Sunday, September 21, 2008

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.

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