Empress Pan

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Empress Pan
Empress of Eastern Wu
Born (Unknown)
Died 252
Traditional Chinese 潘皇后
Simplified Chinese 潘皇后
Pinyin Pān Huánghòu
Wade–Giles Pan Huang-hou
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Pan.

Empress Pan (died 252), personal name unknown, was an empress of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period. She was the only empress of Wu's founding emperor, Sun Quan, even though he had a succession of wives before her.


Lady Pan was from Juzhang County (句章縣; within present-day Ningbo) in Kuaiji Commandery. Her father, who served as a low-ranking official, was executed for committing an offence whose details are not recorded. Both Lady Pan and her elder sister ended up as workers in a textile factory. Once, Sun Quan encountered her and felt that she was extraordinary so he took her as his concubine. In 243, while she was pregnant, she dreamt of receiving a dragon head and gave birth to Sun Liang later. In 250, in the aftermath of a succession struggle between Sun Quan's sons Sun He and Sun Ba, Sun Liang was designated as the crown prince by his father. In the same year, Lady Pan requested Sun Quan to arrange a marriage for her elder sister and he agreed. In 251, Sun Quan instated Lady Pan as the empress. Empress Pan was known for being jealous and malicious as she never ceased slandering and harming Sun Quan's other wives until her death.[1]

When Sun Quan became seriously ill in 252, Empress Pan asked Sun Hong (孫弘), the Director of the Imperial Secretariat (中書令), about how Empress Lü Zhi seized power after the death of her husband (Emperor Gao of the Han Dynasty). She herself also fell sick due to the stress of continuously attending to Sun Quan. However, she was ultimately murdered that year, but how she was murdered remains a controversy. Wu officials claimed that her servants, unable to stand her temper, strangled her while she was asleep and claimed her death was of natural causes; while a number of historians, including Hu Sanxing, the commentator to Sima Guang's Zizhi Tongjian, believed that top Wu officials were complicit, as they feared that she would seize power as empress dowager after Sun Quan's death. Investigation into her death resulted in the executions of 6-7 people. Sun Quan died soon after in the same year. Empress Pan was buried together with Sun Quan at the Jiang Mausoleum (蔣陵; at the Purple Mountain, Nanjing, Jiangsu).[2] The historian Hu Sanxing commented in his annotations to the Zizhi Tongjian that the murder of Empress Pan was probably a conspiracy by top officials in Eastern Wu because they feared that she would seize power after Sun Quan's death.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (吳主權潘夫人,會稽句章人也。父為吏,坐法死。夫人與姊俱輸織室,權見而異之,召充後宮。得幸有娠,夢有似龍頭授己者,己以蔽膝受之,遂生孫亮。赤烏十三年,亮立為太子,請出嫁夫人之姊,權聽許之。明年,立夫人為皇后。性險妬容媚,自始至卒,譖害袁夫人等甚衆。) Sanguozhi vol. 50.
  2. ^ (權不豫,夫人使問中書令孫弘呂后專制故事。侍疾疲勞,因以羸疾,諸宮人伺其昏卧,共縊殺之,託言中惡。後事泄,坐死者六七人。權尋薨,合葬蔣陵。) Sanguozhi vol. 50.
  3. ^ (吳潘後性剛戾,吳主疾病,後使人問孫弘以呂后稱制故事。左右不勝其虐,勝,音升。伺其昏睡縊殺之,託言中惡,縊,於賜翻,又於計翻。中惡,暴病而死也。中,竹八翻。後事泄,坐死者六七人。斯事也,實吳用事之臣所爲也。潘後欲求稱制,左右小人正當相與從臾爲之,安有不勝其虐而縊殺之之理!吳史緣飾,後人遂因而書之雲爾。孟子曰:盡信書,不如無書。誠哉!) Zizhi Tongjian (annotated version) vol. 75.
Chinese royalty
New dynasty Empress of Eastern Wu
Succeeded by
Empress Quan
Preceded by
Empress Cao Jie of Eastern Han Dynasty
Empress of China (Southeastern)