Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Empress Ma Xiuying of Ming Dynasty -- Queen with Saint Personality

Empress Ma Xiuying (1332 -- 1382) was one of the most highly respected queens in the history of China, for her virtue, kindness, power, modesty and benevolence.


She was wife and queen of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty.


She accompanied her husband from an ordinary soldier to an excellent monarch, and had played an important role in establishing of the Ming Empire. 


Marrying to A Brave, Young Soldier

Ma Xiuying was born into a rich family, but her parents were murdered when she was 11 years old. Her father entrusted her to his best friend Guo before he passed away.


When she was 20, her foster father found one of his soldiers named Zhu Yuanzhang was brave and intelligent; so Guo married his foster daughter to this brave young man, and promoted him in the army.


Zhu Yuanzhang and Ma Xiuying had spent a happy life since after, who always loved and respected each other. 


During the first few years, when Zhu Yuanzhang only had few soldiers and were surrounded by many enemies, they experienced quite a difficult time.


When Zhu Yuanzhang commanded his soldiers do farm works and supply themselves instead of expropriating from civilians, Ma Xiuying started to make shoes and clothes for soldiers herself; soon she donated all of her jewelry in exchange for daily uses of the army.


When Zhu Yuanzhang once was injured in a battle, she calmly saved her husband and carried him on her back, until they arrived a safer place; their first son drew this on a painting later, to memorize their great love.


Together, they had 5 sons and 2 daughters, and adopted nearly 30 children as well. 


The Perfect Empress Ma Xiuying

Ma Xiuying was nominated as queen after her husband became emperor of the Ming Dynasty. She was still modest, frugal and helpful, as always.


She refused the emperor’s awarding of nobility titles to her ordinary family members, saying that a big, powerful clan of the queen was not good for a kingdom. She kept doing many jobs herself, like cooking and sewing, even long after she was the queen of a rich country. 


In the meantime, Ma Xiuying always taught her kids to stay modest and diligent, and always remember their parents’ difficult struggles.


Consequently, her kids were all well educated and accomplished, none of them were spoiled, arrogant, or extravagant. 


With more and more remarkable achievements that Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang had reached, and the more power he had gained, he became suspicious and outrageous.


At that time, Empress Ma Xiuying was the only person whom this powerful emperor would listen to.


Hence, she persuaded Zhu Yuanzhang many times to stay calm and kind, and had saved large numbers of lives. 


She and her husband loved each other, undoubtedly. She, however, was never jealous, and even managed to take good care of all her husband’s concubines and their children.


She was highly respected by her husband, all the ministers, concubines and civilians of the Ming Dynasty. 


When Empress Ma Xiuying passed away because of sickness, large numbers of civilians spontaneously attended her seeing off funeral; nearly all the offcials and civilians cried for her, let alone her beloved husband and other family members.


After her death, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang never nominated another queen;  fews years later, he was buried together with her after his death.