Meng Hanqiong

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Meng Hanqiong (孟漢瓊) (d. May 16, 934? [1] [2] [3] ), was a eunuch of the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period state Later Tang. He became powerful late in the reign of its second emperor Li Siyuan, in association with Li Siyuan's favorite concubine Consort Wang, and continued to be during the reign of Li Siyuan's son and successor Li Conghou. He was killed by Li Conghou's adoptive brother Li Congke, who overthrew Li Conghou.

Eunuch castrated male human

The term eunuch generally refers to a man, typically from antiquity, who had been castrated in order to serve a specific social function. In Latin, the words eunuchus, spado, and castratus were used to denote eunuchs.

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.

Later Tang Chinese dynasty

Tang, known in history as Later Tang, was a short-lived imperial dynasty that lasted from 923 to 937 during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in the history of China.



It is not known when, or where, Meng Hanqiong was born. It is known that in his youth, he served as a eunuch servant of Wang Rong the Prince of Zhao. [4] It appeared that after Wang Rong was assassinated and succeeded by his adoptive son Zhang Wenli, in 921, and then Zhao territory was eventually conquered and incorporated into Jin by Jin's prince Li Cunxu in 922, [5] Meng remained at Zhao's capital Zhending (真定, in modern Shijiazhuang, Hebei), for he came to serve under Li Cunxu's adoptive brother Li Siyuan when Li Cunxu, by that time carrying the title of emperor of a new Later Tang, was commissioned by Li Cunxu as the military governor of Chengde Circuit (成德, headquartered at Zhending) in 925. [4] [6]

Wang Rong, was a warlord in the final years of the Tang dynasty who later became the only ruler of the state of Zhao during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Late in Tang, he initially tried to chart an independent course between the more powerful warlords Zhu Quanzhong and Li Keyong, but later was forced to become Zhu's vassal, although he continued to govern his domain without much interference from Zhu. After Zhu declared himself the emperor of a new dynasty of Later Liang, Wang continued to serve as a vassal and was created the Prince of Zhao. Later, though, when the Later Liang emperor tried to seize the Zhao domain by force, Wang broke away from Later Liang and realigned with Li Keyong's son and successor Li Cunxu the Prince of Jin instead. In 921, Wang was overthrown and killed in a coup led by his adoptive son Wang Deming, who subsequently took over his domain and changed back to the birth name of Zhang Wenli, before dying later in the year; Li Cunxu then defeated and killed Zhang's son and successor Zhang Chujin, incorporating Zhao into his Jin state.

Zhang Wenli (張文禮), known as Wang Deming (王德明) during the time that he was an adoptive son of Wang Rong, was an army officer who initially served under the late Tang Dynasty warlord Liu Rengong and Liu Rengong's son Liu Shouwen, and later Wang Rong, the only prince of the early Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period state Zhao. Wang Rong favored him for his talent and adopted him as a son. However, in 921, he encouraged Wang Rong's guards to mutiny and slaughter the Wang clan. He then took over the Zhao lands. When Wang Rong's ally Li Cunxu the Prince of Jin attacked in response, he died in shock.

Li Cunxu Chinese Emperor

Emperor Zhuangzong of Later Tang, personal name Li Cunxu, nickname Yazi (亞子), was the Prince of Jin (908–923) and later became Emperor of Later Tang (923–926), of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period of Chinese history. He was the son of Li Keyong.

During Li Siyuan's reign

Li Cunxu was killed in a mutiny at the capital Luoyang in 926, and Li Siyuan succeeded him. [7] Meng Hanqiong subsequently served in various capacities in Li Siyuan's palace. [4] In 930, when, at the insistence of Li Siyuan's powerful chief of staff An Chonghui, Li Siyuan's adoptive son Li Congke was removed from his post as the military governor ( Jiedushi ) of Hezhong Circuit (河中, headquartered in modern Yuncheng, Shanxi), Li Congke was forbidden from seeing the emperor, and An was repeatedly trying to find ways to further accuse Li Congke of crimes. Li Congke, however, was spared through the intercession of Li Siyuan's favorite concubine Consort Wang. [8] She often communicated with Li Congke by sending Meng to see him; Meng therefore considered himself a benefactor to Li Congke. [1]

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.

An Chonghui was the chief of staff (Shumishi) and chief advisor to Li Siyuan of the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period state Later Tang.

Li Congke, also known posthumously as Emperor Mo of Later Tang, Emperor Fei of Later Tang, Wang Congke (王從珂), or Prince of Lu, nickname Ershisan or, in short, Asan (阿三), was the last emperor of the Later Tang - the second of the Five Dynasties following the fall of the Tang Dynasty. He was an adoptive son of Li Siyuan and took the throne after overthrowing Emperor Mingzong's biological son Emperor Min of Later Tang. He was later himself overthrown by his brother-in-law Shi Jingtang, who was supported by Khitan troops. When the combined Later Jin and Khitan forces defeated Later Tang forces, Li Congke and his family members, as well as the guards most loyal to him, ascended a tower and set it on fire, dying in the fire.

As of late 930, Meng was serving as director of miscellaneous affairs (武德使, Wudeshi) inside the palace, and both he and Consort Wang were repeatedly accusing An of faults. An, viewing his position as precarious, thus offered to resign. However, when Li Siyuan subsequently sent Meng to consult the chancellors on their opinion on this matter, the results were mixed — Feng Dao believe that it was better for An to resign, while Zhao Feng believed that An should remain chief of staff. As a result, Li Siyuan took no action at that time. [8]

Feng Dao, courtesy name Kedao (可道), formally Prince Wenyi of Ying (瀛文懿王), was an important Chinese governmental official during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, who served as a chancellor during the three of the latter four dynasties and was also an honored official during Later Han. For his contribution to block-printing process for printing Chinese written works, scholars have compared him to Johannes Gutenberg. Traditional histories praised him for his various virtues but also vilified him for not being faithful to a single dynasty but being willing to serve a number of successive dynasties.

Zhao Feng was an official of the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period state Later Tang, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Mingzong.

Later in 930, with the imperial forces boggled down in a campaign that An advocated — against the military governors Meng Zhixiang of Xichuan Circuit (西川, headquartered in modern Chengdu, Sichuan) and Dong Zhang of Dongchuan Circuit (東川, headquartered in modern Mianyang, Sichuan) — An departed Luoyang for the front to oversee the campaign. While he was on the way there, though, Zhu Hongzhao the military governor of Fengxiang Circuit (鳳翔, headquartered in modern Baoji, Shaanxi); the commander of the forces against Xichuan and Dongchuan, Li Siyuan's son-in-law Shi Jingtang; as well as Meng Hanqiong (who was carrying the title of the director of palace affairs (宣徽使, Xuanhuishi) at that point), all submitted petitions suggesting that An may be intent on seizing the command of the army. Li Siyuan thus recalled An, then made him the military governor of Hezhong, then ordered him into retirement, and then killed him. (It was not until after An was killed that the restrictions on Li Congke were lifted.) [8]

Meng Zhixiang was a general of the Later Tang who went on to found the independent state of Later Shu during the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Meng Zhixiang was an in-law of the Later Tang ruling family, who went by the family name Li. Meng married the eldest sister or perhaps a cousin of the founding emperor, Zhuangzong. Meng served the Later Tang as the military governor (Jiedushi) of Xichuan Circuit, after the conquest of Former Shu. After Emperor Zhuangzong's death, Meng was more distant to the succeeding emperor. The new emperor was Emperor Zhuangzong's adoptive brother, Emperor Mingzong. Meng, fearing accusations by Emperor Mingzong's chief advisor An Chonghui, rebelled, in alliance with Dong Zhang, military governor of neighboring Dongchuan Circuit. The Meng-Dong alliance repelled subsequent attempts to suppress or control them, although they continued as nominal subjects of Mingzong. Eventually, Meng overpowered Dong, thus assuming control of both allied domains. Meng continued as titular vassal to Mingzong for the rest of that emperor's reign; but, afterwards, Meng Zhixiang declared himself suzerain of an independent state named Shu, in 934, now called Later Shu to avoid confusion with other political entities sharing the same name.

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 Sichuan province, People's Republic of China. 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, with an urban population of 10,152,632. At the time of the 2010 census, Chengdu was the 5th-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 also considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.

Sichuan Province

Sichuan is a province in southwest China occupying most of the Sichuan Basin and the easternmost part of the Tibetan Plateau between the Jinsha River on the west, the Daba Mountains in the north, and the Yungui Plateau to the south. Sichuan's capital city is Chengdu. The population of Sichuan stands at 81 million.

In 931, Meng Hanqiong was additionally made the acting director of the eunuch bureau (內侍省, Neishi Sheng). It was said that while Fan Yanguang and Zhao Yanshou served as the chiefs of staff, they feared being accused of power-grabbing, just as An had, so they often declined to rule on important matters. The decisions thus often fell into the hands of Consort Wang and Meng. While An was alive, he had put a strict limit on palace expenditures. Now, with Meng being powerful, he often simply had various items retrieved from the government treasury, claiming orders from Li Siyuan's wife Empress Cao, without notifying the office of the chiefs of staff or the three financial agencies (taxation, treasury, and salt and iron monopolies), and without keeping records of them. [8]

Fan Yanguang (范延光), courtesy name Zihuan (子環) or Zigui (子瓌), formally the Prince of Dongping (東平王), was a general from the state of Later Tang and Later Jin during the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. He was a close associate of the Later Tang's second emperor Li Siyuan, serving three terms as Li Siyuan's chief of staff (Shumishi), and subsequently continued to serve as a general. After the Later Tang's final emperor Li Congke was overthrown by Li Siyuan's son-in-law Shi Jingtang, who founded Later Jin, Fan initially formally submitted, but later rebelled against Shi. His rebellion, however, was not successful, and after Shi promised to spare him, he surrendered. He was, nevertheless, later killed by Shi's general Yang Guangyuan, probably with Shi's implicit, if not explicit, approval.

Zhao Yanshou (趙延壽), né Liu Yanshou (劉延壽), formally the Prince of Wei (魏王), was a major general of Later Tang of the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, as well as the Khitan Liao Dynasty. He first became prominent as a son-in-law of Later Tang's second emperor Li Siyuan, but was captured by Liao's Emperor Taizong when Later Tang fell. He subsequently served Emperor Taizong, who promised him that he would be made the emperor of China if helped Emperor Taizong destroy Later Tang's successor state Later Jin. Emperor Taizong reneged on the promise after doing so, however, leading to Zhao's attempt to seize Liao's Chinese territory after Emperor Taizong's death. He was, however, arrested by Emperor Taizong's nephew and successor Emperor Shizong and held until his death.

Empress Cao, formally Empress Hewuxian (和武憲皇后), was an empress of the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period state Later Tang. Her husband was Later Tang's second emperor Li Siyuan, and she was empress dowager during the subsequent reigns of his son Li Conghou and adoptive son Li Congke. Eventually, when her son-in-law Shi Jingtang rebelled against Li Congke, establishing his own Later Jin and attacked the Later Tang capital Luoyang, she died in a mass suicide with Li Congke, his family, and some officers.

However, the one person at the court who was without anyone to control him was Li Siyuan's oldest surviving son Li Congrong the Prince of Qin, who was generally considered the likely heir but who had no respect for any other official or general, including Fan or Zhao. Fan and Zhao, fearing that given their poor relationships with Li Congrong that they would eventually suffer disaster, both sought to leave the chief of staff post and leave Luoyang to serve as military governors. Li Siyuan, however, resisted, believing that they were abandoning him. In winter 932, after Zhao had already been allowed to leave (to serve as the military governor of Xuanwu Circuit (宣武, headquartered in modern Kaifeng, Henan) and was replaced by Zhu, Fan had Consort Wang and Meng speak on his behalf, and was finally allowed to leave Luoyang to serve as the military governor of Chengde. He was replaced by Feng Yun. (Despite Meng's intercession for him, Fan, when leaving Li Siyuan, nevertheless cautioned Li Siyuan against Meng's influence, albeit in veiled terms.) [9]

Not long after, Li Siyuan became deathly ill. Li Congrong became concerned whether the high level officials would divert the succession away from him, and therefore informed Zhu and Feng that he was intending to enter the palace forcibly. When Zhu and Feng sent back messages indicating their opposition, Li Congrong launched his guard corps and approached the palace. Feng, hearing the news, quickly convened a meeting with Zhu, Meng, the imperial guard general Kang Yicheng (康義誠), and the director of the financial agencies Sun Yue (孫岳) to discuss what to do. While Feng advocated resisting Li Congrong, the meeting came to a standstill when Kang was not responding to Feng's arguments. Meng, ignoring Kang, broke up the meeting by stating that he was going to enter the palace to protect the emperor, and then left for the palace; Zhu and Feng followed, and Kang felt compelled to follow as well. Subsequently, under Zhu's and Feng's orders, and with Meng personally summoning the imperial guard general Zhu Hongshi (朱洪實) to command the resistance, the imperial guards resisted and defeated Li Congrong's guards. Li Congrong was killed. Li Siyuan, who had recovered slightly, thereafter resolved to summon another son, Li Conghou the Prince of Song, who was then serving as the military governor of Tianxiong Circuit (天雄, headquartered in modern Handan, Hebei). He sent Meng to Tianxiong to deliver the summons, and also to remain there to temporarily oversee the governance of Tianxiong. Meng did so, but before Li Conghou could arrive at Luoyang, Li Siyuan died. Li Conghou subsequently arrived at Luoyang and succeeded Li Siyuan as emperor. [9]

During Li Conghou's reign

Zhu Hongzhao and Feng Yun remained Li Conghou's chiefs of staff and became the dominant figures in their administration, and they did not trust Li Congke, who was then serving as the military governor of Fengxiang, or Shi Jingtang, who was then serving as the military governor of Hedong Circuit (河東, headquartered in modern Taiyuan, Shanxi), as both Li Congke and Shi had had great accomplishments while serving under Li Siyuan and were respected by the army. [9] In spring 934, because they did not want Shi to remain at Hedong for long, and wanted to recall Meng from Tianxiong, they issued a number of transfer orders as chiefs of staff — transferring Li Congke from Fengxiang to Hedong, Shi from Hedong to Chengde, and Fan Yanguang from Chengde to Tianxiong, and recalling Meng from Tianxiong. [1]

Li Congke, believing that these orders were targeted against him, rebelled. Initially, the imperial forces sent against Li Congke, commanded by the general Wang Sitong, were victorious, and quickly put Fengxiang's capital Fengxiang Municipality under siege. However, when his officer Yang Siquan (楊思權) defected to Li Congke, the imperial army lost its morale and collapsed, largely surrendering to Li Congke. Li Congke took the army and headed for Luoyang. Li Conghou sent Kang against Li Congke, but Kang also surrendered to Li Congke, leaving Luoyang defenseless at that point. [1]

Li Conghou wanted to flee to Tianxiong, and ordered Meng to go to Tianxiong to first prepare for his arrival. Meng, however, had already decided not to keep his allegiance to Li Conghou by this point and, upon receiving the order, left Luoyang, but did not head for Tianxiong; instead, he headed toward Li Congke's army, then having reached Shan Prefecture (陝州, in modern Sanmenxia, Henan), to submit to Li Congke, believing that his old relationship with Li Congke would lead to his being spared. When he rendezvoused with Li Congke just west of Mianchi (澠池, in modern Sanmenxia), he cried bitterly and tried to speak in his own defense. Li Congke responded, "You need not speak. I already know." Believing that Li Congke had forgiven him, he inserted himself into the procession of the officials following Li Congke's march. Seeing this, Li Congke ordered that he be beheaded by the side of the road. [1]

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Zizhi Tongjian , vol. 279.
  2. Academia Sinica Chinese-Western Calendar Converter.
  3. The chronology in the Zizhi Tongjian suggested that Meng Hanqiong was executed on May 16, but did not directly state so. In any case, he would have been executed sometime between May 14 (when he fled Luoyang against Li Conghou's orders) and May 18 (when Li Congke, who executed Meng prior to entering Luoyang, then entered Luoyang).
  4. 1 2 3 History of the Five Dynasties , vol. 72.
  5. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 271.
  6. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 273.
  7. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 275.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 277.
  9. 1 2 3 Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 278.

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