Ten Ancient Chinese Women Warriors

January 12, 2011
Editor: Zhao Chenxi

 

Princess Pingyang

 

Ten Ancient Chinese Women Warriors
[Princess Pingyang, sole woman ever to have had a military funeral. [netmil.net]

Princess Pingyang was the third daughter of Emperor Li Yuan of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and favorite daughter of Li Yuan's wife Empress Dou. A true heroine, her courage and resourcefulness were integral to Li Yuan's establishment of the Tang Dynasty.

Life for the Chinese people towards the end of the Sui Dynasty (581-618) was intolerable. Li Yuan, nephew of Emperor Sui Wei Di (541-604) decided in 617 to overthrow the government, with the help of his sons Li Jiancheng and Li Shimin and his daughter Princess Pingyang.

Li Yuan made his way from his territory in Shanxi to the Sui capital Chang'an (today's Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi Province), seat of the central government, all the while saying his mission was to save the besieged Emperor Sui Yang Di (569-618) in Jiangdu. Sui officials in Chang'an, however, got wind of his plan and ordered the arrest of his entire family. Princess Pingyang and her husband Chai Shao managed to escape and carry out their respective strategies.

Pingyang went to Huxian County and sold land she owned there to help the people whom natural disasters had left destitute. She recruited several hundred into an armed force. As Li Yuan began to carry out his revolt, she supplemented her troops with local militias mostly comprising outlaws and gangsters. After training them into a disciplined armed force, Pingyang led her troops, known as the Army of Lady Li, to victory in several battles.

After taking Chang'an, Li Yuan was still under threat from other forces around the capital. Princess Pingyang's army was a main force in crushing the remaining Sui Dynasty armies northwest of Chang'an city.

Historical records show that Princess Pingyang's burial rites were conducted according to military protocol. She is thus the only woman in Chinese's feudal history ever to be buried with military honors.

 

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