rebellion started on12/16/755 AD and ended on 02/07/763, almost seven years. (15)

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At the beginning of Tang Dynasty (618—907 AC), their military forces were almost centered round the capital for the purpose of strong defense. The farther from the capital, the weaker was the defense force. At the north frontier, the Tang government totally entrusted the defense on minorities. So the minorities had their own troops. Since Tang Dynasty enjoyed long-time peace till the present emperor, the army was not used to fighting and the whole forces became weak while the forces of the minorities became strong. The strongest army belonged to An Lushan, a minority nobility. He had an ambition to invade Tang Dynasty and rule over it. He just waited for a chance.
        The emperor Xuanzong, since he had Imperial Concubine Yang, had neglected the national affairs and let the premier Yang Guozhong, the cousin of the imperial concubine, decide on everything. Yang Guozhong, a low cad when young, had an ability to flatter, to please anyone he wanted to. As now he became the imperial brother-in-law, he did everything to please the emperor and so he got the entire trust from the emperor. Under his administration, the whole officialdom went corrupt. Common people led a bitter life and hated Yang family. They wished that some day someone would come to kill all the Yang family members.
        As An Lushan got stronger, Yang Guozhong felt a threat from An and was afraid that some day An would endanger his power and safety. Therefore, he always slandered An to the emperor. Then, An felt a threat from Yang, too. So An Lushan revolted using the excuse to expel Yang Guozhong from the government lest he should bring more harm to the nation and the people. At that time, Tang government had only 80,000 soldiers to defend the capital while An had 150,000 soldiers, as other minorities all obeyed and supported An.
        On the ninth day of the eleventh moon of lunar calendar (equivalent to 12/16 AD) in 755, in Fanyang city, An Lushan declared his mutiny against Tang government. Most towns and cities in the north were soon taken by An's troops. When the emperor was reported about the insurrection on the fourteenth day of the same moon, he ordered general Feng Changqing to defend Luoyang city, which was a strategic spot in battles. If An wanted to come to the capital, he must occupy Luoyang city first. Then the emperor appointed his sixth son Prince Rong to be the grand marshal and general Gao Xianzhi as the vice marshal. (16)


http://www.allbook-books.com/html/100_famous_women_in_china.htm

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Accordingly, An marched to attack Luoyang city and, on the twelfth day of the twelfth moon, he entered the city. Generals Feng and Gao had to escape to the city more important strategically, which was called Tong Pass. Later, the emperor executed both for failure of the defense of Luoyang city, and appointed another general Ge Shuhan as the vice marshal in charge of the defense of Tong Pass, which was easy to defend and hard to attack.
        On the first day of the first moon next year, An Lushan declared himself to be the emperor of Dahan Dynasty. As Tong Pass was difficult to take, General Ge adopted the tactic to void direct combat and only stayed in the city. In the first moon of 756, An Lushan sent his son An Qingxu to assault the city, but was defeated by general Ge. An's army was blocked and could not make any progress forward for several months. Then An Lushan got a stratagem and ordered his general Cui Qianyou to conceal the strong troopers somewhere,  and displayed his old, weak, or even sick soldiers to Tang's spy. When the  emperor got the false information, he issued an edict to general Ge to take the initiative to assail the rebellious army. Although Ge knew that it was a wrong decision, he had to obey, with sighs and tears for the predictable failure.  
        On the fourth day of the sixth moon, general Ge was forced to lead his army out from the city and marched to attack An's army. An's general Cui laid an ambush on the south ridge of the mountains, between which there was a narrow valley the Tang army must go through if they wanted to attack An's army. It means that Tang troops fell into the ambush unexpectedly. When arrows and stones came down from the mountains, Tang soldiers had to scatter for shelters and many were killed. When Ge wanted to defend the city, he had gathered 200,000 men. After the battle, he had only 8,000 left when he escaped to the city. On the ninth day, general Cui occupied the city and general Ge escaped again to a small town nearby. Finally he was captured by An's army. Then An's army marched toward ChangAn city, the capital of Tang Dynasty. (17)

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At the same time, a detachment of the revolting army was sent to attack Jiuyang town to the east of the capital. Zhang Xun, the general in charge to defend the town, had only 8,000 soldiers against 130,000 rebellious troops. For many times, he defeated the assault of the enemies. He and his soldiers held the town firmly for three hundred days, which gave time for the government to gather troops. But he ran short of provisions and other necessities until the day he had not but to kill his own wife as food to feed his soldiers. In China, in great famine, people would eat dead bodies. If they could not find dead bodies, they would exchange each other's babies. One family ate another family's baby. Such things did happen in the history of China. However, as the enemies outnumbered Zhang's troops, Zhang at lost fought to death and the town was occupied by the enemies. Thirteen days afterwards, the government army came and subdued the enemies. The revolt thus ended.
        When the emperor was reported of the approach of the rebellious army, he escaped south together with his imperial family members and also Imperial Concubine Yang and Yang family members, guarded all the way by his imperial bodyguards. One day when they reached the place called Makuipo, the soldiers killed Yang Guozhong, the premier and cousin of Imperial Concubine Yang, as they had long held a drudge against the Yang family. After they killed all Yang family members, they were not satisfied and demanded the emperor to let the imperial concubine die. They were afraid that if the imperial concubine was still alive when peace restored, she would surely revenge the death of her family members on the soldiers. Their leader General Chen put up the demand to the emperor, who, for his own safety, had to agree. So Imperial Concubine Yang hanged herself on a tree and was buried on the spot. But after the rebellious army was conquered and peace was restored, the emperor went back to the capital. Then he sent his favorite eunuch there for the purpose to carry the body of the imperial concubine Yang back to the capital and re-bury her among the imperial graves. When the temporary tomb was dug open, there was no corpse seen. It was empty.
        Therefore, the emperor thought that Yang was not dead and went to some islands to live with goddesses there. Chinese people in the ancient time believed that there were islands in the East Sea, on which dwelt goddesses. Then the emperor asked a taoist from Linqiong to search for the soul of the Imperial Concubine Yang from heaven to the nether world, including those islands on the sea.  Then the legend was continued in a poem by a famous poet at the end of this tale.
        Another legend about her end goes like that when the emperor ordered the death of Imperial Concubine Yang, someone in the bodyguards took Yang away for her beauty and they hid somewhere to lead a common life as an ordinary couple. That's why the temporary tomb was empty.
        And still another legend coming from Japan is like that the bodyguards leader General Chen could not harden his heart to kill such a beauty and used one of her maids to die instead of her. He secretly had someone to escort her to Japan. She was warmly welcomed in Japan as an imperial concubine from Tang Dynasty. She lived there for thirty years more and died at the age of sixth-eight. The famous Japanese movie star Momoe Yamaguchi declared that she was the descendant of the imperial concubine Yang. (18)

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44. 薛濤 Xue Tao (a famous poetess and a courtesan)<br /><br />Xue Tao (768—832 AD) was a famous poetess in Tang dynasty. She was born in ChangAn city, the capital. Her father was a petty official and moved to Chengdu city. When her father died, she lived in this city ever since. <br />        She could write poems and knew music at the age of eight. Once her father composed a couplet, “There is an old tree in the courtyard, Its tall trunk rising into clouds.” He wanted his daughter to write another couplet so that the four lines could make a poem. She immediately wrote, “Its boughs welcome birds from north to sough, Its leaves send away winds coming and going.” Her father was glad and proud of her. But historians said that these two lines were the exact description of her own fate as she later became a courtesan that welcomed visitors coming and saw visitors going.<br />        After the death of her father, her family, mother and herself, fell into poverty. She had to become a singsong girl in a whorehouse at the age of sixteen. As a singsong girl did not have love-making with any visitors. She only entertained them with her song or music play, or wrote a poem or painted something for them. As she was beautiful and talented, she was well-known in the area. Her visitors were all local officials and men of letters. Her nickname was “Poetic whore.”<br />        The governor of that time liked her talent very much and often sent for her to his residence to entertain his guests by chanting poems of her own composition. Thus she made acquaintance with many famous poets and scholars at the time. She even fell in love with one of them, but their love had no result. The governor adored her poetic talent, and tried to get an official title for her from the central government, but of no avail. When this governor died, the next governor came. He liked her too, and canceled her registration in her prostitute record. She became a free ordinary woman. Then she always wore a Taoist costume. She seldom had visitors now. She lived a quiet life in old age. She made a kind of paper called Xue Tao paper, which was slightly pink. The paper was widely used at the time.

[ 本帖最后由 海外逸士1 于 2018-7-15 05:15 AM 编辑 ]

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45.  魚玄機 Yu Xuanji (a famous poetess and a female Taoist)

Yu Xuanji (844—871 AD) was a famous poetess in the late Tang dynasty. At first her name was Yu Youwei. In 894 AD when she was five, her family moved to another town and she started her study at a local school. In 854 AD when she was ten, the family moved back to her hometown, where she began to get acquainted with a famous poet at the time. They wrote poems to each other ever since.
        In 858 AD, she was fourteen. A scholar Li Yi (?--?) wrote a poem on the wall of Chongzhen Temple. It was traditional for ancient poets to write poems wherever they could, such as on the walls of a temple, of a wine house, or even  on a cliff wall of a scenic spot. When the girl read it, she liked it and then married Li Yi as a concubine through the introduction of her acquainted poet. As Li had a wife, Yu could only be a concubine. His wife was so jealous that Li did not dare to bring the girl home. He just let her stay in Xianyi Temple.  
        A few years later, her husband deserted her because he was a man liking new love partners, except his wife, whom he was afraid of. Yu began to travel east in the autumn of 861 AD. Next spring, she returned to where she started her trip, ChangAn city. In 866 AD when she turned twenty-two, she became a female Taoist in Yanyi Temple and changed her name to Yu Xuanji, which was better known to us. In that period of time, many men of letters came to seek her favor, but she favored none. She treated everyone coming to visit her equally as a friend. She did not remarry anyone. She kept writing poems, fifty-one in all that we know today.  Although she was a Taoist, she was a famous woman, and had a maid to wait on her. Once she was so angry with her maid that she beat her accidentally to death. For this crime, she was executed. A famous couplet from one of her poems is so written:
        It is easy to get a precious antique,
        But hard to have a boy of true love.

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46. 杜秋娘 Du Qiuniang (a famous poetess)

Du Qiiuniang (971--? AD) was a poetess. At the age of fifteen, she became a concubine of  Li Qi (741—807 AD), who was a relative of the imperial family. He was a corrupt official and once when the emperor wanted  him to go to the capital, he was afraid that he would be killed. Therefore, he rebelled, but failed and killed. Du Qiuniang was then taken to the palace. She became a concubine of the emperor, who died in 820 AD. Then the crown prince succeeded the throne and was Emperor Muzong (795—824 AD). Now Du Qiuniang was a middle-aged woman. The new emperor let her be the nanny of his son. When she grew too old, the emperor let her go back to her hometown, Nanking city, where she was born. She died naturally. Her famous poem is thus:
        I advise you not for gold-woven dress to care,
        But advise you for precious time of youth to care.
        If flowers are in full bloom and worth picking, just pick,
        Don't wait till no more flowers, then on empty boughs pick.

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47. 花蕊夫人 Ladyship Pistil (a humorous poetess)

Ladyship Pistil (?--976 AD) was her nickname. She was a favorite concubine of the king of the present Sichuan province. As she liked flowers, such as peony, the king gave her this nickname, which was known to us. She was pretty and clever, and could write poems. The king led a lewd dissipated life and his kingdom became weak. At that time, outside Sichuan province, the whole country was under the rule of Song dynasty. Therefore, in 965 AD, Song dynasty sent army to invade the kingdom. The king surrendered, and of course died later. The ladyship was captured. It was said that she became the concubine of the emperor of Song dynasty till her death. There was a famous and humorous poem we know till today, which is:

The king puts up the flag of surrender on battlements;
How can his lady know in the deep palace?
Forty myriad soldiers take off armors in unison;
No one of them is a man. (meaning no one fighting to death.)

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48. 穆桂英 Mu Guiying (the third of the four heroines)

Mu Guiying (982--?) was one of the four heroines. The other three were Hua Mulan, Fan Lihua, and Liang Hongyu. All are included in this book. There was a Yang family in Song dynasty. All the family members were fighters, including females, two daughters and seven daughters-in-law. Mu was married to the sixth son. Her fighting skills were the first among all the females. Her father was originally the chieftain of outlaws. They camped on a mountain, called Mu Camp. The government sent Yang family to conquer the Mu Camp, and the sixth son of the family came out to challenge. The daughter Mu Guiying galloped out to face the challenger, whom she captured after a few rounds. She wanted to marry the son and then surrendered to the government. It was thus settled. The heroine became a member of Yang family.
        Then Liao tribe in the north invaded Han dynasty, and Yang family was sent again to defend the territory. The heroine was the commander and by using some ruse, defeated the Liao tribe. They never dared to invade Song dynasty till later the tribe was conquered by Jin tribe. That was her great merit. Then when a revolt took place in Guangxi province in the south, she and her husband went there to subdue it. So she was conferred the title of Marquise Huntian. When a minority state called Xixia in the west invaded the country, she and all other female fighters went to resist the invasion. At the time, all males in the family died in different battles or occasions. The survivors were all widows. In one of the combats with Xixia, Mu was killed in an ambush of the enemy, but the remaining women vanquished the Xixia army.

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49. 李清照 Li Qingzhao (a very famous poetess)
Li Qingzhao (1084—1156 AD) was a famous poetess in Song dynasty ((960—1279 AD), born in Mingshui town of Shandong province. Her father was an official and a famous writer of the time as well. And her maternal grandfather had been a premier. When she was still a young girl, her well-written poems were known in the capital in the literary circle. In 1101 AD, she married Zhao Mingcheng (1081—1129 AD), who was also an official. In 1107 AD, the couple moved to Qingzhou town. They liked to buy books, especially books of old and precious editions. Every time when the husband bought a good edition from the market after work, the couple would enjoy reading it together after supper. Their life was simple and pleasant.
        At that time, there was a minority in the north, named Jin tribe, that often invaded into Song dynasty. In 1127 AD, when the poetess was forty-four, the army of Jin tribe marched south and attacked the town, they had to escape south across the Yangtze River, and next spring they arrived in Jiangning city. As they had to desert their belongings when they fled from the Jin tribe, now they lived in poverty.
        After the death of her husband, she moved to Shaoxing town in Zhejinag province, and lived alone in the house of a local family. In the third moon of 1131 AD, the only things, some old paintings, that left to her, were all stolen overnight. Next year, she went to Hangzhou city to marry another man, but was divorced a few months later, because she found that the man was a corrupt official, who was put in prison afterwards. Then she lived alone and always kept writing poems till the end of her life. But she had only forty-five poems handing down to us. All were well-known to us.

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50. 梁紅玉 Liang Hongyu (the fourth of the four heroines)

Liang Hongyu (1102—1135 AD) was famous to us as a fighter against the Jin tribe invading Song dynasty. Her family fled from north to south to avoid the slaughter and pillage of the Jin tribe. They came to where the general Han Shizhong camped his army. Somehow, she became a military singsong girl and came to know the general Han. She was a special girl, who knew how to use sword. Therefore, the general Han married her.
        She fought together with her husband Han (1089—1151 AD), the commander of an army. In the third moon of 1129 AD, the Jin tribe army took two towns and was about to invade the capital. The emperor and courtiers were in panic. A couple of courtiers wanted to betray the emperor, but were afraid of commander Han, who was then at the frontier defending the Song territory. So they took his wife Liang Hongyu as hostage. When Han marched his army towards the capital, they had to release Liang. When Liang joined Han, they came to the capital to kill the traitors. The emperor was ecstatic and gave Liang the title of Ladyship Yangguo. In addition, the emperor gave her monthly salary, which only male officials and officers could have. As a female she was the first one to have such a treatment.
        Then Liang and Han marched north to defend the border. The number of the enemy was double, even triple greater than theirs. However, they used a better strategy to defeat the enemy. For more than ten years, the Jin tribe did not even dare to advance facing such defenders. So there was temporary peace at the frontier till the death of the couple. The Jin tribe was later conquered by Mongolians, who afterwards marched south and annihilated Song dynasty and established their Yuan dynasty (1271—1368 AD), which was overthrown by Ming dynasty. (see next episode)

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51. 馬皇后 Empress Ma (a virtuous woman)

Empress Ma (1332—1382 AD) was the wife of Zhu Yuanzhang (10/21/1328—06/24/1398 AD), the first emperor of Ming dynasty (1368—1644 AD). She was nicknamed Big Feet, because at that time, women generally bound their feet small as a fashion, but women in the countryside still kept their natural size of feet. So did Ma.
        When Ma was a child, her parents died and she was adopted by a close friend of her father, Guo  Zixing (1312—1355 AD). It was then towards the end of Yuan dynasty. There were many groups of rebels against the Mongolians. Guo was one of them. At that time, Zhu Yuanzhang was only a poor vagabond. Once he became a monk for a living. When the rebellion rose, Zhu joined Guo's group and fought bravely and achieved great merits. Therefore, Guo married his adopted daughter, Ma, to him. Once at a time, food was scarce and everyone had a limited ration. In this period of time, Guo doubted that Zhu was not faithful to him, and so cut his ration. Ma had to share hers with Zhu furtively.
        After death of Guo in fight, Zhu became the leader of the group. With the elapse of time, he got many followers and finally wiped out other groups. At last he overthrew the Yuan dynasty and founded his Ming dynasty. He was Emperor Taizu of Ming dynasty. His wife was the empress. She had born five sons and two daughters for him.. Zhu was a cruel man and when his empire was steadfast, he began to kill the generals, who had helped him to conquer opponents, one after the other. When the empress learned it, she advised him not to do so. His reason to kill the generals was because he was afraid that these powerful generals might, just might, betray him and endanger his empire. The empress saved the rest of them. When the empress was seriously sick, he and his courtiers all wished to hold some ceremony in temples to pray for her longer life. But she opposed it, saying that birth and death were decided by destiny, what was the use of prayer. Her last will to her husband was to treat people and courtiers nicely and trust in them for the good of the country. She died at the age of fifty-one.

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52. 唐賽兒 Tang SaiEr (a female leader of rebellion)

Tang SaiEr (1399--? AD) was the leader of the up-rising peasants. She was not illiterate and learned fighting skills from her father. At fifteen she got married, but soon her husband died. Then she shaved her hair and became a Buddhist nun. The second emperor of Ming dynasty, Emperor Chengzu, used a lot of peasant labor to build palace and other constructions, etc., so that the peasants were all angry against the government. Tang then founded a religion called White Lotus and a lot of peasants believed it and joined it. Tang named herself Buddhist Mother. In 1420 AD, White Lotus took up arms and began to attack towns. The mayors of the towns either escaped or were killed. Other groups of up-rising peasants joined them.
        When the emperor was reported of it, he sent a messenger to negotiate with them, only wanted them to surrender. Of course, Tang refused. The emperor send army and his army was vanquished several times. The process of the battle was like this. The government army surrounded the mountain, on the top of which camped the rebels. Tang thought of a stratagem. She sent someone to the government army, saying that there was scarcity of water and most of the rebels wanted to surrender.   Only their leader Tang refused. She wanted to break through the line in the east that night. Therefore, the commander of the government army maneuvered most of his force to the east in hopes to wipe out the rebels. But at night, the rebels came down to assault the west side of the government army with not many soldiers there. These soldiers were defeated and the rebels went round to attack the back of the  most part of the government army and put them to rout.
        At last when the emperor sent armies that outnumbered peasant force, which was defeated and Tang escaped to no one knew where. No one knew the end of her either. The emperor ordered to arrest all the Buddhist nuns and checked them one by one to see if there mingled Tang, but in vain. Anyway, the believers of the White Lotus religion scattered all over the nation. Only they could not gather enough force to riot again.

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53. 万貴妃 Imperial Concubine Wan (a woman nineteen years older than emperor)

Imperial Concubine Wan (1428—1487 AD) was originally a maid in the palace in charge of apparels of the grandmother of emperor Xianzong of Ming dynasty, and then became his concubine when he took over the throne. When this emperor was still the crown prince, he often went to see his grandmother and saw the maid, who was nineteen years older than he. She joked with him and played with him. They got more and more familiar with each other. As time elapsed, they liked each other. When the grandmother died, he took the maid to his living quarters as his maid.
        When he became the emperor, the empress dowager wanted to choose an empress for him. It was surely done, but he did not like the empress whom the empress dowager selected for him. He liked Wan better and made her his concubine. No one understood why he preferred a woman nineteen years older than he, but not the young empress and other concubines of his age or even younger. Of course, though she was much older than he, she was still a virgin when the emperor married her.
        As a favorite concubine, she did not respect the empress. Once she offended the empress, who ordered her to be beaten by her maids. Wan went to the emperor and complained bitterly. So the emperor deposed the empress and confined her in a separate room of the palace. He wanted to make Wan as the empress, but the empress dowager opposed it because she was too old and had been only a maid. Generally an empress must come from the family of a courtier of high rank. The empress dowager appointed another concubine as the empress. This empress was afraid of concubine Wan and often exercised forbearance and let Wan do whatever she liked. In the feudal China, a husband and a wife should come from the families of almost the equal social status. But a concubine did not matter.  Some wealthy families had concubines often coming from poor families, or even from whorehouses. Girls from rich families were not willing to be concubines, who were only a step-up better than maids. Even the parents would not allow that.
        Although Wan was not the empress, she was powerful and acted as an empress. She bore a son for the emperor, who was happy to have an heir. However, the baby died within the month. Then she was jealous of other concubines who were with child. She would let them drink some drugs to abort the child. No one in the palace dared to say anything about it. So the emperor did not know of it. Nor did the empress dowager.
        Once the emperor sighed and regretted that he did not have a successor yet. A eunuch secretly told him that he did have a successor, secretly kept somewhere lest the boy be killed or poisoned. As the emperor often had sex with any concubine or even any maid, he could not know which one was pregnant. Once he had sex with a petty female palace official, who became pregnant soon. There were some female officials in the palace just like male officials in the government, to be in charge of some special departments in the palace. As the emperor never saw this female official again, he did not know that she was with child. But Wan learned it and sent someone to watch over her. If this woman bore a daughter, it was okay and she was safe. If this woman bore a son, she and her son would lose both lives. Then the woman bore a boy and told a eunuch to throw the baby outside the palace and leave it to his fate, lest he be murdered by concubine Wan. The eunuch thought that as the emperor did not have a successor yet, he should keep this baby alive. Therefore, he took it to the deposed empress who hid it and fed it without Wan's knowing of it.
        When the emperor learned it, he wanted to see his son and so the boy of six was brought to his presence. He immediately made this son as the crown prince. Later the emperor had some other sons with other concubines. All the sons were well guarded. Not long afterwards, Wan died.

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54. 秦良玉 Qin Liangyu (a woman with many official titles)

Qin Liangyu (1574—1648 AD) was a female general and strategist with great fighting skills. She had a lot of titles such as left governor (next to governor),  magistrate somewhere in Sichuan province, head general of an army somewhere, Marquise of Zhongzhen (literally meaning loyalty), and first-rank ladyship, etc., the only female who had so many official titles in the history.
        In 1592 AD, she married Ma Qiancheng, a magistrate. She helped her husband to train an army, called White Cudgel Army.  In 1599 AD, she marched her army and defeated the rebels in west of the country. In 1613 AD, When her husband died, she took over the position and became the high-rank official. In 1620 AD, she sent her brothers, one elder and one younger, with three thousand White Cudgel armymen, to Shenyang city in the northern China, for a defensive combat. At that time, a minority there often invaded Ming dynasty (1368—1644 AD).
        In the third moon of 1621 AD, she herself marched her army there and defeated the minority. In the ninth moon of the same year, she was sent by the emperor to Sichuan province and conquered the rebels there. Next year,she took back Chengdu city and Chongqing city occupied then by rebels. In 1623 AD, she wiped out all the rebels in that area in Sichuan province. At that time, the Manchurian turned strong and often invaded Ming dynasty. In 1630 AD, they took four towns and threatened the safety of the capital. No other generals but female general Qin came to the rescue and drove back the invaders.
        In 1634 AD, another group of rebels entered Sichuan province, she went there to drive them away. In 1640 AD, still another group of rebels entered to Sichuan province. Why they wanted to occupy Sichuan province was because the land features were easy to defend and hard to attack, and besides, there produced provisions galore, enough to feed the army or rebels. So the female general went there again to vanquish this group of rebels. In 1646 AD, the Manchurian army occupied Peking, the capital of Ming dynasty and marched south. General Qin was already over seventy and took Sichuan province as her base to resist the Manchurian army. In 1648 AD, on the twenty-first of the fifth moon, she died  at the age of seventy-five. She had started her fighting career at twenty-six and fought for forty-four years. She was a unique female in the history.

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