|Nationality||Xin dynasty China|
|Known for||first female rebel leader in Chinese history|
Mother Lü (Chinese: 呂母; pinyin: Lǚ Mǔ; died 18 AD) was a rebel leader against the Xin dynasty in ancient China. She started a peasant uprising after her son Lü Yu was executed by the government for a minor offence, and became the first female rebel leader in Chinese history. After she died of an illness, her followers became a major force of the Red Eyebrows Rebellions which played a significant role in the downfall of the Xin dynasty and the restoration of the Han dynasty by Liu Xiu, enthroned as Emperor Guangwu of Han.
Mother Lü was born during the Western Han dynasty of ancient China. In 9 AD, the chief minister Wang Mang usurped the imperial throne and proclaimed himself Emperor of the Xin dynasty. Wang implemented a number of policies which were opposed by the wealthy landowning class. Economic stress caused by the flooding of the Yellow River further weakened the legitimacy of his rule.
Mother Lü lived in Haiqu County (海曲县), Langya Commandery (琅邪郡), in present-day Rizhao, Shandong province. Her family was very wealthy, worth millions of coins according to the Book of the Later Han.
In 14 AD, her son Lü Yu (呂育), who had served in the government of Haiqu County, was executed by the county magistrate for a minor offence. To avenge his death, Mother Lü plotted a rebellion, using her wealth to recruit poor peasants and purchase weapons and supplies. She soon raised an army of several thousand people from a populace that had already been dissatisfied with the government. Mother Lü assumed the title of General and led her rebel force to storm the capital of Haiqu County. After capturing the county magistrate, she beheaded him and sacrificed his head on her son's tomb.
Death and legacy
Mother Lü's success inspired numerous people all over the country to rebel against Wang Mang's rule, and her own force grew rapidly to tens of thousands of soldiers, but she soon died of an illness in 18 AD.
After her death, most of Lü's followers joined forces with the rebels led by Fan Chong, another native of Langya who had rebelled in Ju County in 18. The joint rebel army became known as the Red Eyebrows, which was one of the two leading rebel forces that would overthrow Wang Mang's regime.
Historians credit Mother Lü with starting the wave of uprisings that led to the downfall of the Xin dynasty and the restoration of the Han dynasty by Liu Xiu (Emperor Guangwu), the first emperor of Eastern Han. She is the first female rebel leader recorded in Chinese history.
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