Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fang Hui

Fang Hui was a scholar of the late and early from Huizhou's 徽州 She4 歙 county , who lived from 1227-1307.

Sima Guang

Sīmǎ Guāng was a historian, scholar, and high chancellor of the Song Dynasty.

Life, profession, and works

He was born in 1019 in present-day to a wealthy family, and obtained early success as a scholar and officer. When he was barely twenty, he passed the Imperial examination with the highest rank of ''jìnshì'' , and spent the next several years in official positions.

In 1064, Sima presented to Emperor Yingzong of Song a book of five volumes , the ''Liniantu'' . It chronologically summarized events in Chinese history from 403 BCE to 959 CE, and was something like a prospectus for sponsorship of his ambitious project in historiography. These dates were chosen because 403 BCE was the beginning of the Warring States period, when the ancient State of Jin was subdivided, which eventually led to the establishment of the Qin Dynasty; and because 959 CE was the end of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period and the beginning of the Song Dynasty.

In 1066, he presented a more detailed 8-volume ''Tongzhi'' , which chronicled Chinese history from 403 BCE to 207 BCE . The emperor issued an edict for compiling a groundbreaking universal history of China, granting full access to the imperial libraries, and allocating funds for all the costs of compilation, including research assistance by experienced historians such as Liu Ban , Liu Shu , and Fan Zuyu . After Yingzong died in 1067, Sima was invited to the palace to introduce his work in progress to Emperor Shenzong of Song. The new emperor not only confirmed the interest his father had shown, but proclaimed his favor by changing the title from ''Tongzhi'' to the honorific ''Zizhi Tongjian'' . Scholars interpret this titular "Mirror" to mean a work of reference and guidance; indicating that Shenzong accepted Sima as his mentor in the science of history and its application to government. The emperor maintained his support for compiling this comprehensive history for decades until it was completed in 1084.

Such loyalty is notable, especially since Sima was a leader of the conservative faction at court, resolutely opposed to the reformist policies of Chancellor Wang Anshi. Sima presented increasingly critical memorials to the throne until 1070, when he refused further appointment and withdrew from court. In 1071, he took up residence in Luoyang, where he remained with an official sinecure, providing sufficient time and resources to continue compilation. Indeed, though the historian and the emperor continued to disagree on policies, Sima's enforced retirement proved essential for him to fully complete his chronological history.

Sima Guang was also a lexicographer , and spent decades compiling his 1066 ''Leipian'' dictionary. It was based on the Shuowen Jiezi, and included 31,319 Chinese characters, many of which were coined in the Song and Tang Dynasty.

Sima Guang is best remembered for his ''Zizhi Tongjian'' masterwork, and Rafe de Crespigny describes him as "perhaps the greatest of all Chinese historians" .

There is a folktale that Sima Guang broke a great ceramic container where a boy was drowning. It is called SIMA GUANG DA PO GANG, which could simply be a play on his name for rhyming.

Ma Duanlin

Ma Duanlin , was a historical writer and encyclop?dist. In 1317 he published the 348 volumes comprehensive Chinese encyclopedia ''Wenxian Tongkao''.

Hu Sansheng

Hu Sansheng , born Hu Mansun , courtesy names Shenzhi , Meijian , and Jingcan , was a historian and commentator who lived during the late Song Dynasty and early Yuan Dynasty.

Hu was born in Ninghai . He was a mid-level official under the prime minister Jia Sidao during the 1250s. After the fall of Song, he hid himself in the country, and he spent the next few years, until the end of his life, writing his influential corrections and commentaries for the ''Zizhi Tongjian''. Hu's commentaries are considered highly valuable for readers of the work.

Xue Juzheng

Xue Jucheng was a historian and scholar who served under the Song Dynasty, as well as four of the Five Dynasties that preceded the Song. Xue is best known for compiling the ''Five Dynasties History'' which was put together in the 960s and 970s.

Xue was born during the Later Liang, the first of the Five Dynasties. He received his Jinshi examination degree during the Later Tang. He continued to serve the remaining three dynasties of the Five Dynasties, the , Later Han, and the Later Zhou.

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 repreated later in Chinese history, notably with the Yuan Dynasty’s writing of the ''History of Liao''.

Zhang Xi (Chinese official)

Zhang Xi , formally the Duke of Pingyuan , was an official of the dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as on two occasions.


It is not known when Zhang Xi was born, but it is known that he came from a line that had served for generations as officials of Northern Wei, Northern Qi, Sui Dynasty, and Tang Dynasty. Zhang Xi's father Zhang Wencong served as a deputy minister during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of Tang, and his uncle Zhang Wenguan served as a .

During Wu Zetian's reign

The first historical reference to Zhang Xi's own career as an official was in 700, during the reign of Emperor Gaozong's wife Wu Zetian, when Zhang Xi was serving as the deputy minister of civil service affairs . On that occasion, Zhang Changyi , the brother of Wu Zetian's lovers Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong, had received a bribe from a reserve official with the surname of Xue to ask to be given an actual commission. Zhang Changyi took the bribe and his certificate of reserve commission and gave the certificate to Zhang Xi, ordering him to find a position for the man. Several days later, Zhang Xi found that he had misplaced the certificate, and he met Zhang Changyi to ask him what to do -- to which Zhang Changyi replied, "How am I supposed to remember what his name was? The only way to salvage the situation is to give a commission to everyone named Xue." Zhang Xi, in fear, left Zhang Changyi's presence, and gave commissions some 60 reserve officials named Xue. Later in 700, Zhang Xi was made ''Fengge Shilang'' , the deputy head of the legislative bureau of government and given the designation ''Tong Fengge Luantai Pingzhangshi'' , making him a chancellor ''de facto''. At that time, Zhang Xi's nephew Li Jiao was already serving as chancellor, and as Wu Zetian did not want both uncle and nephew to serve as chancellors simultaneously, she removed Li Jiao from his office, but it was still regarded as a great honor to the family at the time to have him succeed his nephew. He continued to serve in the capacity as selector of officials, along with Zheng Gao .

In 701, Zhang Xi was accused of revealing palace secrets and accepting bribes, and he was set to be executed. At the time of his arrest, he rode a horse to the jail for high level officials, and continued, once there, to enjoy luxurious meals, while another chancellor who was also arrested, Su Weidao, slept on a mat on the floor and ate very simple meals. When Wu Zetian heard this, she released Su and returned him to office, while setting an execution date for Zhang Xi, but at the last moment spared him and exiled him to Xun Prefecture .

After Wu Zetian's reign

Wu Zetian was overthrown in a coup in 705, and her son the Crown Prince, formerly emperor, was restored to the throne . Sometime during Emperor Zhongzong's reign, Zhang Xi was recalled to serve as the minister of public works and was also in charge of editing imperial histories, and was eventually put in charge of the eastern capital Luoyang.

In 710, Emperor Zhongzong suddenly died -- a death that traditional historians believed to be a poisoning carried out by his powerful wife and daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle, so that Empress Wei could become "emperor" like Wu Zetian did and that Li Guo'er could become crown princess. Meanwhile, though, Emperor Zhongzong's son by a concubine, the Prince of Wen, was made emperor, with Empress Wei retaining power as empress dowager and regent. She conferred on Zhang Xi the designation of ''Tong Zhongshu Menxia Sanpin'' , again making him chancellor ''de facto'', but had him remain in charge at Luoyang. Less than a month later, she and Li Guo'er were killed in a coup led by Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and nephew the Prince of Linzi, and Li Longji's father the Prince of Xiang, himself a former emperor, was restored to the throne . Emperor Ruizong demoted all of the chancellors that Empress Dowager Wei had commissioned, and Zhang Xi was demoted to be the prefect of Jiang Prefecture . Sometime after that, he was created the Duke of Pingyuan, and died after his retirement, but the date of his death is not known.

Yuan Zai

Yuan Zai , courtesy name Gongfu , formally Viscount Huang of Xuchang and then Viscount Chengzong of Xuchang , was an official of the Tang Dynasty, serving as a during the reigns of and , becoming particularly powerful during the middle of Emperor Daizong's reign. He was said to be very capable as an official, but also treacherous and corrupt. His behavior eventually wore out Emperor Daizong's patience, and he was arrested and executed.


It is not known when Yuan Zai was born, but it was known that his family was from Qi Prefecture . His father's name was originally Jing Sheng . Jing Sheng became the property manager for Princess Yuan, the wife of Li Ming the Prince of Cao, a son of Emperor Taizong of Tang, who was probably from the lineage of Northern Wei's imperial Yuan clan. He served her well, and she helped him to be adopted into her Yuan clan, and his name was changed to Yuan Sheng. Yuan Zai lost his father early in life, and it was said that in his youth, he was studious and intelligent, and particularly well-studied in Taoist writings. He was so poor that he went to the local examinations on foot, and he repeatedly failed to advance in the examinations.

During Emperor Xuanzong's reign

Early in the ''Tianbao'' era of , Emperor Xuanzong began to favor Taoism, and he scheduled a special examination for scholars well-versed in the ''Zhuangzi'', '''', ''Liezi'', and ''Wenzi''. Yuan Zai did well on this special examination and was made the sheriff of Xinping County . When the imperial censor Wei Yi was put in charge of selecting officials from Qianzhong Circuit , he invited Yuan to serve as his assistant. After Yuan became better known, he was promoted to be ''Dali PIngshi'' , a secretary at the supreme court . Later, when the official Miao Jinqing served as the official in charge of the eastern capital Luoyang, he also invited Yuan to serve as his assistant. After that term of service, Yuan became ''Dali Sizhi'' , a junior judge at the supreme court.

During Emperor Suzong's reign

In 755, the general An Lushan rebelled at Fanyang Circuit and established his own state of , throwing the Tang realm into a state of war and confusion. Yuan Zai fled to the region south of the Yangtze River during the war. Li Xiyan , the surveyor of Jiangdong Circuit commissioned Yuan as his deputy and the prefect of Hong Prefecture . After Emperor Xuanzong's son and successor recaptured the capital Chang'an and Luoyang from Yan forces, Yuan was recalled to the imperial government to serve as a junior official at the ministry of census . When he met Emperor Suzong, Emperor Suzong was impressed by his quick thinking, and gave him several responsibilities -- deputy minister of census , deputy chief imperial censor , and the director of financial matters of the Yangtze-Huai River region. Believing that the Yangtze-Huai region was still comparably wealthy compared to the rest of the realm, Yuan taxed the region heavily to replenish the imperial treasuries, sometimes taxing as much as 80% to 90% of the people's assets, leading to much flight and banditry in the region.

Meanwhile, Yuan began a close association with the powerful eunuch Li Fuguo, through Li Fuguo's wife Lady Yuan, who was a clanswoman of Yuan Zai's. In 762, at Li Fuguo's recommendation, Yuan was named the mayor of the special municipality that included Chang'an, Jingzhao Municipality . Yuan then met Li Fuguo and earnestly declined the post -- and Li Fuguo understood this to mean that he wanted an office ''higher'' than being the mayor of Jingzhao. The next day, when the Xiao Hua was removed from his office, Yuan was given the designation of ''Tong Zhongshu Menxia Pingzhangshi'' , making him a chancellor ''de facto''. He also continued to be in charge of financial matters.

During Emperor Daizong's reign

Emperor Suzong died later that year, and after a bloody struggle between Emperor Suzong's wife and Li Fuguo , Emperor Suzong's son and crown prince became emperor . For a while, Li Fuguo had even greater powerful than before. Yuan Zai continued to serve as chancellor and, knowing that Li Fuguo resented Xiao Hua , Yuan made false accusations against Xiao, leading to Xiao's exile. Yuan was soon made ''Zhongshu Shilang'' , the deputy head of the legislative bureau of government , and continued to serve as chancellor. He was also created the Viscount of Xuchang. In 763, during a surprise attack by Tufan forces against Chang'an (which forced Emperor Daizong to flee to Shan Prefecture , Emperor Daizong made the general Guo Ziyi the supreme commander of Tang forces in the Guanzhong region and made Yuan Guo's military advisor. When Emperor Daizong returned to Chang'an that year, the official Yan Zhenqing proposed that he offer sacrifices at the imperial ancestral tombs and temple first, before returning to the palace. Yuan refused to endorse Yan's proposal, and Yan, exasperated, stated, "How can you, lord chancellor, continue to harm the government?" This led Yuan to be resentful toward Yan. Meanwhile, when Emperor Daizong removed Miao Jinqing and Pei Zunqing from their chancellor posts after returning to Chang'an, it was said that Yuan became even more powerful. He bribed Emperor Daizong's eunuch attendant Dong Xiu and had his subordinate Zhuo Yingqian serve as a liaison to Dong. Through Dong and Zhuo, he was able to keep a close watch on what Emperor Daizong's opinions were and were able to agree with Emperor Daizong's opinions closely, thus drawing greater favor from the emperor. As he was finding the financial affairs too overwhelming for him to handle in addition to the chancellor duties, he transferred his financial affairs duties to his friend . It was said that by this point, Yuan was exceedingly powerful, and his wife Lady Wang and his sons were abusing power. Meanwhile, though, with Li Fuguo and Cheng Yuanzhen having successively been removed, Yu Chao'en had become a powerful eunuch, and he and Yuan did not get along with each other, and while the two did not openly dispute with each other, for the next several years, the power struggle between them would be a strong undercurrent in Tang court politics.

In 765, when Tufan sent emissaries to propose peace with Tang, Emperor Daizong had Yuan and fellow chancellor Du Hongjian meet with them to swear peace.

In 766, with Yuan being very powerful and fearing that people would submit secret accusations to Emperor Daizong against him, he proposed that before officials could submit letters to the emperor, they must first receive approval from their superiors -- thus hoping to cut off this avenue of secret submissions. Yan, then the minister of justice, vehemently opposed, pointing out that this would lead to the rise of another Li Linfu -- who used similar methods to block off criticism against him during his service as Emperor Xuanzong's chancellor. Yuan, already resentful of Yan, accused Yan of defamation and had Yan exiled. Later that year, when Yu, during a lecture on the ''I Ching'', tried to satirize the chancellors by talking about how a '''' would overturn if imbalanced, Yuan's fellow chancellor Wang Jin, was visibly incensed, but Yuan remained calm and pleasant, leading Yu to comment, "It is common for the target to get angry, but one who remains smiling needs to be paid attention to even more carefully."

By 767, it was said that Emperor Daizong, Yuan, Wang, and Du were all devout in Buddhism, with Wang particularly so. With the emperor and the chancellors leading the way, the populace was also largely devoutly Buddhist -- so much so that the energy of the government and the people were spent on worshipping, not on affairs of the state.

In 768, with Tufan continuing to carry out incursions on a yearly basis, Yuan came up with a solution -- as he believed that at that time, the only major army on the Tufan border, commanded by the general Ma Lin , was inadequate to defend against Tufan attacks. He proposed that Ma's army be moved from Bin and Ning to Jing Prefecture , while the stronger army under Guo's command, then at Hezhong be moved to Bin Prefecture. To alleviate fears that the border prefectures, then laid fallow by the wars with Tufan forces, would be inadequate to supply this large army, Yuan committed to sending revenues from the interior prefectures to supply it. Meanwhile, he tried to sow seeds of suspicion between Guo and Yu, but was unable to do so.

In 769, with Du having died, Yuan recommended an old superior, the senior official Pei Mian, who had also recommended him before, to be chancellor. Pei, however, would die shortly after himself.

In 770, with Emperor Daizong's patience about Yu's hold on the imperial guards -- with which Yu was able to dominate the Chang'an region -- finally wearing thin, Yuan secretly conferred with Emperor Daizong and persuaded Emperor Daizong to act against Yu. Yuan bribed two close associates of Yu's -- the guard commander Zhou Hao and the general Huangfu Wen -- and was able to get full grasp of Yu's activities. In spring 770, at Yuan's suggestion, Emperor Daizong carried out several moves that were intending to be preludes to eliminating Yu -- moving the general Li Baoyu from being the military governor of Fengxiang Circuit to Shannan West Circuit , while moving Huangfu, then the military governor of Shan Circuit to Fengxiang -- while allaying Yu's suspicions by transferring control of four counties near Chang'an to the imperial guards, under Yu's command. Soon, when Huangfu arrived in Chang'an, Yuan laid a trap for Yu with Huangfu's and Zhou's soldiers, and at a secret meeting between Emperor Daizong and Yu, Yuan and Emperor Daizong acted and killed Yu.

After Yu's death, Yuan became even more powerful and corrupt. He also became extremely confident of his own abilities, and was living luxuriously, beyond his means. With Yang Guan the deputy minister of civil service affairs not willing to bow to his wishes in determining official commissions, he made Yang the principal of the imperial university and replaced him with a corrupt official, Xu Hao , who followed his orders. Emperor Daizong by now had heard about Yuan's corruption, but wanted to maintain a good relationship with him. He therefore several times personally urged Yuan to curb his ways, but Yuan could not change his ways, beginning to cause him to lose Emperor Daizong's favor. In 771, Emperor Daizong, without seeking Yuan's concurrence and without foreknowledge on Yuan's part, named the official Li Qiyun the chief imperial censor. It was said that this marked the beginning of the fall of Yuan's power. Indeed, in 773, after Li Qiyun indicted several of Yuan's associates -- Xu Hao, Xue Yong , Du Ji , and Yu Shao -- causing them to be demoted out of the capital, it was said that corruption became somewhat curbed at court.

Meanwhile, though, Yuan was working on another military project -- proposing that Yuan Prefecture -- formerly Tang territory, but now in a no-man's land between Tang and Tufan, with neither side guarding it -- be rebuilt; that Ma's forces be moved from Jing Prefecture to Yuan Prefecture; and that Guo's forces be moved from Bin Prefecture to Jing Prefecture; and that these posts then be used as bases of further forward advances against Tufan. Emperor Daizong consulted with the general Tian Shen'gong about this plan, and Tian responded, "Battling and judging the status of enemies is difficult even for well-seasoned generals. Why would Your Imperial Majesty listen to a civilian and put the entire realm's forces under his control?" Yuan's wife Lady Wang, as well as his sons Yuan Bohe , Yuan Zhongwu , and Yuan Ji'neng , were all executed. His family tombs and temples were destroyed, and his assets were confiscated. It was said that Yuan had large storages of pepper as well as gold, silver, and other treasures. Only his daughter Yuan Zhenyi , then already a Buddhist nun, was spared, but she was confiscated to be a servant inside the palace. A large number of Yuan's associates, including Yang Yan , Han Hui , Bao Ji , and Han Hui , were demoted.

After Emperor Daizong died in 778 and was succeeded by Emperor Dezong, Emperor Dezong remembered that Yuan was involved in his being named crown prince. In 784, he posthumously restored Yuan's titles and offices and permitted him to be reburied properly. Yuan's subordinates Xu Chu , Yang Jiao , and Ji Tao paid out of their pockets to rebury Yuan. Yuan was also given the posthumous name of ''Huang'' , later changed to the slightly less derogatory ''Chengzong'' .

Yao Silian

Yao Silian , courtesy name Jianzhi ,, formally Baron Kang of Fengcheng , was an official of the dynasties Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty and was the lead author of the ''Book of Liang'' and ''Book of Chen'', official histories of Liang Dynasty and Chen Dynasty, which his father Yao Cha , a Chen official, had begun but did not finish.


It is not known when Yao Silian was born, other than that it was during Chen Dynasty. His father Yao Cha was the minister of civil service affairs during Chen, and after Chen's destruction by rival Sui Dynasty in 589, Yao Cha moved his family from Wuxing to the Sui capital Daxing , successively serving as an advisor to Emperor Wen of Sui's crown prince Yang Yong and the secretary general of the archival bureau , carrying the title of Duke of Beijiang. During Yao Cha's life, he had begun to write the histories of Chen and its predecessor Liang Dynasty, but was unable to complete it before his death.

Yao Silian studied the ''Book of Han'' under his father when he was young. It was said that he had few desires other than to study. Prior to Chen's destruction, he served as the secretary to Chen Zhuang the Prince of Kuaiji, a son of Chen's last emperor Chen Shubao.

During Sui Dynasty

After Chen's destruction, Yao Silian served as a military advisor to Emperor Wen's son Yang Liang the Prince of Han. At some point, due to Yao Cha's death, he resigned to observe a mourning period. He thereafter served as a secretary at the government of Hejian Commandery . He requested permission from Emperor Wen's son and successor to continue writing the histories of Liang and Chen that Yao Cha had started, and Emperor Yang agreed. Emperor Yang further ordered him and another official, Cui Zujun , to lead a team of scholars in drafting regional maps and histories. He later served as a teacher of Emperor Yang's grandson the Prince of Dai.

By 617, the Sui state was engulfed by agrarian rebellions, and Emperor Yang was in Jiangdu , leaving Yang You nominally in charge of Chang'an, when the general the Duke of Tang started a rebellion and attacked Chang'an, claiming that his intent was to make Yang You emperor. When Chang'an fell in winter 617, it was said that Yang You's staff all fled, except for Yao Silian, who stayed with Yang You, and as Li Yuan's soldiers entered Yang You's mansion, yelled out sternly, "The Duke of Tang started his uprising in order to secure the imperial clan. You cannot be impolite to the Prince." The soldiers backed off. Li Yuan was impressed with Yao's dedication to Yang You, and while he still had Yang You seized by his own subordinates, allowed Yao to accompany Yang You to Shunyang Pavilion before leaving. People who witnessed the event commented, "It is said that kind people are also brave. This man is an example." Li Yuan soon declared Yang You emperor , but after receiving news in 618 that Emperor Yang had been killed in a coup at Jiangdu led by the general Yuwen Huaji, had Yang You yield the throne to him, establishing Tang Dynasty as its Emperor Gaozu.

During Tang Dynasty

After the founding of Tang Dynasty, Yao Silian served as a scholar at the mansion of Emperor Gaozu's son and leading general the Prince of Qin. Later, when Li Shimin was on a campaign against a rival agrarian rebel ruler, Xu Yuanlang the Prince of Lu, Li Shimin had some discussions with others about the events during Sui Dynasty, and he commented, "Yao Silian dared to stand up to swords to show his faithfulness, and this was difficult even in ancient days." At that time, Yao was not with him, but was at Luoyang. Li Shimin sent a messenger to Luoyang to award Yao with silk, stating, "I have just remembered your faithfulness and righteousness and I am now awarding you for them."

In 626, Li Shimin, then locked in an intense rivalry with his brother Li Jiancheng the Crown Prince, ambushed and killed Li Jiancheng and another brother who supported Li Jiancheng, Li Yuanji the Prince of Qi, at . He then effectively forced Emperor Gaozu to create him crown prince and then yield the throne to him . Yao became an imperial scholar at the institute Hongwen Pavilion . Emperor Taizong had him continue the compilation of the histories of Liang and Chen, under supervision by the Wei Zheng. Yao, taking in also commentaries that had been written by Xie Gui and Gu Yewang , completed the works in 636, and Emperor Taizong awarded him with silk and promoted him to be ''Tongzhi Sanqi Changshi'' , a senior advisor at the examination bureau of government . It was said that Yao was faithful and gave honest advice whenever needed. In 632, for example, there was an occasion when Emperor Taizong was about to visit the summer palace Jiucheng Palace , when Yao argued against it, opining that visiting secondary palaces was something that Qin Shi Huang and Emperor Wu of Han did, not what rulers who were even better regarded -- the legendary Emperor Yao, Emperor Shun, Yu the Great, and Tang of Shang did. Emperor Taizong, while citing that he was going to Jiucheng Palace to avoid an asthma attack, nevertheless awarded Yao with silk. In 635, he created Yao the Baron of Fengcheng. Yao died in 637 and was buried with honor, near the tomb of Emperor Taizong's wife Empress Zhangsun, where Emperor Taizong himself would eventually be buried. His grandson Yao Shu would later serve as a chancellor during the reign of Emperor Taizong's daughter-in-law Wu Zetian.

Xu Jingzong

Xu Jingzong , courtesy name Yanzu , formally Duke Gong of Gaoyang , was a of the dynasty Tang Dynasty, and he, allied with 's wife , was exceedingly powerful during most of Emperor Gaozong's reign.

During Sui Dynasty

Xu Jingzong was born in 592, during the reign of Emperor Wen of Sui. His ancestors had served as officials of the Southern Dynasties during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period for generations and claimed to be originally from Gaoyang Commandery before moving south of the Yangtze River in light of 's loss of the north. Xu Jingzong's father Xu Shanxin was serving as an emissary of Chen Shubao, the last emperor of Chen Dynasty, to Emperor Wen, whose Sui Dynasty then ruled the north, in 589, when Sui destroyed Chen to end the Southern and Northern Dynasties period and reunify China. Emperor Wen was impressed with Xu Shanxin's profound sadness at the fall of his state, and made him an official in his own administration.

Xu Jingzong himself was said to be knowledgeable of literature in his youth, and, after passing the imperial examination, was made a scribe at Huaiyang Commandery . He was soon made a low level official in the imperial administration of Emperor Wen's son . In 618, with virtually the entire Sui state engulfed by agrarian rebellions against Emperor Yang's rule, Xu Shanxin and Xu Jingzong were at Jiangdu with Emperor Yang and his other officials, when Emperor Yang was killed in a coup led by the general Yuwen Huaji. Yuwen was initially planning to spare Xu Shanxin, but after Xu Shanxin publicly refused to submit to him by dancing in his presence , Yuwen executed him. Xu Jingzong submitted to Yuwen and was spared. His exact travels after Emperor Yang's death were not clear, although it is known that he later served the rebel ruler Li Mi the Duke of Wei as a secretary , before eventually becoming a subject of Tang Dynasty, which emerged victorious from the civil wars near and after the end of Sui.

During Emperor Gaozu's reign

It is not clear what Xu Jingzong's activities were initially after becoming a subject of Tang Dynasty , but it is known that in 621, by which time Tang had prevailed over most, but not all, of its rivals in its campaign to reunify China after Sui's collapse, Xu was set to be sent to Lian Prefecture to serve as its prefect's chief advisor, when Emperor Gaozu's son the Prince of Qin, hearing that he was literarily talented, kept him in the capital to serve as a member of his literary staff at a mansion where he retained the best literary talent and served them with the best food and wine.

During Emperor Taizong's reign

In 634, eight years after Li Shimin had succeeded Emperor Gaozu as emperor , Xu Jingzong was made an imperial scholar responsible for editing imperial history, as well as a mid-level official at the legislative bureau of government . In 636, after Emperor Taizong's wife Empress Zhangsun died, the officials were observing a period of mourning and rotating in watching her casket, when Xu, seeing that the official taking that particular shift, Ouyang Xun, was exceedingly ugly in appearance, burst out in laughter, and was accused by the imperial censor for disrespect. He was demoted to the post of military assistant of the commandant at Hong Prefecture . Eventually, he was recalled to the capital to be in charge of imperial supplies and continued to also serve in the role of editing imperial histories. In 643, he assisted the chancellor Fang Xuanling in editing and then submitting imperial histories for Emperors Gaozu's and Taizong's reigns and, for his contribution to the project, was created the Baron of Gaoyang, given an award of silk, and promoted to be the acting deputy head of the examination bureau of government . He was also soon made a junior advisor to Emperor Taizong's crown prince .

In 645, Emperor Taizong was on the campaign against Goguryeo when the chancellor Cen Wenben, who was in charge of the legislative bureau and writing his edicts, died suddenly. Emperor Taizong had left Li Zhi at Ding Prefecture , to be in charge of logistics, assisted by a number of officials led by the chancellor Gao Shilian, and Xu was a member of Li Zhi's staff there. After Cen's sudden death, Emperor Taizong summoned Xu to the front and put him in charge of writing the edicts, and made him acting deputy head of the legislative bureau. After Emperor Taizong had a major victory over the main Goguryeo forces, he had Xu draft an edict announcing the victory, and he praised Xu for the beauty of the language that Xu used. Later, at Xu's suggestion, staff members of Li Zhi's older brother and predecssor as crown prince, Li Chengqian , who had been long banned from civil service, had their eligibility restored.

During Emperor Gaozong's reign

In 649, Emperor Taizong died, and Li Zhi succeeded him . As part of the reshuffling of the imperial government, the minister of ceremonies, Yu Zhining was made chancellor, and Xu took over Yu's post as minister of ceremonies. Around this time, however, he was accused of improperly accepting an excessive amount of bride price to give his daughter in marriage to a son of Feng Ang , a powerful regional official and chieftain of the local people in modern Guangdong, and, for this perceived impropriety was demoted to the post of prefect of Zheng Prefecture . In 652, he was recalled to the capital to serve as the minister of armory supplies, and in 655 was restored to his old post of minister of ceremonies.

Meanwhile, Emperor Gaozong's wife had lost her favors with the emperor, who now favored , and he wanted to depose Empress Wang and replace her with Consort Wu. The chancellors -- except -- were all opposed, with the harshest opposition coming from Chu Suiliang, Han Yuan, and Lai Ji. Xu became an ally of Consort Wu, along with the other officials Li Yifu, Cui Yixuan , and Yuan Gongyu . Xu tried to get the most powerful of the chancellors, Emperor Gaozong's uncle Zhangsun Wuji, to join their party as well, but Zhangsun, while not outwardly opposing Consort Wu's ascension, repeatedly showed implicit disapproval and refused to join Consort Wu's cause. He further repeatedly rebuked Xu, drawing Xu's resentment. Later in 655, despite severe opposition from Chu, Han, and Lai, Emperor Gaozong deposed Empress Wang and her ally and replaced Empress Wang with Consort Wu. During the controversy change of empresses, Xu publicly endorsed the move, stating that it was no one else's business if the emperor wanted to change empresses, and it was partly due to Xu's words that Emperor Gaozong's resolve was hardened, and he further demoted Chu out of the capital. In addition, once Empress Wang was deposed, Xu submitted a petition to have honors posthumously given to her father Wang Renyou rescinded.

In late 655, Xu also proposed that the crown prince Li Zhong be deposed and replaced with Empress Wu's oldest son Li Hong. In 656, Emperor Gaozong agreed and demoted Li Zhong to the title of Prince of Liang, creating Li Hong crown prince instead.

In 657, following Empress Wu's directions, Xu and Li Yifu accused Han and Lai of conspiring with Chu to rebel. Han, Lai, and Chu were all made prefects of distant prefectures and ordered to be permanently banished from the capital. Later that year, Xu was made ''Shizhong'' -- the head of the examination bureau and a post considered one for a chancellor. In 658, he was made ''Zhongshu Ling'' , the head of the legislative bureau and also a post considered for a chancellor; he was also promoted to the greater title of Duke of Gaoyang.

By 659, Empress Wu, with her powers firm, began to seek further vengeance against those she felt had slighted her, and her prime target was Zhangsun and Yu. At that time, a man named Li Fengjie had accused the low level officials Wei Jifang and Li Chao of conspiracy, and Emperor Gaozong put Xu and Xin Maojiang in charge of the investigations. Xu used various interrogation tactics, including torture, to cause Zhangsun to be implicated, and Xu, citing the example of Yuwen Huaji, informed Emperor Gaozong that Zhangsun was about to rebel and should be immediately expelled from the capital. Emperor Gaozong, after some hesitation, agreed without once meeting with Zhangsun to get his side of the story, exiling him to Qian Prefecture . Xu then implicated Chu , Han, Lai, and Yu in the alleged plot as well. Chu's posts were posthumously removed, and Han, Lai, and Yu were removed from their posts. Chu's sons Chu Yanfu and Chu Yanchong were killed on their way to exile. Several of Zhangsun's relatives were also exiled. Later that year, Xu revised the rankings of various clans, promoting Empress Wu's Wu clan to the highest rank. In fall 659, Emperor Gaozong further ordered Li Ji, Xu, Xing, Ren Yaxiang, and Lu Chengqing to investigate Zhangsun's plot again. Xu, in response, sent Yuan to Qian Prefecture to force Zhangsun to commit suicide. Also apparently at Xu's suggestion, Emperor Gaozong ordered the executions of Han and Empress Wang's uncle .

In 662, Emperor Gaozong made Xu an advisor to the new crown prince as well as ''de facto'' chancellor of the first class, while continuing to exercise actual authority over the legislative bureau. Later that year, partially at Xu's instigation, fellow chancellor Xu Yushi was removed from his post, on the account that Xu Yushi had failed to report on his son Xu Ziran 's causing damage to private property, merely punishing Xu Ziran himself by caning him.

In 664, Emperor Gaozong, angry over Empress Wu's grip on power, secretly discussed with the chancellor Shangguan Yi the possibility of deposing her, but the discussions were discovered by Empress Wu, and Emperor Gaozong, in fear, blamed Shangguan for everything. At Empress Wu's instigation, Xu Jingzong submitted an accusation stating that Shangguan, who had previously served on Li Zhong's staff, was conspiring with Li Zhong and the eunuch Wang Fusheng , who had also previously served on Li Zhong's staff and who had reported to Emperor Gaozong that Empress Wu had engaged in witchcraft. Shangguan, his son Shangguan Tingzhi , and Wang were executed, while Li Zhong was forced to commit suicide.

In 670, at Xu's request, Emperor Gaozong allowed him to retire. He died in 672 and was buried near Emperor Taizong's tomb.

Criticism of Xu Jingzong and controversy over posthumous name

Traditional historians, both during Xu Jingzong's own times and in posterity, criticized Xu severely. In the aftermaths of his death, one of the imperial officials in charge for awarding posthumous names, Yuan Sigu , suggested giving him the unflattering posthumous name of Miu , stating that he deserved that posthumous name because he had given a daughter to Feng Ang's son in exchange for a large bride price, and because he had exiled his own son Xu Ang to the modern Guangdong region. Instead, Emperor Gaozong ordered further discussion, and at the suggestion of the minister of ceremonies, Yang Sijing , Xu was given the posthumous name of Gong .

Later historians' criticism of Xu were often on his twisting of history as a historian. They pointed out that he was resentful of Feng Deyi, who was chancellor during the reign of Emperor Gaozu and early in the reign of Emperor Taizong, because Feng had witnessed the coup at Jiangdu and had popularized Xu's disgrace in a couplet that stated: "When Yu Shiji was killed, Yu Shinan kneeled and asked to die in his stead; when Xu Shanxin was killed, Xu Jingzong danced to avoid death." Later, after Feng's death and Xu was in charge of writing history, he wrote a highly critical biography of Feng in order to pay Feng back. Other instances of Xu's twisting of history that were noted included:

* After marrying another daughter to the son of the general Qian Jiulong , again in exchange for a large bride price, he overly exaggerated Qian's contributions to Emperor Gaozu's success, ranking among with much greater contributors Liu Wenjing and Zhangsun Shunde .
* After having his son marry a daughter of Yuchi Baolin , he inflated the contributions of Yuchi Baolin's father Yuchi Jingde and hid Yuchi Jingde's faults, including attributing Emperor Taizong's poem ''Ode to a Powerful Phoenix'' , a tribute to Zhangsun Wuji, to be instead a tribute to Yuchi Jingde.
* The general Pang Xiaotai , whose contributions in Emperor Gaozong's campaign to conquer Goguryeo were minimal, was instead made out to be a major contributor during the campaign, after Pang gave Xu a major amount of treasure.

Generally, it was believed that Xu often altered the historical records of Emperors Gaozu's and Taizong's reigns based on personal likes and dislikes as well. It was, however, noted that Xu was a major contributor to many important imperially-commissioned works.

Wei Zheng

Wei Zheng , courtesy name Xuancheng , formally Duke Wenzhen of Zheng , was a Chinese politician and the lead editor of the ''Book of Sui'', composed in 636. He served as a of Tang Dynasty for about 13 years, during the reign of .

Wei was born to a poor family in modern Hebei, and joined Li Mi's rebellion against Sui Dynasty during his youth. After Li Mi's submission to Tang Dynasty, Wei became a Tang official and eventually served on the staff of Li Jiancheng the Crown Prince, the oldest son of Tang's founding emperor . As such, he served against the interests of Li Jiancheng's younger brother the Prince of Qin, with whom Li Jiancheng was locked in an intense rivalry. In 626, Li Shimin ambushed and killed Li Jiancheng, and then effectively forced Emperor Gaozu to yield the throne to him. Rather than punishing Wei, however, he was impressed with Wei's faithfulness to Li Jiancheng, and he made Wei an important official, eventually a chancellor. Wei's promotion to this position gave him far broader freedom to criticise others, particularly the emperor, than other officers of the court. He emphasized propriety and opposed overextending the state. His advice and criticism were not always accepted, but in accordance with Confucian etiquette, the emperor would concede to his suggestions with some regularity.

After Wei's death in 643, the emperor commented that he was a mirror to show the mistakes of the court, and built an elaborate tomb for him near his own imperial tomb and betrothed one of his daughters, Princess Hengshan, to Wei Shuyu , son of Wei Zheng. Subsequently, as a result of false accusations made by others in the court, the stone monument that Emperor Taizong had built for Wei was destroyed, and Emperor Taizong cancelled the planned marriage between Princess Hengshan and Wei Shuyu. However, after the failure campaign against Goguryeo in 646, Emperor Taizong, believing that Wei would have stopped him from going on the campaign had he lived longer, restored the stone monument. Wei's effect and influence has been examined by many historians long after his death. Conflicting views of him even led to a controversy during the Cultural Revolution. Wei Zheng is also revered as a minor in parts of Taiwan.


Wei Zheng was born in 580, shortly before the founding of Sui Dynasty in 581. His family was from Julu Commandery . His father Wei Changxian was a county magistrate during Northern Qi. Wei lost his father early in life and was poor, but had great expectations, not caring about making wealth. At one point, he became a Taoist monk. He favored studying, and as he saw that the rule of Emperor Yang of Sui was beginning to make Sui fall into a state of confusion, he particularly paid attention to strategic works.

Service under Li Mi

At the end of Emperor Yang's reign, there were many rebellions against Sui rule. One of the major ones was led by Li Mi the Duke of Wei. In 617, the secretary general of Wuyang Commandery , Yuan Baozang , rebelled against Sui as well and submitted to Li Mi. He invited Wei Zheng to serve on his staff, as his secretary. Wei subsequently drafted submissions from Yuan to Li Mi, suggesting that Li Mi attack and seize nearby Wei Commandery and a large food storage that Emperor Yang built, Liyang Storage . Li Mi was impressed, and when he found out that Wei wrote the submissions, he requested Yuan send Wei to him. He subsequently made Wei his secretary.

In 618, Li Mi was ready for a major confrontation with the Sui general Wang Shichong, who had seized power at the eastern capital Luoyang as the regent to Sui's last emperor Yang Tong . Wei spoke with Li Mi's secretary general Zheng Ting , advocating that Li Mi take a defensive stance, refusing to engage Wang and draining Wang's food supplies. Zheng rejected the proposal, and the proposal apparently was never submitted to Li Mi. Subsequently, when Li Mi engaged Wang, Wang defeated him. Believing that he could no longer hold out against Wang, Li Mi fled to Tang Dynasty territory and surrendered to Emperor Gaozu of Tang. Wei followed him to Tang territory. Subsequently, with Li Mi's major general still holding the Liyang region, Wei requested that Emperor Gaozu send him to Liyang to persuade Xu to submit to Tang as well. Xu did so.

During Emperor Gaozu's reign

In spring 619, with Yuan Baozang being attacked by Yuwen Huaji the Emperor of Xu , Wei went to Yuan to persuade him to submit to Tang. Yuan did so. Wei apparently subsequently went back to Liyang. In winter 619, when Dou Jiande the Prince of Xia, one of Tang's major rivals, attacked and captured Liyang, Wei was among the people captured by Dou, along with Emperor Gaozu's cousin Li Shentong the Prince of Huai'an, Emperor Gaozu's sister Princess Tong'an, and Li Shiji's father Li Gai . Dou made Wei his secretary.

In 621, Dou, while trying to aid Wang, under siege at Luoyang by the Tang general the Prince of Qin , was defeated and captured by Li Shimin. The Xia officials initially fled back to the Xia capital Ming Prefecture subsequently decided to surrender, and Wei followed Pei Ju back to the Tang capital Chang'an. Emperor Gaozu's oldest son Li Jiancheng the Crown Prince had long heard of Wei's talents, and he invited Wei to serve as his librarian. In 622, with Dou's general Liu Heita having risen against Tang and captured most of former Xia territory, Wei and another staff member, Wang Gui, suggested to Li Jiancheng that due to Li Shimin's accomplishments and fame, he posed a threat to Li Jiancheng, and that Li Jiancheng needed some victories of his own -- indicating that he should volunteer to attack Liu. Li Jiancheng agreed, and later in 622 crushed Liu's forces. As the brothers' rivalry intensified over the year, Wei repeatedly suggested to Li Jiancheng that he must act first and kill Li Shimin. Li Jiancheng could not resolve to do so.

In 626, however, Li Shimin, believing that Li Jiancheng would kill him, ambushed Li Jiancheng and another brother who supported Li Jiancheng, Li Yuanji the Prince of Qi, at , killing them. He then effectively forced Emperor Gaozu to create him crown prince. He summoned Wei and rebuked him, "Why did you alienate us brothers?" Wei's colleagues were all fearful for him, but Wei, instead of begging for forgiveness, stated boldly, "If the Crown Prince had listened to my words, he would not have suffered this disaster." Li Shimin, who had been impressed with Wei himself, was further impressed by the answer, and he changed his attitude and treated Wei with respect, inviting Wei to serve on his own staff. Subsequently, when he sent Wei on a mission to pacify the eastern prefectures, Wei, believing that no one would believe Li Shimin's words that Li Jiancheng's and Li Yuanji's staff members would be spared if some of them, then under arrest, were not released, ordered them released -- an act that Li Shimin was pleased with and impressed by. Later in 626, Emperor Gaozu yielded the throne to Li Shimin . Wei continued to serve in the imperial administration.

During Emperor Taizong's reign

After Emperor Taizong took the throne, he created Wei the Baron of Julu. Later in 626, when Emperor Taizong buried Li Jiancheng and Li Yuanji with honors due imperial princes, Wei Zheng and Wang Gui requested permission to attend the funeral procession. Emperor Taizong agreed, and further ordered that all officials who served on Li Jiancheng's and Li Yuanji's staffs to attend the funeral procession.

It was said that when Emperor Taizong first took the throne, he was looking for ways to improve his reign. As he believed that Wei had great abilities in governance, he often invited Wei into his own bedroom to converse with him. Wei had the fortitude to speak up for what he saw to be right, and Emperor Taizong often gladly accepted his suggestions. In 627, when it was rumored that Feng Ang , a former Sui official who had submitted to Tang several years prior, had started a rebellion, and Emperor Taizong wanted to send forces to attack Feng, Wei advised against it, pointing out that Feng did not advance outside his own territories and appeared to be simply fearful that he had been accused of treason. Under Wei's suggestion, Emperor Taizong sent the official Li Gongyan to comfort Feng; Feng then showed his submission by sending his son Feng Zhidai to follow Li Gongyan to Chang'an to pay homage to Emperor Taizong. Pleased, Emperor Taizong stated, "Wei had me send a messenger, and as a result the Lingnan region was pacified, better than if 100,000 men were sent. He must receive an award." He awarded Wei with silk. Around that time, he also made Wei a deputy head of the executive bureau of government .

Later that year, Wei was accused of nepotism. Emperor Taizong had the imperial censor Wen Yanbo investigate, and Wen found no evidence of wrongdoing. Wen nevertheless stated to Emperor Taizong, "Wei did not care about public perception or appearance of conflict of interest. Even though he had no wrongful intent, he should still be rebuked." Emperor Taizong agreed and rebuked Wei, but Wei bluntly refused to accept the rebuke, and Emperor Taizong later retracted the rebuke after concluding that Wei was correct. Throughout the rest of Wei's career, this became a pattern -- that Wei would dare to speak against the emperor's opinions or acts despite Emperor Taizong's anger, and while Emperor Taizong did not accept everything that Wei said, he always treated Wei with respect.

In 629, Emperor Taizong made Wei the head of the imperial archival bureau , but gave him the additional designation ''Canyu Chaozheng'' , making him a ''de facto'' . Later that year, when the assistant censor Quan Wanji accused the chancellors Fang Xuanling and Wang Gui of improper selection of officials, Emperor Taizong initially ordered Hou Junji to investigate. Wei, however, pointed out that both Fang and Wang were trusted officials who should be given free rein and not have the details of their acts be picked on. Emperor Taizong agreed and cancelled the investigations.

In 630, the general Li Jing had inflicted a heavy blow to the forces of Eastern Tujue's Jiali Khan Ashina Duobi, and later that year, after Ashina Duobi was captured, Eastern Tujue chieftains submitted to Tang. Emperor Taizong requested opinions on what to do with Eastern Tujue's people. There were many different opinions, but the two opinions that Emperor Taizong appeared to consider the most were the ones by Wen and Wei, who debated extensively before Emperor Taizong. Wen argued that, pursuant to precedents of what Eastern Han Dynasty did with the Xiongnu, the Eastern Tujue people should be placed within Tang borders but organized in tribal form, to serve as a defense perimeter on the northern border. Wei advocated that the Eastern Tujue people be placed north of Tang borders, believing that they would pose a threat if placed within Tang borders. Wen, however, argued that the Eastern Tujue people could eventually be assimilated and become an asset to the Tang state, and Emperor Taizong agreed with Wen. He established 10 prefectures to settle the Eastern Tujue people and made the major chieftains the prefects, while inviting a number of Eastern Tujue nobles to serve as generals at Chang'an.

Late in 630, Qu Wentai , the king of Gaochang, was set to arrive at Chang'an to pay homage to Emperor Taizong. When the other Xiyu states heard this, they wanted to send emissaries as well, and Emperor Taizong initially ordered Qu's official Yanda Gegan back to Gaochang to gather the emissaries to lead them to Chang'an. Wei advised against doing so -- pointing out that if that happened, Tang would become deeply involved in Xiyu matters, and that the Tang state was not yet in a position of doing so. Emperor Taizong agreed and ordered Yanda to stop.

In 631, despite Wei's advice against it, Emperor Taizong began setting up a scheme where the great contributors to Tang rule would be granted posts as prefectural prefects, to be inherited by their descendants.

In 632, at the urgings of many officials who believed that he should go to Mount Tai to sacrifice to heaven and earth , Emperor Taizong considered doing so, but Wei opposed, and this led to a famous conversation between them, which showcased Wei's personal philosophy against overextending the state:

:''Emperor Taizong asked, "You oppose my conducting ''Fengshan''. Is it that my accomplishments were not great enough?" Wei responded, "They are great enough." Emperor Taizong asked, "Is it that my virtues were not great enough?" Wei responded, "They are great enough." Emperor Taizong asked, "Is it that China is not pacified enough?" Wei responded, "It is pacified enough." Emperor Taizong asked, "Is it that the barbaric nations have not submitted to me?" Wei responded, "They have." Emperor Taizong asked, "Is it that we have not had good harvests?" Wei responded, "We have had good harvests." Emperor Taizong asked, "Is it that signs of blessings have not occurred?" Wei responded, "They have." Emperor Taizong asked, "Then, why is it that I still cannot conduct ''Fengshan''?"''

:''Wei responded, "Even though Your Imperial Majesty has accomplished these six areas, we are still inheriting the state left after the great confusion at the end of Sui rule. The population is greatly reduced and has not recovered. The food storages are still empty. When Your Imperial Majesty heads east , the thousands of horses and wagons require supplies everywhere they go, and it is difficult for the local government to do so. In addition, at ''Fengshan'', the rulers and chiefs of the nations should all attend you. However, from the Yi and Luo Rivers to the Sea and Mount Dai , there are still few villages and few people. The weeds grow thickly without end, and this would be inviting barbarians to our abdomen and showing them our weaknesses. Further, even if we greatly reward them, they would not necessarily be pleased, having come from afar. Even if you exempt the people from taxes for many years, you still cannot compensate them for their losses. Why would Your Imperial Majesty want to simply hold a great ''Fengshan'' ceremony but receive real detriments?"''

Incidentally, at that time, many prefectures around the Yellow River were suffering floods, so Emperor Taizong gave up the idea.

Around the same time, there was an incident when Emperor Taizong visited his summer palace Jiucheng Palace . He sent some of his servants back to Chang'an, and they were staying at the official lodges at Weichuan County , when the chancellors Li Jing and Wang Gui arrived. The county officials displaced the imperial servants to house Li and Wang. When Emperor Taizong heard this, he felt disrespected, and initially were going to punish the county officials. Wei disagreed, pointing out that Li and Wang were far more important and honored than the imperial servants. Emperor Taizong relented and did not punish the county officials, Li, or Wang.

Emperor Taizong was about to marry the Princess Changle to Zhangsun Wuji's son Zhangsun Chong . As the princess was born of Empress Zhangsun and was his favorite daughter, Emperor Taizong ordered that her dowry had to exceed that for his sister, the Princess Yongjia. Wei advised against it, pointing out that this was contrary to Emperor Ming of Han's observation that his sons should not be as honored as his brothers. Emperor Taizong agreed and also informed Empress Zhangsun, who was greatly impressed with Wei's honest advice, and therefore, after receiving permission from Emperor Taizong, she had her eunuchs send rewards of money and silk to Wei, praising him for his honesty. On another occasion, after Emperor Taizong returned from an imperial gathering, he was angry and yelled, "Let me find a chance to kill this farmer!" Empress Zhangsun asked whom he was referring to, and he replied, "I am referring to Wei Zheng. He always find a way to insult me in front of everyone in the imperial hall!" Empress Zhangsun retreated to her bedchambers and put on the official empress gown; standing solemnly, she prepared to bow to Emperor Taizong. He was surprised, and asked her what the reason was. She responded, "I have heard that only a most able emperor will have subordinates who have integrity. Wei shows this much integrity because you are an able emperor. How can I not congratulate you?" Emperor Taizong's anger turned to happiness, and he did not punish Wei. Soon, Wei was created a duke.

Later that year, there was an occasion when Emperor Taizong held a feast for the high-level officials at Danxiao Hall , and at the feast, Zhangsun Wuji made the comment, "Wang Gui and Wei Zheng were our enemies before. I did not know at the time that we would get the chance to feast together." Emperor Taizong responded, "Wang and Wei served their master faithfully, and that was why I retained them. I do have a question: Everytime that Wei gave me adverse advice and I did not accept it, then he refused to discuss the matter any further. Why?" Wei responded, "I give adverse advise only when I believe that something should not be done. If Your Imperial Majesty did not follow my advice, then if I continued to speak about it, the matter would be settled and would be done. That is why I spoke no further." Emperor Taizong responded, "You can first continue planning and then try to advise me again. What harm is there?" Wei responded, "It was written that Emperor Shun warned his officials, 'Do not obey me in my presence and make secret speeches against what I do.' If I know that something is wrong, but I continue to discuss it with Your Imperial Majesty, then I would be obeying you in your presence. That is not how Houji and Ziqi served Emperor Shun." Emperor Taizong laughed and stated, "Everyone says that Wei is arrogant and careless, but I call him 'delicate'; this shows it."

In 633, after Wang was accused of leaking palace secrets, Emperor Taizong made Wei ''Shizhong'' -- the head of the examination bureau of government and a chancellor post -- to replace Wang. At that time, there were also a large backlog of legal matters being handled by the executive bureau, and Emperor Taizong temporarily assigned Wei to handle them. It was said that while Wei did not study law, he reasoned logically, and he was able to make proper decisions.

In 634, when Emperor Taizong wanted to send officials to visit the circuits to see how the people were doing in the provinces, Li Jing recommended Wei. Emperor Taizong, however, responded, "Wei needs to point out ''my'' faults, and I cannot let him go." Instead, he sent 13 officials, including Li Jing and Xiao Yu, out to the circuits for this mission.

Emperor Taizong had commissioned the compilation of several official histories of Tang's predecessor dynasties -- commissioning Linghu Defen and Cen Wenben to compile the ''Book of Zhou'' ; Kong Yingda and Xu Jingzong to compile the ''Book of Sui'' ; Yao Silian to compile the ''Book of Liang'' and ''Book of Chen'' ; and Li Baiyao to compile the ''Book of Northern Qi'' . Wei was in charge of writing commentaries on a number of important persons whose biographies were contained in these histories, and after the histories were completed around 636, Emperor Taizong awarded him silk and upgraded his title to Duke of Zheng.

Also in 636, Wei tried to resign on account of eye illnesses. Emperor Taizong relieved him from his post as ''Shizhong'' and gave him the honorific post of ''Tejin'' , but still gave him full authority as if he were still ''Shizhong''. He also continued to designate him ''Canyi Deshi'' , keeping him as a ''de facto'' chancellor.

By this point, Emperor Taizong had begun to favor his son Li Tai over his oldest son and crown prince Li Chengqian. When there accusations made that the high level officials were disrespectful to Li Tai, Emperor Taizong was initially angry, rebuking the high level officials. However, Wei responded that those high level officials should, in fact, be more honored than the imperial princes, as the state's key personnel, and Emperor Taizong, seeing that Wei was correct, apologized.

In 637, a new code of rites, coauthored by Wei and Fang, was completed. Also in 637, Wei submitted a petition containing a number of advice for Emperor Taizong to continuously examine himself. This petition was later titled the ''Petition on Ten Thoughts'' and became a famous document often held up as examples of how officials should advise the emperor.

In 638, there was yet another incident where Wang, by then the minister of ceremonies, suggested that high level officials should not have to yield to imperial princes when their processions meet. Emperor Taizong initially saw this as an insult to the imperial princes -- particularly Li Tai, whom he was secretly considering replacing Li Chengqian with -- and he made the statement, "Life is uncertain. If the Crown Prince should die early, how do you know that one of the princes would not be your lord in the future. How can you disrespect them?" Wei, seeing what was happening, spoke bluntly, "Ever since Zhou Dynasty, succession is always from from father to son, not to brothers, to prevent plotting by younger sons and stop infighting at their origin. This is what the rulers need to be careful about." Emperor Taizong thereafter approved Wang's proposal.

In 638, Emperor Taizong, celebrating the birth of a grandson, held a feast for imperial officials, at which he made the comment:

:''Before I took the throne, it was by Fang Xuangling's assistance that I was able to seize power. After I took the throne, it was by Wei Zheng's assistance that I was able to have my errors corrected.''

He then awarded both Fang and Wei an imperial sword. Also around that time, Wei advised him to be cognizant that he was not accepting adverse advice from others as he had previously. Emperor Taizong agreed to examine himself more carefully.

In 639, after Ashina Duobi's nephew Ashina Jiesheshuai formed a plot to ambush Emperor Taizong, but his plot was discovered and destroyed, Emperor Taizong created a Tujue prince who had served him faithfully, Li Simo the Prince of Huaihua, as the of a newly recreated Eastern Tujue state , and had him take the Eastern Tujue people outside of Tang territory, to be settled between Tang and Xueyantuo. At that time, Emperor Taizong made the comment that he nearly suffered because he did not listen to Wei's suggestion in 630.

In 640, after a number of years during which Qu Wentai, initially submissive to Tang, became hostile to Tang interests and had allied himself with Western Tujue, Emperor Taizong sent Hou Junji to conquer Gaochang. Qu Wentai died from illness during the siege, and his son Qu Zhisheng surrendered. Wei advised that Emperor Taizong should keep Qu on the throne, as an ally -- a suggestion that Chu Suiliang also spoke of -- but Emperor Taizong disagreed and annexed Gaochang directly. When Hou's lieutenant Xue Wanjun was subsequently accused of raping Gaochang women, Emperor Taizong were going to hold cross-examination sessions between Xue and the alleged victims, but on Wei's urging -- that whatever the results were, the empire would be harmed -- Emperor Taizong cancelled the investigation.

In 641, Fang and Gao Shilian drew rebuke from Emperor Taizong when they inquired of the deputy imperial architect, Dou Desu of imperial construction projects — which Emperor Taizong saw as an encroachment on his liberty. However, Wei pointed out that chancellors were supposed to be responsible for all affairs of state, and Emperor Taizong, realizing that he had erred, was humbled.

In 642, Wei was ill, and Emperor Taizong and he exchanged letters with each other expressing how they missed each other, and in Wei's letters, he continued to give adverse advice to Emperor Taizong. Meanwhile, as Wei's mansion had no large halls, Emperor Taizong diverted the construction material that he was going to use for an imperial hall and constructed a hall for Wei in five days, and further awarded him with , bedding, a small table, and canes, hoping to comfort him. When Wei wrote to thank him, Emperor Taizong wrote back, stating, "I honor you for the people and the state, not for you. Why thank me?" Meanwhile, Chu, himself by now developing a reputation for offering adverse advice, was pointing out that Emperor Taizong's favors for Li Tai were creating uncertainties for officials, and Emperor Taizong, trying to stem the rumors that Li Tai would displace Li Chengqian, appointed Wei as a senior advisor to Li Chengqian. When Wei grew better, he personally went to the palace to decline, but Emperor Taizong pointed out the symbolic importance of having someone as important as himself serve as Li Chengqian's advisor, stating that even if Wei could only lie on the bed, his being named a senior advisor to Li Chengqian would help clarify the situation. Wei relented and accepted.

In spring 643, Wei was gravely ill. Emperor Taizong sent numerous messengers to attend to Wei's illness, and further had the official Li Anyan stay at Wei's mansion to oversee Wei's care. He also personally visited Wei, with Li Chengqian, and he pointed at his daughter Princess Hengshan and promised to give her to Wei's son Wei Shuyu in marriage. Wei died soon thereafter, and Emperor Taizong buried Wei with great honors and luxurious funeral supplies, although Wei's wife Lady Pei, pointing out that Wei was himself frugal in living, declined most of the luxuries. Wei was buried near the tomb of Empress Zhangsun , where Emperor Taizong would eventually himself be buried. He also commissioned a stone monument for Wei, and personally wrote the text of the monument. He missed Wei greatly and stated:

:''Using copper as a mirror allows one to keep his clothes neat. Using history as a mirror allows one to see the future trends. Using a person as a mirror allows one to see what is right and what is wrong. When Wei Zheng died, I lost a mirror.''

Later that year, when Emperor Taizong commissioned the Portraits at Lingyan Pavilion to commemorate the 24 great contributors to Tang rule, Wei's was one of the portraits commissioned.

Later in 643, however, Li Chengqian was found to have plotted with Hou to overthrow Emperor Taizong, as he was apprehensive that Emperor Taizong would displace him with Li Tai. Emperor Taizong executed Hou and the other coconspirators, while deposing and exiling Li Chengqian . As Wei had previously repeatedly recommended Hou and Du Zhenglun, a key advisor to Li Chengqian who was also exiled, as chancellor material, Emperor Taizong suspected Wei of factionalism. Also, it was discovered at the time that Wei had recorded his adverse advices to Emperor Taizong and given them to Chu, who was the imperial historian as well, displeasing Emperor Taizong further. He therefore cancelled the planned marriage between Princess Hengshan and Wei Shuyu and destroyed the stone monument that he had commissioned for Wei.

In 645, after Emperor Taizong carried out a failed attempt to conquer Goguryeo, he regreted the campaign and stated, "If Wei Zheng were still alive, he would not have allowed me to go on this campaign." He sent imperial messengers to make sacrifices to Wei and restore the stone monument, and he also summoned Wei's wife and children, greatly awarding them.

Wei Chengqing

Wei Chengqing , courtesy name Yanxiu , formally Viscount Wen of Fuyang , was an official of the dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a during Wu Zetian's reign.


Wei Chengqing might have been born in 640, during the reign of . Sometime before 699, he was removed on account of illness -- and Wu Zetian had his brother Wei Sili succeed him. Wei Chengqing himself was made a member of the staff of the Crown Prince . He later successively served as the prefect of Yu Prefecture , and then Guo Prefecture . He was eventually recalled to serve as deputy minister of civil service affairs , and was also responsible for editing the imperial history. It was said that people praised him for fairness during the three terms that he served in being responsible for selecting officials.

In 704, Wei Chengqing was made ''Fengge Shilang'' , the deputy head of the legislative bureau, and he was also given the designation ''Tong Fengge Luantai Pingzhangshi'' , making him a chancellor ''de facto''. As Wu Zetian did not wish to have two members of the same clan serving as chancellors simultaneously, Wei Sili, who was then chancellor as well, was made the principal of the imperial university. Meanwhile, there had been accusations against Wu Zetian's lover Zhang Changzong that he had permitted the fortuneteller Li Hongtai to foretell that he had the appearance of an emperor, and Wu Zetian had Wei Chengqing, Cui Shenqing , and Song Jing investigate. Wei and Cui, after investigation, concluded that Li Hongtai should be prosecuted, but Zhang should not, as he had reported what Li Hongtai said to Wu Zetian. Song insisted on investigating, but to no avail, as Wu Zetian protected Zhang.

During Emperor Zhongzong's second reign

In spring 705, when a coup led by Zhang Jianzhi, Cui Xuanwei, Jing Hui, Huan Yanfan, and Yuan Shuji overthrew Wu Zetian and restored Li Xian, a former emperor, to the throne , her lovers Zhang Changzong and Zhang Yizhi were killed. On the same day, Wei Chengqing, along with fellow chancellor Fang Rong and Cui Shenqing), were accused of being associates of Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong and arrested. However, at that time, an imperial edict announcing a general pardon had to be drafted, and despite the fact that Wei was under arrest, the other officials still believed that no one could write it as well as he could, and so he was put in charge of drafting it. His style was said to be so beautiful despite the dangers that surrounded him that all who read the edict praised it. After half a month, Wei was demoted to be the sheriff of Gaoyao County . After about a year, he was promoted to be the prefect of Chen Prefecture , but even before he reported to Chen Prefecture, was recalled to serve as honorary ''Mishu Shaojian'' and again made an imperial historian. He was also created the Viscount of Fuyang. Emperor Zhongzong had him draft a memorial text for Wu Zetian, and once he completed it, praised him for its beauty, giving him the honorific title ''Yinqing Guanglu Daifu'' . He was soon commissioned to be ''Huangmen Shilang'' , the deputy head of the examination bureau , but died of illness before he could take office. Emperor Zhongzong mourned him greatly and recalled Wei Sili, then serving as a prefectural prefect, to succeed him.

Su Gui

Su Gui , courtesy name Changrong or Tingshuo , formally Duke Wenzhen of Xu , was an official of the dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a during the reigns of , , and .


Su Gui was born in 639, around the time that became emperor. He was a great-grandson of the Sui Dynasty chancellor Su Wei, and his grandfather Su Kui and father Su Dan also served as officials during Sui and its successor Tang Dynasty. Su Gui himself passed the imperial examination when he was young and was made a military officer at Heng Prefecture . When his mother died, his mourning was viewed as so deep and genuine that it got the attention of the Zhang Da'an, who recommended him for promotion, and he was made a member of the staff of Emperor Gaozong's son the Prince of Yu. He was respected by his superiors on Li Dan's staff, Wang Dezhen and Liu Yizhi.

During Wu Zetian's reign

During the reign of Emperor Gaozong's wife Wu Zetian -- who seized the throne and claimed the title of "emperor" of a new Zhou Dynasty in 690, interrupting Tang -- Su Gui successively served as the prefect of Lang Prefecture and She Prefecture . While he was serving as a prefect, the once-powerful secret police official Lai Junchen was demoted and made a military officer under him. Many people warned Su that he needed to pay particular respect to Lai, as he might be recalled and might become powerful again, but Su rebuffed, pointing out that he was Lai's superior and it was inappropriate for him to flatter someone like Lai. After Lai was recalled in 696, he much resented Su's attitude toward him, and made sure that Su would not himself be recalled to the capital. During Wu Zetian's ''Chang'an'' era , he was eventually made the secretary general of Yang Prefecture -- one of the riches prefectures of the realm, and it was said that his predecessors Zhang Qian and Yu Bianji both took much wealth from the prefecture when they left the post, but Su was said to have been so clean that when he left Yang Prefecture to become the prefect of Tong Prefecture , he had nothing but a soft mattress in his possession. While Su was at Tong Prefecture, there was a major drought, and the soldiers conscripted from Tong Prefecture thus could not properly prepare for military service. Moreover, at that time, Wu Zetian had sent officials to review governmental actions in the 10 circuits making up the realm, and these officials were strict making sure that the people were submitting taxes and reporting for public works service, much to the distress of the people. Su submitted a petition to Wu Zetian suggesting that those suffering from the drought be exempted from service, and that the circuit-touring officials be recalled. Wu Zetian was said to be pleased with Su, but it is not clear whether she approved his proposal.

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

In 705, Wu Zetian was overthrown in a coup, and her son the Crown Prince , formerly an emperor, was restored to the throne . Around this time, Su Gui was recalled to serve as ''Shangshu You Cheng'' , one of the secretaries in general at the executive bureau of government and was created the Baron of Huai. As he was familiar with the laws, he was put in charge of revising the laws, regulations and forms. Later in 705, he was given the honorific title ''Yinqing Guanglu Daifu'' and made the minister of census . One of the reports that he made at the time indicated that there were 6,156,141 households in the realm at that time.

In spring 706, Su was made ''Shizhong'' -- the head of the examination bureau and a post considered one for a chancellor. He was also created the greater title of Viscount of Huaiyang. Soon, when Emperor Zhongzong left the capital Chang'an to visit the eastern capital Luoyang, Su was put in charge of Chang'an in Emperor Zhongzong's absence. While Emperor Zhongzong was away, a favorite sorcerer of his, Zheng Pusi , whose wife Lady Diwu was also a sorceress trusted by both Emperor Zhongzong and Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife and whose daughter was a concubine of Emperor Zhongzong's, was accused of plotting treason. Su arrested Zheng and had his subordinate Fan Xianzhong investigate further, but once Emperor Zhongzong returned to Chang'an, he issued an edict ordering Su to release Zheng and to end the investigation. Su tried to convince Emperor Zhongzong not to release Zheng -- and while they were arguing, Fan made the remark: "Your Imperial Majesty, please behead Su Gui first!" Emperor Zhongzong was surprised and asked why, and Fan responded:

The senior chancellor Wei Yuanzhong then defended Su's actions and further also advocated that Zheng be put to death. Emperor Zhongzong did not do so, but exiled Zheng and executed his associates.

In 707, Emperor Zhongzong's son by a concubine, Li Chongjun the Crown Prince, who could not bear any longer repeated humiliation by his sister, Empress Wei's daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle and her husband Wu Chongxun , rose in rebellion and killed Wu Chongxun and his father Wu Sansi the Prince of Dejing , and then marched on to the palace. At that time, a number of chancellors, including Su, led forces to defend the palace. Li Chongjun was soon defeated and killed in flight.

In 709, when Emperor Zhongzong was set to offer sacrifices to heaven and earth, the principal of the imperial university, Zhu Qinming, and his deputy Guo Shanyun , wanting to flatter Empress Wei and Li Guo'er, proposed that Empress Wei be made the second stage sacrificer and Li Guo'er the third stage sacrificer. Su was one of the officials who opposed this, and ultimately, however, Emperor Zhongzong still let Empress Wei be the second stage sacrificer, although he made the chancellor Wei Juyuan the third stage sacrificer. Soon thereafter, Su was made ''Shangshu You Pushe'' -- one of the heads of the executive bureau but not considered a chancellor post by this point -- but remained chancellor as well, as Emperor Zhongzong gave him the ''de facto'' chancellor designation of ''Tong Zhongshu Menxia Sanpin'' as well. Su was also created the Duke of Xu. At that time, there was a custom that someone given a high office should offer food to the emperor, and the custom was known as ''shaowei'' . Su, however, did not do so, and at a subsequent imperial feast, the official Zong Jinqing tried to make fun of him on this issue. Su responded to Emperor Zhongzong:

Later in 709, Su was also put in charge of editing the imperial history, along with fellow chancellor Tang Xiujing.

In 710, Emperor Zhongzong died suddenly -- a death that traditional historians believed to be a poisoning by Empress Wei and Li Guo'er, so that Empress Wei could eventually become "emperor" like Wu Zetian, and Li Guo'er could become crown princess. Meanwhile, however, Empress Wei was set to name another son of Emperor Zhongzong's, the Prince of Wen, emperor, and under a will drafted for Emperor Zhongzong by Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and his concucbine , Empress Wei would retain power as empress dowager and regent, but Li Dan, now the Prince of Xiang, would be co-regent. Empress Wei, with Emperor Zhongzong's death still kept a secret from the people, convened a meeting of 19 officials, including Wei Anshi, Wei Juyuan, Xiao Zhizhong, Zong Chuke , Ji Chuna, Wei Wen , Li Jiao, Wei Sili, Tang Xiujing, Zhao Yanzhao, and Su to discuss the matter. During the meeting, the draft will was discussed, and Zong Chuke and Wei Wen, arguing that it was inappropriate for Li Dan to be co-regent, as traditionally, a brother-in-law was not supposed to speak to a sister-in-law. Su objected, stating, "How can an imperial will be altered?" Zong and Wei Wen became visibly angry, and Su did not dare to speak further, and so the provision of having Li Dan serve as co-regent was stricken from the draft will. Li Chongmao took the throne , and Empress Wei served as empress dowager and regent.

Less than a month later, a coup led by Princess Taiping and Li Dan's son the Prince of Linzi killed Empress Dowager Wei and Li Guo'er. Under urging by Princess Taiping, Li Longji, and Li Longji's brother Li Chengqi the Prince of Song, Li Dan, who had been himself a former emperor, took the throne again , and Emperor Shang was reduced back to being the Prince of Wen.

During Emperor Ruizong's second reign

Emperor Ruizong initially had Su Gui remain in chancellor role, and further slightly promoted him to be ''Shangshu Zuo Pushe'' -- also head of the executive bureau, but at the time, left was a more honored direction than right . Su soon asked to retire, however, on account of illness, and he was removed as a chancellor and made a senior advisor to Li Longji, who was created crown prince. He died later in 710 and was buried with honor, but per his directions, in a simple ceremony. His son Su Ting later served as a chancellor during Li Longji's reign.

Sima Zhen

Sima Zhen , courtesy name Zizheng , was a historian born in what is now during the Tang Dynasty.

Sima Zhen was one of the most important commentators on the ''Shiji''. His commentary is known as the ''Shiji Suoyin'' , which means "Seeking the Obscure in the Grand Scribe's Records".

Lu Xiangxian

Lu Xiangxian , né Lu Jingchu , formally Duke Wenzhen of Yan , was an official of the dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a during the reigns of and .


Lu Jingchu was born in 665, during the reign of . His father Lu Yuanfang would eventually serve as twice during the reign of Emperor Gaozong's wife Wu Zetian. It was said that in his youth, Lu Jingchu was both capable and modest, and after he passed the imperial examinations, was made an officer at Yang Prefecture . After his term was complete, he was set to be promoted. At that time, both Ji Xu and his father Lu Yuanfang were deputy ministers of civil service affairs in charge of selecting officials. Ji selected Lu Jingchu to be the sheriff of Luoyang County -- not formally a particularly highly placed post but in actuality a highly regarded one, as Luoyang was the capital at the time -- and Lu Yuanfang, out of modesty, initially tried to decline on Lu Jingchu's behalf. Ji responded, "It is fair to select officials who are capable. Lu Jingchu is capable and elegant, and common people cannot compare to him. I am not recommending him out of the fact that he is the son of a deputy minister of civil service affairs." Ji went ahead with the recommendation, and Lu Jingchu was made the sheriff of Luoyang County. Lu Jingchu later served as an imperial censor, and then ''Zhongshu Shilang'' , the deputy head of the legislative bureau of government .

During Emperor Ruizong's second reign

In 710, during the reign of Emperor Gaozong's and Wu Zetian's son , Lu Jingchu was made the deputy minister of defense , and it was said that with him and Lu Huaishen serving in that capacity, assisting the minister , the military officers' promotion system, which was highly damaged by the irregular reign of Emperor Ruizong's brother , was repaired.

In 711, Emperor Ruizong's powerful sister Princess Taiping was set to recommend her lover, the official Cui Shi, as chancellor. Cui admired Lu Jingchu greatly, and therefore asked to be promoted along with him. When she initially declined to recommend Lu, Cui responded that he would not dare to be chancellor unless Lu was as well. She therefore recommended both. Thereafter, Lu was given the designation ''Tong Zhongshu Menxia Pingzhangshi'' , making him a chancellor ''de facto'', and was also put in charge of editing imperial histories. However, despite the fact that Princess Taiping recommended him, Lu was not considered part of her faction, and while other chancellors often tried to ingratiate her, he did not. Sometime during Emperor Ruizong's reign, Emperor Ruizong changed his name to Xiangxian, citing that the name had the meaning of "elaborating on ancestors' virtues."

During Emperor Xuanzong's reign

In 712, Emperor Ruizong passed the throne to his son the Crown Prince -- who was initially made crown prince despite his not being the oldest son or born of Emperor Ruizong's deceased wife -- because Li Longji was instrumental in his return to the throne in 710, having, along with Princess Taiping, started a coup against , Emperor Zhongzong's wife, after Emperor Zhongzong's sudden death in 710. Princess Taiping, finding the new emperor to be difficult to control, advised Emperor Ruizong to continue to wield imperial power as ''Taishang Huang'' , and Emperor Ruizong did so.

By 713, the conflict between Princess Taiping and Emperor Xuanzong were coming to a head, and Princess Taiping and her partisans were said to be plotting to depose or kill Emperor Xuanzong and replace him with his older brother Li Chengqi the Prince of Song. She told the chancellors that Li Chengqi was both older and born of Empress Liu and should not have been replaced by a younger brother who was not born of Empress Liu. Lu rebuffed her, however, pointing out that Emperor Xuanzong was made emperor on account of his accomplishments, and that unless he had public faults, he should not be deposed. Princess Taiping did not listen to him, and continued plotting against Emperor Xuanzong. Late in 713, Emperor Xuanzong acted first, using force to kill a number of her associates and forcing her to commit suicide. Emperor Ruizong yielded imperial powers to Emperor Xuanzong and thereafter was not involved in important decisions any more. Among the ones killed were several chancellors she recommended -- Cui, Dou Huaizhen, Xiao Zhizhong, and Cen Xi. Initially, Lu was set to be executed as well, but Emperor Xuanzong, knowing that he was not actually a member of Princess Taiping's faction, commented to him, "Only in the cold can one tell that the pine and the cypress are evergreens." He further created Lu the Duke of Yan, gave him the honorific title ''Yinqing Guanglu Daifu'' , and initially had him remain as a chancellor. When Emperor Ruizong heard of the incident, he climbed up the tower at Chengtian Gate to try to figure out what was happening, and stated to the officials who gathered, "If you will help me, stay. Otherwise, go." A number of officials stated their names and swore loyalty to Emperor Ruizong -- an act that greatly displeased Emperor Xuanzong. He gathered the names and asked Lu to arrest these officials, but Lu burned the list, drawing Emperor Xuanzong's anger. Lu responded:

Emperor Xuanzong realized the wisdom in what Lu is doing and praised him. It was said that Lu saved many people accused of being part of Princess Taiping's faction at the time, but did not speak of it, and his actions were not known at that time.

Later in the year, Lu was removed from his chancellor post and made the secretary general at Yi Prefecture , as well as the examiner of the Jiannan Circuit . While Lu served at Yi Prefecture, he was known for his lenience and kindness. His subordinate Wei Baozhen once complained that he was being overly lenient and that the people would not respect him, but he responded:

At a later point, Lu was made the mayor of Hezhong Municipality . In 718, when Hezhong Municipality was disbanded and converted back into Pu Prefecture , Lu remained prefect of Pu Prefecture and also made the examiner of Hedong Circuit . It was said that Lu's governance was simple and lenient at Pu Prefecture as well. On one occasion, a minor official committed an error, and Lu rebuked him. A higher ranked subordinate of Lu's suggested that the minor official be caned, but Lu declined, stating, "The emotions of every human are similar. If you think caning is proper, perhaps I should start with you." Another famous saying of Lu's was:

Lu was later recalled to serve as ''Taizi Zhanshi'' , the head of the household of the crown prince , and yet later served as the minister of public works . In 722, he was put in charge of selecting officials at the ministry of civil service affairs, and was further made the minister of justice . He later left public service for a time to observe a mourning period for his stepmother's death. In 725, he returned to public service, to serve as the prefect of Tong Prefecture , and was soon made an advisor to the crown prince. He died in 736.

Liu Zhi (historian)

Liu Zhi , courtesy name Zuoqing , was a historian and author of the ''Zhengdian''. He was the fourth son of Liu Zhiji, little is known about his life, other than he was an official during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang and had been deposed on several occasions until the times of Emperor Suzong of Tang before his death.

Liu Youqiu

Liu Youqiu , formally Duke Wenxian of Xu , was an official of the dynasty Tang Dynasty and Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty, serving as a during the reigns of and .


Liu Youqiu was born in 655, during the reign of . His family was from Ji Prefecture . During the ''Shengli'' era of Emperor Gaozong's wife Wu Zetian, Liu passed the imperial examinations and made the sheriff of Langzhong County . The prefect of the prefecture Langzhong was in, however, did not respect him, and he, in frustration, left his post. Some time later, he was made the sheriff of Chaoyi County , a post that he was serving at as of 705, when Wu Zetian was overthrown in a coup and her son, the Crown Prince, a former emperor, was restored to the throne . For some time, the key officials in power were the coup leaders Zhang Jianzhi, Cui Xuanwei, Huan Yanfan, Jing Hui, and Yuan Shuji. Liu tried to warn Huan and Jing that Wu Zetian's nephew Wu Sansi the Prince of Liang posed a threat to the coup leaders and should be killed, but they did not listen to him. Soon thereafter, Wu Sansi, who carried on an affair with Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife , became a trusted advisor to Emperor Zhongzong, and the coup leaders were exiled and eventually died or killed in exile.

Involvement in coup of 710

In 710, Emperor Zhongzong died suddenly -- a death that traditional historians believed to be a poisoning carried out by Empress Wei and her daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle, so that Empress Wei could become "emperor" like Wu Zetian and Li Guo'er could become crown princess. For the time being, Emperor Zhongzong's son by a concubine, the Prince of Wen, was made emperor , and Empress Wei retained power as empress dowager and regent. She viewed Emperor Zhongzong's brother the Prince of Xiang and sister Princess Taiping as threats, and considered killing them. Meanwhile, Princess Taiping and Li Dan's son the Prince of Linzi heard news of this, and therefore considered acting first. They, along with Princess Taiping's son Xue Chongjian , Zhong Shaojing, Wang Chongye , Liu, and Ma Sizong , planned a coup, and soon launched it, with support from imperial guard soldiers disgruntled at harsh treatment by their commanders Wei Bo and Gao Song , Empress Wei's nephews whom she had put in charge. During the coup, Liu was responsible for writing some 100 declarations for Li Longji, as he attended to Li Longji throughout the night of the coup. The coup was successful, and Empress Wei and Li Guo'er were killed. Li Dan was made regent, and for his contributions in the coup, Liu was made ''Zhongshu Sheren'' , a mid-level official at the legislative bureau , and given the designation ''Canzhi Jiwu'' , making him a ''de facto''. He was also created the Baron of Zhongshan. Two of his sons were given honors, and his grandfather and father were posthumously honored.

During Emperor Ruizong's second reign

Several days after the coup, Li Dan, at the urging of Princess Taiping, Li Longji, and Li Longji's brother Li Chengqi the Prince of Song, retook the throne , displacing Emperor Shang. Once Emperor Ruizong took the throne, Liu received further promotions and honors -- he was given the honorific title ''Yinqing Guanglu Daifu'' ; made ''Shangshu You Cheng'' , a secretary general at the executive bureau ; and created the Duke of Xu. He continued to serve as chancellor, and was given awards of silk, servants, a mansion, land, horses, and other assorted treasures. As Li Chengqi was older than Li Longji and was born of Emperor Ruizong's deceased wife , but Li Longji had the great achievement during the coup, Emperor Ruizong initially hesitated at deciding whom to make crown prince. It was based on Li Chengqi's repeated offers to yield and Liu's urging, pointing out that Li Longji was brave and able, that Emperor Ruizong decided to create Li Longji crown prince.

In 711, as part of a governmental reorganization that evolved out of a power struggle between Li Longji and Princess Taiping -- as Zhang Shuo and Song Jing had tried to remove Princess Taiping's influence from government but failed -- Zhang and Song were demoted, and Liu was also removed from being a chancellor, becoming the minister of census instead. Later in the year, when he was referred to as the minister of civil service affairs , another major governmental reorganization saw him made ''Shizhong'' , the head of the examination bureau , a post considered one for a chancellor. Further, Emperor Ruizong issued an edict that stated that Liu would be pardoned from death 10 times.

In 712, after Li Jin the prefect of Yan Prefecture submitted a false report to Liu about Xue Na the commandant at You Prefecture , under whom Li Jin was serving, Liu recommended that Xue be replaced by the general Sun Quan . Subsequently, Sun took an overly aggressive stance against Xi chiefain Li Dabu , and was defeated by Li Dabu, at great human cost.

During Emperor Xuanzong's reign

Later in 712, Emperor Ruizong passed the throne to Li Longji, who took the throne as Emperor Xuanzong. However, at Princess Taiping's urging, Emperor Ruizong retained most imperial powers as ''Taishang Huang'' . Liu Youqiu continued to serve as chancellor, and was soon given the post of ''You Pushe'' , one of the heads of the executive bureau, along with the chancellor ''de facto'' designation of ''Tong Zhongshu Menxia Sanpin'' .

Meanwhile, Princess Taiping continued to be highly influential in governmental matters through Emperor Ruizong, and most chancellors were her associates. Liu and the general Zhang Wei , with Emperor Xuanzong's approval, planned to mobilize the imperial guards to kill several of those chancellors -- Dou Huaizhen, Cui Shi and Cen Xi. However, after Zhang told the plan to the imperial censor Deng Guangbin , the news was leaked. Liu was arrested, and initially set to be executed. Emperor Xuanzong interceded on his behalf with Emperor Ruizong, and Liu, Zhang, and Deng were spared but exiled -- in Liu's case, to Feng Prefecture . Cui subsequently gave instructions to Zhou Lizhen the commandant at Guang Prefecture , under whose area of responsibility Feng Prefecture was, to have Liu killed. Liu's friend , who was then the commandant at Gui Prefecture , heard of this secret instruction, and therefore, when Liu went through Gui Prefecture, detained him and refused to let him go on to Feng Prefecture. Zhou submitted accusations that Wang was disobeying an imperial edict, and Cui repeatedly tried to pressure Wang to release Liu to Feng Prefecture. Liu himself pointed out to Wang that he did not want to put Wang in danger as well, but Wang refused to let Liu go on, and Liu was spared from death.

In 713, after receiving a report that Princess Taiping and her partisans were planning to overthrow him, Emperor Xuanzong acted first, killing her associates and forcing her to commit suicide. He recalled Liu from exile and made him ''Zuo Pushe'' , also head of the executive bureau, and gave him the chancellor ''de facto'' designation of ''Pingzhang Junguo Dashi'' and later again ''Tong Zhongshu Menxia Sanpin''. He also restored the title of Duke of Xu, stripped from Liu when Liu was exiled, and further gave Liu the honorific titles of ''Jinzi Guanglu Daifu'' and ''Shang Zhuguo'' . He also put Liu in charge of editing the imperial history. Later that year, when Emperor Xuanzong was poised to execute the chancellor Guo Yuanzhen due to the disorganization of the imperial guards, it was the urging of Liu and Zhang Shuo that Guo was not executed. Late that year, Liu again became ''Shizhong'', although he was soon removed from the chancellor position altogether when Zhang was replaced with Yao Chong. Instead, he became ''Taizi Shaobao'' , an advisor to the crown prince.

Nevertheless, Yao was still jealous of Liu's close relations with Emperor Xuanzong, and in 714 he accused Liu and Zhong Shaojing of complaining that they were not given important posts despite their contributions. Despite Liu's and Zhong's denials, they were still demoted -- in Liu's case, to be the prefect of Mu Prefecture . He was soon promoted to a slightly larger prefecture -- Hang Prefecture , but in 715 was demoted to a farther prefecture, Chen Prefecture . He was upset over the demotion, and he died on the way there. Emperor Xuanzong honored him posthumously and gave him the posthumous name Wenxian , and had Liu worshipped at the temple of Emperor Ruizong.