Princess Changping

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Princess Changping
Spouse Zhou Xian (周顯)
Full name
Zhu Meichuo (朱媺娖)
Dynasty Ming Dynasty
Father Chongzhen Emperor
Mother Consort Wang Shun
Born c. 1629
Died 26 September 1646 (aged 17)
Princess Changping
Traditional Chinese 長平公主
Simplified Chinese 长平公主

Princess Changping (c. 1629 - 26 September 1646), birth name Zhu Meicuo (Chinese: 朱媺娖), was a princess of the Chinese Ming Dynasty.

Biography[edit]

Changping was born to the Chongzhen Emperor and Consort Wang Shun. As Consort Wang died from illness not long after Changping's birth, the princess was raised by Empress Zhou. Changping had an older sister, Princess Kunyi (坤儀公主), and a younger sister, Princess Zhaoren (昭仁公主).

When Changping was 16, her father arranged for her marriage to Zhou Xian, a military commander. However, their wedding was suspended as the rebel army was approaching Beijing. When the capital eventually fell to Li Zicheng's rebel force, Chongzhen started killing members of the royal household, including Princess Zhaoren. He shouted at Changping, "Why must you be born in this family?", and slashed his sword at her, cutting off her left arm. Changping fainted due to blood loss, but regained consciousness five days later and survived, while her father committed suicide by hanging himself on a tree.

In 1645, Changping asked the Shunzhi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty for permission to become a nun. Shunzhi refused and arranged for her to marry Zhou Xian. The couple treated each other with respect after their marriage. Changping died of illness a year later and was buried outside Guangning Gate.

In popular culture[edit]

Changping had a greater impact on folklore and popular culture than history, with various stories revolving around the concept that she survived her early death.

One tale tells that Changping became a nun after the fall of the Ming Dynasty. She practised martial arts and became a leader of the resistance movement against the Qing Dynasty. She was nicknamed "One-Armed Divine Nun" (獨臂神尼) for her formidable prowess. One of her disciples was rumored to be Lü Siniang (呂四娘), the heroine who assassinated the Yongzheng Emperor in folklore.

Changping appears as a major character in Louis Cha's novel Sword Stained with Royal Blood. She is called A'Jiu (阿九, literally "The Ninth", implying she is Chongzhen's ninth child) in the novel and harboured romantic feelings for the protagonist Yuan Chengzhi. However at the end of the novel, after losing an arm, she decides to become a nun and changes her name to Jiunan (九難, meaning "The Ninth and the Unfortunate"). She has a minor role in The Deer and the Cauldron, another of Louis Cha's novels that is regarded as an unofficial sequel to Sword Stained with Royal Blood and is a powerful martial artist and teacher to the protagonist Wei Xiaobao.

The love story of Changping and Zhou Xian was adapted into a Cantonese opera, titled Di Nü Hua (帝女花; literally: Emperor's Daughter Flower). The opera was later further adapted into a film and television drama.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]