Xiao Song

Last updated

Xiao Song (Chinese :蕭嵩; pinyin :Xiāo Sōng; died 749), formally the Duke of Xu (徐公), was an official and general of the Chinese Tang dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong.

Contents

Background

It is not known when Xiao Song was born. [1] His family was descended from the imperial family of Liang Dynasty. Hiis great-great-grandfather was Emperor Ming of Western Liang, and his great-granduncle Xiao Yu was a famed chancellor during the reigns of Tang Dynasty's first two emperors, Emperor Gaozu and Emperor Taizong. Xiao Song's grandfather Xiao Jun (蕭鈞) was well known as a deputy head of the legislative bureau of government (中書省, Zhongshu Sheng) and Xiao Song's father Xiao Guan (蕭灌) served as a prefectural secretary general.

Xiao Song himself was described as handsome and tall, with a lengthy and beautiful beard. His wife was a daughter of one He Hui (賀晦), another daughter of whom married Lu Xiangxian. At that time, Lu, who was the son of the chancellor Lu Yuanfang, was already well known for his abilities while serving as the sheriff of Luoyang County—one of the two counties making up the then-capital Luoyang, [2] while Xiao was not yet serving as an official. The guests were all rushing to greet Lu, while not paying much attention to Xiao. However, a fortuneteller, Xia Rong (夏榮), stated to Lu, "You, Master Lu, will reach the apex of officialdom in 10 years. However, Master Xiao's household will be thoroughly honored, and he will reach high positions and have a long life."

During Emperor Zhongzong's second reign and Emperor Ruizong's second reign

In 705, during the second reign of Emperor Zhongzong, Xiao Song was made a military officer at Ming Prefecture (洺州, in modern Handan, Hebei). When the chancellor Huan Yanfan was demoted to be the prefect of Ming Prefecture, Huan was impressed with him and treated him with respect. In 710, when Emperor Zhongzong's brother Emperor Ruizong was emperor, Xiao was serving as the sheriff of Liquan County (醴泉, in modern Xianyang, Shaanxi) when Lu Xiangxian, then serving as the deputy head of the legislative bureau, recommended him to be Jiancha Yushi (監察御史), an imperial censor. When Lu became chancellor in 711, Xiao was promoted within the censor ranks.

During Emperor Xuanzong's reign

Early in the Kaiyuan era (713–741) of Emperor Ruizong's son Emperor Xuanzong, Xiao Song became Zhongshu Sheren (中書舍人), a mid-level official at the legislative bureau, serving alongside Cui Lin (崔琳), Wang Qiu (王丘), and Qi Huan (齊澣). It was said that among these officials, Xiao was considered to be unknowledgeable and therefore not considered seriously. However, their superior Yao Chong felt that Xiao had good foresight and respected him. He later successively served as the prefect of Sòng Prefecture; Shangshu Zuo Cheng (尚書左丞), one of the secretaries in general of the executive bureau (尚書省, Shangshu Sheng); and deputy minister of defense (兵部侍郎, Bingbu Shilang). He participated in government reactions to a Yellow River levee break at Bo Prefecture (博州, roughly modern Liaocheng, Shandong).

In 726, Xiao was given the title of minister of defense (兵部尚書, Bingbu Shangshu) and made the military governor ( jiedushi ) of Shuofang Circuit (朔方, headquartered in modern Yinchuan, Ningxia). In 727, having been aggravated by constant attacks by the Tang general Wang Junchuo (王君㚟) the military governor of Hexi Circuit (河西, headquartered in modern Wuwei, Gansu), generals We Tadra Khonglo ("Xinuoluo Gonglu" (悉諾邏恭祿) in Chinese) and Zhulongmangbu (燭龍莽布) of the Tibetan Empire launched a major attack on Gua Prefecture (瓜州, roughly Jiuquan, Gansu) and captured its prefect Tian Yuanxian (田元獻) and Wang Junchuo's father Wang Shou (王壽). In the aftermaths, Wang Junchuo falsely accused the tribal chieftains of the Uyghur Khaganate, Huns (), Kibirs (Ch. Qibi 契苾), and Esegels (aka Izgil, Old Turkic : 𐰔𐰏𐰠, Ch. Asijie, Sijie 思結) of treason and had them exiled. In anger, Yaoluoge Hushu (藥羅葛護輸), the nephew of the Uyghur chieftain Yaoluoge Chengzong (藥羅葛承宗), launched a surprise raid against Wang, killing him. Emperor Xuanzong moved Xiao from Shuofang to Hexi. Xiao retained a number of officials that were considered capable—Pei Kuan (裴寬), Guo Xuji (郭虛己), and Niu Xianke, and recommended the general Zhang Shougui (張守珪) to serve as the prefect of Gua Prefecture. Zhang rebuilt Gua Prefecture's defenses and comforted the people. Emperor Xuanzong, hearing this, gave him the honorific title Yinqing Guanglu Daifu (銀青光祿大夫). Meanwhile, Xiao had spies create rumors in the Tibetan Empire that We Tadra Khonglo was conspiring with Tang—which the Tibetan emperor Me Agtsom believed, and Me Agtsom summoned We Tadra Khonglo and killed him.

In 728, another Tibetan general, Ximolang (悉莫朗), attacked Gua Prefecture. Xiao and the military governor of Longyou Circuit (隴右, headquartered in modern Haidong Prefecture, Qinghai) then counterattacked, and defeated Tibetan forces at Kepo Canyon (渴波谷), west of Qinghai Lake. Later that year, he sent the general Du Binke (杜賓客) to defend against another Tibetan attack, and Du defeated Tibetan forces at Qilian (祁連, in modern Zhangye, Gansu). When the unsealed reports of the victory arrived at the capital Chang'an, Emperor Xuanzong was pleased, and he recalled Xiao to Chang'an to serve as minister of defense; he also gave Xiao the designation Tong Zhongshu Menxia Pingzhangshi (同中書門下平章事), making him a chancellor de facto.

In 729, when Emperor Xuanzong became displeased at the conflict between Xiao's fellow chancellors Li Yuanhong and Du Xian, as well as the senior chancellor Yuan Qianyao's inability to moderate them, Emperor Xuanzong removed all three from their chancellor positions and replaced them with Yuwen Rong and Pei Guangting. He also made Xiao Zhongshu Ling (中書令), the head of the legislative bureau and a post considered one for a chancellor—a post that had not been held since Zhang Shuo was removed in 726. Xiao was also given the military governorship of Hexi again, but remained at Chang'an and did not report to Hexi. (Yuwen was removed later that year, and so Xiao served alongside only Pei from that point on.) Xiao was made an imperial scholar at Jixian Institute (集賢院) and put in charge of editing the imperial history; he was also given the honorific title of Jinzi Guanglu Daifu (金紫光祿大夫). Emperor Xuanzong gave his daughter Princess Xinchang to Xiao's son Xiao Heng (蕭衡) in marriage. Sometime thereafter, Xiao Song was created the Duke of Xu. He, believing Niu, serving as acting military governor in his absence, to be capable, repeatedly recommended Niu, and eventually, his military governorship was given to Niu.

Emperor Xuanzong had put Zhang Shuo in charge of revising the rite regulations. After Zhang died in 731, Xiao was put in charge, and in 732, the revisions were complete and became known as the Kaiyuan Rites (開元禮).

In 733, Pei died. Emperor Xuanzong asked Xiao for his recommendation for someone to succeed Pei. Xiao wanted to recommend his friend and old colleague Wang Qiu, who was then serving as a senior advisor at the examination bureau (門下省, Menxia Sheng). Wang declined and recommended Han Xiu instead, and so Xiao recommended Han. Han was thus made chancellor to replace Pei. Han had a reputation for being peaceful, so Xiao believed that he could easily be controlled, but once Han became chancellor, Han did not bow to Xiao's wishes, often arguing with Xiao before Emperor Xuanzong and pointing out Xiao's shortcomings. This caused Emperor Xuanzong's displeasure, and Xiao offered to resign. Emperor Xuanzong asked Xiao, "I am not tired of you. Why do you want to leave?" Xiao responded:

I have received great grace to serve as chancellor, and I have reached the peak of honor and wealth. It is precisely because Your Imperial Majesty is not tired of me that I can leave without trouble. If you are tired of me, I will not even be able to keep my head.

Xiao then began to cry, and Emperor Xuanzong was touched, responding, "Leave my presence for the time being. I will think of a solution." Emperor Xuanzong then removed both Xiao and Han as chancellors, making Xiao Zuo Chengxiang (左丞相), one of the heads of the executive bureau, instead. He replaced Xiao and Han with Pei Yaoqing and Zhang Jiuling. Soon thereafter, he made Xiao's son Xiao Hua an imperial attendant. In 734, when a major earthquake occurred at Qin Prefecture (秦州, roughly modern Tianshui, Gansu), causing more than 4,000 deaths, Emperor Xuanzong had Xiao head the disaster relief efforts.

In 736, Xiao was made a senior advisor to Li Yu the Crown Prince. Soon thereafter, however, Zhang Shougui was discovered to have bribed the eunuch Niu Xiantong (牛仙童) and demoted. Then-chancellor Li Linfu, apprehensive that Xiao might return to the chancellorship at some point, accused Xiao of bribing Niu Xiantong as well and had him demoted to be the prefect of Qing Prefecture (青州, roughly modern Weifang, Shandong). Xiao was, however, soon recalled to again be senior advisor to Li Yu, although he soon retired.

Xiao had long been taking herbal medicines, and once he left the chancellorship, he began to grow his own herbs for his own use. At that time, Xiao Hua served as a deputy minister, and Xiao Heng was an imperial son-in-law. Xiao Song thus spent more than a decade in retirement in great honor and wealth. He died in 749 and was given posthumous honors, although no posthumous name was recorded for him. Among his descendants, Xiao Hua, Xiao Hua's grandsons Xiao Mian and Xiao Fang, and Xiao Heng's son Xiao Fu all later served as chancellors. [3]

Notes

  1. However, Xiao was described to be in his 80s when he died in 749. Given the Chinese calculation of ages, he thus could have been born anytime from 661 to 670. See Old Book of Tang , vol. 99 Archived April 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine .
  2. Lu Xiangxian's biographies indicated that he served as the sheriff of Luoyang County during the reign of Emperor Taizong's daughter-in-law Wu Zetian, while the official Ji Xu served as the deputy minister of civil service affairs (699–700) and so Xiao's marriage probably occurred during that time. See Old Book of Tang, vols. 88 and 186, part 1; New Book of Tang , vols. 116 and 117.
  3. Old Book of Tang, vol. 99.

Related Research Articles

Emperor Xuanzong of Tang 7th emperor of the Tang Dynasty

Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, also commonly known as Emperor Ming of Tang or Illustrious August, personal name Li Longji, was the seventh emperor of the Tang dynasty in China, reigning from 713 to 756 CE. His reign of 43 years was the longest during the Tang dynasty. In the early half of his reign he was a diligent and astute ruler. Ably assisted by capable chancellors like Yao Chong, Song Jing and Zhang Yue, he was credited with bringing Tang China to a pinnacle of culture and power. Emperor Xuanzong, however, was blamed for over-trusting Li Linfu, Yang Guozhong and An Lushan during his late reign, with Tang's golden age ending in the An Lushan Rebellion.

Zhang Jiuling

Zhang Jiuling, courtesy name Zishou (子壽), nickname Bowu (博物), formally Count Wenxian of Shixing (始興文獻伯), was a prominent minister, noted poet and scholar of the Tang Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong.

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.

Li Linfu, nickname Genu, formally the Duke of Jin, was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor for 18 years (734–752), during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong—one of the longest terms of service for a chancellor in Tang history, and the longest during Xuanzong's reign.

Zhang Jiazhen, formally Marquess Gongsu of Hedong (河東恭肅侯), was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang. During Emperor Xuanzong's reign, he also served as a general. He was known for being capable but also being self-important during his term as chancellor.

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.

Han Xiu (672–739), courtesy name Liangshi (良士), formally Viscount Wenzhong of Yiyang (宜陽文忠子), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, briefly serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong. His wife was called Liu. He was known for his bluntness and honesty.

Pei Yaoqing, courtesy name Huanzhi (渙之), formally Marquess Wenxian of Zhaocheng (趙城文獻侯), was a poet and politician of the Chinese Tang dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong. He had a friendly relationship with fellow chancellor Zhang Jiuling, and when another chancellor, Li Linfu, managed to convince Emperor Xuanzong that both Zhang and Pei were engaging in factionalism, both were removed, although Pei continued to serve in important positions in the imperial administration until his death in 743. He was known for improving the food transportation system between the capital Chang'an and the eastern capital Luoyang, obviating the need for the emperor to periodically move between the two capitals.

Niu Xianke (牛仙客), formally Duke Zhenjian of Bin (豳貞簡公), was a general and official of the Tang Dynasty. He served as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang. He took an unconventional path to the position of chancellor by starting as a low-level bureaucrat and gradually getting promoted, rather than going through the imperial examinations, and was known for being careful and obedient to fellow chancellor Li Linfu.

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.

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.

Pei Mian, courtesy name Zhangfu (章甫), formally the Duke of Ji (冀公), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Suzong and Emperor Daizong. He was known for his faithfulness to Tang during the difficult times of An Lushan Rebellion, but was also looked down upon by historians for his material greed.

Xiao Hua, formally the Duke of Xu (徐公), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Suzong.

Pei Zunqing, courtesy name Shaoliang (少良), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Suzong and Emperor Daizong.

Cui Qun (崔群), courtesy name Dunshi (敦詩), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Xianzong.

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.

Xiao Ye (蕭鄴), courtesy name Qizhi (啟之), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Emperor Xuānzong and (briefly) Emperor Xuānzong's son Emperor Yizong.

Lu Xisheng (陸希聲) was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving briefly as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Zhaozong.

References