• Athena Ives

Wang Cong'er, the Real Mulan?

I've seen a lot of people post about the new Mulan movie. I am excited to see it. Even though historians aren't sure if she was real or not, her story is based on several Chinese Warrior women. In 1945 there were over 45 Chinese women (we know about, there may be more) that led their troops into battle.

Fu Hao is one of the first warrior women we know about. She was a military general that lived during China's Bronze Age 1040BC.

One of the closest female warriors to Mulan was Wang Cong'er. 18th century China was not an easy place for those born into poverty, especially women. This was the world Wang Cong’er was born into. She was born around 1777 in the Hubei province to a peasant family.

Her father died when she was a child and her mother struggled to feed them both. When Wang Cong'er was 7 she joined a traveling group of performers where she learned acrobatics and Kung Fu. When she was 16 a large group of men were attempting to rape her. As she was fighting them off, Qi Lin, a respected government official of Xiangyang City helped her escape. Qi Lin was a secret member of the White Lotus Society, which was considered a heretical cult and a subversive organization leading uprisings against the government. Wang Cong’er joined the White Lotus Society and eventually married Qi Lin. Together, they planned a rebellion against the corrupt Qing empire.

After her husband was killed Wang Cong'er took his place and put together an army of over 20,000. The army loved her as she risked her life to recapture wounded soldiers and tore her clothes for bandages for the wounded. Anyone who was unable to walk, rode on her own horse while she walked. Wang Cong’er led from the front and her army loved her for it. Her army gained victory after victory against the ill prepared Qing. Legend has it Wang Cong’er went into battle with a sword in each hand and killed two brilliant enemy military commanders herself. She was an expert in guerilla raids, and led an army of peasants, women and farmers to victory. Her army linked up with the other peasant uprisings and she was at the head of an army of 100,000. She was only 22.

There's a documentary on Amazon Prime called Warrior Women the Real Mulan. They also have other legendary women warrior episodes.