The Imperial China part of the Biographical Database provides biographies of individuals involved in the progress of Chinese and relative East Asian history during the Imperial Era.
Chinese names will be alphabetically sorted according to Pinyin romanization of the Chinese name (they will appear without the pinyin accent marks). Older pronunciations, former romanizations, other translations and variations will be present next to the pinyin translation. There may be more than a few exceptions to this general rule, depending on the names most commonly associated with the person, independent of romanization issues, such as Chiang Kai-shek.
Where possible, names will include Chinese character references in either traditional (BIG5) or simplified (GB) characters or both.
Please follow this primer which defines the transliteration type and/or name type for entries:
- B5- Traditional characters (BIG 5)
- GB- Simplified characters (GB)
- Should both BIG5 and GB correspond, the character will be listed under B5.
- BN- Birth name
- CCN- Common name inside China
- CN- Common name
- TW- Taiwanese
- POJ- Orthography for the Taiwanese language
- PY- Pinyin romanization
- WG- Wade Giles romanization
- Y- Yale romanization
Western names will be alphabetically sorted according to western biographical standards, or by surname. If there is a Chinese equivalent, it will be present next to the western name.
Dates reflecting a time period before the year '0' in western terms, are categorized as BCE (Before the Common Era). This is equivalent to the widely used BC (Before Christ) and a.C.n. (Ante Christum Natum "before the birth of Christ"). Dates reflecting a time period after the year '0' are categorized as CE (in the Common Era). This is equivalent to the widely used AD (Anno Domini "In the Year of the Lord"). As the Chinese culture in the majority do not subscribe to the practice of Christianity as a religion, it seemed appropriate to signify these dates in a neutral manner.
Dates before October 1582 are given in the Julian calendar, not in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. Dates after October 1582 are given in the Gregorian calendar, not in the Julian calendar that remained in use in England until 1752.
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An index to all terms in this database is located after the database entries.
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Bell, Johann Adam Schall von
B5: 湯若望; GB: 汤若望; PY: Tāng Rùowàng (c.1591 Köln- 15 August 1666 Beijing)- German Jesuit missionary to China.
Born of noble parents in Cologne, Germany, he joined the Society of Jesus in Rome in 1611. In 1618 he left for China, reaching Macao in 1619.
Apart from successful missionary work, he became the trusted counselor of the Shunzhi emperor of the Qing dynasty, was created a mandarin, and held an important post in connection with the mathematical school. His position enabled him to procure from the emperor permission for the Jesuits to build churches and to preach throughout the country.
Proselytes to the number of 500,000 are said to have been obtained within fourteen years. The Shunzhi emperor, however, died in 1661, and Schall's circumstances at once changed. He was imprisoned and condemned to death. The sentence was not carried out, but he died after his release owing to the privations he had endured. A collection of his manuscripts remains was deposited in the Vatican Library.
In 1758 was published the allegation, disputed by most Jesuits and Catholic historians, that during his final years he lived "separated from the other missionaries and removed from obedience to his superiors, in the house given him by the emperor with a woman whom he treated as his wife and who bore him two children," reported by the secretary to Monsignor Tournon. No evidence is suggested in the work. Contemporaneous witnesses and even official Chinese documents apparently contradict the allegations. It is stated that if true, the story would almost certainly have been reported by others who sought to discredit Schall and the other Jesuits, and that the Jesuit structure would most likely have reported the fact to authorities at higher levels of the order. The 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that the source most likely was the adoption by Father Schall of the son of a former Chinese servant and distorted.
He participated in compiling and modifying the Chinese calendar then known as Chongzhen Calendar, named after the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty. The modified calendar provided more accurate predictions of eclipses of the sun and the moon.
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B5: 陳圓圓; GB: 陈圆圆; PY: Chén Yuányuán; WG: Ch'en Yüan-yüan; BN: Xing Yuan; C: 邢沅; PY: Xíng Yuán (1624- 1681)- Ming Chinese Concubine of Wu Sangui, who broke into the fortress of Li Zicheng to rescue her. Her courtesy name was Wanfen (畹芬).
Chen's parents died early, and she grew up tending her maternal grandmother Chen-shi in Taiyuan, Shanxi. She was sold as a performer to Suzhou, first for Tian Wan (田畹), then to Wu.
She died in a Taoist convent in Hunan.
Her life was the inspiration for a Beijing opera named for her in 1924.
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Shang Emperor, said to have reigned 1766 BCE- The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty (1600 BCE-1046 BCE) is the first confirmed historic Chinese dynasty and ruled in the northeastern region of China proper. The Shang dynasty followed the quasi-legendary Xia Dynasty and preceded the Zhou Dynasty.
The Shang dynasty marked the beginning of the development of writing. Iron casting and pottery also advanced in Shang. In astronomy, the Shang astronomers discovered Mars and various comets. Many musical instruments were also invented at that time.
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Chongzhen Emperor of Ming
B5: 崇禎; GB: 崇祯; PY: Chóngzhēn; WG: Ch'ung-chen; BN: Zhu Youjian; B5: 朱由檢; GB: 朱由检; PY: Zhū Yóujiăn (February 6, 1611- April 25, 1644)- 15th and last emperor of the Ming dynasty between 1627 and 1644. Born Zhu Youjian, he was emperor Taichang's son.
Chongzhen grew up in a relatively quiet environment because as the younger son of the Taichang emperor, he was not a part of the power struggle his elder brother Tianqi had endured. He succeeded his brother to the throne at the age of 17 and eliminated the eunuch Wei Zhongxian and Madam Ke. Unlike his brother, Tianqi, Chongzhen tried to rule by himself and did his best to salvage the dynasty. However, years of internal corruptions and an empty treasury made it almost impossible to appoint capable ministers to fill important government posts. And when he does have able ministers, Chongzhen would be suspicious of them and imposed harsh penalty if he suspects them of being disloyal. In 1630 Chongzhen even executed Yuan Chonghuan, a capable general who was very successful at keeping the Manchus in the north eastern frontier at bay. This injustice caused an uproar in the public and thus created an atmosphere of distrust and fear of reprisal amongst his ministers. It also sealed the fate of the dynasty as there would not be any more capable generals to fend off the Manchus.
The Fall of the Ming Dynasty
In the 1630's and 40's the Ming dynasty was fading quickly and its mandate of heaven has all but expired. Constant popular uprisings broke out throughout the country and attacks from the Manchus intensified which further aggravated the situation. In April 1644, the popular army led by Li Zicheng finally broke through the Ming defenses and occupied Beijing. Chongzhen was forced to flee but before doing so gathered the entire imperial household and ordered all of them (except his sons) to commit suicide rather than surrender. Hopeless and fearful for their lives, many did as they were told and committed suicide, including the Empress who hanged herself. A daughter of Chongzhen, Princess Chang refused to commit suicide and in a fit of rage Chongzhen had Princess Chang's right arm deliberately severed. She later bled to death. Chongzhen, still wearing his imperial attire, fled to the nearby Jingshan Park, where it is believed that his finals words were "吾非亡国之君，汝皆亡国之臣。吾待士亦不薄，今日至此，群臣何无一人相从？"，which roughly translates as "I am not the emperor of an ill-fated kingdom, but you, my officials, remain its servants. That during my reign I have given you decency, yet on this day, wherefore remains none at my side?" He then hanged himself on the Guilty Chinese Scholartree, putting an end to the Ming dynasty.
Legacy and Personality
Although Chongzhen's tenure as emperor effectively ended the Ming dynasty, Chongzhen has been blamed for being narrow minded, quick to judgment as well as prone to suspicion and paranoia. In spite of the fact that the Ming dynasty had been in decline for many decades prior to his reign, he would expect quick results and if they were not to his satisfaction he would quickly administer punitive actions and thus resulting in the expulsion of the remaining handful of capable and loyal ministers.
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Youjian (由檢)
Dates of reign: 2 October 1627–25 April 1644
Era name: Chongzhen (崇禎)
Era dates: 5 February 1628–25 April 1644
Temple name: Sizong1 (思宗)
Posthumous name: (short)
Emperor Zhuanglie2 (莊烈帝)
Posthumous name: (full)
Emperor Zhuanglie Min (莊烈愍皇帝)
1- Temple name given in 1644 by the prince of Fu (福王), the new self-proclaimed emperor of the Southern Ming. This is the temple name most often found in history books, despite the fact that the Southern Ming soon changed the temple name into Yizong (毅宗), and later Weizong (威宗). As for the new rulers of the Qing Dynasty, they officially conferred on the late Chongzhen Emperor the temple name Huaizong (懷宗), a rare gesture for the last emperor of an overthrown dynasty. The Qing rulers were thus trying to accommodate the hard feelings of their new subjects.
2- This final version of the posthumous name (short and full) was given by Emperor Shunzhi of the Qing in 1660.
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Confucius or Kong Fuzi
B5: 孔夫子; PY: Kǒngzǐ or Kǒngfūzǐ; WG: K'ung-fu-tzu; lit. "Master Kong" (c. September 28, 551 BCE- 479 BCE)- Famous Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced East Asian life and thought.
His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such as Legalism or Daoism during the Han Dynasty. Confucius' thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism. It was introduced to Europe by the Jesuit Matteo Ricci, who was the first to Latinise the name as "Confucius".
His teachings are known primarily through the Analects of Confucius, a short collection of his discussions with his disciples, which was compiled posthumously.
SEE Image (1)
SEE Image (2)
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Fei Di Emperor of Chen
B5: 廢帝; GB: 废帝; PY: Fèi dì; BN: Chen Bozong; C: 陳伯宗; GB: 陈伯宗; PY: chén bó zōng (551- 570)- Son of Wendi Emperor of Chen, he was 16 years old when he ascended the throne. His uncle, the Xuandi Emperor of Chen deposed him two years into his reign (567- 568) and he was later murdered.
Era Name: Guangda; Chinese: 光大; Pinyin: guang1 da4
Temple name: Lin Hai Wang (King of Linhai)
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Gaodi Emperor of Western Han
B5: 高帝; PY: Gāo dì; CCN: Gaozu; B5: 高祖; PY: Gāozǔ; BN: Liu Bang4; B5: 劉邦; GB: 刘邦; PY: Liú Bāng (2561 BCE or 2472 BCE- June 1, 195 BCE)- First emperor of the Western Hàn Dynasty, ruling over China from 202 BCE until 195 BCE, and one of only few dynasty founders who emerged from the peasant class (the other major example being Zhu Yuanzhang founder of the Míng Dynasty). Before becoming an emperor, he was also called Duke of Pei (沛公) after his birthplace. He was also created as the Prince of Hàn by Xiang Yu, the Grand Prince of Western Chu following the collapse of Qín Dynasty, and was called so before becoming emperor.
Liú Bāng was born into a peasant family in Pei (present Pei County in Jiangsu Province). When he was young, he did not like farm work, and was evidently living a rogue's life. Not surprisingly, he was not the favorite son of his peasant father.
After he grew up, Liú Bāng served as a patrol officer in his county. Once he was responsible for transporting a group of prisoners to Mount Li in present Shaanxi province. During the trip many prisoners fled. Fearful that he would be punished for the prisoners' flight, Liú Bāng released the remaining prisoners and fled himself, becoming the leader of a band of brigands. On one of his raids, he met a county magistrate who became impressed with his leadership skills and gave his daughter Lü Zhi (呂雉) to him in marriage.
Insurrection Against Qín
In 209 BCE Chen Sheng led an uprising against Qin Dynasty and assumed the title "King of Great Chu." Pei was in old Chu territory. At the time that Liú Bāng released the prisoners he was to escort to Mount Li and then became a fugitive himself, Xiao He was serving as a secretary to the county magistrate of Pei County. When Chen Sheng started his rebellion, the county magistrate considered joining the rebellion, and at the advice of Xiao and Cao Can (曹參) (who was then a county police official), he sent Liú Bāng's brother-in-law Fan Ceng (樊噌) to invite Liú and his company of bandits back to Pei County to support the rebellion. Fan found Liú, but on their way back, the magistrate changed his mind and closed the city gates against them, and also, afraid that Xiao and Cao would open the gates themselves, wanted to execute them. They jumped off the city wall and joined Liú. Liú Bāng, apparently at Xiao's suggestion, then sent letters to city elders urging surrender into the city by shooting them in on arrows. The elders agreed, and they assassinated the county magistrate and opened the gates to let Liú in, offering him the title the Duke of Pei.
Liú Bāng served first as a subordinate of Xiang Liang and then, after Xiang Liang was killed in action, became a subordinate of Mi Xin, Prince Huai of Chu, who was also the nominal leader of the coalition of the rebel states. Prince Xin named Liú Marquess of Wu'an. It was about this time that he met Zhang Liang (張良), who would become a chief strategist of his.
Prince Xin made a promise that whoever occupied Guanzhong first, which was the plain of Central Shaanxi, the Qín homeland, and the core of Qín Dynasty, should be awarded Guanzhong as his kingdom. He then sent Liú Bāng for this mission, partly because he considered Liú a kind and merciful man, and partly because he did not like Xiang Yu, whom he considered cruel and impetuous. When Xiang Yu was busy fighting the main force of the Qin Dynasty, Liú invaded Guanzhong with relative ease.
In December 207 BCE, the last Qín ruler Ziying surrendered to Liú Bāng and his rebel army, and in 206 BCE Liú entered the Qín capital Xianyang. However, as now Xiang Yu was the most powerful rebel at that time both Ziying and Xianyang were instead forced to be handed to Xiang Yu. Xiang Yu even considered killing Liú in one dinner party that would be later known as the Feast at Hong Gate, but decided otherwise.
Now considering the whole former Qín Empire under his domination, Xiang Yu realigned the territories of not only the remaining parts of Qín but also the rebel states, dividing the territories into 19 principalities. Xiang Yu did not honor the promise by Xin, Prince Huai of Chu, who would soon himself be assassinated by Xiang's orders. Instead, he gave Guanzhong to the princes of three Qins. Liú Bāng was only awarded the Principality of Hàn (modern Sichuan, Chongqing, and southern Shaanxi).
In Hanzhong, Liú Bāng focused his efforts on developing agriculture methods and training an army, through which he reinforced his resource accumulation and military power. Before long, Liú broke out of his principality, deposed the kings of three Qins and occupied Guanzhong, where he launched a war now known as the Chu-Han War, against Xiang Yu.
Although Xiang Yu was far superior in military ability to Liú Bāng, he was at a political disadvantage. Xiang Yu kept defeating Liú in the battlefield, but each of his victories drove more people to support Liú. When Xiang Yu finally was defeated, he could not recover and committed suicide.
The war lasted five years (206- 202 BCE) and ended with Liú Bāng's victory. Having defeated Xiang Yu, Liú proclaimed himself emperor and established the Hàn Dynasty in 202 BCE and made Cháng'ān (present city of Xi'an) his capital city. Liú became historically known as Emperor Gāo of Hàn.
Reign as Emperor
After Liú Bāng came into power, he re-centralized China based on Qín's model. He gradually replaced the original vassals, granting their lands to his relatives. Since the economy had been devastated by the war following the demise of the Qín Dynasty, he reduced taxes and corvée, developed agriculture and restricted spending. However, in response to what he saw as the decadence of Qín merchants, he restricted commerce by levying heavy taxes and legal restrictions on merchants. He also made peace with the Xiongnu. Under Gaodi's reign, Confucian thought gradually replaced Legalist thought; Confucian scholars were welcomed into his government, while the harsh Legalist laws were lessened. Emperor Gaodi's efforts laid a solid foundation for the over four-hundred-year reign of the Hàn Dynasty.
Liú Bāng also devoted to subduing the unruly kings. He soon annexed most of the kingdoms and established princehoods, with his sons and relatives as princes. By doing so he consolidated his new-born empire.
Liú Bāng tried military solutions against the Xiongnu but was beaten hard in the battlefield. He then decided to appease the Xiongnu by marrying ladies from the royal family to Chanyu, the leaders of the Xiongnu. This policy would not change for about 70 years.
Crown Prince Liú Ying, the eldest son of Liú Bāng and Empress Lü, was the heir apparent of Liú Bāng. However, Liú Bāng disliked him because he considered Ying to be too weak as a ruler. His favorite son was Ruyi, Prince Yin of Zhao, by Lady Qi, one of his favorite concubines. Liú Bāng attempted to make Ruyi crown prince but failed because most of his ministers remained loyal to Ying and his mother Empress Lü.
Liú Bāng's affection for Lady Qi and Ruyi inflamed Empress Lü, and after she became empress dowager after her son's accession following Liú Bang's death, she poisoned Ruyi and tortured Qi to death.
By historians' account, Liú Bang was the contrary to his rival, Xiang Yu. While Xiang Yu was normally depicted as a romantic and noble man, Liú Bāng was often mentioned as a rogue. Xiang Yu was always kind and gentle to his peer and subordinates. However, he was an inferior politician. Han Xin (韓 信) described Xiang Yu as "having the kindness of women," meaning that, in his opinion, Xiang's "kindness" was petty and did not benefit either his regime or his people.
Xiang Yu also did not know how to utilize his talented subordinates; Han Xin, for example, was a soldier under Xiang, and his later defection to Liú Bāng, for whom he served as the commander in chief, would be extremely damaging to Xiang. Other main problems with Xiang's rule was his deliberate cruelty in military campaigns, his inability to accept criticism and wise counsel, and his inability to delegate.
Liú Bāng, on the contrary, was bold and arrogant. These being said, he knew how to manipulate his peers and subordinates. He bid them glory and territories generously when he was fighting Xiang Yu, which won the hearty support of most of his peer princes and subordinates. However, once he became the emperor, Liú Bāng ruthlessly oppressed them and executed several of them, most notably Han Xin and Peng Yue. Ying Bu was driven to rebellion by fear, and was also destroyed. Liú Bāng's strong suits were his ability to make decisions based on counsel of others, having an uncanny ability to figure out what counsel is wise and what counsel is not wise; his ability to delegate; and his ability to figure out what would bring a person to follow him.
While Liú Bāng might have been deliberately derogatory of Xiang, he was not particularly off the mark when he commented on the reason why he was successful and Xiang was not:
The most important reason is that I know how to use people and Xiang Yu did not. As to being able to set out a strategy in a tent but determining success or failure in the events a thousand miles away, I am not as good as Zhang Liang. As to guarding the home base, comforting the people, and supplying the army so that it lacked neither food nor supplies, I am not as good as Xiao He. As to leading untrained large forces but always being successful whether battling or sieging, I am not as good as Han Xin. These three people are heroes among men, but I know how to use them, so I was able to conquer the lands under heaven. Xiang Yu only had one great advisor, Fan Zeng, but was unable to use him properly, and so was defeated by me.
An incident involving Ying Bu demonstrates his personality well. Ying Bu was initially a subordinate of Xiang's, and in reward for Ying's military capabilities, Xiang created him the Prince of Jiujiang. However, Xiang also clearly began to distrust Ying, and once when Ying, then ill, was unable to lead a force on Xiang's behalf, Xiang sent a delegation to rebuke him and to monitor his illness, not believing the illness to be genuine. In fear and goaded by the diplomat Sui He (隨何), whom Liú Bāng sent to Jiujiang to try to make an alliance with Ying, Ying rebelled against Xiang, but his army was defeated by Xiang and he fled to Liú Bāng's headquarters. When Liú Bāng received Ying, he was half-naked and washing his feet, and he greeted Ying in crude language. Ying, a great general in his own right and a prince, was so humiliated that he considered suicide. However, once Liú Bāng had Ying escorted to the headquarters that he had built in anticipation of Ying's arrival, Ying became impressed- Ying's headquarters had the same size, same furnishings, same level of personnel staffing, and same security as Liú Bāng's own headquarters. Ying got the impression that Liú Bāng's earlier slights were in fact endearments, treating him as an equal and a brother in arms, and he became a key figure in Liú Bāng's campaign against Xiang.
Xiang Yu was generally remembered as a fallen hero, while many considered Liú Bāng a rogue. However, Liú Bāng treated the commons much better than the former nobles. He was a true popular monarch, thus establishing one of the golden ages of China.
- Father: Liu Zhijia (劉執嘉) (3rd son of)
- Mother: Wang Hanshi (王含始)
- Wife: Empress Lü, mother of Emperor Hui and Princess Luyuan
- Major Concubines
- Consort Cao, mother of Prince Fei- initially Emperor Gao's mistress
- Consort Zhao, mother of Prince Chang
- Consort Zhang
- Consort Wei
- Consort Qi, mother of Prince Ruyi
- Consort Bo, mother of Emperor Wen
- Ying (劉盈), the Crown Prince, later Emperor Hui
- Ruyi, Prince Yin of Zhao (劉如意) (created 198 BCE, killed by Empress Dowager Lü 195 BCE)
- Heng (劉恆), the Prince of Dai (created 196 BCE), later Emperor Wen
- Fei, Prince Daohui of Qi (created 202 BCE, d. 195 BCE)
- Hui, Prince Gong of Zhao, initially Prince of Liang (created 196 BCE) (created Prince of Zhao 180 BCE, committed suicide 179 BCE)
- You, Prince You of Zhao, initially Prince of Huaiyang (created 196 BCE) (created Prince of Zhao 194 BCE, starved to death by Empress Dowager Lü 180 BCE)
- Chang, Prince Li of Huainan (b. 198 BCE, created 196 BCE, deposed and died in exile 174 BCE, possibly by suicide)
- Jian, Prince Ling of Yan (created 211 BCE, d. 181 BCE)
- Princess Luyuan
Family name: Liú (劉)
Given name: Ji3 (季), later Bāng4 (邦)
Courtesy name (字): Ji5 (季)
Dates of reign: Feb. 28, 202 BCE6- Jun. 1, 195 BCE
Temple name: Taizu7 (太祖), later Gaozu8 (高祖)
Posthumous name: (short) Emperor Gaodi (高帝)
Posthumous name: (full) Emperor Gaohuangdi (高皇帝)
1- This is the birth year reported by Huangfu Mi (皇甫謐) (215- 282), the famous author of acupuncture books.
2- This is the birth year reported by Chen Zan (臣瓚) around CE 270 in his comments of the Book of Han (漢書).
3- Name meaning "the youngest one". Liu Bang was the third son of his father, his oldest brother was called Bo (伯) , i.e. the "First one", and his second older brother was called Zhong (仲) , i.e. the "Middle one".
4- Had his name changed into Bang, meaning "country", either when he was made Prince of Han, or when he ascended the imperial throne.
5- Ji was the courtesy name according to Sima Qian in his Records of the Grand Historian. It may be that Liú Bāng, after he changed his name into Bāng, kept his original name Ji as his courtesy name. However, some authors do not think that "Ji" was ever used as the courtesy name of Liú Bāng.
6- Was already Prince of Hàn (漢王) since March 206 BCE, having been enfeoffed by the rebelled leader Xiang Yu. Liú Bāng was proclaimed emperor on February 28, 202 BCE after defeating Xiang Yu.
7- Meaning "supreme ancestor". Was apparently the original temple name of Emperor Gao. Taizu, in the most ancient Chinese tradition, going back to the Shang Dynasty, was the temple name of the founder of a dynasty.
8- Sima Qian in his Records of the Grand Historian referred to Emperor Gao as "Gaozu", meaning "high ancestor", perhaps a combination of the temple name and posthumous name of the emperor (doubts still remain about why Sima Qian used "Gaozu" instead of "Taizu", and what the exact nature of this name is). Following Sima Qian, later historians most often used "Han Gaozu" (漢高祖), and this is the name under which he is still known inside China. Furthermore, it seems that in the Later Hàn Dynasty "Gaozu" had replaced "Taizu" as the temple name of Emperor Tang Gaozu.
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Gaozong Emperor of Tang
B5: 高宗; PY: Gāo Zōng; BN: Li Zhi; B5: 李治; PY: Lĭ Zhì (628- 683)- Third emperor of Tang Dynasty in China and he ruled from 649 to 683. Son of Emperor Taizong (9th) and the Empress Wende (3rd). Both his older brothers had been Crown Prince before him.
Known by Islamic sources as Yung Wei (永徽 Yǒng Huī), he is credited with building the first mosque in China, a mosque that still stands in Canton. Islam was introduced to China and Gao Zong by the visit of Sad ibn Abi Waqqas , a companion of Muhammad in the year 650. Gao Zong is said to have respected the teachings of Islam greatly, feeling the teachings were compatible with Confucianism, and offered the building of the mosque as a sign of admiration. The emperor himself did not convert as he felt Islam was too restrictive for his own preferences. This did not stop him from allowing Sad ibn Abi Waqqas and his company to spread the teachings throughout the region.
He was aided in his rule by his empress consort Wu Zetian during the later years of his reign after a series of strokes left him incapacitated. Gaozong delegated all matters of state to his wife and after he died in 683, power fell virtually into the hands of Wu Zetian.
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Gaozu Emperor of Tang
B5: 高祖; PY: Gāozŭ; BN: Li Yuan; B5: 李淵; GB: 李渊; PY: Lĭ Yuān (566- June 25, 635)- Founder of the Tang Dynasty of China. First emperor of this dynasty from 618 to 626. Under the short-lived Sui dynasty, Li Yuan was the governor in the area of modern-day Shanxi province, and was based in Taiyuan, Shanxi.
Establishment of the Tang Dynasty
In 615, Li Yuan was assigned to garrison Lunghsi. He gained much experience by dealing with the Gokturks of the north and was able to pacify them. Li Yuan was also able to gather support from these successes and, with the disintegration of the Sui dynasty in July of 617, Li Yuan - urged on by his second son Li Shimin (later Taizong emperor) - rose in rebellion. Using the title of "Great Chancellor" (大 丞相), Li Yuan installed a puppet child emperor, Emperor Gong, but eventually removed him altogether and established the Tang Dynasty in 618.
Reign as Emperor
Li Yuan's reign was concentrated on uniting the empire under the Tang. Aided by his son, Li Shimin, he defeated all the other contenders, including Li Gui, Dou Jiande, Wang Shichong, Xue Ju and Liu Wuzhou. By 628, the Tang Dynasty had succeeded in uniting all of China. On the homefront, Li Yuan recognized the early successes forged by the Sui dynasty and strived to emulate most of its policies, including the equal distribution of land amongst its people, and he also lowered taxes. He abandoned the harsh system of law set about during the Sui dynasty as well as reforming the judicial system. These acts of reform paved the way for the reign of Emperor Taizong, which ultimately pushed Tang China to the height of its power.
Li Yuan abdicated in 626 in favour of his son, Taizong emperor after the Xuan Wu Gate incident (玄武门之变) when Taizong had to kill his two immoral brothers who were attempting to usurp the throne. Li Yuan lived on as "Grand Emperor" (Taishang Huang) until his death in 635.
Family name: Li (李)
Given name: Yuan (淵)
Courtesy name (字): Shude (叔德)
Dates of reign: Jun. 18, 6181–Sept. 4, 6262
Dynasty: Tang (唐)
Temple name: Gaozu (高祖)
Posthumous name: (short) Emperor Shenyao3 (神堯皇帝)
Posthumous name: (full) Emperor Shenyao Dasheng Daguang Xiao4 (神堯大聖大光孝皇帝)
General note: Dates given here are in the Julian calendar. They are not in the proleptic Gregorian calendar.
1- Was already in control of Chang'an and de facto master of China since December 12, 617
2- Abdicated in favor of his son, and was granted the title Taishang Huang (太上皇), a title reserved for retired emperors.
3- Given in 674
4- Given in 754
SEE Image (1)
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BN: Temüjin; B5: 鐵木真; GB: 铁木真; PY: Tiěmùzhēn; Variations: Chengez Khan; Chinggis Khan; Chingis Khan; Jenghis Khan; Chinggis Qan (c1162- August 18, 1227)- Mongol political and military leader who founded the Mongol Empire, (1206- 1368), which became the largest contiguous empire in world history, after his successors expanded Genghis' original area of conquest. He united the Mongol tribes and forged a powerful army based on meritocracy, to become one of the most successful military leaders in history.
While his image in most of the world is that of a ruthless bloodthirsty conqueror, Genghis Khan is celebrated as a hero in Mongolia, where he is seen as the father of the Mongol Nation. Before becoming a Khan, Temüjin united the many Turkic-Mongol confederations of Central Asia, giving a common identity to what had previously been a territory of nomadic tribes.
Starting with the conquest of Western Xia in northern China and consolidating through numerous conquests including the Khwarezmid Empire in Persia, Genghis Khan laid the foundation for an empire that was to leave an indelible mark on world history. Several centuries of Mongol rule across the Eurasian landmass, a period that some refer to as 'Pax Mongolica', radically altered the demography and geopolitics of these areas. The Mongol Empire ended up ruling, or at least briefly conquering, large parts of modern day China, Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine, Korea, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Moldova, Kuwait, Poland and Hungary.
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Gongzong Emperor of Southern Song
B5: 恭宗; PY: Gōngzōng; BN: Zhou Xian; B5: 趙顯; GB: 赵显; PY: Zhào Xiǎn (c.1270- c.1323)- Seventh emperor of the Southern Song dynasty. Son of the empress Chuan and the emperor Duzong, Gongzong was emperor for less than a year, at age 4, under the regency of the dowager empress Xie. Gongzong's pseudo- reign was marked by Song defeats to the Mongol army and loss of control of the capital Hanzhou in 1276 to the Mongol general Bayan. The regent sent Gongzong's two brothers and their uncles to Fujian province for safety before announcing Song capitulation and removing Gongzong from the throne. The entire court was brought to Shangdu (Beijing) as prisoners.
Khubilai Khan gave Gongzong an honorary title, Duke of Yingguo, and had him educated in Tibet as a Buddhist monk. In 1323, Gongzong committed suicide which led to rumors that he was the father of the future Mongol emperor Shundi, born in 1320 to a Turkish woman.
The fate of Gongzong's two brothers was to become the last gasp of the Song dynasty as the Mongols pushed further south to eradicate the remnants of Song China. The eight year old Duanzong, son of the concubine Yang and the emperor Duzong, was declared emperor by the fugitives in Fuzhou, Fujian. The entire court soon had to flee and were taken to sea by the chief minister, Chen Yizhong who kept mobile along the shore as the Mongols moved closer. When Shanghai fell, the Mongols launched a naval attack and forced the court further in the sea where the ship sank in a typhoon. Most of the court managed to berth themselves near Hong Kong and though Duanzong survived the ordeal, he later died of shock.
The six year old Bing Di was then named emperor by court officials. Once again the court was pushed out to sea amid Mongol advances and after months of regrouping, a counter attack on the Mongols was attempted.
1,000 ships were chained together in a line stretching the length of Hong Kong harbor; the ensuing battle lasted three weeks. The Mongols captured 800 Chinese ships and nearly 100,000 died in the melee.
16 ships managed to escape, including that of the dowager empress Yang. Bing Di did not survive, though it is said that a minister tried to save him by jumping off the ship with the emperor in arms. The Mongols found his body washed up on the shore. Yang was so distraught that she drowned herself and is now worshipped as a goddess of the sea along the coast. With that, the Song dynasty was at an end and the Mongols would reign as the Yuan Dynasty for 89 years.
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Guang Wudi Emperor of Eastern Han
B5: 光武皇帝; PY: Guāng Wŭ Huáng dì; BN: Liu Xiu; B5: 劉秀; GB: 刘秀; PY: Líu Xìu (January 15, 5 BCE- March 29, CE 57)- Emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty, restorer of the dynasty in CE 25 and thus founder of the Later Han or Eastern Han. He ruled over the whole of China from 36 CE until 57 CE.
- Family Background
- Participation in His Brothers Rebellion
- As Official Under Emperor Gengshi
- Independence from Emperor Gengshi
- Campaign to Unify the Empire
- Reign Over Unified Empire
- Marital and Succession Issues
- Late Reign
- Personal Information
Liu Xiu was one of the many descendants of the Han imperial family. Following the usurpation of the Han throne by Wang Mang and the ensuing civil war during the disintegration of Wang's short-lived Xin Dynasty, he emerged as one of several descendants of the fallen dynasty claiming the imperial throne. After assembling forces and proclaiming himself emperor in the face of competitors, he was able to defeat his rivals, destroy the peasant army of the Chimei (Red Eyebrows, 赤眉), known for their disorganization and marauding, and finally reunify the whole of China in CE 36.
He established his capital in Luoyang, 335 kilometers (210 miles) east of the former capital Chang'an, ushering in the Later/Eastern Han Dynasty. He implemented some reforms (notably land reform, albeit not very successfully) aimed at correcting some of the structural imbalances responsible for the downfall of the Former/Western Han. His reforms gave a new 200-year lease on life to the Han Dynasty.
Emperor Guangwu's campaigns featured many able generals, but curiously, he lacked major strategists. That may very well be because he himself appeared to be a brilliant strategist; he often instructed his generals as to strategy from afar, and his predictions generally would be accurate. This was often emulated by later emperors who fancied themselves great strategists but who actually lacked Emperor Guangwu's brilliance- usually to great disastrous results.
Also fairly unique among emperors in Chinese history was Emperor Guangwu's combination of decisiveness and mercy. He often sought out peaceful means rather than bellicose means of putting areas under his control. He was, in particular, one of the rare examples of a founding emperor of a dynasty who did not kill, out of jealousy or paranoia, any of the generals or officials who contributed to his victories after his rule was secure.
Liu Xiu was the sixth generation descendant of Emperor Jing of the Former (or Western) Han. He was the son of Liu Qin (劉 欽), magistrate (i.e., head official) of Nandun county (南頓令). Liu Qin was the son of Liu Hui (劉回), vice governor in charge of military affairs for Julu commandery (鉅鹿都尉). Liu Hui was the son of Liu Wai (劉外), governor of Yulin commandery (鬱林太守). Liu Wai was the son of Liu Mai (劉買), known posthumously as Marquess Jie of Chongling (舂陵節侯). Liu Mai was the son of Liu Fa (劉發), known posthumously as Prince Ding of Changsha (長沙定王). The prince of Changsha was a brother of Emperor Wu, a famous emperor of the Former Han, and he was the son of Emperor Jing. (This made Liu Xiu third cousin to Emperor Gengshi, who was also descended from Liu Fa.)
Liu Qin was married to the daughter of one Fan Chong (樊重), and he and his wife had three sons -- Liu Yan (劉縯), Liu Zhong (劉仲), and Liu Xiu. Liu Qin died early, and the brothers were raised by their uncle Liu Liang (劉良). Liu Yan was ambitious, and ever since Wang Mang usurped the Han throne in 8 and established Xin Dynasty, Liu Yan was constantly considering starting a rebellion to restore the Han Dynasty. Liu Xiu, in contrast, was a careful man who was content to be a farmer. However, his brother-in-law Deng Chen (鄧晨), the husband of his sister Liu Yuan (劉 元), who believed in a prophecy that a man named Liu Xiu would be emperor, constantly encouraged him to be more ambitious.
Participation in His Brother's Rebellion
In 22, with virtually the entire empire rebelling against Wang Mang's incompetent rule, Liu Yan prepared his rebellion. He planned, along with his brothers, and Li Tong (李通) and his cousin Li Yi (李軼), to kidnap the governor for Nanyang Commandery (roughly modern Nanyang, Henan) and call for the people of the commandery to join him. When the young men of their home territory of Chongling heard about the rebellion, they were all scared to join -- until they saw that Liu Xiu was part of the rebellion as well, figuring that if even a careful man like Liu Xiu was part of the rebellion, the rebellion was carefully planned.
However, the news of the plan leaked out, and Li Tong and Li Yi barely escaped with their lives (but their family was slaughtered). Liu Yan changed his plan and persuaded two branches of the Lülin -- the Xinshi Force (新市兵) and Pinglin Force (平林兵) to join forces with him, and they had some military success. Encouraged, Liu Yan made a frontal assault against Wancheng (宛城), the capital of Nanyang Commandery -- and suffered a major loss. Liu Yan and Liu Xiu, along with their sister Liu Boji (劉伯姬), survived, but their brother Liu Zhong and sister Liu Yuan died in the battle. Liu Yan's allies, seeing his defeat, considered leaving him, but Liu Yan was able to persuade them, along with another branch of the Lülin, the Xiajiang Force (下江兵), to join him. In 23, they had a major victory against Xin forces, killing Zhen Fu (甄阜), the governor of Nanyang Commandery.
As Official Under Emperor Gengshi
The Ascension of Emperor Gengshi
By this point, many other rebel leaders had become jealous of Liu Yan's capabilities, and while a good number of their men admired Liu Yan and wanted him to become the emperor of a newly declared Han Dynasty, they had other ideas. They found another local rebel leader, Liu Xuan, a third cousin of Liu Yan, who was claiming the title of General Gengshi (更始將軍) at the time and who was considered a weak personality, and requested that he be made emperor. Liu Yan initially opposed this move and instead suggested that Liu Xuan carry the title "Prince of Han" first (echoing the founder of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Gao). The other rebel leaders refused, and in early 23, Liu Xuan was proclaimed emperor. Liu Yan became prime minister. Liu Xiu, along with many other rebel leaders, carried the title "general".
The Battle of Kunyang
Liu Xiu would be instrumental in the key victory that sealed Wang Mang's fate. Wang, aware that Emperor Gengshi was becoming a major threat, sent his cousin Wang Yi (王邑) and his prime minister Wang Xun (王尋) with what he considered to be overwhelming force, some 430,000 men, intending to crush the newly constituted Han regime. The Han forces were at this point in two groups -- one led by Wang Feng (王鳳), Wang Chang (王常), and Liu Xiu, which, in response to the arrival of the Xin forces, withdrew to the small town of Kunyang (昆陽, in modern Pingdingshan, Henan) and one led by Liu Yan, which was still sieging Wancheng. The rebels in Kunyang initially wanted to scatter, but Liu Xiu opposed it; rather, he advocated that they guard Kunyang securely, while he would gather all other available troops in surrounding areas and attack the Xin forces from the outside. After initially rejecting Liu Xiu's idea, the Kunyang rebels eventually agreed.
Liu Xiu carried out his action, and when he returned to Kunyang, he began harassing the sieging Xin forces from the outside. Wang Yi and Wang Xun, annoyed, led 10,000 men to attack Liu Xiu and ordered the rest of their troops not to move from their siege locations. Once they engaged in battle, however, after minor losses, the other units were hesitant to assist them, and Liu Xiu killed Wang Xun in battle. Once that happened, the Han forces inside Kunyang burst out of the city and attacked the other Xin units, and the much larger Xin forces suffered a total collapse. The soldiers largely deserted and went home, unable to be gathered again. Wang Yi had to withdraw with only several thousand men back to Luoyang. This was a major blow to Xin, psychologically; after this point on, there would be no hope for it.
Liu Yan's Death and Liu Xiu's Bare Survival
The very first major incident of infighting in Emperor Gengshi's regime would happen in this time, though. Emperor Gengshi was fearful of Liu Yan's capabilities and keenly aware that many of Liu Yan's followers were angry that he was not made emperor. One, Liu Ji (劉稷), was particularly critical of Emperor Gengshi. Emperor Gengshi arrested Liu Ji and wanted to execute him, but Liu Yan tried to intercede. Emperor Gengshi, encouraged by Li Yi (who had by that point turned against Liu Yan) and Zhu Wei (朱鮪), took this opportunity to execute Liu Yan as well.
At this time, Liu Xiu was fighting on the frontlines. When he heard about his brother's death, he quickly left his army and went back to the temporary capital Wancheng to beg forgiveness. When Liu Yan's followers greeted him, he only thanked them but did not speak of his feelings, but rather blamed himself and did not mention of his achievements at Kunyang. He did not dare to mourn his brother. Emperor Gengshi, ashamed of what he had done, spared Liu Xiu and created him the Marquess of Wuxin.
Around this time, Liu Xiu married his childhood sweetheart, the famed beauty Yin Lihua (陰麗華).
According to Hou Han Shu, while much younger, when Liu Xiu was visiting the capital Chang'an, he became impressed with the mayor of the capital (zhijinwu, 執金吾) and, already impressed by Yin's beauty, he made the remarks:
"If I were to be an official, I want to be zhijinwu; if I were to marry, I want to marry Yin Lihua."
He eventually was able to accomplish both of these things- and more.
Role in Reorganization of Emperor Gengshi's Regime
Soon, Wang Mang's Xin Dynasty and its capital Chang'an fell to Emperor Gengshi's forces, and Emperor Gengshi was acknowledged by virtually the entire empire as the emperor of the restored Han Dynasty. Emperor Gengshi initially planned to set his capital at Luoyang, and he made Liu Xiu governor of the capital region. Liu Xiu was commissioned to repair the palaces and governmental offices at Luoyang. Of all of the major Han restoration officials, Liu Xiu alone quickly showed his talent for organization, and his agency quickly resembled a past Han governmental agency at its best.
Emperor Gengshi's regime was only able to obtain nominal submission from many regions of the empire, and one of the trouble region was the region north of the Yellow River. He considered dispatching a general to try to pacify the region, and his cousin Liu Ci (劉賜), who had succeeded Liu Yan as prime minister, endorsed Liu Xiu for that task. Liu Yan's political enemies, including Li and Zhu, opposed, but after Liu Ci repeatedly endorsed Liu Xiu, Emperor Gengshi relented and, in autumn 23, he sent Liu Xiu to the region north of the Yellow River.
Liu Xiu was initially met with great gladness by the people north of the Yellow River. It was around this time that his later prime minister, Deng Yu (鄧禹), joined him; other later important figures who joined him around this time included Feng Yi (馮異) and Geng Chun (耿純). Deng, seeing that Emperor Gengshi lacked abilities to rule, persuaded Liu Xiu to keep his sights broad and consider eventual independence.
Liu Xiu would soon have a major problem on his hand, however, in winter 23, as he faced a pretender for the Han throne. A fortuneteller in Handan named Wang Lang (王郎) claimed to be actually named Liu Ziyu (劉子輿) and a son of Emperor Cheng. He claimed that his mother was a singer in Emperor Cheng's service, and that Empress Zhao Feiyan had tried to kill him after his birth, but that a substitute child was killed indeed. After he spread these rumors around the people, the people of Handan began to believe that he was a genuine son of Emperor Cheng, and the commanderies north of the Yellow River quickly pledged allegiance to him as emperor. In spring 24, Liu Xiu was forced to withdraw to the northern city of Jicheng (薊城, in modern Beijing). Soon, though, he faced rebellions right near him, and several times was nearly killed by rebels who pledged allegiance to Wang. He reached two commanderies in modern central Hebei that were still loyal to Emperor Gengshi -- Xindu (信都, roughly modern Hengshui, Hebei) and Herong (和戎, roughly part of modern Shijiajuang, Hebei). He mobilized their forces and won some major battles against Wang's generals.
Meanwhile, a follower of Liu Xiu, Geng Yan (耿弇), the son of the governor of Shanggu Commandery (上谷, roughly modern Zhangjiakou, Hebei), had fled back to his father's commandery, and persuaded both his father Geng Kuang (耿況) and the governor of the neighboring Yuyang Commandery (漁 陽, roughly modern Beijing), Peng Chong (彭寵), to support Liu Xiu. Geng Yan and Peng's deputy, Wu Han (吳漢), led the two commanderies' cavalry and infantry forces south to join Liu Xiu. The combined forces gave Liu Xiu enough strength to make a direct assault against Handan, trapping and killing Wang Lang.
After Wang's death, Emperor Gengshi created Liu Xiu the Prince of Xiao and summoned him back to the capital (then moved to Chang'an). Liu Xiu, persuaded by Geng Yan that he should be ready to set out his own course, because the people were badly shaken by Emperor Gengshi and his officials' misrule, declined and claimed that the region still needed to be pacified.
Independence from Emperor Gengshi
In autumn 24, Liu Xiu, still ostensibly an official under Emperor Gengshi, successfully pacified some of the larger agrarian rebel groups and merged them into his own forces. He also started replacing officials loyal to Emperor Gengshi with those loyal to himself. He consolidated his power north of the Yellow River and, as he predicted that the powerful Chimei would destroy Emperor Gengshi's government for him, he waited by for that to happen, not intervening on either side as that conflict was developing. He put Kou Xun (寇恂) in charge of the Henei (modern northern Henan, north of the Yellow River) region and made it the base for food and manpower supplies, while commissioning Deng with an expedition force to the modern Shaanxi region, waiting for the confrontation between Emperor Gengshi and Chimei. In early 25, Deng, on his way west, seized the modern Shanxi region and put it under Liu Xiu's control, before crossing the Yellow River into modern Shaanxi.
At this point, territories that Liu Xiu controlled were already impressive, compared to any other regional power in the empire broken apart by civil war- but he still carried just the title Prince of Xiao (which Emperor Gengshi had created him) and still ostensibly was controlling those territories as Emperor Gengshi's deputy, even as he was already engaging militarily against some generals loyal to Emperor Gengshi. In summer 25, after repeated urging by his followers, he finally claimed the title of emperor and the right to succeed to the Han throne- as Emperor Guangwu.
Campaign to Unify the Empire
Victory Over the Chimei
Soon after Emperor Guangwu's ascension, his former liege Emperor Gengshi's regime was destroyed by the Chimei, who supported their own pretender to the Han throne, Emperor Liu Penzi. The Chimei leaders, while militarily powerful, were however, even less capable at ruling than Emperor Gengshi, and they soon alienated the people of the Guanzhong (關中, modern central Shaanxi) region, which they had taken over when they overthrew Emperor Gengshi. They pillaged the Guanzhong region for supplies, but as eventually the supplies ran out, they were forced to withdraw east in an attempt to return home (modern Shandong and northern Jiangsu). Emperor Guangwu, anticipating this, set up his forces to harass and tire the Chimei out, and then block them off at Yiyang (宜陽, in modern Luoyang, Henan). With their path blocked and their troops exhausted, the Chimei leaders surrendered. Emperor Guangwu spared them, including their puppet pretender Emperor Penzi.
Gradual Victories Over Other Regional Powers
Chimei was the largest of the enemy force that Emepror Guangwu had to deal with in his campaign to reunify the empire under the rule of his Eastern Han Dynasty, but there were a number of regional powers that he had to deal with. These included:
- Liu Yong (劉永), also claiming to be the proper emperor of Han, based on his lineage- as the son of Liu Li (劉立), the Prince of Liang under the reigns of Emperor Cheng, Emperor Ai, and Emperor Ping who had been forced by Wang Mang to commit suicide; he controlled the modern eastern Henan and northern Jiangsu region.
- Peng Chong, who had been by this point aggravated by Emperor Guangwu's official Zhu Fu (朱浮) into rebellion (in a rare case of a succession of wrong decisions by Emperor Guangwu -- mistakes that he learned from and would not repeat); he claimed the title of the Prince of Yan and controlled the modern Beijing region.
- Zhang Bu (張步), nominally the Prince of Qi under Liu Yong, but who independently controlled the modern Shandong region.
- Wei Xiao (隗囂), nominally the commander of the Xizhou (西州) region paying allegiance to Emperor Guangwu, but who independently controlled the modern eastern Gansu region, east of the Yellow River.
- Dou Rong (竇融), nominally the governor of Liang Province (涼州) paying allegiance to Emperor Guangwu, but who independently controlled the modern western Gansu and northern Qinghai region, west of the Yellow River.
- Lu Fang (盧芳), who also claimed the name Liu Wenbo (劉文伯) and claimed to be a descendant of Emperor Wu and the proper Han emperor. He, supported by Xiongnu's Chanyu Yu (輿), controlled the modern central and western Inner Mongolia region.
- Gongsun Shu (公孫述), who claimed the title emperor of his independent empire Chengjia (成家), who controlled modern Sichuan and Chongqing. (He also was known as the White Emperor (Baidi, 白帝), and according to legends, he founded the city Baidi which bears that title.)
Of these powers, Gongsun Shu's Chengjia was wealthy and powerful, but Gongsun was content to maintain his regional empire and not carry out any military expeditions outside his empire. Instead, he sat by as Emperor Guangwu carried out his unification campaign. Emperor Guangwu, hesitant to carry out annihilation campaigns, largely preferred first trying to persuade the regional warlords to submit to him. Wei and Dou did in 29, and as they were assisting Eastern Han forces to the north of Chengjia, Gongsun was further discouraged from trying to expand his empire.
Also in 29, Liu Yong's son and heir Liu Yu (劉紆) was defeated by Eastern Han forces and killed. Also in 29, Peng's slaves assassinated him, leading to a collapse of his regime. Zhang, seeing the futility of resistance, surrendered and was created marquis. By 30, all of eastern China was under Emperor Guangwu's rule.
Wei, seeing that Eastern Han was gradually unifying the empire, inexplicably began considering independence. He tried to persuade Dou to enter into an alliance with him to resist Eastern Han; Dou refused. When Eastern Han started considering conquering Chengjia, Wei, apprehensive of the implications of Chengjia's fall, tried to persuade Emperor Guangwu not to carry out a campaign against Chengjia, and later refused to lead his forces south against Chengjia.
Emperor Guangwu, who in any case preferred peaceful resolution, repeatedly wrote both Wei and Gongsun with humble terms, trying to get them to submit to him, promising them titles and honors. Wei continued to nominally submit but act as an independent power, while Gongsun refused outright -- but continued to be indecisive and took no actions while Eastern Han's rule was being confirmed throughout the land.
Realizing that neither Wei nor Gongsun would voluntarily submit, Emperor Guangwu started a campaign against Wei in summer 30- assisted by Wei's friend Ma Yuan (馬援), who had served as Wei's liaison officer to Emperor Guangwu and had tried in vain to persuade him not to take the course of independence. In response, Wei formally submitted to Gongsun and accepted a princely title- Prince of Shuoning- from him, and also tried to persuade Dou to join him. Dou refused, and attacked Wei in coordination with Emperor Guangwu's forces. After some initial successes, Wei's small independent regime eventually collapsed under overwhelming force and was reduced severely. In 33, Wei died and was succeeded by his son Wei Chun (隗純). In winter 34, Shuoning's capital Luomen (落門, in modern Tianshui, Gansu) fell, and Wei Chun surrendered.
Emperor Guangwu then turned his attention to Chengjia. He commissioned his generals Wu Han, Cen Peng (岑彭), Lai She (來歙), and Gai Yan (蓋延) to go on a two-pronged attack on Chengjia -- Wu and Cen leading an army and a navy up the Yangtze river from modern Hubei, while Lai and Gai led an army south from modern Shaanxi. Instead of fighting the Eastern Han expedition on the battlefield, Gongsun tried to repel them by assassinating their generals -- and he was initially successful, assassinating Cen and Lai and temporarily causing the Eastern Han forces to halt. However, Eastern Han forces regrouped, and in 36 they had Gongsun surrounded in his capital Chengdu. However, initial attempts to siege the city was unsuccessful, and Wu, then in command of the expeditionary force, considered withdrawing. Persuaded by his lieutenant Zhang Kan (張堪) that Gongsun was in desperate straits, however, Wu tricked Gongsun into believing that the Eastern Han forces were collapsing from fatigue, drawing him out of the city and engaging in battle. Gongsun was mortally wounded in battle, and Chengdu surrendered in winter 36.
After Chengjia's fall, Dou turned over the lands under his control to Emperor Guangwu in 36, and was made prime controller. Lu, after initially submitting to Emperor Guangwu and made the Prince of Dai (as Emperor Guangwu maintained the fiction that Lu was actually from imperial lineage), eventually rebelled again, but, unable to succeed, eventually fled to Xiongnu in 42. The empire was entirely under Emperor Guangwu's rule.
Reign Over Unified Empire
Although Emperor Guangwu had already created many of his generals and officials marquesses, in 37, after the conquest of the empire was largely complete, he readjusted their marches in accordance with their accomplishments. He also considered what would be the best way to preserve the relationships between him and his generals and to protect their title and position. He therefore resolved to give the generals large marches but not give them official positions in his government. He rewarded them with great wealth and often listened to their advice, but rarely put them in positions of authority. He thereby reduced friction between him and his generals, thus allowing for their relationships to be preserved. (In this, he was matched perhaps only by Emperor Taizu of Song (Zhao Kuangyin).
As the emperor of the unified empire, Emperor Guangwu's reign was marked by thriftiness, efficiency, and laxity of laws. For example, in 38, his official Liang Tong (梁統) submitted a petition to restore the criminal laws of late Western Han Dynasty- which were far more severe. After discussion with other officials, Emperor Guangwu tabled Liang's suggestion.
Emperor Guangwu, however, had to deal with two campaigns against non-Chinese peoples. In 40, a Vietnamese woman named Trưng Trắc (徵側 Zheng Ce) and her sister Trưng Nhị (徵貳 Zheng Er) rebelled. Trưng Trắc claimed the title of queen, and she ruled over an independent kingdom for several years. In 41, Emperor Guangwu sent Ma Yuan against the Trưng sisters. In 43, he defeated the Trưng sisters and killed them. According to Vietnamese historians, they committed suicide by drowning.
Emperor Guangwu also had to deal with periodic minor battles against the Xiongnu to the north. However, throughout his reign, there were no major wars with Xiongnu. Nevertheless, because of raids by Xiongnu, Wuhuan, and Xianbei, the northern commanderies became largely unpopulated, as the people suffered great casualties and fled to more southerly lands.
With these engagements, Emperor Guangwu declined yet another foreign engagement. In 46, many Xiyu (modern Xinjiang and former Soviet central Asia) kingdoms were suffering under the hegemony of one of the kingdoms, Shache (Yarkand). They petitioned Emperor Guangwu to again reestablish the Western Han post of the governor of Xiyu. Emperor Guangwu declined, stating that his empire was so lacking in strength at the time that he could not expend efforts to protect Xiyu kingdoms. In response, the Xiyu kingdoms submitted to Xiongnu.
Marital and Succession Issues
As alluded above, while still under Emperor Gengshi, Emperor Guangwu married his childhood sweetheart Yin Lihua. Later, in 24, while he was on his expedition north of the Yellow River, he entered into a political marriage with Guo Shengtong (郭聖通), the niece of a regional warlord, Liu Yang (劉楊) the Prince of Zhending. In 25, Guo bore him a son, Liu Jiang (劉疆).
In 26, Emperor Guangwu was prepared to create an empress, and he favored his first love, Yin. However, Yin had not yet had a son by that point, and she declined the empress position and endorsed Guo. Emperor Guangwu therefore created Guo empress and her son Prince Jiang crown prince.
By 41, however, Empress Guo had long lost the emperor's favor. She continuously complained about that fact, and this angered Emperor Guangwu. In 41, he deposed her and created Yin empress instead. Rather than imprisoning Guo (as is often the fate of deposed empresses), however, he created her son Liu Fu (劉輔) the Prince of Zhongshan and created her the Princess Dowager of Zhongshan. He made her brother Guo Kuang (郭況) an important official and, perhaps as a form of alimony, rewarded him with great wealth.
Not having the heart to depose mother and son, Emperor Guangwu initially left Guo's son, Crown Prince Jiang, as crown prince. Crown Prince Jiang, however, realizing that his position was precarious, repeatedly offered to step down. In 43, Emperor Guangwu agreed and created Liu Yang (劉陽), the oldest son of Empress Yin, crown prince instead. Former Crown Prince Jiang was created the Prince of Donghai. He also changed Prince Yang's name to Zhuang (莊).
In 47, an opportunity arose with regard to Xiongnu. Xiongnu had a succession dispute, pitting the current chanyu, Punu (蒲 奴) against his cousin Bi (比), the son of a former chanyu. In 48, Bi also claimed the title of chanyu, and submitted to Emperor Guangwu's authority. Punu also submitted, in response, and the divided Xiongnu stopped waging war against Han.
In 49, a rare blot on Emperor Guangwu's rule occurred. He had once again commissioned Ma Yuan to go on an expedition -- against the indigenous people of the Wulin Commandery (modern northwestern Hunan and eastern Guizhou), who had rebelled. While Ma was on the expedition, however, a number of Ma's political enemies made false accusations against Ma. Emperor Guangwu, believing these accusations, began investigating Ma, who happened to die of illness while on the campaign. With Ma dead and unable to defend himself, Emperor Guangwu stripped Ma of his marquis title and denounced him posthumously. Ma's reputation was not restored until his daughter later became empress to Emperor Guangwu's son Emperor Ming.
In 57, Guang Wudi died. He was succeeded by Crown Prince Zhuang, who ascended the throne as the Mindi Emperor.
- Liu Qin (劉欽), the county magistrate for Nandun (南頓, in modern Zhoukou, Henan)
- Lady Fan (樊), daughter of Fan Chong (樊重)
- Empress Guo Shengtong (郭聖通) (created 26, deposed 41, died 52), mother of Princes Jiang, Fu, Kang, Yán, and Yǎn
- Empress Yin Lihua (陰麗華) (created 41, died 64), mother of Emperor Mingdi, Princes Cang, Jing (of Shanyang) and Jing (of Langye), and Duke Heng
- Major Concubines
- Consort Xu, mother of Prince Ying
- Liu Jiang (劉疆), created Crown Prince 26, deposed 43, later Prince Gong of Donghai (d. 58)
- Liu Yang (劉陽), initially Duke of Donghai (created 39), later Prince of Donghai (created 41), later changed name to Liu Zhuang (劉莊) and created Crown Prince (created 43), later Emperor Mingdi
- Liu Fu (劉輔), initially Duke of Youyi (created 39), later Prince of Zhongshan (created 41), later Prince Xian of Pei (created 44, d. 84)
- Liu Kang (劉康), initially Duke of Zinan (created 39), later Prince An of Zinan (created 41, d. 97)
- Liu Yán (劉延), initially Duke of Huaiyang (created 39), later Prince of Huaiyang (created 41), later demoted to Prince of Fulin (demoted 73), later demoted to Marquess of Fulin (demoted 76), later Prince Zhi of Fulin (restored 87, d. 90)
- Liu Yǎn (劉焉), initially Duke of Zuoyi (created 39), later Prince of Zuoyi (created 41), later Prince Jian of Zhongshan (created 54, d. 90)
- Liu Ying (劉英), initially Duke of Chu (created 39), later Prince of Chu (created 41, deposed 70, committed suicide 71)
- Liu Cang (劉蒼), initially Duke of Dongping (created 39), later Prince Xian of Dongping (created 41, d. 83)
- Liu Jing (劉荊), born 37, initially Duke of Shanyang (created 39), later Prince of Shanyang (created 41), later Prince Si of Guanglin (created 58, committed suicide 67)
- Liu Heng (劉衡), Duke Huai of Linhuai (created 39, d. 41)
- Liu Jing (劉京), initially Duke of Langye (created 39), later Prince Xiao of Langye (created 41, d. 69)
- Liu Yiwang (劉義王), the Princess Wuyang (created 39)
- Liu Zhongli (劉中禮), the Princess Nieyang (created 39)
- Liu Hongfu (劉紅夫), the Princess Guantau (created 39)
- Liu Liliu (劉禮劉), the Princess Yuyang (created 41)
- Liu Shou (劉綬), the Princess Liyi (created 45, killed by her husband Yin Feng 59)
Family name: Liu (劉)
Given name: Xiu (秀)
Courtesy name: Wenshu (文叔)
Temple name: Shizu (世祖)
(short) Emperor Guangwu (光武帝), lit. "the rebuilding martial emperor"
(full) Emperor Guangwu (光武皇帝)
Jianwu (建武 py. jìan wŭ): 25-56
Jianwuzhongyuan (建武中元 py. jìan wŭ zhōng yúan): 56-58
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Hongwu Emperor of Ming
B5: 洪武; PY: Hóng Wŭ; BN: Zhu Yuanzhang2; B5: 朱元璋; PY: Zhū Yuánzhāng (September 21, 1328- June 24, 1398)- Founder and first emperor (1368- 1398) of the Ming Dynasty of China. His era name, Hongwu, means "Immensely Martial." He is also known as Emperor Tai Zu.
Due to the anti-Mongol sentiments that developed in the early 14th century, many Chinese perceived the Yuan Dynasty as being foreign and illegitimate. It was during this era that Zhu Yuanzhang led a peasant revolution that was instrumental in expelling the Yuan Dynasty and forcing the Mongolians to retreat to the Mongolian steppes. Consequently, he claimed the title Son of Heaven for himself and established the Ming Dynasty in 1368. Hongwu was one of only two Chinese dynasty founders who emerged from the peasant class. The other was Han Gao Zu of the Han Dynasty. Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping are the two other peasant revolutionaries to have ruled the world's most populous nation.
Zhu Yuanzhang worked as a cowherd in his youth, and, according to legend, was fired after roasting and eating a cattle with other young cowherds; it was more likely that he was forced to enter a Buddhist monastery later on, where he learned to read, because of a plague that took the lives of his parents and brothers. He was forced to leave the monastery after it received insufficient funds and he had to go around China to beg. Later, he joined a gang of rebels, where because of his natural leadership talents he was made leader. Soon, as a strong-willed rebel leader, he came into contact with well-educated Confucian scholars and gentry, from whom he received an education in state affairs. He acquired training in the Red Turban Movement, a dissident religious sect combining cultural and religious traditions of Buddhism, Taoism, and other religions. No longer a Buddhist, he positioned himself as a defender of Confucianism and neo-Confucian conventions, rather than as a mere popular rebel. Despite his humble origins, he emerged as a national leader against the collapsing Yuan Dynasty. His charisma attracted talents from all over China, and one of his advisors, Zhu Sheng, proposed the theory of 'Build high walls, stock up rations, and don't be too quick to call yourself a king.' Instead of attacking the Mongols, he decided to absorb the smaller, weaker rebels leaders in Southern China before turning against his main enemy. In 1368, he finally proclaimed himself the Ming emperor in Nanjing and adopted "Hongwu" as the title of his reign. He used the motto 'Exiling the Mongols and Restoring Hua' as a call to rouse the Han Chinese into supporting him, and after capturing Dadu, China was unified again under Ming.
Emperor of China
After defeating rival national leaders, Zhu proclaimed himself emperor in 1368. The capital was established at Nanjing, and "Hongwu" was adopted as the title of his reign.
Under Hongwu, the Mongol bureaucrats who had dominated the government for nearly a century under the Yuan Dynasty were replaced by Chinese. He revamped the traditional Confucian examination system, which selected state bureaucrats or civil servants on the basis of merit and knowledge of literature and philosophy. Candidates for posts in the civil service, or in the officer corps of the 80,000-man army, once again had to pass the traditional competitive examinations, as required by the Classics. The Confucian scholar gentry, marginalized under the Yuan for nearly a century, once again assumed their predominant role in the Chinese state.
Historians consider Hongwu to be one of the greatest Emperors of China. From the beginning, great care was taken by Hongwu to distribute land to small farmers. It seems to have been his policy to favor the poor, whom he tried to help to support themselves and their families. For instance, in 1370 an order was given that some land in Hunan and Anhui should be distributed to young farmers who had reached manhood. This order was made in part to preclude the absorption of this land by unscrupulous landlords, and as part of this decree it was announced that the title to the land would not be transferable. During the middle part of his reign an edict was published to the effect that those who brought fallow land under cultivation could keep it as their property without it ever being taxed. The people responded enthusiastically to this policy, and in 1393 cultivated land rose to 8,804,623 ching and 68 mou, a greater achievement than any other Chinese dynasty.
Having come from a peasant family, Hongwu knew only too well how much the farmers suffered from the gentry and the wealthy. Many of the latter, relying on their influence with the magistrates, not only encroached unscrupulously on the land of farmers, but even contrived through bribing lower officials to transfer the burden of taxation to the small farmers they had wronged. To prevent such abuses Hongwu instituted two very important systems: "Yellow Records" and "Fish Scale Records". These systems served to guarantee both the government's income from land taxes and the people's enjoyment of their property.
In 1372, Hongwu ordered the general release of all innocent people who had been enslaved during the anxious days at the end of the Mongol reign. Fourteen years later he ordered his officials to buy back children in the Huinan province who had been sold as slaves by their parents because of famine.
Despite having fought off the calamities of the Mongol invasion, Hongwu realized that the Mongols still posed a real threat to China. He decided that the orthodox Confucian view of the military as an inferior class to the scholar bureaucracy should be reassessed. Maintaining a strong military was essential. Hongwu kept a powerful army organized on a military system known as the Wei-so system, which was similar to the Fu-ping system of the Tang dynasty. According to Ming Shih Gao, the political intention of the founder of the Ming dynasty, in establishing the Wei-so system, was to maintain a strong army while avoiding the forming of personal bonds between commanding officers and the soldiers.
Soldier training also was conducted within the soldiers' own military districts. In time of war, troops were mobilized from all over the Empire on the orders of a Board of War, and commanders were chosen from Wu chin tu-tu fu to lead them. As soon as the war was over, all of the troops returned to their respective districts and the commanders lost their military commands. This system largely avoided troubles of the kind which so often had been caused, under the Tang and Song dynasties, by military commanders who had great numbers of soldiers directly under their personal control. The Wei-so system was a great success in the early Ming because of the Tun-tien system. Hongwu, well aware of the difficulties of supplying such a number of men, adopted this method of military organization, to assure that the empire had a strong military force without burdening the people heavily for its support.
Hongwu also noted the destructive role of court eunuchs under the previous dynasties and drastically reduced their numbers, forbidding them to handle documents, insisting that they remained illiterate, and liquidating those who commented on state affairs. Hongwu had a strong aversion to the imperial eunuchs, a court of castrated servants of the emperor, epitomized by a tablet in his palace stipulating: "Eunuchs must have nothing to do with the administration." However, this aversion to eunuchs' being in the employ of an emperor was not popular with Hongwu's successors, and eunuchs soon returned to the emperors' courts after Hongwu. In addition to Hongwu's aversion to eunuchs, he never consented to any of his imperial relatives becoming court officials. This policy was fairly well-maintained by later emperors, and no serious trouble was caused by the empresses or their relatives.
The legal code drawn up in the time of the Hongwu emperor was considered one of the great achievements of the era. The Ming Shih mentions that as early as 1364 the monarchy had started to draft a code of laws. This code was known as Ta-Ming Lu. The emperor devoted great personal care to the whole project, and in his instruction to the ministers told them that the code of laws should be comprehensive and intelligible, so as not to leave any loophole for lower officials to misinterpret the law through twisting its language. The Ming code laid much emphasis on family relations. The code was a great improvement on the code of the earlier Tang dynasty in regards to the treatment of slaves. Under the Tang code, slaves were treated as a species of domestic animal; if they were killed by a free citizen the law imposed no sanction on the killer. Under the Ming dynasty, however, the law protected both slaves and free citizens.
Hongwu attempted to, and largely succeeded in, consolidating control over all aspects of government, so that no other group could gain enough power to overthrow him. He also buttressed the country's defenses against the Mongols. As emperor, Hongwu increasingly concentrated power in his own hands. He abolished the prime minister's post, which had been head of the main central administrative body under past dynasties, by suppressing a plot for which he had blamed his chief minister. Many argue that the Hongwu emperor, wishing to concentrate absolute authority in his own hands and having abolished the office of prime minister, removed the only insurance against incompetent emperors. However Hongwu's actions were not entirely one-sided since he did create a new post, called "Grand Secretary", to take the place of the abolished prime minister. Ray Huang argued that Grand-Secretaries, outwardly powerless, could exercise considerable positive influence from behind the throne. Because of their prestige and the public trust which they enjoyed, they could act as intermediaries between the emperor and the ministerial officials, and thus provide a stabilizing force in the court.
Backed by the Confucian scholar-gentry, Hongwu accepted the Confucian viewpoint that merchants were solely parasitic. Hongwu felt that agriculture should be the country's source of wealth and that trade was ignoble and parasitic. Perhaps this view was the result of his having been a peasant himself. As a result, the Ming economic system emphasized agriculture, unlike the economic system of the Song Dynasty, which had preceded the Mongols and had relied on traders and merchant for revenues. Also as a result of this aversion to trade, Hongwu supported the creation of self-supporting agricultural communities.
However Hongwu's prejudice against the merchants did not diminish the numbers of traders. On the contrary, commerce increased significantly under Hong Wu due to the growth of industry throughout the empire. This growth in trade was due in part to poor soil conditions and overpopulation of certain areas, during the dynasty, which forced many people to leave their homes and seek their fortunes in trade. A book entitled, Tu Pien Hsin Shu, written during the Ming dynasty, gives a very detailed description about the activities of merchants at that time. So trade did not decline at all during Hongwu's reign.
Although Hongwu's rule saw the introduction of paper currency, capitalist development would be stifled from the beginning. Not understanding inflation, Hongwu gave out so much paper money as rewards that by 1425 the state was forced to reintroduce copper coins because the paper currency had sunk to only 1/70 of its original value.
During Hongwu's reign, however, the early Ming Dynasty was characterized by rapid and dramatic population growth, largely due to the increased food supply and Hongwu's agricultural reforms. The population rose by perhaps as much as 50 percent by the end of the Ming Dynasty. This rise was stimulated by major improvements in agricultural technology, promoted by the pro-agrarian state which came to power in the midst of a pro-Confucian peasant's rebellion. Under his tutelage, living standards greatly improved.
Hongwu increasingly feared rebellions and coups. He even made it a capital offence for any of his advisors to criticize him. A story goes that a Confucian scholar who was fed up with Hongwu's policies decided to go to the capital and berate the emperor. When he gained an audience with the emperor, he brought his own coffin along with him. After delivering his speech he climbed into the coffin, expecting the emperor to execute him. Instead, the Emperor was so impressed by his bravery that he spared his life.
Hongwu died after a reign of 30 years.
He had 24 sons, all of whom became princes:
- Zhu Biao (1355-1392), Hongwu's first child, and the father of his successor Jianwen
- Zhu Di (1360-1424), Hongwu's fourth son, and third emperor after usurpation of the throne from Jianwen
- Zhu Quan (1391-1448), 17th son
Hongwu also is known as Hung-Wu. That name is also applied to the period of years from 1368 to 1398 when Chu Yuan-chang ruled. Other names for him include, his temple name Ming Tàizǔ (明太祖) "Great Ancestor of the Ming", and the "Beggar King," in allusion to his early poverty.
In the West, Hongwu now sometimes is called "the Chinese Napoleon".
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Birth name: Chongba1 (重八)
Given name: Xingzong (興宗); later Yuanzhang2 (元璋)
Courtesy name: Guorui (國瑞)
Dates of reign: Jan. 23 13683- Jun. 24, 1398
Dynasty: Ming (明)
Era name: Hongwu (洪武)
Era dates Jan. 23 1368–Feb. 5, 13994
Temple name: Taizu (太祖)
Posthumous name: (short) Emperor Gao (高皇帝)
Posthumous name: (full) Emperor Kaitian Xingdao Zhaoji Liji Dasheng Zhishen Renwen Yiwu Junde Chenggong Gao (開天行道肇紀立極大聖至神仁文義武俊德成功高皇帝)
1- Name given by his parents at birth and used only inside the family. This birth name, which means "double eight", was allegedly given to him because the combined age of his parents when he was born was 88 years.
2- Was known as Zhu Xingzong when he became an adult, a name that was changed to Zhu Yuanzhang in 1352 when he started to become famous among the rebelled leaders.
3- Was already in control of Nanjing since 1356, was made Duke of Wu (吳國公) by the rebelled leader Han Lin'er (韓林兒) in 1361, and started autonomous rule as self-proclaimed Prince of Wu (吳王) on February 4, 1364. Was proclaimed emperor on January 23, 1368, establishing the Ming Dynasty that same day.
4- The era was officially re-established on July 30, 1402 when Emperor Jianwen was overthrown, with retroactivity for the 4 years of the Jianwen era, so that 1402 was considered the 35th year of Hongwu. The Honwgu era then ended on January 22, 1403, the next day being the start of the Yongle era.
It is a source of debate among scholars of Chinese history as to the actual likeness of the Hongwu emperor. The official portrait of the emperor, completed during his reign, portrays him as the ideal emperor with regular features and learned expression (SEE Portrait 1, below). However, Qing dynasty paintings (SEE Portrait 3 and Portrait 4, below) are said to portray the nearest similarity of the Hongwu emperor; his family name Zhu, was a homophone of the word pig, which fueled the reference, even in literature and later references of his 'porcine' appearance. Still others take a middle road toward the image of the Hongwu emperor (SEE Portrait 2, below). In the end, it is difficult to determine which of these images is the closest likeness to the actual appearance of the Hongwu emperor.
SEE Portrait 1
SEE Portrait 2
SEE Portrait 3
SEE Portrait 4
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Hou Zhu Emperor of Chen
B5: 後主; GB: 后主; PY: Hòu Zhŭ; BN: Chen Shubao; B5: 陳叔寶; GB: 陈叔宝; PY: Chén Shūbăo (552- 589)- Eldest son of the Xuandi Emperor of Chen and last emperor of the Chen dynasty. Described as a drunk by many Chinese historians, he left state affairs to the eunuchs and spent most of his time in the palaces enjoying music.
The Northern Zhou had, in the meantime, reunified all of northern China by 581 and the new ruler, Yang Jian, would later become the founder of the Sui dynasty. Before he entered the capital, he distributed 3000,000 copies of a memorandum listing the faults of Hou Zhou to convince the people that their emperor had lost the mandate of Heaven. Upon entering the imperial palace, Jian found Hou Zhu hiding in a well, tied to two concubines. Jian spared his life and those of his family in the interest of the unified empire. Hou Zhu's reign lasted 7 years (583- 589).
Zhide (至德 Zhìdé) 583- 586
Zhenming (禎明 Zhēnmíng) 587- 589
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Huang Di, The Yellow Emperor
B5: 黃帝; GB: 黄帝; PY: Huángdì- Legendary Chinese sovereign and cultural hero who is said to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese. One of the Five Emperors, the Yellow Emperor is said by tradition to have reigned from 2698 BCE to 2599 BCE.
The legend of his westwards retreat in the war against the eastern Emperor Chi You at the Battle of Zhuolu (涿鹿) is seen as the establishment of the Han Chinese nationality.
Among his other accomplishments, the Yellow Emperor has been credited with the invention of the principles of Traditional Chinese medicine. Nèijīng (内經, The Medical Canon of the Yellow Emperor), was supposedly composed in collaboration with his physician Qi Bó (岐伯). However, modern historiographers generally consider it to have been compiled from ancient sources by a scholar living between the Zhou and Han dynasties, more than 2,000 years later. His interest in natural health and preventing and treating diseases meant he is said to have lived to the age of 111, and to have attained immortality after his physical death.
In the legend, his wife Lúo Zǔ (螺祖) taught the Chinese how to weave the silk from silkworms, and his historian Cāng Jié created the first Chinese characters.
Legend says that the Yellow Emperor invented the compass during a battle against Chi You who used a sandstorm as camouflage to hide his army. Thanks to the compass, the Yellow Emperor found out where Chi You was and defeated him. The swirling chair in his chariot was also a compass so that he would always face south, which the Chinese people consider to be good Feng Shui. He is also said to have played a part in the creation of the Guqin, together with Fuxi and Shennong, and to have invented the earliest form of the Chinese calendar, and its current sexagenary cycles are counted based on his reign.
Huang Di is historically remembered as a dragon because some scholars believe that Huang Di used a snake as his coat of arms. As he defeated enemies he would incorporate their emblems into his own. Huang Di was immortalized as a dragon that looks like his emblem. That explains why the Chinese dragon has the body of a snake; the scales and tail of a fish, the antlers of a deer, the face of a qilin (a deer-like mythical creature with fire all over its body), two pairs of eagle talons, and the eyes of a tiger-lion. Since the Chinese consider Huang Di as their ancestor, they sometimes refer to themselves as "the descendants of the dragon".
The actual existence of the Yellow Emperor is questionable, at best. The period of his reign precedes written history in China by more than a thousand years. Thus, the tales of his exploits might easily be embellished or even altogether apocryphal.
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Ke, Madam- Nanny of the young Tianqi Emperor (1605-1627), who was Emperor of China (Ming dynasty) from 1620 to 1627. As he was 15 when he became Emperor, and also illiterate, he delegated all duties to Wei Zhongxian, giving the actual power to him and Madam Ke. Both of them were eliminated as soon the Chongzhen Emperor (the last of the Ming dynasty) succeeded his brother to the throne in 1627.
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Wuzong Emperor of Yuan
B5: 武宗; PY: Wǔzōng (1281- 1311)- 2nd son of Zhen Jin Darmabala and Targi. The 3rd to rule as emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. A military hero from the steppes, he ruled for only three years (1308- 1311). His behavior on the throne was like that of a nomadic chieftain, bestowing honors and titles indiscriminately. His appointments of butchers, actors and clergy as ministers underscored his poor knowledge in affairs of state. His extravagant spending on palaces and temples led him to increase the amount of paper money in the state treasury and selling licenses to state monopolies.
Family name: Borjigin (孛兒只斤)
Given name: Borjigin Qayshan (孛兒只斤海山 Bèiérzhījīn Hǎishān)
Khan name: Qayshan Gülük
Dynasty: Yuan (元)
Temple name: Wuzong (武宗 Wǔzōng)
Era name: Zhida (至大 Zhìdà) 1308- 1311
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B5: 國姓爺; GB: 国姓爷; PY: Gúoxìngyé; TW: Kok-sèng-iâ, Kok-sìn-iâ; PN: Zheng Chenggong; B5: 鄭成功; GB: 郑成功; PY: Zhèng Chénggōng; WG: Cheng Ch'eng-kung; POJ: Tēn Sêng-kong (1624- 1662)- Military leader at the end of the Chinese Ming Dynasty. He was a prominent leader of the anti-Qing movement opposing the Manchu Qing Dynasty, and a Han Chinese general who recovered Taiwan from Dutch colonial occupation in 1662.
Koxinga was born to Zheng Zhilong, a Chinese merchant and pirate, and Tagawa Matsu, a Japanese woman, in 1624 in Hirado, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan. He was raised there until seven and moved to Quanzhou, in the Fujian province of China. He studied at Nanjing Taixue (The Imperial Central College in Ming dynasty of China) when he was young. He is still known in Japan by his birth name as Tei Seīkō, or by his popular name as Kokusen'ya.
Loyalty to the Ming Empire
Beijing fell in 1644 to rebels led by Li Zicheng, and the last emperor Chongzhen hanged himself on a tree at modern-day Jingshan Park in Beijing. Aided by Wu Sangui, Manchurian armies knocked off the rebels with ease and took the city. In the areas below the Yangtze River, there were many anti-Qing people of principle and ambition who wanted to restore descendants of the Ming Dynasty to the Imperial throne. One of these descendants, Prince Tang, was aided to gain power in Fuzhou by Huang Daozhou and Zheng Zhilong, Koxinga's father. When the Qing captured Prince Tang, Koxinga was in Zhangzhou raising soldiers and supplies. He heard the news that his father was preparing to surrender to the Qing court and hurried to Quanzhou to persuade him against this plan, but his father refused to listen and turned himself in.
Death of his mother
Not long afterwards the Qing army captured Quanzhou, and Koxinga's mother either committed suicide out of loyalty to the Ming Dynasty or was raped and killed by Qing troops (like many other aspects of Koxinga's life the facts seem to have been obscured by ulterior purposes). When Koxinga heard this news he led an army to attack Quanzhou, forcing the Qing troops back. After giving his mother a proper burial Koxinga went directly to the Confucian temple outside the city. Legend has it, that he then burned his scholarly robes in protest. There he is rumored to have prayed in tears, saying, "In the past I was a good Confucian subject and a good son. Now I am an orphan without an emperor. I have no country and no home. I have sworn that I will fight the Qing army to the end, but my father has surrendered and my only choice is to be an unfilial son. Please forgive me."
He left the Confucian temple and proceeded to assemble a group of comrades with the same goal who together swore an allegiance to the Ming in defiance of the Qing.
Fighting the Qing
He sent forces to attack the Qing forces in the area of Fujian and Guangdong. While defending Zhangzhou and Quanzhou, he once fought all the way to the walls of the city of Nanjing. But in the end, his forces were no match for the Qing. The Qing court sent a huge army to attack him and many of Koxinga's generals had died in battle, which left him no option but retreat.
In 1661, Koxinga led his troops to a landing at Lu'ermen to attack Taiwan. On February 1, 1662 the Dutch Governor of Taiwan, Frederik Coyett, surrendered Fort Zeelandia to Koxinga. This effectively ended 38 years of Dutch occupation. Koxinga then devoted himself to making Taiwan into an effective base for anti-Qing sympathizers who wanted to restore the Ming Dynasty to power.
At the age of 39, Koxinga died of malaria, although speculations said that he died in a sudden fit of madness upon hearing the death of his father under the Qing. His son, Zheng Jing, succeeded as the King of Taiwan.
There is a temple dedicated to Koxinga and his mother in Tainan County, Taiwan. The play Kokusen'ya Kassen (国姓爺合戦; formally 国性爺合戦) was written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon in Japan in the 18th century, first performed in Kyoto. A movie with the same title was produced by the PRC and Japan in 2002 in Mandarin Chinese.
In politics, Koxinga is an interesting figure for the fact that conflicting political forces have invoked him as a hero. The historical narratives in which Koxinga is a hero are interesting because of the conflicting views national identities they attribute to Koxinga and his opponents and the different motives which they attribute to Koxinga.
He has been considered a national hero by Chinese nationalists both in Mainland China and on Taiwan because he was a Ming loyalist and an anti-Manchu leader and for his role in expelling the Dutch from Taiwan which Chinese nationalists portray as establishing Chinese rule over the island. During the Japanese rule of Taiwan Koxinga was honored as a bridge between Taiwan and Mainland Japan for his maternal linkage to Japan. Koxinga has been utilized by the Kuomintang too. Chiang Kai-shek invoked Koxinga as fighter who retreated to Taiwan and used it as base to launch counterattacks to Mainland China. Although supporters of Taiwan independence have historically had mixed feelings toward Koxinga, recent Taiwanese Independence historiography presents him in a positive light, portraying him as a native Taiwanese hero seeking to keep Taiwan independent from a mainland Chinese government (i.e. the Manchus).
Some historians have expressed concern at the way that all sides have attempted to co-opt Koxinga for two reasons. The first is that all of the historical narratives tend to simplify a very complex character by focusing on one attribute of the man to the exclusion of others. In doing so they ascribe motives to Koxinga that make sense to people living in the 21st century but which might not have made any sense to people living in the 17th. The second problem is that by seeking to portray Koxinga as a hero, all sides play down the less savory aspects of the character.
Popular name: Koxinga or Coxinga is the Dutch Romanization of his popular name "Lord with the Royal Surname" (國姓爺).
Surname: Zhèng (鄭)
Birth name: Sēn (森)
Japanese name: Tei Seikō (鄭 成功)
Childhood name: Fukumatsu (福松)
Courtesy name: Dàmù (大木)
Royal surname: Zhū (朱) Granted by Prince Tang of Southern Ming
Royal title: Prince of Yánpíng and Zhāotǎo Grand General (延平郡王招討大將軍) Awarded by Prince Gui of Southern Ming
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Shizu Emperor of Yuan
B5: 世祖; PY: Shìzŭ (September 23, 1215- February 18, 1294)- Mongol military leader, "the last of the Great Khans". He was Khagan (1260- 1294) of the Mongol Empire as well as the founder and the first Emperor (1279- 1294) of the Chinese Yuan Dynasty.
Born the second son of Tolui and Sorghaghtani Beki and the grandson of Genghis Khan, he succeeded his brother Möngke in 1260. Kublai Khan's brother, Hulagu, conquered Persia and founded the Ilkhanate. Kublai also had a cousin named Kaidu, who died in 1301.
Kublai was the grandson of Genghis Khan. As a youth, he studied Chinese culture and became enamored with it. In 1251, his elder brother Mongke became Khan of the Mongol Empire, and Kublai became the governor of Southern territories of Mongol Empire. During his years as governor, Kublai managed his territory well, boosting the agricultural output of Henan and increasing social welfare spending after receiving Xi'an. These acts received great acclaim from Chinese warlords and were essential to the building of the Yuan Dynasty.
In 1253, Kublai was ordered to attack Yunnan. He eventually attacked and destroyed the Kingdom of Dali. In 1258, Mongke put Kublai in command of the Eastern Army and summoned him to assist with the attacks on Sichuan and Yunnan. Before Kublai could arrive in 1259, words had reached him that Mongke had died. Despite his brother's death, Kublai continued to attack Wuhan. Soon thereafter, Kublai received news that his younger brother had usurped power. Kublai quickly reached a peace agreement with Song troops and rode back north to the Mongolian plains.
Both his brother and Kublai crowned themselves Khan in 1260, and the two brothers battled for three years before Kublai finally won. However, during this civil war, Yizhou governor Li revolted against Mongol rule. The revolt was swiftly crushed by Kublai, but this incident instilled in him a strong distrust of ethnic Hans. After he became emperor, Kublai instituted many anti-Han laws, such as banning the titles of and tithes to Han Chinese warlords.
The empire was separated into four khanates, each ruled by a separate khan and overseen by the Great Khan. The Kipchak Khanate (also called the Golden Horde) ruled Russia; the Ilkhanate ruled the Middle East, the Chagatai Khanate ruled over western Asia, and the Great Khanate controlled Mongolia and eventually the whole China. The empire reached its greatest extent under Kublai with his conquest of Song Dynasty which was completed by his final victory in 1279.
Emperor of Yuan
As emperor of Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan worked to minimize the influences of regional lords who had held immense power before and during the Song Dynasty. His mistrust of ethnic Han Chinese caused him to hire other ethnic group members as officials more often than Han Chinese.
At the Eighth Year of Zhiyuan (1271), Kublai Khan officially declared the creation of the Yuan Dynasty, and proclaimed the capital to be at Dai Du (Beijing, China) in the following year. To unify China, Kublai Khan began a massive offense against the remnants of Southern Song Dynasty in the 11th year of Zhiyuan, and finally destroyed the Song Dynasty in the 16th year of Zhiyuan, unifying the country at last.
He ruled better than his predecessors, promoting economic growth with the rebuilding of the Grand Canal, repairing public buildings, and extending highways. However, Kublai Khan's domestic policy also included some aspects of the old Mongol living traditions, and as Kublai Khan continued his reign, these traditions would clash more and more frequently with traditional Chinese economical and social culture.
He also introduced paper currency although eventually a lack of fiscal discipline and inflation turned this into an economic disaster. He encouraged Chinese arts and demonstrated religious tolerance, except in regards to Taoism. His capital was at Beijing (then Cambuluc or Dadu 大都 lit. big capital). The empire was visited by several Europeans, notably Marco Polo in the 1270s who may have seen the summer capital in Shangdu (上都 lit. upper capital or Xanadu).
He conquered Dali (Yunnan) and Goryeo (Korea). Under pressure from his Mongolian advisors, Kublai attempted to conquer Japan, Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia. The failed attempts, costly expeditions, along with the introduction of paper currency caused inflation. However, Kublai Khan also forced warlords from the Northwest and Northeast to capitulate, ensuring stability for those regions. Kublai Khan died in the 31st year of Zhiyuan (1294).
Invasions of Japan
Kublai Khan twice attempted to invade Japan in search of gold; however, both times the Samurai resisted greatly and the weather tore the fleets apart. The first attempted invasion was in 1274 with a fleet of 900 ships. The second invasion was in 1281 with a fleet of over 1,170 large war junks, each close to 240 feet long. Japanese were prepared for this invasion and they had built a wall several feet high on the island where Mongols were predicted to land to prevent horses from coming ashore easily. The Campaign was badly synchronized as the Korean fleet reached Japan much ahead of the Chinese fleet. Japanese Samurai fought with great valor and defeated the largely Chinese and Korean army of Mongols. Dr. Kenzo Hayashida, the marine archaeologist who discovered the wreckage of the second invading fleet off the western coast of Takashima, headed their excavation. The findings strongly indicate that Kublai Khan rushed to conquer Japan and attempted to construct his enormous fleet in only one year (a task that should have taken up to 5 years), which forced the Chinese to use any available ships, particularly river boats, as the basis for Khan's fleet in order to achieve readiness on time. Most importantly, the Koreans, then under his control, were forced to build countless ships to contribute to the fleet in both of the invasions. Had Kublai used ocean-going ships, which have a curved keel to prevent capsizing, his navy may have survived the journey to and from Japan and may have even conquered it as originally intended.
John Pearson, author of Kublai Khan (2005), writes,
"The cost of these defeats led the Khan to devalue the central currency, further exacerbating growing inflation. He also increased tax assessments. These economic problems lead to growing resentment of the Mongols, who paid no taxes, among the Chinese populace."
David Nicole, author of The Mongol Conquerors, writes,
"...these disastrous defeats shattered the myth of Mongol invincibility throughout Asia."
"Kublai Khan was determined to mount a third invasion, despite the horrendous cost to the economy and to his and Mongol prestige of the first two defeats, and only his death prevented such a third attempt, despite the unanimous agreement of his advisors against such an attempt."
In early 2006, marine archaeologists determined that previous theories that Kublai's fleet was made up entirely of ships that came from river boats was found to be weakened as evidence of keel usage began to show up in recent discoveries. One current theory that has yet to be found false is the idea that the new Mongol technology of explosives (grenade-like weapons) may have backfired, potentially from inexperienced engineering, when an attack on Japan would have begun.
Kublai, a grandson of the Mongol leader Genghis Khan began leading further Mongol advances in the latter years of the 1250s. On 5 May 1260 Kublai was elected Khan at his residence in Shang-tu and he began to organize the country. Zhang Wenqian, who was a friend of Guo and like him was a central government official, was sent by Kublai Khan in 1260 to Daming where unrest had been reported in the local population. Guo accompanied Zhang on his mission. Guo was not only interested in engineering, but he was also an expert astronomer. In particular he was a skilled instrument maker and understood that good astronomical observations depended on expertly made instruments. He now began to construct astronomical instruments, including water clocks for accurate timing and armillary spheres which represent the celestial globe.
Zhang advised Kublai Khan that his friend Guo was a leading expert in hydraulic engineering. Kublai knew the importance of water management, for irrigation, transport of grain, and flood control, and he asked Guo to look at these aspects in the area between Dadu (now Beijing or Peking) and the Yellow River. To provide Dadu with a new supply of water, Guo found the Baifu spring in the Shenshan Mountain and had a 30 km channel built to bring the water to Dadu. He proposed connecting the water supply across different river basins, built new canals with many sluices to control the water level, and achieved great success with the improvements which he was able to make. This pleased Kublai Khan and led to Guo being asked to undertake similar projects in other parts of the country. In 1264 he was asked to go to Gansu province to repair the damage that had been caused to the irrigation systems by the years of war during the Mongol advance through the region. Guo traveled extensively along with his friend Zhang taking notes of the work which needed to be done to unblock damaged parts of the system and to make improvements to its efficiency. He sent his report directly to Kublai Khan.
Kublai, in the later part of his life developed severe Gout. He also put on a lot of weight due to excessive eating. This ultimately led to his death.
Clan name (obogh):
Bei'erzhijin2 (孛兒只斤), or
Sub lineage name4:
(yasun) Khiyad5 (Хиад),
Qiwowen6 (奇渥溫), or
Hubilie (忽必烈 Hūbìlìe)
Khan of the Mongols;
Dates of reign: May 5, 1260- Dec. 17, 1271
Emperor of Yuan China;
Dates of reign: Dec. 18, 12717- Feb. 18, 1294
Ön, now Yüanh (Юань)
Setsen Khan (Сэцэн хаан)
Xuechan Han (薛禪汗)
Shengde Shengong Wen Huang Wudi (聖德神功文武皇帝)
1- This is the singular. The plural is Borjigi.
2- This is the most frequent Chinese version of the clan name nowadays.
3- This Chinese version of the clan name was the most frequent during the Qing Dynasty.
4- The Cambridge History of China thinks that Khiyad was a sub lineage inside the larger Borjigin clan, but other scholars disagree and think that Borjigin was a sub lineage inside the larger Khiyad clan, while there are those who think that Khiyad and Borjigin were both used interchangeably.
5- This is the plural. The singular is Khiyan.
6- This Chinese version of Khiyad is the one that appears in the Chinese history of the Yuan Dynasty.
7- Founded the Yuan Dynasty on that day. However, was not in control of southern China until February 1276, when the Southern Song emperor was captured and the imperial seal was relinquished to the Mongols. The last pockets of resistance in southern China fell in 1279.
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B5: 李自成; PY: Lǐ Zìchéng; BN: Li Hongji; B5: 鴻基; GB: 鸿基; PY: Li Hóngjī (September 22, 1606- 1645)- Rebel in late Ming China who proclaimed himself Chuǎng Wáng (闖王), or "The Roaming King".
Born in Mizhi District (米脂縣), Yan'an Sub prefecture (延安府), Shaanxi, Li grew up as a shepherd. Li started to learn horse riding and archery at age 20 and started gathering peasants in 1630. In three years, he gathered more than 20,000 soldiers. The Li rebels then attacked and killed leading officials in places in Henan, Shanxi, and Shaanxi.
In April 1644, Li's rebels sacked the Ming capital of Beijing, and the last Ming emperor committed suicide. He proclaimed himself as the Emperor of Shun Dynasty (大順皇帝). Li died after his army was defeated on May 27, 1644 by the Manchus and Wu Sangui, either by committing suicide or assassination at the age of 40.
A popular saying was that he didn't die upon defeat, but became a monk.
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Longqing Emperor of Ming
B5: 隆慶; GB: 隆庆; PY: Lóngqìng; BN: Zhu Zaihou; B5: 朱載垕; GB: 朱载垕; PY: Zhū Zàihòu (March 4, 1537- July 5, 1572)- 12th emperor of the Ming dynasty between 1567- 1572. Born Zhu Zaihou, he was the Jiajing Emperor's son.
Realizing the depth of chaos his father's long reign had caused, Longqing set about reforming the government and employing talented officials in hopes of mending the situation. He reinitiated trade with other empires in Europe, Africa and other parts of Asia and he also reinforced border security and nominated several generals to patrol the border on land and on sea which included fortifying seaports along the Zhejiang and Fujian coast to deter sea pirates which was a constant nuisance during Jiaqing emperor's reign.
Emperor Longqing died in 1572 after a short reign of only 6 years and was succeeded by his son. He is generally considered a more liberal and open minded emperors of the Ming dynasty. Unfortunately, the country was still in decline due to corruption at the ruling class. He was buried in Zhaoling (昭陵).
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Zaihou (載垕)
Dates of reign: 4 February 1567–5 July 1572
Era name: Longqing (隆慶)
Era dates: 9 February 1567–1 February 1573
Temple name: Muzong (穆宗)
Posthumous name: (short)
Emperor Zhuang (莊皇帝)
Posthumous name: (full)
Emperor Qitian Longdao Yuanyi Kuanren Xianwen Guangwu Chunde Hongxiao Zhuang
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(September 15, 1254- January 8, 1324)- Venetian trader and explorer who, together with his father Niccolò and his uncle Maffeo, was one of the first Westerners to travel the Silk Road to China (which he called Cathay) and visited the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, Kublai Khan (grandson of Genghis Khan). His travels are written down in Il Milione ("The Million" or The Travels of Marco Polo).
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B5: 孟子; PY: Mèngzi; WG: Meng-tzu; Mencius (372 BCE- 289 BCE; other possible dates: 385 BCE- 303/302 BCE)- Known also by his birth name Meng Ke or Ko, born in the State of Zou (鄒國), now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng (邹城市), Shandong province, only thirty kilometres (eighteen miles) south of Qufu, Confucius' birthplace. He was an itinerant Chinese philosopher and sage, and one of the principal interpreters of Confucianism. Like Confucius, according to legend, he traveled China for forty years to offer advice to rulers for reform. He served as an official during the Warring States Period (403- 221 BCE) in the State of Qi (齊; Qì) from 319 to 312 BCE. He expressed his filial devotion when he took an absence of three years from his official duties for Qi to mourn his mother's death. Disappointed at his failure to effect changes in his contemporary world, he retired from public life.
A follower of Confucianism, Mencius argued for the infinite goodness of the individual, believing that it was society's influence- its lack of a positive cultivating influence – which caused bad character. He even argued that it was acceptable for people to overthrow or even kill a ruler who ignored the people's needs and ruled harshly. Mencius argued that human beings are born with an innate moral sense which society has corrupted, and that the goal of moral cultivation is to return to one's innate morality.
Mencius' interpretation of Confucianism has generally been considered the orthodox version by subsequent Chinese philosophers, especially the Neo-Confucians of the Song dynasty. The Mencius (also spelled Mengzi), a book of his conversations with kings of the time, is one of the four books that form the core of orthodox Confucian thinking. In contrast to the sayings of Confucius which are short and self-contained, the Mencius consists of long dialogues, with extensive prose.
Mencius spoke frequently and highly of the well-field system.
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Qin Shi Huangdi
B5: 秦始皇; PY: Qín Shǐ Huáng; WG: Ch'in Shih-huang; BN: Zheng (November / December 260 BCE- September 10, 210 BCE)- King of the Chinese State of Qin from 247 BCE to 221 BCE, and then the first emperor of a unified China from 221 BCE to 210 BCE, ruling under the name First Emperor.
Having unified China, he and his prime minister Lǐ Sī passed a series of major reforms aimed at cementing the unification, and they undertook some Herculean construction projects, most notably the precursor version of the current Great Wall of China. For all the tyranny of his autocratic rule, Qin Shi Huang is still regarded by many today as the founding father in Chinese history whose unification of China has endured for more than two millennia.
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B5: 利瑪竇; GB: 利玛窦; PY: Lì Mǎdòu; WG: Li-ma-teu (Macerata, October 6, 1552- Peking, May 11, 1610)- Italian Jesuit priest whose missionary activity in China during the Ming Dynasty marked the beginning of modern Chinese Christianity. He is still recognized as one of the greatest missionaries to China. The church he built remains the largest Catholic church to survive the Cultural Revolution.
Ricci arrived in south China in 1582, and at Beijing in 1601, where he presented himself at the Imperial court of Wanli. Not only could he write in difficult ancient Chinese, he was also renowned for his great understanding of Chinese culture. Unlike missionaries in South Asia, he found that Chinese culture was strongly tied to Confucian values and concluded that Christianity had to be adapted to Chinese culture in order to take root. Ricci was the first to translate the Confucian Classics into a western language, Latin; in fact "Confucius" was Ricci's own Latinisation. He called himself a "Western Confucian" (西儒) and was given the courtesy name of Xitai; 西泰; Xītài. With the introduction of Western science and state-of-the-art gadgets like an automatic clock and a world atlas, he attracted the attention of some traditional Confucian literati and officials. In 1607 he and Chinese Catholic mathematician Xu Guangqi translated the first parts of Euclid's Elements into Chinese. Ricci's work on a Chinese-language atlas of the world included coining Chinese names for European countries, many of which are still in use in Chinese today.
In a debate, he argued that Confucian ancestor worship was nothing more than the demonstration of remembrance and respect to ancestors: it was not a matter of paganism. His view was praised by Chinese scholars but disapproved of by other competing churches. Others argued that ancestor worship was a cult and had to be prohibited. Ironically, the long debate finally resulted in all Catholics being banned after Ricci's death. All missionary work went underground until the Opium War in 1841.
Ricci introduced many aspects of China to Europe, generally in a favorable light.
He died in Beijing and his contribution was fully recognized by the Emperor Wanli. He is buried in what is now the School of Beijing Municipal Committee. Life magazine named Ricci one of the 100 most important people of the last millennium.
Riccius crater on the Moon is named in his honor. One of the residential halls of Hong Kong University, Ricci Hall, is named after Matteo Ricci. Matteo Ricci College at Seattle Preparatory School and Seattle University is also named after him.
Ricci's cause of beatification has been completed at the diocesan level.
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B5: 神農; GB: 神农; PY: Shénnóng; Yandi; B5: 炎帝; PY: Yándì- Legendary Emperor of China and culture hero of Chinese mythology who is believed to have lived some 5,000 years ago and who taught ancient China the practices of agriculture. Appropriately, his name means "the Divine Farmer". He is credited with identifying hundreds of medicinal (and poisonous) herbs by personally testing their properties, which was crucial towards the development of Traditional Chinese medicine. Tea, which acts as an antidote after being poisoned by some seventy herbs, is also said to be his discovery. Chinese legends places this occurrence in 2737 BCE, and states that leaves from burning tea twigs blew upwards from the fire and landed in his cauldron of boiling water (Jane Reynolds, Phil Gates, and Gaden Robinson (1994). 365 Days of Nature and Discovery. Harry N. Adams, Inc., New York. ISBN 0-8109-3876-6.).
The most well-known work attributed to Shennong is the 神农本草经 (PY: Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing translated as The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic)- first compiled some time during the end of the Western Han Dynasty- which lists the various medicinal herbs discovered by Shennong by grade and rarity.
A close kin of the Yellow Emperor, he is said to be a patriarch of the Chinese. The Han Chinese regarded them both as their joint ancestors. He is also considered one of the ancestors of the Vietnamese people. He was deified as one of the San Huang for his contributions to mankind.
Shennong is said to have played a part in the creation of the Guqin, together with Fuxi and Huang Di.
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B5: 施琅; PY: Shīláng (1621-1696)- Ming-Qing admiral who had extensive experience in southeastern China. He was commander-in-chief of the Manchu fleets which destroyed the power of the Zheng family and conquered Taiwan in 1681.
Shi Lang was born to a distinguished lineage in Jinjiang, Fujian and studied military strategy in youth. He was particularly proficient in naval warfare, knowing how to take advantage of wind and tide. After fighting a number of undistinguished operations locally he joined Zheng Zhilong's (鄭芝龍) fleet as captain of the left vanguard. Shi Lang served most of the early 1640s in the Zheng family fleet, where he seems to have some conflict with Zheng Zhilong's son Zheng Chenggong. When he defected to the Qing Dynasty in 1646, his father, brother and son were killed by Zheng Chenggong.
Shi Lang was well-received by the Manchus because of his extensive naval experience and his network of contacts in the major trading ports of East Asia. He accompanied Prince Jidu in 1656 on an expedition in Fujian and attained the rank of Assistant Brigade-General. In the campaign of 1663 against the Zheng family he commanded Dutch ships and men to follow up the Manchu victories. In 1668 he submitted a plan to drive the rebels from Taiwan and the Pescadores but the proposal was not utilised. He was given a post in the Imperial Bodyguard and attached to the Chinese Bordered Yellow Banner.
In 1681, following the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, the Kangxi Emperor sought a possible leader for an amphibious operation against Taiwan. Following the advice of Li Guangdi, he chose Shi Lang. Shi insisted on having an independent command, not one shared with Yao Jisheng, the Governor-General of Fujian. On 8th July 1683, after extensive preparation in training men and constructing ships he led a force of 300 warships and 20,000 crack troops out of Tongshan, Fujian, and on July 16-17 defeated the Zheng family's leading naval commander Liu Guoxuan in a major engagement near the Pescadores. On 5th September Shi received Zheng Keshuang's offer to surrender. On 3rd October he reached Taiwan and formally obtained the capitulation of Liu and Zheng.
Following the campaign, Taiwan was divided into three counties and established as a prefecture of Fujian province. Shi Lang was made "General Who Maintains Peace on the Seas" (靖海将军) and given the hereditary rank of Marquis. At his own request he was specially granted the privilege of wearing the honorary peacock feather. Shi Lang continued at his post in Fujian and was later charged with arrogance. In 1688 the Kangxi Emperor received him in audience at Beijing and allowed him to sit in the imperial presence, reiterating his confidence in him. Shi returned to Fujian and continued in office until his death in 1696.
He was given the posthumous name of "Xiangzhuang" (襄壮), the title of Junior Tutor to the Heir Apparent, and in 1732 his name was entered for worship in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen. One of his sons achieved distinction as an admiral whilst another was an official. The Shi family was granted the special privilege of burial in their ancestral cemetery in Jinjiang instead of in Banner lands as was the case with other Bannermen.
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Shizu Emperor of Yuan
SEE Kublai Khan
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B5: 孫子; PY: Sūn Zǐ; WG: Sun-tzu (c. 6th century BCE)- Author of "The Art of War" (ISBN 1599869772), an immensely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy (for the most part not dealing directly with tactics). He is also one of the earliest realists in international relations theory.
The name Sun Tzu' ("Master Sun") is an honorific title bestowed upon Sun Wu (孫武; Sūn Wǔ), the author's name. The word Wu, meaning "martial" or "military", is same as the word in "wu shu" or "martial art". Sun Wu also has a courtesy name, Chang Qing (長卿; Cháng Qīng).
The only surviving source on the life of Sun Tzu is the biography written in the 2nd century BC by the historian Sima Qian, who describes him as a general who lived in the state of Wu in the 6th century BC, and therefore a contemporary of one of the great Chinese thinkers of ancient times- Confucius.
Sun Tzu's own work, The Art of War, labeled bing fa or "military strategy", provides some clues to the period in which he may have lived.
The historicity of Sun Tsu is discussed extensively in the introduction to Giles' 1910 translation available as a Project Gutenberg online text. In Lionel Giles' introduction to his 1910 translation of The Art of War, Giles expands on the doubt and confusion which has surrounded the historicity of Sun Tzu.
In 1972 a set of bamboo engraved texts were discovered in a grave near Linyi in Shandong. These have helped to confirm parts of the text which were already known and have also added new sections. This version has been dated to between 134 BCE and 118 BCE, and so rules out older theories that parts of the text had been written much later.
Sun Bin, also known as Sun the Mutilated, allegedly a crippled descendent of Sun Tzu, also wrote a text known as the Art of War. A more accurate title might be the Art of Warfare since this was more directly concerned with the practical matters of warfare, rather than military strategy. At least one translator has used the title The Lost Art of War, referring to the long period of time during which Sun Bin's book was, quite literally, lost. There is, however, no coincidence between the content or writing style in Sun Bin and Sun Tzu.
Sun Tzu also is rumored to be an ancestor of Sun Quan, the founder of the Wu Kingdom, which was one of the three competing super-dynasties during the Three Kingdoms era.
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B5: 田川松; PY: Tián Chuānsōng; Weng Shi; B5: 翁氏; PY: Wēng Shì; WG: Weng-shi (1601- 1646)- Mother of Koxinga, a Taiwanese national hero. She was a Nagasaki Japanese who lived most of her life in the coastal town of Hirado, then later to China. She was the daughter of a minor vassal or worker of the Marquis of Nagasaki.
Giving Birth by the Stone
At 17, Tagawa Matsu was married to Zheng Zhilong (鄭芝龍), a Han Fujianese in his 20s who frequently traded with the Japanese in Nagasaki. She gave birth to Koxinga during a trip with her husband when she was picking seashells on the Senli Beach, Sennai River Bank (川 內浦千里濱), Hirado.
The stone beside which she gave birth still exists today as the Koxinga Child Birth Stone Tablet (鄭成功兒誕石碑), which is 80-cm tall and 3-metre wide, and submerged during high tides.
Tagawa Matsu raised Koxinga in Japan by herself until he was seven, and her closeness with her son is evident in some of the accomplishment and decisions Koxinga made in his adult life.
In 1630, she was reunited with Koxinga by moving to Quanzhou, Fujian. In 1646, when Koxinga was away, the city was invaded by the Manchus. Koxinga, upon hearing the invasion, immediately returned to Quanzhou, only to discover that his mother had hanged herself in a refusal to surrender to the Manchus. After this, Koxinga developed a growing and powerful antagonism with the Qing Empire.
In the Zheng family genealogy, Tagawa Matsu is recorded under the Sinicized name of Weng-shi. Some Chinese records indicated that this is because after she moved to Quanzhou, an old ironsmith neighbour, Weng Yihuang (翁翌皇), treated this foreigner newcomer like his own daughter.
There are a small amount of Chinese sources mistaking Tagawa Matsu as Weng Yihuang's blood daughter, with a Japanese mother surnamed Tagawa. This is unlikely, as this would necessitate either Weng Yihuang moving to Japan (but he was an ironsmith, neither a sailor nor a trader) or the migration of the Tagawa women back and forth between the two nations (but travelling of women were restricted).
In Koxinga Memorial Temple (鄭成功祠) in Tainan County, Taiwan, Tagawa Matsu's ancestral tablet is placed in a chamber called the Shrine of Queen Dowager Weng (翁太妃祠). The title "queen dowager" is a posthumous title based on the princeship/kingship of Koxinga (Prince-King of Yanping Prefecture) in the Southern Ming Empire.
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Taichang Emperor of Ming
B5: 泰昌; PY: Tàichāng; BN: Zhu Changluo; B5: 朱常洛; PY: Zhū Chánglùo (August 28, 1582- September 26, 1620)- 14th emperor of the Ming dynasty in 1620. Born Zhu Changluo, he was the Wanli Emperor's eldest son.
His mother was a palace girl and after Taichang's birth, the Wanli Emperor paid very little attention to him. Deprived of fatherly love, Taichang grew up all but forgotten and for the first 20 years of his life, Wanli would not even bestow Taichang the title of crown prince even though he was the eldest. Finally in 1601, Taichang was created crown prince but it would be almost another 20 years before he was able to rule. In 1615, there was a plot by Wanli's favorite concubine Lady Zheng to have Taichang murdered by a wandering madman set lose in the crown's prince palace. The plot was finally discovered but Lady Zheng was spared by the Wanli Emperor and all proof of the plot was systematically erased.
After the death of Wanli in 1620, Taichang ascended the throne but his reign lasted less than 1 month (the shortest of the Ming dynasty) and it was said that he died of illness brought on by sexual exhaustion when he was presented eight beautiful serving girls by Lady Zheng1. Taichang's reign was so short that at the time of his death in September of 1620, the late Wanli Emperor had not yet been buried.
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Changluo (常洛)
Dates of reign: 28 August 1620- 26 September 1620
Dynasty: Ming (明)
Era name: Taichang (泰昌)
Era dates: 28 August 1620¹- 21 January 1621
Temple name: Guangzong (光宗)
Posthumous name: (short)
Emperor Zhen (貞皇帝)
Posthumous name: (full)
Emperor Chongtian Qidao Yingrui Gongchun Xianwen Jingwu Yuanren Yixiao Zhen
1- The Taichang era should have started on January 22, 1621; however, the emperor died before the start of his era. He was succeeded by his son the Tianqi Emperor, and according to the law the Tianqi era was now scheduled to start on January 22, 1621, so that the Taichang era would never exist in practice. In order to honor his father, the new emperor decided that the Wanli era would be considered ended since August 27, 1620, the last day of the 7th month in the Chinese calendar. The period from August 28, 1620 (1st day of the 8th month, which was the day on which Taichang had ascended the throne) until January 21, 1621 would become the Taichang era, enabling this era to be applied for a few months. Thus, quite an extraordinary situation resulted from this choice: the 7th month of the 48th year of the Wanli era was followed by the 8th month of the 1st year of the Taichang era (the 1st year of the Taichang era, in fact the only year of the Taichang era, lacks its first seven months), then the 12th month of the 1st year of the Taichang era was followed by the 1st month of the 1st year of the Tianqi era.
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Taizu Emperor of Song
B5: 太祖; PY: Tàizŭ; BN: Zhao Kuangyin; B5: 趙匡胤; GB: 赵匡胤; PY: Zhào Kuāngyìn (March 21, 927- November 14, 976)- Founder of the Song Dynasty of China, reigning from 960 to 976. His family was of fairly modest origins and cannot be traced back with certainty further than the late Tang dynasty. His ancestor Zhao Ting (828-874) was an official who served in Zhuozhou, in Hebei near to where the family lived. His second son Zhao Ting (851-928) and his son Zhao Jing (872-933) also served as local officials in Hebei. Zhao Jing's son Zhao Hongyin (899-956) decided against a civil career and became a military officer instead. Zhao Kuangyin had little interest in a Classical education and also joined the military eventually rising to be the commander of the Palace Army for the Second Zhou dynasty. It was this post that enabled him to rise to power. The last competent Second Zhou Emperor, Shizong (r. 954-960) died leaving an infant boy on the throne. Zhao Kuangyin, as the commander of the Emperor's guard, allegedly reluctantly and only at the urging of his soldiers, took power in a coup d'etat.
In 960, Song Taizu reunited China after years of fragmentation and rebellion after the fall of the Tang dynasty in 907 and established the Song dynasty. He was remembered for, but not limited to, his reform of the examination system whereby entry to the bureaucracy favoured individuals who demonstrated academic ability rather than by birth. He also created political institutions that allowed a great deal of freedom of discussion and thought, which facilitated the growth of scientific advance, economic reforms as well as achievements in arts and literature. He is perhaps best known for weakening the military and so preventing anyone else rising to power as he did.
He reigned for 16 years and died in 976 at the age of 49. Unexpectedly he was succeeded by his younger brother even though he had four living sons. In the traditional historical accounts his mother, the Dowager Empress Du, warned him that just as he rose to power because Zhou Shizong had left an infant on the throne, someone else might usurp power if he did not name an adult as his heir. In China's folk memory Song Taizong is said to have murdered his brother and invented his mother's advice as justification.
His temple name means "Grand Forefather".
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Tianqi Emperor of Ming
B5: 天啟; GB: 天启; PY: Tiānqĭ; BN: Zhu Youjiao; B5: 朱由校; PY: Zhū Yóujiào (December 23, 1605- September 30, 1627)- 15th Emperor of the Ming dynasty from 1620 to 1627. Eldest son of the Taichang Emperor.
Zhu Youxiao became emperor at the age of 15, on the death of his father who ruled less than a month. He did not pay much attention to affairs of state, and was accused of failing in his filial duties to his dead father by not continuing his father's wishes. It is possible that Zhu Youxiao suffered from a learning disability or something more. He was illiterate and showed no interest in his studies. Because he was unable to read memorials and uninterested in the affairs of state, his head eunuch, Wei Zhongxian usurped the power along with and Madam Ke, Zhu Youxiao's nanny. Zhu Youxiao apparently devoted his time to carpentry. Wei took advantage of the situation and began appointing the people he trusted to important positions in the palace. Meanwhile Madam Ke, who was the nanny of the young emperor sought to retain power by removing all other women from the emperor's harem by locking away the concubines of the emperor and starving them to death. One Confucian moralist group, the Donglin, expressed distress at the conditions of the Imperial State. In response, the palace covertly ordered the execution of a number of officials associated with the Donglin. Living conditions worsened during his reign and Tianqi faced several popular uprisings.
Zhu Youxiao died in 1627 and was succeeded by his younger brother.
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Youjiao (由校)
Dates of reign: 1 October 1620- 30 September 1627
Era name: Tianqi (天啓)
Era dates: 22 January 1621- 4 February 1628
Temple name: Xizong (熹宗)
Posthumous name: (short)
Emperor Zhe (悊皇帝)
Posthumous name: (full)
Emperor Datian Chandao Dunxiao Duyou Zhangwen Xiangwu Jingmu Zhuangqin Zhe
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B5: 王陽明; GB: 王阳 Wáng Yángmíng (1472- 1529)- Ming Chinese idealist Neo-Confucian scholar–official. After Zhu Xi, he is commonly considered the most important Neo-Confucian thinker, with interpretations of Confucianism that denied the rationalist dualism of the orthodox philosophy of Zhu Xi.
Life and Thought
Born Wang Shouren (守仁) in Zhejiang Province, his courtesy name was Bo'an (伯安). He was the leading figure in the Neo-Confucian School of Mind, which championed an interpretation of Mencius (a Classical Confucian who became the focus of later interpretation) that unified knowledge and action. Their rival school, the School of Li (principle) treated gaining knowledge as a kind of preparation or cultivation that, when completed, could guide action.
Wang Yangming developed the idea of innate knowing, arguing that every person knows from birth the difference between good and bad. Such knowledge is intuitive and not rational.
He held that objects do not exist entirely apart from the mind because the mind shapes them. He believed that it is not the world that shapes the mind, but the mind that gives reason to the world. Therefore, the mind alone is the source of all reason. He understood this to be an inner light, an innate moral goodness and understanding of what is good. This is similar to the thinking of the Greek philosopher Socrates who argued that "knowledge is virtue".
In order to eliminate selfish desires that cloud the mind’s understanding of goodness, one can practice his type of meditation often called tranquil repose or sitting still (靜坐 py jìngzùo). This is similar to the practice of Chan (Zen) meditation in Buddhism.
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Wanli Emperor of Ming
B5: 萬曆; GB: 万历; PY: Wànlì; BN: Zhu Yijun; B5: 朱翊鈞; GB: 朱翊钧; PY: Zhū Yìjūn (September 4, 1563- August 18, 1620)- 13th Emperor of the Ming dynasty between 1572 and 1620. Son of the Longqing Emperor. His rule of 48 years had, to that point, been the second longest reign of a Chinese emperor, after Han Wudi of the 2nd c. BCE. Wanli witnessed the steady decline of the dynasty and saw the arrival of the first Jesuit missionary in Beijing, Matteo Ricci.
Wanli ascended the throne at the age of 9. For the first ten years of his reign, the young emperor was aided by a notable statesman, Zhang Juzheng (張居正). Zhang Juzheng directed the path of the country and exercised his skills and power as an able administrator. After Zhang's death in 1582, Wanli felt that he was free of supervision and reversed many of Zhang's administrative improvements.
Post Zhang Juzheng
After Zhang's death, Wanli seldom attended state affairs and for years at a time would refuse to receive his ministers or read any reports being sent to him. Wanli also extorted money from the government, and ultimately his own people, for his personal enjoyment. One example was that he paid close attention to the construction of his own tomb which took decades to complete. The Wanli Emperor then became so disenchanted with the moralistic attacks and counterattacks of officials that he was thoroughly alienated from his imperial role. He finally resorted to vengeful tactics of blocking or ignoring the conduct of administration. For years on end he refused to see his ministers or act upon memorials. He refused to make necessary appointments. The whole top echelon of Ming administration became understaffed. In short, Wanli tried to forget about his imperial responsibilities while squirreling away what he could for his private purse. Considering the emperor's required role as the kingpin of the state, this personal rebellion against the bureaucracy was not only bankruptcy but treason.1
- Empress Xiaoduan (? - 1620), had no sons
- Empress Xiaojing (? - 1612), died after bearing the Taichang Emperor. Her grandson, the Tianqi Emperor, promoted her to Empress Dowager. Thus she was re-buried from an Imperial Concubine's tomb to the Wanli Emperor's tomb. That is the reason why the Wanli Emperor was the only Ming Dynasty Emperor buried with two wives.
Legacy and Death
The Wanli emperor’s reign is representative of the decline of the Ming. He was an unmotivated and avaricious ruler who allowed his country to fall apart under his rule. His reign was plagued with fiscal woes, military pressures, and angry bureaucrats. He also had sent eunuch supervisors to provinces to oversee mining operations which actually became covers for extortion. Discontent with the lack of morals during this time, a group of scholars and political activists loyal to Zhu Xi and against Wang Yangming, created the Donglin Movement, a political group who believed in upright morals and tried to affect the government. During the closing years of Wanli's reign, the Manchu began to conduct raids on the northern border of the Ming Empire. Their depredations ultimately led to the overthrow of the Ming dynasty in 1644. The Wanli Emperor died in 1620 and was buried in Dingling (定陵) located on the outskirts of Beijing. His tomb is one of the biggest in the vicinity compared and is one of only two that are open to the public.
Family name: Zhu (朱)
Given name: Yijun (翊鈞)
Dates of reign: 19 July 1572- 18 August 1620
Dynasty: Ming (明)
Era name: Wanli (萬曆)
Era dates: 2 February 1573- 27 August 1620¹
Temple name: Shenzong (神宗)
Posthumous name: (short) Emperor Xian (顯皇帝)
Posthumous name: (full) Emperor Fantian Hedao Zhesu Dunjian Guangwen Zhangwu Anren Zhixiao Xian (範天合道哲肅敦簡光文章武安仁 止孝顯皇帝)
Following the death of the emperor, the Wanli era was normally due to end on January 21, 1621. However, the new emperor Taichang died within a month, before January 22, 1621, which should have been the start of the Taichang era. The new emperor Tianqi decided that the Wanli era would be considered ended since August 27, 1620, the last day of the 7th month in the Chinese calendar, to enable the Taichang era to be applied for the five months remaining in that year.
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B5: 魏忠賢; GB: 魏忠贤; PY: Wèi Zhōngxián (1568- October 19, 1627)- Considered by most historians as the most powerful and notorious eunuch in Chinese history. He was a hoodlum and gambler, who made himself a eunuch and changed his name to Li Chin-chung in order to escape from his debtors. Entering the palace, he managed to get into the service of the wet-nurse Madam Ke of the future Ming emperor. The couple began manipulating the Tianqi Emperor, and the emperor later made Wei the Grand Secretary of the State, which gave Wei absolute power over the court. Wei persecuted anyone who opposed his decisions, resulting in the death and imprisonment of many loyal officials. He later proclaimed himself to be Nine-Thousand Years which meant that he was the second most important person in the country, just after the emperor, who is called the Ten-Thousand Years. Wei also build many shrines and erected god-like statues of himself in them. In 1627, his control of the court ended with the death of the Tianqi Emperor, whose successor promptly dismissed him. He hanged himself to escape trial, and his corpse was disemboweled.
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Wendi Emperor of Chen
B5: 文帝; PY: Wéndì; BN: Chen Qian; B5: 陳蒨; GB: 陈蒨; PY: Chén Qiàn (522- 566)- Second emperor of the Chinese Chen Dynasty, succeeding Wudi Emperor of Chen. He was the eldest son of Shi Xing Zhao Lie Wang 始兴昭 烈王 and Chen Dao Tan 陳道談.
Wendi was initially appointed as King of Ling Chuan (臨川王) and was to have control over the army. When his cousin, Chen Chang, son of Wudi, was captured by Western Wei at Chang'an, Wen succeeded him as emperor in the 6th month of 559.
During his reign (559- 566), he managed to re-capture Changsha, Jiangying and Baxiang. Wen had a total of 13 sons. When he died in 566, his eldest son Chen Bo Zong succeeded him as the Fei Di Emperor of Chen.
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Wendi Emperor of Han
B5: 漢文帝; GB: 汉文帝; PY: Hàn Wéndì; BN: Liu Heng; B5: 劉恆; GB: 刘恒; Pinyin: Liú Héng (202 BCE- 157 BCE)- Son of Gao Emperor of Han and Consort Bo, later empress dowager. When Emperor Gao of Han suppressed the rebellion of Dai, he created Liu Heng Prince of Dai.
After Empress Dowager Lü's death, the officials eliminated the powerful Lü clan, and deliberately chose the Prince of Dai as the emperor, since his mother, Consort Bo, had no powerful relatives, and her family was known for its humility and thoughtfulness. His reign brought a much needed political stability that laid the groundwork for prosperity under his grandson Emperor Wu. According to historians, Emperor Wen trusted and consulted with ministers on state affairs; under the influence of his Taoist wife, Empress Dou, the emperor also sought to avoid wasteful expenditures.
Historians noted that the tax rates were at a ratio of "1 out of 30" and "1 out of 60", corresponding to 3.33% and 1.67%, respectively. These rates are not for income taxes, but property taxes. Warehouses became so full of grain, that some of it was left to decay.
In a move of lasting importance in 165 BCE, Emperor Wen introduced recruitment to the civil service through examinations. Previously, potential officials never sat for any sort of academic examinations. Their names were sent by local officials to the central government based on reputations and abilities, which were sometimes judged subjectively.
Early Life and Career as Prince of Dai
In 196 BCE, after Emperor Gao defeated the Chen Xi (陳豨) rebellion in the Dai region, he created Liu Heng, his son by Consort Bo, the Prince of Dai. The capital of the principality was at Jinyang (晉陽, modern Taiyuan, Shanxi). Dai was a region on the boundaries with Xiongnu, and Emperor Gao probably created the principality with the mind to use it as a base to defend against Xiongnu raids. For the first year of the principality's existence, Chen, whose army was defeated but who eluded capture, remained a threat, until Zhou Bo (周勃) killed him in battle in autumn 195 BCE. It is not known whether at this time Prince Heng, who was then seven years old, was already in Dai, but it appeared likely, because his brother Liu Ruyi was the only prince at the time explicitly to have been recorded to be remaining at the capital Chang'an rather than being sent to his principality.
In 181 BCE, after Prince Heng's brother, Prince Liu Hui of Zhao, committed suicide over his marital problems, Grand Empress Dowager Lü, who was then in effective control of the imperial government, offered the more prosperous Principality of Zhao to Prince Heng, but Prince Heng, judging correctly that she was intending on making her nephew Lü Lu prince, politely declined and indicated that he preferred remaining on the border. The grand empress dowager then created Lü Lu Prince of Zhao.
During these years, the Principality of Dai did in fact become a key position in the defense against Xiongnu, and Prince Heng became well-acquainted with Xiongnu customs and military strategies, although the extent of his own participation in military actions was unknown.
Ascension to the Throne
In 180 BCE, after Grand Empress Dowager Lü died and the officials made a coup d'etat against her clan and slaughtered her clan (during the Lü Clan Disturbance), after some deliberation, the officials offered the imperial throne to Prince Heng, rather than Prince Liu Xiang of Qi, the oldest grandson of Emperor Gao. The key to their decision was that Prince Xiang's maternal clan was domineering and might repeat the behaviors of the Lü clan, while the clan of Prince Heng's maternal clan, the Bos, were considered to be kind and humble. After some hesitation, Prince Heng, then 23-years-old, accepted the throne as Emperor Wen. His nephew, Emperor Houshao, viewed as a mere puppet of Grand Empress Dowager Lü and suspected of not being actually a son of Emperor Wen's older brother Emperor Hui, was deposed and executed.
Emperor Wen quickly showed an aptitude to govern the empire with diligence, and appeared to be genuinely concerned for the People's welfare. Heavily influenced by his wife Empress Dou, who was an adherent to Taoism, Emperor Wen governed the country with the general policies of non-intereference with the people and relaxed laws. His personal life was marked by thriftiness and general willingness to forgive. He was initially very deferential to Zhou Bo, Chen Ping (陳平), and Guan Ying (灌嬰), who were instrumental in his accession, and they served as successive prime ministers.
Examples of Wendi's Policies Showing Kindness and Concern for the People
- In 179 BCE, he abolished the law that permitted the arrest and imprisonment of parents, wives, and siblings of criminals, with the exception for the crime of treason
- In 179 BCE, he created a governmental assistance program for those in need. Loans or tax exemptions were offered to widowers, widows, orphans, and seniors without children. He also ordered that monthly stipends of rice, wine, and meat be given to seniors over 80 years in age, and that additional stipends of cloth and cotton be given to seniors over 90 years in age.
- In 179 BCE, he made peace with Nanyue, whose king Zhao Tuo (趙佗) Empress Dowager Lü had offended by an economic embargo and which therefore engaged in raids against the Principality of Changsha (modern Hunan) and the Commandery of Nan (modern Hubei). Emperor Wen accomplished this by writing humble yet assertive letters to Zhao offering peace with dignity and by caring for Zhao's relatives remaining in his native town of Zhending (真定, in modern Shijiazhuang, Hebei).
- In 178 BCE, after a solar eclipse (then viewed as a symbol of divine displeasure), he requested that officials give him honest criticism and recommend capable individuals for governmental positions. He also tried to decrease mandatory taxes and hard labor.
- In 179 BCE, after some hesitation (during which he, apparently influenced by the theory of chanrang (禪讓), thought that maybe it would be more proper for him to find the wisest person in the empire and offer the throne to him, or that he should consider offering the throne to his uncle Liu Jiao (劉 交), the Prince of Chu; his cousin Liu Pi (劉濞), the Prince of Wu; or his younger brother Liu Chang (劉長), the Prince of Huainan), he created his oldest son Liu Qi (劉啔 or 啟, later Emperor Jing) the Crown Prince and Prince Qi's mother, Consort Dou, Empress.
In addition to Empress Dou, Emperor Wen also favored Consort Shen (慎夫人). Despite her favored state, however, she only wore simple dresses rather than elaborate designs, as a means of savings.
- Emperor Wen, during the early part of his reign, was often impressed with suggestions tendered by a young official, Jia Yi (賈 誼), but opposed by senior officials, he did not promote Jia to particularly high positions; rather, Jia was put into a rotation as a teacher for various princes. Jia proposed dividing the larger principalities ruled by branch lines of the imperial family, a proposal that Emperor Wen agreed with but hesitated to actually carry out, and he did not actually implement Jia's proposal, which later might have prevented the Rebellion of the Seven States.
- An incident otherwise uncharacteristic of Emperor Wen occurred in 176 BCE. Zhou Bo, who had been instrumental in Emperor Wen's becoming emperor and who had by that point retired to his March of Jiang (絳, in modern Linfen, Shanxi), was falsely accused of treason. Instead of doing initial investigations first, Emperor Wen had Zhou arrested and incarcerated. It was only with the intercession of his mother Empress Dowager Bo and his daughter Princess Changping (昌平公主, Zhou's daughter-in-law) that Zhou was released, and the charges against him dismissed.
- In 175 BCE, over the objections of Jia Yi, Emperor Wen issued an edict permitting any person to mint money (then only in the form of coins) out of copper and tin. The main beneficiaries of this policy were those with access to copper, including the court official Deng Tong (鄧通) (see also below), to whom Emperor Wen had given a major copper mine in Yandao (嚴道, in modern Yaan, Sichuan), and Liu Pi, the Prince of Wu, whose principality had a major copper mine at Yuzhang (豫章, in modern Nanchang, Jiangxi).
- In 174 BCE, a major incident occurred involving Liu Chang, the Prince of Huainan, who was then Emperor Wen's only surviving brother. Emperor Wen had great affection for him and did not punish him for using styles and ceremonies that only emperors were supposed to use. Also, contrary to imperial laws, Prince Chang issued edicts within his own principality and also commissioned his own prime minister. He also carried out executions and created titles for people- two powers that were also reserved to the emperor. Emperor Wen constantly excused him for his indiscretions- which included assassinating Shen Yiji (審食其), the Marquess of Piyang- but eventually became unhappy. He asked his uncle Bo Zhao (薄昭) to write a letter to Prince Chang to try to change his ways. Instead, Prince Chang was offended and planned a rebellion. When the conspiracy was discovered, Emperor Wen stripped Prince Chang of his title and exiled him to Yandao- with the intent to teach him a lesson and then summoning him back. However, on the way, Prince Chang died- probably by suicide. In 172 BCE, Emperor Wen, missing Prince Chang dearly and still lamenting his death, created his sons Liu An, Liu Bo (劉勃), Liu Ci (劉賜), and Liu Liang (劉良) marquesses, again over Jia Yi's objection.
- Also in 174 BCE, when Xiongnu's new chanyu Laoshang came to power, Emperor Wen continued the heqin policy by giving him a prince's daughter in marriage.
- In 170 BCE, Emperor Wen's uncle Bo Zhao, who had been instrumental in his administration, killed an imperial messenger. Emperor Wen forced him to commit suicide. This incident drew criticism from later historians, who believed that he should have curbed Bo's powers in earlier and saved his life in that manner.
- In 169 BCE, Chao Cuo (晁錯), then a low level official, offered Emperor Wen a number of suggestions at dealing with Xiongnu. Emperor Wen was impressed, and made him a member of Crown Prince Qi's household. At Chao's suggestion, in 168 BCE, Emperor Wen instituted the policy that if people contributed food for use by the northern defense force against Xiongnu, they could receive titles or have their crimes pardoned.
- In 167 BCE, Emperor Wen banned the corporal punishments of facial tattoo and cutting off the nose or a foot, and replaced them with whipping. These punishments would not be instituted against as a matter of formal legal sentencing for the rest of Chinese history. However, as was later noted, this actually caused more deaths, and so the amount of whipping was further reduced in 156 BCE by Emperor Jing.
Later in his reign, Emperor Wen became superstitious and started search for supernatural events. In 165 BCE, at the instigation of the sorcerer Xinyuan Ping (新垣平), he built a temple north of Wei River dedicated to five gods. He then promoted Xinyuan and awarded him with much treasure. At Xinyuang's suggestion, Emperor Wen planned a thorough revision of the governmental system and the building of many temples. In 164 BCE, Xinyuan Ping had an associate place a jade cup outside the imperial palace with mysterious writings on them, and also predicted a regression in the path of the sun. (his phenomenon has never been adequately explained, but might have been actually a partial solar eclipse. In response, Emperor Wen joyously proclaimed an empire-wide festival and also restarted the calendering for his reign. Therefore, the years 163 BCE and on, for the rest of his reign, was known as the later era of his reign. However, in winter 164 BCE, Xinyuan was exposed to be a fraud, and he and his clan were executed. That ended Emperor Wen's period of supernatural fascination.
In 158 BCE, when Xiongnu made a major incursion into the Commanderies of Shang (上, modern northern Shaanxi) and Yunzhong (雲中, modern western Inner Mongolia, centering Hohhot), Emperor Wen made a visit to the camps of armies preparing to defend the capital Chang'an against a potential Xiongnu attack. It was on this occasion when he became impressed with Zhou Bo's son Zhou Yafu as a military commander- compared to the other generals, who, upon the emperor's arrival, dropped all things and did what they could to make the emperor feel welcome, Zhou remained on military alert and required the imperial guards to submit to proper military order before he would allow the imperial train to enter. Later, he would leave instructions for Crown Prince Qi that if military emergencies arose, he should make Zhou his commander of armed forces- instructions that were heeded during the Rebellion of the Seven States.
Emperor Wen died in summer 157 BCE. He was succeeded by Crown Prince Qi. Emperor Wen, in his will, reduced the usual mourning period to three days, contrary to the previous lengthy periods of mourning in which weddings, sacrifices, drinking, and the consumption of meat were disallowed, thus greatly reducing the burden on the people. He also ordered that his concubines be allowed to return home. Before and after Emperor Wen, generally, imperial concubines without children were required to guard the emperor's tomb for the rest of their lives.
Impact on History
Emperor Wen was considered one of the most benevolent rulers in Chinese history. His reign was marked by thriftiness and attempts to reduce burdens on the people. His reign and that of his son Emperor Jing were often collectively known together as the Rule of Wen and Jing, renowned for general stability and relaxed laws.
- Emperor Gao of Han China
- Consort Bo
- Empress Dou (d. 135 BCE)
- Major Concubines
- Consort Shen
- Consort Ji
- Crown Prince Liu Qi, later Emperor Jing of Han
- Prince Liu Wu (劉武), initially of Dai (created 178 BCE), then of Huaiyang (created 175 BCE), then of Liang (created 169 BCE) (d. 144 BCE), known as Prince Xiao of Liang
- Prince Liu Can (劉參), initially of Taiyuan (created 178 BCE), later of Dai (created 175 BCE) (d. 161 BCE), known as Prince Xiao of Dai
- Prince Liu Yi (劉揖) of Liang (d. 169 BCE), of a fall from a horse, known as Prince Huai of Liang
- Princess Changping
- Liu Piao (劉嫖), the Princess Guantao
Liu (劉 liú)
Heng (恆 héng)
(full) Taizong (太宗; tài zōng)
(full) Xiaowen (孝文, xiào wén) "filial and civil"
(short) Wen (文, wén) "civil"
Qianyuan (前元 qían yuán) 179 BCE- 164 BCE
Houyuan (後元 hòu yúan) 163 BCE- 157 BCE
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Wendi Emperor of Sui
B5: 隋文帝; PY: Súi Wéndì; BN: Yang Jian; B5: 楊堅; GB: 杨坚; PY: Yáng Jiān (541- 604)- Founder and first emperor of China's Sui Dynasty. He was a hard-working administrator and a micromanager. As a Buddhist, he encouraged the spread of Buddhism through the state; however, his government officially supported Confucianism.
As an official in the Northern Zhou Dynasty, Yang Jian seized power in 581. When the womanizing Emperor to the Northern Zhou dynasty died an untimely death, the next Emperor became Wendi's grandson through his daughter, who was the Empress and the official wife of the late Emperor (he had 5 Empresses). At this time Yang Jian was already in charge of the day-to-day running of the imperial court in the capital, because the late Emperor was not interested in governing himself. Yang Jian was appointed to be one of the two regents for the six-year old boy and after suppressing a revolt by his co-regent in command of the armies of the east. He seized the throne for himself, establishing the new Sui dynasty.
After seizing the throne, Wendi declared himself the rightful possessor of the Mandate of Heaven. He invaded the Chen Dynasty in the south to reunite northern and southern China. Before invading, he distributed propaganda flyers in the south, declaring that the Chen ruler had lost the Mandate of Heaven because of his decadent rule, which eased the conquest of the south.
His first accomplishment was to consolidate governmental administration and centralize the political system. He established a more efficient two-body government to replace the existing three-tier system, and created three departments and six ministries for state supervision. Wendi took steps to breach the social gap between rich and poor, and to reduce corruption and encourage union of Chinese states. Political officials became qualified based on merit rather than blood, and imperial examinations were instituted. Elite-class privileges, which had long been part of the social system in the northern dynasties, fell. Capable officials from the south were welcomed to join his government.
In this reign, the land-equalization system was created, distributing land equally based on household size, with more land for larger families. However, existing landholders were allowed to keep their property, and land could not be sold off, only farmed. Taxes on farmers and merchants were relaxed, as well, and overall the period became very agriculturally productive.
Wendi saw the beginning of the construction of the Grand Canal. This huge project had the purpose of uniting northern and southern China with improved transport. It was completed in the reign of his son, Yangdi. Another project of his time was the improvement and expansion of the Great Wall.
Wendi is usually thought to have been strangled at the hands of the prince, who had been stripped of his title after being caught raping one of Wendi's concubines. However, some people believe he died of illness.
As an Emperor Wendi is famous for his "Kai Huang Lü" which became the basis for all legal codes of subsequent dynasties of China until the overthrow of the Qing in 1911.
Wendi is also famous for having the least amount of concubines for an adult Chinese Emperor who have ruled so long. Wendi had only 2 concubines, and those are only after his empress and longtime wife died. Tang Taizong, by comparison, is said to have over 3000 concubines in his palaces.
Family name: Yang (B5: 楊; GB: 杨)
Given name: Jian (B5: 堅; GB: 坚)
Dates of reign: 581- 604
Era name: Kaihuang (開皇) 581- 600
(full) Sui Wendi (隋文帝)
(short) Wen (文) "civil"
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Wendi Emperor of Wei
B5: 曹魏文帝; PY: Cáo Wèi Wéndì; BN: Cao Pi; B5: 曹丕; PY: Cáo Pī (187- 226)- Born in Qiao County, Pei Commandery (now Bozhou, Anhui). He was the second son of the Chinese politician and poet Cao Cao and was the first emperor and the real founder of Cao Wei (also known as "Kingdom of Wei").
Cao Pi, like his father, was a poet. The first Chinese poem using seven syllables per line (七言詩) was the poem 燕歌行 by Cao Pi. He also wrote over a hundred articles on various subjects.
Cao Pi was the eldest son of Cao Cao and his concubine (later wife) Princess Bian. Of all his brothers, Cao Pi was the most shrewd. Instead of studying hard or conducting military affairs, he was always in the presence of court officials in order to gain their support. He was mostly in charge of defense at the start of his career. After the defeat of Yuan Shao at Guandu, he took the widow of Yuan Shao's son Yuan Xi, Lady Zhen, as a consort, although eventually she lost his favor and was forced to commit suicide. After he became emperor, his other favorite, Guo Nüwang, became empress.
In 220, Cao Pi forced Emperor Xian to abdicate the throne and proclaimed himself emperor of Wei. Cao Pi continued his father's war against Liu Bei's Shu Han and Sun Quan's Eastern Wu but was unsuccessful. Unlike Cao Cao he concentrated most of his efforts on his home country, which prospered under his rule.
There were many internal conflicts during Cao Pi's rule. He demoted his brother Cao Zhi (who had contended with him the status as Cao Cao's heir) and had two of Cao Zhi's best friends excuted. Allegedly, his younger brother Cao Xiong committed suicide out of fears for his brother, although this was undocumented in actual historical records. Cao Pi also put Yu Jin to shame for his loss to Guan Yu, which caused him to become ill and die. He further restricted the roles his other brothers had in the imperial administration; in addition, unlike princes of the Han Dynasty, under regulations established by Cao Pi, Cao Wei princes had minimal authority even in their own principalities and were restricted in many ways. Many historians attribute these heavy restrictions to how Cao Pi was jealous of Cao Zhi's literary talent and Cao Zhang's military might.
Family Background and Early Career
Cao Pi was born in 187, to Cao Cao and one of his favorite concubines, Lady Bian. At the time of Cao Pi's birth, Cao Cao was a mid-level officer in the imperial guards in the capital Luoyang, with no hint that he would go on to the great campaigns that he would eventually carry out after the collapse of the imperial government in 190. After 190, when Cao Cao was constantly waging war, it is not known where Cao Pi and his mother Lady Bian were, or what their activities were. The lone reference to Cao Pi during this period was in 204, when he took Yuan Xi's wife Zhen Luo as his wife. Lady Zhen gave birth to Cao Pi's oldest son Cao Rui only eight months later- which created murmurs that Cao Rui might have been biologically Yuan Xi's son and not Cao Pi's, although the possibilities appeared farfetched.
The immediate next reference to Cao Pi's activities was in 211, when he was commissioned to be the commander of the imperial guards and deputy prime minister (i.e., assistant to his father, who was then prime minister and in effective control of the imperial government). His older brother Cao Ang having died earlier, Cao Pi was now the oldest son of Cao Cao, and his mother Lady Bian was now Cao Cao's wife (after Cao Ang's adoptive mother, Cao Cao's first wife Lady Ding, was deposed), making Cao Pi the presumptive heir for Cao Cao.
That status, however, was not immediately made legal, and for years there were lingering doubts whom Cao Cao intended to make heir, because Cao Cao greatly favored a younger son of his, also by Lady Bian- Cao Zhi, who was known for his literary talents; while Cao Pi was a talented poet, Cao Zhi was even higher regarded as a poet and speaker. By 215, the brothers were on the surface in concord but each having his set of associates, fighting with each other under the surface. Initially, Cao Zhi's party appeared to be prevailing, and they were successful in 216 in falsely accusing two officials supporting Cao Pi- Cui Yan (崔琰) and Mao Jie (毛玠). Cui was executed, while Mao was deposed. However, the situation shifted after Cao Cao received advice from his strategist Jia Xu, who concluded that changing the general rules of succession (primogeniture) would be disruptive- using Yuan Shao and Liu Biao as counterexamples. Cao Pi was also fostering his image among the people and creating the sense that Cao Zhi was wasteful and lacking actual talent in governance. In 217, Cao Cao, who was by this point Prince of Wei, finally declared Cao Pi as his crown prince. He would remain as such until his father's death in 220.
Inheritance of His Father's Position and Seizure of the Imperial Throne
Cao Cao died in spring 220, while he was at Luoyang. Even though Cao Pi had been crown prince for several years, there was initially some confusion as to what would happen next. The apprehension was particularly heightened when, after Cao Cao's death, the Qing Province (青州, modern central and eastern Shandong) troops suddenly deserted, leaving Luoyang and returning home. Further, Cao Zhang, whom the troops were impressed by, quickly arrived in Luoyang, creating apprehension that he was intending to seize power from his brother. Cao Pi, hearing these news at Cao Cao's headquarters at Yecheng (鄴城, in modern Handan, Hebei), quickly declared himself the new Prince of Wei and issuing an edict in the name of his mother, Princess Bian, to that effect -- without confirmation from Emperor Xian of Han, of whom he was still technically a subject. After Cao Pi's self-declaration, neither Cao Zhang nor any other individual dared to act against him.
One of the first acts that Cao Pi carried out as Prince of Wei was to send his brothers, including Cao Zhang and Cao Zhi, back to their marches. Cao Pi, particularly fearful and resentful at Cao Zhi, soon had his march reduced in size and killed a number of his associates, including Ding Yi (丁儀), who was chief among Cao Zhi's strategists.
In winter 220, Cao Pi finally made his move for the imperial throne, strongly suggesting to Emperor Xian that he should yield the throne. Emperor Xian did so, and Cao Pi formally declined three times (a model that would be followed by future usurpers in Chinese history), and then finally accepted, ending Han Dynasty and starting a new Wei Dynasty. The former Emperor Xian was created the Duke of Shanyang. Cao Pi posthumously honored his grandfather Cao Song (曹 嵩) and father Cao Cao as emperors, and his mother Princess Dowager Bian as empress dowager. He also moved his capital from Xu (許縣, in modern Xuchang, Henan) to Luoyang.
As Emperor of the Wei Kingdom
Failure to Take Advantage of the Conflict Between Liu Bei and Sun Quan
After news of Cao Pi's ascension (and an accompanying false rumor that Cao had executed Emperor Xian) arrived in Liu Bei's domain of Yi Province (益 州, modern Sichuan and Chongqing), Liu Bei declared himself emperor as well, establishing Shu Han. Sun Quan, who controlled the vast majority of modern southeastern and southern China, did not take any affirmative steps one way or another, leaving his options open.
An armed conflict between Liu and Sun quickly developed, because in 219 Sun had ambushed Liu's general and beloved friend Guan Yu to seize back western Jing Province (荊州, modern Hubei and Hunan), which Liu had controlled, and Liu wanted to take vengeance. To avoid having to fight on two fronts, Sun formally paid allegiance to Cao, offering to be a vassal of Cao Wei. Cao's strategist Liu Ye (劉曄) suggested that Cao decline -- and in fact attack Sun on a second front, effectively partitioning Sun's domain with Shu Han, and then eventually seek to destroy Shu Han as well. Cao declined, in a fateful choice that most historians believe doomed his empire to ruling only the northern and central China -- and this chance would not come again. Indeed, against Liu Ye's advice, he created Sun the Prince of Wu and granted him the nine bestowments.
Sun's submission did not last long, however. After Sun's forces, under the command of Lu Xun, defeated Liu Bei's forces in 222, Sun began to distance himself from Cao Wei. When Cao demanded Sun to send his heir Sun Deng (孫登) to Luoyang as hostage and Sun refused, formal relations broke down. Cao personally led an expedition against Sun, and Sun, in response, declared independence from Cao Wei, establishing Eastern Wu. By this time, having defeated Liu, Eastern Wu's forces enjoyed high morale and effective leadership from Sun, Lu, and a number of other capable generals, and Cao's forces were not able to make significant advances against them despite several large-scale attacks in the next few years. The division of the Han empire into three states has become firmly established, particularly after Liu Bei's death in 222; his prime minister Zhuge Liang, serving as regent for his son Liu Shan, reestablished the alliance with Sun, causing Cao Wei to have to defend itself on two fronts and not being able to conquer either. Exasperated, Cao made a famous comment in 225 that "Heaven created the Yangtze to divide the north and the south."
Cao Pi was generally viewed as a competent, but unspectatcular, administrator of his empire. He commissioned a number of capable officials to be in charge of various affairs of the empire, employing his father's general guidelines of valuing abilities over heritage. However, he was not open to criticism, and officials who dared to cricitize him were often demoted and, on rare occasions, put to death.
Marriage and Succession Issues
An immediate issue after Cao Pi became emperor in 220 was who the empress would be. Lady Zhen was his wife, but had by this point long lost favor due to a variety of reasons -- chief among which was the struggle she had with a favorite concubine of Cao's, Guo Nüwang. Lady Guo used the unlikely possibility that Zhen's son Cao Rui might be biologically Yuan Xi's son to full advantage in creating conflicts between Cao Pi and Lady Zhen. Cao therefore refused to summon Lady Zhen to Luoyang after he ascended the throne but instead ordered her to remain at Yecheng, which caused Lady Zhen to be resentful. When words of her resentment reached Cao, he became angry and forced her to commit suicide. In 222, Cao created Consort Guo empress.
Empress Guo, however, was sonless. Lady Zhen's son Cao Rui was the oldest of Cao Pi's sons, but because she had been put to death and because of Cao Pi's lingering doubt as to his paternity, was not created crown prince but only the Prince of Pingyuan after Cao Pi's ascension. Cao Pi, however, did not appear to have seriously considered any other son as heir. (It might have been because the other sons were all significantly younger, although their ages were not recorded in history.) In the summer of 226, when Cao Pi was seriously ill, he finally created Prince Rui crown prince. He died soon thereafter, and Prince Rui ascended the throne.
- Cao Cao
- Empress Dowager Bian
- Lady Zhen Luo, mother of Cao Rui (Emperor Mingdi) and Princess Dongxiang (d. 221)
- Empress Guo Nüwang (created 222, d. 235)
- Major Concubines
- Consort Li
- Consort Yin, mother of Prince Xie
- Consort Liu, daughter of Emperor Xian of Han
- Consort Liu, daughter of Emperor Xian of Han (two daughters of Emperor Xian were Cao Pi's consorts, Liu being Emperor Xian's family name)
- Consort Pan, mother of Prince Ruí
- Consort Zhu, mother of Prince Jian
- Consort Chou, mother of Prince Lin
- Consort Xu, mother of Prince Li
- Consort Su, mother of Prince Yong
- Consort Zhang, mother of Prince Gong
- Consort Song, mother of Prince Yan
- Cao Ruì (曹叡), initially Prince of Pingyuan (created 222), later Crown Prince (created 226), later Emperor Ming of (Cao) Wei
- Cao Xie (曹協), died early (unclear when), posthumously created Duke Sang of Jing (231) then Prince Ai of Zan (234)
- Cao Ruí (note different tone than Emperor Ming) (曹蕤), initially the Prince of Yangping (created 226), later Prince Dao of Beihai (created 232, d. 233)
- Cao Jian (曹鑒), Prince Huai of Dongwuyang (created and d. 225)
- Cao Lin (曹霖), initially the Prince of Hedong (created 222), later the Prince of Guantao (created 225), later Prince Ding of Donghai (created 232, d. 249), father of Cao Mao
- Cao Li (曹禮), initially the Duke of Qin (created 221), later the Prince of Jingzhao (created 222), later Prince Ai of Yuancheng (created 225, d. 229)
- Cao Yong (曹邕), initially the Duke of Huainan (created 221), later the Prince of Huainan (created 222), later the Prince of Chen (created 223), later Prince Huai of Handan (created 225, d. 229)
- Cao Gong (曹貢), Prince Dao of Qinghe (created 222, d. 223)
- Cao Yan (曹儼), Prince Ai of Guangping (created 222, d. 223)
- Princess Dongxiang
Family name: Cao (曹; caó)
Given name: Pi (丕, pī)
Courtesy name: Zihuan (子桓)
Temple name: Gaozu (高祖, gaō zǔ)
Posthumous name: Wendi (文帝)
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SEE Tagawa Matsu
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B5: 吳三桂; PY: Wú Sānguì; WG: Wu San-kuei (1612- October 2, 1678)- Ming Chinese general who opened the gates of the Great Wall of China at Shanhai Pass to let Manchu soldiers into China proper. It is commonly believed that he led to the ultimate destruction of the Ming Empire and the establishment of the Qing Empire, but the fact was that he did not surrender to Manchu until after Ming Empire was destroyed by the armies of Li Zicheng. His courtesy name was Changbai (長白) or Changbo (長伯).
Wu was born in Gaoyou (高郵), Jiangsu Province to Wu Xiang (襄). He was rewarded the position of Pingxi King (平西王) in Yunnan by the Manchu imperial court, after he conquered the region from the remnants of Ming loyalists). It was previously extremely rare for someone outside of the royal family especially a non-Manchu to be granted the title of Wang (King/Prince, 王), and those being awarded the title of Wang who were not members of the royal family were called Yi Xing Wang (异姓王，literally means kings whose surnames are different from that of the emperor). It was believed Yi Xing Wangs didn't usually have good ends, largely because they were not trusted by emperors as members of emperors' own family were.
Wu Sangui was not trusted by the Manchu Imperial Court, both he and the Manchus knew this, though he was still be able to rule his land with little or no interference from the Imperial Court largely due to the fact that the Manchus needed time to recover and settle down after prolonged campaign to conquer China. Wu Sangui had foreseen the eventual clash with the Imperial court, so he spent the years of peace consolidating his power in the region and building up his armies. Later in the year of 1674, he revolted against the Qing Empire and started the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, declaring himself the "All-Suppress-Military Generalissimo" (天下都招討兵馬大元帥 Tianxia-dou-zhaotao-bingma Dayuanshuai). The following year, he declared himself the Emperor of Zhou (周帝), with the era name of Zhaowu (昭武), and capital in Dingtianfu, which was Hengzhou (衡州, now Hengyang, Hunan). He died a few years later of natural causes, the remnants of his armies were soon defeated thereafter.
His concubine was Chen Yuanyuan. He died of illness in Hengzhou, Hunan province, and was succeeded by his grandson Wu Shifan (吳世 藩).
Wu Sangui's son, Wu Yingxiong, married a sister of Emperor Kang Xi.
Wu Sangui is often being called a traitor/opportunist by the common Chinese folks, due to his betrayal to both Ming and Qing.
His early life and military career were portrayed in the CCTV TV Show "Jiangshan Fengyuqing" (江山风雨情, which could be loosely translated to "The turmoil and love stories of the late Ming Dynasty").
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B5: 武則天; GB: 武则天; PY: Wǔ Zétiān; BN: Wu Zhao; B5: 武曌; PY: Wǔ Zhào (625- December 16, 705)- The only female emperor in the history of China, founding her own dynasty, the Zhou (周), and ruling under the name Emperor Shengshen (聖神 皇帝) from 690 to 705. Her rise and reign has been criticized harshly by Confucian historians but has been viewed under a different light after the 1950s.
Her family was from Wenshui (文水), part of Bingzhou (幷州) prefecture (now called Taiyuan in Shanxi province). Wenshui is now a county (文水县) inside Lüliang prefecture (吕梁地区) and located 80 km.(50 miles) southwest of Taiyuan. Her father was Wu Shihuo (武士彠) (577-635), a member of a renowned aristocratic family of Shanxi, and an ally of Li Yuan, the founder of the Tang Dynasty, in his conquest of power (Li Yuan was himself from a renowned aristocratic family of Shanxi). Her mother was Lady Yang (楊 氏) (579-670), a woman from the Sui imperial family. Wu Zetian was not born in Wenshui, as her father was a high ranking civil servant serving in various posts and locations along his life. The most serious claimant for her birth place is Lizhou (利 州) prefecture, now the prefecture-level city of Guangyuan (广元市), in the north of Sichuan province, some 800 km (500 miles) southwest of Wenshui, but other places have been proposed, including the capital Chang'an.
She entered Emperor Taizong's harem most probably in 638 (other possible date: 636), and was made a cairen (才人), i.e. one of the nine concubines of the fifth rank. Emperor Taizong gave her the name Mei (媚), meaning "charming, beautiful", and the young concubine became known as Wu Meiniang (武媚娘, i.e. "Miss Wu Mei").
In 649, Taizong died, and as was customary for concubines Wu Meiniang had to leave the imperial palace and enter a Buddhist nunnery where she had her hair shaved. Not long afterwards, most probably in 651, she was reintegrated into the imperial palace by Emperor Gaozong, son of Taizong, who had been struck by her beauty while visiting and worshipping in the nunnery. Gaozong's empress consort, from the Wang (王) family, played a key role in the reintegration of Wu Meiniang in the imperial palace. The emperor at the time was greatly attached to a concubine from the Xiao (蕭) family, and the empress hoped that the arrival of a new beautiful concubine would divert the emperor from the concubine née Xiao. Modern historians dispute this traditional history, and some think that the young Wu Zetian never actually left the imperial palace, and that she was probably already having an affair with the crown prince (who became Emperor Gaozong) while Emperor Taizong was still alive. Wherever the truth lies, it remains certain that by the early 650s Wu Zetian was a concubine of Emperor Gaozong, and she was titled zhaoyi (昭儀), i.e. the highest ranking of the nine concubines of the second rank. The fact that the emperor had taken one of the concubines of his father as a concubine, and what's more a nun if traditional history is to be believed, was found utterly shocking by Confucian moralists.
Wu Zetian soon revealed her talent at manipulation and intrigue. She first had the concubine née Xiao out of the way, and then her next target was the empress consort herself. In the year 654, Wu Zetian's baby daughter was killed. Empress Wang was allegedly seen near the child's room by eyewitnesses. She was suspected of killing the girl out of jealousy and was persecuted. Legend has it that Wu Zetian actually killed her own daughter, but the allegation may have been made up by her opponents or by Confucian historians. Soon after that, she succeeded in having the emperor create for her the extraordinary title of chenfei (宸妃), which ranked her above the four concubines of the first rank and immediately below the empress consort. Then eventually, in November 655, the empress née Wang was demoted and Wu Zetian was made empress consort. Wu later had Wang and Xiao executed in a cruel manner -- their arms and legs were battered and broken, and then they were put in large wine urns and left to die after several days of agony.
After Gaozong started to suffer from strokes from November 660 on, she began to govern China from behind the scenes. She was even more in absolute control of power after she had Shangguan Yi (上官儀) and Li Zhong (李忠) executed in January 665, and henceforth she sat behind to the now silent emperor during court audiences (most probably, she sat behind a screen at the rear of the throne) and took decisions. She reigned in his name and then after his death in the name of subsequent puppet emperors (her son Emperor Zhongzong and then her younger son Emperor Ruizong), only assuming power herself in October 690, when she declared the Zhou Dynasty, named after her father's nominal posthumous fief as well as in reference to the illustrious Zhou Dynasty of Chinese Antiquity from which she claimed the Wu family was descended. In December 689, ten months before she officially ascended the throne, she had the government create the character Zhao (曌), an entirely new invention created along with 11 other characters in order to show her absolute power, and she chose this new character as her given name, which became her taboo name when she ascended the throne ten months later. The character is made up of 2 pre-existing characters: "Ming" up top meaning "light" or "clearness"; and "kong" on the bottom meaning "sky". The idea behind this is her implication that she is like the light shining from the sky. Even the pronunciation of the new character is exactly the same as "shine" in Chinese. On ascending the throne, she proclaimed herself Emperor Shengshen, the first woman ever to use the title emperor (皇帝) which had been created 900 years before by the first emperor of China Qin Shi Huang. Indeed she was the only woman in the 2100 years of imperial China ever to sit upon the dragon throne, and this again utterly shocked Confucian elites.
Traditional Chinese political theory did not allow a woman to ascend the throne, and Empress Wu was determined to quash the opposition and promote loyal officials within the bureaucracy. Her regime was characterized by Machiavellian cleverness and brutal despotism. During her reign, she formed her own Secret Police to deal with any opposition that might arise. She was also supported by her two lovers, the Zhang brothers (Zhang Yizhi 張易之, and his younger brother Zhang Changzong 張昌宗). She gained popular support by advocating Buddhism but ruthlessly persecuted her opponents within the royal family and the nobility. In October 695, after several additions of characters, her imperial name was definitely set as Emperor Tiance Jinlun Shengshen (天冊金輪聖神 皇帝), a name which did not undergo further changes until the end of her reign.
On February 20, 705, now in her early 80s and ailing, Empress Wu was unable to thwart a coup, during which the Zhang brothers were executed. Her power ended that day, and she had to step down while Emperor Zhongzong was restored, allowing the Tang Dynasty to resume on March 3, 705. Empress Wu died nine months later, perhaps consoled by the fact that her nephew Wu Sansi (武三思), son of her half-brother and as ambitious and intriguing as she, had managed to become the real master behind the scenes, controlling the restored emperor through his empress consort with whom he was having an affair.
Although short-lived, the Zhou dynasty, according to some historians, resulted in better equality between the sexes during the succeeding Tang Dynasty.
Considering the events of her life literary allusions to Empress Wu can carry several connotations: a woman who has inappropriately overstepped her bounds, the hypocrisy of preaching compassion while simultaneously engaging in a pattern of corrupt and vicious behavior, and ruling by pulling strings in the background.
The noted French author Shan Sa, born in Beijing, wrote a biographical novel called "Impératrice" (french for Empress) based on Empress Wu´s life.
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Wudi Emperor of Chen
B5: 陳武帝; GB: 陈武帝; PY: Chén Wǔdì; BN: Chen Baxian; B5: 陳霸先; GB: 陈霸先 PY: Chén Bàxiān (500- 559)- Aided the Southern Liang Dynasty in their fight against the Western Wei. When the dynasty collapsed after the forced abdication of the Jingdi Emperor of Southern Liang, Xiao Fangzhi, Chen Baxin titled himself King of Chen and established the Chen Dynasty as the Wudi Emperor (557- 559). After one year of establishing his dynasty, he became a monk and only reigned another year, until his death in 559. His only son, Chen Chang was captured and killed by the Western Wei at Chang'an. Wudi's nephew, Chen Qian succeeded him as the Wendi Emperor of Chen.
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Wudi Emperor of Eastern Jin
B5: 晉武帝; GB: 晋武帝; PY: Jìn Wǔdì; WG: Chin Wu-ti; BN: Sima Yan; B5: 司馬炎; GB: 司马炎; PY: Sīmǎ Yán (236- May 17, 290)- Grandson of Sima Yi, son of Sima Zhao, and first emperor of the Jin Dynasty after forcing the Cao Wei emperor Cao Huan to abdicate to him. He reigned from 265 to 290, and after destroying Eastern Wu in 280 was the emperor of the unified Chinese empire. Emperor Wǔ was known for his extravagance and sensuality, especially after the unification of China; legends boasted of his incredible potency among ten thousand concubines.
Emperor Wǔ was commonly viewed as a generous and kind, but also wasteful, ruler. His generosity and kindness undermined his rule, as he became overly tolerant of the noble families' corruption and wastefulness, which drained the people's resources. Further, when Emperor Wǔ established the Jìn Dynasty, he was concerned about his regime's stability, and, believing that the predecessor state, Cao Wei, had been doomed by its failures to empower the princes of the imperial clan, he greatly empowered his uncles, his cousins, and his sons with authority including high military ranking. This ironically led to the destabilization of the Jìn Dynasty, as the princes engaged in an internecine struggle known as the War of the Eight Princes soon after his death, and then the Wu Hu uprisings that nearly destroyed the Jìn Dynasty and forced its relocation to the region south of the Huai River.
Life Before Establishment of the Jìn Dynasty
Sīmǎ Yán was born to Sima Zhao and his wife Wang Yuanji, daughter of the Confucian scholar Wáng Su (王肅), in 236, as their oldest son. At that time, Sima Zhao was a mid-level official in the Cao Wei government and a member of a privileged clan, as the son of the renowned general Sima Yi. After Sima Yi seized power from the regent Cao Shuang in 249, Sima Zhao became more and more important. After his father's death in 251, Sima Zhao became the assistant to his brother, the new regent Sima Shi. After Sima Shi died in 255, Sima Zhao became regent and the paramount authority in the Cao Wei government.
Sīmǎ Yán's first important appearance in history was in 260, when forces loyal to his father, led by Jia Chong, defeated an attempt by the Cao Wei emperor Cao Mao to take back power and killed Cao Mao. At that time, as a mid-level army general, he was commissioned by his father to escort the new emperor Cao Huan from his dukedom to the capital Luoyang. After his father was created the Duke of Jìn in 263 in light of the army's conquest of Shu Han, he was named heir. However, at times Sima Zhao hesitated as to whether Sīmǎ Yán or his brother Sima You (司馬攸) would be the more appropriate heir -- as Sima You was considered talented and had also been adopted by Sima Shi, who had no biological sons of his own, and Sima Zhao, remembering his brother's role in the Simas' takeover of power, thought it might be appropriate to return power to his branch of the clan. However, a number of high level officials favored Sīmǎ Yán, and Sima Zhao agreed. After he was created the Prince of Jìn in 264 (thus reaching the ultimate step before usurpation), Sīmǎ Yán was created the crown prince of Jìn.
In 265, Sima Zhao died without having formally taken imperial authority. Sīmǎ Yán became the Prince of Jìn. Later that year, he forced Cao Huan to abdicate, ending Cao Wei and starting the Jìn Dynasty.
Early Reign: Establishment of the Jìn Political System
Emperor Wǔ immediately sought to avoid what he saw as Cao Wei's fatal weakness -- lack of power among the imperial princes. In 265, immediately after taking the throne, he made princes of many of his uncles, cousins, brothers, and sons, each with independent military commands and full authority within their principalities. This system, while it would be scaled back after the War of the Eight Princes and the loss of northern China, would remain in place as a Jìn institution for the duration of the dynasty's existence, and would be adopted by the succeeding Southern dynasties as well.
Another problem that Emperor Wǔ saw with Cao Wei's political system was its harshness in penal law, and he sought to reform the penal system to make it more merciful -- but the key beneficiaries of his changes turned out to be the nobles, as it quickly became clear that the mercy was being dealt out in an unequal manner. Nobles who committed crimes often received simple rebukes, while there were no meaningful reductions in penalties for commoners. This led to massive corruption and extravagant living by the nobles, while the poor went without government assistance. For example, in 267, when several high level officials were found to have worked in conjunction with a county magistrate to seize public land for themselves, Emperor Wǔ refused to punish the high level officials while punishing the county magistrate harshly.
Emperor Wǔ faced two major military issues almost immediately -- incessant harassment from the rival Eastern Wu's forces, under emperor Sun Hao, and Xianbei and Qiang rebellions in Qin (秦州) and Liang (涼州) Provinces (modern Gansu). Most officials were more concerned about the Xianbei and Qiang rebellions and also with another non-Han people- the Xiongnu, who had settled down in modern Shanxi after the dissolution of their state by Cáo Cāo in 216 under the watchful eyes of Chinese officials, and were feared for their military abilities. These officials advised Emperor Wǔ to try to suppress the Xianbei and the Qiang before considering conquests of Eastern Wu. Under the encouragement of the generals Yang Hu (羊祜) and Wang Jun (王濬) and the strategist Zhang Hua (張華), however, Emperor Wǔ, while sending a number of generals to combat the Xianbei and the Qiang, prepared the southern and eastern border regions for war against the Eastern Wu throughout this part of his reign. He was particularly encouraged by reports of Sun Hao's cruelty and ineptitude in governing Eastern Wu; indeed, the officials in favor of war against Eastern Wu often cited this as reason to act quickly, as they argued that Eastern Wu would be harder to conquer if and when Sun Hao was replaced. However, after a major revolt by the Xianbei chief Tufa Shujineng (禿髮樹機能) started in 270 in Qin Province, Emperor Wǔ's attention became concentrated on Tufa, as Tufa was able to win victory after victory over Jìn generals. In 271, the Xiongnu noble Liu Meng (劉猛) rebelled as well, and while his rebellion did not last long, this took Emperor Wǔ's attention away from Eastern Wu. In 271, Jiao Province (交州, modern northern Vietnam), which had paid allegiance to Jìn ever since the start of his reign, was recaptured by Eastern Wu. In 272, the Eastern Wu general Bu Chan (步 闡), in fear that Sun Hao was going to punish him on the basis of false reports against him, tried to surrender the important city of Xiling (西陵, in modern Yichang, Hubei) to Jìn, but Jìn relief forces were stopped by the Eastern Wu general Lu Kang, who then recaptured Xiling and killed Bu. In light of these failures, Yang took another tack- he started a detente with Lu and treated the Eastern Wu border residents well, causing them to view Jìn favorably.
When Emperor Wǔ ascended the throne in 265, he honored his mother Wang Yuanji as empress dowager. In 266, he also honored his aunt Yang Huiyu (Sima Shi's wife) an empress dowager, in recognition of his uncle's contributions to the establishment of the Jìn Dynasty. He made his wife Yang Yan empress the same year. In 267, he made her oldest living son, Sima Zhong crown prince -- based on the Confucian principle that the oldest son by an emperor's wife should inherit the throne -- a selection that would, however, eventually contribute greatly to political instability and the Jìn Dynasty's decline, as Crown Prince Zhong appeared to be developmentally disabled and unable to learn the important skills necessary to govern. Emperor Wǔ further made perhaps a particularly fateful choice on Crown Prince Zhong's behalf -- in 272, he selected Jia Nanfeng, the strong-willed daughter of the noble Jia Chong, to be Crown Prince Zhong's princess. Crown Princess Jia would, from that point on, have the crown prince under her tight control. Before Empress Yang died in 274, she was concerned that whoever the new empress would be would have ambitions to replace the crown prince, and therefore asked Emperor Wǔ to marry her cousin Yang Zhi. He agreed.
In 273, Emperor Wǔ would undertake a selection of beautiful women from throughout the empire- a warning sign of what would eventually come. He looked most attentively among the daughters of officials, but he also ordered that no marriages take place in the empire until the selection process was done.
Middle Reign: Unification of the Chinese Empire
In 276, Emperor Wǔ suffered a major illness- which led to a succession crisis. Crown Prince Zhong would be the legitimate heir, but both the officials and the people hoped that Emperor Wǔ's capable brother, Sima You the Prince of Qi, would inherit the throne instead. After Emperor Wǔ became well, he divested some military commands from officials that he thought favored Prince You, but otherwise took no other punitive actions against anyone.
Later that year, Yang Hu reminded Emperor Wǔ of his plan to conquer Eastern Wu. Most of the officials, still concerned with Tufa's rebellion, were opposed, but Yang was supported by Du Yu (杜預) and Zhang. Emperor Wǔ considered their counsel seriously but did not implement it at this time.
Also in 276, pursuant to his promise to the deceased Empress Yang, Emperor Wǔ married her cousin Yang Zhi and made her empress. The new Empress Yang's father, Yang Jun, became a key official in the administration and became exceeding arrogant.
In 279, with the general Ma Long (馬隆) having finally put down Tufa's rebellion, Emperor Wǔ concentrated his efforts on Eastern Wu, and commissioned a six-pronged attack led by his uncle Sima Zhou (司馬伷), Wang Hun (王渾), Wang Rong (王戎), Hu Fen (胡奮), Du Yu, and Wang Jun, with the largest forces under Wang Hun and Wang Jun. Each of the Jìn forces advanced quickly and captured the border cities that they were targeting, with Wang Jun's fleet heading east down the Yangtze and clearing the river of Eastern Wu fleets. The Eastern Wu prime minister Zhang Ti (張悌) made a last ditch attempt to defeat Wang Hun's force, but was defeated and killed. Wang Hun, Wang Jun, and Sima Zhou each headed for Jianye, and Sun Hao was forced to surrender in spring 280. Emperor Wǔ made Sun Hao the Marquess of Guiming. The integration of former Eastern Wu territory into Jìn appeared to be a relatively smooth process.
After the fall of Eastern Wu, Emperor Wǔ ordered that provincial governors no longer be in charge of military matters and become purely civilian governors, and that regional militias be disbanded, despite opposition by the general Tao Huang (陶 璜) and the key official Shan Tao (山濤). This would also eventually prove to create problems later on during the Wu Hu rebellions, as the regional governors were not able to raise troops to resist quickly enough. He also rejected advice to have the non-Han gradually moved outside of the empire proper.
Late Reign: Setting the Stage for Disasters
In 281, Emperor Wǔ took 5,000 women from Sun Hao's palace into his own, and thereafter became even more concentrated on feasting and enjoying the women, rather than on important matters of state. It was said that there were so many beautiful women in the palace that he did not know whom he should have sexual relations with; he therefore rode on a small cart drawn by goats, and wherever the goats would stop, he would stop there, as well. Because of this, many of the women planted bamboo leaves and salt outside their bedrooms -- both items said to be favored by goats. Empress Yang's father Yang Jun and uncles Yang Yao (楊珧) and Yang Ji (楊濟) became effectively in power.
Emperor Wǔ also became more concerned about whether his brother Prince You would seize the throne if he died. In 282, he sent Prince You to his principality, even though there was no evidence that Prince You had such ambitions. Prince You, in anger, grew ill and died in 283.
As Emperor Wǔ grew ill in 289, he considered whom to make regent. He considered both Yang Jun and his uncle Sima Liang the Prince of Ru'nan, the most respected of the imperial princes. As a result, Yang Jun became fearful of Sima Liang and had him posted to the key city of Xuchang (許昌, in modern Xuchang, Henan). Several other imperial princes were also posted to other key cities in the empire. By 290, Emperor Wǔ resolved to let Yang and Sima Liang both be regents, but after he wrote his will, the will was seized by Yang Jun, who instead had another will promulgated in which Yang alone was named regent. Emperor Wǔ died soon thereafter, leaving the empire in the hands of a developmentally disabled son and nobles intent on shedding each other's blood for power, and while he would not see the disastrous consequences himself, the consequences would soon come.
- Sima Zhao, Prince Wen of Jin, posthumously honored as Emperor Wen of Jin
- Princess Wang Yuanji (王元姬)
- Empress Yang Yan (created 266, d. 274), mother of Prince Gui, Emperor Hui, and Prince Jian, and Princesses Pingyang, Xinfeng, and Yangping
- Empress Yang Zhi (created 276, d. 290), cousin of Empress Yang Yan, mother of Prince Hui
- Major Concubines
- Consort Zuo Fen (左芬)
- Consort Hu (胡芳), daughter of Hu Fen (胡奮), mother of Princess Wu'an
- Consort Zhuge Wan (諸葛婉)
- Consort Shen, mother of Princes Jing, Wei and Ai
- Consort Xu, mother of Prince Xian
- Consort Gui, mother of Prince Zhi
- Consort Zhao, mother of Prince Yu
- Consort Zhao, mother of Prince Yǎn
- Consort Li, mother of Princes Yun and Yàn
- Consort Yan, mother of Prince Gai
- Consort Chen, mother of Prince Xia
- Consort Zhu, mother of Prince Mo
- Consort Cheng, mother of Prince Ying
- Consort Wang, mother of Emperor Huai
- Consort Xie Jiu (謝玖), later concubine of Emperor Hui
- Consort Zhao Can (趙粲)
- Sima Gui (司馬軌), died early, posthumously created Prince Dao of Piling (289)
- Sima Zhong (司馬衷), the Crown Prince (created 267), later Emperor Hui of Jin
- Sima Jian (司馬柬) (b. 262), initially the Prince of Ru'nan (created 270), later the Prince of Nanyang (created c. 276), later Prince Xian of Qin (created 289, d. 291)
- Sima Jing (司馬景), Prince Huai of Chengyang (created 269, d. 270)
- Sima Wei (司馬瑋) (b. 271), initially created the Prince of Shiping, later Prince Yin of Chu (created c. 289, executed by Empress Jia Nanfeng 291)
- Sima Xian (司馬憲), Prince Shang of Chengyang (created 270?, d. 273?)
- Sima Zhi (司馬祉) (b. 271), Prince Chong of Donghai (created and d. 273)
- Sima Yu (司馬裕) (b. 271), Prince Ai of Shiping (created and d. 277)
- Sima Yǎn (司馬演) (note different tone than his father and brother), Prince Ai of Dai (created 289)
- Sima Yun (司馬允) (b. 272), initially Prince of Puyang (created 277), later Prince Zhongzhuang of Huainan (created 289, killed by Sima Lun 300)
- Sima Gai (司馬該) (b. 272), Prince Huai of Xindu (created 277, d. 283)
- Sima Xia (司馬遐) (b. 273), Prince Kang of Qinghe (created 289, d. 300)
- Sima Mo (司馬謨) (b. 276), Prince Ai of Ruyin (d. 286)
- Sima Ai (司馬乂) (b. 277), Prince Li of Changsha (created 289, demoted to Prince of Changshan 291, restored 301, killed by Sima Yong 304)
- Sima Ying (司馬穎) (b. 279), initially the Prince of Chengdu (created c. 289), later the Crown Prince (created 304), later demoted back to Prince of Chengdu (304, forced to commit suicide 306)
- Sima Yàn (司馬晏) (b. 283) (note different tone than his father and brother), Prince Xiao of Wu (initially created 289, demoted to Prince of Bingtu 300, later created Prince of Dai, restored to Prince of Wu in 301, killed by Han Zhao forces 313)
- Sima Chi (司馬熾), initially the Prince of Yuzhang (created 290), later the Crown Prince (created 304), later Emperor Huai of Jin
- Sima Hui (司馬恢) (b. 283, d. 284), posthumously created Prince Shang of Bohai
- Eight other sons who died early without being created princes
- Princess Changshan
- Princess Changguang
- Princess Pingyang
- Princess Xinfeng
- Princess Yangping
- Princess Wannian
- Princess Xiangcheng
- Princess Wu'an
- Princess Yingyang
- Princess Rongyang
- Princess Fanchang
Personal name: Sīmǎ Yán (司馬炎)
Courtesy name: Anshi (安世)
Family name: Sima (司馬; sī mǎ)
Given name: Yan (炎; yán)
Temple name: Shizu (世祖; shì zǔ)
Posthumous name: Wu (武, wǔ) literary meaning: "martial"
Taishi (泰始; taì shǐ) 265- 274
Xianning (咸寧; xían níng) 275- 280
Taikang (太康; taì kāng) 280- 289
Taixi (太熙; taì xī) January 28, 290- May 17, 290
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Wudi Emperor of Eastern Wu
B5: 吳武帝; PY: Wú Wǔdì; BN: Sun Quan; B5: 孫權; GB: 孙权; PY: Sūn Quán; WG: Sun Chuan (182- 252)- Son of Sun Jian, founder of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period. He ruled from 200 to 222 as Wu Wang (King of Wu) and from 222 to 252 as Emperor of the Wu Dynasty.
In his youth Sun Quan spent time in his home county of Fuchun, and after his father's death in the early 190s, at various cities on the Lower Yangtze River. His elder brother Sun Ce carved out a warlord state in the region, based on his own followers and a number of local clan allegiances. When Sun Ce was assassinated by the retainers of Xu Gong, whom Sun Ce had killed in battle several years prior, in 200, the eighteen-year-old Sun Quan inherited the lands southeast of the Yangtze River from his brother. It was an achievement that his administration proved to be relatively stable in those early years. Sun Jian and Sun Ce's most senior officers, such as Zhou Yu, Zhang Zhao, Zhang Hong, and Cheng Pu remained loyal; in fact it was mentioned in the novel that Sun Ce had at his deathbed reminded Sun Quan that "in internal matters, consult Zhang Zhao, in external matters, consult Zhou Yu." Thus throughout the 200s Sun Quan under the tutelage of his able advisors continued to build up his strength along the Yangtze River. In early 207, his forces finally won complete victory over Huang Zu, a military leader under Liu Biao, who dominated the Middle Yangtze.
In winter of that year, the northern warlord Cao Cao led an army of some 200,000 to conquer south to complete the reunification of China. Two distinct factions emerged at his court on how to handle the situation. One, led by Zhang Zhao, urged surrender whilst the other, led by Zhou Yu and the young diplomat Lu Su, opposed capitulation. In the finality, Sun Quan decided to oppose Cao Cao in the Middle Yangtze with his superior riverine forces. Allied with the refugee warlord Liu Bei and employing the combined strategies of Zhuge Liang, Zhou Yu, Huang Gai and Pang Tong, they defeated Cao Cao decisively at the Battle of Red Cliffs.
In 220, Cao Pi, son of Cao Cao, seized the throne and proclaimed himself to be the Emperor of China, ending the nominal rule of the Han dynasty. At first Sun Quan wanted to be a king serving the Wei dynasty under Cao Pi, but he failed to make a deal, and so in 222, he declared himself independent by changing era name. It was not until the year 229 that he formally declared himself to be emperor.
Because of his skill in gathering important, honorable men to his cause, Sun Quan was able to delegate authority to capable figures. This primary strength served him well in gaining the support of the common people and surrounding himself with capable generals.
Sun Quan died in 252 at the age of 71. He enjoyed the longest reign among all the founders of the Three Kingdoms. He was succeeded by his son Sun Liang.
Birth name: Sun Quan (孫權 sūn quán) 222- 252
Posthumous name: Da Di (大帝 dà dì)
Huangwu (黃武 huáng wǔ) 222- 229
Huanglong (黃龍 huáng lóng) 229- 231
Jiahe (嘉禾 jiā hé) 232- 238
Chiwu (赤烏 chì wū) 238- 251
Taiyuan (太元 taì yuán) 251- 252
Shenfeng (神鳳 shén2 fèng) 252
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Wudi Emperor of Northern Zhou
B5: 北周武帝; PY: Bĕizhōu Wǔdì; BN: Yuwen Yong; B5: 宇文邕; Yŭwén Yōng (d. 578)- Most noted for leading an army of 80,000 to attack the Northern Qi in 576. He surrounded Jinzhou and a battle ensued, in which the Northern Qi army was defeated. Weapons abandoned by the Qi army stretched to a distance of a few hundred li and heaped like mountains. The Emperor of Northern Qi and scores of cavalryman fled back to Jinyang.
In the flush of victory, the Northern Zhou Army proceeded to attack Jinyang. Upon hearing of the imminent onslaught, the emperor of Northern Qi fled back to Yecheng. In its attack against Jinyang, the Northern Zhou Army met with a tenacious resistance. Children and women in the city stood on the roofs of houses to throw bricks and stones at the attackers. However, the resistance proved futile. The Northern Zhou Army broke the eastern city gate of Jinyang and caught Gao Yanzong (高延宗), prince of Northern Qi, who was guarding the city, which finally fell into the hands of the Northern Zhou Army. Capturing Jinyang, a place of strategic importance, was crucial to the Northern Zhou's victory.
In January 577, the Northern Zhou Army attacked and captured Yecheng, capital of northern Qi, the next year, engulfing its Imperial court in confusion and depriving the fighting will of its soldiers. Court officials came out of the city in succession to surrender to the Northern Zhou Army.
At this time, Gao Wei, Emperor of Northern Qi, had fled the city with the newly installed young emperor, Gao Heng, the Empress, his concubines and others. They were all caught by the Northern Zhou Army and brought back to Yecheng. Northern Qi was exterminated.
Yuwen Yong (宇文邕 yu3 wen2 yong1)
Wu Di (武帝 wu3 di4) 561- 578
Baoding (保定 bao3 ding4) 561- 565
Tianhe (天和 tian1 he2) 566- 572
Jiande (建德 jian4 de2) 572- 578
Xuanzheng (宣政 xuan1 zheng4) 578
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Wuzong Emperor of Yuan
SEE Kaishan Khan
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B5: 徐光啟; GB: 徐光启; PY: Xú Guāngqǐ (1562- 1633)- Chinese agricultural scientist and mathematician born in Shanghai.
He received the equivalent of his bachelor's degree at 19, but did not receive higher degrees until his thirties. He lived in a period when Chinese mathematics had gone into decline. The earlier efforts at algebra had been almost forgotten. Qu blamed some of the failures on a decline interest in practical science in China and became something of a critic of Chinese society.
He was a colleague and coauthor of Matteo Ricci. This influence led to his being baptized Catholic in 1604. In 1607 Xu Guangqi and Matteo Ricci translated the first parts of Euclid's Elements into Chinese. His conversion to Roman Catholicism led him to change his name to Paul Xu. After this his criticism of Chinese intellectual life became harsher and he came to deem China to be inferior to the West, specifically in mathematics. He also believed that adopting Western military armaments would save them from the Manchu, but this idea failed after the Manchu themselves learned to make European cannons. His descendants remained staunchly Catholic into the nineteenth century.
His tomb still exists in Shanghai in Guangqi Park just a short walk from the Xujiahui Cathedral in the Xujiahui area.
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Xuande Emperor of Shu Han
B5: 玄德; PY: Xuándé; BN: Liu Bei; B5: 劉備; GB: 刘备; Pinyin: Liú Bèi; WG: Liu Pei (161- 223)- Powerful warlord and the founding emperor of the Kingdom of Shu during the Three Kingdoms era in ancient China. Having risen up from the commoner class, he was initially a small player in the massive civil war leading up to the collapse of the Eastern Han Dynasty. In 214, using strategy of his chief advisor Zhuge Liang, Liú Bèi conquered Yizhou (益州, present day Sichuan and Guizhou) and at last established the foundation for his kingdom. In 221, Liú Bèi declared himself emperor in an effort to carry on the lineage of the Han Dynasty. He was succeeded by Liú Shan, who eventually surrendered to the Kingdom of Wei in 263.
In the 14th century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, Liú Bèi was portrayed as a virtuous and charismatic man who rose from a humble straw weaver to the emperor. His many experiences were dramatized or exaggerated by the author to advocate the Confucian set of moral values, such as loyalty and compassion. However, it is this novelized character of Liú Bèi that had become much more commonly known in folklore, opera and other art forms.
Born in the prefecture of Zhuo (涿, present day Zhuozhou, Hebei), Liú Bèi was a descendant of Liú Sheng, one of the sons of Emperor Jing. However, after generations Liú Bèi was no longer closely related to the ruling family of the Han Dynasty. He lost his father when he was still a child and, together with his mother, sold shoes and straw-woven mats for a living. At fourteen, Liú Bèi was sent to study under Lu Zhi, a scholar and governor of Jiujiang. There he met and befriended Gongsun Zan, who was also a pupil of Lu Zhi and later became a warlord in northern China.
The teenage Liú Bèi was unenthusiastic in studying but interested in hunting, music and elaborate clothings. His arms were said to be so long that they reach beneath his knees and his ears so huge that he could see them himself. Few of words and calm in demeanor, Liú Bèi was well-liked among his contemporaries. Two horse merchants were so impressed with him that they gave him a large amount of money, with which Liú Bèi gathered a band of followers, including Guan Yu(関羽) and Zhang Fei(張 飛), who later became his sworn brothers and two of the most prominent generals of the Kingdom of Shu(蜀).
Beginning of Civil War
In 184, the Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out. Liú Bèi and his followers joined the regional government's force and scored several victories against the rebels. In 192, after suffering a defeat, Liú Bèi traveled north to seek a position under Gongsun Zan, who placed him on the border with rival warlord Yuan Shao. For his subsequent military successes Liú Bèi was made governor of Pingyuan (平原).
In 194, when Cao Cao launched a campaign against Tao Qian (陶謙), governor of Xuzhou (徐州, present day northern Jiangsu), Liú Bèi went to the rescue of the latter. Before any major confrontation was made, however, Cao Cao was forced to retreat to his own base in Yanzhou (兗州, present day western Shandong) as Lü Bu had occupied much of the region with the help of several defectors. However, Liú Bèi did not return to Gongsun Zan but stayed on in Xuzhou, where Tao Qian placed him in command of 4,000 troops. When Tao Qian died of sickness shortly afterwards, he passed on the governorship of Xuzhou to Liú Bèi, rather than his own sons.
On the other hand, Lü Bu was eventually defeated and, thinking that by forcing Cao Cao's retreat he had done Xuzhou a favor, he headed for Xiapi to seek refuge under Liú Bèi. However, while Liú Bèi was away defending his territory against Yuan Shu, Lü Bu took over Xiapi, captured Liú Bèi's family and declared himself the governor of Xuzhou. When Liú Bèi returned, he garrisoned his troops in Xiaopei (小沛, present day Pei County, Jiangsu) and made peace with Lü Bu, whereupon his family was returned. However, Lü Bu grew wary of Liú Bèi as the force of the latter expanded. Finally, in 198, he attacked Liú Bèi in Xiaopei. The defeated Liú Bèi sought help from Cao Cao, who personally led an army into Xuzhou and defeated Lü Bu for good. Liú Bèi then followed Cao Cao back to the new capital Xuchang.
At this time, Emperor Xian, who had been held under the power of Cao Cao, secretly wrote a decree on a belt ordering the elimination of Cao Cao. The emperor then passed the belt to his uncle, General of Chariots and Cavalry Dong Cheng. Dong Cheng then started plotting the assassination with Liú Bèi and a few other colleagues. Before the act could be carried out, however, Liú Bèi was sent out with Zhu Ling (朱靈) to intercept Yuan Shu, who was traveling north to reconcile with his cousin (or half-brother, depending on sources) Yuan Shao. Liú Bèi took the opportunity to kill Che Wei (車冑), governor of Xuzhou, and retake the region. In 200, Dong Cheng's plot leaked and the conspirators were promptly executed.
In the same year, after an initial attack led by Liu Dai (劉岱) and Wang Zhong (王忠) failed, Cao Cao personally led an attack against Liú Bèi and defeated the latter. He also captured Liú Bèi's family and right arm, Guan Yu. Liú Bèi fled north to Yuan Shao, who was at that time amassing troops on the northern shore of the Yellow River and ready for a major confrontation with Cao Cao. Seeing initial setbacks Yuan Shao suffered, Liú Bèi was unwilling to stay. He persuaded Yuan Shao to allow him to lead a force to travel south to make an alliance with Liu Biao, governor of Jingzhou (荆州, present day Hubei and Hunan). However, Yuan Shao was soon routed at the Battle of Guandu. Liú Bèi then switched allegiance and sought a position under Liu Biao.
Settling Down in Jingzhou
Jingzhou was a rich region full of talented men. Many of them, including the great strategist Zhuge Liang(諸葛亮), came to Liu Bei during this time. Liu Biao soon grew wary of Liú Bèi and sent him to Bowang (博 望) to defend against forces of Cao Cao. In 205, Cao Cao led his force deep into the north against the Wuhuan minority tribe. Liú Bèi urged Liu Biao to grasp the opportunity to attack Xuchang but the indecisive Liu Biao delayed and lost the initiative. In the next year, Cao Cao had returned victorious and began a massive campaign south to take Jingzhou. At this time, Liu Biao died of sickness, leaving his legacy to his youngest son Liu Cong (劉琮), who promptly surrendered. Leading a huge throng of commoners, Liú Bèi then trudged south to unite with Liu Biao's eldest son Liu Qi (劉琦) in Jiangling.
Wary of the ample supply of military equipment in Jiangling, Cao Cao left behind bulky supplies and forced march his army in an effort to catch up with Liú Bèi. At Xiangyang, Cao Cao learnt that Liu Bei had already passed through. With 5,000 elite horsemen, Cao Cao sped up his pursuit and finally caught up with Liu Bei at Changban (長阪, northeast of present day Dangyang County, Hubei). Though many of his troops and baggages were captured, Liú Bèi managed to escape to Jiangxia (江夏, present day Wuchang, Wuhan, Hubei), where he met Liu Qi.
Liú Bèi then sent Zhuge Liang as an envoy to Sun Quan, a powerful warlord occupying southeastern China, to seek alliance. Sun Quan deployed Zhou Yu, Cheng Pu and a large fleet to assist Liú Bèi. He even married his younger sister to Liú Bèi to fortify the alliance. However, this marriage was meant to be a ploy to trick Liú Bèi to get into his territory and then kill him secretly. Zhuge Liang realised this plot, and instead of persuading Liú Bèi not to go, he advised him to continue to southeastern China to marry Sun Quan's sister. When Sun Quan's small contingent of soldiers prepared to kill Liú Bèi, Liú Bèi had his men play loud marriage tunes, which caused the surrounding villagers to come out and look at them arriving. Thus, Sun Quan could not kill Liú Bèi secretly, and abandoned the plan.
In the winter of 208, forces of Cao Cao and the alliance clashed on the Yangtze River west of Wuchang. The conflict, known as the Battle of Red Cliffs, ended with the complete victory by the alliance. As his army was further plagued by epidemic, Cao Cao had no choice but to withdraw. Liu Qi soon died of sickness and Liú Bèi took over control of southern Jingzhou.
Entry into Yizhou
In 211, Liu Zhang, governor of Yizhou (益州, present day Sichuan and Chongqing), heard that Cao Cao planned to attack Zhang Lu in Hanzhong. As Hanzhong provided an excellent platform for further incursion into Yizhou, Liu Zhang wished to make alliance with Liú Bèi and have the latter conquer Hanzhong before Cao Cao did. Liú Bèi accepted the offer and, leaving Guan Yu and Zhuge Liang behind to defend Jingzhou, he led a force westwards to Jiameng (葭 萌, southwest of present day Guangyuan, Sichuan). As his ulterior motive was to take over Yizhou, Liú Bèi did not attack Hanzhong right away but instead began to build personal network in the region.
In the next year, Liú Bèi received a distress call from Sun Quan, who was under attack by Cao Cao. He then requested 10,000 troops and funds from Liu Zhang to heed the call but the latter only granted him 4,000 troops and half of the funds he asked for. While Liú Bèi was back in Jingzhou, Liu Zhang discovered that his advisor Zhang Song (張松) had been keeping secret correspondence with Liu Bei due to Zhang Song brother betraying him out of jealous. Finally wary of Liu Bei's motives, Liu Zhang ordered that Liú Bèi be refused entry via all passes leading to the heart of Yizhou.
The infuriated Liú Bèi then launched a two-year campaign against Liu Zhang and by 214 had defeated the latter. Hearing that Liú Bèi had taken Yizhou, Sun Quan then requested that Jingzhou be returned to him[there is no record of a agreement to return it made before hand that has been recorded] but Liú Bèi refused. Sun Quan then sent Lü Meng to conquer the commanderies of Changsha, Lingling (零陵, present day Yongzhou, Hunan) and Guiyang (桂陽) in 215. Meanwhile, Cao Cao had conquered Hanzhong. Liú Bèi had no choice but to make a pact with Sun Quan to divide southern Jingzhou into western and eastern halves to be shared between the two.
Summary of Major Events
161- Born in present day Zhuozhou, Hebei. 184- Fought Yellow Turban Rebellion in central China. 194- Took over governorship of Xuzhou. 198- Defeated by Lü Bu.
Allied with Cao Cao.
200- Defeated by Cao Cao.
Escaped to Yuan Shao.
Joined Liu Biao.
208- Allied with Sun Quan and won the Battle of Red Cliffs.
Took over Jingzhou.
215- Defeated Liu Zhang and took over Yizhou. 219- Conquered Hanzhong.
Declared self King of Hanzhong.
221- Declared self emperor.
Lost the Battle of Yiling against Sun Quan's forces.
222- Died in Baidi.
Kingdom of Shu
Henceforth, Liú Bèi began a long and tedious campaign to take Hanzhong. It was not until 219 when he succeeded. Liú Bèi then declared himself King of Hanzhong, though he was still based in Chengdu, leaving Wei Yan to guard the strategic city against Cao Cao's forces. In the same year, forces of Sun Quan led by Lü Meng captured Guan Yu, who was promptly executed, and conquered Jingzhou. A year later, Cao Cao died and his successor Cao Pi forced Emperor Xian to abdicate. Cao Pi then declared himself emperor of the Kingdom of Wei. Upon hearing the rumor that Emperor Xian had been murdered, Liú Bèi also declared himself emperor of the Kingdom of Shu so as to carry on the lineage of Han Dynasty.
In 221, Liú Bèi made Liu Shan the heir apparent. In autumn, he personally led a force against Sun Quan. After initial victories, Liú Bèi was eventually defeated by Lu Xun at Xiaoting (猇亭, north of present day Yidu, Hubei) in the Battle of Yiling in 222. In winter, the two parties made peace again. Liú Bèi returned to Baidi and died from complications of dysentery there in the spring of 223. His body was brought back to Chengdu and entombed at Huiling (惠陵, southern suburb of present day Chengdu) four months later. He was given the posthumous name of Zhaolie (昭烈), literally meaning apparent uprightness. Liu Shan, who succeeded him, eventually surrendered to the Kingdom of Wei in 263.
Battle of Red Cliffs
The Battle of Red Cliffs was a classic battle where the vastly outnumbered emerged victorious. In the winter of 208, Liú Bèi and Sun Quan formed their first coalition against the southward expansion of Cao Cao. The two sides clashed at the Red Cliffs (northwest of present day Puqi County, Hubei). Cao Cao boasted 830,000 men (historians believe the realistic number was around 220,000), while the alliance at best had 50,000 troops.
However, Cao Cao's men, mostly from the north, were ill-suited to the southern climate and naval warfare, and thus entered the battle with a clear disadvantage. Furthermore, a plague that broke out undermined the strength of Cao Cao's army. The fire tactic used by Huang Gai and Zhou Yu, chief military advisors to Liú Bèi and Sun Quan, also worked effectively against Cao Cao's vessels, which were chained together and thus allowed the fire to quickly spread. A majority of Cao Cao's troops were either burnt to death or drowned. Those who tried to retreat to the near bank were ambushed and annihilated by enemy skirmishers. Cao Cao himself barely escaped the encounter.
Battle of Yiling
The Battle of Yiling was fought in the summer of 222 between forces of Liú Bèi and Sun Quan. In autumn of the previous year, Liu Bei personally led a sizeable force east under the banner of avenging Guan Yu, who was captured and executed by Sun Quan in 219. A request for peace from Sun Quan was turned down. After initial victories by Liú Bèi, Lu Xun, commander-in-chief of the Wu forces, ordered a retreat to Yiling (present day Yichang, Hubei). There he held his position and refused to engage with the invaders.
As summer came by Liú Bèi's troops were scorched and low in morale. Liú Bèi was forced to camp within the woods for shade. Lu Xun then ordered a counterattack. Using fire, he easily set Liú Bèi's entire campground ablaze and forced the enemy to retreat west to Ma'an Hill (馬鞍山, northwest of Yiling, not to be confused with Ma'anshan, Anhui). Lu Xun's force then besieged the hill. With most of his troops routed, Liú Bèi managed to escape under cover of the night to Baidi and died there a year later.
Liú Bèi in Romance of the Three Kingdoms
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a 14th century historical novel based on the events that occurred before and during the Three Kingdoms period. Written by Luo Guanzhong more than a millennium after the period said, the novel incorporated many popular folklore and opera scripts into the character of Liú Bèi, portraying him as a compassionate and righteous leader who built his kingdom on the basis of Confucian values. This is in line with the historical background of the times during which the novel was written. Furthermore, the author acknowledged the legitimacy of Liú Bèi's claim to the throne, since Liú Bèi was related, however distantly, to the ruling family of the Han Dynasty.
Famous and notable stories involving Liú Bèi from Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Sworn Brotherhood in the Garden of Peach Blossoms
One of the most well-known stories from the novel, found in the first chapter, speaks of Liú Bèi, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei who, having met by chance in the county of Zhuo in 188, found that all three shared the same desire to serve the country in the tumultuous times. They swore to be brothers the next day in Zhang Fei's backyard, which was a garden full of peach blossoms. Liú Bèi was ranked the eldest, Guan Yu the second, and Zhang Fei the youngest. Having done this, they recruited more than 300 local men, acquired horses, forged weapons and joined the resistance against the Yellow Turban rebels.
In truth, the three did not swear brotherhood, a concept popular in folklore. The Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms says the three often shared a bed, and treated one another as brothers (thus raising questions regarding their sexuality -- although it should be noted that in ancient Chinese culture, it was not uncommon for friends to share beds without any sexual reasons and any about Liu Bei is purely speculation without proof). According to a later biography of Guan Yu, he was a year older than Liú Bèi.
General Worship of Liú Bèi
Liú Bèi is also worshipped as the patron of shoemakers in Chengdu, which is also known as the "City of Shoes" as more than 80 million pairs of shoes totaling 5 billion RMB in sales are manufactured there annually. It was said that in 1845, during the reign of the Daoguang Emperor, the shoemakers guild in Chengdu who called themselves disciples of Liú Bèi sponsored the construction of the Sanyi Temple (三義廟) in Liú Bèi's honor. After many times of relocation, the temple can be found in Wuhou District today. Since Mainland China loosened its control on religious practices in recent years, the worship of Liú Bèi among shoemakers had again gained popularity in Chengdu. On July 1, 2005, a large procession was carried out in front of the Sanyi Temple to commemorate Liú Bèi – the first such event since the founding of the People's Republic of China1.
A commentary carried by the Yangtse Evening News (扬子晚报) criticized such practice as mere commercial gimmick to exploit the fame of Liu Bei2. It argued that although Liú Bèi sold straw-woven shoes and mats for a living when he was young, he was hardly the inventor of shoes. According to legends, it was Yu Ze (于则) who made the first pairs of shoes with softwood during the time of the Yellow Emperor. However, the criticisms did not dampen the enthusiastic shoe industry owners in their decision to erect a statue of Liú Bèi in the West China Shoes Centre Industrial Zone, which is still under construction in Wuhou District as of August 2005.
- Liu Hong (劉弘), descendant of Liu Sheng (劉勝), Prince Jing of Zhongshan, son of Emperor Jing of Han
- Lady Mi
- Lady Sun (孫, personal name unknown), daughter of Sun Jian and sister of Sun Ce and Sun Quan (married 209, effectively divorced 211)
- Empress Wu (吳皇后) (created 221, d. 245)
- Major Concubine
- Lady Gan (甘, personal name unknown), mother of Liu Shan, died sometime before 210, later posthumously honored as Empress Zhaolie
- Liu Shan (劉禪), the Crown Prince, later emperor
- Liu Yong (劉永), initially the Prince of Lu (created 221), later Prince of Ganling (created 230)
- Liu Li (劉理), initially the Prince of Liang (created 221), later Prince Dao of Anping (created 230, d. 244)
- Adopted Child
- Liu Feng (劉封) (forced to commit suicide 220)
Zhāoliè (昭烈) lit. "solemn and achieving"
Huángshū (皇叔) lit. "emperor's uncle"
Zhāngwǔ (章武) 221- 223
1- 武侯祠祭“鞋神”刘备. 四川在线. Retrieved on August 26, 2005.; 宣传成都民俗文化 武侯 祠祭祀"鞋神"刘备. 文化产业网. Retrieved on August 26, 2005. (Both sources in Simplified Chinese)
2- 刘备啥时候成了“鞋神”. 扬子晚报. Retrieved on August 26, 2005.
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Xuandi Emperor of Chen
B5: 宣帝; PY: Xuāndì; BN: Chen Xu; B5: 陳頊; GB: 陈顼 PY: Chén Xù (516- 582)- Brother of the Wendi Emperor of Chen, 4th emperor of the Chen dynasty. Deposed the 16 year old Fei Di Emperor of Chen. Originally chosen by Wendi to succeed him, Xuandi proved too independent for the powerful government ministers who prevented Xuandi from taking the throne.
A proven military leader, he managed to recover some territory in the north in 573. The early successes of his reign (569- 582) were tempered with a series brutal defeats at the hands of the newly reunified north in the form of the Northern Zhou Dynasty in 581.
Taijian; B5: 太建; PY: Tàijiàn
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Yangdi Emperor of Sui
B5: 煬帝; GB: 炀帝; PY: Yángdì; BN: Yang Guang; B5: 楊廣; GB: 炀广; PY: Yáng Guăng (569- March 11, 618)- Son and heir of the Wendi Emperor of Sui, second emperor of China's Sui Dynasty.
Yangdi, ruling from 604 to 617, committed to several large projects during his rule, most notably the completion of the Grand Canal. He also caused the reconstruction of the Great Wall, a project which took the lives of nearly six million workers. These expenditures, along with a series of disastrous campaigns against Korea, left the empire bankrupt and the people in revolt. An uprising forced Yangdi to flee to South China, where he was eventually assassinated.
Yangdi committed almost eight million people to constructing roads, palaces, the Grand Canal, the Great Wall and ships. The re-designing of Luoyang alone consumed a quarter of that amount, and the building of the Grand Canal took up 2 million men.
Equally manpower-consuming were the 3 expeditions against Korea, each one needing about a million men. Due to tactical errors, though, the huge army was unable to conquer Korea. A million people died in the 3 campaigns.
Even with many books describing his achievements, Yangdi is still considered a tyrant in China, and the reason for the Sui Dynasty's relatively short rule.
Legend claims Yang send a series of messengers to Hua Mulan with the message to come to him as his concubine. She refused and committed suicide, afterwards. The Emperor then held a funeral with honors for her.
Daye (大業 da4 ye4) 605-617
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Yu King of Xia
B5: 禹; PY: Yŭ; BN: Si Wen Ming; B5: 姒文命; PY: Sì Wén Mìng; CN: Da Yu; B5: 大禹; PY: Dà Yŭ; lit. Yu the Great (2070 BCE- 2061 BCE)- Legendary first Chinese monarch of the Xia Dynasty, considered the founder of the dynasty. Occasionally identified as one of The Three August Ones and the Five Emperors, he is best remembered for teaching the people flood control techniques to tame China's rivers and lakes.
Yu's father, Gun (鯀), was assigned by Yao (堯) to regulate the floods but was so unsuccessful in his attempt that he was executed by the later ruler Shun (舜). Recruited as a successor to his father, Yu began dredging new river channels as outlets, spending a back-breaking thirteen years and some 20,000 workers in the task.
Yu is remembered as an example of perseverance and determination. He is revered as the perfect civil servant. Stories abound about his work in flood techniques taking such importance to him that he bypassed his house three times in thirteen years but never went in — reasoning that a family reunion would take his time and mind away from the flood control problem.
Shun was so impressed by Yu's efforts that he passed the throne to him instead of his own son.
According to historical texts, Yu died at Mount Kuaiji (south of present day Shaoxing) whilst on a hunting tour on the southern frontier of his empire, and was buried there, where a mausoleum was built in his honor. A number of emperors in imperial times have traveled there to perform ceremonies in his honor, notably Qin Shi Huang. A temple, Dayu Ling (大禹陵), has been built on the traditional site where the ceremonies are performed.
Before Yu's time, the title of emperor was passed to the next person considered by the community to have the highest virtue, instead of from father to son. However, Yu's son, Qǐ (啟), proved very capable himself and was recommended to be the next ruler, which marks the starting of the new dynasty (夏, the first dynasty of China). This became the precedent of ruling based on heredity in China.
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B5: 張居正; GB: 张居正; PY: Zhāng Jūzhēng; WG: Chang Chü-cheng (1525- 1582)- Powerful Chinese minister of the Ming Dynasty under the Longqing and Wanli emperors. Zhang was born in Jiangling, Hubei province, China and died in Beijing.
His benevolent rule and strong foreign and economic policies are considered to have brought the Ming Dynasty to its peak. He is credited with centralizing government, limiting special privileges, and reclaiming tax-exempt land. Zhang also played a very important role as mentor and regent during the early years of the reign of Emperor Wanli. He strongly influenced the young emperor and guided Wanli through his teenage years. However after Zhang died in 1582, many of his reforms and policies were ignored which slowly led to the disintegration of the dynasty in the years ahead.
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Duke of Zhou
B5: 周公旦; PY: Zhōu Gōng Dàn- Brother of King Wu of Zhou. Only three years after defeating the Shang Dynasty King Wu died, leaving the task of consolidating the dynasty's power to the Duke of Zhou, who ruled as regent. The Duke of Zhou fought with the rulers of eastern states who joined with the remnants of the Shang to oppose the Zhou. The east was conquered in five years.
According to Chinese legend, he annotated the hexagrams and completed the classic of I Ching, established the Rites of Zhou and created the Classic of Music.
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B5: 朱熹; PY: Zhū Xī; WG: Chu- Hsi (1130- 1200)- Song Dynasty (960- 1279) Confucian scholar who became one of the most significant Neo-Confucians in China. He taught at the famous White Deer Grotto Academy for some time. Zhu Xi was also influential in Japan, where his followers were called the Shushigaku (朱子学) school.
During the Song Dynasty, Zhu Xi's teachings were considered to be unorthodox. Zhu Xi and his fellow scholars codified what is now considered the Confucian canon of classics: the Four Books, consisting of the Analects of Confucius, the Mencius, the Great Learning, and the Doctrine of the Mean; and the Five Classics: the Classic of Poetry, the Classic of History, the Book of Changes (I Ching), the Classic of Rites and the Spring and Autumn Annals. Zhu Xi also wrote extensive commentaries for all of these classics. The writings were not widely recognized in Zhu Xi's time; however, they later became accepted as standard commentaries on the Confucian classics.
Zhu Xi considered the earlier philosopher Xun Zi to be a heretic for departing from Confucius's beliefs about innate human goodness. Zhu Xi contributed to Confucian philosophy by articulating what was to become the orthodox Confucian interpretation of a number of beliefs in Daoism and Buddhism. He adapted some ideas from these competing religions into his form of Confucianism.
He argued that all things are brought into being by two universal elements: vital (or physical) force (qi), and law or rational principle (li). The source and sum of li is the Tai Ji (Wade-Giles: Tai Chi), which means Great Ultimate. According to Zhu Xi, the Tai Ji causes qi to move and change in the physical world, resulting in the division of the world into the two energy modes (yin and yang) and the five elements (fire, water, wood, metal, and earth).
In terms of li and qi, Zhu Xi's system strongly resembles Buddhist ideas of li (again, principle) and shi (affairs, matters), though Zhu Xi and his followers strongly argued that they were not copying Buddhist ideas. Instead, they held, they were using concepts present in the Book of Changes.
According to Zhu Xi's theory, every physical object and every person contains li and therefore has contact with the Tai Ji. What is referred to as the human soul, mind, or spirit is defined as the Great Ultimate (Tai Ji), or the supreme regulative principle at work in a person.
Zhu Xi argued that the fundamental nature of humans was morally good; even if people displayed immoral behaviour, the supreme regulative principle was good. It is unclear whence exactly immorality arises; Zhu Xi argued that it comes about through the muddying effect of li being shrouded in qi, but this does not fully answer the question, as qi itself shares part of the Tai Ji.
According to Zhu Xi, vital force (qi) and rational principle (li) operate together in mutual dependence. These are not entirely non-physical forces: one result of their interaction is the creation of matter. When their activity is rapid the yang energy mode is generated, and when their activity is slow, the yin energy mode is generated. The yang and yin constantly interact, gaining and losing dominance over the other. This results in the structures of nature known as the five elements.
Zhu Xi discussed how he saw the Great Ultimate concept to be compatible with principle of Daoism, but his concept of Tai Ji was different from the understanding of Dao in Daoism. Where Tai Ji is a differentiating principle that results in the emergence of something new, Dao was something that was still and silent, operating to reduce all things to equality and indistinguishability. He argued that there is a central harmony that is not static, empty but dynamic, and that the Great Ultimate is in constant movement.
He did not hold to traditional ideas of God or Heaven (Tian), though he discussed how his own ideas mirrored the traditional concepts. He encouraged an agnostic tendency within Confucianism, because he believed that the Great Ultimate was a rational principle, and he discussed it as an intelligent and ordering will behind the universe. He did not promote the worship of spirits and offerings to images. Although he practiced some forms of ancestor worship, he disagreed that the souls of ancestors existed, believing instead that ancestor worship is a form of remembrance and gratitude.
Zhu Xi practiced a form of daily meditation similar to, but not the same as, Buddhist dhyana or chan ding (ch'an-ting). His meditation did not require the cessation of all thinking as in Buddhism, but was characterized by quiet introspection that helped to balance various aspects of one's personality and allowed for focused thought and concentration. His form of meditation was by nature Confucian in the sense that it was concerned with morality. His meditation attempted to reason and feel in harmony with the universe. He believed that this type of meditation brought humanity closer together and more into harmony.
The teachings of Zhu Xi were to dominate Confucianism, though dissenters would later emerge, such as Wang Yangming two and a half centuries later.
Life magazine ranked Zhu Xi as the forty-fifth most important person in the last millennium.
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Below is an index of terms entered into the database.