Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Princess Jieyou and the First Female Diplomat Feng Liao in the History of China

​Princess with Poor Childhood

Liu Jieyou (? -- 49 B. C.) was a royal princess with a poor and unstable childhood, because her grandfather had participated in a failed rebellion against the throne and committed suicide before she was born.

 

Consequently, Jieyou was raised up as a descendant of a rebellion criminal, with much lower living standard than civilians. 

Political Marriage to A Nomadic Country

After she grew up, a nomadic country located in the Pamir Mountains named Wusun wanted to be allied with the Han Dynasty through marriage.


The current emperor Liu Che then recovered Jieyou’s princess' title and sent her to this remote nomadic regime, where was an important state along the Silk Road in the history of China.

Then, she became a concubine of the King of Wusun, superior to the queen who was originally from the Huns (Xiongnu). 

 

At that time, though the Huns were already extensively defeated by Han’s great marshals and had escaped northward, they were still influential to many other nearby countries.

 

Soon, the queen from the Huns gave birth to the king’s first son, who then was nominated as heir of Wusun.

This made force of the Huns within Wusun gradually having an advantage over the Han Dynasty; plus, Princess Jieyou never had any children of this king, she had quite a miserable time during that period. 

Soon, this old king passed away and gave the throne to his younger brother, and commanded that after his brother departed, the throne should go back to his young heir, the child he and the queen of the Huns raised together. 

 

Princess Jieyou's Second Marriage and Their Happy Life

According to Wusun's tradition, Princess Jieyou and the queen, then both married to the old king’s brother, who was called the King of Fat.

 

This time, the new king, Jieyou's second husband, loved her very much; he made Jieyou as the new queen and they had five wonderful kids together.

 

Their first son was nominated as heir, the second son was welcomed as a king of another small country, the third son served as a talented marshal, while their two daughters married to another king and a noble.

 

One of Jieyou’s maid Feng Liao, who was very beautiful and talented, was highly appreciated by a powerful marshal of Wusun and then married him. 

 

During this period, Princess Jieyou tried her best to increase civilian’s well being and opened up international trade with other countries; as an honorable queen, she did quite a good job developing Wusun’s economy and promoting its relation with the Empire Han. 


Difficult Defensive Wars Against the Huns

These situations made the Huns furious, so they marched towards Wusun and commanded them to hand over Jieyou and cut out their connection with the Empire Han.

 

At that time, the current emperor of Han, son of Emperor Liu Che, was very ill; so the government of Han was busy preparing demise of the crown, and had no energy to organize a long term war. 

 

Then Jieyou tried her best to persuade her husband to stay strong and fight back with the Huns; she also successfully organized enough brave warriors to defend their country.

 

Years of intense and difficult battles didn’t bring Wusun great success, but they did defend the Huns efficiently. 

 

After Liu Xun, the Emperor Xuan of Han, ascended to the throne and had everything in the government under control, he finally had time to take care of those letters that Princess Jieyou sent.

 

Then Emperor Liu Xun sent 150, 000 soldiers of Han, commanding by an intelligent general, to help Jieyou.

 

The moment the Huns heard about Han’s big troop, they immediately decided to run away; but they were trapped in a huge mountain because of a snowstorm, which then took away countless of their soldiers’ lives.

 

Soon, armies of Han and Wusun severely defeated the Huns. After this battle, the Huns lost one third of their population and countless land and vassal states. 

Princess Jieyou's Thrid Marriage to A Rude King

Again, when everything was going very well, Princess Jieyou’s beloved second husband departed out of sudden. According to her first husband’s will, the throne should go back to the son of him and the queen from the Huns.

 

Consequently, Jieyou’s first husband’s son won the throne, who was then called the King of Mad.

 

Jieyou couldn’t let her years of effort just fade away with the late husband, and force of the Huns take back their power in Wusun, so she married to the King of Mad and then had another son with him. 

 

Failed Assassination and Endless Vengences

However, the King of Mad was a rude and unkind monarch; so Jieyou allied a brother of the king and emissary of the Empire Han, trying to assassinate him.

They wounded the king, but failed to kill him; then the king escaped out of the palace, and his brother run back to the Huns. ​

The King of Mad then sent his army surrounded Princess Jieyou and her followers inside a city, but later was defeated by Han’s army.

 

Sometime after Han’s army left Wusun, the brother of the Mad King, the one who escaped to the Huns, claimed that the Huns’ warriors would attack Wusun again and seek for vengeance. 

First Female Diplomat Feng Liao and Her Great Successes 

When the Huns were marching toward Han’s army near Wusun, when another big war was about to happen, Feng Liao, the maid of Jieyou, stood up and went to the Huns’ base all by herself.

 

As a loyal maid of Jieyou, the Huns’ top enemy, Feng encountered countless life and death moments.

 

However, she successfully persuaded the brother of the Mad King to surrender to Empire Han and call back Huns’ army. 

 

Emperor Liu Xun of Han Dynasty was impressed by Feng’s achievement and courage, so he summoned her back, in order to know more details.

 

Feng used her great knowledge and insightful ideas impressed everyone in Han’s government; also, she gained most people’s great respect and sympathy to the Princess Jieyou.

 

Soon, Feng Liao was nominated as the first female diplomat in the history of China by emperor Liu Xun. She then became an excellent ambassador, who knew many languages and was always decent, smart and respectful.

 

Later, Kingdom Wusun surrendered to Empire Han and was divided into two parts, the bigger one was granted to the first son of Princess Jieyou, while the smaller one was given to the brother of the Mad King. 

Returing to the Empire Han

Decades later, Princess Jieyou’s first son departed and her grandson inherited the throne, and Wusun has been complied with Han for a long time. Now, she was a 70 year old lady. 

 

She then sent a letter to emperor Liu Xun, saying she believed that she had finished her mission and would love to come home; her last wish was to be buried in her own country after she passed away. The emperor agreed.

Princess Jieyou left her country as a beautiful and passionate teenager, married to three husbands and fought bravely for her country for over half a century.

 

After making such great contribution, she finally returned to her beloved home, covered with wrinkles and gray hair.

 

She and some of her grandsons and Feng Liao were welcomed by the Han Dynasty with very honorable ceremony; she and Feng Liao were respected as great heroes by their people. 

 

Seeing the capital city and the kingdom she had dedicated her entire life to was as prosperous as before, the princess felt relieved and happy.

 

She passed away only two years after her return, peacefully. 

 

Descendants of Princess Jieyou

 

Jieyou’s daughters had happy lives with their respectable and honorable husbands, and made contributions in disseminating Han’s culture to countries they lived.

 

Her grandchildren who came back to Han with her, then enjoyed their lives there and blended into Han since after. 

 

The Jieyou’s first grandson, who inherited the throne in Wusun, was weak; then he lost power and control to the king of that smaller Wusun, the brother of the Mad King.

 

Therefore, the great diplomat Feng Liao, now an over 70 years old lady, for the third time, represented the Han Dynasty and came to Wusun. With her assistance, Jieyou’s grandson gained power back; relation between Han and Wusun stayed stable and harmonious. 

 

Princess Jieyou and Diplomat Feng Liao, they changed and influenced countless people’s lives in the history of China, just like many other intelligent male heroes.