Queen Dugu Jialuo — Smart Empress and Monogamous Worshiper
In ancient Chinese history, a man could have a wife and many concubines as long as he could afford it. Therefore, Polygamy was quite common in noble and wealthy families.
Most women followed the system in a patriarchal society, except for Queen Dugu Jialuo, who strongly opposed the Polygamy system her entire life.
Dugu Jialuo or Qieluo (544 — 602), respected as Queen Dugu or Empress Wenxian, was very famous, intelligent, and influential.
Moreover, as a Monogamous worshiper and Polygamy challenger, Queen Dugu Jialuo was also quite well known for her jealousy.
Noble Girl in the Unstable Era
Dugu Jialuo was born into a noble family in the North and South Dynasties, a separate era when kingdoms kept fighting against each other.
Her father, Dugu Xin, was a famously handsome man in history who was also an exceptional general that obtained paramount power through his military successes.
26 Facets Official Seal of Dugu Jialuo’s Father — Shaanxi History Museum
Her father found his old friend’s son was quite brave and intelligent, so he chose this decent young man named Yang Jian as his beloved little daughter Dugu Jialuo’s husband.
However, her father was forced to commit suicide after he failed in a big political struggle.
After this, her clan was largely declined and surpassed by their political enemy.
Beloved Couple Came Through Thick and Thin
When Dugu turned 14, the same year her father failed this political dispute, she and Yang Jian married.
Because of her father’s departure, Dugu and Yang Jian were demoted and suppressed when they experienced and survived many life-and-death moments together.
But those difficulties brought them closer; they loved, supported, and promised to be each other’s only, eternal love.
Copper Mirror of Sui — Shaoxing Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
Fortunately, Yang Jian's father, the old friend of Dugu's late father, was an exceptional general who kept winning on the battlefield; Yang Jian's brothers also married other noble girls from powerful clans.
Their power and protection helped Yang Jian and Dugu survive through difficult times.
Years later, Yang Jian and Dugu's first daughter's husband ascended to the throne, after which Yang Jian obtained more power through his talent and ambition.
This made the new king feel threatened and unhappy, so he commanded his queen Lihua, the daughter of Yang and Dugu, to commit suicide.
Then Dugu Jialuo came to the king by herself. After a long conversation, she changed the king's mind and saved her daughter Lihua's life.
Lihua then had a lovely daughter and a granddaughter, whom she loved very much. In 1957, the mausoleum of Queen Dugu's great-granddaughter was discovered, from which many extremely valuable artifacts were unearthed.
Unearthed Artifacts of Queen dugu's Great Granddaughter — National Museum of China
(Photo by Dongmaiying)
Seizing of Opportunity and Establishing of the Sui Dynasty
Soon, this king, Dugu and Yang Jian’s son-in-law died suddenly and left the country to a 6-year-old new king.
Then Yang Jian gained support from some powerful officials and was respected as the regent.
But at the same time, many powerful clans still refused to follow his command and tried their best to attack him.
Encouraged by Dugu, Yang Jian snatched the throne, claimed himself as the new king, and named his new empire Sui.
After he was enthroned as the Emperor Wen of Sui, Dugu became Queen Dugu.
Ink Stone Unearthed from Mausoleum of Emperor Yang of Sui, the Second Son of Dugu — Capital Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
Genuine Love of Queen Dugu and Emperor Wen of Sui
Afterward, Dugu assisted and encouraged her husband to expand the Sui Empire and unify the nation.
Emperor Yang Jian published many innovative policies, and Dugu played an important role in constituting them.
Dugu was considered the real soul mate of Yang Jian.
Unless her husband was needed at work, they always spent their time together. She would see her husband off to work, welcome him at their own house, assist him with complex political problems, and so on.
Their closeness and love were noted in historical documentation.
Like ordinary civilian couples, they also lived a frugal life. Dugu barely asked for fancy clothes or jewelry, and neither did her husband.
Queen Dugu, the Intense Challenger of Polygamy
Yang Jian had promised Dugu to only have children with her. As expected, they did follow this vow and raised five boys and five girls together.
Her husband trusted her entirely because she was always decent and politically appropriate.
When her brothers committed crimes, she refused to indulge her clan and pardon them; instead, she asked her husband to execute them juristically. She also saved many innocent people from her husband’s outrageous and suspicious decisions in his later years.
Queen Dugu barely abused her power nor crossed the line.
However, she had severe problems with those people with many women.
Some contributive generals and officials were demoted or abolished by Queen Dugu because they kept too many concubines.
Dugu also disliked her first son, the crown prince, when she saw he didn’t love his wife but was obsessed with his beautiful concubines.
Unearthed Glass Bottle of Sui Dynasty — Shaanxi History Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
Changing of The Crown Prince
Soon, the crown prince's wife died at a very young age, and Queen Dugu suspected he and his favorite concubine had something to do with this.
Meanwhile, her second son Yang Guang was exceptionally talented and polite and made exceptional contributions to defeating and governing southern kingdoms for the Empire Sui.
What's more, Yang Guang only loved his wife, didn't keep any concubines, and lived a very frugal life.
For all reasons combined, Queen Dugu favored her second son more.
Therefore, she played an essential role in changing the crown prince from her first son to the second.
As brilliant as she was, Queen Dugu probably didn't expect that her favorite son Yang Guang, in the end, buried the prosperous Sui Empire that she and her husband built together.
Unearthed Crown of Yang Guang’s Queen — Yangzhou Museum (Photo by Xin Shui Ling)
An Unfaithful Affair of the Emperor
When they were older, Yang Jian saw a beautiful young woman in the royal palace who was also the granddaughter of one of his biggest enemies. Then he slept with this gorgeous descendant of his former rival.
Queen Dugu was quite furious and then killed this girl out of jealousy.
In ancient Chinese culture, men could have as many concubines as they could afford, and the emperors were encouraged to have even more.
Hence, her jealous behavior has been criticized frequently.
Her husband was upset initially and ran out of the royal palace. But soon, he returned and forgave Dugu for having taken away the innocent girl’s life.
Silver Lotus Glass Bottle of the Sui Dynasty — Dingzhou Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
The Departure of Queen Dugu and Her Grand Memorial Ceremonies
A few years after this affair, Queen Dugu departed; her posthumous title was honored as Empress Wenxian, meaning intelligent and virtuous.
The most powerful and brilliant prime minister of the Sui Dynasty, who led Sui's army to unite the nation, was sent to manageDugu's funeral and construct her tomb.
Emperor Yang Jian, who had been quite frugal and barely wore fancy clothes in his entire life, this time, held a series of grand memorial activities and built a vast and luxurious memorial palace for her (over 600,000 square meters).
About one year after Dugu's death, her husband also passed away and was buried with her.
Besides the influential Sui Dynasty they built together, and a series of political achievements, this splendid couple's beautiful and sincere love stories have been eulogized for over a thousand years.
Mausoleum of Queen Dugu and Emperor Wen of Sui in Shaanxi Province — Tai Ling
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