WOMEN OF HISTORY | PRINCESS PINGYANG (598 - 623) (Du Juan)

Princess Píngyáng was a daughter of General Li Yuan, who would be Emperor Gaozu of Tang, the founding emperor of the Tang Dynasty. She helped him to seize power and eventually take over the throne by organizing an army (‘Army of the Lady’, commanded by herself) in his campaign to capture the Sui capital Chang’an.

She used the fact that she was a woman, and therefore non-threatening, to work for her father’s rebellion against the Emperor. She distributed her wealth among several hundred men, receiving their loyalty, and then - with the help of her servant - she persuaded rebel leaders to join the cause. Attacking and capturing cities, Píngyáng gathered 70,000 men for her army. The peasants saw her and her men as a force for liberation and fed them when they passed through.

When she died many years later her father ordered a grand military funeral for her, complete with the presence of a band - something which was disapproved of as it was not seen as fitting for a woman. To this Emperor Gaozu responded, 'The band would be playing military music. The Princess personally beat the drums and rose in righteous rebellion to help me establish the dynasty. How can she be treated as an ordinary woman?'

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