Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wei Wen

Wei Wen was an official of the dynasty Tang Dynasty, serving as a during the reigns of and Emperor Zhongzong's son . He was trusted by Emperor Zhongzong's powerful wife , who was his cousin, and after she was killed in a coup after Emperor Zhongzong's death, he was also killed.


It is not known when Wei Wen was born. His father was Wei Xuanyan , who served as a prefectural prefect late in the reign of . Wei Wen's -- the daughter of Wei Xuanyan's younger brother Wei Xuanzhen -- was the wife and crown princess of Emperor Gaozong's son the Crown Prince, and on that account was quickly promoted. After Emperor Gaozong's death in 683, Li Zhe took the throne , but soon ran afoul of his mother , who retained power as regent, partly over his desire to promote Wei Xuanzhen to be . In spring 684, she deposed Emperor Zhongzong to be the Prince of Luling and exiled him and his wife. Wei Wen thus, for the time being, received no help from his relationship with his cousin, and when he served as a probationary official, he was accused of receiving bribes and removed from his office.
Meanwhile, though, under a plan drafted by Emperor Zhongzong's sister Princess Taiping and concubine , Emperor Zhongzong's son by another concubine, would be named emperor. Empress Wei would serve as empress dowager and regent, while Emperor Zhongzong's younger brother the Prince of Xiang, himself a former emperor, would serve as coregent; Consort Shangguan subsequently formalized this in a will she drafted posthumously for Emperor Zhongzong. Wei Wen and another chancellor, Ji Chuna, however, opposed this plan on the grounds that this would require her and Li Dan to frequently confer, which violated Confucian principles that a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law should not converse with each other. Under Ji's and Wei Wen's insistence, the other chancellors did not dare to oppose their will, and Li Dan was not made coregent. Li Chongmao soon took the throne , with Empress Wei serving as empress dowager and regent.

Wu Sansi

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


It is not known when Wu Sansi was born. His father Wu Yuanqing was a half-brother of Wu Zetian -- both had, as father, the early Tang Dynasty general Wu Shihuo , but Wu Yuanshuang and his brother Wu Yuanshuang were born of Wu Shihuo's first wife Lady Xiangli, while Wu Zetian and her two sisters were born of Wu Shihuo's second wife Lady Yang. After Wu Zetian became empress to in 655, despite previous intrafamily unpleasantries -- Wu Yuanqing and Wu Yuanshuang, as well as Wu Shihuo's nephews Wu Weiliang and Wu Huaiyun were often disrespectful of Lady Yang previously -- Empress Wu's brothers and cousins were often promoted by Emperor Gaozong, with Wu Yuanqing promoted to ''Zongzheng Shaoqing'' , the deputy minister of imperial clan affairs. However, sometime before 666, Empress Wu, angry that her brothers and cousins did not appreciate the promotions, had them all demoted, with Wu Yuanqing demoted to be the prefect of Long Prefecture . After he arrived at Long Prefecture, he, in fear that Empress Wu had further retaliation in the works, died. It is not completely clear, but it was likely that Wu Sansi went to Long Prefecture with his father Wu Yuanqing. He was later made a commanding general of the imperial guards.

During Emperor Zhongzong's and Emperor Ruizong's first reigns

Emperor Gaozong died in 683, and was initially succeeded by his and Empress Wu's son the Crown Prince , but Empress Wu retained power as empress dowager and regent. In spring 684, after Emperor Zhongzong showed signs of independence, she deposed him and replaced him with another son, the Prince of Yu, but wielded power even more tightly thereafter. Sometime during her regency, Wu Sansi became minister of defense . Both he and his cousin Wu Chengsi advised Empress Dowager Wu to find excuses to kill two senior members of the imperial Li clan -- Emperor Gaozong's uncles Li Yuanjia the Prince of Han and Li Lingkui the Prince of Lu due to their senior status. Wu Sansi and Wu Chengsi were also said to be often advocating that Empress Dowager Wu take over the throne herself as "emperor."
In [, Wu Sansi was given the designation ''Tong Fengge Luantai Sanpin'' , making him a chancellor ''de facto'', but about a month later, he was stripped of the chancellor designation. It was said that he and Wu Chengsi both had designs on being crown prince, and often had their associates try to persuade Wu Zetian that in ages past, there had never been an emperor who had, as his heir, someone with a different family name. In 698, however, at the suggestion of the chancellor Di Renjie, concurred in by Wang Jishan and Wang Fangqing, as well as Wu Zetian's close advisor Ji Xu and her lovers Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong, Wu Zetian recalled Li Zhe the Prince of Luling from exile and soon, after Li Dan offered to yield the position of crown prince to him, created him crown prince and changed his name to Li Xian and then to Wu Xian.

During Emperor Zhongzong's second reign

Wu Zetian was overthrown in a coup in 705 led by the officials Zhang Jianzhi, Cui Xuanwei, Jing Hui, Huan Yanfan, and Yuan Shuji. Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong were killed in the coup, and Emperor Zhongzong was restored to the throne; Wu Zetian was sent to a secondary palace under heavy guard, and while she also retained the title of "emperor," no longer had power. By that time, Wu Sansi had been carrying out an affair with Wu Zetian's secretary and Emperor Zhongzong's concubine . Through her introduction, Wu Sansi began an affair with Emperor Zhongzong's wife as well and also became a trusted advisor to Emperor Zhongzong who, while he was restored through the efforts of Zhang Jianzhi and his colleagues, feared them. In addition, Wu Sansi's son Wu Chongxun had been married to Emperor Zhongzong's and Empress Wei's daughter Li Guo'er the Princess Anle, who also had much power in her father's administration.

Meanwhile, the coup leaders initially did not of Wu Sansi as a threat, and they brushed aside suggestions by two lower level officials participating in the coup, Xue Jichang and Liu Youqiu. However, they soon realized that Wu Sansi's power was on the rise, and they unsuccessfully suggested Emperor Zhongzong to kill some of the more powerful Wu clan members or to demote them -- and indeed, he made Wu Sansi ''Sikong'' and chancellor again with the designation ''Tong Zhongshu Menxia Sanpin'' , although Wu Sansi declined the titles. Meanwhile, Emperor Zhongzong designated 16 officials, including the coup leaders but also Wu Sansi and his cousin Wu Youji , as contributors to his return to the throne and gave them iron certificates that were supposed to guarantee that they would be spared of death penalties 10 times except for treason.

Jing, fearful of Wu Sansi's power, retained the mid-level official Cui Shi to watch for Wu Sansi's moves -- but Cui Shi, realizing that Emperor Zhongzong trusted Wu Sansi and feared the coup leaders, instead became Wu Sansi's associate, along with Zheng Yin, who suggested that Wu Sansi find some way to remove the five coup leaders, now all chancellors, from their posts. Wu Sansi and Empress Wei, in turn, argued to Emperor Zhongzong that the five coup leaders were overpowering in the government and should be given honorific titles but be removed from office. At their suggestion, Emperor Zhongzong created the five coup leaders princes and awarded them much wealth, but removed them from governmental posts, including chancellor positions -- and soon sent Zhang Jianzhi and Cui Xuanwei out of the capital. Wu Sansi, now in power, had much of Wu Zetian's policies, which the five coup leaders had reversed, reinstated. Meanwhile, to diffuse some of the popular sentiment against the Wu clan, Emperor Zhongzong demoted their titles slightly, and Wu Sansi's title was reduced from Prince of Liang to the lesser title of Prince of Dejing. As Emperor Zhongzong also trusted Wei Yuanzhong , when Wu Zetian died in late 705, Wu Sansi tried to ingratiate Wei by writing into Wu Zetian's will a provision giving Wei an additional fief of 100 households. Wei, in gratitude, did not oppose the Wu clan further from that point.

In spring 706, Wu Sansi, fearful that Jing, Huan, and Yuan were still in the capital, sent them out of the capital to serve as prefectural prefects. Meanwhile, an incident occurred that allowed Wu Sansi to act further against the five coup leaders -- as Emperor Zhongzong's son-in-law Wang Tongjiao , himself a participant in the coup, was accused of plotting with Zhang Zhongzhi , Zu Yanqing , and Zhou Jing to kill Wu Sansi and deposing Empress Wei. The alleged plotters were all killed, and Wu Sansi and Empress Wei thereafter accused the five coup leaders of having been part of Wang Tongjiao's plot, and the five were demoted further, to more distant prefecture, with no possibility of return from exile. Meanwhile, Wu Sansi, knowing that Emperor Zhongzong was very sensitive about any accusation of adultery by Empress Wei, intentionally had people post public accusations that she had been involved in adultery -- and then framed the five coup leaders of doing so, and the five coup leaders, already in exile, were stripped of all of their titles and honors. Wu Sansi, at Cui Shi's suggestion, then sent the secret police official Zhou Lizhen to the Lingnan region, where the five had been exiled, to survey the area, but with instructions to have the five killed. When Zhou reached Lingnan, Zhang Jianzhi and Cui Xuanwei had already died, but he killed Huan, Jing, and Yuan in cruel manners. It was said that after news of the five coup leaders' deaths reached Wu Sansi, he commented, "I do not know who are good people and who are bad people on this earth. I only know that people who are good to me are good, and people who are bad to me are bad."
Meanwhile, Emperor Zhongzong had created his son Li Chongjun, by a concubine, crown prince, as Empress Wei's only son Li Chongrun had been killed by Wu Zetian in 701, but Li Guo'er, encouraged by Wu Chongxun, had designs on becoming crown princess, and repeatedly asked Emperor Zhongzong to make her crown princess. Both she and Wu Chongxun also repeatedly insulted Li Chongjun, sometimes calling him "slave." In fall 707, Li Chongjun, in anger, started a rebellion with the generals Li Duozuo, Li Sichong , Li Chengkuang , Dugu Yizhi , and Shazha Zhongyi , as well as Emperor Zhongzong's cousin Li Qianli the Prince of Cheng and LI Qianli's son Li Xi the Prince of Tianshui. They attacked Wu Sansi's mansion and killed Wu Sansi, Wu Chongxun, and some of their relatives. Li Chongjun's subsequent attempt to reach the palace and arrest Consort Shangguan, Empress Wei, and Li Guo'er, however, were unsuccessful, and his troops collapsed; he was killed. Li Chongjun was beheaded, and his head was presented to Wu Sansi's and Wu Chongxun's caskets. Wu Sansi and Wu Chongxun were buried in grand funerals, and Wu Sansi was posthumously recreated the Prince of Liang with the posthumous name of Xuan . After Emperor Zhongzong's death in 710, a coup lead by Princess Taiping and Li Dan's son the Prince of Linzi overthrew Empress Wei and restored Emperor Ruizong to the throne, and Wu Sansi's tomb was destroyed.

Wu Youning

Wu Youning , formally the Duke of Jiang , was an imperial prince during the reign of Wu Zetian and served as both during her over her son Emperor Ruizong of Tang and her own reign.

Xu Yuanlang

Vacillating submissions

In spring 618, after another major rebel leader, Li Mi the Duke of Wei, achieved a great victory over the Sui general Wang Shichong and approached the Sui eastern capital Luoyang, Xu Yuanlang, along with several other key rebel leaders, nominally submitted to him and requested that he take imperial title, but Li declined. After Wang defeated Li in 619, Xu submitted to the Sui emperor Yang Tong, then at Luoyang, although he also offered submission to Emperor Gaozu of Tang and was created the Duke of Lu. After Wang had Yang Tong yield the throne to him later that year, ending Sui and establishing a new state of Zheng, Xu also nominally submitted to Zheng. In winter 619, after another rebel leader, Dou Jiande the Prince of Xia, conquered the Tang territory north of the Yellow River, Xu submitted to Xia. In 621, when Zheng was under attack by the Tang general , Dou requisitioned troops from Xu to aid Wang. Later that year, Dou was defeated and captured by Li Shimin, and Wang also surrendered to Li Shimin. Xu then submitted to Tang as well and was made the commandant of Yan Prefecture and again created the Duke of Lu.

Resistance against Tang and death

Later in 621, Dou's general Liu Heita, supported by a group of Dou Jiande's supporters angry that Tang had executed Dou Jiande , rose against Tang rule, and quickly captured most of Dou's former territory. In doing so, he was in communication with Xu, and Xu also rose, capturing the Tang general Sheng Yanshi and receiving support from eight prefectures. He ordered Sheng to write a letter to Sheng's brother, who was the county magistrate of Yucheng , to get Sheng's brother to surrender, but Sheng instead wrote a letter that told his brother to be faithful and not betray Tang. Xu, after seeing the letter, laughed and said, "General Sheng has integrity and honor, and I shall not kill him." Liu gave Xu a general title, and in winter 621, Xu claimed the title of Prince of Lu as well.

Yan Zhenqing

Consolidating period

This period ranges from Yan Zhenqing’s fifties to sixty-five. During these years, he wrote some famous pieces like ''Guojia Miao Stele'' and ''Magu Shan Xiantan Ji'' . Having experienced An Lushan Rebellion and frequent vicissitudes in his civil career, Yan Zhenqing’s style was maturing. He increased the waist force while wielding the brush, and blended the techniques from '''' and '''' Scripts into his own style, making the start and ending of his brushline gentler. For individual stroke, he adopted the rule of “thin horizontal and thick vertical strokes”; strokes’ widths were varied to show the curvature and flow, and the dots and oblique strokes were finished with sharp edges. For character structure, Yan style displays squared shape and modest arrangement, with spacious center portion and tight outer strokes; this structure resembles more to the more dated ''Zhuan'' and ''Li'' Scripts. And for the allocation of the blank, characters are compact vertically, leaving relatively more space in between lines. Hence, the emerging ''Yan'' style had abandoned the sumptuous trend of early Tang calligraphers: it is rather upright, muscular, fitting, rich and controlled; than sloped, feminine, pretty, slim and capricious.

Yitewushi Khan

Yitewushi Khan , personal name Duomozhi , was the last of Xueyantuo.

Zhang Changzong

Zhang Changzong , formally the Duke of Ye , nickname Liulang , was an official of Wu Zetian's Zhou Dynasty who, along with his brother Zhang Yizhi, became a lover of Wu Zetian and became very powerful late in her reign. Both he and his brother were killed in a coup that overthrew Wu Zetian in 705.


It is not known when Zhang Changzong was born. It is known that his father Zhang Xizang had, at one point, served as the census officer of Tang Dynasty's capital prefecture Yong Prefecture and was a distant nephew of the Zhang Xingcheng. His mother might be Lady Wei or Lady Zang.

As Wu Zetian's lover

In 697, Zhang Changzong was referred to Wu Zetian, then ruling with the title of emperor -- the only woman in the history of China recognized for doing so -- by Wu Zetian's daughter Princess Taiping, to be Wu Zetian's lover. Zhang Changzong further told Wu Zetian that his older brother Zhang Yizhi was even more skillful than he was, and so Wu Zetian took Zhang Yizhi as a lover as well. Both were repeatedly promoted -- Zhang Yizhi as senior consultant at the examination bureau of government -- and both were said to often put makeup on their faces and dressing in a beautiful manner. Their mother or mothers were given titles as grand ladies, and Wu Zetian further ordered the chancellor Li Jiongxiu to serve as the lover for one of them. Even the most powerful officials flattered them, and referred them by endearing nicknames -- Zhang Yizhi as Wulang and Zhang Changzong as Liulang .
By 701, Wu Zetian, then 76 years old, had been largely entrusting the affairs of state to Zhang Yizhi and Zhang Changzong -- a situation that her grandson Li Chongrun disapproved and had discussed with his sister Li Xianhui the Lady Yongtai and Li Xianhui's husband, Wu Zetian's grandnephew Wu Yanji the Prince of Wei. When the Zhangs became aware of the conversation, they reported this to Wu Zetian, who saw this discussion as an implicit criticism of herself, and she ordered Li Chongrun, Li Xianhui, and Wu Yanji to commit suicide.
By 703, the Zhangs were displeased with the chancellor Wei Yuanzhong, as Wei had repeatedly rebuffed the promotion of their brother Zhang Changqi and had publicly humiliated another brother, Zhang Changyi . When Wu Zetian suffered a minor illness, the Zhangs became concerned that if Wu Zetian had died, they would be killed by Wei, and therefore falsely accused Wei and a favorite of Princess Taiping, Gao Jian , of having speculated about Wu Zetian's death. They persuaded the official Zhang Shuo to falsely corroborate the accusations against Wei, although, once Zhang Shuo was brought into Wu Zetian's presence, he not only recanted the accusation against Wei but further accused the Zhangs of suborning perjury from him. As a result, Wei, Gao, and Zhang Shuo were all exiled, but none of the three suffered death. Zhang Yizhi further accused eight people who held a send-off feast for Wei of treason, but was not successful in getting the eight men executed.