Li Xiu was a Chinese governor and battle strategist who was born circa 285 CE in the Gansu Province. Other names that she was known by were Li Shuxian and Yang Niang.

Her father was Li Yi, an inspector of the region of Ningzhou. She excelled at horseback and archery from a tender age. During a time of war with five different tribes, Li Xiu’s father fell gravely ill without a male heir. When he died, their subjects supported Li Xiu as the new charge of the prefecture. She took up arms in order to defend the land against the invaders.

To recognize her for her battle prowess and skill, Emperor Wu, who reigned from 265—290 CE, named Li Xiu as the inspector for Ningzhou, like her father was. From her appointment, she was in charge of 37 tribal divisions for more than three decades (Pennington et al). As she was very skilled about economic and military affairs, her people lived in relative peace for that period. When she died, her subjects erected temples and other buildings to remember her.


“L.” Amazons to Fighter Pilots: A Biographical Dictionary of Military Women. Ed. Reina Pennington and Robin Higham. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2003. Print.