Zhu Hongzhao

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Zhu Hongzhao (朱弘昭) (d. May 14, 934 [1] [2] ) was a general of the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period state Later Tang. He was a close associate of its second emperor Li Siyuan, and became particularly powerful during the short reign of Li Siyuan's son and successor Li Conghou while serving as chief of staff ( Shumishi ). Traditionally, he and fellow chief of staff Feng Yun were blamed for making inappropriate sensitive personnel movements that caused Li Conghou's adoptive brother Li Congke to be fearful and rebel, eventually leading to Li Conghou's being overthrown and Zhu's own death.

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.

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.

Li Siyuan, also known by his temple name Mingzong (明宗), was the second emperor of imperial China's short-lived Later Tang during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, reigning from 926 until his death. He was an ethnic Shatuo originally named, in the Shatuo language, Miaojilie (邈佶烈).



It is not known when Zhu Hongzhao was born, but it was known that he was from Taiyuan, either late in the Tang Dynasty when it served as the capital for Hedong Circuit (河東), ruled by the major warlord Li Keyong, or early in the history of its successor state Jin, ruled successively by Li Keyong and his son Li Cunxu. His grandfather Zhu Wen (朱玟) and father Zhu Shuzong (朱叔宗) both served as officers of the guard corps for the Hedong headquarters. Zhu Hongzhao himself came to serve under Li Siyuan, an adoptive son of Li Keyong's and a major general. [3]

Taiyuan Prefecture-level city in Shanxi, Peoples Republic of China

Taiyuan is the capital and largest city of Shanxi province in China. It is one of the main manufacturing bases of China. Throughout its long history, Taiyuan was the capital or provisional capital of many dynasties in China, hence the name Lóngchéng.

Li Keyong Chinese military governor

Li Keyong was a Shatuo military governor (Jiedushi) during the late Tang Dynasty and was key to developing a base of power for the Shatuo in what is today Shanxi Province in China. His son, Li Cunxu would eventually become the founder of the Later Tang, arguably the first of many Conquest Dynasties in China.

Li Cunxu Chinese Emperor

Emperor Zhuangzong of Later Tang, personal name Li Cunxu, nickname Yazi (亞子), was the Prince of Jin (908–923) and later became Emperor of Later Tang (923–926), of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period of Chinese history. He was the son of Li Keyong.

During Li Siyuan's reign

In 926, Li Cunxu, who had established a Later Tang as its emperor, was killed in a mutiny at then-capital Luoyang. Li Siyuan, who had earlier rebelled against him, quickly arrived at Luoyang and claimed imperial title. [4] Zhu Hongzhao became the overseer of palace technicians (文思使). [3] Later in the year, Li Siyuan's powerful chief of staff An Chonghui became suspicious of both Meng Zhixiang the military governor ( Jiedushi ) of Xichuan Circuit (西川, headquartered in modern Chengdu, Sichuan) and Dong Zhang the military governor of Dongchuan Circuit (東川, headquartered in modern Mianyang, Sichuan), as both Meng and Dong were trusted by Li Cunxu, and Meng had married Li Cunxu's biological cousin, and therefore was trying to find some way to curb Meng's and Dong's powers. As part of An's machinations, he sent the official Li Yan (李嚴) to Xichuan to serve as Meng's army monitor, and Zhu to Dongchuan to serve as Dong's deputy military governor. Meng, however, soon had Li Yan executed. Hearing of Li Yan's death, Zhu became fearful that Dong would kill him as well. He took the chance, when Dong happened to be asking him to go to Luoyang to make a report, to leave Dongchuan and stay at Luoyang. [4] He became a general of the imperial guards and protocol officer (內客省使, Neikeshengshi). In 928, he was promoted to be a director of palace affairs (宣徽使, Xuanhuishi). [3] That year, on an occasion when, after a major policy argument between Li Siyuan and An, Li Siyuan considered letting An retire, but Zhu pointed out that Li Siyuan had considered An a trusted adviser and should not abandon him on the basis of an argument, and therefore, Li Siyuan reconciled with An and continued to have An serve as chief of staff. [5]

Luoyang Prefecture-level city in Henan, Peoples Republic of China

Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River in the west of Henan province. Governed as a prefecture-level city, it borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast. As of the final 2010 census, Luoyang had a population of 6,549,941 inhabitants with 1,857,003 people living in the built-up area made of the city's five urban districts, all of which except the Jili District are not urbanized yet.

An Chonghui was the chief of staff (Shumishi) and chief advisor to Li Siyuan of the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period state Later Tang.

Meng Zhixiang was a general of the Later Tang who went on to found the independent state of Later Shu during the Chinese Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Meng Zhixiang was an in-law of the Later Tang ruling family, who went by the family name Li. Meng married the eldest sister or perhaps a cousin of the founding emperor, Zhuangzong. Meng served the Later Tang as the military governor (Jiedushi) of Xichuan Circuit, after the conquest of Former Shu. After Emperor Zhuangzong's death, Meng was more distant to the succeeding emperor. The new emperor was Emperor Zhuangzong's adoptive brother, Emperor Mingzong. Meng, fearing accusations by Emperor Mingzong's chief advisor An Chonghui, rebelled, in alliance with Dong Zhang, military governor of neighboring Dongchuan Circuit. The Meng-Dong alliance repelled subsequent attempts to suppress or control them, although they continued as nominal subjects of Mingzong. Eventually, Meng overpowered Dong, thus assuming control of both allied domains. Meng continued as titular vassal to Mingzong for the rest of that emperor's reign; but, afterwards, Meng Zhixiang declared himself suzerain of an independent state named Shu, in 934, now called Later Shu to avoid confusion with other political entities sharing the same name.

Later in the year, Li Siyuan launched a general campaign against the rebellious warlord Wang Du the military governor of Yiwu Circuit (義武, headquartered in modern Baoding, Hebei), under the overall command of the general Wang Yanqiu. Wang Yanqiu believed Yiwu's capital Ding Prefecture (定州) to have strong defenses and therefore would be difficult to attack directly; rather, he wanted to surround the city and put it under siege, to drain out the city's food supplies. Both Zhu and Zhang Qianzhao (張虔昭), serving under Wang Yanqiu, claimed that Wang Yanqiu was being cowardly, and Li Siyuan, believing them, ordered Wang Yanqiu to attack. Wang Yanqiu's initial attacks, under such orders, resulted in heavy casualties, and he was then able to persuade Li Siyuan to allow him to resume his strategy of starving out the Ding Prefecture defense. He was eventually able to capture Ding in 929, and Wang Du committed suicide. [5]

Wang Du (王都), né Liu Yunlang (劉雲郎), was a warlord during the early Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period of China as the military governor (Jiedushi) of Yiwu Circuit. He seized control of Yiwu from his adoptive father Wang Chuzhi in a coup, and subsequently ruled it semi-independently as a vassal of Jin and Jin's successor state Later Tang. In 928, then-reigning Emperor Mingzong of Later Tang, believing that Wang was about to openly rebel, ordered a general campaign against him, and, after a lengthy siege, Wang killed himself and his family by self-immolation as his capital was falling.

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

Baoding is a prefecture-level city in central Hebei province, approximately 150 kilometres (93 mi) southwest of Beijing. At the 2010 census, Baoding City had 11,194,372 inhabitants out of which 2,176,857 lived in the built-up area made of 3 urban districts and Qingyuan and Mancheng counties largely being conurbated, on 1,840 km2 (710 sq mi). Baoding is among 13 Chinese cities with a population of over 10 million, ranking seventh.

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.

Also in 929, Li Siyuan sacrificed to heaven and earth south of Luoyang, to signify his status as emperor. During the ceremony, Zhu stayed at the palace to keep it safe. After the ceremony, Li Siyuan gave him the title of acting Taifu (太傅), and made him the military governor of Fengxiang Circuit (鳳翔, headquartered in modern Baoji, Shaanxi). [3] [6]

Baoji Prefecture-level city in Shaanxi, Peoples Republic of China

Baoji  is a prefecture-level city in western Shaanxi province, People's Republic of China. Since the early 1990s, Baoji has been the second largest city in Shaanxi.

Shaanxi Province

Shaanxi is a province of the People's Republic of China. Officially part of the Northwest China region, it lies in central China, bordering the provinces of Shanxi, Henan (E), Hubei (SE), Chongqing (S), Sichuan (SW), Gansu (W), Ningxia (NW), and Inner Mongolia (N). It covers an area of over 205,000 km2 (79,151 sq mi) with about 37 million people. Xi'an – which includes the sites of the former Chinese capitals Fenghao and Chang'an – is the provincial capital. Xianyang, which served as the Qin dynasty capital, is located nearby. The other prefecture-level cities into which the province is divided are Ankang, Baoji, Hanzhong, Shangluo, Tongchuan, Weinan, Yan'an and Yulin.

In 930, Meng and Dong, fearful of An's suspicions against them, had allied with each other and rebelled against Li Siyuan's rule. Li Siyuan sent his son-in-law Shi Jingtang to command the operations against the two circuits, but the operations stalled against the two circuits' defenses. An offered to head to the front to review the operations, and Li Siyuan agreed. On the way to the front, An stopped at Fengxiang. Zhu personally came out of the city to bow to him, and housed An inside his own headquarters. He also had his wife come out to bow to An and to present food to An. An, touched by the gesture, stated, "Libelers had repeatedly accused me, and I almost could not escape. It was only because His Imperial Majesty saw the situation clearly that I still have my clan." After An departed Fengxiang for the front, Zhu immediately submitted a report to Li Siyuan, accusing An of showing anger to the emperor and stating that he was fearful that when An arrived at the front, he would seize command of the army from Shi. He also sent messengers ahead of An, informing Shi of the same thing. Shi, in fear, also sent messengers to Luoyang asking Li Siyuan to recall An. Li Siyuan therefore did so. When An received the recall and headed back to Luoyang, he went first to Fengxiang, but Zhu, this time, refused to receive him into the city at all, causing An, in fear, to try to head to Luoyang as quickly as possible. Li Siyuan, however, gave him no chance to return to Luoyang, but instead commissioned him as the military governor of Huguo Circuit (護國, headquartered in modern Yuncheng, Shanxi) without allowing him to return, and subsequently had him killed. [7]

Shi Jingtang Later Jin emperor

Shi Jingtang (石敬瑭), also known by his temple name Gaozu (高祖), was the founding emperor of imperial China's short-lived Later Jin during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, reigning from 936 until his death.

Yuncheng Prefecture-level city in Shanxi, Peoples Republic of China

Yuncheng is the southernmost prefecture-level city in Shanxi province, People's Republic of China. It borders Linfen and Jincheng municipalities to the north and east, and Henan and Shaanxi provinces to the south and west. At the 2010 census, its population was 5,134,779 inhabitants, of whom 680,036 lived in the built-up area made of Yanhu District.

Shanxi Province

Shanxi is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the North China region. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋", after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn period.

Shortly after An's death, Zhu was recalled to Luoyang to again serve as the director of palace affairs. [3] In 932, he was made the military governor of Shannan East Circuit (山南東道, headquartered in modern Xiangyang, Hubei), replacing Kang Yicheng (康義誠). [8]

By 933, Li Siyuan's oldest surviving son, Li Congrong the Prince of Wei, who was generally considered Li Siyuan's likely heir, had made all of the high level officials fearful of him due to his arrogant and violent ways. Then-chiefs of staff, Fan Yanguang and Zhao Yanshou, whom Li Congrong had threatened repeatedly, in particular, did not want to remain chiefs of staff, and repeatedly requested to be sent out to the circuits. Li Siyuan was initially resistant, believing that they were abandoning him, but eventually relented, allowing Zhao to become military governor of Xuanwu Circuit (宣武, headquartered in modern Kaifeng, Henan) and naming Zhu to replace him. Zhu initially tried to decline the post as well, but Li Siyuan angrily stated, "If people like you all refuse to be by my side, what use was it for me to feed you?" Zhu did not dare to decline further, so took his office. [8] Li Siyuan also bestowed the chancellor designation Tong Zhongshu Menxia Pingzhangshi (同中書門下平章事) on him. [3]

Shortly after Zhu became chief of staff, Feng Yun replaced Fan as the other chief of staff. Thereafter, Li Siyuan became extremely ill, but had not yet named an heir. Li Congrong wanted to force his way inside the palace so that the succession would not be diverted from him, but when he suggested the idea to Zhu and Feng, both were resistant of him. Li Congrong therefore decided to fight them with his army. The imperial guards, however, under orders from Zhu and Feng, as well as Kang (who was serving as a commanding general at that time) and the eunuch Meng Hanqiong, resisted and defeated Li Congrong's army. Li Congrong was subsequently killed. Li Siyuan subsequently agreed to summon Li Congrong's younger brother Li Conghou the Prince of Song, who was then serving as the military governor of Tianxiong Circuit (天雄, headquartered in modern Handan, Hebei), but died before Li Conghou reached Luoyang. When Li Conghou reached Luoyang, the high-level officials, including Zhu, supported him to be emperor. [8]

During Li Conghou's reign

As Zhu Hongzhao believed himself to be the person most instrumental to Li Conghou's enthronement, he tried to dominate the court scene. That caused him to eject Li Conghou's most trusted follower, Song Lingxun (宋令訓), out of Li Conghou's proximity, to be the prefect of Ci Prefecture (磁州, in modern Handan), despite Li Conghou's displeasure. He and Feng Yun similarly distrusted the imperial guard generals An Yanwei (安彥威) and Zhang Congbin (張從賓), and An and Zhang were sent out to be the military governors of Huguo and Zhangyi (彰義, headquartered in modern Pingliang, Gansu), respectively, and replaced with Zhu Hongshi (朱洪實) and Huangfu Yu (皇甫遇). [8]

In spring 934, Zhu received the greater chancellor title Zhongshu Ling (中書令). [8]

Meanwhile, Zhu and Feng also distrusted Li Conghou's older adoptive brother, Li Congke the Prince of Lu, who was then serving as the military governor of Fengxiang, and Shi Jingtang, who was then serving as the military governor of Hedong, as Li Congke and Shi had long served as generals under Li Siyuan and were respected by the imperial army. Due to their distrust of Li Congke, they ejected Li Congke's son Li Chongji (李重吉), who was at that time an officer in the imperial guard corps, to be the military prefect of Bo Prefecture (亳州, in modern Bozhou, Anhui), and ordered Li Congke's daughter Li Huiming (李惠明), who had previously become a Buddhist nun in a temple at Luoyang, to live in the palace so that they would have control over her. These actions caused Li Congke to become very apprehensive. [8]

Shortly after, Zhu and Feng decided that they did not want to allow Shi to remain at Hedong for too long, and they also wanted to recall Meng Hanqiong, who had been overseeing the governance of Tianxiong ever since Li Conghou was recalled from Tianxiong. They thus issued a series of orders as chiefs of staff, recalling Meng, and moving Fan Yanguang from Chengde Circuit (成德, headquartered in modern Shijiazhuang, Hebei) to Tianxiong, Li Congke from Fengxiang to Hedong, and Shi from Hedong to Chengde. Despite the seriousness of these orders, no edicts were issued by the emperor. Li Congke, fearing that these moves were targeted toward him, rebelled. The imperial government sent the general Wang Sitong to command the operations against Fengxiang, and initially, it appeared that Wang would prevail, as his siege against Fengxiang's capital Fengxiang Municipality almost caused it to fall. However, at that time, a group of soldiers, led by the officer Yang Siquan (楊思權), defected to Li Congke, causing the imperial army, to collapse, with most of the army surrendering to Li Congke. Li Congke then took his army and headed for Luoyang, announcing that all who surrendered to him would be forgiven, except Zhu and Feng. Upon hearing this news, Li Conghou panicked and considered surrendering the throne to Li Congke, and Zhu and Feng were not sure how to react. Kang Yicheng, however, who was secretly considering defecting to Li Congke as well, offered to command the remaining imperial forces against Li Congke. Li Conghou agreed. (Meanwhile, Li Chongji and Li Huimin were executed.) [1]

Even before Kang's army could meet Li Congke's advancing forces, however, the soldiers began to desert and surrender to Li Congke. Kang himself then did so as well. Upon hearing this, Li Conghou summoned Zhu to try to think of what to do next. Zhu, however, interpreted the command summoning him to be a sign that Li Conghou intended to punish him for his wrong advice, and committed suicide by jumping into a well. The imperial guard general An Congjin killed Feng and delivered Zhu's and Feng's heads to Li Congke. (Li Conghou fled Luoyang, and was subsequently killed by Li Congke's emissaries after Shi also refused to support him.) [1]

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 Zizhi Tongjian , vol. 279.
  2. Academia Sinica Chinese-Western Calendar Converter.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 History of the Five Dynasties , vol. 66.
  4. 1 2 Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 275.
  5. 1 2 Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 276.
  6. There were two discordant accounts of why and how Zhu became the military governor of Fengxiang and his relationship with An, in traditional sources. The New History of the Five Dynasties described the relationship between Zhu and An to be unfriendly, and therefore An always wanted to find ways to exclude Zhu from the imperial administration. (See New History of the Five Dynasties, vol. 27.) The Zizhi Tongjian gave the opposite description — that because Zhu had continuously flattered An, he was repeatedly receiving important circuit governorships. (See Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 277.) Neither of these accounts was concordant with the two men's actions or actual events — the New History of the Five Dynasties account was difficult to reconcile with Zhu's persuasion of Li Siyuan not to force An into retirement, and the Zizhi Tongjian account was contradictory to the fact that Zhu had never served as a military governor prior to the Fengxiang commission. The more neutral History of the Five Dynasties account, which gives no motivation at all nor any indication of the two men's relationship, will therefore be adopted here.
  7. Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 277.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Zizhi Tongjian, vol. 278.

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