Jia Su

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Jia Su (賈餗) (died December 17, 835 [1] [2] ), courtesy name Zimei (子美), formally the Baron of Guzang (姑臧男), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving briefly as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Wenzong. During Emperor Wenzong's reign, he became involved in a major power struggle between imperial officials and eunuchs known as the Ganlu Incident, and he was killed by the eunuchs along with three other chancellors, Li Xun, Wang Ya, and Shu Yuanyu.

Courtesy name name bestowed in adulthood in East Asian cultures

A courtesy name, also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

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.

Emperor Wenzong of Tang emperor of the Tang Dynasty

Emperor Wenzong of Tang (809–840), personal name Li Ang, né Li Han (李涵), was an emperor of the Tang dynasty of China. He reigned from 827 to 840. Emperor Wenzong was the second son of Emperor Muzong and younger brother of Emperor Jingzong. A rare occurrence in Chinese history, Emperor Wenzong, along with his elder brother Emperor Jingzong and younger brother Emperor Wuzong, reigned in succession.

Contents

Background and early career

It is not known when Jia Su was born, but it is known that his family was from Henan Municipality (河南, i.e., the region of the Tang Dynasty eastern capital Luoyang). [3] His family was originally from Guzang (姑臧, in modern Wuwei, Gansu). His grandfather's name was Jia Zhou (賈冑), and his father's name was Jia Ning (賈寧), and neither was listed with an office in the table of the chancellors' family trees in the New Book of Tang , suggesting that they were commoners. Jia Su had at least one older brother, Jia Song (賈竦). [4]

Luoyang Prefecture-level city in Henan, Peoples Republic of China

Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River in the west of Henan province. Governed as a prefecture-level city, it borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast. As of the final 2010 census, Luoyang had a population of 6,549,941 inhabitants with 1,857,003 people living in the built-up area made of the city's five urban districts, all of which except the Jili District are not urbanized yet.

Wuwei, Gansu Prefecture-level city in Gansu, Peoples Republic of China

Wuwei is a prefecture-level city in northwest central Gansu province. In the north it borders Inner Mongolia, in the southwest, Qinghai. It is centrally located in between three western capital cities, Lanzhou, Xining, and Yinchuan, making it an important business and transportation hub for the region. Because it is positioned along the Hexi Corridor, historically the only route from central China to western China and the rest of Central Asia, many major railroads and national highways pass through Wuwei, nowadays.

Gansu Province

Gansu is a landlocked province in Northwest China. Its capital and largest city is Lanzhou, located in the southeast part of the province.

It was said that Jia Su lost his father early in life and travelled in the region between the Yangtze River and the Huai River. When his uncle Jia Quan (賈全) became the governor of Zhedong Circuit (浙東, headquartered in modern Shaoxing, Zhejiang), Jia Su went to depend on Jia Quan. Jia Quan was impressed by his talents and treated him well. [5]

Huai River major river in China

The Huai River, formerly romanized as the Hwai, is a major river in China. It is located about midway between the Yellow River and Yangtze, the two largest rivers in China, and like them runs from west to east. Historically draining directly into the Yellow Sea, floods have changed the course of the river such that it is now a major tributary of the Yangtze. The Huai is notoriously vulnerable to flooding.

Shaoxing Prefecture-level city in Zhejiang, Peoples Republic of China

Shaoxing is a prefecture-level city on the southern shore of Hangzhou Bay in eastern Zhejiang province, China. It was formerly known as Kuaiji and Shanyin and abbreviated in Chinese as 越 (Yuè) from the area's former inhabitants. Located on the south bank of the Qiantang River estuary, it borders Ningbo to the east, Taizhou to the southeast, Jinhua to the southwest, and Hangzhou to the west. As of 2010, its population was 4,912,339 inhabitants. Among which, 1,914,683 lived in the built-up metropolitan area of Hangzhou-Shaoxing, with a total of 8,156,154 inhabitants.

Zhejiang Province

Zhejiang, is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered by Jiangsu and Shanghai to the north, Anhui to the northwest, Jiangxi to the west, and Fujian to the south. To the east is the East China Sea, beyond which lie the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The population of Zhejiang stands at 57 million, the 10th highest among China. Other notable cities include Ningbo and Wenzhou.

At some point, Jia Su passed the imperial examinations in the Jinshi class — and did so well that he became well-known. He also passed a special imperial examination for the talented and righteous, and thereafter was made the sheriff of Weinan County (渭南, in modern Weinan, Shaanxi) and an assistant at the Jixian Institute (集賢院). He was eventually promoted to be Kaogong Yuanwailang (考功員外郎), a low-level official at the ministry of civil service affairs (吏部, Libu), and put in charge of drafting edicts. [5]

Imperial examination system used in appointing officials in dynastic China

Chinese imperial examinations were a civil service examination system in Imperial China to select candidates for the state bureaucracy. Although there were imperial exams as early as the Han dynasty, the system became widely utilized as the major path to office only in the mid-Tang dynasty, and remained so until its abolition in 1905. Since the exams were based on knowledge of the classics and literary style, not technical expertise, successful candidates were generalists who shared a common language and culture, one shared even by those who failed. This common culture helped to unify the empire and the ideal of achievement by merit gave legitimacy to imperial rule.

Weinan Prefecture-level city in Shaanxi, Peoples Republic of China

Weinan is a prefecture-level city in the east of Shaanxi province, China. The city lies about 60 km (37 mi) east of the provincial capital Xi'an.

Shaanxi Chinese province

Shaanxi is a landlocked province in Northwest China. It lies in central China, bordering the provinces of Shanxi, Henan (E), Hubei (SE), Chongqing (S), Sichuan (SW), Gansu (W), Ningxia (NW), and Inner Mongolia (N).

During Emperor Muzong's and Emperor Jingzong's reigns

Early in the Changqing era (821-824) of Emperor Muzong, Jia Su and Bai Juyi were put in charge of grading a special imperial examination for those with strategies, and it was said that the popular opinion at the time was that Jia and Bai were fair graders. He was soon made Kubu Langzhong (庫部郎中), a supervisory official at the ministry of defense (兵部, Bingbu), and continued to be in charge of drafting edicts. [3] It was said that Jia was an excellent writer, and was intelligent and decisive. However, he was also said that he was harsh and impatient, and he often insulted his colleagues. The senior advisory official Li Bo (李渤) disliked Jia and reported this to the chancellors, but because Li Fengji and Dou Yizhi favored Jia's talents, Jia was not demoted. [5] [lower-alpha 1]

Emperor Muzong of Tang emperor of the Tang Dynasty

Emperor Muzong of Tang, personal name Li Heng, né Li You (李宥), was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China. He reigned from 820 to 824. Emperor Muzong was the son of Emperor Xianzong. He was created crown prince in 812 during the reign of Emperor Xianzong and, after Emperor Xianzong was allegedly assassinated by a eunuch, Li Heng was proclaimed emperor in 820.

Bai Juyi Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty

Bai Juyi, courtesy name Letian, was a renowned Chinese poet and Tang dynasty government official. Many of his poems concern his career or observations made about everyday life, including as governor of three different provinces.

Li Fengji, courtesy name Xuzhou (虛舟), formally Duke Cheng of Zheng (鄭成公) or Duke Cheng of Liang (涼成公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Xianzong, Emperor Xianzong's son Emperor Muzong, and grandson Emperor Jingzong. He was portrayed by traditional accounts as full of machinations against his political opponents.

When Emperor Muzong died in 824 and was succeeded by his son Emperor Jingzong, [6] Jia was one of the imperial emissaries sent out to the circuits to announce Emperor Muzong's death, and he was sent to the Yangtze-Qiantang River region. While he was thus on tour in the region, he was made the prefect of Chang Prefecture (常州, in modern Changzhou, Jiangsu), [5] because of the machinations of the official Zhang Youxin (張又新). [3] At that time, when imperial officials served as emissaries, they had guards in red uniforms leading the way for them, and as Jia reported to Chang Prefecture, he continued to use the guards. Jia's superior, Li Deyu the governor of Zhexi Circuit (浙西, headquartered in modern Zhenjiang, Jiangsu), ordered him to stop using the red-uniformed guards, much to Jia's resentment. [5]

Emperor Jingzong of Tang, personal name Li Zhan, was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China. He reigned from 824 to 827. Emperor Jingzong was the eldest son of emperor Emperor Muzong and elder brother of eventual Emperor Wenzong and Emperor Wuzong.

Qiantang River An East Chinese river that originates in the border region of Anhui and Jiangxi provinces and has the worlds largest tidal bore

The Qiantang River is a river in East China. An important commercial artery, it runs for 459 kilometers (285 mi) through Zhejiang, passing through the provincial capital Hangzhou before flowing into the East China Sea via Hangzhou Bay.

Changzhou Prefecture-level city in Jiangsu, Peoples Republic of China

Changzhou is a prefecture-level city in southern Jiangsu province, China. It was previously known as Yanling, Lanling and Jinling. Located on the southern bank of the Yangtze River, Changzhou borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the west, Zhenjiang to the northwest, Wuxi to the east, and the province of Zhejiang to the south. Changzhou is located in the highly developed Yangtze Delta region of China extending from Shanghai going northwest. The population of Changzhou city was 4,592,431 at the 2010 census.

During Emperor Wenzong's reign

Early in the Taihe era (827-835) of Emperor Jingzong's younger brother Emperor Wenzong, Jia Su was recalled to the capital Chang'an to serve the deputy minister of worship (太常少卿, Taichang Shaoqing). In 828, he was again put in charge of drafting imperial edicts. In 829, he was made Zhongshu Sheren (中書舍人), a mid-level official at the legislative bureau of government (中書省). In 830, he was put in charge of the imperial examinations, and after the roll of examinees who passed the examinations were issued in 831, he was officially made the deputy minister of rites (禮部侍郎, Libu Shilang). While serving at the minister of rites, he oversaw three classes of imperial examinees, and selected 75 of them for passage. It was said that among the 75 were many future high-level officials. In 833, he was made the deputy minister of defense (兵部侍郎, Bingbu Shilang). In 834, he was made the mayor of Jingzhao Municipality (京兆, i.e., the Chang'an region), and was also given the honorary title as chief imperial censor (御史大夫, Yushi Daifu). [3]

It was while serving as the mayor of Jingzhao that Jia got into an incident involving protocol. In summer 835, Emperor Wenzong was holding a feast at Qujiang (曲江, near Chang'an). Pursuant to protocol at the time, when the mayor of Jingzhao arrived, he was supposed to get off his horse at the outer gates and greet the censors. Jia, however, arrogant at his high status as well as his association with the chancellor Li Zongmin and Emperor Wenzong's close associate Zheng Zhu, did not get off his horse and continued riding. When the low-level imperial censors Yang Jian (楊儉) and Su Te (蘇特) argued with him, he cursed at them. [2] As a result, the advisory official Wen Zao (溫造) submitted an accusation against Jia, and Jia was punished by having his salary partially stripped. [5] Jia, humiliated, requested to be sent out of the capital, and he was commissioned to be the governor of Zhexi Circuit — but before he could depart for Zhexi, he was made Zhongshu Shilang (中書侍郎), the deputy head of the legislative bureau, as well as chancellor de facto with the designation Tong Zhongshu Menxia Pingzhangshi (同中書門下平章事). [2] He was also created the Baron of Guzang. [3] (The modern historian Bo Yang believed that this sudden promotion after the incident was a case where Zheng was trying to display how much sway he had over the emperor. [7] ) Soon thereafter, he was also given the additional title as imperial scholar at Jixian Institute and put in charge of editing the imperial history. [3]

Meanwhile, Emperor Wenzong, Zheng, and Jia's fellow chancellor Li Xun were plotting a slaughter of the powerful eunuchs, without Jia's knowledge. When Li Xun launched the plot (later known as the Ganlu Incident) on December 14, 835, [1] [2] the eunuchs seized Emperor Wenzong, and the plot failed. Li Xun fled out of Chang'an, while Jia and fellow chancellors Wang Ya and Shu Yuanyu returned to the Office of the Chancellors, believing that Emperor Wenzong would soon summon them to deal with the aftermaths, and they ordered the imperial officials under them to continue working normally. Soon thereafter, however, the eunuch-commanded Shence Army (神策軍) soldiers began attacking the governmental buildings, as the eunuchs believed the officials to be complicit with the plot. As the chancellors were about to have lunch, this was reported to them, and they fled. Jia spent a night in hiding in civilian clothing, but the next day, believing that he could not flee successfully anyway, changed into mourning clothes and rode a donkey to Xing'an Gate (興安門), informing the soldiers there, "I am Chancellor Jia Su. I was tainted by wicked people. Please deliver me to the Shence Army." The soldiers there did so. Meanwhile, the eunuchs submitted a confession that Wang Ya wrote after being tortured, in which he claimed that he and the other imperial officials had intended to overthrow Emperor Wenzong and replace him with Zheng, and Emperor Wenzong subsequently accepted the confession as true. [2]

On December 17, [1] the Shence Army soldiers escorted Jia, along with Wang Ya, Wang Fan (王璠), Luo Liyan (羅立言), Guo Xingyu (郭行餘), Shu, and Li Xiaoben (李孝本), along with Li Xun's head, to the imperial ancestral shrine, to be presented like sacrifices. They then were escorted to the execution field and executed by being cut in halves at the waist. Their families were slaughtered. [2]

In his Zizhi Tongjian , the Song Dynasty historian Sima Guang had this to say about Jia's and Wang Ya's deaths: [2]

The commentators all state that Wang Ya and Jia Su were both talented in literary abilities and had good reputations, and that they did not know about the conspiracy of Li Xun and Zheng Zhu but were nevertheless massacred with their families. The commentators thus felt angry and sad for them and sighed about their undue death. I do not agree. If the state were falling and one cannot help right it, what use is a chancellor? Wang and Jia calmly held high positions and enjoyed the wealth and honors, at the same time that the wicked men led by Li and Zheng used their trickery and fraud to reach the positions of chancellorship. Wang and Jia sat with them and did not feel shame in doing so. The state faced disaster and disturbance and they did not worry. They lived their lives day by day. They thought that they had the wonderful strategy to protect themselves and that no one was more intelligent than they were. If everyone could do this and suffer no disaster, what wicked person would not do so? Instead, within an instant disaster fell, the feet of the ding broke, the food spilled, and punishments were carried out in dark rooms. It is that Heaven destroyed them, not Qiu Shiliang [(one of the leading eunuchs)].

Jia Su's son Jia Xiang (贾庠) fled to Liu Congjian the reigning Military Governor of Zhaoyi. When Liu's nephew and successor Liu Zhen fell, Jia Xiang was also killed. [8]

In the subsequent reign of Emperor Wenzong's uncle Emperor Xuānzong, Jia's and Wang Ya's reputations and titles were posthumously restored. [9]

Notes

  1. The New Book of Tang account about Li Bo's report to the chancellors implied that Li Fengji and Dou were both chancellors at the time, but the account would then create a timing issue, as Dou did not become chancellor while Emperor Muzong was living. See Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 243.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Academia Sinica Chinese-Western Calendar Converter. Archived 2010-05-22 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Zizhi Tongjian , vol. 245.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Old Book of Tang , vol. 169.
  4. New Book of Tang , vol. 75. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-19. Retrieved 2010-02-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-12-20. Retrieved 2008-12-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 New Book of Tang, vol. 179.
  6. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 243.
  7. Bo Yang Edition of the Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 59 [835].
  8. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 248.
  9. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 249.