In the modern impression, princesses are dainty golden leaves. But the princess we are talking about today was a heroic woman who fought in the battlefield! She is a thousand ancient emperor Tang Taizong’s own sister Ping Yang Zhaoge Princess.
The story of this Princess Pingyang of the Tang Dynasty begins with her father, Tang Gaozu, who rose to power in Taiyuan. In 617 A.D., Princess Pingyang and her wife, who had settled in the capital Chang’an, got the news that her father had risen to power. Her husband, Chai Shao, was a hot-blooded man and later one of the twenty-four meritorious officials of the Lingyin Pavilion. He wanted to go to help his father-in-law, but a dilemma also arose.
Chai Shao said to the princess with difficulty, “Your father rose up to pacify the chaotic world, and I would love to go and join his army. I can’t escape from the capital with you, and I’m worried about your safety if I set out alone, what should I do?” Princess Pingyang, however, said, “You should leave in a hurry, I am a woman, and it is easy to hide in case of danger, I will have my own way.” Chai Shao was then relieved to run to Taiyuan.
Princess Pingyang then disguised as a man, returned to Li’s estate, sold all the properties, quietly recruiting troops in the area of Guanzhong, expanding the strength of the righteous army. In just three months, she assembled an army of 40,000 to 50,000 men. Of course, this also caused the siege of the court, and Princess Pingyang simply became a general and led the army to fight against the Sui army. With her superior martial arts and wisdom, she defeated the Sui army and captured several important military towns in a row. Princess Pingyang took great credit for helping the Tang Gaozu enter Guanzhong and seize Chang’an.
Her volunteer army was well-disciplined and well-loved by the people. Later, when people found out that she was a girl, they respected her as “Li Niangzi” and called her army “Niangzi Army”. The history books also praised her for “strangling 70,000 troops and shaking Guanzhong”.
Before the Tang army attacked Chang’an, Princess Pingyang selected 10,000 elite soldiers to meet with her brother Tang Taizong. After that, she and Chai Shao each led an army and fought side by side with their families, and soon took Chang’an! In 618 A.D., when the Tang Emperor Gaozu was crowned emperor, Princess Pingyang was in charge of guarding the “Vize Pass” on the west side of the Taihang Mountains and defending the capital Chang’an.
Once, there was a rebellion and the troops in the pass were insufficient. Princess Pingyang asked for help while leading her army to step up the defense deployment. She came up with a brilliant plan, ordering the soldiers and people inside the pass to harvest a large amount of grain, set up rice pots, boil a pot of rice soup, and pour it into the ravine outside the pass at night.
The next day when the rebels came, they saw the rice soup in the ravine and thought it was horse urine, so they guessed that reinforcements were coming and did not dare to attack. This is the legend of the “rice soup retreating the enemy soldiers”, Princess Pingyang played a wonderful “empty city plan”! Because of Princess Pingyang’s guardianship, the name of the pass was changed to “Maiden Pass”.
Princess Pingyang had military merits and was rewarded more than other princesses. But unfortunately, in the sixth year of the Tang Dynasty, Princess Ping Yang died, and the grieving Tang Gaozu decided to bury her with military rites. Some people thought it was not in accordance with the etiquette, but Gaozu said: “In the past, Princess Pingyang always went to battle to kill the enemy and make plans, where is such a strange woman from ancient times to the present? What’s wrong with burying the princess with military rites?”
On the day of her burial, her funeral added “Ban Jian” and “Drum and Blow” to the ceremonies. Princess Ping Yang then became the only woman in China to be buried with military rites. In addition, according to the “Posthumous Law”, “Mingde has merit said Zhao”, Princess Pingyang also received “Zhao” as a posthumous name, and also became the first princess of the Tang Dynasty to have a posthumous name.
Princess Pingyang was famous for her military service and ended her short life in a military ceremony, rather than being a princess, she was a female war god who assisted the Tang Dynasty!
(Reference: Old Book of Tang, New Book of Tang)