Lady Sun

Lady Sun, known as Sun Shangxiang in Chinese opera and contemporary culture, was a noble lady in the late Eastern han dynasty and three kingdoms period of Chinese history. She was a daughter of Sun Jian and younger sister of the warlords Sun Ce and Sun Quan, who laid the foundation for the state of Eastern Wu of the three kingdoms. She is often depicted as a tomboy, as she received extensive martial arts training and her maidservants were armed with weapons, which was odd for her time.

She was wed to the warlord Liu Bei in 209 as his third wife, supposedly to strengthen an alliance between Liu and Sun Quan. Two years later, she returned to Sun Quan's domain when Liu left Jing Province to attack the warlord Liu Zhang in Yi Province.


Younger sister of the founding emperor of Eastern Wu, Sun Quan, Lady Sun was the only known daughter of Sun Jian and Lady Wu. Sun Jian had two other daughters by consorts, older than Lady Sun, who were recorded in history. One daughter was married to Hong Zi and highly respected the abilities of Zhuge Jin. The other was borne by a Lady Chen, who was possibly a concubine of Sun Jian, and she married Pan Mi.

Although the personal name of Lady Sun (or any of her sisters) was not recorded in history, in legend, she was commonly referred to as "Sun Shangxiang". She was a woman of strong personality and this is shown in events throughout her life. The biography of Fa Zheng tells that she had the courage and energy of her brothers.

In the 12th lunar month of 209, she married Liu Bei as a part of an alliance between Sun Quan and Liu. At the time, Lady Sun was a little over 20 years of age but because of the marriage, she took general control over his household as well as guardianship over Liu Bei's son and heir, Liu Shan. This is because both of Liu Bei's previous spouses had already died of natural causes. Because Lady Sun was accompanied by more than a hundred female attendants, all of whom were capable of bearing arms, whenever Liu Bei visited her, he was afraid. It is unknown if they had any children.

Two years later, however, in 211, there was tension within the Sun-Liu alliance over the affairs of Jing Province. It was at this time when Sun Shangxiang returned to her brother's side. According to Zhao Yun's biography, Lady Sun attempted to take Liu Shan with her but was stopped by Zhang Fei and Zhao. Through negotiations by the two generals, Lady Sun surrendered the young heir before she journeyed downriver to Jiangdong. It is through this event that the marriage and alliance effectively ended. She never met Liu Bei again, and presumably never remarried.

In fiction

In the historical novel Romance of the three kingdoms, Lady Sun was known as "Sun Ren" (孫仁), possibly a corruption of her name "Sun Renxian" (孫仁獻) as recorded in the unofficial historical text Hanjin Chunqiu. In the novel, she is depicted as a very fiery and determined woman; however, the footnotes of the novel state that she was considered a handful to deal with and Liu Bei's followers had to keep an eye on her to make sure she did not run amok.

Sun Quan invited Liu Bei, governor of Jing Province at the time, to travel to Eastern Wu. Liu Bei was told that the purpose of the visit was to marry Sun Shangxiang and to strengthen their alliance with the deed. However, the marriage proposal turned out to be a lethal trap set by Sun Quan's strategist Zhou Yu. The plan was to lure Liu into Eastern Wu unarmed, and then hold him hostage in exchange for Jing Province. Liu got word of the plot and fled back to Jing Province with Sun Shangxiang. However, on the way back, the two were stopped by Eastern Wu guards who had received orders to recapture Liu Bei at all costs. Sun scolded the guards and forced them to give way.

After the first plan failed, Sun Quan spread fake news that Lady Wu, Sun Shangxiang's mother, was extremely ill and wished to see her daughter and step-grandson, Liu Shan. Sun Quan planned to then capture Liu Shan and hold him captive, once more asking for Jing Province in return for the boy's freedom. Very distressed, Sun Shangxiang attempted to leave with her stepson. However, Zhao Yun blocked the way and retrieved Liu Shan. Undeterred, Sun Shangxiang travelled on back to Eastern Wu where she would remain for the remainder of her life. Upon learning of Liu Bei's death at the Battle of Xiaoting, she rode out to a forest and threw herself in a river. There is no historical record of this event.

Personal information


Sun Jian


Lady Wu


Sun Ce

Sun Quan

Sun Yi

Sun Kuang

Sun Lang, half-brother. He was her full brother in Romance of the three kingdoms, as both of them were born to Lady Wu's fictional younger sister, who was known as Wu Guotai.


Liu Bei

Last update 03-06-2012

Site Search


Random Articals

Join Our Newsletter




Send This Page to Friend

To Email this page to a friend

1. Use Your Default Email Client
2. Use Our Recommend Page

Online Contact



If you like this article please feel free to share it to your favorite site listed below:

Choose A Style:

Font Family

Font Colors
black Blue Green Purple Red Default
Font Size

Site Options Help

control panel