Soul of China

Queen’s benign influence

Queen Du Gu (獨孤), wife of Emperor Sui Wen Di (隋文帝 581-601 AD), was of noble origin. Even as a queen, she did not abuse her power or yearn for and seek vanity. Rather, she worked hard and attached importance to the state.
When the Turks (突厥) traded with Sui Dynasty, they had a suitcase of pearls worth eight million. The administrator of Youzhou (幽州) wanted to buy it to offer to the queen.
Upon learning about the administrator’s plan, the queen flatly refused and said: “Pearls are not my urgent need. The western and northern barbarians often invade our border nowadays. Our army officers and soldiers are suffering from fatigue. It is better to use the eight million to award merits to those officers and soldiers.”
Queen Du Gu was fond of reading books. She was kind to people, thus gaining respect from officials. Some of them, citing the protocol of the Zhou Dynasty, suggested to give her jurisdiction over the wives of all the officials.
The queen did not want to create a precedent of women intervening in politics. She turned down the suggestion.
Governor Cui Chang Ren (崔長仁), a cousin of the queen, violated the law and was to be beheaded. To spare the queen’s feelings, Emperor Sui Wen Di absolved Cui Chang Ren’s of his crime.
To many’s surprise, the queen opposed the emperor’s decision. She raised the need to preserve national interest. She said, “Private relationship should not be given consideration in affairs of the state.” Cui Chang Ren was eventually punished with the full force of the law.
Nevertheless, the queen was not a fickle person. Her common brother, Du Gu Tuo (獨孤陀), had feigned madness, acted like a devil and cursed her. The law decreed that he be executed for his action.
To save her brother, the queen fasted for three days and begged the emperor: “If Tuo harmed the government and hurt the people, I dare not plead for him. But since he only hurt me as a person, please exonerate him from death.”
Tuo was thus saved from death.
Queen Du Gu and Emperor Sui Wen Di had deep affection for each other. They were praised as the duo sages of the court. But after the queen passed away, Wen Di led an unrestrained life.
In only two years, he became ill and never recovered. On his deathbed, cherishing his memories of the queen, he said: “If the queen were still alive, I definitely would not end up like this.”