Statue of pivotal reformer Shang Yang
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Shang Yang (Chinese :商鞅; c. 390 – 338 BCE), also known as Wei Yang (Chinese :衞鞅) and originally surnamed Gongsun, was a Chinese philosopher and politician. He was a prominent legalist scholar. Born in Wey, Zhou Kingdom, he was a statesman and reformer of the State of Qin during the Warring States period of ancient China. His policies laid the administrative and political foundations that would enable Qin to conquer all of China, uniting the country for the first time and ushering in the Qin dynasty. He and his followers contributed to the Book of Lord Shang, a foundational work of what has modernly been termed Chinese Legalism.
Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.
Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.
Wei, commonly spelled Wey to distinguish from the larger Wei (魏) state, was an ancient Chinese state that was founded in the early Western Zhou dynasty and rose to prominence during the Spring and Autumn period. Its rulers were of the surname Ji (姬), the same as that of the rulers of Zhou. It was located in modern northeastern Henan Province, east of Jin, and west of Cao.
Shang Yang is born as the son of a concubine to the ruling family of the minor state Wey (衛). His surname (氏, lineage name) is Gongsun and his personal name Yang. As a member of the Wey family, he is also known as Wei Yang.
At a young age, Yang studied law and obtained a position under Prime Minister Shuzuo of Wei (魏, not the same as his birth state). With the support of Duke Xiao of Qin, Yang left his lowly position in Weito become the chief adviser in Qin. His numerous reforms transformed the peripheral Qin state into a militarily powerful and strongly centralized kingdom. Changes to the state's legal system (which were said to have been built upon Li Kui's Canon of Laws ) propelled the Qin to prosperity. Enhancing the administration through an emphasis on meritocracy, his policies weakened the power of the feudal lords.
Duke Xiao of Qin, given name Quliang, was the ruler of the Qin state from 361 to 338 BC during the Warring States period of Chinese history. Duke Xiao is best known for employing the Legalist statesman Shang Yang from the State of Wey (衛), and authorizing him to conduct a series of ground breaking political, military and economic reforms in Qin. Although the reforms were controversial and drew violent opposition from many Qin politicians, Duke Xiao supported Shang Yang fully and the reforms did help to transform Qin into a dominant superpower among the Seven Warring States.
Li Kui was a Chinese hydraulic engineer, philosopher, and politician. He served as government minister and court advisor to Marquis Wen in the state of Wei. In 407 BC, he wrote the Book of Law, which was the basis for the codified laws of the Qin and Han dynasties.
The Canon of Laws or Classic of Law is a lost legal code that has been attributed to Lǐ Kuǐ, a Legalist scholar and minister who lived in the State of Wei during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. This code has traditionally been dated to the early fourth century BCE, but scholars now widely consider it to be a forgery from the fifth or sixth century CE.
In 341 BC, Qin attacked the state of Wei. Yang personally led the Qin army to defeat Wei, and eventually Wei ceded the land west of the Yellow River to Qin. For his role in the war, Yang received 15 cities in Shang as his personal fief and became known as the lord of Shang (Shang Jun) or Shang Yang.According to the Records of the Grand Historian , with his personal connections while serving in the court of Wei, Shang Yang invited Gongzi Ang, the Wei general, to negotiate a peace treaty. As soon as Ang arrived, he was taken prisoner, and the Qin army attacked, successfully defeating their opponents.
The Yellow River or Huang He is the second longest river in China, after the Yangtze River, and the sixth longest river system in the world at the estimated length of 5,464 km (3,395 mi). Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai province of Western China, it flows through nine provinces, and it empties into the Bohai Sea near the city of Dongying in Shandong province. The Yellow River basin has an east–west extent of about 1,900 kilometers (1,180 mi) and a north–south extent of about 1,100 km (680 mi). Its total drainage area is about 752,546 square kilometers (290,560 sq mi).
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known by its Chinese name Shiji, is a monumental history of ancient China and the world finished around 94 BC by the Han dynasty official Sima Qian after having been started by his father, Sima Tan, Grand Astrologer to the imperial court. The work covers the world as it was then known to the Chinese and a 2500-year period from the age of the legendary Yellow Emperor to the reign of Emperor Wu of Han in the author's own time.
Mark Edward Lewis once identified his reorganization of the military as responsible for the orderly plan of roads and fields throughout north China. This might be far fetched, but Yang was as much a military reformer as a legal one.Yang oversaw the construction of Xiangyang.
Mark Edward Lewis is an American sinologist and historian of ancient China.
Xiangyang is a prefecture-level city in northwestern Hubei province, China and the second largest city in Hubei by population. It was known as Xiangfan from 1950 to 2010. The Han River runs through Xiangyang's centre and divides the city north-south. The city itself is an agglomeration of two once separate cities: Fancheng and Xiangcheng. What remains of old Xiangyang is located south of the Han River and contains one of the oldest still-intact city walls in China, while Fancheng is located to the north of the Han River. Both cities served prominent historical roles in both ancient and pre-modern Chinese history. Today, the city has been a target of government and private investment as the country seeks to urbanize and develop the interior provinces. In 2017, population of the prefecture-level city was 5.65 million, in which 3.37 million were urban residents.
The Shang Yang school of thought was favoured by Emperor Wu of Han,and John Keay mentions that Tang figure Du You was drawn to Shang Yang.
Emperor Wu of Han, born Liu Che, courtesy name Tong, was the seventh emperor of the Han dynasty of China, ruling from 141–87 BC. His reign lasted 54 years — a record not broken until the reign of the Kangxi Emperor more than 1,800 years later. His reign resulted in a vast territorial expansion and the development of a strong and centralized state resulting from his governmental reorganization, including his promotion of Confucian doctrines. In the field of historical social and cultural studies, Emperor Wu is known for his religious innovations and patronage of the poetic and musical arts, including development of the Imperial Music Bureau into a prestigious entity. It was also during his reign that cultural contact with western Eurasia was greatly increased, directly and indirectly.
John Stanley Melville Keay FRGS, widely known as John Keay, is a British historian, journalist, radio presenter and lecturer specialising in popular histories of India, the Far East and China, often with a particular focus on their colonisation and exploration by Europeans. In particular, he is widely seen as a pre-eminent historian of British India. He is known both for stylistic flair and meticulous research into archival primary sources, including centuries-old unpublished sources.
Du You, courtesy name Junqing (君卿), formally Duke Anjian of Qi (岐安簡公), was a Chinese scholar, historian, and politician. He served as as chancellor of the Tang Dynasty. Du was born to an eminent aristocratic family in what is now Xi'an, Shaanxi, almost eighteen years before the abrupt rebellion of An Lushan, and received office for the privilege as administrator of Chi-nan commandery. Robert G. Hoyland considers him a "political thinker on a grand scale," comparable to Ibn Khaldun, but he is most often remembered for his thirty-six year compilation of the Tongdian, a historical encyclopedia of 200 sections (volumes) collecting laws, regulations, and general events from ancient times to his own.
He is credited by Han Fei, often considered to be the greatest representative of Chinese Legalism, with the creation of two theories;
Believing in the rule of law and considering loyalty to the state above that of the family, Yang introduced two sets of changes to the State of Qin. The first, in 356 BCE, were:
Yang introduced his second set of changes in 350 BCE, which included a new standardized system of land allocation and reforms to taxation.
The vast majority of Yang's reforms were taken from policies instituted elsewhere, such as from Wu Qi of the State of Chu; however, Yang's reforms were more thorough and extreme than those of other states, and monopolized policy in the hands of the ruler.Under his tenure, Qin quickly caught up with and surpassed the reforms of other states.
Yang introduced land reforms, privatized land, rewarded farmers who exceeded harvest quotas, enslaved farmers who failed to meet quotas, and used enslaved subjects as (state-owned) rewards for those who met government policies.
As manpower was short in Qin relative to the other states at the time, Yang enacted policies to increase its manpower. As Qin peasants were recruited into the military, he encouraged active migration of peasants from other states into Qin as a replacement workforce; this policy simultaneously increased the manpower of Qin and weakened the manpower of Qin's rivals. Yang made laws forcing citizens to marry at a young age and passed tax laws to encourage raising multiple children. He also enacted policies to free convicts who worked in opening wastelands for agriculture.
Yang partly abolished primogeniture (depending on the performance of the son) and created a double tax on households that had more than one son living in the household, to break up large clans into nuclear families.
Yang moved the capital to reduce the influence of nobles on the administration.
Deeply despised by the Qin nobility,Yang could not survive Duke Xiao of Qin's death. The next ruler, King Huiwen, ordered the nine familial exterminations against Yang and his family, on the grounds of fomenting rebellion. Yang had previously humiliated the new duke "by causing him to be punished for an offense as though he were an ordinary citizen." According to Zhan Guo Ce , Yang went into hiding and at one point Yang tried to stay at an inn. The innkeeper refused because it was against Yang's laws to admit a guest without proper identification, a law Yang himself had implemented.
Yang was executed by jūliè (車裂, dismemberment by being fastened to five chariots, cattle or horses and being torn to pieces);his whole family was also executed. Despite his death, King Huiwen kept the reforms enacted by Yang. A number of alternate versions of Yang's death have survived. According to Sima Qian in his Records of the Grand Historian , Yang first escaped to Wei. However, he was hated there for his earlier betrayal of Gongzi Ang and was expelled. Yang then fled to his fiefdom, where he raised a rebel army but was killed in battle. After the battle, King Hui of Qin had Yang's corpse torn apart by chariots as a warning to others.
Following the execution of Yang, King Huiwen turned away from the central valley south to conquer Sichuan (Shu and Ba) in what Steven Sage calls a "visionary reorientation of thinking" toward material interests in Qin's bid for universal rule.
The Warring States period was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period and concluded with the Qin wars of conquest that saw the annexation of all other contender states, which ultimately led to the Qin state's victory in 221 BC as the first unified Chinese empire, known as the Qin dynasty.
Fajia or Legalism is one of Sima Tan's six classical schools of thought in Chinese philosophy. Roughly meaning "house of Fa", the "school" (term) represents some several branches of realistic statesmen or "men of methods" foundational for the traditional Chinese bureaucratic empire. Compared with Machiavellianism, they have often been considered in the Western world as akin to the Realpolitikal thought of ancient China, emphasizing a realistic consolidation of the wealth and power of autocrat and state, with the goal of achieving increased order, security and stability. Having close ties with the other schools, some would be a major influence on Taoism and Confucianism, and the current remains highly influential in administration, policy and legal practice in China today.
Wei was one of the seven major states during the Warring States period of ancient China. It was created from the three-way Partition of Jin, together with Han and Zhao. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern-day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi, and Shandong. After its capital was moved from Anyi to Daliang during the reign of King Hui, Wei was also called Liang.
Shen Buhai was a Chinese essayist, philosopher, and politician. He served as Chancellor of the Han state under Marquis Zhao of Han for fifteen years, from 354 BC to 337 BC. A contemporary of syncretist Shi Jiao and Legalist Shang Yang, he was born in the State of Zheng, and was likely a minor official there. After Han conquered Zheng in 375 BC, he rose up in the ranks of the Han officialdom, dividing up its territories and successfully reforming it. Though not dealing in penal law himself, his administrative innovations would be incorporated into "Chinese Legalist" statecraft by Han Fei, his most famous successor, and Shen Buhai's book most resembles the Han Feizi. He died of natural causes while in office.
Qin was an ancient Chinese state during the Zhou dynasty. Traditionally dated to 897 B.C., it took its origin in a reconquest of western lands previously lost to the Rong; its position at the western edge of Chinese civilization permitted expansion and development that was unavailable to its rivals in the North China Plain. Following extensive "Legalist" reform in the 3rd century BC, Qin emerged as one of the dominant powers of the Seven Warring States and unified China in 221 BC under Shi Huangdi. The empire it established was short-lived but greatly influential on later Chinese history.
King Huiwen of Qin, also known as Lord Huiwen of Qin or King Hui of Qin, given name Si (駟), was the ruler of the Qin state from 338 to 311 BC during the Warring States period of Chinese history and likely an ancestor of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. He was the first ruler of Qin to style himself "King" (王) instead of "Duke" (公).
King Zhaoxiang of Qin, or King Zhao of Qin (秦昭王), born Ying Ji (Chinese: 嬴稷, was the king of Qin from 306 BC to 251 BC. He was the son of King Huiwen and younger brother of King Wu.
The Book of Lord Shang is an ancient Chinese text from the 3rd century BC, regarded as a foundational work of "Chinese Legalism". The earliest surviving of such texts, it is named for and to some extent attributed to major Qin reformer Shang Yang, who served as minister to Duke Xiao of Qin from 359 BC until his death in 338 BC and is generally considered to be the father of that state's "legalism".
The Guanzi is an ancient Chinese political and philosophical text that is named for and traditionally attributed to the 7th century BCE philosopher and statesman Guan Zhong, who served as Prime Minister to Duke Huan of Qi. At over 135,000 characters long, the Guanzi is one of the longest early Chinese philosophical texts. The Han Dynasty scholar Liu Xiang edited the received Guanzi text circa 26 BCE. It contains a wide variety of material from many different authors over several successive centuries, largely associated with the 4th century BCE Jixia Academy in the Qi capital of Linzi, but much of it may actually not have been compiled until after the book Han Feizi (though the Neiye are thought to have inluenced the Zhuanghi.
Marquess Wen of Wei was the first Marquess to rule the State of Wei during the Warring States period of Chinese history. Born Wei Si (魏斯), he belonged to the House of Wei, one of the noble houses that dominated Jin politics in the 5th and 6th centuries BC.
The Four Lords of the Warring States were four powerful aristocrats of the late Warring States period of Chinese history who exerted a strong influence on the politics of their respective states in the third century BCE.
The Qin Empire is a 2009 Chinese television series based on Sun Haohui's novel of the same Chinese title, which romanticises the rise of the Qin state in the Warring States period under the leadership of Duke Xiao of Qin. It was produced in 2006 and first aired on television channels in China in December 2009. It was followed by three sequels: The Qin Empire II: Alliance (2012), The Qin Empire III (2017) and The Qin Empire IV (2019), which were also based on Sun Haohui's novels.
King Huiwen of Zhao reigned in the State of Zhao during the Warring States period of Chinese history. During his reign, the Zhao state reached its apogee, with famous administrators and generals alike such as Lin Xiangru, Lian Po, Zhao She and Li Mu. He was the first ruler of Zhao to style himself "king" without later reversing the decision, and also the last ruler during the Warring States period to declare himself king.
The nine familial exterminations or nine kinship exterminations was the most serious punishment for a capital offense in Ancient China. A collective punishment typically associated with offenses such as treason, the punishment involved the execution of all relatives of an individual, which were categorized into nine groups. Nine exterminations were often done by slow slicing. The occurrence of this punishment was somewhat rare, with relatively few sentences recorded throughout history. There were also variants of the punishment found in ancient Korea and Vietnam.
Jiao, Lord of Wey (卫君角), also known as Wei Jiao (卫角), was a Qin dynasty feudal lord. He was the 44th and the last ruler of the state of Wey. After his death, He did not receive a posthumous name; Jiao was his given name.
The Qin Empire II: Alliance is a 2012 Chinese television series adapted from Sun Haohui's novel of the same Chinese title, which romanticises the events in China during the Warring States period primarily from the perspective of the Qin state during the reigns of King Huiwen and King Wu.