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Zhang Chunhua

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Zhang Chunhua

Zhang Chunhua
Born 189[1]
Died 247 (aged 58)[1]
Traditional Chinese 張春華
Simplified Chinese 张春华
Pinyin Zhāng Chūnhuá
Wade–Giles Chang Ch'un-hua
Posthumous name

Zhang Chunhua (189-247)[2] was the wife of Sima Yi, a prominent politician, general and regent of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period. She was posthumously honoured as "Empress Xuanmu" in 265 by her grandson Sima Yan, who ended the Wei regime and established the Jin dynasty that year.


Zhang Chunhua was from Pinggao county (平臯縣), Henei commandery (河內郡), which is in present-day Wen County, Henan. She was born in the late Eastern Han dynasty during the reign of Emperor Ling or Emperor Shao. Her father Zhang Wang (張汪) served as the Prefect (令) of Suyi (粟邑) in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. Her mother, whose maiden family name was "Shan" (山), was a grandaunt of Shan Tao, one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. In her youth, Zhang Chunhua was already known for her good moral conduct, intelligence and wisdom.[3]

Zhang Chunhua married Sima Yi and bore him three sons – Sima Shi, Sima Zhao and Sima Gan (司馬幹). She also bore him a daughter whose personal name was not recorded in history, but was historically known as Princess Nanyang (南陽公主) of the Jin dynasty.[4]

Once, the warlord Cao Cao wanted to recruit Sima Yi into the Han civil service, but Sima lied that he was ill and stayed at home. One day, while Sima Yi was drying his books under the sun, there was a sudden downpour, so Sima immediately rushed out to collect his books. The incident was witnessed by one of Sima Yi's maids. Zhang Chunhua was worried that the maid would leak out news that Sima Yi was well and get their family into trouble, so she killed the maid to silence her. She then personally prepared meals for the family, and Sima Yi was very impressed with her.[5]

In his later years, Sima Yi favoured his concubine Lady Bai (柏夫人) and started neglecting Zhang Chunhua. Once, when Sima Yi was ill, Zhang Chunhua visited him, and he said to her, "Old creature, your looks are disgusting! Why do you even bother to visit me?" Zhang Chunhua was angry and she attempted to starve herself to death. Their sons did so too. Sima Yi was shocked and he immediately apologised to his wife and they reconciled. Sima Yi later secretly told someone, "It doesn't matter if that old creature died. I was actually worried about my boys!"[6]

Zhang Chunhua died in 247 at the age of 59 (by East Asian age reckoning).[1] She was buried at Gaoyuanling (高原陵; somewhere in present-day Yanshi, Luoyang, Henan). The Wei emperor Cao Fang granted her the posthumous title "Lady of Guangping County". In 264, during the reign of Cao Huan, she was given the posthumous name "Consort Xuanmu". A year later, Sima Yi's grandson Sima Yan forced Cao Huan to abdicate in his favour and established the Jin dynasty to replace the state of Cao Wei. Sima Yan became emperor and he posthumously honoured his grandmother as "Empress Xuanmu".[7]

Modern references

Zhang Chunhua is first introduced as a playable character in the eighth instalment of Koei's Dynasty Warriors video game series.

See also


  1. ^ a b c The Jin Shu stated that Zhang Chunhua died in the eighth year of the Zhengshi era (240-249) in the reign of Cao Fang at the age of 59 (by East Asian age reckoning). Quote from Jin Shu vol. 31: (魏正始八年崩,時年五十九,) By calculation, her birth year should be around 189.
  2. ^  
  3. ^ (宣穆張皇后諱春華,河內平臯人也。父汪,魏粟邑令;母河內山氏,司徒濤之從祖姑也。后少有德行,智識過人,...) Jin Shu vol. 31.
  4. ^ (...生景帝、文帝、平原王幹、南陽公主。) Jin Shu vol. 31.
  5. ^ (宣帝初辭魏武之命,託以風痹,嘗暴書,遇暴雨,不覺自起收之。家惟有一婢見之,后乃恐事泄致禍,遂手殺之以滅口,而親自執爨。帝由是重之。) Jin Shu vol. 31.
  6. ^ (其後柏夫人有寵,后罕得進見。帝嘗臥疾,后往省病。帝曰:「老物可憎,何煩出也!」后慚恚不食,將自殺,諸子亦不食。帝驚而致謝,后乃止。帝退而謂人曰:「老物不足惜,慮困我好兒耳!」) Jin Shu vol. 31.
  7. ^ (...葬洛陽高原陵,追贈廣平縣君。咸熙元年,追號宣穆妃。及武帝受禪,追尊為皇后。) Jin Shu vol. 31.
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