Pei Ji (Late Tang)

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Pei Ji (裴垍) (died 811), courtesy name Hongzhong (弘中), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xianzong.

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 Xianzong of Tang emperor of the Tang Dynasty

Emperor Xianzong of Tang, personal name Li Chun, né Li Chun (李淳), was an emperor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. He was the eldest son of Emperor Shunzong, who reigned for less than a year in 805 and who yielded the throne to him late that year.

Contents

Background

It is not known when Pei Ji was born, but it is known that his family was from Jiang Prefecture (絳州, in modern Yuncheng, Shanxi). [1] HIs biography in the Old Book of Tang gave no immediate ancestors' names, but indicated that he was the seventh-generation descendant of the chancellor Pei Judao, who had served during Emperor Ruizong's first reign. [2] His biography in the New Book of Tang also gave no immediate ancestors' names, [1] but the table of the chancellors' family trees in the New Book of Tang disavowed that he was a descendant of Pei Judao's — instead indicating that his seventh-generation ancestor had a similar name, Pei Shidao (裴師道), and listing his father as Pei Yu (裴昱) and indicating that Pei Yu was a county magistrate. [3]

The Old Book of Tang, or simply the Book of Tang, is the first classic historical work about the Tang dynasty, comprising 200 chapters, and is one of the Twenty-Four Histories. Originally compiled during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, it was superseded by the New Book of Tang which was compiled in the Song dynasty, but later regained acceptance.

Pei Judao (裴居道) was a general and official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the first reign of Emperor Ruizong.

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.

During Emperor Dezong's reign

Pei Ji passed the imperial examinations when he was young. During the middle of the Zhenyuan era (785-805) of Emperor Ruizong's great-great-grandson Emperor Dezong, there was a special examination in which Emperor Dezong sought criticism of his government, and Pei received the highest score on the examination. He was thereafter made the sheriff of Meiyuan County (美原, in modern Weinan, Shaanxi). After his term of service was complete, many military governors ( Jiedushi ) invited him to serve on staff, but he declined all of their invitations. He later served as Jiancha Yushi (監察御史), a low-level imperial censor, before being promoted to the higher censor title of Dianzhong Shiyushi (殿中侍御史); he later served as Kaogong Yuanwailang (考功員外郎), a low-level official at the ministry of rites (禮部, Libu). When then-minister of civil service affairs, Zheng Xunyu, requested that Pei be in charge of the poetry portion of the imperial examinations, it was said that Pei scored the examinations properly and did not allow powerful individuals to influence him. [2]

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.

Emperor Dezong of Tang emperor of the Tang Dynasty

Emperor Dezong of Tang, personal name Li Kuo, was an emperor of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and the oldest son of Emperor Daizong. His reign of 26 years was the third longest in the Tang dynasty. Emperor Dezong started out as a diligent and frugal emperor and he tried to reform the governmental finances by introducing new tax laws. His attempts to destroy the powerful regional warlords and the subsequent mismanagement of those campaigns, however, resulted in a number of rebellions that nearly destroyed him and the Tang Dynasty. After those events, he dealt cautiously with the regional governors, causing warlordism to become unchecked, and his trust of eunuchs caused the eunuchs' power to rise greatly. He was also known for his paranoia about officials' wielding power, and late in his reign, he did not grant much authority to his chancellors.

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.

During Emperor Xianzong's reign

Early in the Yuanhe era (805-820) of Emperor Dezong's grandson Emperor Xianzong, Pei Ji was made Hanlin Xueshi (翰林學士), an imperial scholar. He was also made Kaogong Langzhong (考功郎中), a supervisorial official at the ministry of rites, and put in charge of drafting edicts for Emperor Xianzong. He was soon promoted to be Zhongshu Sheren (中書舍人), a mid-level official at the legislative bureau of government (中書省, Zhongshu Sheng). [2] In 807, when the imperial scholar Li Jifu was made chancellor, he requested Pei to give him a list of junior officials who were capable, and Pei submitted some 30 names. Within a short duration, Li Jifu had those officials all promoted, and it was said at the time that Li Jifu was capable in finding them. Later in the year, after the warlord Li Qi the military governor of Zhenhai Circuit (鎮海, headquartered in modern Zhenjiang, Jiangsu) rebelled and was defeated, the officials in charge were set to confiscate Li Qi's wealth and submit it to the imperial treasury, when Pei and fellow imperial scholar Li Jiang pointed out that the wealth was the result of Li Qi's having extracted the wealth from the people of the circuit. They suggested that the wealth be used to substitute for tax revenues that would have been collected from the people of Zhenhai Circuit for that year, and Emperor Xianzong agreed. [4]

Li Jifu (李吉甫), courtesy name Hongxian (弘憲), formally Duke Zhongyi of Zhao (趙忠懿公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xianzong.

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

Zhenjiang, alternately romanized as Chinkiang, is a prefecture-level city in Jiangsu Province, China. It lies on the southern bank of the Yangtze River near its intersection with the Grand Canal. It is opposite Yangzhou and between Nanjing and Changzhou. Zhenjiang was formerly the provincial capital of Jiangsu and remains as an important transportation hub.

Jiangsu Province of China

Jiangsu is an eastern-central coastal province of the People's Republic of China. It is one of the leading provinces in finance, education, technology, and tourism, with its capital in Nanjing. Jiangsu is the third smallest, but the fifth most populous and the most densely populated of the 23 provinces of the People's Republic of China. Jiangsu has the highest GDP per capita of Chinese provinces and second-highest GDP of Chinese provinces, after Guangdong. Jiangsu borders Shandong in the north, Anhui to the west, and Zhejiang and Shanghai to the south. Jiangsu has a coastline of over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) along the Yellow Sea, and the Yangtze River passes through the southern part of the province.

In 808, after Emperor Xianzong declared a general pardon, the powerful eunuch Liu Guangqi (劉光琦) requested that eunuchs be sent as imperial messengers to the circuits to announce the pardon. Pei and Li Jiang opposed on the basis that often, these imperial messengers would disturb the circuits by demanding bribes. Rather, they suggested that the edict be sent out by regular expedited routine. Emperor Xianzong agreed, and refused to send the eunuchs out, over Liu's objections that precedent dictated so. [4]

In summer 808, Emperor Xianzong held a special imperial examination for examinees to submit criticism of the government. Niu Sengru, Huangfu Shi (皇甫湜), and Li Zongmin were considered to have written criticisms that were particularly on point and were ranked the highest by the officials in charge of grading, Yang Yuling (楊於陵) and Wei Guanzhi. Initially, Emperor Xianzong was set to give commissions to Niu, Huangfu, and Li Zongmin, but Li Jifu was offended by the criticism. As Pei and fellow imperial scholar Wang Ya were the reviewers of the examination, and Huangfu was Wang's nephew, he accused Pei and Wang of conflict of interest. Due to Li Jifu's accusations, Pei and Wang were stripped of their imperial scholar status and both demoted — with Pei being made deputy minister of census (戶部侍郎). Yang and Wei were demoted out of the capital Chang'an. [4]

Niu Sengru (牛僧孺), courtesy name Si'an (思黯), formally Duke Wenzhen of Qizhang (奇章文貞公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Muzong and his sons Emperor Jingzong and Emperor Wenzong. He was commonly regarded as the leader of one of the two court factions at the time — the faction later known as the Niu Faction — during the Niu-Li Factional Struggles.

Li Zongmin (李宗閔), courtesy name Sunzhi (損之), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving twice as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Wenzong. He was considered one of the leading figures of the Niu-Li Factional Struggles — factional struggles between two factions at the Tang court that lasted decades — as a leader of the so-called Niu Faction, named after his colleague Niu Sengru.

Wei Guanzhi (韋貫之), né Wei Chun (韋純), courtesy name Guanzhi (貫之) or Zhengli (正理), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xianzong.

However, it was said that while Emperor Xianzong felt compelled to demote Pei, he continued to trust Pei's advice, and later in the year, after Li Jifu was sent out of the capital to serve as the military governor of Huainan Circuit (淮南, headquartered in modern Yangzhou, Jiangsu), he made Pei Zhongshu Shilang (中書侍郎), the deputy head of the legislative bureau, and de facto chancellor with the title Tong Zhongshu Menxia Pingzhangshi (同中書門下平章事). [4] He was also put in charge of editing the imperial history. [2] Pei, who was said to be young for a chancellor, [2] carried out several reforms: [4]

In 809, based on Pei's recommendation, Emperor Xianzong made the imperial attendant Li Fan a chancellor as well, replacing Zheng Yin. Also in 809, after Pei pointed out that Yan Shou (嚴綬) the military governor of Hedong Circuit (河東, headquartered in modern Taiyuan, Shanxi) was not capable and that his circuit was, in effect, run by the eunuch monitor Li Fuguang (李輔光), Emperor Xianzong recalled Yan to Chang'an and replaced him with Li Yong, at Pei's recommendation. [4]

Later in 809, the warlord Wang Shizhen the military governor of Chengde Circuit (成德, headquartered in modern Shijiazhuang, Hebei) died. His son Wang Chengzong requested to succeed his father. Emperor Xianzong, encouraged by his prior success against Li Qi and Liu Pi, considered taking control of the circuit by force. Pei opposed — pointing out that Wang would be a much more difficult target than Li Qi or Liu, particularly since Emperor Xianzong had previously allowed Li Shidao, the son of a much more defiant warlord (Li Na), to inherit Pinglu Circuit (平盧, headquartered in modern Tai'an, Shandong). Tutu, hoping to seize power from Pei, advocated military action and further requested to command the troops. [4] Not sure what to do, Emperor Xianzong sent the deputy mayor of Jingzhao, Pei Wu (裴武), to Chengde, to meet with Wang and to observe the situation. Wang was polite to Pei Wu and offered to cede control of two of Chengde's six prefectures — De (德州, in modern Dezhou, Shandong) and Di (棣州, in modern Binzhou, Shandong) — to the imperial government. Emperor Xianzong thus agreed to commission Wang as the new military governor. However, after Pei Wu returned from Chengde, Wang reneged on his promise, and further, there were accusations that Pei Wu spent the night at Pei Ji's mansion after returning to Chang'an before meeting the emperor, against regulations. Emperor Xianzong was incensed, and was ready to exile Pei Wu. Li Jiang pointed out that Pei Wu had previously not submitted to the powerful rebel general Li Huaiguang and that Pei Ji was familiar with government regulations and would not have violated them; he believed that these accusations were intended to undermine not only Pei Wu, but also Pei Ji. Emperor Xianzong thus decided not to act against Pei Wu. [5] It was also around this time that, pursuant to the suggestions of Pei and Li Fan that a peace treaty was signed with Tufan. [4] [5]

Emperor Xianzong subsequently declared a campaign against Wang, with Tutu in command. However, the campaign stalled and was impaired by Lu Congshi (盧從史) the military governor of Zhaoyi Circuit (昭義, headquartered in modern Changzhi, Shanxi), who had been a major proponent of the campaign but who remained in secret contact with Wang. On an occasion when Lu sent his subordinate Wang Yiyuan (王翊元) to make reports to the chancellors, Pei secretly convinced Wang Yiyuan to join the imperial cause and to remove Lu. Subsequently, Wang and another Zhangyi officer, Wu Chongyin, secretly planned with Tutu, and Tutu was able to seize Lu and take back control of the Zhaoyi army for the imperial government. [5]

Subsequently, with the campaign stalled and with Wang Chengzong blaming his alienation with the imperial government on Lu and offering to submit revenues to the imperial government, Emperor Xianzong exonerated Wang Chengzong and made him military governor. After Tutu returned to Chang'an, Pei pointed out that Tutu had advocated a campaign that turned out to be fruitless and should be punished. As a result, Tutu was stripped of his title as commander of the imperial Shence Army (神策軍) and made the director of munitions (軍器使, Junqishi). [5]

Late in 810, Pei suffered a stroke. Subsequently, he resigned his chancellor position and was made the minister of defense (兵部尚書, Bingbu Shangshu). Li Jifu was recalled from Huainan to serve as chancellor. [5] Around this time, Pei and his subordinates submitted the compiled records of Emperor Dezong's reign. [1] Subsequently, it was said that because Li Jifu disliked Pei, Pei was further made an advisor to the crown prince Li Ning. Pei died later that year. [2] Initially, no posthumous honors were granted, and only after the imperial attendant Liu Bochu (劉伯芻) submitted a petition pointing out Pei's faithfulness was Pei given posthumous honors. [1]

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 4 New Book of Tang , vol. 169.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Old Book of Tang , vol. 148.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-13. Retrieved 2010-05-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) New Book of Tang, vol. 71
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Zizhi Tongjian , vol. 237.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 238.

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