Ten Ancient Chinese Women Warriors

January 12, 2011
Editor: Zhao Chenxi


Liang Hongyu


Ten Ancient Chinese Women Warriors

Liang Hongyu in battle [mil.hebei.com.cn]

Liang Hongyu lived at the time of the transition from the Northern to the Southern Song Dynasty. An army prostitute, she and others were invited after a major victory to have drinks with the army generals. It was on that evening that Liang met her future husband Han Shizhong. From that time on she accompanied her husband to the battlefield.

In 1129, Han Shizhong received orders to put down an insurrection. Rebels captured Liang Hongyu and her son and told Liang to persuade her husband to stop fighting. Liang ostensibly agreed, but upon meeting her husband she put the country's safety over that of her son and herself and told her husband to stick to his battle plan. After putting down the rebellion Han Shizhong was promoted and Liang Hongyu was honored with a government salary. This marked the first time in Chinese history that the wife of an official was rewarded with a government salary for contributions to national security.

The same year, a 100,000-strong Jin army established by the Nvzhen ethnic minority invaded Zhejiang and the Yangtze River area. Han Shizhong led an army of 8,000 in an attack on the superior Jin forces as they withdrew to the north. The marked disparity in size of these respective armies meant that Han Shizhong and Liang Hongyu needed to use their wits when deploying their limited troops. They readied a column of soldiers for an ambush, and Han led a war fleet to draw the enemy. Han Shizhong defeated the Jin army but did not take Liang's advice and advance to total victory, with the result that the remaining Jin troops escaped.

When the war was over, Liang Hongyu asked not for honors but that her husband be penalized for losing an opportunity. It was a request that moved all concerned and won Liangyu the title, 'Yangguo Lady'.

Liang Hongyu helped Han Shizhong establish peace in Chu Zhou, today's Huaian in Jiangsu Province. They built a new town outside of the old one to withstand attempted Jin invasions, and their soldiers were loyal to them. Under Han and Liang's governance, it was ten years before the Jin army attempted another invasion.

Liang's later life was dedicated to educating her son. She died at the age of 51.


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