Lady Ying of Qin

Seal script character Ying

Seal script for Ying, surname of the ruling house of Qin


Duke Xian of Jin had a favourite concubine, Li Ji, whom he made his wife. When he died in 651 BCE, the throne went to Li Ji’s young son Xiqi. Some of Duke Xian’s officers rebelled and killed Xiqi, leaving Xiqi’s older half-brothers, Chong-er and Yiwu, to contend for the succession. In 650 BCE, Yiwu took the throne with the help of Duke Mu of Qin. But the two rulers fell out with each other, and, in 645 BCE, Duke Mu attacked and defeated the Jin army on the plains of Han. Duke Mu captured Yiwu (known posthumously as Duke Hui of Jin), but later allowed him to return to Jin in exchange for Yiwu’s son and heir, the Taizi (“designated heir”) Yu.

In the summer (of 643 BCE), the Taizi Yu of Jin became a hostage in Qin. Duke Mu of Qin returned to Jin the territory east of the He¹ and gave to the Taizi Yu as wife his daughter Lady Ying².

夏 . 晉 大 子 圉 為 質 於 秦 . 秦 歸 河 東 而 妻 之

Earlier, when Yiwu was a refugee in Liang, the Earl of Liang had given him as wife a daughter of the ruling House. When her pregnancy went past its time, the diviner Zhaofu and his son divined with the tortoise-shell about the matter. The son said, “She will give birth to a boy and a girl.” Zhao said, “That is so. The boy will serve as subject to another and the girl will be a concubine.” So the boy was named Yu (“groom”) and the girl Qie (“concubine”). When the son Yu went to Qin as a hostage, Qie became a lady of the court of Qin.

惠 公 之 在 梁 也 . 梁 伯 妻 之 . 梁 嬴 孕 過 期 . 卜 招 父 與 其 子 卜 之 .其 子 曰 . 將 生 一 男 一 女 . 招 曰 . 然 . 男 為 人 臣 . 女 為 人 妾 . 故 名 男 曰 圉 . 女 曰 妾 . 及 子 圉 西 質 . 妾 為 宦 女 焉 .

Yu stayed in Qin till 638 BCE.

The Taizi Yu of Jin was a hostage in Qin. When he was about to escape and return home, he said to his wife Lady Ying, “Will you return home with this gentleman?”

晉 大 子 圉 為 質 於 秦 . 將 逃 歸 . 謂 嬴 氏 曰 . 與 子 歸 乎 .

She replied, “You, sir, are the Taizi of Jin and you are shamed in Qin. If you, sir, wish to return home, is that not appropriate? But my unworthy lord (her father, Duke Mu of Qin) appointed this handmaid to wait on you holding towel and comb, so as to be your firm support. If I follow you in returning home, I will abandon my lord’s command. I dare not follow you, but I also dare not speak to anyone of this.” So he escaped and went home.*

對 曰 . 子 . 晉 大 子 . 而 辱 於 秦 . 子 之 欲 歸 . 不 亦 宜 乎 . 寡 君 之 使 婢 子 侍 執 巾 櫛 . 以 固 子 也 . 從 子 而 歸 . 棄 君 命 也 . 不 敢 從 . 亦 不 敢 言 . 遂 逃 歸 .

* This episode is related in the Lienu zhuan (Western Han dynasty, 206 BCE- 9 CE), a collection of biographies for the moral education of women. Lady Ying’s unwillingness to betray either her father or her husband merits her mention under the category of the “Principled” .

In 637 BCE, Duke Hui (Yiwu) of Jin died and Yu took the throne (he would be posthumously titled Duke Huai). Chong-er, Yiwu’s half-brother, had been in exile, moving from state to state seeking support from their rulers, and was now making his way to Jin to claim the throne.

The Viscount of Chu saw Chong-er off to Qin. Duke Mu of Qin presented him with five women, among whom was Lady Ying. One day, she served him with a basin of water for washing. When he was done, he waved her away. She was angry and said, “Qin and Jin are equals. Why do you disparage me?” The Gongzi (“son of a duke”) was afraid and lowered his robes like a captive.

乃 送 諸 秦 . 秦 伯 納 女 五 人 . 懷 嬴 與 焉 . 奉 匜 沃 盥 . 既 而 揮 之 . 怒 曰 . 秦 晉 匹 也 . 何 以 卑 我 . 公 子 懼 . 降 服 而 囚 .

In spring of 636 BCE, Chong-er entered Jin. He sent his people to kill Duke Huai (Yu) and, with the help of Duke Mu of Qin, took the throne of Jin. His posthumous title is Duke Wen.

Duke Wen of Jin went to meet his wife Lady Ying and they returned home. Duke Mu of Qin gave to Jin three thousand functionaries who would serve in the institutions of the government.

晉 侯 逆 夫 人 嬴 氏 以 歸 . 秦 伯 送 衛 於 晉 三 千 人 . 實 紀 綱 之 僕 .

Duke Wen of Jin by his conquests became hegemon over the states and was richly rewarded by the king of Zhou (by this time the Zhou dynasty kings were only nominal rulers of all the feudal states of China). In 630 BCE, Duke Mu of Qin vied for control of the state of Zheng, but Duke Wen, in consideration of past favours, would not attack Qin. Duke Wen died in the winter of 628 BCE and his son (by his wife Lady Ji of Bi) took the throne. His posthumous title is Duke Xiang. At this time, Duke Mu sent an army to make a surprise attack on Zheng. Zheng came to know of his plans and the Qin commander Baili Mengmingshi turned his army back. Commanders of the Jin army then took the opportunity to attack the army of Qin.

The Jin officer Xian Zhen of Yuan said, “Qin defied Jian Shu (an elder statesman of Qin who had advised against this expedition) and exerts its people to satisfy its greed. Heaven has presented us with a favour. We cannot let a favour slip away and we cannot indulge our enemies. In indulging our enemies, our troubles will grow, and defying Heaven is inauspicious. We must attack the Qin army.”

晉 原 軫 曰 . 秦 違 蹇 叔 而 以 貪 勤 民 . 天 奉 我 也 . 奉 不 可 失 . 敵 不 可 縱 . 縱 敵 患 生 . 違 天 不 祥 . 必 伐 秦 師 .

Luan Zhi said, “We have not yet recompensed Qin’s gifts to our late lord, yet we will attack its army. It is to make our lord dead indeed.”

欒 枝 曰 . 未 報 秦 施 而 伐 其 師 . 其 為 死 君 乎 .

Xian Zhen said, “Qin does not grieve when we are in mourning and attacks states of our surname (the rulers of Jin and Zheng were descended from the same paternal line surnamed Ji). Qin is surely without propriety: what gift is that? I have heard this: for one day in which we indulge our enemy, there will be several generations of trouble. If our plans reach his descendants, can it be said that we are making our lord dead?”

先 軫 曰 . 秦 不 哀 吾 喪 . 而 伐 吾 同 姓 . 秦 則 無 禮 . 何 施 之 為 . 吾 聞 之 . 一 日 縱 敵 . 數 世 之 患 也 . 謀 及 子 孫 . 可 謂 死 君 乎 .

Duke Xiang of Jin then sent out orders for the expedition and immediately aroused the tribes of the Jiang Rong to his aid. As son of the late Duke Wen, Duke Xiang was dressed in black hempen robes of deep mourning. Liang Hong drove his war chariot and Lai Ju was his spearman on the right.

遂 發 命 . 遽 興 姜 戎 . 子 . 墨 衰 絰 . 梁 弘 御 戎 . 萊 駒 為 右 .

In the summer (of 627 BCE), the fourth month, on the day xinsi, the Jin army defeated the Qin army at Yao. They captured Baili Mengmingshi, Xiqi Shu and Baiyi Bing, and returned home. Then, in black mourning clothes, Jin interred Duke Wen. From that time, Jin began the custom of wearing black mourning (the common custom was to wear white).

夏 . 四 月 . 辛 巳 . 敗 秦 師 于 殽 . 獲 百 里 孟 明 視 . 西 乞 術 . 白 乙 丙 . 以 歸 . 遂 墨 以 葬 文 公 . 晉 於 是 始 墨 .

Lady Ying pleaded on behalf of the three Qin commanders, saying to Duke Xiang of Jin, “They have in fact provoked enmity between my two lords (the rulers of Jin and Qin). If my unworthy lord (her father, the Duke of Qin) were to get them and eat them, he would not be satiated. Why should your lordship lower yourself to punish them? How about sending them home to be killed in Qin, and so gratify the will of my unworthy lord?”

文 嬴 請 三 帥 . 曰 . 彼 實 構 吾 二 君 . 寡 君 若 得 而 食 之 . 不 厭 . 君 何 辱 討 焉 . 使 歸 就 戮 于 秦 . 以 逞 寡 君 之 志 . 若 何 .

The Duke of Jin allowed it. When Xian Zhen was in attendance at the court, he asked about the Qin prisoners. The Duke said, “The late duke’s wife pleaded on their behalf and I have let them go.”

公 許 之 . 先 軫 朝 . 問 秦 囚 . 公 曰 . 夫 人 請 之 . 吾 舍 之 矣 .

Xian Zhen was angry and said, “Our warriors used their strength to seize them on the plains; a woman all at once has freed them in the capital. It is to let fall the army’s fruit and allow our enemies to grow. Our destruction will be any day now.” Without forethought, he spat.

先 軫 怒 曰 . 武 夫 力 而 拘 諸 原 . 婦 人 暫 而 免 諸 國 . 墮 軍 實 而 長 寇 讎 . 亡 無 日 矣 . 不 顧 而 唾 .

The Duke sent Yang Chufu to pursue the Qin commanders. He reached them at the He, but they were already on a boat. He released the left outside horse of his chariot and, as if by the Duke’s command, presented it to Mengming (Baili Mengmingshi).

公 使 陽 處 父 追 之 . 及 諸 河 . 則 在 舟 中 矣 . 釋 左 驂 . 以 公 命 . 贈 孟 明 .

Mengming knelt and touched his forehead to the floor, saying, “It is your lord’s kindness that while I, his servant, was in chains, he did not smear my blood on his drums in sacrifice, but has sent me home to be killed in Qin. If my unworthy lord should kill me, even in death my gratitude to your lord will not decay. If by the kindness of your lord I am freed, three years from now, I will bow humbly to your lord for the receipt of his favour.”

孟 明 稽 首 曰 . 君 之 惠 . 不 以 纍 臣 釁 鼓 . 使 歸 就 戮 于 秦 . 寡 君 之 以 為 戮 . 死 且 不 朽 . 若 從 君 惠 而 免 之 . 三 年 將 拜 君 賜 .

Duke Mu of Qin put on a plain white robe and camped in the suburb of his capital. He faced his returning army and wept, saying, “This orphan defied Jian Shu and brought shame on my several officers. It is this orphan’s crime. I will not remove Mengming from his command, for it was this orphan’s mistake. What crime can be charged to the Great Officer? Moreover, I will not for one misfortune shut out his great virtue.”

秦 伯 素 服 郊 次 . 鄉 師 而 哭 曰 . 孤 違 蹇 叔 . 以 辱 二 三 子 . 孤 之 罪 也 . 不 替 孟 明 . 孤 之 過 也 . 大 夫 何 罪 . 且 吾 不 以 一 眚 掩 大 德 .

Later that year, the Di tribes attacked Jin and reached Ji. In the eighth month, on the day wuzi, Duke Xiang of Jin defeated the Di at Ji. During the battle, Xian Zhen said, “I was just an ordinary man and I gratified my will before my lord, yet I was not punished. Dare I not but punish myself?” He took off his helmet, entered among the Di soldiers, and died there. The Di people returned his head and his face was as if he was alive.

狄 伐 晉 . 及 箕 . 八 月 . 戊 子 . 晉 侯 敗 狄 于 箕 . 先 軫 曰 . 匹 夫 逞 志 於 君 . 而 無 討 . 敢 不 自 討 乎 . 免 冑 入 狄 師 . 死 焉 . 狄 人 歸 其 元 . 面 如 生 .

In 625 BCE, Mengming led a Qin army in an attack on Jin. The Zuo zhuan says, “The Qin army was badly defeated. People in Jin called it ‘the army with which Qin bowed humbly to receive the favour.'” 秦 師 敗 績 . 晉 人 謂 秦 拜 賜 之 師 . Duke Mu of Qin continued to employ Mengming for his ability in the administration of the government.

In the eighth month (of 621 BCE), on the day yihai, Duke Xiang of Jin died. His son, the future Duke Ling, was young and the people in Jin, because of the difficult situation in the state, wished to enthrone an older lord.

八 月 . 乙 亥 . 晉 襄 公 卒 . 靈 公 少 . 晉 人 以 難 故 . 欲 立 長 君 .

Zhao Dun (the chief minister) said, “If we should enthrone the Gongzi Yong (Duke Wen’s son, half-brother of Duke Xiang), he is fond of what is good and is the elder. The previous lord (Duke Wen) loved him, and moreover, he is close by in Qin and Qin has an old friendship with us. Establishing the good strengthens the state; serving the elder follows the natural order; enthroning one who was loved is filial; uniting with an old friend brings peace. Being in a difficult situation, we should enthrone an older lord. Someone with these four virtues will surely settle our difficulties.”

趙 孟 曰 . 立 公 子 雍 . 好 善 而 長 . 先 君 愛 之 . 且 近 於 秦 . 秦 舊 好 也 . 置 善 則 固 . 事 長 則 順 . 立 愛 則 孝 . 結 舊 則 安 . 為 難 故 . 故 欲 立 長 君 . 有 此 四 德 者 . 難 必 抒 矣 .

Jia Ji said, “It is better to enthrone the Gongzi Le (Duke Wen’s son by Lady Ying, whom the officers call Chen Ying). Chen Ying was the favourite of two lords. If we enthrone her son, the people will surely be at peace.”

賈 季 曰 . 不 如 立 公 子 樂 . 辰 嬴 嬖 於 二 君 . 立 其 子 . 民 必 安 之 .

Zhao Dun said, “Chen Ying’s rank is low, being ninth in the women’s quarters. What awe can her son instill? Moreover, as the favourite of two, she was licentious. A son of the previous lord, yet unable to seek greatness; having gone to the small state of Chen³, he is as if retired from the court. The mother being licentious and the son as if retired, there is no authority in it. Chen being small and far away, there is no assistance from it. How will there be peace?

趙 孟 曰 . 辰 嬴 賤 . 班 在 九 人 . 其 子 何 震 之 有 . 且 為 二 嬖 . 淫 也 . 為 先 君 子 . 不 能 求 大 . 而 出 在 小 國 . 辟 也 . 母 淫 子 辟 . 無 威 . 陳 小 而 遠 . 無 援 . 將 何 安 焉 .

“Qi of Du (mother of the Gongzi Yong), out of regard for the lord (Duke Xiang), yielded her place to Ji of Bi (Duke Xiang’s mother) and raised her rank above her own, and out of regard for the Di tribes (for their aid to Duke Wen during his exile), yielded her place to Ji Wei (Duke Wen’s Di wife) and put herself below her, so that her own rank is fourth. For these reasons, the previous lord (Duke Wen) loved her son, and sent him to serve in Qin where he has become a high minister of the second rank. Qin being great and close by, is sufficient to provide assistance. The mother being righteous and the son loved, there is sufficient authority over the people. Will it not do to enthrone him?”

杜 祁 以 君 故 . 讓 偪 姞 而 上 之 . 以 狄 故 . 讓 季 隗 而 己 次 之 . 故 班 在 四 . 先 君 是 以 愛 其 子 . 而 仕 諸 秦 . 為 亞 卿 焉 . 秦 大 而 近 . 足 以 為 援 . 母 義 子 愛 . 足 以 威 民 . 立 之 . 不 亦 可 乎 .

He sent Xian Mie and Shi Hui to Qin to receive the Gongzi Yong. Jia Ji also sent a messenger to summon the Gongzi Le from Chen, but Zhao Dun sent someone to kill him at Pi.

使 先 蔑 . 士 會 . 如 秦 . 逆 公 子 雍 . 賈 季 亦 使 召 公 子 樂 于 陳 . 趙 孟 使 殺 諸 郫.

In spite of his fulsome praise for the Gongzi Yong, Zhao Dun was soon to be persuaded by Duke Xiang’s wife Mu Ying to enthrone her infant son, posthumously known as Duke Ling. The Jin army battled with and drove away the Qin army that had escorted Yong to Jin. Xian Mie and Shi Hui became exiles in Qin.

¹ The He is the Yellow River. Duke Mu of Qin had received these lands from Yiwu as a bribe for his help in gaining the throne of Jin.

² Ying was the surname of the ruling House of Qin and the Guo yu (Vol. 10, Chap. 9) tells us this Lady Ying was Duke Mu’s daughter. Duke Mu said that of his progeny by his principal wife (適), she was his favourite (懽). Lady Ying is known as Huai Ying after the title of her first husband, Yu, known posthumously as Duke Huai of Jin. Later, given to Chong-er, posthumously titled Duke Wen of Jin, to be one of his wives, she is called Wen Ying. In the last reference to her, the officers of Jin called her Chen Ying. Chen (辰) is the fifth terrestrial branch of the Chinese duodecimal counting system, perhaps indicating her position among Duke Wen’s five wives surnamed Ying, given to him by Duke Mu. The Shi ji, Vol. 39, says they were daughters of Duke Mu’s ancestral clan (宗女).

³ The state of Chen 陳 is not the same graph as Chen 辰 Ying.

The Chinese text and some but not all of the interpretation follows James Legge’s translation, Duke Xi, years 17, 22, 23, 24, 33, Duke Wen, years 2, 6, in The Chinese Classics, Volume 5, “The Ch’un Ts’ew with The Tso Chuen,” Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1960, reprinted 1970.

© Lena Tan 2016. If you quote from this translation, please credit me and reference this page and my website.

More from the Zuo Zhuan.


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