Liu Youqiu (Chinese :劉幽求) (655 – December 6, 715 ), formally Duke Wenxian of Xu (徐文獻公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Ruizong and Emperor Xuanzong.
Liu Youqiu was born in 655, during the reign of Emperor Gaozong. His family was from Ji Prefecture (冀州, roughly modern Hengshui, Hebei). During the Shengli era (697–701) of Emperor Gaozong's wife Wu Zetian, Liu passed the imperial examinations and made the sheriff of Langzhong County (閬中, in modern Bazhong, Sichuan). The prefect of the prefecture Langzhong was in, however, did not respect him, and he, in frustration, left his post. Some time later, he was made the sheriff of Chaoyi County (朝邑, in modern Weinan, Shaanxi), a post that he was serving at as of 705, when Wu Zetian was overthrown in a coup and her son, Li Xian the Crown Prince, a former emperor, was restored to the throne (as Emperor Zhongzong). For some time, the key officials in power were the coup leaders Zhang Jianzhi, Cui Xuanwei, Huan Yanfan, Jing Hui, and Yuan Shuji. Liu tried to warn Huan and Jing that Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi the Prince of Liang posed a threat to the coup leaders and should be killed, but they did not listen to him. Soon thereafter, Wu Sansi, who carried on an affair with Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife Empress Wei, became a trusted advisor to Emperor Zhongzong, and the coup leaders were exiled and eventually died or killed in exile.
In 710, Emperor Zhongzong died suddenly—a death that traditional historians believed to be a poisoning carried out by Empress Wei and her daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle, so that Empress Wei could become "emperor" like Wu Zetian and Li Guo'er could become crown princess. For the time being, Emperor Zhongzong's son by a concubine, Li Chongmao the Prince of Wen, was made emperor (as Emperor Shang), and Empress Wei retained power as empress dowager and regent. She viewed Emperor Zhongzong's brother Li Dan the Prince of Xiang and sister Princess Taiping as threats, and considered killing them. Meanwhile, Princess Taiping and Li Dan's son Li Longji the Prince of Linzi heard news of this, and therefore considered acting first. They, along with Princess Taiping's son Xue Chongjian (薛崇簡), Zhong Shaojing, Wang Chongye (王崇曄), Liu, and Ma Sizong (麻嗣宗), planned a coup, and soon launched it, with support from imperial guard soldiers disgruntled at harsh treatment by their commanders Wei Bo (韋播) and Gao Song (高嵩), Empress Wei's nephews whom she had put in charge. During the coup, Liu was responsible for writing some 100 declarations for Li Longji, as he attended to Li Longji throughout the night of the coup. The coup was successful, and Empress Wei and Li Guo'er were killed. Li Dan was made regent, and for his contributions in the coup, Liu was made Zhongshu Sheren (中書舍人), a mid-level official at the legislative bureau (中書省, Zhongshu Sheng), and given the designation Canzhi Jiwu (參知機務), making him a chancellor de facto. He was also created the Baron of Zhongshan. Two of his sons were given honors, and his grandfather and father were posthumously honored.
Several days after the coup, Li Dan, at the urging of Princess Taiping, Li Longji, and Li Longji's brother Li Chengqi the Prince of Song, retook the throne (as Emperor Ruizong), displacing Emperor Shang. (During the ceremony where Emperor Shang yielded the throne, Liu Youqiu took the ceremonial role of kneeling down and giving justification for Emperor Shang to yield the throne to Emperor Ruizong. Further, it was said that it was at the urging of Liu that Li Longji and Li Chengqi persuaded Emperor Ruizong to take the throne.) Once Emperor Ruizong took the throne, Liu received further promotions and honors—he was given the honorific title Yinqing Guanglu Daifu (銀青光祿大夫); made Shangshu You Cheng (尚書右丞), a secretary general at the executive bureau (尚書省, Shangshu Sheng); and created the Duke of Xu. He continued to serve as chancellor, and was given awards of silk, servants, a mansion, land, horses, and other assorted treasures. As Li Chengqi was older than Li Longji and was born of Emperor Ruizong's deceased wife Empress Liu, but Li Longji had the great achievement during the coup, Emperor Ruizong initially hesitated at deciding whom to make crown prince. It was based on Li Chengqi's repeated offers to yield and Liu's urging, pointing out that Li Longji was brave and able, that Emperor Ruizong decided to create Li Longji crown prince.
In 711, as part of a governmental reorganization that evolved out of a power struggle between Li Longji and Princess Taiping—as Zhang Shuo and Song Jing had tried to remove Princess Taiping's influence from government but failed—Zhang and Song were demoted, and Liu was also removed from being a chancellor, becoming the minister of census (戶部尚書, Hubu Shangshu) instead. Later in the year, when he was referred to as the minister of civil service affairs (吏部尚書, Libu Shangshu), another major governmental reorganization saw him made Shizhong (侍中), the head of the examination bureau (門下省, Menxia Sheng), a post considered one for a chancellor. Further, Emperor Ruizong issued an edict that stated that Liu would be pardoned from death 10 times.
In 712, after Li Jin (李璡) the prefect of Yan Prefecture (燕州, in modern Beijing) submitted a false report to Liu about Xue Na the commandant at You Prefecture (幽州, also in modern Beijing), under whom Li Jin was serving, Liu recommended that Xue be replaced by the general Sun Quan (孫佺). Subsequently, Sun took an overly aggressive stance against Xi chieftain Li Dabu (李大酺), and was defeated by Li Dabu, at great human cost.
Later in 712, Emperor Ruizong passed the throne to Li Longji, who took the throne as Emperor Xuanzong. However, at Princess Taiping's urging, Emperor Ruizong retained most imperial powers as Taishang Huang (retired emperor). Liu Youqiu continued to serve as chancellor, and was soon given the post of You Pushe (右僕射), one of the heads of the executive bureau, along with the chancellor de facto designation of Tong Zhongshu Menxia Sanpin (同中書門下三品).
Meanwhile, Princess Taiping continued to be highly much influential in governmental matters Management through Emperor Ruizong, and most chancellors were her associates. Liu and the general Zhang Wei (張暐), with Emperor Xuanzong's approval, planned to mobilize the imperial guards to kill several of those chancellors—Dou Huaizhen, Cui Shi and Cen Xi. However, after Zhang told the plan to the imperial censor Deng Guangbin (鄧光賓), the news was leaked. Liu was arrested, and initially set to be executed. Emperor Xuanzong interceded on his behalf with Emperor Ruizong, and Liu, Zhang, and Deng were spared but exiled—in Liu's case, to Feng Prefecture (封州, roughly modern Zhaoqing, Guangdong). Cui subsequently gave instructions to Zhou Lizhen (周利貞) the commandant at Guang Prefecture (廣州, roughly modern Guangzhou, Guangdong), under whose area of responsibility Feng Prefecture was, to have Liu killed. Liu's friend Wang Jun, who was then the commandant at Gui Prefecture (桂州, roughly modern Guilin, Guangxi), heard of this secret instruction, and therefore, when Liu went through Gui Prefecture, detained him and refused to let him go on to Feng Prefecture. Zhou submitted accusations that Wang was disobeying an imperial edict, and Cui repeatedly tried to pressure Wang to release Liu to Feng Prefecture. Liu himself pointed out to Wang that he did not want to put Wang in danger as well, but Wang refused to let Liu go on, and Liu was spared from death.
In 713, after receiving a report that Princess Taiping and her partisans were planning to overthrow him, Emperor Xuanzong acted first, killing her associates and forcing her to commit suicide. He recalled Liu from exile and made him Zuo Pushe (左僕射), also head of the executive bureau, and gave him the chancellor de facto designation of Pingzhang Junguo Dashi (平章軍國大事) and later again Tong Zhongshu Menxia Sanpin. He also restored the title of Duke of Xu, stripped from Liu when Liu was exiled, and further gave Liu the honorific titles of Jinzi Guanglu Daifu (金紫光祿大夫) and Shang Zhuguo (上柱國). He also put Liu in charge of editing the imperial history. Later that year, when Emperor Xuanzong was poised to execute the chancellor Guo Yuanzhen due to the disorganization of the imperial guards, it was the urging of Liu and Zhang Shuo that Guo was not executed. Late that year, Liu again became Shizhong, although he was soon removed from the chancellor position altogether when Zhang was replaced with Yao Chong. Instead, he became Taizi Shaobao (太子少保), an advisor to the crown prince. (As, at that time, there was no crown prince, the post was entirely honorary.)
Nevertheless, Yao was still jealous of Liu's close relations with Emperor Xuanzong, and in 714 he accused Liu and Zhong Shaojing of complaining that they were not given important posts despite their contributions. Despite Liu's and Zhong's denials, they were still demoted—in Liu's case, to be the prefect of Mu Prefecture (睦州, in modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang). He was soon promoted to a slightly larger prefecture—Hang Prefecture (杭州, also in modern Hangzhou), but in 715 was demoted to a farther prefecture, Chen Prefecture (郴州, roughly modern Chenzhou, Hunan). He was upset over the demotion, and he died on the way there. Emperor Xuanzong honored him posthumously and gave him the posthumous name Wenxian (文獻, meaning "civil and wise"), and had Liu worshipped at the temple of Emperor Ruizong.
Princess Taiping was a royal princess during the Tang dynasty and her mother Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty. She was the youngest daughter of Wu Zetian and Emperor Gaozong and was powerful during the reigns of her mother and her elder brothers Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, particularly during Emperor Ruizong's second reign, when for three years until her death, she was the real power behind the throne.
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.
Yao Chong, né Yao Yuanchong (姚元崇), known 700s-713 by the courtesy name of Yuanzhi (元之), formally Duke Wenxian of Liang (梁文獻公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor under four sovereigns—Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, and her grandson Emperor Xuanzong. After his resignation in 716, he still had great influence inside the imperial government, and his opinions often influenced the decisions of Emperor Xuanzong and the succeeding chancellors.
Zhang Yue (663–730), courtesy name Daoji (道濟) or Yuezhi (說之), formally Duke Wenzhen of Yan (燕文貞公), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, serving as a chancellor three separate stints during the reigns of Emperor Ruizong and Emperor Xuanzong. He is known for having suggested the transition of Tang central government armed forces from being conscription-based to recruitment-based, and for turning the office of the chancellor into a specialized post with strong executive powers.
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. He was wholly a figurehead during his first reign when he was controlled by his mother, and he was the titular and puppet ruler of the Tang Empire from 684 to 690. During his second reign after his mother's death, significant power was exercised by his sister Princess Taiping.
Emperor Shang, also known as Emperor Shao (少帝), personal name Li Chongmao, was an emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China, ruling briefly in 710.
Li Chengqi, known as Wu Chengqi during the reign of his grandmother Wu Zetian and as Li Xian after 716, formally Emperor Rang, was an imperial prince of the Tang Dynasty who served as crown prince during the first reign of his father Emperor Ruizong, who yielded that position to his younger brother Li Longji during Emperor Ruizong's second reign. Li Chengqi had a number of children, including his oldest son, Li Jin, the prince of Ruyang, who was called one of the Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup by famous poet Du Fu.
Wu Youji (武攸暨), formally Prince Zhongjian of Ding (定忠簡王), was an imperial prince of Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty and an official of Tang Dynasty. He is best known as the second husband of Wu Zetian's powerful daughter Princess Taiping.
Wei Juyuan (韋巨源), formally Duke Zhao of Shu (舒昭公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving multiple times as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her son Emperor Zhongzong, and her grandson Emperor Shang. During Emperor Zhongzong's reign, he became aligned with Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife Empress Wei, and after Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710 and a coup led by Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and Emperor Zhongzong's nephew Li Longji the Prince of Linzi killed Empress Wei, Wei Juyuan was also killed.
Wei Anshi, formally Duke Wenzhen of Xun (郇文貞公), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, serving as a chancellor several times, during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, and her grandson Emperor Shang.
Wei Sili, courtesy name Yan'gou (延構), formally Duke Xiao of Xiaoyao (逍遙孝公), 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, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, and her grandson Emperor Shang.
Su Gui, courtesy name Changrong (昌容) or Tingshuo (廷碩), formally Duke Wenzhen of Xu (許文貞公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Zhongzong, Emperor Shang, and Emperor Ruizong.
Xiao Zhizhong was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian's sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong and grandsons Emperor Shang and Emperor Xuanzong. He was known for his willingness to point out corruption in high-level officials, but was later himself implicated as a partisan of the powerful Princess Taiping and executed in 713 when Emperor Xuanzong suppressed Princess Taiping's party.
Cui Shi, courtesy name Chenglan (澄瀾), was a Chinese writer and politician. He served as an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian's sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong and grandsons Emperor Shang and Emperor Xuanzong. In 713, with Emperor Xuanzong locked in a rivalry with his aunt Princess Taiping, Cui chose to side with Princess Taiping, and after Emperor Xuanzong suppressed Princess Taiping's party, Cui was exiled and ordered to commit suicide in exile.
Zhao Yanzhao, courtesy name Huanran (奐然), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Zhongzong, Emperor Shang, and Emperor Ruizong.
Cen Xi, courtesy name Bohua (伯華), was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Shang, Emperor Ruizong, and Emperor Xuanzong. He was known for his integrity as an official in charge of civil service affairs, but was later implicated as a partisan of Emperor Xuanzong's aunt Princess Taiping in 713 and was executed when Emperor Xuanzong suppressed Princess Taiping's party.
Zhong Shaojing (鍾紹京), courtesy name Keda (可大), was an official of the Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, briefly serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Ruizong.
Guo Yuanzhen, formal name Guo Zhen (郭震) but went by the courtesy name of Yuanzhen, was an official, general, and diplomat of Tang and Zhou China, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Ruizong and Emperor Xuanzong.
Dou Huaizhen, known by his courtesy name Dou Congyi (竇從一) during the second reign of Emperor Zhongzong, posthumously renamed Du Huaizhen (毒懷貞), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Ruizong and Emperor Xuanzong.
Lu Xiangxian (陸象先) (665–736), né Lu Jingchu (陸景初), formally Duke Wenzhen of Yan (兗文貞公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Ruizong and Emperor Xuanzong.