Xue Juzheng

Last updated
Xue Juzheng (薛居正)
from an 18th-century genealogy book
Chief minister of the Song dynasty
In office
October 17, 973 [1]  July 12, 981
Servingwith Shen Lun, Lu Duoxun
Monarch Emperor Taizu, Emperor Taizong
Personal details
Bornc. 912 [2]
Xunyi County, Kaifeng, Later Liang
DiedJuly 12, 981(981-07-12) (aged 68–69) [3]
Kaifeng, Song Empire
ChildrenXue Weiji (薛惟吉), adopted son
FatherXue Renqian (薛仁謙)
Xue Juzheng
Xue Ziping

Xue Juzheng (c. 912 – 12 July 981, courtesy name Ziping) was a scholar-official who successively served the Later Jin, Later Han, Later Zhou and Song dynasties. He was one of the chief ministers of the Song dynasty from 973 until his death.

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 Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

Scholar-official Learned men awarded government positions in Imperial China

Scholar-officials, also known as Literati, Scholar-gentlemen or Scholar-bureaucrats were politicians and government officials appointed by the emperor of China to perform day-to-day political duties from the Han dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty in 1912, China's last imperial dynasty. After the Sui dynasty these officials mostly came from the scholar-gentry who had earned academic degrees by passing the imperial examinations. The scholar-officials were schooled in calligraphy and Confucian texts. They dominated the government and local life of China until the mid-20th century. The American philosopher and historian Charles Alexander Moore concluded:

Generally speaking, the record of these scholar-gentlemen has been a worthy one. It was good enough to be praised and imitated in 18th century Europe. Nevertheless, it has given China a tremendous handicap in their transition from government by men to government by law, and personal considerations in Chinese government have been a curse.

Later Jin (Five Dynasties) Chinese dynasty (936–947); one of the Five Dynasties

The Later Jìn, also called Shi Jin (石晉), was one of the Five Dynasties during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in China. It was founded by Shi Jingtang, who was posthumously titled "Gaozu". Liao, its original protector state, destroyed Later Jin by invading in 946 and 947, after Jin's second ruler, Shi Chonggui, fell out with them.


Xue is best known today for being the lead author of the monumental history book Old History of the Five Dynasties (974).

The Old History of the Five Dynasties was an official history of the Five Dynasties (907–960), which controlled much of northern China. It was compiled by the Song Dynasty official-scholar Xue Juzheng in the first two decades of the Song Dynasty, which was founded in 960. It is one of the Twenty-Four Histories recognized through Chinese history.

During the Five Dynasties

Born during the Later Liang, Xue Juzheng was said to be studious and ambitious from a young age. In 934 during the Later Tang Xue failed the imperial examination and wrote "An Essay to Dispel Sorrows" (遣愁文), which was much praised. He passed the imperial examination the following year. [2]

Later Liang (Five Dynasties) one of the Five Dynasties of China

The Later Liang, also known as Zhu Liang, was one of the Five Dynasties during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period in China. It was founded by Zhu Wen, posthumously known as Taizu of Later Liang, after he forced the last emperor of the Tang dynasty to abdicate in his favour. The Later Liang would last until 923 when it was destroyed by Later Tang.

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.

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, while leaving clear problems resulting from a systemic lack of technical and practical expertise.

After the Later Jin destroyed the Later Tang in 937, Xue served on the staff of Liu Suining (劉遂凝), the military governor of Hua Prefecture. In 941, he was recommended by Liu Suining's older cousin Liu Suiqing (劉遂清) and became a patrolling inspector for the Salt Monopoly. In 944, he served as a judge in the Bureau of General Accounts. When Li Song became the director for the Salt Monopoly, Xue served on his staff. Xue also received a position in the Court of Judicial Review, and subsequently he was made a reminder official in the Secretariat. In 946, when Sang Weihan was made the prefect of Kaifeng, Xue joined him as an administrative assistant. [2]

Jiedushi regional military governor function.

The jiedushi were regional military governors in China during the Tang dynasty and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The post of jiedushi has been translated as "military commissioner", "legate", or "regional commander". Originally introduced in 711 to counter external threats, the jiedushi were posts authorized with the supervision of a defense command often encompassing several prefectures, the ability to maintain their own armies, collect taxes and promote and appoint subordinates.

Hua Prefecture (Shaanxi)

Huazhou or Hua Prefecture was a zhou (prefecture) in imperial China seated in modern Hua County, Shaanxi, China. It existed (intermittently) from 554 to 1913. Through history it was also known by other names, including Tai Prefecture, Huayin Commandery (742–758) and Dexing Prefecture (897–900).

Li Song (李崧), nickname Dachou (大醜), was an official of the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period states Later Tang, Later Jin, and Later Han, as well as the Khitan Liao Dynasty. He was particularly prominent during Later Jin, when he served as chief of staff (Shumishi) and chancellor. During Later Han, he was falsely accused of treason and executed.

During the Later Han, Xue once saved a commoner from execution. The man was accused of violating salt laws, but Xue found the evidence unconvincing. After further questioning he discovered bad blood between the defendant and the accuser, a minor government functionary who eventually admitted to making false accusations. [2]

Later Han (Five Dynasties) fourth of the Five Dynasties of China

The Later Han was founded in 947. It was the fourth of the Five Dynasties, and the third consecutive sinicized Shatuo ethnicity state, however, other sources indicate that the Later Han emperors claimed patrilineal Han Chinese ancestry. It was among the shortest-lived of all Chinese regimes, lasting for slightly under four years before it was overcome by a rebellion that resulted in the founding of the Later Zhou.

After Later Zhou's founding in 951, Xue was made vice director of the Bureau of Review, also in charge of all judges in the State Finance Commission.

Later Zhou Chinese dynasty (951–960); fifth of the Five Dynasties

The Later Zhou was the last in a succession of five dynasties that controlled most of northern China during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, which lasted from 907 to 960 and bridged the gap between the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty.

During the Song dynasty

When the Song Dynasty replaced the Later Zhou in 960, Xue took service with the new dynasty as he had with dynasties prior to the new rulers of northern China. During the first two decades of the Song, Xue set about to compiling a history of the Five Dynasties.

Entitled Five Dynasties History, the main purpose of the work was to reinforce the claim of the Song to the Mandate of Heaven from the Tang Dynasty through the Five Dynasties to the reigning Song.

Death and legacy

Xue did not live much longer than after compilation of the Five Dynasties History in 974, dying in 981. However, his legacy of writing a history of a previous era of Chinese history for the purpose of bolstering the current patron dynasty would be repeated later in Chinese history, notably with the Yuan Dynasty’s writing of the History of Liao .

Notes and references

  1. Song Shi, ch. 210.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Song Shi, ch. 264.
  3. Xu Zizhi Tongjian Changbian, ch. 22.

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