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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