- Not to be confused with the Wu officer Zhen Ji.
|Force(s):||Yuan Shao's Forces|
164 cm (5'4½")
|Weapon Type:||Flute (3~5, 7~8, 9:DLC)|
Chain whip (6, 9)
|Playable Debut:||Dynasty Warriors 3|
甄洛 - 甄宓
January 26, 183
|Real name unknown. Posthumously known as Empress Wenzhao (文昭皇后). Also speculated to have been born in 182.|
Zhenshi (甄氏, onyomi: Shinshi; Literally: "Lady Zhen") is Yuan Xi's wife and Cao Pi's first wife. She was supposedly favored by Cao Pi when he first saw her. When they first met is not precisely known historically, but Romance of the Three Kingdoms is famous for stating their first meeting was near Guandu. The novel also describes her as a woman of dazzling beauty.
She is known under the original name Zhenji (甄姫, onyomi: Shinki; Korean: Gyeonhui) in the English, Japanese, and Korean editions of the Dynasty Warriors series. Her name is "Maid Zhen" in Japanese, but this particular spelling could actually translate as "Concubine Zhen" in Chinese. To avoid creating misconceptions about her identity, her character is called Zhen Luo (甄洛) or Zhen Fu (甄宓) in Chinese editions of this franchise. Gamecity's Dynasty Warriors 7 character popularity poll places her at twenty-third place; she is thirty-fifth in the Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends popularity poll. The latest poll for the eighth installment puts her in thirty-fourth. The character poll for overseas fans puts her in fifth place for the Wei division.
Before 2012, the English editions of the Warriors series separated the Chinese characters for her character's name and called her "Zhen Ji". Her character's name for the franchises is now properly localized in the games.
- 1 Role in Games
- 2 Character Information
- 3 Quotes
- 4 Gameplay
- 5 Weapons
- 6 Historical Information
- 7 Romance of the Three Kingdoms
- 8 Gallery
Role in Games
- "Beauty, refinement and might - you have it all."
- ~~Motochika; Warriors Orochi 2
Known for her bewitching beauty and deadly songs, Zhen Ji is a woman who often starts serving Yuan Shao. However, she eventually leaves his ranks to join Wei. She participates in many of their battles and can appear as late as the final campaigns in the era. With Cao Pi's formal introduction to the series, she agrees to join him after their meeting at Guan Du. She then faithfully appears with him in battle.
She appears in most of Wei's later battles, usually dying at He Fei Castle or Wu Zhang Plains in other kingdom stories during Dynasty Warriors 3. In Dynasty Warriors 3: Xtreme Legends, she makes a cameo appearance on Yuan Shao's side at Jie Ting and in a similar cut scene at You Ting, she fires an arrow at Zhu Rong during Chi Bi.
In Dynasty Warriors 4, Zhen Ji is mostly seen in battles against the kingdom of Wu. Should the player defeat her at Fan Castle, she will attempt to avenge her honor by appearing with reinforcements in Shi Ting.
Her Legend Mode in Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends occurs after Yuan Shao's defeat and the coming destruction of his three sons. It mainly entails the moment when Cao Pi first laid eyes on Zhen Ji. Stricken by her beauty, he orders his troops to pause and beckons for her to join him. Yuan Xi overhears the conversation and is confident that his wife would not turn on him so easily, calling Cao Pi a fool. Players are given the choice to choose either husband, which they do by running towards either mate. Once Zhen Ji decides on the love of her life, they drive out the third wheel together.
Zhen Ji is depicted as Yuan Xi's bored wife in Dynasty Warriors 5. While fighting at Guan Du, she meets Cao Pi, who tells her to abandon the Yuan family and realize her true potential under him. She drives him back but, after the battle's conclusion, the Yuan family crumbles after Yuan Shao, their leader, is killed. Wanting to satisfy her new found passion and sharing her new husband's vision, she faithfully follows Cao Pi in each of his campaigns. After joining Wei she fights on their side in some well known battles such as Chi Bi and Jie Ting. During their last battle with Wu, she leads an attack force through He Fei Castle on the behalf of her beloved. Once Wei unifies the land, the narrative states that she lives the rest of her days in happiness.
She shares her Legend Mode in the Xtreme Legends expansion with the Qiao sisters and Yue Ying. Together with their husbands, Zuo Ci challenges them to see which lord is worthy of the Imperial Seal. During the battle, she clashes with Yue Ying once the two bicker over the worth of their respective mates. When she gains the seal, Zhen Ji hands it to Cao Pi as a symbol of her undying devotion to him.
Zhen Ji's ending scene in Dynasty Warriors: Online has her and the player alone on a cold night outside the town. The player attempts to cover her from the snow, but is refused. Instead, Zhen Ji suggests that they go indoors together, deeming their companionship as her source of warmth.
In Dynasty Warriors 6, Zhen Ji appears as one of the last lines of defense for Yuan Shao's supply base at Guan Du. After this battle, she fights with her second husband in Wei. During Cao Pi's Musou Mode in Special, she and Yuan Xi arrive as reinforcements for Yuan Shao at He Bei. Cao Pi immediately tries to court with her, which angers Yuan Xi. If Cao Pi wins over her husband, she will be impressed by his strength and agrees to follow him. She also appears in Zhang He's story and encourages him to follow his own desires.
Zhen Ji's first legendary battle in Dynasty Warriors 7 is set during the Battle of Guandu, where she first meets and fights her future husband Cao Pi. The two flirt before battling and Cao Pi is defeated. Her second legendary battle is set around The Battle of Shiting, where she has to rescue her husband from the Wu Forces.
The Xtreme Legends expansion adds a Hero Scenario specifically dedicated to Zhenji's efforts to support her husband at Hefei. Since her allies are dwarfish compared to Wu's army, she is ordered to support Zhang Liao's surprise attack. She helps lure enemies for the plot, which may or may not be met by defeating Ling Tong. If it succeeds, the Wu army will face disaster when Zhang Liao attacks. Lu Meng and Gan Ning try to salvage their losses by targeting the Wei main camp. Lian Shi, fearing for Sun Quan's safety, departs from his side to guard his escape.
Once Zhen Ji has Lian Shi at her mercy, Sun Quan rescues her from the finishing blow. As the Wu leader states his refusal to abandon his beloved, Cao Pi similarly arrives to protect Zhen Ji. Cao Pi allows Sun Quan and Lian Shi's escape, a gesture which earns him his wife's protest at the wasted opportunity. Upon learning that he did so to avoid putting her in harm's way, Zhen Ji is touched by her husband's actions and happily returns to his side.
In Dynasty Warriors Next, Zhenji is initially affiliated with the Yuan family during Cao Cao's rise to power. She is charged with the defense of Jinyang, one of two nearby territories leading to Yuan Shao's base. During the transition between the events at Guandu and Chibi, Zhenji is already an officer of Wei. The final chapters of Wu and Shu have her supervise Beiping which originally belonged to her former father-in-law.
While participating in the Battle of Wuzhang Plains, she hears rumors of Zhuge Liang's death and questions their authenticity. Her doubts are proven true when Zhuge Liang spearheads a sneak attack on the main camp. Shu's version of that battle has Zhenji lead a group of elite guards to protect Cao Pi, imploring them to sacrifice themselves if necessary. She is also present in Wei's final battle against Shu at Chengdu, eager to escort her husband during his attack. The couple can be seen walking together in Wei's ending.
In Dynasty Warriors 8, she has a more prominent role in Wei's hypothetical story branch. While helping her husband relax in Xuchang, both of them are attacked by assassins and illusions controlled by a mysterious assailant. They manage to repel the sorcery together with Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan. For her part, Zhenji helps drive away the culprit who turns out to be the mystic Zuo Ci. She also participates in the final battle against the other forces and engages a verbal altercation with Zhurong and Yueying. In Wu's hypothetical ending, she is seen consoling Cao Pi who is still mourning the end of Wei's conquest as well as the death of his father.
Her role under Yuan Shao is further expanded in the expansion. She appears in the altered Guandu, and will still surrender upon her defeat. She also participates in the fictional battle at Chibi between Yuan Shao and Sun Ce.
In Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed, Zhenji escorts Cao Cao during his escape from Chibi, deliberately impeding the player's pursuit of him. She later appears as an angry adversary at Mt. Dingjun, strengthening herself with an invincibility buff until Yan Yan and Huang Zhong arrive.
At the beginning of Zhenji's bond story, rumors of her being destined for greatness reaches Yuan Shao's ears, convinced that she is the perfect match for his son Yuan Xi. Despite her initial doubts, she willingly marries into the Yuan family and remains loyal to them even after their downfall at Guandu. Though her subsequent marriage to Cao Pi is repeated, she requests that he provide her mother-in-law Lady Liu and the rest of Yuan Shao's surviving household protection.
While spending some quality time with her husband, they have an intimate discussion about the River Goddess's origins which has Cao Pi wondering if Zhenji happens to be a reincarnation of the mythical figure herself. During another casual event, she is flattered by Cai Wenji adoring her serpentine hairstyle which had become a fad within the palace court. More than willing to share beauty secrets with her fellow musician, she once came across a green snake with a tongue that reminded her of a phoenix tree seed which turned out to be an excellent ingredient for hair care.
In Dynasty Warriors 9, Zhenji first appears serving under her husband at Guandu, and she will aid his charge against Cao Cao's forces when they near Yuan Shao's main camp. After the destruction of the Yuan family, she will be taken in by Cao Pi and she loyally follows her new spouse in their initial campaigns against Liu Bei at Xinye, Bowang Slope and Changban.
She is later caught in the chaos of the fire attack at Chibi and will be among the stragglers that must be found and rescued during the escape from Chibi. After the great defeat, she will help reinforce Cao Ren's unit at Nanjun.
After cracks begin to form between Sun Quan and Liu Bei over possession of Jing Province, Zhenji and the rest of the Wei forces prioritize their campaigns west and move to eventually defeat both Ma Chao and Zhang Lu's forces to secure their new power base. However, Liu Bei leads an attack on Hanzhong that kills Xiahou Yuan, but Cao Cao anticipates this and uses it as bait to lure out Guan Yu's forces for a decisive battle at Fan Castle. Zhenji joins her husband in putting an end to the general and Cao Cao soon passes away after.
Taking advantage of Liu Bei's anger against Wu to finish domestic matters, Zhenji helps eliminate her husband's would-be assassins in his ascent to the imperial throne. Once the throne is secure, she takes part in her husband's five-pronged assault on Shu, but the campaign fails to make any substantial gain and Wu's half-hearted efforts give Cao Pi an excuse to attack them to continue their conquest.
Although they succeed in defeating the Wu forces at Guangling, heavy casualties force the Wei forces to return home without any permanent gain, and the battle takes its toll on Cao Pi's own health, much to Zhenji's concern.
Having returned back to Luoyang, Zhenji plays her flute to her husband, but begins to notice something amiss. Noticing her husband's lack of response, she immediately fears the worst, but Cao Pi takes the opportunity to hold her closer, assuring her that she is the only one that can truly give him peace. Shortly after Cao Pi's death, Zhenji also disappears from the story entirely.
In her husband's personal DLC scenario, Zhenji will accompany her spouse in his more aggressive campaigns against Liu Bei and Wu. After they capture Liu Bei, Zhenji's forces at Baidi Castle will be ambushed by Zhuge Liang during her husband's absence, but she is rescued in time when the Wei emperor evades the Shu forces to rescue his soldiers. After this, she later participates in the final campaign against Shu, being among those overseeing Liu Shan's surrender to Wei.
Like many officers of Wei, Zhen Ji is an unwilling servant of Orochi in the first game. As his servant, she leads the Wei Army and Date Army to prevent Nō's escape with Lu Meng in Wu's gaiden stages. Later she leads an army to Wan Castle against Ieyasu Tokugawa in aiding the peasants' escape and also accompanies Keiji Maeda in another battle against Wu. When her husband declares independence, Zhen Ji decides to follow suit by seizing control of Liang Province from Dong Zhuo. Kotarō arrives as reinforcements for the tyrant, creating an illusion of her husband and throwing her into confusion. She is rescued by her love and accompanies him in the final battle against Orochi.
Zhen Ji faithfully stays by Cao Pi's side in Warriors Orochi 2 when Cao Cao and his entourage leave to hunt down the remnants of the Orochi Army. She helps her husband defend Komaki-Nagakute against Kiyomori's army long enough for reinforcements to provide assistance and also attacks the Wu army at Nanzhong in an attempt to stir them into action. In her dream stage, she cooperates with Nō and Xiao Qiao to rescue the various maidens captured by Dong Zhuo in his secret hideout in Lu Shan. One of the tyrant's prisoners is later revealed to be her husband, who has been kidnapped and is being held captive in a garrison. Zhen Ji rescues him by impressing the guards with her beauty and agility.
Similar to the previous title, Zhenji stayed beside Cao Pi throughout the different timelines in Warriors Orochi 3. She initially joins her husband when they surround Da Ji at Tong Gate, and wondering why other officers like Sima Zhao and Zhang He would aid her. Joining him at Fan Castle, she ambushes the Coalition as they attempt to pass Jiangling castle. After Cao Cao agrees to help the Coalition, she goes to Hulao Gate with her husband, Sima Yi and other Coalition members to fight the Hydra heads that have emerged in the area. She also helps her husband recruit Lu Xun in the past Hefei. In the Ultimate expansion, she accompanies Deng Ai and Cao Cao to investigate the chaos caused by Kyūbi at Mt. Niutou.
Zhenji and her husband loyally served Ares in Warriors Orochi 4, but both secretly wished to sabotage the god's efforts from within. She accompanies her husband in facing down the Coalition numerous times, including their conflicts with Cao Cao. After hiding a letter for the Coalition to reveal their true intentions, Zhenji and her husband betray the Olympic Gods at Olympus, and unlock Ares's arena for the Coalition.
After the conflict, she joins the Coalition. While on a trip to Jing Province with Diaochan and Lu Meng, the group spot Koshōshō being attacked by Jia Chong's army. Due to the ineffectiveness of standard strategies, the maidens use their charms to find their way through the defense. Zhenji's contribution is to use her music to persuade the gatekeepers into opening the castle.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Lady Zhen is one of the first women to appear in the series. In her case, she usually appear when Cao Pi conquer Yi and marries her. Her playable persona is geared towards domestic affairs but her INT and POL tends to be above average. Her ability for warfare is piratically null but her special that boost strategies against male officers makes Lady Zhen an eligible sub officer for any army.
Zhenji is a dignified and proud noblewoman who yearns to find personal satisfaction in battle. Her elegance and beauty have enchanted many who come across her, as others label her beauty to be simultaneously dangerous. Since she loves to flaunt her natural talents, her pride with her status borders on arrogance and makes her seem smug. Though she acts hostile towards him on their first meeting, she genuinely grows devoted to Cao Pi during their time together.
She affectionately addresses him as "My beloved" or "My lord" (我が君, Waga kimi). She exchanges witty repartee with Cao Pi, and could indeed be viewed as a quaintrelle. Proud of her beauty, she relishes praise for her looks, yet like Diaochan, most of her quotes regarding sexual innuendo are often cut in the English script.
Her initial appearance has her share a mild rivalry with Sun Shangxiang. Later games focus on her rivalry with Yueying as the women argue over who has the better mate. Should they meet on the field in Dynasty Warriors 6, each woman will berate her rival's husband and grow angered if insulted.
In the Japanese version of Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires, Zhen Ji is given the nickname of "The Violet Queen" while the English version changes it to "The Flute of Death". As a dominant ruler in Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires, she and Xing Cai call their five greatest warriors the "Five Grand Generals".
The original name of Zhen Ji's second weapon is named in honor of her title as the first Empress of Wei. The particular character used is an archaic method of marking the beginning of a time period (春) and the following character translates as empress (后). Together, these characters roughly mean "first empress of an era".
Her third weapon, literally translated as "Demon Moon", alludes to either one of two stories related to Lady Zhen. One is related to a legendary rumor regarding a grudge by her spirit. Cao Pi's second wife, Lady Guo, was said to have thought her husband's spontaneous illness was caused by a curse from Lady Zhen. Such a rumor is a reference to the hatred held for Cao Pi's reign, one of the romanticized reasons being tied to Lady Zhen's death. The other possible explanation may be tied to negative rumors of Lady Zhen's reputation. This version emphasizes her damning beauty mentioned in Romance of the Three Kingdoms yet goes on to add that she was petty and too outspoken. While the former account with Lady Guo does have some historical basis, the latter has been largely accepted as a possible fabrication made to discredit Lady Zhen after the fact.
Zhen Ji's fourth and Level 11 weapons are a plausible reference to her actual death. One interpretation of the weapon's name may literally mean "strange month" (月妖) while the following two characters translates as "mad day" (日狂). According to rumors and legends, an eclipse occurred the day after Lady Zhen's death. Eclipses are known in many ancient cultures to have been foreboding, ominous signs of the future. China was no different, as these natural phenomenons were tied to dragons devouring the heavenly sources of light and the entire collapse of the world.
Her original outfit for Dynasty Warriors 7 is a Japanese school uniform for females. It's a popular option for girls who personally care about fashion or trends to tinker their attire as much as they can without breaking the school's dress code. Each school has different guidelines that may become stricter each year, so it's considered a challenge for fashionable individuals to always look their best. As a side note, having a character wear these type of uniforms is a mild form of fanservice.
The original name of Zhen Ji's personal item in Warriors Orochi is "Spiritual Lady's Guqin". The characters for the first part of the name refers to a lovely maiden whose beauty is a ruse for a dreaded monster. Usually the said maiden is an undead spirit and one of supernatural origin. If one is to believe the rumors and the Ganzhenji, Cao Zhi dedicated the poem Luoshenfu to her. The poem entails a gorgeous maiden crossing over Luo River, which is also said to have ties to Fufei (a daughter of Fuxi's who died whilst drowning). The poem and additional folklore surrounding the river is the reason why many associate Lady Zhen with the name Zhen Luo. Guqin is an ancient Chinese stringed instrument that has many traditional compositions dedicated to romance and longing. Cai Yan was one of many composers associated with the instrument's long history.
- Michelle Ruff - Dynasty Warriors 4~5, Warriors Orochi series; first and second games only (English-uncredited)
- Wendee Lee - Dynasty Warriors 6~8 (English-uncredited)
- Guerin Piercy - Dynasty Warriors 9 (English)
- Zhao Ting - Dynasty Warriors 3 (Chinese)
- Jie Yang - Dynasty Warriors 9 (Chinese)
- Eun Yeoung Seon - Dynasty Warriors 3 (Korean)
- Lee Jam Yeong - Dynasty Warriors 4~5 (Korean)
- Jung Yu-mi - Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed (Korean)
- Kim Boyeong - Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao (Korean)
- Yuko Sumitomo - Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi series (Japanese)
- Yōko Honda - Sangokushi Legion
- Kiyono Yasuno - Youkai Sangokushi (Japanese)
- Ami Koshimizu - Sangokushi Hadou (Japanese)
Live Action Performers
- Saki Matsuda - Butai Shin Sangoku Musou Sekiheki no Tatakai
- See also: Zhenji/Quotes
- "I will never leave your side again, my lord!"
- "I could play a little something for you, if you'd like."
- "I have no regrets. I will fight for you!"
- "I would be cruel if it suits my lord."
- "Ha! Filthy peasants."
- "Oh, I just melt at the sight of my beloved in action!"
- "Such deviousness... I would be impressed if I wasn't so disgusted!"
- "Witness the fighting spirit of the Sun Family of Wu!"
- "I'll spill the blood of any who oppose my lord."
- ~~Sun Quan and Zhen Ji; Dynasty Warriors 5
- "I didn't realize your husband was the type to hide behind you!"
- "My word. I didn't realize you're just as arrogant as that windbag you married!"
- ~~Zhen Ji and Yue Ying; Dynasty Warriors 5: Xtreme Legends
- "I can see you frowning at times. You're beautiful even then, but..."
- "I was just thinking about someone. My thoughts are always on that person."
- "Hmph. So let's hear his name."
- "Oh, how did you know it was a man? But I am talking about you, of course."
- ~~Cao Pi and Zhen Ji; Dynasty Warriors 7
- "Sun Quan is a coward who willingly left you behind. How could you dedicate yourself to such a man?"
- "I have heard much of your husband. I must know; how does it feel to be used by someone so cold?"
- ~~Zhen Ji and Lian Shi; Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends
- "Well, look at that! Now that's the kind of woman I like... Hey, you! Come a little closer!"
- "You filthy swine! How dare you even try to touch me?"
- ~~Dong Zhuo and Zhenji; Dynasty Warriors 8
- "Lady Zhenji, do you have a moment? Can you tell me the techniques you use to so quietly support Master Cao Pi?"
- "Techniques? I wouldn't call it anything as difficult as that. All you need is the firm intent to support him."
- "That's all? That's all you need to support someone seeking to rule the entire country?"
- "That depends on how strong your feelings are. I am sure that he is the one who will lead this land to greatness. And I strongly, passionately believe that I want to be at his side forever. What about you?"
- "Me? Well... T-Thank you, anyway. I will give it more thought."
- "How touching. The focus of your attention is surely most blessed."
- "That pretty face is wasted upon such a cruel woman."
- "I will be as cruel as I must if it helps my lord."
- "Well... At least you seem to have some principles..."
- ~~Ieyasu and Zhen Ji; Warriors Orochi
- "All right then, which of you wants to get it first?"
- "You think you can "get" me? It won't be as easy as you think."
- ~~Da Ji and Zhen Ji; Warriors Orochi 2
- "Your performance in the last battle was impressive. I suppose I should have expected as much from the wife of the Demon King."
- "You were wonderful as well. The sound of your flute was pitch perfect for this hellish place."
- "You thought so? I don't suppose too many others out there were able to understand my melody's depths."
- ~~Zhenji and Nō; Warriors Orochi 3
- "Who would have thought I would come across such a beauty in the mortal realm? Come with me-- I will make it worth your while."
- "You honor me with your praise. But I am afraid I already have one to whom my heart belongs. I cannot imagine life without my lord. That is how strongly I feel."
- "Oh, you would reject a god's promise for this man? Fascinating. It seems this beauty's heart is not easily swayed. I do not like to force my will upon others. I will show you what the King of the Gods is capable of, then I will ask you again."
- "Oh dear... My heart will never change, so your efforts are fruitless..."
- ~~Zeus and Zhenji; Warriors Orochi 4
- See also: Zhenji/Movesets
Dynasty Warriors 9
|Keys:||Flow Attack •||Reactive Attack •||Musou •||Jump/Mount|
Zhenji is affiliated with the chain whip in this appearance. Should the player possess the contents of Dynasty Warriors 9's Season Pass 3 , she will have an additional unique Flow Attack and Trigger Attack with the Iron Flute.
- Unique Flow Attack:On an enemy in the Knocked Down state, Zhenji spins the whip in a circular slashing motion in front of her with the flick of her wrist. After two rotations, she steps forward on her left leg and kicks out with her right leg in a left to right motion before ending with one final powerful kick. The animation of these kicks is similar to the ending flurry of kicks during her Musou Rage attack from the 8th installment.
- Unique Trigger Attack ( R1 + ):Zhenji crouches before lashing upward with a double high kick, a manner quite like her running attack animation from the 3rd through 5th installments.
- Special Technique (R1 + ): "Are you ready for this?" Zhenji crouches low and lashes overhead with the whip, hitting the ground and creating a plume of ice crystals that explode and send the enemies rolling along the ground. The animation used in this move is identical to the chain whip's C1 attack from 7-8:XL and the third hit of the chain whip's Renbu chain from the 6th installment. The element for her Special Technique is Ice.
- Musou (): "Oh, is this too much for you?" For as long as the button is held down or until the Musou gauge depletes, Zhenji advances forward, slashing in front of her with alternating right to left diagonal slashes. At the end she swipes upwards, diagonally right to left, before finishing with a spin kick with her left leg in front of her, accompanied by a swirl of purple flower petals. The element for this Musou attack is Ice
- Aerial Musou ( + ): "Let me show you how I feel." Zhenji gestures, moving her whip down the front of her body before she holds her whip down to her right and gestures upwards to the sky. She summons a whirlwind in front of her. The element of her Aerial Musou is Ice.
- See also: Zhenji/Weapons
Dynasty Warriors 8
Zhenji still uses the flute as her default weapon in this title.
Lady Zhen was the youngest daughter of Zhen Yi and Lady Zhang and was born in modern day Zhangjiakou, Hebei. She had three older brothers and four older sisters. Her real name is not recorded, but she is popularly known as Zhen Luo due to speculation revolving Cao Zhi's alleged romantic feelings and dedicated poetry to her. Her other names include Zhen Fu (甄宓), Zhen Shi (甄氏 "Lady Zhen"), and Zhen Furen (甄夫人 "Madame Zhen").
When she was young, her family remained wealthy due to her father's status as a government official. Though raised in turbulent times, there are many tales of Lady Zhen acting with modesty and she was a maiden with a solemn character. Other stories describe her as being benevolent and caring to those stricken by famine, being praised as a popular figure of the community in spite of her age, as well as being someone who despised being wasteful. All that is historically written about her early life, however, was her marriage to Yuan Xi when he was the Governor of Youzhou. When digging deeper through her family ties, she could also be considered related to the Liu family in Jizhou.
When Cao Cao invaded Yecheng in Jizhou, she was taken as a prisoner in 204. Before Cao Cao's death in 220, she was married to Cao Pi. Cao Pi fell in love with her at first sight and married her right away. However, the father of their alleged first child together, Cao Rui, is still up for debate. According to her jumbled entry in Record of the Three Kingdoms, she gave supposedly gave birth to Cao Rui before her first meeting with Cao Pi. While it has been argued to have been a historian's mistake in recording numbers, it also implies that it's possible Cao Rui was actually Yuan Xi's son. Regardless of the confusion, the mother isn't mistaken and she is accredited to have given birth to Cao Rui, the second Emperor of Wei. She was known to have been with child shortly after her marriage to Cao Pi, giving birth to their short-lived daughter, Princess Dongxiang.
After Cao Cao's death, Cao Pi rose to become Prince of Wei and abdicated Emperor Xian from the throne to become the Emperor of Wei. By this time, Lady Zhen was on the verge of losing favor with Cao Pi due to the introduction of Guo Nuwang (later known as Empress Wende). Having been denied entry to the royal court by her husband and feeling neglected by his growing harem of ladies, Lady Zhen began to wallow in grief. She complained to Cao Pi numerous times, but her efforts only earned her further displeasure from Cao Pi. In the early months of 221, she died without getting any satisfaction from her husband when he angrily ordered her to commit suicide, as per the records from the Weilüe and Sanguozhi.
According to Zhou Xuan's scroll in The Book of Wei, Cao Pi told him a story of a dream he once had. Cao Pi was in a state in which his body rose high in the sky and nearly touched the heavens. Zhou Xuan replied, "There are many noble maidens in the land, but it may mean that one of them is fated to die due to a false crime against her." Not soon after he said this, a messenger came to them regarding Lady Zhen's suicide. Cao Pi regretted his actions and tried to send a messenger to cancel the order immediately. Sadly, the second messenger did not arrive in time to stop her death. Lady Zhen was posthumously given the rank of empress by her son in 226.
A controversial entry in historical records surrounding Guo Nuwang states she thought Cao Pi's sudden ailing state five years later was attributed to Lady Zhen's vengeful spirit. Guo Nuwang acknowledged her husband's illness to be a curse from Lady Zhen.
However, there also exist some records (such as the Weishu) stating that Lady Zhen instead passed away from illness, while Cao Pi often begged for her to be his empress; yet Lady Zhen refused each time due to her condition. It was also noted that the Weishu took note of Lady Zhen having no issues with any of Cao Pi's other concubines, along with having a very close mother-daughter relationship with Lady Bian. With these taken into account, the writer of the Weilüe, Yu Huan, may have been purposely trying to slander Cao Pi's legacy with such writings despite his level head. Thus, Lady Zhen's death to this day, has often remained a complicated issue.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
In the novel, Cao Pi and Lady Zhen's relationship was changed to be more romantic. He found her and Yuan Shao's widowed wife, Lady Liu, within the Yuan family palace during the aftermath of Guandu. Before he killed them, he paused and caught sight of Lady Zhen. Once the elder maiden addressed who they were, he cleaned Lady Zhen's face and saw that she was exquisitely beautiful. She was described to have beauty so lovely that it had the power to destroy a kingdom, which roughly means that her looks would have distracted a ruler so much that they would completely neglect state affairs. Cao Pi then guaranteed the two ladies' safety and they were introduced to Cao Cao, who was frustrated that no one had reported to him yet. Once he saw Lady Zhen, he proclaimed her to be a fitting wife for his son. Sometime after Cao Pi married her, she gave birth to Cao Rui and she became Empress.
In chapter 91, Lady Zhen began to fall out of Cao Pi's favor when Lady Guo, an exceptionally famed beauty, became a consort for Cao Pi. Lady Guo, who wanted to rid of her rival, gained Zhang Tao as her confidant. The minister accused Lady Zhen of using voodoo magic to cause harm to Cao Pi. Enraged, the Emperor ordered his wife to commit suicide. After her death, Lady Guo replaced her spot as Empress.