Wu Zetian 武則天 – 624 – 705 – Chang’an, China

Ancient China, China

Wu Zetain

The word ‘formidable’ has been used to describe a number of consorts (wives of kings or emperors) throughout history, from Egyptian queen mother Tiye to Roman matron Livia. While these women often operated in private, behind closed doors in order to achieve their own political agendas, and did so very successfully, none had quite such an impressive career trajectory as Wu Zetian, the concubine who became sole ruler of imperial China.

Described in turns as ruthless, power hungry and benevolent, Wu Zetian made history as not only China’s only female ruler, but as one of its most controversial.

The daughter of a timber merchant, Wu entered the Imperial court at the age of fourteen as a concubine to Emperor Taizong. She remained a lesser wife until Taizong’s death in 649. When an emperor died, his widows were supposed to enter a convent and become Buddhist nuns for the rest of their lives. But Wu was different.

Instead of retiring to a life of celibacy and religious ritual, Wu Zetian somehow managed to stay on at court – as the concubine of Taizong’s son, the newly crowned Emperor Gaozong. With Gaozong, Wu began to rise through the ranks, gaining influence and forming her own alliances.

In 654, Wu gave birth to her third child, a daughter, who died suddenly. Though none of the historical sources can agree what happened, Wu lost no time in accusing Gaozong’s chief wife, Empress Wang, of murder. She later accused Wang and Wang’s mother of witchcraft, and by 655 Wu Zetian had managed to remove her rivals and secure the role of empress for herself.

Wu and Gaozong ruled almost equally for a time, and were known as the ‘two sages’, considered wise and just leaders. Wu was well versed in history and literature, and considered extremely quick witted and capable. She was also ruthless, gathering a close group of allies to root out anyone plotting against her or the emperor. Wu ordered so many exiles and executions for treason that no one dared criticise her.

Gaozong was a sickly ruler, and died young, leaving behind his two sons with Wu Zetian (any sons he’d had with other women had been removed much earlier). The elder son was difficult to control, so Wu simply replaced him for his younger brother – deciding that she would in fact speak for him.

The empress continued to rid herself of any rivals to the throne, interrupting the line of the Tang dynasty. Her reign was marked by endless plots against her – followed by swift and merciless treason trials.

After three years as regent, Wu Zetian proclaimed herself Emperor. With the help of her secret police and rigorous investigations of the nobility, Wu Zetian became the first (and, as yet, only) woman to rule China.

Tang_Dynasty_circa_700_CE

The estimated reach of Wu Zetian’s empire (source)

Though considered bloodthirsty and cruel by the nobles who she persecuted, Wu Zetian was very popular with the common people. Her quest to disempower her enemies has also been viewed as an attempt to flush out corruption within the imperial court. She reformed the government by reducing the military – Wu established an entrance exam for the government, meaning that the running of the empire was in the hands of educated scholars, rather than generals.

She also commissioned a number of historical texts intended to elevate the position of women in society, including Collection of Biographies of Famous Women. Her reign was one of culture, literature and scholarship. Among Wu Zetian’s other achievements, she also promoted Buddhism as the new state religion of China (over Daoism), creating a wealth of Buddhist art across the country.

In 705, Wu Zetian was eighty-one, and had been in power (in one form or another) for over fifty years. She had become less fierce with age, and finally gave up her throne to her third son. She died peacefully that same year.


In fiction:

Wu Zetian has been portrayed across a range of media in films, novels, television and video games. A full list can be found here.


References:

On Wikipedia:

 

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Chen Shuozhen 陳碩真 – d. 653 – Muzhou, China

Ancient China, China

Chen Shuozhen

China is no stranger to women warriors, but while Fu Hao, Mother Lü, Yuenü, and Princess Pingyang were all rabble rousers from noble houses, Chen Shuozhen came from more humble origins.

A peasant woman living in Muzhou, Tang dynasty China (modern day Chun’an, Zhejiang), we know very little about Chen Shuozhen’s background prior to the rebellion in 653. She would have lived through the last years of Emperor Taizong’s reign, during which there was likely a recession in China due to some large building projects.

Taizong’s successor, Gaozong, was seen as a weak ruler, and wars at the Chinese boarders during the early years of his reign caused further discontent among the common people.

Against this backdrop of general discontent and poverty Chen Shuozhen led a rebel army of more than 14,000 soldiers. Historical sources say that she rang bells and burned incense as she marched, leading some to believe that there were religious motivations behind the uprising.

She declared herself Emperor Wenjia – becoming the first woman in Chinese history to declare herself emperor (more than forty years before Wu Zetian) and took three cities before she could be stopped.

Though the rebellion lasted only two months, Chen Shuozhen’s name lived on in Chinese folklore as a hero and the first woman to claim the title of emperor.


References:

Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: Tang Through Ming, 618-1644 – Lily Xiao Hong Lee, Sue Wiles

On Wikipedia:

Princess Pingyang 平陽公主 – 598 – 623 – China

Ancient China, China

Pingyang

By single-handedly amassing an army of 70,000, Princess Pingyang was a key player in the destruction of the Sui dynasty and the foundation of the Tang dynasty – a golden age for China.

The daughter of a military commander, Li Yuan, and the wife of the chief of the imperial palace guards, Pingyang was a noble lady and a prominent figure at court. China had only recently been united under the Sui dynasty, and in the early 600s was under the control of Emperor Yangdi – an immensely unpopular ruler.

Yangdi spent China’s money on expensive invasions into surrounding Asia, dangerous construction projects like rebuilding the great wall (which caused millions of deaths) – and attempted to pay for everything through heavy taxation.

The imprisonment of Li Yuan was the final straw, and as soon as he was released he and Pingyang’s husband left the imperial palace to mount a rebellion. Pinyang stayed behind in a highly vulnerable position as the wife and daughter of two insurgents.

Pingyang was made of stern stuff, however, and eventually left the palace herself, heading for the safety of her family’s feudal lands in Hu county. Thanks to Yangdi’s oppressive policies, the people there were starving, having suffered a drought without being offered relief by the government. Pingyang flew into action, offering the people food from her own family’s stores and winning their loyalty.

Pingyang continued to work covertly to ally herself with other local rebel forces and so building her own army, which later became known as the Woman’s Army. She herself dressed in male military uniform, marching at the head of her troops like a general.

She was a strict leader, forbidding looting, raping or pillaging, in order to keep the rural people on her side. Wherever Pingyang’s Woman’s Army triumphed, they shared the food with the locals, and came to be seen as heroic liberators.

Eventually, thanks in part to Pingyang’s efforts, the Sui dynasty was defeated and Yangdi fled for his life. Li Yuan became the first emperor of the Tang dynasty, and Pingyang was given the title ‘Princess’. She was also given the rank of marshal, and conferred all the honours due to an imperial prince.

Princess Pingyang died very young, at the age of twenty three. Her grief stricken father ordered an elaborate military funeral. When advisors complained that it was highly irregular to have such an extravagant ceremony for a woman, he replied –

“She was no ordinary woman.”


References:

Notable Women of ChinaBarbara Bennett Peterson

Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: Tang Through Ming, 618-1644Lily Xiao Hong Lee, Sue Wiles

On Wikipedia:

Princess Pingyang

Xun Guan – 3rd Century – Xiangyang city, China

Ancient China, China

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Xun Guan was born at a time of turbulence and uncertainty for feudal China. Her father, Xun Song, was the governor of Xiangyang (also Xiangcheng) during the last years of the Western Jin dynasty (265 – 316).

She was thirteen years old and with her father when their city came under attack from the insurgent Du Zeng, who had amassed some 2000 troops and surrounded the city. Under siege and low on supplies, Xun Song found himself in a desperate situation. If he could just get word to Shi Lan, a general and ally in neighbouring Pinyang, then perhaps they could send supplies and reinforcements – but to do this someone would have to break through Du Zeng’s forces.

It was a dangerous mission, one that no one was willing to take. As food supplies dwindled further, Xun Song prepared himself to carry out the task himself. Xun Guan stopped him.

His young daughter was adamant that he must stay with his people, who needed his leadership now more than ever. Instead, she volunteered to lead a small party past the enemy line and go for help herself.

Though she was only thirteen, Xun Guan clearly had some military training and was a persuasive speaker, because her father allowed her to go. She waited for night to fall, when she knew that Du Zeng’s soldiers lowered their guard, and managed to escape the city unscathed.

From there, she headed straight to Pinyang where she pleaded to Shi Lan for help. She also wrote a letter on behalf of her father to General Zhou Fang in the south, asking for further reinforcements. Zhou sent 3000 men at once and the two armies fell upon the besieged city, forcing Du Zeng to retreat.

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Xun Guan (source)

Once the city was freed, Shi Lan commented to Xun Song:”You daughter is clever and brave. I am envious of you!”

Zhou Fang added:

“Xiangyang is no longer under siege and the people are saved. Respect and thanks to young Xun Guan!”


References:

Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: Antiquity Through Sui, 1600 B.C.E – 618 C.E. Lily Xiao Hong Lee, A. D. Stefanowska, Sue Wiles

Xun GuanCultural China

Cai Wenji 蔡琰 – fl. 207 – Han Dynasty China

Ancient China, China

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Cai Wenji’s life could almost be straight from a fairy tale. She was the intelligent, accomplished only daughter of Cai Yong, a scholar from Yu County (modern day Qi County, Kaifeng, Henan).

畫麗珠萃秀_Gathering_Gems_of_Beauty_(漢蔡文姬)_2She married her first husband at a young age and was widowed before the marriage produced any children.

At some time between 194 and 195, Cai was kidnapped by Xiongnu nomads who had invaded Han territory. She was taken to the north as a prisoner and married to Liu Bao, the nomads’ chieftain.

Cai Wenji lived as a captive wife in the northern lands for twelve years, and gave birth to two sons. As well as being a scholar and an articulate speaker, Cai Wenji was a highly thought of calligrapher, as her father had been. She wrote two famous poems about her years as a captive, both named Poem of Sorrow and Anger:

My dwelling is often covered by frost and snow,
The foreign winds bring again spring and summer;

They gently blow into my robes,
And chillingly shrill into my ear;

Emotions stirred, I think of my parents,
Whilst I draw a long sigh of endless sorrows.

Whenever guests visit from afar,
I would often make joy of their tidings;

I lost no time in throwing eager questions,
Only to find that the guests were not from my home town.

Finally, Cao Cao, the Han Chancellor paid a large ransom for her return. By this time her father had died, and she was the last surviving member of her family due to Cao Cao’s struggles for power. He ransomed her purely to placate her ancestors, in case they became vengeful and haunted Cao Cao himself.

Cai Wenji left her children behind in enemy territory and made the journey back to her homeland. There she was re-married to a government official named Dong Si.

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‘Cai Wenji Returns to Her Homeland’, painting dating from the Southern Song dynasty depicting Cai Wenji and her Xiongnu husband. They are riding their horses along, each holding one of their sons.

Upon her return she also found that the 4000 volumes of ancient texts she had inherited from her father had been destroyed in the same war that had wiped out her family. Amazingly, Cai wenji was able to recite 400 of the books from memory, and wrote them down at Cao Cao’s request.

When her new husband later committed a capital crime, Cai Wenji was so distressed at losing someone else close to her that she interrupted a banquet being held by Cao Cao to plead for her husband’s life. She asked if he would procure her yet another husband after she lost this one – Cao Cao took pity and pardoned Dong Si.


In fiction:

  • Guo Moruo wrote a play on her life in 1959.
  • Cai Wenji appears as a playable character in Koei’s Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce 2 and Dynasty Warriors 7 (her debut as a playable character in North American and European ports).
  • She also appears in Koei’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms video game series and in Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires as a non-playable character.
  • She is also a playable character in Warriors Orochi 3.

In science:

  • In 1976, a crater on Mercury was named Ts’ai Wen-chi after Cai Wenji.
  • In 1994, a crater on Venus was named Caiwenji after Cai Wenji.

 

References:

Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and CriticismKang-i Sun Chang, Haun Saussy, Charles Yim-tze Kwong

On Wikipedia:


Image credits:

By Identified as He Dazi (赫達資) – Selections. The Art and Aesthetics of Form: Selections from the History of Chinese Painting (exhibit). Taipei: National Palace Museum., Public Domain

Cai Wenji Returns to Her Homeland By Unknown – CHINA Art Pic Stock (China Artistic Publisher, Beijing Panoramic Visual Pic LTD) Cat:p127, CD41:img0158, (purchased and donated by Kosi Gramatikoff User:kosigrim., Public Domain

 

 

Ban Zhao 班昭 – 45 – c.116 – Anling, China

Ancient China, China

Ban Zhou

Ban Zhao was the first known Chinese woman historian and China’s best known female scholar.

Born in Shaanxi province, Ban Zhao already had a strong female role model in the form of her great aunt, Consort Ban, who had famously saved herself from persecution by using her education and gift for reasoning. Zhao’s father, Ban Biao, and her brother, Ban Gu were also well known historians – so the importance of education was instilled from a young age.

Like many women of this era, Ban Zhao married very young, at fourteen. This meant that she was still young when her husband died, leaving her a widow with two children. Rather than re-marry, Ban Zhao chose to devote the rest of her life to scholarly pursuits.

800px-Ming_Dynasty_wood_carving_books_in_Tian_Yi_Chamber_colllection

The Book of Han

She loved history and poetry, but also took an interest in astronomy and mathematics. When her brother, Ban Gu, was executed for political reasons in 92, he left an unfinished book on the history of the Western Han, which Ban Zhao chose to complete. She finished the work, known as The Book of Han and added her own touches – a treatise on astronomy, as well as a genealogy of the emperor’s mother.

Ban Zhao’s next great work was Lessons for Women, a guide for women’s conduct heavily influenced by Confucian morality. While the book urged women to be obedient and subservient to their husbands and fathers, it also advocated education for women and was dedicated to the daughters of the Ban family. Lessons for Women remained popular in China for centuries.

The book quickly gained the attention of the Emperor, who requested that Ban Zhao be Banzhaoinstalled as the royal librarian, and that she teach his concubines and chief wife Empress Deng Sui – who was to become a lifelong friend.

Ban Zhao quickly became known as the gifted one by the women at court, and Deng Sui had such respect for her that she made her a Lady-in-waiting – a high status position.

Ban Zhao’s rise continued as her sons were given positions as court officials. Deng Sui often asked for Ban Zhou’s advice in political matters, particularly when the Empress became regent on behalf of her infant son.

It seems that Ban Zhou’s only aspiration for herself was scholarship. She threw herself into her role as a royal librarian, managing the library assistants who worked to copy out manuscripts onto bamboo, silk and paper (which was a recent invention). In addition, Ban Zhou worked on expanding and editing Biographies of Eminent Women by Liu Xiang.

Ban Zhao lived to a great age, dying around 116 CE. When the Empress Dowager Deng Sui heard about her friend’s death, she dressed all in white as a symbol of mourning.

After her death, Ban Zhao’s daughter-in-law, gathered her works in the three-volume Collected Works of Ban Zhao, most of which is unfortunately now lost.


 

In Science:

The Ban Zhao crater on Venus is named after her.


References:

http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/9.1/lee.html

Notable Women of China: Shang Dynasty to the Early Twentieth Century – Barbara Bennet Peterson

On Wikipedia:


Image credits:

Banzhao” by http://www.ancestryimages.com/proddetail.php?prod=g6393 – Mémoires concernant l’histoire, les sciences, les arts, les mœurs, les usages, etc., des Chinois, par les missionaires de Pé-kin.

Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

Ming Dynasty wood carving books in Tian Yi Chamber colllection” by Gisling – Own work.

Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons

 

 

Mother Lü – d. 18 – Haiqu County, China

Ancient China, China

Mother Lu

Xin Dynasty China was a dangerous place. A feudal state, the ruling classes had almost total power over the working farmers. Not only this, but struggles between the nobility were also common and regions were often at war as men grappled for power.

One such man was Wang Mang, who usurped the imperial throne in year 9. He was not a popular ruler; many of his policies, such as income tax and land redistribution, were seen as attacks on landowners. On top of this, the Yellow River flooded which led to a terrible famine.

Wang’s troubles truly began in 14, when one of his magistrates ordered the execution of Lü Yu, a young civil servant.

Big mistake: for Lü’s mother it was the final straw. Mother Lü (we do not know her personal name) was furious at the murder of her son, and was not the kind of woman who would let it rest.

Mother Lü happened to be exceedingly wealthy – wealthy enough to hire her own army. In a region full of dissatisfied and desperate men, it was not difficult for this lady to amass thousands of recruits and have them armed.

Haiqu County

Haiqu County

Appointing herself General, she marched her troops to the capital and had the magistrate who executed her son beheaded. Having taken her revenge, Mother Lü presented the severed head to her son’s tomb as an offering. She then led her troops out to sea, where they planned to become pirates.

Grief and military life had taken its toll and shortly after these events Mother Lü took ill and died in year 18.

She had been the first Chinese woman to lead a rebellion and her legacy continued. The ripples Mother Lü started soon became waves as her armies expanded and eventually defeated Wang Mang.


References:

Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion, Volume 2 – edited by Junius P. Rodriguez

Women in Early Imperial China Bret Hinsch

On Wikipedia:


Image credits:

ChinaShandongRizhao” by No machine-readable author provided. Plastictv~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims).

Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

 

Consort Ban (班婕妤) – c. 48 BCE – 6 BCE – Chang’an, China

Ancient China, China

BanJieyu

Consort Ban (also known as Ban Jieyu 婕妤 or Lady Ban) was the title of a woman who was a third-ranking wife to Emperor Chengdi in Han Dynasty China. We do not know her personal name.

She began palace life as a junior maid (similar to the later European position of lady-in-waiting), and became a concubine to the emperor, a more prominent position.

Consort Ban was admired as a great scholar who was able to recite beautifully from the Shi Jing (the Chinese classic poetry). She was also very demure, and famously refused to ride in a palanquin (a covered litter) with Chengdi as she did not want to distract him from matters of state.

Consort_Ban_and_Emperor_Cheng,_Northern_Wei_painted_screen

Consort Ban declining to ride with Emperor Cheng on his palanquin. The painting is from the bottom panel of a Northern Wei screen.

However, her poetry and modesty were not enough to secure her position with the emperor. Though she bore him two sons, both of them died shortly after birth. As the Empress Xu, Chendi’s first wife, had not produced an heir either, his mother the Empress Dowager Wang Zhengjun asked him to take more concubines.

In around 19 BCE, the Emperor was visiting Princess Yang’a when he first saw her dancing girls, sisters Zhao Feiyan and Zhao Hede. He at once became infatuated with them and had the sisters brought back to his palace where he made them concubines.

Feiyan and Hede soon became Chengdi’s favourites, and he became less and less interested in Empress Xu and Consort Ban.

In 18 BCE the Zhou sisters accused both the empress and Consort Ban of witchcraft.

The empress was deposed from court and placed under house arrest, but Consort Ban took a stand. She made a speech before the emperor to plead her case, using citations from her studies of Confucius. The speech so impressed Chengdi that he permitted her to stay at court.

Not happy to remain in the palace which had now been taken over by the sisters who persecuted her, Consort Ban chose to become lady in waiting to the Empress Dowager instead. Another story tells of Consort Ban saving her brother Ban Zhi, father of the Chinese historian Ban Biao, from a charge of treason.

Two well-known Chinese poems are credited to Consort Ban and she was included in Liu Xiang’s Biography of Exemplary Women.


References:

Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism – Kang-i Sun Chang, Haun Saussy, Charles Yim-tze Kwong

Autumn in the Han PalaceMa Zhiyuan

On Wikipedia:


Image credits:

Consort Ban and Emperor Cheng, Northern Wei painted screen” by Michael Sullivan’s The Arts of China (1999).

Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

 

 

Yuenü (越女) – c.496 – 465 BCE – Yue, China

Ancient China, China

‘She may look like an elegant lady, but she fights like a fierce tiger…’

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This woman is also known as Aliao and the Maiden of the Southern Forest. She lived during the Spring and Autumn period in ancient China. Her father was a hunter in the southern state of Yue and likely passed on his skills in archery and swordsmanship to her.

She had a gift for martial arts and became extremely adept, particularly in the art of the sword. Her talents were famous throughout the province and came to the attention of King Goujian of Yue. She was summoned by him to give a demonstration before the King’s court.

The young woman impressed Goujian so much that he asked for her advice in training to his armies. Her response is the earliest known Chinese exposition of the art of the sword:

“The art of the sword is profound and hard to understand despite appearing insignificant and easy. It is similar to a door, in that it can be opened and closed; it can be divided into yin and yang. The way of fighting… is to strengthen one’s inner spirit while remaining outwardly calm and well mannered. She may look like an elegant lady, but she fights like a fierce tiger. With this imposing manner, you can pit a single fighter against one hundred, and pit one hundred against one thousand.”

"Sword of the Yue Maiden (越女劍)" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

“Sword of the Yue Maiden (越女劍)” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

This impressed Goujian even further and he gave her the title Yuenü (literally ‘the Yue Woman’ or ‘Lady of Yue’). Further to this, he decreed that Yuenü would train his officers, so that they could instruct his army in her method.

Yuenü‘s philosophy of swordsmanship went on to influence Chinese martial arts for generations.


Notes:

  • The Spring and Autumn Period is the name for a period in Chinese history covering approximately the years between 771 and 476 BCE. It corresponds roughly with the first half of the Eastern Zhou dynasty.

References:

The Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: Antiquity through Sui – Lily Xiao Hong Lee

On Wikipedia:


In Fiction:

Sword of the Yue Maiden is a 1970 short story by Jin Yong and bears similarities to the life of Yuenü. It was serialised as a television programme in 1984 starring Moon Lee as the maiden.

Xu Mu (许穆夫人) – b. 690 BCE – Kingdom of Wei, China

Ancient China, China

Living in feudal China, Lady Xu Mu is considered the earliest poet of note in Chinese history, but this politically astute woman is also known for defending and rebuilding her homeland…

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Lady Xu Mu was often homesick. She lived with her husband, Count Mu, in the state of Xu, but longed for the Kingdom of Wei, where she had grown up. Her father was Duke Wei Xuan, ruler of Wei, and though Xu Mu had accepted she must make a political marriage, she had not approved of an alliance with Xu. Intelligent and educated, Lady Xu Mu did not believe that Mu would be an effective ally if Wei was ever in need.

With a long slender bamboo

I fished the shores of Qi

Can’t help thinking of that river

And the land so far from me.

On the left the fountain gushes

On the right the river flows

Far away the girl has travelled,

From parents, brothers and home.

“EN-WEI260BCE” by Philg88 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, Xu Mu had been correct in her prediction. In 660 BCE Wei was attacked by enemies in the North. Xu Mu received word that her brother, Wei Yi, had been killed in battle and his body mutilated. Upset and afraid for her people, Xu Mu begged her husband to send reinforcements to Caoyi – again, as she predicted, he refused.

Xu Mu could not bear to leave her people in distress, and resolved to help with or without her husband’s permission. She gathered supplies and took a chariot to meet her other brother, Duke Dai, calling for aid from neighbouring states on her journey. Count Mu was not happy with his wife’s disobedience, and sent his agents to stop her and bring her back. Forced to travel back to Xu under duress, the Princess wrote scathing poem Speeding Chariot, for which she became most famous:

The wheels turn fast, the horse trots on,

I return to my brother in Wei,

A long, long way the carriage has come,

To Caoyi, my homeland to stay.

The Lords who follow me, far and long,

Have caused no little dismay.

Harshly, though you may judge me,

From my course I will not veer.

Compared to your limited vision,

Do I not see far and clear?

Harshly, though you may judge me,

My steps you can never stay.

Compared to your limited vision,

Am I not wise in my way?

I walk the land of my fathers,

The wheat fields are green and wide,

I’ll tell the world of my sorrow,

All friends will be at our side.

O listen, ye Lords and Nobles,

Blame not my stubbornness so!

A hundred schemes you may conjure,

None match the course that I know.

Fortunately, all was not lost as the powerful state of Qi responded to Xu Mu’s appeals for help and came to the rescue of the kingdom of Wei. The Kingdom rebuilt their capital elsewhere and thrived for another 400 years – remembering Lady Xu Mu who brought supplies, rekindled hope and gained military aid in their time of need.


References:

Notable women of China: Shang Dynasty to the Early Twentieth Century by Barbara Bennet Peterson

Lady Xu Mu – poet and patriot

On Wikipedia: