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Is Yang Guifei a bad woman?


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#1 fantasyvn

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 08:13 AM

I'm watching the TV series Da Tang Lotus Garden, with Fan Ping Ping playing Yang Guifei.

I still don't understand why there are so many works on Yang Guifei. From what I read, her only talent was knowing how to satisfy the king. Unlike Empress Wu, she didn't seem to be someone who is interested in politics and knows how to govern. She seemed to be an indulgent woman who loved living in luxury.

Is my reading correct?

#2 JohnD

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 11:01 AM

I'm watching the TV series Da Tang Lotus Garden, with Fan Ping Ping playing Yang Guifei.

I still don't understand why there are so many works on Yang Guifei. From what I read, her only talent was knowing how to satisfy the king. Unlike Empress Wu, she didn't seem to be someone who is interested in politics and knows how to govern. She seemed to be an indulgent woman who loved living in luxury.

Is my reading correct?


The problem was that Emperor Xuanzong became less and less concerned with governing, which I guess Yang Guifei takes part of the blame for, though I guess that's not really her fault. At any rate, when An Lu-Shan rebelled and Xuanzong had to flee Chang'an and head south, his entourage blamed Yang Guifei (and the rest of the Yang clan, esp. yang Guozhong who had taken over after Li Linfu's death). Yang Guozhong was probably seen as more to blame than Guifei because of his bad relations with An Lu-Shan. Guozhong had warned Emperor Xuanzong that An Lu-Shan was going to rebel, and the imperial guardsmen escorting the Emperor blamed Guozhong for provoking the disaster by antagonizing An Lu-Shan. Therefore, all the Yangs with them were put to death. The Emperor was forced to have Guifei killed, and this scenario is memorialized as a romantic, tragic love story. Allegedly, the Emperor had his favorite eunuch aide Gao Lishi strangle Yang Guifei.

Xuanzong's flight out of Chang'an marked the end of his reign, and was the major turning point leading to the decline of the Tang dynasty. A major reason for the rebellion, at least as to how it could have happened, is because of the incredible power the military governors guarding the border were given, and how few skilled troops were left at the capital. An Lu-Shan also endeared himself to both Xuanzong and Yang Guifei (Guifei at one point "adopted" An Lu-Shan as her son). Xuanzong wouldn't listen when Yang Guozhong warned him that An Lu-Shan was planning to rebel. After the rebellion was finally put down several years later, the empire was never the same. The consolidation of power that the Tang had experienced gradually broke down as the military governors and other leaders took more control for themselves, there were more revolts, and government became more localized rather than centralized at the capital, leading to the eventual end of the dynasty.

So Yang Guifei's legacy is being involved in the events that led to the fall of one of China's greatest empires.

I recommend The Court of the Lion, a novel about Xuanzong and Yang Guifei. The novel is remarkably close to history as we think we know it, and it's a good read also. The information that I just told you, however, I gleaned from reading The Cambridge History of China Vol. 3, which covers the Sui and Tang dynasties. It's a great read as well, but it is a political history and does not go into Yang Guifei in any detail.

Edited by JohnD, 25 January 2010 - 11:05 AM.


#3 animerlot

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 04:23 AM

If she was bad, then there are no good.

From what I know:
1)She was beautiful and hot(you know what that means).
2)She was considerate of her man in every aspects, including life, entertainment ,art even politics.
3)She had talent in dancing, singing and musical instrument playing.
4)She did not interfere any politics.

She was simple, pure and lovely, a dream lover of any men. That's why she is the head of the Four Beauty.
一日不作,一日不食

#4 Willa Catha

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 01:52 PM

I'm watching the TV series Da Tang Lotus Garden, with Fan Ping Ping playing Yang Guifei.

I still don't understand why there are so many works on Yang Guifei. From what I read, her only talent was knowing how to satisfy the king. Unlike Empress Wu, she didn't seem to be someone who is interested in politics and knows how to govern. She seemed to be an indulgent woman who loved living in luxury.

Is my reading correct?


Hi! :greeting:

Yang Guifei's known for her beauty, and beauty's no crime.

I just want to frame your question a bit, because there's something else you're touching on.

What is the duty or honor of any king, emperor, or head of state? What is the destiny that someone who's put into that role must accept? He must NOT think for himself, but for his land and people, no?

What if...irony should throw a curveball, in the form of someone, something, which suddenly makes him doubt his purpose in life? Common situation, but is it ridiculous for a king to not want to be king, any more than a normal man to not want to be normal?

If we all have just one life to live, do we owe ourselves the freedom to be individual, or the greater good by fulfilling our roles that give society its texture and meaning? Personal freedom is awfully expensive to those born into positions of leadership, who did not choose nor strive nor want to be there.

This is where, I believe, many such men fell, horribly, in the annals of history. To justify for their vulnerability, the catalyst of it all must be crucified, in light and detail, so that the fallen can
at least gain some shed of respect and sympathy.

And so, is Yang Guifei a bad woman, I think, reflects not so much on her character, but the frustrations of impassioned historians unhappy with events as played out by those who're, unfortunately, poor actors.

#5 brightness

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Posted 31 March 2010 - 11:36 PM

Hi! :greeting:

Yang Guifei's known for her beauty, and beauty's no crime.

I just want to frame your question a bit, because there's something else you're touching on.

What is the duty or honor of any king, emperor, or head of state? What is the destiny that someone who's put into that role must accept? He must NOT think for himself, but for his land and people, no?

What if...irony should throw a curveball, in the form of someone, something, which suddenly makes him doubt his purpose in life? Common situation, but is it ridiculous for a king to not want to be king, any more than a normal man to not want to be normal?

If we all have just one life to live, do we owe ourselves the freedom to be individual, or the greater good by fulfilling our roles that give society its texture and meaning? Personal freedom is awfully expensive to those born into positions of leadership, who did not choose nor strive nor want to be there.

This is where, I believe, many such men fell, horribly, in the annals of history. To justify for their vulnerability, the catalyst of it all must be crucified, in light and detail, so that the fallen can
at least gain some shed of respect and sympathy.

And so, is Yang Guifei a bad woman, I think, reflects not so much on her character, but the frustrations of impassioned historians unhappy with events as played out by those who're, unfortunately, poor actors.


Tang XuanZong Li LongJi however actively sought power by taking part in two coups, once (as a minor participant) against Wu ZeTian, and a second time as the chief instigator in the coup against Empress Dowager Wei. Li LongJi's long reign started off and for the most part of the reign very successfully. Eventually the man became perhaps a little senile after being the emperor for 40+ years. He should probably have resigned the emperorship to his son Li Heng before the An LuShan Rebellion, as he eventually did after the death of Yang YuHuan. The person most responsible for Yang YuHuan's death probably was her cousin Yang GuoZhong, who not only caused the An Rebellion but also enabled the rebel troops to break through Tong Pass by micromanaging and mismanaging defending troops to a military disaster. When the emperor's entourage fled ChangAn the capital, the troops wanted Yang GuoZhong dead, and in order to keep their own heads in the long run, also wanted the entire Yang clan dead. Yang YuHuan was unfortunate to have been a cousin.




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