How many men did Shangguan Wan'er have in her life? The discovery in her tomb reveals the historical truth

"The Han family Jieyu Tang Zhaorong, the work of poetry can be endowed for thousands of years. Self-proclaimed talent is naive, and disobedience to a husband is better than a woman." - Tang Lv Wen, "The Song of Shangguan Zhaorong Shulou"

Tang Dynasty poet Lu Wo's "Song of Shangguan Zhaorong Shulou" uses concise language to express Shangguan Wan'er's historical status and literary genius, and vaguely expresses Shangguan Wan'er's inner world and life tragedy. It is a true portrayal of Shangguan Wan'er's wonderful and short life.

This strange woman, who was predicted in her mother's womb that she would "weigh the world" in the future, once became the "female prime minister" in the political and literary circles at that time in her short life.

However, in the feudal society where male power dominated, Shangguan Wan'er, who had a higher heart than the sky, was still unable to escape the fate that her life was thinner than paper. Shangguan Wan'er, what kind of woman is she?

Shocked by Shangguan Wan'er's Tomb

Hongduyuan, located not far from Xi'an, was once a high-level burial area in Chang'an City in the Sui and Tang Dynasties. There are countless princes and nobles buried here, and there are countless royal relatives buried here.

In 2013, Xixian New District Airport New City was about to build a road in the park, so according to regulations, the Shaanxi Provincial Academy of Archaeology was invited to conduct archaeological exploration on the roadbed of the road.

After exploration, the Shaanxi Provincial Academy of Archaeology discovered that under the roadbed, there was a large tomb. The tomb has a sloping tomb passage, 5 patios and a tomb with brick coupons. It should be a high-grade Tang Dynasty tomb.

Although it is impossible to judge which historical figure the owner of the tomb is for a while, the Tang tomb of this specification shows that the owner of the tomb must not be a lack of people.

At the beginning of August, archaeological excavations officially began. After excavating the tomb and patio, archaeologists found that a layer of white ash slurry was painted on the east and west walls of the tomb, but no murals were found.

On the niches in the tomb, we found more than 170 pottery figurines, but these figurines were not large in size and variety, and there were no paintings on the figurines, which did not quite match the regulations of the tomb. What's going on?

As the excavation continued, it was found that the northern half of the tomb had been severely damaged. The vault and floor tiles of the corridor were not left, the position of the coffin bed in the western part of the tomb was completely leveled, and the coffin in the tomb was completely leveled. The remains of the tomb owner and the tomb owner are also missing.

Based on experience, archaeologists believe that the tomb has suffered severe damage, which is more of an official act than the work of tomb robbers - because most of the tomb robbers are just for money, and there is no reason to destroy the tomb like this.

Official tombs destroyed for political purposes frequently occurred in the Tang Dynasty. After Xu Jingye's rebellion, Wu Zetian ordered the destruction of the tomb of Xu Jingye's grandfather Li Ji. Could it be that the owner of this tomb was also destroyed by the emperor's decree for some political reason?

Fortunately, archaeologists found a bluestone epitaph of the tomb owner in the corridor. As the first-hand material of the tomb owner, generally speaking, the epitaph is more credible than the history books compiled by later generations.

This epitaph is made of bluestone, with a height and width of about 75 cm. Patterns such as peonies, honeysuckle, and auspicious beasts are engraved on both sides, and the top seal is engraved with nine large characters "Ming of Zhaorong Shangguan from the past of the Tang Dynasty". The 982-character text of the epitaph records the owner's place of origin, lineage, life, cause of death and other important information.

The words "Zhaorong Shangguan's family from the Tang Dynasty" allowed archaeologists to quickly identify the owner of the tomb - she was Shangguan Wan'er, the famous "female prime minister" of the Tang Dynasty.

From the daughter of a sinner to the decree in charge

Like many people who have climbed to the pinnacle of power in history, Shangguan Wan'er also had a tragic childhood.

Because Grandpa Shangguan Yi was on the wrong side of politics, in AD 664, the Shangguan family was raided, her grandfather and father were killed, and Shangguan Wan'er, who was just born, and her mother Zheng Clan, became the "official slave" of the court.

Mother worked hard and pulled Shangguan Wan'er to grow up slowly.

Although she was a lowly official slave, Zheng did everything possible to get Wan'er to receive an education. Because during her pregnancy, Zheng once dreamed that a giant gave her a scale and told her that the child in her womb could "weigh the world" in the future!

The Zheng family was also born in a famous family. After suffering great changes, she pinned her hope of changing her fate on her daughter. The good news is that Shangguan Wan'er has been intelligent since childhood, has unforgettable talents, and has a beautiful appearance, which soon attracted Wu Zetian's attention.

In the second year of Emperor Gaozong Yifeng of the Tang Dynasty (677), Wu Zetian ordered the 14-year-old Wan'er to be summoned and ordered her to write an article according to the title on the spot. Shangguan Wan'er quickly wrote a smooth and beautiful article with neat and beautiful handwriting.

Wu Zetian was overjoyed, and immediately removed her slave status and let her take charge of the edict in the palace. After that, Wu Zetian's letters were mostly written by Shangguan Wan'er.

The court proclamations of the Tang Dynasty were usually drafted by Hanlin maesters who read poetry and books. But Shangguan Wan'er, as a daughter, took this power from a man, and her talent is evident.

Shangguan Wan'er's family was killed because they opposed Wu Zetian. In a sense, Wu Zetian was Shangguan Wan'er's mortal enemy.

But judging from her later performance, Shangguan Wan'er not only did not hate Wu Zetian, but admired Wu Zetian very much. She was completely impressed by Wu Zetian's ingenuity and superhuman energy, and became Wu Zetian's "die-hard fan".

After being appreciated by Wu Zetian, Shangguan Wan'er took the opportunity to suggest that Wu Zetian set up a cultural museum to recruit talents from all over the world, which was approved by Wu Zetian.

After the establishment of the Xiuwen Museum, a large number of talented students were recruited, and various poetry competitions were frequently held in the museum.

The poems written by the talents were all evaluated by Shangguan Wan'er, and Wu Zetian was also a reward for the excellent works among them. Under the influence of Wan'er's participation, the poetic style of the mid-Tang court was changing towards the aesthetic direction of "God, Qi, and Love".

Shangguan Wan'er, who went out of the wall with red apricots

In the first year of Tianfu, Wu Zetian officially became the queen, and the status of Shangguan Wan'er, 26, became more and more important.

Although her status is very high, as a woman, Wan'er also wants to be like an ordinary woman. Some people love her, some people love her, and she has a colorful life, becoming a veritable woman. But in Wu Zetian's eyes, Wan'er is just a political tool for her, and whether this tool needs feelings or not is not considered at all.

With the growth of age, Wan'er, who needs the nourishment of love, finally got out of the wall. Regarding the reason why Shangguan Wan'er got out of the wall, the historical books are vague, but there are many legends among the people.

Legend has it that after Wu Zetian's male pet Xue Huaiyi fell out of favor, Princess Taiping gave her male pet Zhang Changzong to her mother Wu Zetian. Zhang Changzong was extremely handsome and proficient in rhythm, and his younger brother Zhang Yizhi soon became Wu Zetian's favorite male pet.

Since Zhang Changzong followed Wu Zetian every day, there were more opportunities to contact Shangguan Wan'er. Compared with the old Wu Zetian, Wan'er, who was young, was obviously more feminine. After going back and forth, the two developed a relationship.

But the good times didn't last long, and the two's affair was quickly discovered by Wu Zetian, and Wan'er also paid the price for it.

It is said that Wu Zetian once called Zhang Changzong and Wan'er to accompany him to eat together. Unexpectedly, during the meal, the two frequently made secret greetings in front of Wu Zetian, angering Wu Zetian.

The "Old Book of the Tang Dynasty" also roughly recorded this incident: "When the sky was over, Wan'er was executed with a decree, and the sky cherished him so he didn't kill him, but he just tattooed his face." In Shi Wuqian's book, Wan'er was said to be "executed with a decree", referring to the fact that her affair with Zhang Changzong was discovered by Wu Zetian.

The angry Wu Zetian immediately ordered Wan'er to be locked up. He wanted to execute Wan'er. Later, Wu Zetian considered that Wan'er still needed to make an order for her, so he decided to impose a "tattooing punishment" on Wan'er, that is, to carve a mark on Wan'er's forehead. Let her accept the lesson forever and not stray.

As for Zhang Changzong, Wu Zetian didn't punish him much. Maybe Wu Zetian liked this male pet too much and was reluctant to attack him!

For Shangguan Wan'er, this incident was another major blow in her life. Since then, Shangguan Wan'er quickly adjusted her relationship with Wu Zetian, and soon regained the trust of Wu Zetian. In the first year of Long Live Tongtian, Shangguan Wan'er once again "took charge of the order", replacing Wu Zetian in handling the Baishi schedule and participating in the management of government affairs.

There is a view in the historian circle that with Shangguan Wan'er's ability and quality, she and Zhang Changzong are at most playing on the scene, not true love.

Because Zhang Changzong has almost no other strengths other than being relatively handsome, with Wan'er's eyes, it is unlikely that she will fall in love with this kind of man. Her relationship with Zhang Changzong is just an instinct between the sexes.

Wan'er's "lovers"

Shangguan Wan'er's first love was actually Li Xian, the prince abolished by Wu Zetian.

After becoming Wu Zetian's attendant female official, the teenage Wan'er served around Wu Zetian every day, and also had the opportunity to contact Prince Li Xian.

At that time, Wan'er was in her teenage years of Huaichun, and she soon had an ignorant feeling for Li Xian, who was "Rong Zhi Duanya". But she knew that how could the family members of her sinner be able to climb up to the "high branch" of the prince?

According to historical records, Li Xian was handsome, dignified, and quick-witted, and was deeply loved by Li Zhi, Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty. After Shangyuan was registered as the crown prince in the second year of the year, he won the unanimous support of the court and the public, but was suspected by Wu Zetian.

Later, Li Xian was abolished by Wu Zetian on the charge of treason and exiled to Bazhou.

In AD 684, Shangguan Wan'er went to Bazhou to visit Li Xian. When she heard that the prince had been killed, she built a pavilion on the "Sunshine Stone" where Li Xian used to read and sun scriptures next to Mumen Temple, and wrote a poem on the pavilion. On the pavilion, I miss Li Xian. With Li Xian's death, Wan'er's first love had to end before it began.

In addition to Zhang Changzong, Shangguan Wan'er also has a lover, Wu Sansi, Wu Zetian's nephew.

For this matter, there is a clear record in the official history: "Zhongzong Shangguan Zhaorong, named Wan'er... Zhongzong ascended the throne, and ordered him to rule the life, and was deeply trusted. He was worshipped as Zhaorong, and his mother Zheng was named Mrs. Pei Guo. Since Wan'er was adulterous with Wu Sansi, every time he made an edict, he often suppressed the royal family because of the push to honor the military."

The reason why Wan'er fornicated Wu Sansi was not clearly stated in the history books. In fact, if you think about it carefully, it can be understood.

Although Shangguan Wan'er was trusted by Wu Zetian and her position was already stable, she was only a woman after all, and she was in the center of the vortex of power, so she had to leave a way out for herself at all times.

Wu Sansi was hot at the time, and taking on the line of Wu Sansi was tantamount to adding an insurance and a bargaining chip to Shangguan Wan'er in the contentious power struggle.

The social atmosphere of the Tang Dynasty was relatively open, and even Wu Zetian and Princess Taiping raised a lot of male pets. Under the influence of this atmosphere, Wan'er could not keep loneliness, nor was it incomprehensible.

As for why she chose Wu Sansi, among the few men she often came into contact with, she was comparable to Wu Youning and Wu Chengsi. Wu Sansi was at least good-looking and could be considered a bit of a political talent. He was considered a "general in the scumbag", so he could understand.

The woman who "weighs the country"

On the tenth day of the first lunar month of the first year of the Zhongzong Shenlong, taking advantage of Wu Zetian's serious illness, Zhang Qianzhi and others staged a coup d'état, killing Zhang Changzong and Zhang Yizhi's brothers, forcing Wu Zetian to pass the throne to the crown prince Li Xian, changing to Yuan Shenlong, and the Li family finally regained control of the imperial power.

Li Xian was the third son of Wu Zetian and a cowardly man.

After being put on the throne of the emperor, his heart was both ecstasy and panic. The joy is that he can finally get rid of Wu Zetian's lewd power. The panic is that he has no ability to govern the country at all, and it is difficult to provoke the emperor's burden.

At a loss, Li Xian reused three women: Empress Wei, her sister Princess Taiping, and the talented Shangguan Wan'er. Shangguan Wan'er has served Wu Zetian for many years and handled the government affairs with ease, so she is the helper Li Xian needs most.

In order to win over Wan'er, Li Xian first named Wan'er as Jieyu of the third rank, and soon promoted to Zhaorong, one of the nine concubines. Wan'er also became Li Xian's official woman and entered Li Xian's harem.

Li Xian trusted Shangguan Wan'er very much, and Wan'er gradually began her days of "weighing the country".

Wan'er is a smart person. She knows that to keep her power, she must please and welcome Empress Wei. Her method of courting is also very strange. She actually introduced Wu Sansi, who had an affair with her, to Empress Wei face to face!

According to the "Old Book of the Tang Dynasty: The Biography of Zhongzong Wei's Conqueror": "When the attendant, Jing Hui, sought to go to various martial arts, and Wu Sansi was in trouble with him, but he formed Shangguan's family to help him, and because he was fortunate to be later, he sneaked into the palace to discuss." From this point of view, making friends with Empress Wei also meant Wu Sansi, so as soon as Shangguan Wan'er introduced them, the two hit it off, not only forming a physical relationship, but also forming a political alliance.

Empress Wei was a very ambitious woman who wanted to be the second Wu Zetian. After Shangguan Wan'er attached herself to Empress Wei, she often pushed martial arts to suppress Li in the edict, causing the crown prince Li Chongjun to be angry.

Li Chongjun launched a coup in July of the first year of Shenlong, killed Wu Sansi and others, and wanted to arrest Empress Wei and Shangguan Wan'er.

The coup was not well prepared, so it was quickly put down. Shangguan Wan'er, who survived, has since been trusted by Li Xian and Empress Wei. Li Xian even allowed Shangguan Wan'er to build a private residence outside the palace and live outside the palace.

Since then, Wan'er's private life has become extremely indulgent. According to the New Book of the Tang Dynasty: "Wan'er and the people near the wall are all in the outer house, and the wicked and filthy husband are fighting for the door, and they are affectionate, because they seek the position of an important official in the drama."

"Zizhitongjian" also records: "Shangguan Jieyu and the harem have established many external relations, and there is no discipline in entering and leaving, and dynasties often travel from them in order to advance." Shangguan Wan'er, who was suppressed for half her life, finally had the opportunity to indulge, and a generation of talented women seemed to have become synonymous with debauchery overnight.

At the beginning of June of Jinglong's fourth year, Li Xian was poisoned to death by Empress Wei and Princess Anle, and Empress Wei ordered Shangguan Wan'er to draft his edict. Wan'er then wrote in the edict according to Wei's intention that Li Chongmao should be the crown prince, and Empress Wei should know about political affairs.

On June 20, Princess Taiping and Zao Li Longji launched a coup, killed Empress Wei and Princess An Le, and destroyed the Wei family. Li Longji's subordinate Liu Youqiu also led an army to surround Shangguan Wan'er's residence. Liu Youqiu was surprised to find that Wan'er was standing outside his mansion waiting for him!

In front of Liu Youqiu, Wan'er fought hard for reasons, emphasizing that she had always been loyal to the Li Tang Dynasty and was by no means a Wechsler henchman. But Li Longji insisted that she was a Wechsler party, and couldn't help but kill Shangguan Wan'er. The talented woman was only 47 years old when she died.

Shortly after Wan'er's death, Li Longji took over the throne from his father Ruizong, and then eradicated the power of Princess Taiping in another political struggle.

In the same year, Li Longji changed the era name to Kaiyuan, indicating his determination to make great efforts and create another great career of the Tang Dynasty. From then on, China's feudal society was about to usher in its most glorious era, but Shangguan Wan'er unfortunately died before dawn in this era.

Who destroyed Wan'er's grave

There is a key passage on Shangguan Wan'er's epitaph: "Princess Taiping mourned, gave 500 silks, sent envoys to sacrifice, and the purpose of the words was to plan for the future". According to the content of the epitaph, after Shangguan Wan'er died, it was Princess Taiping who played Tang Ruizong, and paid for it herself, and buried Shangguan Wan'er.

Why did Princess Taiping bury Shangguan Wan'er? First, Princess Taiping and Shangguan Wan'er usually have a close relationship, and their political views are usually more consistent. Shangguan Wan'er has always been the object of Princess Taiping's courtship.

Wan'er's death also gave Princess Taiping a sense of sorrow over the death of a rabbit and a fox. Princess Taiping buried Shangguan Wan'er thickly, and it also made those who had been promoted by Wan'er feel good about themselves, so that they could use it for themselves in the future.

Wan'er was buried on August 24, the first year of Jingyun, and who ordered her tomb to be destroyed later. There is no clear record in the history books. But experts still have a more credible answer through the interpretation of some other evidence.

After Princess Taiping was given death, there is no record in history of where she was buried and what level she was buried. Moreover, after the death of Princess Taiping, Xuanzong also ordered the destruction of the tomb of the princess' husband, concubine Wu Youji, in order to make Princess Taiping die without a burial place.

As a party of Princess Taiping, when Emperor Xuanzong ordered the destruction of Wuyouji's cemetery, he also destroyed Shangguan Wan'er's tomb, which is very likely to happen.

In the archaeological excavation, it was found that Shangguan Wan'er's tomb had been destroyed on a large scale, and experts deduced that it was most likely caused by Tang Xuanzong.

Although this is only an inference, not a conclusion, it is still the most reasonable explanation at present. Until new evidence emerges, this is also a inference generally accepted by historians.

Shangguan Wan'er was naturally beautiful and extremely talented. There were many sympathizers in the court and the public for her killing. So after many years, Li Longji still made a certain concession and agreed to compile Wan'er's poems into 20 volumes of Shangguan Zhaorong Collection, which allowed people today to read the poems of this talented woman more than a thousand years ago.

Throughout Shangguan Wan'er's life, her natural beauty and talent were the capital for her to stand on, and her forbearing personality and indulgent lust constituted both ends of her life. She met many men in her life, including Li Xian, her first love, Li Xian, her legal husband, and lovers like Zhang Changzong and Wu Sansi. Some people even said that the prime ministers Cui Yuan and Li Yanxiu were her guests.

But through the indulgence on the surface, we can see that Shangguan Wan'er's life is a struggle between the fate of the family and the authority of the king. She has always wanted to find her stage of activities and find her true self. She gained it, and finally lost it.


People's Daily Online: "Shangguan Wan'er's Epitaph Subverts History, Marries Father and Son Emperors and Wu Sansi Fornication"

Li Yipeng Shangguan Wan'er: "On Shangguan Wan'er"

Li Ming: "Secrets from the Tang Dynasty - Archaeological Interpretation of Shangguan Wan'er's Tomb"