Empress Zhu (Jing)

Empress Zhu (died 265), formally known as Empress Jing (景皇后), was an empress of Eastern Wu during the three kingdoms period. Her husband was Sun Xiu (Emperor Jing), the third emperor of Eastern Wu.

Empress Zhu was the daughter of Zhu Ju (朱據) and Sun Xiaohu (孫小虎), a daughter of Eastern Wu's founding emperor Sun Quan. Even though this makes her Sun Xiu's niece, Sun Quan married her to Sun Xiu around 250. In 250, she lost her father, as Zhu Ju, after unsuccessfully trying to persuade Sun Quan not to depose the crown prince Sun He, was exiled to Xindu (新都, in modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang ) -- and was executed on the way there. After Sun Xiu was created the Prince of Langye in 252, she became princess. She accompanied him, as his fief was initially established at Hulin (虎林, in modern Chizhou , Anhui ) but subsequently moved twice to Danyang (丹陽, in modern Xuancheng , Anhui ) then finally to Kuaiji (會稽, in modern Shaoxing, Zhejiang ).

In 255, Princess Zhu would lose her mother as well. At the instigation of her aunt Sun Dahu (孫大虎), the regent Sun Jun believed that Princess Xiaohu was part of a plot to assassinate him, and so had Princess Xiaohu executed. Sun Xiu became fearful, and sent his wife Princess Zhu back to the capital Jianye, effectively offering to divorce her, but Sun Jun declined by sending Princess Zhu back to Sun Xiu.

In 258, the emperor Sun Liang (Sun Xiu's brother), after a failed attempt to remove Sun Jun's cousin and successor Sun Chen, was himself removed from the throne by Sun Chen. Sun Chen made Sun Xiu emperor. However, Sun Xiu, despite urging from officials, did not immediately create her empress. Rather, he waited until 262 to do so. He also created his son Sun Wan crown prince, although it is not clear whether Sun Wan was her son or not. (Indeed, it is not clear whether she bore any of Sun Xiu's four sons. )

In 264, Sun Xiu died, after entrusting Crown Prince Wan to the prime minister Puyang Xing (濮陽興). However, Puyang and the other key official in charge, Zhang Bu (張布), in light of the destruction of Eastern Wu's ally Shu Han in 263, decided that the people were yearning for an older emperor. (It is not known how old Crown Prince Wan was at this point, but Sun Xiu himself died at age 29, so it was unlikely that Crown Prince Wan was even a teenager. ) At the recommendation of the general Wan Yu (萬彧), who was friendly with former crown prince Sun He's son Sun Hao the Marquess of Wucheng, Puyang and Zhang wanted declare Sun Hao emperor instead. When they reported this to Empress Dowager Zhu, she said:

I am just a widow. What do I know about the important affairs of state? As long as the empire is not harmed, and the emperors continue to be properly worshipped, I am satisfied.

Puyang and Zhang then declared Sun Hao emperor. However, it soon became clear that Sun Hao was the wrong choice, as he quickly demonstrated his cruel and superstitious tendencies. Puyang and Zhang would indeed become his first victims, as their regret in selecting Sun Hao was quickly reported to him, who had them arrested and executed. Later that year, he would also demote Empress Dowager Zhu to the title Empress Jing, making his own mother Consort He empress dowager instead. In 265, Sun Hao would further force her to commit suicide and kill Sun Xiu's two oldest sons -- the former crown prince Sun Wan and Sun Gong the Prince of Ru'nan. Empress Zhu was given a substandard funeral (for an empress), although she was buried with an empress' honor with her husband Sun Xiu.

Last update 08-05-2012

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