Yuan Shuji

Last updated

Yuan Shuji (袁恕己) (died 706), formally Prince Zhenlie of Nanyang (南陽貞烈王), [1] was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and killed in exile in a cruel manner.

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 recorded as the twenty-first Shang king by the written records of Shang dynasty unearthed. 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.

Wu Zetian founding empress of the Zhou Dynasty

Wu Zetian, alternatively named Wu Zhao, Wu Hou, during the later Tang dynasty as Tian Hou, in English as Empress Consort Wu or by the deprecated term "Empress Wu", was a Chinese sovereign who ruled unofficially as empress consort and empress dowager and officially as empress regnant (皇帝) during the brief Zhou dynasty, which interrupted the Tang dynasty. Wu was the sole officially recognized empress regnant of China in more than two millennia.

Emperor Zhongzong of Tang emperor of the Tang Dynasty

Emperor Zhongzong of Tang, personal name Li Xian, and at other times Li Zhe or Wu Xian, was the fourth Emperor of the Tang dynasty of China, ruling briefly in 684 and again from 705 to 710.

Contents

Background

It is not known when Yuan Shuji was born. His family was from Cang Prefecture (滄州, roughly modern Cangzhou, Hebei) and traced its ancestry to the late Han Dynasty warlord Yuan Shao. Both Yuan Shuji's grandfather Yuan Lingxi (袁令喜) and father Yuan Yihong (袁異弘) served as prefectural officials. [2]

Cangzhou Prefecture-level city in Hebei, Peoples Republic of China

Cangzhou is a prefecture-level city in eastern Hebei province, People's Republic of China. At the 2010 census, Cangzhou's built-up area made of Yunhe, Xinhua districts and Cang County largely being conurbated had a population of 1,205,814 inhabitants, while the prefecture-level administrative unit in total has a population of 7,134,062. It lies approximately 90 kilometres (56 mi) from the major port city of Tianjin, and 180 km (110 mi) from Beijing.

Hebei Province

Hebei is a province of China in the North China region. The modern province was established in 1911 as Zhili Province or Chihli Province. Its one-character abbreviation is "冀" (Jì), named after Ji Province, a Han dynasty province (zhou) that included what is now southern Hebei. The name Hebei literally means "north of the river", referring to its location entirely to the north of the Yellow River.

Yuan Shao Han Dynasty warlord

Yuan Shao, courtesy name Benchu, was a warlord who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He occupied the northern territories of China during the civil wars that occurred towards the end of the Han dynasty. He was also an elder half-brother of Yuan Shu, a warlord who controlled the Huai River region, though the two were not on good terms with each other.

During Wu Zetian's reign

Sometime during Wu Zetian's Chang'an era (701-704), Yuan Shuji served as assistant chief judge of the supreme court (司刑少卿, Sixing Shaoqing) and military advisor to Wu Zetian's son Li Dan the Prince of Xiang. As of 704, he was serving as Youtai Zhongcheng (右臺中丞), an imperial censor.

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.

In spring 705, with Wu Zetian being ill, Cui entered into a plot with a number of officials and generals, including Zhang Jianzhi, Cui Xuanwei, Huan Yanfan, and Jing Hui, to kill her lovers Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong. With agreement from Li Xian the Crown Prince (Wu Zetian's son and Li Dan's older brother), they acted on February 20, [3] killing Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong, and then surrounding Wu Zetian. While they allowed her to retain the title of "emperor," they had her put under house arrest at the secondary palace Shangyang Palace (上陽宮) and forced her to yield the throne to Li Xian, who was formerly emperor, and he was restored to the throne (as Emperor Zhongzong). During the coup, Yuan's responsibility was to accompany Li Dan and make sure that no unusual incidents would happen involving Li Dan, and after coup was successful, Yuan was immediately made, by an edict issued in Wu Zetian's name, Fengge Shilang (鳳閣侍郎), the deputy head of the legislative bureau of government (鳳閣, Fengge) and given the designation Tong Fengge Luantai Pingzhangshi (同鳳閣鸞臺平章事). Two days later, Emperor Zhongzong was formally restored.

Zhang Jianzhi (張柬之) (625-706), courtesy name Mengjiang (孟將), formally Prince Wenzhen of Hanyang (漢陽文貞王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian and her son Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and died in exile.

Cui Xuanwei, né Cui Ye (崔曄), formally Prince Wenxian of Boling (博陵文獻王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian and her son Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and died in exile.

Huan Yanfan (桓彥範) (653–706), courtesy name Shize (士則), formally Prince Zhonglie of Fuyang (扶陽忠烈王), briefly known during the reign of Emperor Zhongzong of Tang as Wei Yanfan (韋彥範), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and killed in exile in a cruel manner.

During Emperor Zhongzong's second reign

Yuan Shuji, along with Zhang Jianzhi, Cui Xuanwei, Huan Yanfan, and Jing Hui, were recognized as leaders in Emperor Zhongzong's restoration, and they were put into key positions and created dukes, with Yuan becoming continuing to serve as Fengge Shilang and carrying the greater chancellor designation of Tong Fengge Luantai Sanpin (同鳳閣鸞臺三品), and carrying the title of Duke of Nanyang. One of the main acts that Yuan was recorded to have done was to speak against the deputy minister of construction Yang Wulian (楊務廉), accusing Yang of encouraging wasteful construction and not making useful suggestions to the emperor, and Yang was demoted to be a prefectural prefect. Yuan was then further elevated to be Zhongshu Ling (中書令), the head of the legislative bureau (which by this point had been renamed Zhongshu Sheng (中書省)). Soon, however, Emperor Zhongzong became heavily influenced by his wife Empress Wei and her lover Wu Sansi the Prince of Liang (Wu Zetian's nephew and Emperor Zhongzong's cousin). Zhang fervently argued against the rise of Wu Sansi's power but was unable to do anything about it. In summer 705, by which time Emperor Zhongzong's trust in Yuan and his colleagues had completely been lost, Emperor Zhongzong, following Wu Sansi's recommendation, created the five coup leaders princes—in Yuan's case, Prince of Nanyang—but stripped them of chancellor positions. In spring 706, Yuan was further sent out of the capital Chang'an to serve as the prefect of Yu Prefecture (豫州, roughly modern Zhumadian, Henan).

Empress Wei was an empress of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. She was the second wife of Emperor Zhongzong, who reigned twice, and during his second reign, she tried to emulate the example of her mother-in-law Wu Zetian and seize power. After Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710—a death traditionally believed to be a poisoning she carried out together with her daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle—which gave her the power to become the empress dowager, but in short order was overthrown and killed in a coup led by Emperor Zhongzong's nephew Li Longji and Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping.

Wu Sansi, posthumously Prince Xuan of Liang (梁宣王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and his aunt Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, becoming an imperial prince and chancellor during the reign of Wu Zetian and subsequently, while only briefly chancellor during the second reign of Wu Zetian's son and his cousin Emperor Zhongzong, becoming very powerful due to both the trust Emperor Zhongzong had in him and his affair with Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife Empress Wei. He was killed in a rebellion by Emperor Zhongzong's son the crown prince Li Chongjun in 707.

Changan ancient city of China

Chang'an was an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese since it was a capital that was repeatedly used by new Chinese rulers. During the short-lived Xin dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; the old name was later restored. By the time of the Ming dynasty, a new walled city named Xi'an, meaning "Western Peace", was built at the Sui and Tang Dynasty city's site, which has remained its name to the present day.

Later in spring 706, with all five of the coup leaders already out of the capital, Wu Sansi and Empress Wei made accusations against them, and they were demoted to more remote prefectures—in Yuan's case, to be the prefect of Ying Prefecture (郢州, roughly modern Wuhan, Hubei). Wu Sansi then had his strategist Zheng Yin further accuse the five of them of having participated in the plot of Emperor Zhongzong's son-in-law Wang Tongjiao (王同皎) -- who was executed early in 706 after having been accused of plotting to kill Wu Sansi and deposing Empress Wei. The five were further demoted with the provisions that they would never be allowed to return to the capital Chang'an, with Yuan becoming the military advisor to the prefect of Dou Prefecture (竇州, roughly modern Maoming, Guangdong). Wu Sansi then had accusations that Empress Wei was having affairs posted publicly in the eastern capital Luoyang, with the intent of incensing Emperor Zhongzong—and then accused the five coup leaders of being behind this public humiliation. He then had his associates propose that the five be killed. Emperor Zhongzong, citing that the five had been previously awarded iron certificates that guaranteed that they would not be executed in recognition of their contribution, ordered that they be reduced to commoner rank and permanently exiled to the Lingnan region with their families—in Yuan's case, to Huan Prefecture (環州, roughly modern Hechi, Guangxi). At the suggestion of Cui Shi, Wu Sansi then sent the censor Zhou Lizhen (周利貞) to the Lingnan region under guise of reviewing the affairs of the region but with instructions to kill the five. When Zhou arrived at Yuan's place of exile, he forced Yuan to drink the juice of the poisonous plant Gelsemium elegans, but Yuan did not die immediately—a fact that traditional historians attributed to Yuan's frequently taking an alchemist medication known as "yellow gold" (黃金). However, he suffered immensely from the poison and was angry over how he was treated, and he toiled on the ground, scratching it, causing his nails to fall off. Zhou then had him caned to death. After Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710 and Li Dan, himself a former emperor, was restored (as Emperor Ruizong), Yuan and his colleagues were posthumously honored.

Wuhan Prefecture-level & Sub-provincial city in Hubei, Peoples Republic of China

Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province, People's Republic of China. It's the most populous city in Central China, and one of the nine National Central Cities of China. It lies in the eastern Jianghan Plain on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River's intersection with the Han river. Arising out of the conglomeration of three cities, Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang, Wuhan is known as 'China's Thoroughfare'; it is a major transportation hub, with dozens of railways, roads and expressways passing through the city and connecting to other major cities. Because of its key role in domestic transportation, Wuhan is sometimes referred to as "the Chicago of China" by foreign sources.

Hubei Province

Hubei is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the Central China region. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Dongting Lake. The provincial capital is Wuhan, a major transportation thoroughfare and the political, cultural, and economic hub of Central China.

Zheng Yin (鄭愔), courtesy name Wenjing (文靖), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, briefly serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Zhongzong.

Notes and references

  1. Historical accounts about Yuan and his fellow coup leaders generally referred to them as the "five princes," and, as their titles were restored after Emperor Ruizong's ascension, they were generally considered to have been restored to their princely ranks, although Yuan's biography in the Old Book of Tang quoted an edict of Emperor Xuanzong's referring to him as the Duke of Nanyang, and therefore it is not completely clear whether Yuan, posthumously, was formally referred to as a duke or a prince. See Old Book of Tang, vol. 91.
  2. New Book of Tang , vol. 74, part 2.
  3. 兩千年中西曆轉換

Related Research Articles

Li Jiao, courtesy name Jushan (巨山), formally the Duke of Zhao (趙公), was an official of the Chinese Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, and her grandson Emperor Shang.

Wu Youning (武攸寧), formally the Duke of Jiang (江公), was an imperial prince during the reign of Wu Zetian and served as chancellor both during her regency over her son Emperor Ruizong of Tang and her own reign.

Wei Juyuan (韋巨源), formally Duke Zhao of Shu (舒昭公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving multiple times as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her son Emperor Zhongzong, and her grandson Emperor Shang. During Emperor Zhongzong's reign, he became aligned with Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife Empress Wei, and after Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710 and a coup led by Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and Emperor Zhongzong's nephew Li Longji the Prince of Linzi killed Empress Wei, Wei Juyuan was also killed.

Su Weidao, was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, twice serving as chancellor during Wu Zetian's reign.

Zong Chuke (宗楚客), courtesy name Shu'ao (叔敖), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her son Emperor Zhongzong, and her grandson Emperor Shang.

Zhang Xi, formally the Duke of Pingyuan (平原公), was an official of the Chinese Tang dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou dynasty, serving as chancellor on two occasions.

Li Jiongxiu (李迥秀), courtesy name Maozhi (茂之), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during Wu Zetian's reign.

Zhu Jingze, courtesy name Shaolian (少連), was an official of China's Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during Wu Zetian's reign.

Wei Sili, courtesy name Yan'gou (延構), formally Duke Xiao of Xiaoyao (逍遙孝公), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during the reigns of Wu Zetian, her sons Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Ruizong, and her grandson Emperor Shang.

Wei Chengqing (韋承慶) (640?–706?), courtesy name Yanxiu (延休), formally Viscount Wen of Fuyang (扶陽溫子), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a chancellor during Wu Zetian's reign.

Jing Hui (敬暉), courtesy name Zhongye (仲瞱), formally Prince Sumin of Pingyang (平陽肅愍王), was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Zhongzong. He was a key figure in the coup that overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Emperor Zhongzong in 705, but was later exiled due to false accusations instigated by Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi and killed in exile in a cruel manner.

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.

Zhang Jiafu (張嘉福) was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, briefly serving as chancellor during the reign of Emperor Shang.