Thursday, September 4, 2008

Emperor Wu of Jin

Emperor Wǔ of Jìn, 晋武帝, 晉武帝, . jìn wǔ dì, . Chin Wu-ti, personal name Sīmǎ Yán , courtesy name Anshi was a grandson of Sima Yi, a son of Sima Zhao, and the first emperor of the Jin Dynasty after forcing the Cao Wei emperor Cao Huan to abdicate to him. He reigned from 265 to 290, and after destroying Eastern Wu in 280 was the emperor of the unified Chinese empire. Emperor Wǔ was known for his extravagance and sensuality, especially after the unification of China; legends boasted of his incredible potency among ten thousand concubines.

Emperor Wǔ was commonly viewed as a generous and kind, but also wasteful, ruler. His generosity and kindness undermined his rule, as he became overly tolerant of the noble families' corruption and wastefulness, which drained the people's resources. Further, when Emperor Wǔ established the Jìn Dynasty, he was concerned about his regime's stability, and, believing that the predecessor state, Cao Wei, had been doomed by its failures to empower the princes of the imperial clan, he greatly empowered his uncles, his cousins, and his sons with authority including high military ranking. This ironically led to the destabilization of the Jìn Dynasty, as the princes engaged in an internecine struggle known as the War of the Eight Princes soon after his death, and then the Wu Hu uprisings that nearly destroyed the Jìn Dynasty and forced its relocation to the region south of the Huai River.

Life before establishment of the Jìn Dynasty

Sīmǎ Yán was born to Sima Zhao and his wife , daughter of the Confucian scholar Wáng Su , in 236, as their oldest son. At that time, Sima Zhao was a mid-level official in the Cao Wei government and a member of a privileged clan, as the son of the renowned general Sima Yi. After Sima Yi from the regent Cao Shuang in 249, Sima Zhao became more and more important. After his father's death in 251, Sima Zhao became the assistant to his brother, the new regent Sima Shi. After Sima Shi died in 255, Sima Zhao became regent and the paramount authority in the Cao Wei government.

Sīmǎ Yán's first important appearance in history was in 260, when forces loyal to his father, led by Jia Chong, defeated an attempt by the Cao Wei emperor Cao Mao to take back power and killed Cao Mao. At that time, as a mid-level army general, he was commissioned by his father to escort the new emperor Cao Huan from his dukedom to the capital Luoyang. After his father was created the Duke of Jìn in 263 in light of the army's conquest of Shu Han, he was named heir. However, at times Sima Zhao hesitated as to whether Sīmǎ Yán or his brother Sima You would be the more appropriate heir -- as Sima You was considered talented and had also been adopted by Sima Shi, who had no biological sons of his own, and Sima Zhao, remembering his brother's role in the Simas' takeover of power, thought it might be appropriate to return power to his branch of the clan. However, a number of high level officials favored Sīmǎ Yán, and Sima Zhao agreed. After he was created the Prince of Jìn in 264 , Sīmǎ Yán was created the crown prince of Jìn.

In 265, Sima Zhao died without having formally taken imperial authority. Sīmǎ Yán became the Prince of Jìn. Later that year, he forced Cao Huan to abdicate, ending Cao Wei and starting the Jìn Dynasty.

Early reign: establishment of the Jìn political system

Emperor Wǔ immediately sought to avoid what he saw as Cao Wei's fatal weakness -- lack of power among the imperial princes. In 265, immediately after taking the throne, he made princes of many of his uncles, cousins, brothers, and sons, each with independent military commands and full authority within their principalities. This system, while it would be scaled back after the War of the Eight Princes and the loss of northern China, would remain in place as a Jìn institution for the duration of the dynasty's existence, and would be adopted by the succeeding Southern dynasties as well.

Another problem that Emperor Wǔ saw with Cao Wei's political system was its harshness in penal law, and he sought to reform the penal system to make it more merciful -- but the key beneficiaries of his changes turned out to be the nobles, as it quickly became clear that the mercy was being dealt out in an unequal manner. Nobles who committed crimes often received simple rebukes, while there were no meaningful reductions in penalties for commoners. This led to massive corruption and extravagant living by the nobles, while the poor went without government assistance. For example, in 267, when several high level officials were found to have worked in conjunction with a county magistrate to seize public land for themselves, Emperor Wǔ refused to punish the high level officials while punishing the county magistrate harshly.

Emperor Wǔ faced two major military issues almost immediately -- incessant harassment from the rival Eastern Wu's forces, under emperor Sun Hao, and Xianbei and Qiang rebellions in Qin and Liang Provinces . Most officials were more concerned about the Xianbei and Qiang rebellions and also with another non-Han people -- the Xiongnu, who had settled down in modern Shanxi after the dissolution of their state by Cáo Cāo in 216 under the watchful eyes of Chinese officials, and were feared for their military abilities. These officials advised Emperor Wǔ to try to suppress the Xianbei and the Qiang before considering conquests of Eastern Wu. Under the encouragement of the generals Yang Hu and and the strategist Zhang Hua, however, Emperor Wǔ, while sending a number of generals to combat the Xianbei and the Qiang, prepared the southern and eastern border regions for war against the Eastern Wu throughout this part of his reign. He was particularly encouraged by reports of Sun Hao's cruelty and ineptitude in governing Eastern Wu; indeed, the officials in favor of war against Eastern Wu often cited this as reason to act quickly, as they argued that Eastern Wu would be harder to conquer if and when Sun Hao was replaced. However, after a major revolt by the Xianbei chief Tufa Shujineng started in 270 in Qin Province, Emperor Wǔ's attention became concentrated on Tufa, as Tufa was able to win victory after victory over Jìn generals. In 271, the Xiongnu noble Liu Meng rebelled as well, and while his rebellion did not last long, this took Emperor Wǔ's attention away from Eastern Wu. In 271, Jiao Province , which had paid allegiance to Jìn ever since the start of his reign, was recaptured by Eastern Wu. In 272, the Eastern Wu general Bu Chan , in fear that Sun Hao was going to punish him on the basis of false reports against him, tried to surrender the important city of Xiling to Jìn, but Jìn relief forces were stopped by the Eastern Wu general Lu Kang, who then recaptured Xiling and killed Bu. In light of these failures, Yang took another tack -- he started a détente with Lu and treated the Eastern Wu border residents well, causing them to view Jìn favorably.

When Emperor Wǔ ascended the throne in 265, he honored his mother Wang Yuanji as empress dowager. In 266, he also honored his aunt an empress dowager, in recognition of his uncle's contributions to the establishment of the Jìn Dynasty. He made his wife empress the same year. In 267, he made her oldest living son, crown prince -- based on the Confucian principle that the oldest son by an emperor's wife should inherit the throne -- a selection that would, however, eventually contribute greatly to political instability and the Jìn Dynasty's decline, as Crown Prince Zhong appeared to be and unable to learn the important skills necessary to govern. Emperor Wǔ further made perhaps a particularly fateful choice on Crown Prince Zhong's behalf -- in 272, he selected , the strong-willed daughter of the noble Jia Chong, to be Crown Prince Zhong's princess. Crown Princess Jia would, from that point on, have the crown prince under her tight control. Before Empress Yang died in 274, she was concerned that whoever the new empress would be would have ambitions to replace the crown prince, and therefore asked Emperor Wǔ to marry her cousin . He agreed.

In 273, Emperor Wǔ would undertake a selection of beautiful women from throughout the empire -- a warning sign of what would eventually come. He looked most attentively among the daughters of officials, but he also ordered that no marriages take place in the empire until the selection process was done.

Middle reign: unification of the Chinese empire

In 276, Emperor Wǔ suffered a major illness -- which led to a succession crisis. Crown Prince Zhong would be the legitimate heir, but both the officials and the people hoped that Emperor Wǔ's capable brother, Sima You the Prince of Qi, would inherit the throne instead. After Emperor Wǔ became well, he divested some military commands from officials that he thought favored Prince You, but otherwise took no other punitive actions against anyone.

Later that year, Yang Hu reminded Emperor Wǔ of his plan to conquer Eastern Wu. Most of the officials, still concerned with Tufa's rebellion, were opposed, but Yang was supported by Du Yu and Zhang. Emperor Wǔ considered their counsel seriously but did not implement it at this time.

Also in 276, pursuant to his promise to the deceased Empress Yang, Emperor Wǔ married her cousin Yang Zhi and made her empress. The new Empress Yang's father, , became a key official in the administration and became exceeding arrogant.

In 279, with the general Ma Long having finally put down Tufa's rebellion, Emperor Wǔ concentrated his efforts on Eastern Wu, and commissioned a six-pronged attack led by his uncle Sima Zhou, Wang Hun , Wang Rong, Hu Fen , Du Yu, and Wang Jun, with the largest forces under Wang Hun and Wang Jun. Each of the Jìn forces advanced quickly and captured the border cities that they were targeting, with Wang Jun's fleet heading east down the Yangtze and clearing the river of Eastern Wu fleets. The Eastern Wu prime minister Zhang Ti made a last ditch attempt to defeat Wang Hun's force, but was defeated and killed. Wang Hun, Wang Jun, and Sima Zhou each headed for Jianye, and Sun Hao was forced to surrender in spring 280. Emperor Wǔ made Sun Hao the Marquess of Guiming. The integration of former Eastern Wu territory into Jìn appeared to be a relatively smooth process.

After the fall of Eastern Wu, Emperor Wǔ ordered that provincial governors no longer be in charge of military matters and become purely civilian governors, and that regional militias be disbanded, despite opposition by the general Tao Huang and the key official . This would also eventually prove to create problems later on during the Wu Hu rebellions, as the regional governors were not able to raise troops to resist quickly enough. He also rejected advice to have the non-Han gradually moved outside of the empire proper.

Late reign: setting the stage for disasters

In 281, Emperor Wǔ took 5,000 women from Sun Hao's palace into his own, and thereafter became even more concentrated on feasting and enjoying the women, rather than on important matters of state. It was said that there were so many beautiful women in the palace that he did not know whom he should have sexual relations with; he therefore rode on a small cart drawn by goats, and wherever the goats would stop, he would stop there, as well. Because of this, many of the women planted bamboo leaves and salt outside their bedrooms -- both items said to be favored by goats. Empress Yang's father Yang Jun and uncles Yang Yao and Yang Ji became effectively in power.

Emperor Wǔ also became more concerned about whether his brother Prince You would seize the throne if he died. In 282, he sent Prince You to his principality, even though there was no evidence that Prince You had such ambitions. Prince You, in anger, grew ill and died in 283.

As Emperor Wǔ grew ill in 289, he considered whom to make regent. He considered both Yang Jun and his uncle Sima Liang the Prince of Ru'nan, the most respected of the imperial princes. As a result, Yang Jun became fearful of Sima Liang and had him posted to the key city of Xuchang. Several other imperial princes were also posted to other key cities in the empire. By 290, Emperor Wǔ resolved to let Yang and Sima Liang both be regents, but after he wrote his will, the will was seized by Yang Jun, who instead had another will promulgated in which Yang alone was named regent. Emperor Wǔ died soon thereafter, leaving the empire in the hands of a developmentally disabled son and nobles intent on shedding each other's blood for power, and while he would not see the disastrous consequences himself, the consequences would soon come.

Era names

* ''Taishi'' 265-274
* ''Xianning'' 275-280
* ''Taikang'' 280-289
* ''Taixi'' January 28, 290-May 17, 290

Personal information

* Father
** Sima Zhao, Prince Wen of Jin, posthumously honored as Emperor Wen of Jin, son of Sima Yi
* Mother
* Wives
** Empress Yang Yan , mother of Prince Gui, Emperor Hui, and Prince Jian, and Princesses Pingyang, Xinfeng, and Yangping
** Empress Yang Zhi , cousin of Empress Yang Yan, mother of Prince Hui
* Major Concubines
** Consort Zuo Fen
** Consort Hu , daughter of Hu Fen , mother of Princess Wu'an
** Consort Zhuge Wan
** Consort Shen, mother of Princes Jing, Wei and Ai
** Consort Xu, mother of Prince Xian
** Consort Gui, mother of Prince Zhi
** Consort Zhao, mother of Prince Yu
** Consort Zhao, mother of Prince Yǎn
** Consort Li, mother of Princes Yun and Yàn
** Consort Yan, mother of Prince Gai
** Consort Chen, mother of Prince Xia
** Consort Zhu, mother of Prince Mo
** Consort Cheng, mother of Prince Ying
** Consort Wang, mother of Emperor Huai
** Consort Xie Jiu , later concubine of Emperor Hui
** Consort Zhao Can
* Children
** Sima Gui , died early, posthumously created Prince Dao of Piling
** Sima Zhong , the Crown Prince , later Emperor Hui of Jin
** Sima Jian , initially the Prince of Ru'nan , later the Prince of Nanyang , later Prince Xian of Qin
** Sima Jing , Prince Huai of Chengyang
** Sima Wei , initially created the Prince of Shiping, later Prince Yin of Chu
** Sima Xian , Prince Shang of Chengyang
** Sima Zhi , Prince Chong of Donghai
** Sima Yu , Prince Ai of Shiping
** Sima Yǎn , Prince Ai of Dai
** Sima Yun , initially Prince of Puyang , later Prince Zhongzhuang of Huainan
** Sima Gai , Prince Huai of Xindu
** Sima Xia , Prince Kang of Qinghe
** Sima Mo , Prince Ai of Ruyin
** Sima Ai , Prince Li of Changsha
** Sima Ying , initially the Prince of Chengdu , later the Crown Prince , later demoted back to Prince of Chengdu
** Sima Yàn , Prince Xiao of Wu
** Sima Chi , initially the Prince of Yuzhang , later the Crown Prince , later Emperor Huai of Jin
** Sima Hui , posthumously created Prince Shang of Bohai
** Eight other sons who died early without being created princes
** Princess Changshan
** Princess Changguang
** Princess Pingyang
** Princess Xinfeng
** Princess Yangping
** Princess Wannian
** Princess Xiangcheng
** Princess Wu'an
** Princess Yingyang
** Princess Rongyang
** Princess Fanchang

Emperor Hui of Jin

Emperor Hui of Jin, 晋惠帝, 晉惠帝, . jìn huì dì, . Chin Hui-ti , personal name Sima Zhong , courtesy name Zhengdu , was the second emperor of the Jin Dynasty . Emperor Hui was a ruler, and throughout his reign, there was constant internecine fighting between regents, imperial princes , and his wife Empress Jia Nanfeng for the right to control him , causing great suffering for the people and greatly undermining the stability of the Jin regime, eventually leading to Wu Hu rebellions that led to Jin's loss of northern and central China and the establishment of the competing Sixteen Kingdoms. He was briefly deposed by his granduncle Sima Lun, who usurped the throne himself, in 301, but later that year was restored to the throne and continued to be the emperor until 307, when he was poisoned, likely by the regent Sima Yue.

Life prior to ascension

Sima Zhong was born to Sima Yan and his wife in 259, while Sima Yan was still the assistant to his father, the Cao Wei regent Sima Zhao. He was their second son, but as his older brother Sima Gui died early, he became the oldest surviving son. It is not known when it became apparent that he was developmentally disabled, but in any case, after Sima Zhao died in 265 and Sima Yan subsequently forced the Cao Wei emperor Cao Huan to abdicate to him, ending Cao Wei and starting Jin , he created Prince Zhong crown prince in 267, at age seven.

As Crown Prince Zhong grew in age, his developmental disability became clear to his parents and the imperial officials alike. He learned how to write and to speak, but appeared to be unable to make logical decisions on his own at all. Once, when he heard frogs croaking, he asked, in all seriousness, "Do they croak because they want to, or because the government ordered them to?" In a more famous pronouncement, when he once was taught about the victims of a famine not having rice to eat, he became puzzled and asked, "If they do not have rice, why not have meat stew?" Several times, officials reminded Emperor Wu of this, and Emperor Wu, not realizing the extent of Crown Prince Zhong's disability, resisted the implicit calls for him to be replaced. Indeed, because Emperor Wu was concerned that many officials were impressed with his talented younger brother, Sima You the Prince of Qi and might want Prince You to replace him instead, he eventually had Prince You sent to his principality, and Prince You died in anger in 283.

In 272, at age 12, Crown Prince Zhong married Jia Chong's daughter , who at 14 was two years older. Crown Princess Jia was violent and jealous, but had her methods of controlling Crown Prince Zhong so that he both loved and feared her. She bore him four daughters during their marriage, but she would not bear his only son Sima Yu -- whose mother Consort Xie Jiu was originally a concubine of Emperor Wu, but had been given to Crown Prince Zhong prior to his marriage to Crown Princess Jia, so that Consort Xie could teach him how to have sexual relations. Consort Xie became pregnant and bore Sima Yu, who was much favored by his grandfather Emperor Wu. Emperor Wu considered Prince Yu intelligent and very much like his own grandfather Sima Yi, and this played into his decision not to replace Crown Prince Zhong. However, other than Consort Xie, no other concubine would bear Crown Prince Zhong a child -- as several had been pregnant but each was murdered by Crown Princess Jia, in fits of jealousy.

In 289, as Emperor Wu neared death, he considered whom to make the regent for Crown Prince Zhong. He considered both Empress Yang's father and his uncle Sima Liang the Prince of Ru'nan, the most respected of the imperial princes. As a result, Yang Jun became fearful of Sima Liang and had him posted to the key city of Xuchang . By 290, Emperor Wu resolved to let Yang and Sima Liang both be regents, but after he wrote his will, the will was seized by Yang Jun, who instead had another will promulgated in which Yang alone was named regent. Emperor Wu died soon thereafter, and Crown Prince Zhong ascended the throne as Emperor Hui. Crown Princess Jia became empress, and Prince Yu became crown prince.


During his 17 year reign, Emperor Hui would come under the control of a number of regents, never being able to assert authority on his own. The rough succession order of the regents were:
* : 290-291
* Sima Liang/Wei Guan: 291
* Empress Jia Nanfeng: 291-300
* Sima Lun: 300-301
* Sima Jiong: 301-302
* Sima Ai: 302-304
* Sima Ying: 304
* Sima Yong: 304-306
* Sima Yue: 306-307

Regency of Yang Jun

Yang Jun quickly showed himself to be autocratic and incompetent, drawing the ires of many other nobles and officials. He tried to appease them by making many bestowments of titles and honors among them, but this only brought further contempt for his actions. He knew Emperor Hui's empress Jia Nanfeng to be strong-willed and treacherous, so he tried to put people loyal to him in charge of all the defense forces of the capital Luoyang, and also ordered that all edicts not only be signed by the emperor but also by Empress Dowager Yang before they could be promulgated.

Empress Jia, however, wanted to be involved in the government, and was angry that she was constantly rebuffed by Empress Dowager Yang and Yang Jun. She therefore conspired with the eunuch Dong Meng and the generals Meng Guan and Li Zhao against the Yangs. She tried to include Sima Liang into the conspiracy, but Sima Liang declined; instead, she persuaded Emperor Hui's brother, Sima Wei the Prince of Chu, to join her plan. In 291, after Sima Wei returned to Luoyang from his defense post with his troops, a coup went into progress.

Empress Jia, who had her husband easily under her control, had him issue an edict declaring that Yang Jun had committed crimes and should be removed from his posts. It also ordered Sima Wei and Sima Yao the Duke of Dong'an to attack Yang's forces and defend against counterattacks. Quickly, it became clear that Yang was in trouble. Empress Dowager Yang, trapped in the palace herself, wrote an edict ordering assistance for Yang Jun and put it on arrows, shooting it out of the palace. Empress Jia then made the bold declaration that Empress Dowager Yang was committing treason. Yang Jun was quickly defeated, and his clan was massacred. Empress Dowager Yang was deposed and imprisoned . Sima Liang was recalled to serve as regent, along with the senior official Wei Guan.

Regency of Sima Liang and Wei Guan

To appease those who might have been angry and had overthrown Yang Jun, Sima Liang also widely promoted those who participated in the plot, and more than a thousand men were created marquesses. He and Wei, however, did try to get the government on track, but Empress Jia continued to interfere with governmental matters. They also became concerned about the violent temper of Sima Wei and therefore tried to strip him of his military command, but Sima Wei persuaded Empress Jia to let him keep his military command. Sima Wei's assistants Qi Sheng and Gongsun Hong thereafter falsely told Empress Jia that Sima Liang and Wei planned to depose the emperor. Empress Jia, who had already resented Wei for having, during Emperor Wu's reign, suggested that he change his heir selection, also wanted more direct control over the government, and therefore resolved to undergo a second coup.

In summer 291, Empress Jia had Emperor Hui personally write an edict to Sima Wei, ordering him to have Sima Liang and Wei removed from their offices. His forces thereby surrounded Sima Liang and Wei's mansions, and while both men's subordinates recommended resistance, each declined and was captured. Against what the edict said, both were killed -- Sima Liang with his heir Sima Ju and Wei with nine of his sons and grandsons. Qi then suggested to Sima Wei to take the chance to kill Empress Jia's relatives and take over the government, but Sima Wei hesitated -- and at the same time, Empress Jia came to the realization that killing Sima Liang and Wei, if it had been realized that she intended it, could bring a political firestorm and that also Sima Wei would not be easily controlled. She therefore publicly declared that Sima Wei had falsely issued the edict. Sima Wei's troops abandoned him, and he was captured and executed. Sima Liang and Wei were posthumously honored. However, after this point on, Empress Jia became the undisputed power behind the throne for several years.

Regency of Empress Jia

Empress Jia was now in control in close association with several advisors that she trusted -- the capable official Zhang Hua, her cousins Pei Wei and Jia Mo , and her nephew Jia Mi . She also closely associated with her distant cousin-once-removed Guo Zhang , her sister Jia Wu , and Emperor Wu's concubine Zhao Chan . She lacked self-control, and was violent and capricious in her ways, but Zhang, Pei, and Jia Mo were honest men who generally kept the government in order. However, as she grew increasingly unbridled in her behavior , Zhang, Pei, and Jia Mo considered deposing her and replacing her with Crown Prince Yu's mother Consort Xie, but they hesitated and never took actual action. After Jia Mo died in 299, it became even harder to control her actions.

In 296, the and Qiang of Qin and Yong started a major rebellion against Jin Dynasty, and they supported the Di chieftain Qi Wannian to be emperor. In 297, the Jin general Zhou Chu , without support from the central government, was easily defeated by Qi. A large group of refugees, most of Di ancestry, stricken by the famine that resulted from the warfare, fled south into Yi Province , led by Li Te . In 299, Meng Guan was able to defeat Qi, but Qi would foreshadowed much more serious non-Han rebellions of the future. Later in 299, the mid-level official Jiang Tong would petition Empress Jia to have the five non-Han ethnicities removed from the empire proper and relocated to regions outside the empire, but Empress Jia did not accept his suggestions.

The relationship between Empress Jia and Crown Prince Yu had always been an uneasy one. Empress Jia's mother Guo Huai had constantly advised Empress Jia to treat Crown Prince Yu well, as her own son, and she advocated marrying Jia Mi's sister to Crown Prince Yu. However, Empress Jia and Jia Wu opposed this, and instead married a daughter of the official Wang Yan to Crown Prince Yu. After Lady Guo's death, the relationship between Empress Jia and Crown Prince Yu quickly deteriorated, as Jia Wu and Consort Zhao provoked difficulties between them. Further, Crown Prince Yu and Jia Mi never liked each other, and Jia Mi, as a result, also advised Empress Jia to depose Crown Prince Yu. In 299, Empress Jia agreed and took action. When Crown Prince Yu was in the palace to make an official petition to have his ill son Sima Bin created a prince, Empress Jia forced him to drink a large amount of wine and, once he was drunk, had him write out a statement in which he declared intention to murder the emperor and the empress and to take over as emperor. Empress Jia presented the writing to the officials and initially wanted Crown Prince Yu executed -- but after some resistance, she only had him deposed and reduced to status of a commoner. Crown Prince Yu's mother Consort Xie was executed, as was his favorite concubine Consort Jiang Jun .

In 300, under the advice of a prince she favored -- Sima Lun the Prince of Zhao, Emperor Wu's granduncle -- Empress Jia decided to eliminate Crown Prince Yu as a threat. She sent assassins and had Crown Prince Yu assassinated. Sima Lun, however, had other plans -- he wanted to have Empress Jia murder the crown prince so that he could use the murder as an excuse to overthrow her, and he started a coup later that year, killing Jia Mi, Zhang, Pei, and other associates of Empress Jia. Empress Jia was deposed and later forced to commit suicide. Sima Lun and his strategist Sun Xiu became the paramount authority.

Regency of and usurpation by Sima Lun

Sima Lun restored the late Crown Prince Yu's reputation and had his son, Sima Zang , created crown prince. However, Sima Lun himself had designs on the throne, and he and Sun Xiu became partial to placing those who favored them in power. Sima Lun's ambitious were seen by Emperor Hui's brother, Sima Yun the Prince of Huai'nan, and Sima Lun and Sun tried to strip Sima Yun's military command. When Sima Yun read the edict ordering him to turn over the troops, he saw that it was Sun Xiu's handwriting -- and became enraged and started a rebellion with his troops. Initially, he had successes against Sima Lun's troops and was almost able to capture Sima Lun's mansion, during the course of one day. Late in the day, Chen Zhun , who secretly supported Sima Yun, persuaded Emperor Hui to give him a banner that showed imperial support and was able to deliver it to Sima Yun, but his messenger, a friend of Sima Lun's son Sima Qian , instead tricked Sima Yun into receiving the banner and, as he did, cut off his head. His troops disbanded after his death.

After defeating Sima Yun, Sima Lun became ever more intent on usurping the throne. Late in 300, after Sun Xiu's suggestion, Sima Lun was granted the nine bestowments. However, Sima Lun and his sons were themselves foolish and unintelligent, and Sun was the actual person in charge of the government. In the winter, Sun had the granddaughter of his distant relative and friend Sun Qi , , married to Emperor Hui to be his empress.

Also in winter 300, the governor of Yi Province, Zhao Xin , a relative of Empress Jia, rebelled and tried to occupy Yi Province to be his own domain. He associated with Li Te and his brother Li Xiang , and they soon were able to take over Yi Province. However, he then became suspicious of the Li brothers' abilities, and he killed Li Xiang after Li Xiang suggested that he declare himself emperor. Li Te, in anger, took his troops and killed Zhao. Li then welcomed the new Jin governor Luo Shang to the provincial capital Chengdu , but maintained an uneasy relationship with Luo and Luo's main strategist, Xin Ran , a former friend of his who deeply suspected his intentions.

In spring 301, Sima Lun had Emperor Hui yield the throne to him, and gave Emperor Hui the honorific title of retired emperor . In order to appease those who might be angry at his usurpation, he rewarded many people with honors. Sun, in particular, was issuing edicts based on his own whims. Suspecting three key princes -- Sima Jiong the Prince of Qi , Sima Ying the Prince of Chengdu , and Sima Yong the Prince of Hejian , each of whom had strong independent military commands -- Sun sent his trusted subordinates to be their assistants. Prince Jiong refused and declared a rebellion to restore Emperor Hui. Prince Ying, Sima Ai the Prince of Changshan , and Sima Xin the Duke of Xinye all declared support for Prince Jiong. Prince Yong initially sent his general Zhang Fang with intent to support Sima Lun, but then heard that Princes Jiong and Ying had great forces, and so declared for the rebels instead. Sima Lun's forces were easily defeated by Princes Jiong and Ying's forces, and after just declaring himself emperor for three months, Sima Lun was captured by officials in Luoyang who declared for the rebellion as well, and forced to issue an edict returning the throne to Emperor Hui. He was then forced to commit suicide. Sun and other associates of Sima Lun were executed.

Some thought that a power balance that Emperor Wu had hoped for at his death might be restored, as Princes Jiong and Ying were each given regent titles , and many talented officials were promoted into important positions. However, the Princes Jiong and Ying were actually apprehensive of each other's power, and Prince Ying decided to yield the central government regency to Prince Jiong at the time and return to his defense post at .

Regency of Sima Jiong

Meanwhile, Luo Shang ordered that the Qin/Yong refugees to go home and that they surrender all property that they pillaged during the wars of Zhao's rebellion. This caused great burden and fear on the refugees, and Li Te requested a one year extension; Luo agreed, but Xin Ran and other officials under Luo were unhappy and secretly planned an attack on Li. Li, anticipating that this might happen, was prepared, and he defeated Xin's forces easily.

In the capital, Sima Jiong became arrogant based on his accomplishments. He had his sons created princes, and ran the matters of the central government from his mansion, rarely visiting the emperor or attending the imperial meetings. He enlarged his mansion to be as large as the palace, and he entrusted matters to people who were close to him, and would not change his ways even when some of his more honest associates tried to change his behavior. When Emperor Hui's grandsons Sima Zang and Sima Shang , successive crown princes, died in childhood, leaving Emperor Hui without male descendants by 302, Sima Ying was considered the appropriate successor, but Sima Jiong chose to bypass him by recommending the seven-year-old Sima Qin the Prince of Qinghe as the crown prince, with intent to easily control the young Crown Prince Qin.

Sima Jiong became suspicious of Sima Yong the Prince of Hejian -- because Sima Yong had initially wanted to support Sima Lun, until he saw that Sima Lun's cause was hopeless. Sima Yong knew of Sima Jiong's suspicion, and started a conspiracy; he invited Sima Ai the Prince of Changsha to overthrow Sima Jiong, believing that Sima Ai would fail; his plan was then to, in conjunction with Sima Ying, start a war against Sima Jiong. Once they were victorious, he would depose Emperor Hui and make Sima Ying the emperor, and then serve as Sima Ying's prime minister. In winter 302, Sima Yong declared his rebellion, and Sima Ying soon joined, despite opposition from his strategist Lu Zhi . Hearing that Sima Ai was part of the conspiracy as well, Sima Jiong made a preemptive strike against Sima Ai, but Sima Ai was prepared and entered the palace to control Empeorr Hui. After a street battle, Sima Jiong's forces collapsed, and he was executed. Sima Ai became the effective regent, but in order to reduce opposition, he submitted all important matters to Sima Ying, still stationed at Yecheng.

Regency of Sima Ai

Sima Ai, of the princes, appeared to be the only one who saw the importance of formally honoring Emperor Hui while maintaining resemblance to impartial governance. He continued to try to share power with Sima Ying.

Meanwhile, in Yi Province, in 303, Luo Shang, after causing Li Te to be ready by offering a truce, made a surprise attack against Li's forces and killed him. Li's forces fell under the command of his brother Li Liu , who died later that year as well and was succeeded by his nephew Li Xiong. Under Li Xiong's command, the refugee forces were able to defeat not only Luo's forces but also reinforcements sent by Jing Province . At the same time of Li's successes, many agrarian rebellions also started throughout the empire, including one that defeated the forces of the powerful Sima Xin the Prince of Xinye and killed him.

In fall 303, Sima Yong, dissatisfied that his plan did not come to fruition, persuaded Sima Ying to again join him against Sima Ai. While Sima Yong and Sima Ying had overwhelming force, their forces could not score a conclusive victory against Sima Ai. Sima Yong's forces were about to withdraw in spring 304 when Sima Yue the Prince of Donghai, the grandson of a great-granduncle of Emperor Hui, believing that Sima Ai could not win this war, arrested him and delivered him to Sima Yong's general Zhang Fang, who executed Sima Ai cruelly by burning him to death. Sima Ying became in effective control of the government, but continued to control it remotely from Yecheng.

Regency of Sima Ying

Once Sima Ying became in effective control of the government, he deposed Crown Prince Qin and made himself crown prince instead, and he also deposed Empress Yang -- the first of four times she would be deposed during a duration of two years. He became arrogant and extravagant, and the people became disappointed. Seeing this, Sima Yue decided to resist; he welcomed Empress Yang and Crown Prince Qin back to their positions, and, in Emperor Hui's name, set out to attack Sima Ying. His forces were defeated by Sima Ying's, and he fled, leaving Emperor Hui in Sima Ying's hands at Yecheng. Sima Yong's forces entered Luoyang and deposed Empress Yang and Crown Prince Qin again.

Wang Jun , the military commander of You Province , who had an uneasy relationship with Sima Ying up to this point, then declared against Sima Ying and headed south with his troops, allied with various Xianbei and Wuhuan tribes. Sima Ying found it difficult to resist them, and he sent one of his subordinates, the Xiongnu noble , to his own tribesmen to ask them to join him. Once Liu left, however, Sima Ying's forces collapsed. When Liu heard this, instead of bringing his forces to Sima Ying's aid, he declared independence and entitled himself the Prince of Han -- claiming rightful inheritance of Han Dynasty, as he claimed to be descended from a Han princess who had married a Xiongnu chanyu -- and thus establishing Han Zhao.

Sima Ying fled back to Luoyang with Emperor Hui, but now with no forces backing him. Sima Yong, in control of the situation, decided to directly take control without using Sima Ying any longer, and Sima Ying was removed from the crown prince position and replaced with another brother of Emperor Hui's -- the Prince of Yuzhang, who was considered studious and humble. Sima Yong also had Zhang Fang forcibly move Emperor Hui to Chang'an , directly under his own grasp. However, a number of high-level officials remained in Luoyang and formed a separate government that was partially allied with and partially rivalling Sima Yong's.

Regency of Sima Yong

Sima Yong tried to appease possible opposing forces by promoting all of the major princes and warlords, but his promotions did not have the desired effect. Meanwhile, Han Zhao attracted those Han and non-Han agrarians and tribesmen disappointed in Jin rule, and began to grow in size and power.

At the same time, however, the Jin infighting continued. In the fall of 305, Sima Yue declared yet another rebellion, this time against Sima Yong, claiming that Sima Yong had improperly forced Emperor Hui to move the capital. Various provincial governnors and military commanders were forced to be on one side or the other. The war was initially inconclusive. In early 306, after a few victories by Sima Yue, Sima Yong became fearful, and he executed Zhang to seek peace; Sima Yue refused. By summer 306, Sima Yong was forced to abandon both Chang'an and Emperor Hui, and Sima Yue's forces welcomed Emperor Hui back to Luoyang and restored Empress Yang.

Also in 306, both Li Xiong and Liu Yuan declared themselves emperors, even more clearly breaking from Jin.

Regency of Sima Yue and death

Sima Yue served as regent for Emperor Hui for several months until winter 306 when, for an unknown reason, Emperor Hui was poisoned while eating bread. Thus ended the reign of an emperor who suffered much and under whose reign the Jin dynastic system came crashing down, even though he himself should probably not be blamed for it. Crown Prince Chi succeeded him and would try to restrengthen the empire, but it was too late for Jin by that point. It would end up losing northern and central China to Han Zhao and be forced to relocate to southern China, continued in a branch line of the imperial clan.

Era names

* ''Yongxi'' May 17, 290-February 15, 291
* ''Yongping'' February 16-April 23, 291
* ''Yuankang'' April 24, 291-February 6, 300
* ''Yongkang'' February 7, 300-February 3, 301
* ''Yongning'' June 1, 301-January 4, 303
* ''Taian'' January 5, 303-February 21, 304
* ''Yongan'' February 22-August 15, 304; December 14,304-February 11,305
* ''Jianwu'' August 16-December 13, 304
* ''Yongxing'' February 12, 305-July 12, 306
* ''Guangxi'' July 13, 306-February 19, 307

Personal information

* Father
** Emperor Wu of Jin
* Mother
** Empress Yang Yan
* Wives
** Empress Jia Nanfeng , mother of Princesses Hedong, Linhai, Shiping, and Aixian
** Empress Yang Xianrong , later captured by Liu Yao of Han Zhao and made his empress after he became emperor in 318
* Major Concubines
** Consort Xie Jiu , mother of Crown Prince Yu
* Children
** Sima Yu , initially the Prince of Guangling , later the Crown Prince Minhuai
** Princess Hedong
** Princess Linhai
** Princess Shiping
** Princess Aixian

Emperor Huai of Jin

Emperor Huai of Jin, 晋怀帝, 晉懷帝, . Jìn Huáidì, wg. Chin Huai-ti , personal name Sima Chi , courtesy name Fengdu , was an emperor of the Jin Dynasty .

Emperor Huai was captured in 311 and later executed in 313 under the order of , ruler of the Xiongnu state of Han Zhao.

As Prince of Yuzhang and crown prince

Sima Chi was one of the youngest sons of , the founding emperor of Jin, by his concubine Consort Wang. Just prior to Emperor Wu's death in 290, he was created the Prince of Yuzhang. During the early stages of the War of the Eight Princes during his brother 's reign, unlike the other princes fighting for power, Prince Chi did not get himself in political or military matters, but spent his time studying history.

In late 304, when Emperor Hui was forcibly taken from the capital Luoyang to Chang'an, then under the control of the regent Sima Yong Prince of Hejian, Prince Chi was forced to accompany the emperor. In early 305, when his more ambitious brother Sima Ying the crown prince was demoted back to Prince of Chengdu by Sima Yong, Prince Chi was created crown prince to replace him. He was initially going to decline the honor, believing that his nephew Sima Qin the Prince of Qinghe and one-time crown prince should be returned to that position, but was persuaded to accept by his associate Xiu Su . Later, after Sima Yue the Prince of Donghai defeated Sima Yong in 306, Crown Prince Chi accompanied Emperor Hui and returned to Luoyang.

Early in 307, Emperor Hui was poisoned. Emperor Hui's wife, Empress Yang Xianrong, believing that she would not be honored as empress dowager if her brother-in-law inherited the throne, tried to have Sima Qin declared emperor; she was rebuffed by Sima Yue, however, and Crown Prince Chi succeeded to the throne as Emperor Huai. Emperor Huai honored her with the title "Empress Hui," but not empress dowager. He created his wife empress.


Emperor Huai was commonly regarded as an intelligent man, and he tried to institute reforms that he felt would allow the empire to recover from the ravages of the War of the Eight Princes and the subsequent Wu Hu and agrarian uprisings. However, Sima Yue maintained a tight grip on power and would not allow the emperor to exercise much actual authority.

In spring 307, Emperor Huai created Sima Qin's brother Sima Quan crown prince.

In spring 307, Sima Yue left Luoyang and set up headquarters at Xuchang , but continued to control the government remotely. In 309, Sima Yue, concerned about the growing use of authority that Emperor Huai was exerting, made a sudden return to Luoyang and arrested and executed a number of Emperor Huai's associates, including Emperor Huai's uncle Wang Yan . Other than privately mourning them, there was nothing that Emperor Huai could do. Sima Yue further disbanded the imperial guards and put his own personal forces in charge of protecting the emperor.

For all of Sima Yue's assertion of authority, he could not stop Han Zhao, under its generals Liu Cong the Prince of Chu (the son of Han Zhao's emperor , Liu Yao the Prince of Shi'an , Wang Mi , and Shi Le , from disrupting Jin rule throughout northern and central China and gradually wearing out Jin forces and capturing Jin cities and towns. In late 309, he managed to fight off a joint attack by Liu Cong and Wang on Luoyang, but that victory was the exception to Han Zhao's inexorable advances. After Liu Yuan died in 310 and was succeeded by Liu Cong, Han Zhao renewed its attacks on the Luoyang region. Meanwhile, Sima Yue continued to alienate other generals and officials, and when Liu Kun , the military commander of Bing Province proposed to him the plan of an attack on the Han Zhao capital Pingyang in conjunction with the powerful Xianbei chieftain Tuoba Yilu the Duke of , Sima Yue was fearful of backstabbing attack by some of these warlords and therefore unable to accept Liu's plan. Indeed, when Emperor Huai and Sima Yue sent out calls for the various governors to come to Luoyang's aid later that year, there were few responses. Sima Yue became uncertain of himself, and late in 310 left Luoyang with virtually all of the central government's remaining troops, along with a large number of officials, effectively stripping Luoyang and Emperor Huai bare of their defenses, except for a small detachment commanded by Sima Yue's subordinate He Lun , intended as much to monitor as to protect Emperor Huai. From that point on, Luoyang was left even without a police force and became largely a city abandoned to bandits and thugs.

Emperor Huai soon entered into a plan with Xun Xi , the military commander of Qing Province , who had been dissatisfied with Sima Yue, to overthrow Sima Yue's yoke. Sima Yue discovered this plan, but was unable to wage a campaign against Xun. He grew ill in his anger and distress, and died in spring 311. The generals and officials in his army, instead of returning to Luoyang, headed east toward Sima Yue's principality of Donghai to bury him there. He Lun, upon hearing about Sima Yue's death, also withdrew from Luoyang and sought to join that force. However, both were intercepted by Shi Le and wiped out. Shi, declaring that Sima Yue had caused the empire much damage, burned Sima Yue's body. Sima Yue's sons were all captured and presumably killed by Shi.

Sima Yue's death, however, only left Emperor Huai even more vulnerable to Han Zhao attacks. Xun sent a force to welcome Emperor Huai to move the capital to Cangyuan , and Emperor Huai was going to do so, but his officials all still missed Luoyang and did not want to leave. Soon, however, the famine that had already overtaken Luoyang got even more severe. Emperor Huai resolved to head for Cangyuan, but with Xun's force having already left Luoyang, was unable to even leave the palace without being attacked by bandits, and therefore was forced to return to the palace. In summer 311, knowing that Luoyang was defenseless, the Han Zhao generals Liu Yao, Wang Mi, Shi Le, and Huyan Yan converged on Luoyang, and they easily captured Emperor Huai. A large number of Jin nobility was slaughtered, although Emperor Huai was, for the time being, spared and delivered to the Han Zhao capital Pingyang, to be presented to the emperor Liu Cong. Liu Cong created Emperor Huai the Duke of Ping'a.

After capture by Han Zhao

For one and a half years, the former Jin emperor lived a humiliating existence in the Han Zhao capital. In 312, Liu Cong promoted him to the title of the Duke of Kuaiji. Once, after inviting the duke to a feast, Liu Cong commented on a meeting they had while the former emperor was still the Prince of Yuzhang, leading to a notable colloquy. Liu Cong first stated,

:''When you were the Prince of Yuzhang, I had once visited you with Wang Ji . Wang praised me, and you said, "I have long heard of your fame." You showed me the music that you had written, and then asked me and Wang to write lyrics for them. We wrote lyrics praising you, and you liked them. Then, we spent some time shooting arrows; I hit the target 12 times, and both you and Wang hit nine times. You gave me gifts of a mulberry bow and a silver inkstone. Do you still remember?''

The duke responded, "How can I forget? What I regret is not realizing that I was in the presence of a dragon." Liu Cong, impressed by the flattery, then asked, "How is it that your clan members slaughtered each other?" The duke replied:

:''This is not a human matter, but was the will of Heaven. The great Han was going to receive divine favor, so our clan eliminated itself for Han. If our clan members could follow the directives of Emperor Wu and remain united, how could Your Imperial Majesty become emperor?''

Liu Cong was impressed, and they spent all night talking. The next day, Liu Cong gave one of his favorite concubines to the duke as a gift, creating her as the Duchess of Kuaiji.

In 313, however, the former emperor would suffer his death. At the imperial celebration, Liu Cong ordered him to serve the high level officials wine, and former Jin officials Yu Min and Wang Juan could not control their emotions at seeing his humiliation, and cried outloud. This made Liu Cong angry, and he falsely accused Yu and Wang, along with a number of former Jin officials, of being ready to betray Pingyang and offer it to Jin's general Liu Kun. He then executed those former Jin officials and poisoned the former emperor.

Era name

*''Yongjia'' 307-313

Personal information

* Father
** Emperor Wu of Jin
* Mother
** Consort Wang
* Wife
** Duchess Liu
* Children
** None

Emperor Min of Jin

Emperor Min of Jin, Simplified Chinese character 晋愍帝, Traditional Chinese character 晉愍帝, Pinyin. Jìn Mǐndì, Wade-Giles Chin Min-ti , personal name Sima Ye , courtesy name Yanqi , was an emperor of the Jin Dynasty and the last of the Western Jin Dynasty.

Emperor Min surrendered in 316 to Liu Yao, a general of the Xiongnu state Han Zhao, and was later executed by , the emperor of Han Zhao, in 318.

Prior to becoming emperor

Sima Ye was a son of Sima Yan the Prince of Wu, a son of Jin's founding emperor . However, he was posthumously adopted by his uncle Sima Jian the Prince of Qin, who died in 291, nine years before his birth, and so he inherited the title of Prince of Qin.

When the Jin capital Luoyang fell to Han Zhao forces in 313, Prince Ye's uncle was captured, and his father Prince Yan was killed. Prince Ye himself, at age 13, was able to escape from Han Zhao forces, and he got to Mi when he encountered his uncles, the Jin officials Xun Fan and Xun Zu , who decided to support him as their leader. Later that year, the general Yan Ding tried to escort Prince Ye into the Guanzhong region , where he thought the central government could be rebuilt, but on the way, most of the supporters and troops deserted them -- including Prince Ye's uncles. Eventually, however, Yan and Prince Ye were able to arrive in Guanzhong. They were supported by the general Jia Pi , and Jia was able to capture Chang'an in 312, allowing Prince Ye to enter and set up his headquarters there. In fall 312, Jia and Yan offered Prince Ye the title of crown prince, and they then organized a provisional government.


In spring 313, the captured Emperor Huai was executed by the Han Zhao emperor . The news, however, took three months to get to Chang'an. Once it did, Crown Prince Ye held an official mourning for his uncle and then ascended the throne as Emperor Min. At that time, the city of Chang'an was so poor that it had less than a hundred households, and there were only four wagons available. The officials lacked official uniforms and seals. The military matters were largely entrusted to the generals Qu Yun and Suo Lin . Emperor Min issued an edict ordering Sima Bao the Prince of Nanyang, who still had a sizable force in Qin Province and the Prince of Langye, who held large portions of territory near and south of the Yangtze River, to come to his aid, but both Sima Bao and Sima Rui only paid nominal allegiance to him and failed to actually provide any assistance. Around the new year of 314, Han Zhao made a surprise attack on Chang'an, and while that attack was thwarted that time, it showed how the Jin regime under Emperor Min lacked power to defend itself. Only Zhang Gui the governor of Liang Province sent small detachments and supplies periodically to Chang'an. In 315, Sima Bao considered coming to Emperor Min's aid, but ultimately did not do so, and Suo subsequently refused a plan to send the emperor to Sima Bao, reasoning that Sima Bao would then use the emperor as a puppet.

In fall 316, the Han Zhao general Liu Yao the Prince of Zhongshan made a major attack against Emperor Min's territory. After he captured Beidi Commandery , the other Jin cities in Guanzhong collapsed. Two relief forces arrived, but were hesitant to engage Liu Yao. Liu Yao therefore was able to siege Chang'an, and after the food supply ran out, Emperor Min resolved to surrender. He was delivered by Liu Yao to the Han Zhao capital Pingyang .

After capture by Han Zhao

Liu Cong initially created the former Jin emperor the Marquess of Huai'an. In early 318, at a feast, he had the marquess serve as butler, and a number of former Jin officials could not control themselves and cried outloud at their former emperor's humiliation. Further, around this time, there were a number of uprisings against Han Zhao, each claiming to want to capture Han Zhao's crown prince Liu Can to exchange him for the former Jin emperor. Liu Can therefore reocommended that Sima Ye be executed, and Liu Cong agreed, executing him after receiving Liu Can's report.

Era name

*''Jianxing'' 313-317

Personal information

* Father
** Sima Yan , Prince Xiao of Wu, son of Emperor Wu of Jin
* Mother
** Princess Xun, sister of Xun Fan and Xun Zu
* Adoptive Father
** Sima Jian , Prince Xian of Qin, son of Emperor Wu of Jin

Emperor Yuan of Jin

Emperor Yuan of Jin , personal name Sima Rui , courtesy name Jingwen , was an emperor of the Jin Dynasty and the first of the Eastern Jin Dynasty. His reign saw the steady gradual loss of Jin territory in the north, but entrenchment of Jin authority south of the Huai River and east of the Three Gorges, and for generations Jin was not seriously threatened by Wu Hu kingdoms to the north.

Early career

Sima Rui was born in 276 in the then-Jin capital Luoyang, as the son of Sima Jin the Prince of Langye and his wife Princess Xiahou Wenji . His father died in 290, and he became the Prince of Langye. The ''Book of Jin'' referred to him as steady and dexterious, personality-wise.

In 304, in the midst of the War of the Eight Princes, Sima Rui participated in Sima Yue the Prince of Donghai's campaign against Sima Ying the Prince of Chengdu as a minor general. After Sima Ying defeated Sima Yue, Sima Yue executed Sima Rui's uncle Sima Yao the Prince of Dong'an, which caused Sima Rui much fear. He decided to flee back to his principality Langye , under counsel of Sima Yue's assistant Wang Dao, whom he befriended during the campaign. He first tried to head back to Luoyang, but when he was about to cross the Yellow River, he was stopped by guards instructed to stop any nobles or high level officials from crossing . His own guard Song Dian then arrived and gave him a shove, pretending that they were just construction workers. The guards then allowed them to cross. After Sima Rui got to Luoyang, he took his mother Princess Dowager Xiahou and headed to Langye, where they spent the next few years away from the War of the Eight Princes.

In 307, Sima Yue, who had emerged victorious in the aftermaths of the War of the Eight Princes as the regent for , under the advice of his wife Princess Pei, commissioned Sima Rui as the military commander of parts of Yang Province south of the Yangtze River, with his post at Jianye. Wang Dao became his chief advisor. As Sima Rui lacked fame, after he arrived in Jianye, few of the powerful local gentlemen would come visit and support him. Under Wang Dao's counsel, Sima Rui personally visited He Xun and Gu Rong and invited them to serve in his administration. He and Gu were well-regarded by the local population, which eventually began to trust Sima Rui's leadership. Wang Dao and his cousin, the general Wang Dun, served in key roles, and it was said at the time that the domain was ruled equally by the Simas and the Wangs.

After the fall of Luoyang

In 311, Luoyang fell to Han Zhao forces, and Emperor Huai was captured. A large number of refugees, fleeing Han Zhao forces, crossed the Yangtze River and arrived in Sima Rui's domain. Under Wang Dao's suggestion, Sima Rui sought out the talented men among them and added them to his administration. Meanwhile, he began to exercise more imperial power, and began to put all other provinces south of the Huai River under his own control -- and, for the next few years, under the command of Wang Dun and other generals such as Tao Kan and Zhou Fang , the agrarian rebels resisting Jin rule in Jing and Xiang Provinces were gradually subjugated. However, he made no effort to try to send armies north against Han Zhao. Meanwhile, as his powerful assistants were largely refugees from the north, the native population began to be dissatisfied, and over the next few years there were constant frictions that decreased the effectiveness of Sima Rui's administration. In 315, members of the powerful Zhou clan intended to start an uprising against him, but the conspiracy was exposed by other members of the clan still loyal to Jin, and the conspiracy did not have a major impact. In 315, Wang Dun was finally able to suppress the remaining agrarian rebels in the west, and began to show ambitions and act independently of Sima Rui.

In 313, after Emperor Huai was executed by Han Zhao, Sima Ye, a nephew of Emperor Huai, was declared emperor in Chang'an. Sima Rui was named the Left Prime Minister, a title that he accepted; however, he took no actual actions in aid of the emperor. When his general Zu Ti requested to lead an army north to, he gave Zu only supplies for one thousand men with no actual troops; Zu had to seek out his own soldiers, but was eventually able to recover a number of cities south of the Yellow River.

In 316, Chang'an fell to Han Zhao forces, and Emperor Min was captured. Sima Rui quickly declared that he was going to act against Han Zhao, but then quickly claimed a lack of supplies and cancelled the campaign. In spring 317, his officials requested that he take the throne, and after he declined initially, he took the title "Prince of Jin" -- a title previously used by Sima Zhao while regent of Cao Wei -- rather than emperor. He created his son crown prince.

Early reign

In early 318, Han Zhao's emperor executed Emperor Min, and three months later, news arrived in Jiankang. Sima Rui then declared himself emperor . At this time, the areas directly under his control were roughly south of the Yellow River and east of the Three Gorges, although pockets of Jin territory in the north -- chief among which was You Province , controlled by the ethnically Xianbei governor Duan Pidi -- largely also recognized him as emperor. However, while technically recognizing him as emperor, Zhang Shi the governor of Liang Province , whose domain would eventually evolve into Former Liang, chose not to use his era names and instead continued to use Emperor Min's era name of Jianxing -- thus hinting non-recognition.

Late in 318, when the Han Zhao emperor Liu Can was overthrown by his official Jin Zhun, Jin Zhun initially indicated that he was submitting to Emperor Yuan's authority, and Emperor Yuan tried to take advantage by sending an army to assist Jin Zhun. However, long before the army could get there, Jin Zhun was defeated by the new Han Zhao emperor Liu Yao and the general Shi Le.

In 319, Duan Pidi's forces collapsed, and he fled to another governor still loyal to Jin -- Shao Xu the governor of Ji Province . However, both Shao and Duan were captured by Shi by 321, ending all resemblance of Jin rule in northern China -- although the Xianbei chief Murong Hui the Duke of Liaodong was still in control of modern Liaoning and still considered himself a Jin vassal.

Confrontation with Wang Dun

By 320, Emperor Yuan's relationship with Wang Dun was at a breaking point, as Wang Dun had grown more and more arrogant and controlling of the western provinces. Emperor Yuan feared him, and therefore began to group men around him who were against Wang Dun as well, such as Liu Huai and Diao Xie -- men of mixed reputation who, in their efforts to suppress the Wangs' power offended many other people. In 321, Emperor Yuan commissioned Dai Yuan and Liu with substantial forces, claiming that they were to defend against Later Zhao attacks, but instead was intending to have them defend against a potential Wang Dun attack.

In spring 322, Wang Dun started his campaign against Emperor Yuan, claiming that Emperor Yuan was being deluded by Liu and Diao, and that his only intent was to clean up the government. He tried to persuade Gan Zhuo , the governor of Liang Province and Sima Cheng the governor of Xiang Province to join him, and while both resisted, neither was effective in their campaigns against his rear guards. Wang quickly arrived in Jiankang, defeating Emperor Yuan's forces and entering and pillaging Jiankang easily. Liu fled to Later Zhao, while Diao, Dai, and Zhou Yi were killed. Emperor Yuan was forced to submit and grant Wang Dun additional powers in the west. Wang Dun, satisfied, allowed Emperor Yuan to remain on the throne, and personally withdrew back to his home base of Wuchang . His forces then defeated and killed Sima Cheng, while a subordinate of Gan's, acting on Wang's orders, assassinated Gan.

After his defeat, Emperor Yuan grew despondent and ill. Around the new year of 323, he died. Crown Prince Shao succeeded to the throne as Emperor Ming.

Era names

* ''Jianwu'' 317-318
* ''Taixing'' 318-322
* ''Yongchang'' 322-323

Personal information

* Father
** Sima Jin , the Prince Gong of Langye, son of Sima Zhou Prince Wu of Langye, son of Sima Yi
* Mother
** Princess Xiahou Yuanji
* Wife
** Princess Yu Mengmu , posthumoustly honored as Empress Yuanjing
* Major Concubines
** Lady Xun , mother of Crown Prince Shao, Prince Pou, and Princess Xunyang
** Consort Zheng Achun , mother of Princes Huan and Yu, posthumously honored as Empress Dowager Xuan
** Consort Shi, mother of Prince Chong
** Consort Wang, mother of Prince Xi
* Children
** Sima Shao , the Crown Prince, later Emperor Ming of Jin
** Sima Pou , initially the Marquess of Changleting, later the Duke of Xuancheng, later Prince Xiao of Langye
** Sima Chong , Prince Ai of Donghai
** Sima Xi , Prince Wei of Wuling
** Sima Huan , initially the Marquess of Changleting, later the Marquess of Xianyiting, later Prince Dao of Langye
** Sima Yu , initially the Prince of Langye , later the Prince of Kuaiji , later Emperor Jianwen of Jin
** Princess Xunyang
** Princess Nankang

Emperor Ming of Jin

Emperor Ming of Jin , personal name Sima Shao , courtesy name Daoji , was an emperor of the Eastern Jin Dynasty . During his brief reign , he led the weakened Jin out of domination by the warlord Wang Dun, but at his early death, the empire was left to his young son , and the fragile balance of power that he created was soon broken, leading to the Su Jun Disturbance and weakening the Jin state even further.

Early life

Sima Shao was born in 299, as the oldest son of his father , then the Prince of Langye, by his lowly-born concubine Lady Xun, who then in 300 gave birth to another son, Sima Pou . Sima Rui's wife, Princess Yu Mengmu , who was herself childless, became very jealous of Lady Xun and mistreated her greatly. Lady Xun, not able to bear the abuse, complained bitterly, and was thrown out of the household. Sima Shao was therefore raised by Princess Yu, with whom he apparently had a cordial relationship. During his youth, he was considered intelligent and quick-thinking, although eventually his brother Sima Pou became more favored by their father.

While Sima Rui served as Left Prime Minister under , the teenage Sima Shao was put in charge of defending Guangling. After Sima Rui declared himself the Prince of Jin following Emperor Min's capture by Han Zhao in 316, he initially wanted to make Sima Pou his crown prince, but after Wang Dao pointed out that traditionally the older son should succeed him, he created Sima Shao crown prince. Sima Shao remained in that status after his father declared himself emperor in 318, after Han Zhao executed Emperor Min.

As crown prince

While crown prince, Sima Shao was known for seeking out talented men and befriendly them, treating them as friends and not as subordinates. These included Wang Dao, Yu Liang , Wen Jiao, Huan Yi , and Ruan Fang . He was also known for his filial piety and his literary studies. He later also added martial arts to his studies, and he often visited troops to encourage them.

When Wang Dun rebelled against Emperor Yuan in 322, the capital Jiankang fell easily to Wang. Upon hearing news that Wang had breached Jiankang's defenses, Crown Prince Shao was going to himself make a last stand, but Wen stopped him by cutting off the ropes off his horse. When Wang subsequently forced Emperor Yuan into submission, he considered deposing Crown Prince Shao by falsely accusing Crown Prince Shao of being disobedient to Emperor Yuan. However, Wen prevented this by publicly praising Crown Prince Shao of filial piety, making Wang's putative accusations not credible.

Early in 323, Emperor Yuan died in distress after his defeat by Wang. Crown Prince Shao succeeded to the throne as Emperor Ming.


One of the first things that Emperor Ming did was locating his birth mother Lady Xun, putting her in a mansion, and creating her the Lady of Jian'an. However, perhaps out of respect for his deceased stepmother Princess Yu , he never gave her an empress dowager title -- and Emperor Ming honored Princess Yu's family as appropriately he would a mother's family -- and he was particularly close to Princess Yu's brother Yu Yin . A few months after he took the throne, Lady Xun moved into the palace. Emperor Ming also created his wife, Crown Princess Yu, empress.

Wang Dun did not think much of the new emperor, and he plotted usurping the throne. In summer 323, he had Emperor Ming summon him to the capital, but actually did not go to the capital, but only moved his headquarters from Wuchang to Gushu , closer to the capital, and also taking over the governorship of the capital province. When Emperor Ming tried to commission the official Chi Jian as the military commander at Hefei, positionally behind Wang, Wang resisted, and Emperor Ming was forced to recall Chi.

In 324, Wang Dun grew ill, and became resolved to overthrow Jin so that his adopted son, Wang Ying , could be emperor. He also made Wen Jiao, by that point a trusted assistant, the mayor of Jiankang, to keep an eye on the emperor -- forgetting that Wen was loyal to Emperor Ming, and upon arrival in Jiankang, Wen informed Emperor Ming of Wang's plans, as well as his illness. Wang Dao, also loyal to Emperor Ming, then falsely declared to the imperial forces that Wang Dun had died, further increasing their morale, and Emperor Ming reinforced his troops by summoning battle-tested soldiers from the northern borders with Later Zhao back to the capital. Wang Dun then sent his forces east to Jiankang, headed by his brother Wang Han and Qian Feng , but could not decisively defeat the imperial troops. The imperial troops then attacked by, defeating Wang Han. Wang Dun, upon hearing initial news of defeat, died. The imperial forces then defeated Wang Han's troops more completely, forcing Wang Han and Wang Ying to flee, but they were captured by Wang Dun's brother Wang Shu , who executed them by drowning to show his loyalty.

In 325, Emperor Ming posthumously awarded officials who had died at Wang Dun's hands throughout the years with titles and honors. He also put the general Tao Kan, known for his military and governing capabilities, in charge of most of Wang Dun's former domain, including the key Jing Province .

In fall 325, Emperor Ming grew ill. He entrusted his four-year-old son, , to a group of high-level officials, including Sima Yang the Prince of Xiyang, Wang Dao, Bian Kun , Chi Jian, Yu Liang, Lu Ye , and Wen Jiao, perhaps intending that they lead by group with a balance of power. He died soon thereafter -- only 26 years old. The balance of power that he left was soon broken, however, as Empress Dowager Yu became the regent, and her brother Yu Liang became the most powerful of the officials, eventually offending Su Jun and Zu Yue into a rebellion that damaged Jin for years.

Era name

* ''Taining'' 323-326

Personal information

* Father
** Emperor Yuan of Jin
* Mother
** Lady Xun
* Wife
** Empress Yu Wenjun , sister of Yu Liang, mother of Emperors Cheng and Kang
* Children
** Sima Yan , the Crown Prince , later Emperor Cheng of Jin
** Sima Yue , originally the Prince of Wu , later the Prince of Langye , later Emperor Kang of Jin
** Sima Xingnan , the Princess Nankang, wife of Huan Wen
** Princess Luling
** Princess Taiping

Emperor Cheng of Jin

Emperor Cheng of Jin , personal name Sima Yan , courtesy name Shigen , was an emperor of the Eastern Jin Dynasty . He was the eldest son of and became the crown prince on April 1, 325. During his reign, the administration was largely dominated by a succession of regents -- initially his uncle Yu Liang, then Wang Dao, then the joint administration of He Chong and another uncle Yu Bing . He became emperor at age four, and soon after his ascension to the throne, the disastrous rebellion of Su Jun weakened Jin forces for decades.

Family background

Sima Yan was born as the oldest son of Emperor Ming of Jin, who was crown prince at that time, by his wife , in 321. After Emperor Ming took the throne in 323 following the death of his father , he created Crown Princess Yu empress, but did not immediately create Prince Yan crown prince, until 325.

In fall 325, Emperor Ming grew ill. He entrusted the four-year-old Crown Prince Yan to a group of high-level officials, including Sima Yang the Prince of Xiyang, Wang Dao, Bian Kun , Chi Jian , Lu Ye , Wen Jiao, and Empress Yu's brother Yu Liang, perhaps intending that they lead by group with a balance of power. He died soon thereafter. Crown Prince Yan took the throne as Emperor Cheng.


Yu Liang's regency

Initially, the officials were in charge together, but as Empress Dowager Yu became regent, Yu Liang became effectively the most powerful official in the administration. He changed from the lenient policies of Wang to stricter applications of laws and regulations, which offended the officials accustomed to Wang's lenience. Further, he became apprehensive of the generals Tao Kan and Zu Yue -- neither of whom was mentioned in the list of honors and promotions announced by Emperor Ming's will and believed that Yu had erased their names from the will -- and Su Jun, who had allowed many criminals to join his army. In 326, he alienated public opinion by falsely accusing Sima Yang's brother Sima Zong the Prince of Nandun of treason and killing him and deposing Sima Yang.

The Su Jun Disturbance

In 327, apprensive of Su, Yu decided to try to strip his military command by promoting him to the minister of agriculture -- a position that did not involve commanding troops. After initially hesitating, Su eventually refused and formed an alliance with Zu against Yu. Upon hearing this, Wen, whom Yu had made the governor of Jiang Province to defend against Tao, the governor of Jing Province , wanted to quickly move to help defend the capital Jiankang, as did the local forces to the east of the capital, but Yu declined all help, wanting Wen to remain in position against Tao and believing that he can defeat Su easily. Fearful that Yu would be defeated by Su, Wen headed toward the capital any way, but before that Su was able to capture the capital in early 328 and take Emperor Cheng and Empress Dowager Yu hostage. Bian died in the battle, and Yu Liang was forced to flee to Wen. Su allowed his soldiers to pillage the capital, and officials and commoners alike had their possessions -- as well as clothes -- stripped by Su's army, which even seized Empress Dowager Yu's servant girls. Empress Dowager Yu, humiliated by Su and fearful of what was to come, soon died in anxiety.

Su organized a new government, with Wang Dao, whom Su respected, as the titular regent, but with Su himself in actual power. Meanwhile, Yu and Wen organized efforts to recapture the capital. Wen's cousin Wen Chong suggested inviting Tao, a capable general with a sizable army, to be the supreme commander of the army. However, Tao, still resentful of Yu, initially refused. Eventually he relented and joined Wen and Yu. They advanced east toward Jiankang. In response, Su forcibly took Emperor Cheng to the fortress of Shitou and put him and his attendants under virtual arrest. Meanwhile, Wang was secretly ordering the commanderies to the east to rise against Su, and he eventually persuaded Su's general Lu Yong to defect with him to Wen and Tao's army as well. Chi also arrived with his forces from Guangling .

The Su and anti-Su forces battled for months, indecisively, and despite the numeric advantage the anti-Su forces had, they were unable to prevail, leading Tao to at one point consider withdrawing. However, Wen was able to persuade him to stay and continuing the battles against Su. In the fall, during an assault on Shitou, the anti-Su forces initially suffered losses, but as Su was making a counterattack against them, he fell off his horse and was hit by spears. The anti-Su soldiers rushed him and decapitated him. Su's forces initially supported his brother Su Yi as leader and continued to defend Shitou, but by early 329 were defeated.

In the aftermaths of Su Jun's defeat, with Jiankang having been heavily damaged by war, the top officials considered moving the capital to either Yuzhang or Kuaiji , but after Wang opposed, noting that Jiankang was in a better position to monitor the northern defenses against Later Zhao, the capital remained at Jiankang. Wen was requested to remain in Jiankang as regent, but he, believing that Emperor Ming intended Wang to serve that role, yielded the position to Wang. Meanwhile, Yu Liang, initially offering to resign all of his posts and go into exile, accepted a provincial governor post.

In light of his mother's death, the eight-year-old Emperor Cheng appeared to have been raised by his paternal grandmother, Lady Xun, from this point on.

Wang Dao's regency

In late 329, Wen Jiao died, and the general Guo Mo soon assassinated his successor Liu Yin and seized Jing Province for himself. Wang Dao initially wanted to avoid another war and placated Guo, but Tao Kan and Yu Liang opposed, and their forces quickly converged on Jiang Province's capital Xunyang in 330, killing Guo.

Meanwhile, during and after the Su Jun Disturbance, Jin forces in central China, without the central government's aid, were unable to hold their positions and eventually lost most of central China to Later Zhao. Key cities lost during this time included the old capital Luoyang, Shouchun , and Xiangyang , although Xiangyang was recaptured in 332. In 333, Jin also lost Ning Province to Cheng Han .

As regent, Wang largely restored his earlier policy of lenience and lax enforcement of the laws, greatly stabilizing the political scene but also leading to the spreading of corruption and incompetence. Eventually, in 338, Yu Liang tried to persuade Chi Jian to join him in moving to depose Wang, but after Chi refused, Yu did not carry out his plan.

In 336, Emperor Cheng married his wife Empress Du Lingyang. Both of them were 15.

In 337, Murong Huang, the Xianbei chief who had been a Jin vassal with the Jin-bestowed title of Duke of Liaodong, claimed the title of Prince of Yan notwithstanding Jin's failure to grant him that title, effectively declaring independence and establishing Former Yan, although Murong Huang continued to claim to be a Jin vassal.

In 339, Yu wanted to make a major attack against Later Zhao, hoping to recapture central China, and Wang initially agreed with him, but after opposition by Chi and Cai Mo , Emperor Cheng ordered Yu not to carry out the war plans. Wang died in the fall of that year, and was succeeded by his assistant He Chong and Yu Liang's younger brother Yu Bing . Emperor Cheng let He and Yu Bing decide most important matters, but appeared to also began to make some decisions of his own. Yu Bing and He tried to reform some of the problems with Wang's regency, but did not appear very effective at doing so.

Late reign

After Wang Dao's death, Yu Liang resumed his plans for a campaign against Later Zhao, and this brought a major response by Later Zhao's emperor Shi Hu in late 339. Later Zhao forces inflicted great damage on many Jin cities and bases north of the Yangtze and captured Zhucheng . Humiliated, Yu cancelled the plans for a northern campaign, and he died in early 340.

Also in 340, Murong Huang formally requested that he be granted the title Prince of Yan. After lengthy debates among key officials about whether Murong Huang was still a faithful vassal, Emperor Cheng himself ruled that the request be granted.

In spring 341, Empress Du died. Emperor Cheng would not create another empress.

Later that year, Emperor Cheng decreed that the refugees from northern and central China, who had fled south during the times of and , who had retained household registrations according to their native commanderies, be henceforth registered with the commanderies that they were now living in. This pragmatic move allowed the local commanderies to have greater manpower and reduced redundancy in local administrations.

In summer 342, Emperor Cheng grew gravely ill. He had two young sons -- and , then still in cradles, by his concubine . Yu Bing, fearful that the Yus would lose power if a young emperor were named, persuaded Emperor Cheng that in the face of the powerful enemy Later Zhao that an older emperor should be named. Emperor Cheng agreed and designated his younger brother, the Prince of Langye be his heir, despite He Chong's opposition. He issued an edict entrusting his sons to Yu Bing, He, Sima Xi the Prince of Wuling, the Prince of Kuaiji , and Zhuge Hui . He died soon thereafter and was succeeded by Prince Yue .

Era names

* ''Xianhe'' 326-335
* ''Xiankang'' 335-342

Personal information

* Father
** Emperor Ming of Jin
* Mother
** Empress Yu Wenjun
* Wife
** Empress Du Lingyang
* Major Concubines
** , mother of Princes Pi and Yi
* Children
** Sima Pi , initially the Prince of Langye , later Emperor Ai of Jin
** Sima Yi , initially the Prince of Donghai , later the Prince of Langye , later Emperor Fei of Jin
** Princess Xunyang
** Princess Nanping