Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Wei Zifu -- A Beautiful Slave Singer to Empress of China

Wei Zifu (? -- 91 B. C.) was a beautiful slave singer, and also a respected queen of Emperor Wudi of Han in the history of China.

 

Wei Zifu's Encounter and Love with Emperor Wudi of Han

She was born into a poor family, and was selected to be a singer in a princess’ mansion when she was little.

 

The current emperor Liu Che, also the princess’s brother, came by the princess’ place one day, and liked Wei Zifu when she was performing.

 

She served the emperor that night and was taken to his palace along with her brother Wei Qing

 

However, the emperor forgot her completely until one year later when she met him again. They spent more time together till she got pregnant.

 

The current queen, who was the daughter of another very powerful princess, the cousin and childhood sweetheart of the emperor, got jealous and asked people to beat up Zifu’s brother Wei Qing.

Becoming Empress of the Han Dynasty

Soon, Zifu gave birth to a beautiful princess, also the first child of the emperor ever. She then was promoted and more cherished by her emperor husband.

 

Years later, Emperor Wudi abolished his first queen because of her arrogance, jealousy and had tried to hurt Zifu using witchcraft. 

 

After 10 years together with Emperor Wudi, Zifu gave birth to the emperor’s first baby boy and was rewarded as the queen of the empire. This boy soon was nominated as the crown prince.

 

During this time, her brother Wei Qing and nephew Huo Qubing became exceptional heroes in the history of China who protected the country and achieved unprecedented successes defeating the Huns in the battlefield; her clan Wei became the most powerful and honorable one at that time. 

 

Still, Zifu remained modest, elegant, polite and respectful in the following 38 years as the queen.

 

When she was older, there were more young and pretty imperial concubines, but her emperor still respected her as his wife and honorable queen.

 

Zifu never gave those beautiful young women hard times, instead, she treated them quite well. 

Political Attacks Toward Wei Zifu and the Crown Prince

Empress Wei Zifu's son, the crown prince Liu Ju, was also a very kind and smart person.

 

After Zifu’s powerful brother and nephew all departed, many people tried to set the crown prince up.

 

These people didn’t want the crown prince to ascend the throne, because they wanted to support other princes whom they were related to become the next emperor.

 

Once, a witch told Emperor Wudi that the reason his was sick was that the capital city was currently cursed by someone; so the emperor moved out of the capital and asked him to “find out” who did this.

 

After having carefully “searched” the entire royal palace, including the queen Zifu’s house, this evil person led other witches soon “found” that the crown prince Ju was using the witchcraft to “curse” the Emperor Wudi.

 

Then they reported Emperor Wudi the “crime” that Ju committed, in the meanwhile, trying to assassinate Ju. 

 

At that time, Ju didn’t have time and opportunity to clear himself to his father, who was far away from the capital; soon he was misled that his over 70 years old father had already departed.

 

In addition, many people from Wei Zifu’s clan were already murdered by these evildoers, under the name of allied “cursers”.

 

So Ju decided to fight back, however, the crown prince didn’t have the right to command any army in the Han Dynasty.

 

Counterattack in Desperate Situation

Then Wei Zifu used her queen’s power to open the arsenal for her son, but Ju and Zifu only had less than a thousand guards.

 

So, Ju armed tens of thousands of civilians to fight, using the weapons of the arsenal; those witches were killed and burnt to death.

 

But this was not the end, since Emperor Wudi already thought that Ju had rebelled, and those who didn't want Ju to ascend to the throne were all trying their best to perish the crown prince and Wei Zifu by all means.

 

Consequently, this battle turned to be a big tragedy in the history of China, which  had lasted for five days and took away large numbers of people's lives.

 

The crown prince Liu Ju failed and escaped out of the capital city.

 

Departure with Honor 

Queen Wei Zifu committed suicide when her husband sent people to take her queen’s seal away, though the emperor didn’t say anything to banish her or ask her to move out of the queen’s palace.

 

Her son, the former crown prince Liu Ju, committed suicide later as well, under the same reason as his mother, to show their faithfulness and refuse to be humiliated.

 

Zifu and her son's names were cleared by her husband years later, after Emperor Wudi published the first famous article of self criticism as an monarch in the history of China. ​

Those who had involved in framing up the crown prince were all sentenced to death by her husband; tens of thousands of lives were taken on this trial.

 

Emperor Wudi then built a palace to memorize their son Liu Ju, wishing his soul could forgive him and visit there sometimes.

 

Her husband had liked some other young and beautiful women later, but he never nominated anyone as his queen again. 

 

Wei Zifu was lucky that she met the most powerful man and made him fall in love with her at a very young and beautiful age, and her brother and nephew were the most exceptional marshals of the Han Dynasty.

 

She was modest, decent, kind and cautious, who was always highly praised in the official records of the history of China. In addition, she had never abused her power, or took advantage of her strong clan. 

 

She was also quite brave and decisive when her son was framed up; when she knew the emperor, her beloved husband whom she lived half a century with, didn’t trust her anymore, she behaved quite calm and dignified.

 

Her legendary life was clearly documented in history with no mysteries or unsolved puzzles, just like herself, bright and magnanimous.