Cui Xuanwei

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Cui Xuanwei (崔玄暐; 638–706), né Cui Ye (崔曄), formally Prince Wenxian of Boling (博陵文獻王), [1] was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian and her son Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and died in exile.

History of China Account of past events in the Chinese civilisation

The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty, during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was mentioned as the twenty-first Shang king by the same. Ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian and the Bamboo Annals describe a Xia dynasty before the Shang, but no writing is known from the period, and Shang writings do not indicate the existence of the Xia. The Shang ruled in the Yellow River valley, which is commonly held to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. However, Neolithic civilizations originated at various cultural centers along both the Yellow River and Yangtze River. These Yellow River and Yangtze civilizations arose millennia before the Shang. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations, and is regarded as one of the cradles of civilization.

Wu Zetian founding empress of the Zhou Dynasty

Wu Zetian, alternatively named Wu Zhao, Wu Hou, during the later Tang dynasty as Tian Hou, in English as Empress Consort Wu, was a Chinese sovereign who ruled unofficially as empress consort, power behind the throne, and later officially as regent, empress dowager, empress regnant. For twenty-five years, she worked as a co-ruler of her husband and sons and for 15 years she worked in her own name (皇帝) during the brief Zhou dynasty, which interrupted the Tang dynasty. Wu was the sole officially recognized empress regnant of China in more than two millennia.

Emperor Zhongzong of Tang emperor of the Tang Dynasty

Emperor Zhongzong of Tang, personal name Li Xian, and at other times Li Zhe or Wu Xian, was the fourth Emperor of the Tang dynasty of China, ruling briefly in 684 and again from 705 to 710. During the first period, he did not rule, and the entire government was in the hands of his mother, Empress Wu Zetian. In the second period, most of the government was in the hands of his beloved wife Empress Wei).

Contents

Background

Cui Chu was born late in the reign of Emperor Taizong. He was from "The elder house of Boling" of the prominent Cui clan of Boling.His father Cui Xingjin (崔行謹) served as the magistrate of Husu County (胡蘇, in modern Dezhou, Shandong), and his uncle Cui Xinggong (崔行功) was the head of the Palace Library. During the Longshuo era of Emperor Taizong's son Emperor Gaozong, he passed the imperial examinations and became a low level official at the ministry of treasury (庫部, Kubu). His mother Lady Lu often encouraged him to be an honest and clean official. He heeded his mother's teachings and became known for his honesty and carefulness. At some point, because the character of his name Ye (曄) apparently had a similar appearance to the name of one of the ancestors of Emperor Gaozong's wife Empress Wu (later known as Wu Zetian), he changed his name to Xuanwei. [2] He eventually served as a Fengge Sheren (鳳閣舍人), a mid-level official at the legislative bureau of government (鳳閣, Fengge). [3]

Emperor Taizong of Tang 7th-century Chinese emperor of the Tang Dynasty

Emperor Taizong of Tang, previously Prince of Qin, personal name Li Shimin, was the second emperor of the Tang dynasty of China, ruling from 626 to 649. He is traditionally regarded as a co-founder of the dynasty for his role in encouraging Li Yuan, his father, to rebel against the Sui dynasty at Jinyang in 617. Taizong subsequently played a pivotal role in defeating several of the dynasty's most dangerous opponents and solidifying its rule over China.

The Cui clan of Boling(博陵崔氏) was a notable Chinese clan of noble descent which was politically active from the Han dynasty to the end of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. They shared the same ancestry as the Cui clan of Qinghe. The founding father of this clan, Cui Zhongmou (崔仲牟), was a younger brother of Cui Ye (崔業), the founding father of the Cui clan of Qinghe. Their father, Jizi (季子), was the common ancestor of these two clans.

Dezhou Prefecture-level city in Shandong, Peoples Republic of China

Dezhou is a prefecture-level city in northwestern Shandong province, People's Republic of China. It borders the provincial capital of Jinan to the southeast, Liaocheng to the southwest, Binzhou to the northeast, and the province of Hebei to the north.

During Wu Zetian's reign

In 701, by which time Empress Wu had taken the throne herself as "emperor" of a new Zhou Dynasty, interrupting Tang Dynasty, Cui Xuanwei was made the deputy minister of civil service affairs (天官侍郎, Tianguan Shilang), and he was said to be upright and not susceptible to improper influence by powerful people. Later that year, he was made Wenchang Zuo Cheng (文昌左丞), one of the secretaries general of the executive bureau (文昌臺, Wenchang Tai). A month later, Wu Zetian summoned him and told him, "Since your office was changed, I heard that the officials often feasted because they could now again be corrupt. I will put you back in your old position." She thus made him deputy minister of civil service again and gave him an award of silk.

In 704, when Cui was still serving as deputy minister of civil service affairs, he was given the designation Tong Fengge Luantai Pingzhangshi (同鳳閣鸞臺平章事), making him a chancellor de facto. By late that year, when Wu Zetian was ill and was often attended only by her lovers Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong, Cui made the suggestion to her that she should have her sons Li Xian the Crown Prince and Li Dan the Prince of Xiang attend to her—not members of other clans (i.e., not the Zhang brothers). Wu Zetian, while thanking him for his input, paid no heed. Cui later supported the imperial censor Song Jing in Song's attempt to investigate Zhang Changzong for corruption and plotting treason, but Wu Zetian did not permit the investigation. She did, however, approve a petition jointly submitted by him and Li Jiao and supported by Huan Yanfan that the people who were found guilty and executed due to accusations by her secret police officials (such as Zhou Xing and Lai Junchen) early in her reign be posthumously restored to honor.

Emperor Ruizong of Tang emperor of the Tang Dynasty

Emperor Ruizong of Tang, personal name Li Dan, also known at times during his life as Li Xulun, Li Lun, Wu Lun, and Wu Dan, was the fifth and ninth emperor of Tang Dynasty. He was the eighth son of Emperor Gaozong and the fourth son of Emperor Gaozong's second wife Empress Wu.

Song Jing (宋璟), formally Duke Wenzhen of Guangping (廣平文貞公), was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as the chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Ruizong and Emperor Xuanzong. He was praised by historians for his insistence on being morally upright, and for being a just administrator of the law during his time as Xuanzong's senior chancellor.

Huan Yanfan (桓彥範) (653–706), courtesy name Shize (士則), formally Prince Zhonglie of Fuyang (扶陽忠烈王), briefly known during the reign of Emperor Zhongzong of Tang as Wei Yanfan (韋彥範), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and killed in exile in a cruel manner.

In spring 705, with Wu Zetian continuing to be ill, Cui entered into a plot with a number of officials and generals, including Zhang Jianzhi, Huan, Jing Hui, and Yuan Shuji, to kill the Zhang brothers. With agreement from Li Xian, they acted on February 20, [4] killing Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong, and then surrounding Wu Zetian. While they allowed her to retain the title of "emperor," they had her put under house arrest at the secondary palace Shangyang Palace (上陽宮) and forced her to yield the throne to Li Xian, who was formerly emperor, and he was restored to the throne (as Emperor Zhongzong). As she confronted the plotters, she said to Cui, "All of the others became key officials because of others' recommendations. Only you were personally selected by myself, and yet you stand here with them." Cui responded, "What I do today is to repay your Imperial Majesty's great grace to me."

Zhang Jianzhi (張柬之) (625-706), courtesy name Mengjiang (孟將), formally Prince Wenzhen of Hanyang (漢陽文貞王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian and her son Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and died in exile.

Jing Hui (敬暉), courtesy name Zhongye (仲瞱), formally Prince Sumin of Pingyang (平陽肅愍王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and killed in exile in a cruel manner.

Yuan Shuji (袁恕己), formally Prince Zhenlie of Nanyang (南陽貞烈王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and killed in exile in a cruel manner.

During Emperor Zhongzong's second reign

Cui Xuanwei, along with Zhang Jianzhi, Huan Yanfan, Jing Hui, and Yuan Shuji, were recognized as leaders in Emperor Zhongzong's restoration, and they were put into key positions and created dukes, with Cui becoming Neishi (內史), the head of the legislative bureau and one of the posts considered one for a chancellor, and carrying the title of Duke of Boling. Soon, however, Emperor Zhongzong became heavily influenced by his wife Empress Wei and her lover Wu Sansi the Prince of Liang (Wu Zetian's nephew and Emperor Zhongzong's cousin). Zhang fervently argued against the rise of Wu Sansi's power but was unable to do anything about it. Further, when Emperor Zhongzong also became trusting of sorcerers Zheng Pusi (鄭普思) and Ye Jingneng (葉靜能) and wanted to give Zheng and Ye honored positions, Cui and Huan spoke against it but was not listened to. In summer 705, by which time Emperor Zhongzong's trust in Cui and his colleagues had completely been lost, Emperor Zhongzong, following Wu Sansi's recommendation, created the five coup leaders princes—in Cui's case, Prince of Boling—but stripped them of chancellor positions. Cui was soon made the secretary general of Yi Prefecture (益州, roughly modern Chengdu, Sichuan) and acting commandant at Yi Prefecture.

Empress Wei was an empress of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. She was the second wife of Emperor Zhongzong, who reigned twice, and during his second reign, she tried to emulate the example of her mother-in-law Wu Zetian and seize power. After Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710—a death traditionally believed to be a poisoning she carried out together with her daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle—which gave her the power to become the empress dowager and regent, but in short order was overthrown and killed in a coup led by Emperor Zhongzong's nephew Li Longji and Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping.

Wu Sansi, posthumously Prince Xuan of Liang (梁宣王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and his aunt Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, becoming an imperial prince and chancellor during the reign of Wu Zetian and subsequently, while only briefly chancellor during the second reign of Wu Zetian's son and his cousin Emperor Zhongzong, becoming very powerful due to both the trust Emperor Zhongzong had in him and his affair with Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife Empress Wei. He was killed in a rebellion by Emperor Zhongzong's son the crown prince Li Chongjun in 707.

Chengdu Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Sichuan, Peoples Republic of China

Chengdu, formerly romanized as Chengtu, is a sub-provincial city which serves as the capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan. It is one of the three most-populous cities in Western China, the other two being Chongqing and Xi'an. As of 2014, the administrative area housed 14,427,500 inhabitants, the largest in Sichuan, with an urban population of 10,152,632. At the time of the 2010 census, Chengdu was the fifth-most populous agglomeration in China, with 10,484,996 inhabitants in the built-up area including Xinjin County and Deyang's Guanghan City. Chengdu is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification, according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.

In spring 706, with all five of the coup leaders already out of the capital, Wu Sansi and Empress Wei made accusations against them, and they were demoted to more remote prefectures—in Cui's case, to be the prefect of Jun Prefecture (均州, roughly modern Shiyan, Hubei). Wu Sansi then had his strategist Zheng Yin further accuse the five of them of having participated in the plot of Emperor Zhongzong's son-in-law Wang Tongjiao (王同皎) -- who was executed early in 706 after having been accused of plotting to kill Wu Sansi and deposing Empress Wei. The five were further demoted with the provisions that they would never be allowed to return to the capital Chang'an, with Cui becoming the military advisor to the prefect of Bai Prefecture (白州, roughly modern Yulin, Guangxi). Wu Sansi then had accusations that Empress Wei was having affairs posted publicly in the eastern capital Luoyang, with the intent of incensing Emperor Zhongzong—and then accused the five coup leaders of being behind this public humiliation. He then had his associates propose that the five be killed. Emperor Zhongzong, citing that the five had been previously awarded iron certificates that guaranteed that they would not be executed in recognition of their contribution, ordered that they be reduced to commoner rank and permanently exiled to the Lingnan region with their families—in Cui's case, to Gu Prefecture (古州, roughly modern Lạng Sơn Province, Vietnam). At the suggestion of Cui Shi, Wu Sansi then sent the censor Zhou Lizhen (周利貞) to the Lingnan region under guise of reviewing the affairs of the region but with instructions to kill the five. By the time that Zhou reached the region, though, Cui Xuanwei had already died. After Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710 and Li Dan, himself a former emperor, was restored (as Emperor Ruizong), Cui and his colleagues were posthumously honored, and his son Cui Qu (崔璩) received the title of Duke of Boling.

Notes and references

  1. Historical accounts about Cui and his fellow coup leaders generally referred to them as the "five princes," and, as their titles were restored after Emperor Ruizong's ascension, they were generally considered to have been restored to their princely ranks, although Cui's biography in the Old Book of Tang quoted an edict of Emperor Xuanzong's honoring him as the Duke of Boling, and therefore it is not completely clear whether Cui, posthumously, was formally referred to as a duke or a prince. See Old Book of Tang, vol. 91. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2008-02-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. Cui Xuanwei's biographies in the Old Book of Tang and the New Book of Tang both indicated that this change occurred "during the time of Empress Wu," which could mean either during her reign as "emperor" or the first reigns of her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong. See Old Book of Tang, vol. 91 and New Book of Tang, vol. 120. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2008-02-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) The Old Book of Tang further implied that the ancestor in question was Empress Wu's grandfather, but as Empress Wu's grandfather was named Wu Hua (武華) (see New Book of Tang, vol. 74, part 1 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2008-01-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)), and "Hua" did not appear to have any real resemblance to the character "Chu", it is unclear which ancestor was actually involved.
  3. This promotion probably occurred during Wu Zetian's reign, but could have occurred during Emperor Ruizong's first reign.
  4. 兩千年中西曆轉換

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