Jiang Ji Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

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Jiang Ji Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:53 am

Howdy. By collecting an paraphrasing relevant passages of Sima Guang's Zizhi Tongjian* I've pieced together a biography of the Wei officer Jiang Ji. Any additional information from reliable sources is welcome. Otherwise, it is here for educational and reference purposes.

*using Rafe de Crespigny's translation called To Establish Peace for years 189-220 and Achilles Fang's translation titled Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms for the later years

Jiang Ji (Zitong)
?-249
A.K.A. Drunkard Jiang, Master Jiang


Jiang Ji was born in Ping'a county in Jiujiang commandery, Yang Province.[1] He became a Reporting Officer for the commandery and later an Attendant Officer [congshi] of Yang province. He was known for frequently being drunk and was often discourteous to his superiors. The county magistrate, Shi Miao, grew very frustrated with Jiang Ji and set up a wooden mannequin labeled “The Drunkard Jiang Ji”. Every morning and every evening, he shot arrows into this likeness.[2] By 209, Jiang Ji became the aide-de-camp [biejia congshi] of Yang province. [3]

Sun Quan, following his victory at the Battle of Chibi in 208, attacked Cao Cao's holdings in Jing and Yang provinces. One group of this army led by Zhou Yu besieged Cao Ren at Nanjun. The other, led by Sun Quan himself attacked Cao Cao's army at Hefei county. A third army led by Zhang Zhao attacked Dangtu county, north of Hefei, but without success.[4]

The siege of Hefei started in the beginning of 209.[5] Cao Cao sent Zhang Xi with soldiers to relieve Hefei, but it would be some time before they arrived. Jiang Ji spoke to the Inspector of Yang Province and told him that he had received a letter from Zhang Xi stating that Zhang had arrived in Xulü county (Lujiang commandery, Yang province; it was about 120 km south of Hefei) with 40,000 soldiers[6]. The Inspector of Yang sent his Master of Records to receive Zhang Xi along with three sets of messengers to inform the soldiers at Hefei. One of the groups made it to the fortress while the other two were captured by Sun Quan. He believed that Zhang Xi was nearby and decided that his siege would fail if reinforcements came to Hefei, so he destroyed his siege engines and retreated.[7] Such was Jiang Ji's plan. In reality, Zhang Xi was still very far away and had only a handful of soldiers with which to reinforce Hefei. Had he arrived to do battle with Sun Quan, he would certainly have been defeated. However, Jiang Ji was able to trick Sun Quan into giving up the battle before Zhang Xi arrived, thus saving the city.[8]

Several years later, in 213, Cao Cao led an attack against Sun Quan's army. Though he initially achieved great success, he retreated due to the spring floods.[9] After this retreat, he feared that the people of his southern commanderies would suffer from raids by Sun Quan in retaliation for the earlier attack. He considered relocating the population farther north and discussed the matter with Jiang Ji, who was still aide-de-camp of Yang Province. Jiang Ji advised against the maneuver, but Cao Cao did not listen to him. The people of the area became frightened and scattered. Lujiang commandery became mostly deserted and the area south of Hefei county became mostly uninhabited. Sometime later, Jiang Ji went to Ye to bring dispatches to Cao Cao. When he saw Jiang Ji, Cao Cao regretted his decision and named Jiang Ji Grand Administrator[taishou] of Danyang, rewarding him for his good advice. Because Danyang was firmly under Sun Quan's control, the title was entirely honorary.[10]

Because he could not take his appointment in Danyang, Jiang Ji was send back to act as an Attendant Officer in Yang once more. During this time, a rumor spread that Jiang Ji intended to defect to Wu. Word of this reached Cao Cao, who completely disregarded the rumor and publicly expressed his confidence in Jiang Ji’s loyalty. Later, Jiang Ji was transferred to serve in Cao Cao’s office in the capitol. [11]

By 219, there were concerns in Cao Cao's army about the strength of the forces opposing them in Jing provice and there was some talk of shifting the capital from Xu city to a more distant location to avoid attacks by Guan Yu and Lu Meng. The sentiment was particularly strong following Guan Yu's victory over the veteran general Yu Jin, and during the following discussion, he was besieging Cao Ren at Fan. At this time, Jiang Ji was Junior Clerk in the Department of the West.[12] Along with Sima Yi Jiang Ji argued that Yu Jin's defeat was due to unfortunate circumstances (specifically, he had been defeated by a flood, not through any abilities of Guan Yu) and that the southern armies were no danger to the capital. They also noted that Sun Quan and Liu Bei held many grievances against each other and would turn against each other if they could. Jiang Ji and Sima Yi suggested sending someone to promise Sun Quan that he would be made king of all the land he currently controlled if he turned against Liu Bei. It was a proposal Cao Cao accepted.[13] As a result, Sun Quan sent Lu Meng to seize Guan Yu's territory in Jing while Guan was assaulting Cao Ren. Lu Meng took several commanderies with a minimum of bloodshed. Guan Yu was isolated and driven into a corner He was eventually captured in Danyang commandery and executed.

In 200, Cao Cao died and Cao Pi inherited his position. At that time, he appointed Jiang Ji Chief Clerk [changshi] to the Chancellor.[14] When Cao Pi took the throne and became Emperor Wen, Jiang Ji was promoted to General of the Gentlemen of the Household of the East [dong zhonglang jiang] and sent forth.[15]

Early in 221, sometime after ascending the throne as Emperor Wen of Wei, Cao Pi summoned Jiang Ji to the capital to appoint him to the office of the Masters of Writing [shangshu][16]. Shortly before this, Cao Pi had sent an edict to his good friend Xiahou Shang giving him great authority regarding rewarding and punishing ministers as he saw fit without the need for prior approval. Xiahou Shang showed this edict to Jiang Ji, who was greatly disturbed by this, believing that this sort of authority should be reserved only for the emperor. When he later saw Cao Pi, Cao Pi asked him about his thoughts on current affairs. Jiang Ji presented Cao Pi with his criticism of the edict. After hearing Jiang Ji's thoughts on the matter, Cao Pi recalled the edict.[17]

In 223, Cao Pi sent his soldiers to attack Sun Quan at Ruxu. Cao Ren led one of the divisions and Jiang Ji served under him for this campaign. At one point, Cao Ren planned to send some of his officers to assault the position at Zhongzhou. Jiang Ji warned that such an attack would end badly for them, though Cao Ren disregarded that advice. Jiang Ji proved correct – Sun Quan's general Zhu Huan attacked the soldiers sent to Zhongzhou and killed one of their commanders.[18]

Cao Pi led another attack against Sun Quan in 225. He intended to make use of waterways to transport soldiers and supplies. As a native of the area, Jiang Ji sent a memorial to the throne warning that the waterways would be difficult to navigate. Ultimately, his warning was ignored.[19] True to Jiang Ji's warning, the rivers partially froze making it impossible for the boats move across them, so the invasion had to be called off.[20] Because they had so many resources in the area, some officials suggested leaving the army behind to start agricultural colonies. Jiang Ji warned that – with a lake to the east and river to the north – when the water thawed it would be easy for Sun Quan to raid the area, so agricultural colonies were inadvisable. This time, Cao Pi listened to Jiang Ji and immediately withdrew to Lake Jinghu. Unfortunately, the ships were still trapped in the frozen rivers. Cao Pi entrusted Jiang Ji with those ships – a fortune in military equipment. Jiang Ji built dikes divert the river water to the rear of the ships, then used canals to bring the ships together. With the ships in place, he destroyed the dikes. The resulting surge of water moved the ships into the nearby Huai River, so they could now sail home.[21] Early in 226, Cao Pi returned to Luoyang. There he praised Jiang Ji for his good advice and inventive solutions regarding the boats mentioned above and requesting that Jiang Ji share all of his opinions with Cao Pi.[22]

Shortly after that, Cao Pi passed away from illness and his son Cao Rui ascended the throne as Emperor Ming. For his achievements, Jiang Ji was made a Guannei Marquis.[23]

During Cao Pi’s reign, Jiang Ji was the author of two scholarly works, which were written at Cao Pi’s behest. These were “The Myriad Subtleties” [wanji lun] and “Essay on the Three Provinces” [sanzhou lun]. [24] These works were highly praised and earned him the nickname “Master Jiang”. [25]

In 228, Sun Quan's general Zhou Fang pretended to defect to Wei and asked the Grand Commander [da sima] Cao Xiu to come and receive him. Cao Xiu took some of his soldiers and went south to Zhou Fang. When Jiang Ji heard of the maneuvers, he warned that Cao Xiu's position was extremely dangerous and that nothing good would come of it.[26] Hearing that Sun Quan's forces were maneuvering in the west as well as the east, Jiang Ji warned that Cao Rui should send Cao Xiu reinforcements as the two groups were certain to unite against him. Though Cao Xiu was defeated in the initial battle, the reinforcements Jiang Ji suggested arrived in time to hold back any follow-up attack by Sun Quan, ensuring that the defeat was not a crushing one.[27]

Gongsun Yuan ruled the Liaodong region. For thirty or forty years, the Gongsun family had reigned Liaodong like kings. They often sent tribute to the imperial court and because Liaodong was isolated and difficult to attack – and no danger to anyone – they were allowed to do as they pleased so long as they gave at least token loyalty to the Cao faction. However, Gongsun Yuan often made contact with Sun Quan and Cao Rui was worried about his loyalty. In 232, he sent Tian Yu, the former Inspector [cishi] of Bing province, to attack Liaodng by sea using troops from Qing province. Cao Rui also sent Wang Xiong, the Inspector of You province, to attack Liaodong by land. Jiang Ji argued that this expedition was pointless, as Gongsun Yuan was not going to invade their territory or take up arms against Cao Rui. He further argued that attacking Gongsun Yuan would only turn him into an enemy rather than a more-or-less neutral party. The Gongsun family of Liaodong had always done what was required of it and the was nothing to be gained by attacking them, while a failed attack would only serve to turn them hostile. Cao Rui did not accept Jiang Ji's argument.[28] While Tian Yu did manage to kill some of Sun Quan's envoys as they were returning to him from Liaodong, they achieved nothing against Gongsun Yuan and only succeeded in turning him hostile.[29]

In 233, Man Chong sent a memorial to the throne suggesting that they destroy the current fortress at Hefei and rebuild it thirty li to the west on top of a hill. His argument was that the old fortress was very close to rivers and lakes, which made it easy for Sun Quan to attack the fortress and also made it difficult to send reinforcements to it. By moving it to the hill, they would be drawing Sun Quan's forces away from the water and forcing them to fight on level ground. Jiang Ji opposed this proposal stating that to destroy their current fortress would make them look weak and invite attack. Initially, Cao Rui listened to Jiang Ji. Man Chong issued a counterargument saying that he wanted to invite Sun Quan to attack them. He wanted to lure them into attacking with a show of weakness and then destroy their army. Cao Rui then accepted this plan.[30]

Later, Sun Quan besieged the new fortress. For the first twenty days, he remained distant from the fortress because he did not want to leave his boat. Eventually Sun Quan was persuaded to do so. When he was on his way to the siege, Man Chong ambushed him and drove him away exactly as intended.[31]

At some point, a man named Wei Zhen was put in charge of selecting officials for government positions. Jiang Ji wrote to him and cited several famous examples of unorthodox officials who served as the highest ministers of state and suggested that Wei Zhen ignore the traditional examination system when appointing officials. Wei Zhen responded by saying that Jiang Ji was incline towards unorthodox appointments and if everyone listened to him, the country would be in chaos.[32]

In 235, Jiang Ji sent a memorial to Cao Rui warning him that he was not focusing enough on matters of domestic policy. Jiang Ji spoke of potential food shortages and the need for the government to invest in clothing and farming. He cautioned that warfare was more than weapons and soldiers – that armies needed food and clothing and shelter.[33] Cao Rui ignored his memorial.[34]

In 238, Gongsun Yuan rose in rebellion against Cao Rui and asked Sun Quan for assistance. Cao Rui sent Sima Yi to conquer Liaodong from Gongsun Yuan. Meanwhile, he asked Jiang Ji if Sun Quan would come to the aid of Gongsun Yuan. Jiang Ji answered that Sun Quan would not. He was incapable of making a deep incursion to help Gongsun Yuan, and a shallow incursion would be of no benefit to anyone. Sun Quan's show of support for Gongsun Yuan was for the benefit of the public. On the chance that Gongsun Yuan survived Sima Yi's attack, he might submit to Sun Quan. However, Jiang Ji also warned that there was a way that Sun Quan could be a danger. The far coast of Liaodong was distant from Gongsun Yuan's location. It was possible for Sun Quan to land forces there and make a surprise attack against Sima Yi's army. Fortunately, this threat never materialized.[35]

Liu Fang and Sun Zi were officials – Masters of Writing – who handled confidential papers for Cao Rui. Cao Rui trusted them greatly and often listened to their advice over that of anyone else. At one point, Jiang Ji sent a memorial to the throne warning Cao Rui against putting too much trust in any one minister. It would lead to an erosion of the emperor's power as more people turned to such ministers. Corruption was inevitable and no good could come of it. Cao Rui ignored his memorial.[36]

When Cao Rui fell ill in 239, he was uncertain who to name as supporters for his young successor. Liu Fang and Sun Zi dictated the events of this succession, dismissing many of those who Cao Rui originally intended to name. Eventually, Liu Fang and Sun Zi convinced Cao Rui to name only Cao Shuang and Sima Yi as regents.[37]

After Cao Rui's death, the young Cao Fang took the throne. Because of Cao Fang's age, power was wielded by Cao Shuang, Sima Yi, and Empress Dowager Guo. Initially, the Empress Dowager remained aloof from court events and Cao Shuang ran all of his decisions through Sima Yi before deciding upon anything. Sima Yi controlled events and the government ran smoothly.[38] As time passed, Cao Shuang and Sima Yi drifted apart. Cao Shuang had many friends who Cao Rui had barred from office due to incompetence.[39] Cao Shuang invited them into high government positions and began to trust their advice over that of Sima Yi. He stopped consulting Sima Yi on government matters and monopolized power.[40]

In 242, Jiang Ji was made Grand Commandant [taiwei], taking the place of the recently-deceased Man Chong.[41] In 247, Jiang Ji sent a memorial to the throne warning against employing and trusting incompetent and corrupt ministers, insulting Cao Shuang's party.[42]

In 249, Cao Shuang left the capital with Emperor Cao Fang to pay his respects at Cao Rui's tomb. Sima Yi raised the army and shut the city gates, demanding that Cao Shuang relinquish his position. He sent a memorial to Cao Fang accusing Cao Shuang of disloyalty in which he cited Jiang Ji as one of those who believed that Cao Shuang's loyalty was only to himself.[43] While Sima Yi waited for Cao Shuang's response, he spoke with Jiang Ji. One of Cao Shuang's subordinates, Huan Fan, escaped the city and went to speak with Cao Shuang. Sima Yi remarked upon Huan Fan's departure to Jiang Ji, who responded by saying that though Huan Fan was wise, Cao Shuang was too foolish to listen to his advice. The exchange is recorded as follows:

Sima Yi observed to Jiang Ji, “The ‘bag of wisdom’ is gone.”

“Huan Fan is indeed wise,” said Jiang Ji, “but stupid horses are too much attached to the beans in their manger. Cao Shuang is certain not to employ his counsel.”
[44]

Huan Fan advised Cao Shuang to move Cao Fang to Xu city and call upon their allies to fight against Sima Yi. True to Jiang Ji's prediction, Cao Shuang ignored Huan Fan's proposal and relinquished his position, surrendering to Sima Yi.[45] Jiang Ji had perhaps stacked the deck in his favor by sending a letter to Cao Shuang promising that no harm would come to him.[46] Four days later, Cao Shuang and a number of his associates – including Huan Fan – were accused of treason and executed.[47]

Cao Shuang was the son of Cao Zhen, one of the state's greatest and most loyal generals. Because Jiang Ji believed that Cao Zhen did not deserve for his line to be cut off due to Cao Shuang's greed and corruption, Jiang Ji ensured that Cao Shuang's nephew Cao Xi succeeded his title and lands so that Cao Zhen's line would continue.[48]

Following Cao Shuang's execution, Jiang Ji was made Marquis of Duxiang. He tried to decline the promotion citing that he should receive no reward for Cao Shuang's defeat, saying:

“I was invested with high office, yet Cao Shuang dared to harbor iniquitous intentions; this proves that I was incapable. The Grand Tutor (Sima Yi) exerted himself and took the matter in his hands for decision. Your Majesty (Cao Fang) has shown recognition of his loyal service. That criminals are put to death is a good fortune for the state. On the other hand, enfeoffment and rewards should be given to those who have earned merit. But as far as counsel is concerned, I was not aware beforehand; as far as battle is concerned, I am not one who led it.

If right measures are missed above, those below will suffer the evil consequences. I happen to be a State Minister, and in the eyes of all people, I am afraid a precedent of receiving rewards undeservedly might thus begin, and the excellent usage of modest declining fall into desuetude.”
[49]

In spite of his protests, Jiang Ji was made Marquis of Duxiang anyway.[50]

On May 19, 249 Jiang Ji passed away due to illness.[51]

Jiang Ji served the Cao family for over 40 years, providing sound advice four generations of Cao rulers. He never hesitated to speak his mind and always warned his superiors when he believed they were making mistakes. He spoke out against Cao Shuang's faction at a time when it was very dangerous to do so and showed humility by attempting to decline reward for his part in ousting that faction. He was disparaging of the examination system and believed that people of ability could be found regardless of their backgrounds. He was an extremely capable minister whose service to his state was rivaled by few.

Notes
[1]ZZTJ Jian'an 14, C
[2] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, pg. 375
[3]ZZTJ Jian'an 14, C
[4]ZZTJ Jian'an 13, UU
[5]ZZTJ Jian'an 13, UU
[6]de Crespigny Jian'an 14, C; note 4
[7]ZZTJ Jian'an 14, C
[8]de Crespigny Jian'an 14, C; note 5
[9]ZZTJ Jian'an'18, A
[10] ZZTJ Jian'an 18, B.
[11] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, pg. 375
[12] de Crespigny’s note 14 of Jian’an 13 says that the Department of the West was responsible for the recommendation and promotion of officials in the central government.
[13]ZZTJ Jian'an 24, U
[14]During the Han, the headquarters of the General-in-Chief contained a Chief Clerk as an administrative adjunct to the military organization. The Chief Clerk to the Chancellor most likely served the same position in the army led by Cao Pi; formerly the army led by Cao Cao. As such, this was an important position. The Chief Clerk had a rank/salary of 1,000 shi. - paraphrased from de Crespigny, Later Han Military Organisation
[15]Fang, Huangchu 1, 44; note 44 (1)
[16]The Masters of Writing were a special component of the government. They were technically under the supervision of the Minister Steward. The Masters of Writing were responsible for drafting the edicts of the emperor, giving them direct access to the highest levels of government. - paraphrased from de Crespigny, Later Han Civil Administration
[17]ZZTJ Huangchu 1, 44
[18]ZZTJ Huangchu 4, 3
[19]ZZTJ Huangchu 6, 23
[20]ZZTJ Huangchu 6, 25
[21]ZZTJ Huangchu 6, 26
[22]ZZTJ Huangchu 7, 2
[23] This was an honorary title that came with a yearly salary of 950 shi. Note that this is not the same as a Full Marquis, who is awarded a marquisstate and given a portion of the tax revenue of a number of households.
[24] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, pg. 375
[25] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, pg. 375
[26]ZZTJ Taihe 2, 26
[27]Fang, Taihe 2, 26; note 26.3
[28]ZZTJ Taihe 6, 11
[29]ZZTJ Taihe 6, 12
[30]ZZTJ Taihe 6, 20
[31]ZZTJ Qinglong 1, 17
[32]ZZTJ Jingchu 1, 34
[33]ZZTJ Qinglong 3, 15
[34]ZZTJ Qinglong 3, 17
[35]ZZTJ Jingchu 2, 3
[36]ZZTJ Jingchu 2, 40
[37]ZZTJ Jingchu 2, 46
[38] ZZTJ Jingchu 3, 6
[39] ZZTJ Jingchu 3, 7
[40] ZZTJ Jingchu 3, 8
[41]ZZTJ Zhengshi 3, 4
[42]ZZTJ Zhengshi 8, 3
[43]ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 4
[44]ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 8
[45]ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 9
[46]ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 26
[47]ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 11
[48]Fang, Jiaping 1, 26; note 26.1
[49]Fang, Jiaping 1, 26; note 26.3 quoting the sanguozhi biography of Jiang Ji
[50]ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 26
[51] ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 26
Last edited by capnnerefir on Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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capnnerefir
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Re: ZZTJ Biography of Jiang Ji

Unread postby Jordan » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:51 am

Wow, that's awesome. Welcome to the forums and thanks for this lovely biography. Great job. It's rare to see somebody do something like this as their first post!
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Re: ZZTJ Biography of Jiang Ji

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:19 am

I'm going to go ahead and proofread* it for you to patch up a few typos. :wink:

*Not an edit, not fact-checking anything

And yes, by the way, way awesome of you! This makes Jiang Ji sound pretty awesome, I appreciate your efforts.

capnnerefir wrote:Jiang Ji (Zitong)

Jiang Ji was born in Ping’a County in Jiujiang Commandery, Yang Province. He is first mentioned as the Aide-de-Camp of Yang Province in 209. (1)

Sun Quan, following his victory at the Battle of Chibi, attacked Cao Cao’s holdings in Jing and Yang provinces. One group of this army led by Zhou Yu besieged Cao Ren at Nanjun. The other, led by Sun Quan himself, attacked Cao Cao’s army at Hefei County. A third army led by Zhang Zhao attacked Dangtu County, north of Hefei, but without success. (2)

The siege of Hefei began in the beginning of 209 (i). Cao Cao sent Zhang Xi with soldiers to relieve Hefei, but it would be some time before they arrived. Jiang Ji spoke to the Inspector of Yang Province and told him that he had received a letter from Zhang Xi stating that Zhang had arrived in Xulü County (Lujiang Commandery, Yang Province; it was about 120 km south of Hefei) with 40,000 soldiers (ii). The Inspector of Yang sent his Master of Records to receive Zhang Xi along with three sets of messengers to inform the soldiers at Hefei. One of the groups made it to the fortress, while the other two were captured by Sun Quan. Sun Quan believed that Zhang Xi was nearby and decided that his siege would fail if reinforcements came to Hefei, so he destroyed his siege engines and retreated. (3) Such was Jiang Ji’s plan. In reality, Zhang Xi was still very far away and had only a handful of soldiers with which to reinforce Hefei. Had he arrived to do battle with Sun Quan, he would certainly have been defeated. However, Jiang Ji was able to trick Sun Quan into giving up the battle before Zhang Xi arrived, thus saving the city. (4)

Several years later, in 213, Cao Cao led an attack against Sun Quan’s army. Though he initially achieved great success, he retreated due to the spring floods. (5) After this retreat, he feared that the people of his southern commanderies would suffer from raids by Sun Quan in retaliation for the earlier attack. He considered relocating the population farther north and discussed the matter with Jiang Ji, who was still Aide-de-Camp of Yang Province. Jiang Ji advised against the maneuver, but Cao Cao did not listen to him. The people of the area became frightened and scattered. Lujiang Commandery became mostly deserted and the area south of Hefei County became mostly uninhabited. Some time later, Jiang Ji went to Ye City (Wei State, Ji Province) to bring dispatches to Cao Cao. When he saw Jiang Ji, Cao Cao regretted his decision and named Jiang Ji Grand Administrator of Danyang, rewarding him for his good advice. Because Danyang was firmly under Sun Quan’s control, the title was entirely honorary, though it did imply that if and when Cao Cao conquered Danyang, command of that commandery would be given to Jiang Ji. (6)

By 219, there were concerns in Cao Cao’s army about the strength of the forces opposing them in Jing Province, and there was some talk of shifting the capital from Xu City to a more distant location to avoid attacks by Guan Yu and Lu Meng. The sentiment was particularly strong following Guan Yu’s victory over the veteran general Yu Jin, who was besieging Cao Ren at Fan when they were discussing it. At this time, Jiang Ji was Junior Clerk in the Department of the West. Along with Sima Yi (the Major to the Army of the Chancellor – i.e. Cao Cao), Jiang Ji argued that Yu Jin’s defeat was due to unfortunate circumstances (specifically, he had been defeated by a flood, not through any abilities of Guan Yu) and that the southern armies were no danger to the capital. They also noted that Sun Quan and Liu Bei held many grievances against each other and would turn against each other if they had the chance. Jiang Ji and Sima Yi suggested sending someone to promise Sun Quan that he would be made king of all the land he currently controlled if he turned against Liu Bei. It was a proposal Cao Cao accepted. (7) As a result, Sun Quan sent Lu Meng to seize Guan Yu’s territory in Jing while Guan was assaulting Cao Ren. Lu Meng took several commanderies with a minimum of bloodshed. Guan Yu was isolated and driven into a corner. He was eventually captured in Danyang Commandery (Yang Province) and executed.

In 200, Cao Cao died and Cao Pi inherited his position. At that time, he appointed Jiang Ji Chief Clerk to the Chancellor (the Chancellor being Cao Pi). (8) When Cao Pi took the throne and became Emperor Wen, Jiang Ji was promoted to General of the Gentlemen of the Household of the East and sent forth. (9)

Early in 221, some time after ascending the throne as Emperor Wen of Wei, Cao Pi summoned Jiang Ji to the capital to appoint him to the office of the Masters of Writing. (10) Shortly before this, Cao Pi had sent an edict to his good friend Xiahou Shang, giving him great authority regarding rewarding and punishing ministers as he saw fit without the need for prior approval. Xiahou Shang showed this edict to Jiang Ji, who was greatly disturbed by it, believing that this sort of authority should be reserved only for the emperor. When he later saw Cao Pi, Cao Pi asked him about his thoughts on current affairs. Jiang Ji presented Cao Pi with his criticism of the edict. After hearing Jiang Ji’s thoughts on the matter, Cao Pi recalled the edict. (11)

In 223, Cao Pi sent his soldiers to attack Sun Quan at Ruxu. Cao Ren led one of the divisions and Jiang Ji served under him for this campaign. At one point, Cao Ren planned to send some of his officers to assault the position at Zhongzhou. Jiang Ji warned that such an attack would end badly for them, though Cao Ren disregarded that advice. Jiang Ji proved to be correct – Sun Quan’s general Zhu Huan attacked the soldiers sent to Zhongzhou and killed one of their commanders. (12)

Cao Pi led another attack against Sun Quan in 225. He intended to make use of waterways to transport soldiers and supplies. As a native of the area, Jiang Ji sent a memorial to the throne warning that the waterways would be difficult to navigate. Ultimately, his warning was ignored. (13) True to Jiang Ji’s warning, the rivers partially froze, making it impossible for the boats move across them, so the invasion had to be called off. (14) Because they had so many resources in the area, some officials suggested leaving the army behind to start agricultural colonies. Jiang Ji warned that – with a lake to the east and river to the north – when the water thawed it would be easy for Sun Quan to raid the area, so agricultural colonies were inadvisable. This time, Cao Pi listened to Jiang Ji and immediately withdrew to Lake Jinghu. Unfortunately, the ships were still trapped in the frozen rivers. Cao Pi entrusted Jiang Ji with these ships, which contained a fortune in military equipment. Jiang Ji built dikes to divert the river water to the rear of the ships, then used canals to bring the ships together. With the ships in place, he destroyed the dikes. The resulting surge of water moved the ships into the nearby Huai River, so they could now sail home. (15)

Early in 226, Cao Pi returned to Luoyang. There, he praised Jiang Ji for his good advice and inventive solution regarding the boats, and requested that Jiang Ji share all of his opinions with him. (16)

Shortly after that, Cao Pi passed away from illness, and his son Cao Rui ascended the throne as Emperor Ming. For his achievements, Jiang Ji was made a Marquis of the Imperial Domain. (17)

In 228, Sun Quan’s general Zhou Fang pretended to defect to Wei and asked Cao Xiu (who was the commander of a huge portion of the army) to come southwards to receive him. Cao Xiu took some of his soldiers and went south to Zhou Fang. When Jiang Ji heard of the developments, he warned that Cao Xiu’s position was extremely dangerous and that nothing good would come of it. (18) Hearing that Sun Quan’s forces were maneuvering in the west as well as the east, Jiang Ji warned that Cao Rui should send Cao Xiu reinforcements, as the two groups were certain to unite against him. Though Cao Xiu was defeated in the initial battle, the reinforcements Jiang Ji suggested sending arrived in time to hold back any follow-up attack by Sun Quan, ensuring that the defeat was not a crushing one. (19)

Gongsun Yuan ruled the Liaodong region. For thirty or forty years, the Gongsun family had ruled Liaodong as kings. They often sent tribute to the imperial court, and because Liaodong was isolated and difficult to attack – and no danger to anyone – they were allowed to do as they pleased so long as they showed at least token loyalty to the Cao faction. However, Gongsun Yuan often made contact with Sun Quan, and Cao Rui was worried about his loyalty. In 232, he sent Tian Yu, the former Governor of Bing Province, to attack Liaodong by sea using troops from Qing Province. Cao Rui also sent Wang Xiong, the Governor of You Province, to attack Liaodong by land. Jiang Ji argued that this expedition was pointless, as Gongsun Yuan was not going to invade their territory or take up arms against Cao Rui. He further argued that attacking Gongsun Yuan would only turn him into an enemy, rather than a more-or-less neutral entity. The Gongsun family of Liaodong had always done what was required of it, and there was nothing to be gained by attacking them, while a failed attack would only serve to turn them hostile. Cao Rui did not accept Jiang Ji’s argument. (20) While Tian Yu did manage to kill some of Sun Quan’s envoys as they were returning to him from Liaodong, he and Wang achieved nothing against Gongsun Yuan, and only succeeded in turning him hostile. (21)

In 233, Man Chong sent a memorial to the throne suggesting that they destroy the current fortress at Hefei and rebuild it thirty leagues to the west, on top of a hill. His argument was that the old fortress was very close to rivers and lakes, which made it easy for Sun Quan to attack the fortress and also made it difficult to send reinforcements to it. By moving it onto the hill, they would be drawing Sun Quan’s forces away from the water and forcing them to fight on level ground. Jiang Ji opposed this proposal, stating that destroying their current fortress would make them look weak and invite attack. Initially, Cao Rui listened to Jiang Ji. Man Chong issued a counterargument saying that he wanted to encourage Sun Quan to attack them. He wanted to lure them into attacking with a show of weakness and then destroy their army. Cao Rui then accepted this plan. (22)

Later, Sun Quan besieged the new fortress. For the first twenty days, he kept his distance from the fortress because he did not want to leave his boat, but he eventually decided to make his approach. On his way to siege the fortress, Man Chong ambushed him and drove him away, exactly as he had intended. (23)

At some point, a man named Wei Zhen was put in charge of selecting officials for government positions. Jiang Ji wrote to him and cited several famous examples of unorthodox officials who served as the highest ministers of state, and suggested that Wei Zhen ignore the traditional examination system when appointing officials. Wei Zhen responded by saying that Jiang Ji was inclined towards unorthodox appointments, and if everyone listened to him, the country would be in chaos. (24)

In 235, Jiang Ji sent a memorial to Cao Rui cautioning him that he was not focusing enough on matters of domestic policy. Jiang Ji warned of potential food shortages and the need for the government to invest in clothing and farming. He suggested that warfare was more than weapons and soldiers – that armies needed food and clothing and shelter. (25) Cao Rui ignored his memorial. (26)

In 238, Gongsun Yuan rose in rebellion against Cao Rui and asked Sun Quan for assistance. Cao Rui sent Sima Yi to seize Liaodong from Gongsun Yuan. Meanwhile, he asked Jiang Ji if Sun Quan would come to the aid of Gongsun Yuan. Jiang Ji answered that Sun Quan would not. He was incapable of making a deep incursion into Liaodong to help Gongsun Yuan, and a lighter incursion would be of no benefit to anyone. Sun Quan’s show of support for Gongsun Yuan (was for the benefit of the public**). On the chance that Gongsun Yuan survived Sima Yi’s attack, there was a chance he might submit to Sun Quan. However, Jiang Ji also warned that there was a way that Sun Quan could pose a threat. The far coast of Liaodong was distant from Gongsun Yuan’s location. It was possible for Sun Quan's forces to make landfall there and launch a surprise attack against Sima Yi’s army. Fortunately, this threat never materialized. (27)

Liu Fang and Sun Zi were officials – Masters of Writing – who handled confidential papers for Cao Rui. Cao Rui trusted them greatly and often listened to their advice over that of anyone else. At one point, Jiang Ji sent a memorial to the throne warning Cao Rui against putting too much trust in any one minister. It would lead to an erosion of the emperor’s power as more people turned to such ministers. Corruption would be inevitable, and no good could come of it. Cao Rui ignored his memorial. (28)

When Cao Rui fell ill in 239, he was uncertain who to name as supporters for his young successor. Liu Fang and Sun Zi dictated the events of this succession, dismissing many of those who Cao Rui originally intended to name. Eventually, Liu Fang and Sun Zi convinced Cao Rui to name only Cao Shuang and Sima Yi as regents. (29)

After Cao Rui’s death, the young Cao Fang took the throne. Because of Cao Fang’s age, power was wielded by Cao Shuang, Sima Yi, and Empress Dowager Guo. Initially, the Empress Dowager remained aloof from court events, and Cao Shuang ran all of his decisions by Sima Yi before deciding upon anything. Sima Yi had some control over affairs, and the government ran smoothly.

In 242, Jiang Ji was promoted to taiyu, taking the place of the recently-deceased Man Chong. (30)

As time passed, Cao Shuang and Sima Yi drifted apart. Cao Shuang had many friends who Cao Rui had barred from office due to incompetence and corruption. Cao Shuang invited them to take high government positions and began to trust their advice over that of Sima Yi. He stopped consulting Sima Yi on government matters and monopolized power. In 247, Jiang Ji sent a memorial to the throne warning against employing and trusting incompetent and corrupt ministers, insulting Cao Shuang’s party. (31)

In 249, Cao Shuang left the capital with Emperor Cao Fang to pay his respects at Cao Rui’s tomb. Sima Yi took control of the army and shut the city gates, demanding that Cao Shuang relinquish his position. He sent a memorial to Cao Fang accusing Cao Shuang of disloyalty, in which he cited Jiang Ji as one of those who believed that Cao Shuang’s loyalty was only to himself. (32) While Sima Yi waited for Cao Shuang’s response, he spoke with Jiang Ji. One of Cao Shuang’s subordinates, Huan Fan, escaped the city and went to speak with Cao Shuang. Sima Yi remarked on Huan Fan’s departure to Jiang Ji, who responded by saying that, though Huan Fan was wise, Cao Shuang was too foolish to listen to his advice. The exchange is recorded as follows:

Sima Yi observed to Jiang Ji, “The ‘bag of wisdom’ is gone.”

“Huan Fan is indeed wise,” said Jiang Ji, “but stupid horses are far too attached to the beans in their manger. Cao Shuang is certain not to employ his counsel.” (33)

Huan Fan advised Cao Shuang to move Cao Fang to Xu City and call upon their allies to fight against Sima Yi. True to Jiang Ji’s prediction, Cao Shuang ignored Huan Fan’s proposal and relinquished his position, surrendering to Sima Yi. (34) Jiang Ji had perhaps stacked the deck in his favor by sending a letter to Cao Shuang promising that no harm would come to him. (35) Four days later, Cao Shuang and a number of his associates – including Huan Fan – were accused of treason and executed. (36)

Cao Shuang was the son of Cao Zhen, one of the state’s greatest and most loyal generals. Because Jiang Ji believed that Cao Zhen did not deserve for his line of the Cao family to be cut off because of Cao Shuang’s greed and corruption, Jiang Ji ensured that Cao Shuang’s nephew Cao Xi was given his title and lands so that Cao Zhen’s line would continue. (37)

Following Cao Shuang’s execution, Jiang Ji was made Marquis of Duxiang. He tried to decline the promotion, citing that he should receive no reward for Cao Shuang’s defeat, saying:

I was invested with high office, yet Cao Shuang dared to harbor iniquitous intentions; this proves that I was incapable. The Grand Tutor (Sima Yi) exerted himself and took the matter in his hands for decision. Your Majesty (Cao Fang) has shown recognition of his loyal service. That criminals are put to death is a good fortune for the state. On the other hand, enfeoffment and rewards should be given to those who have earned merit. But as far as counsel is concerned, I was not aware beforehand; as far as battle is concerned, I am not one who led it.

If right measures are missed above, those below will suffer the evil consequences. I happen to be a State Minister, and in the eyes of all people, I am afraid a precedent of receiving rewards undeservedly might thus begin, and the excellent usage of modest declining fall into desuetude. (38)

In spite of his protests, Jiang Ji was made Marquis of Duxiang anyway. (39)

On May 19, 249, Jiang Ji passed away due to illness. (40)


** (27) - was intended to drum up public support/was self-serving/served his own personal interests

[spoiler]
Notes/Citations
1. ZZTJ Jian’an 14, C

2. ZZTJ Jian’an 13, UU

3. ZZTJ Jian’an 14, C

4. de Crespigny Jian’an 14, C; note 5

5. ZZTJ Jian’an’18, A

6. ZZTJ Jian’an 18, B

7. ZZTJ Jian’an 24, U

8. During the Han, the headquarters of the General-in-Chief contained a Chief Clerk as an administrative adjunct to the military organization. The Chief Clerk to the Chancellor most likely served the same position in the army led by Cao Pi; formerly the army led by Cao Cao. As such, this was an important position. The Chief Clerk had a rank/salary of 1,000 shi. - paraphrased from de Crespigny, Later Han Military Organisation***

9. Fang, Huangchu 1, 44; note 44 (1)

10. The Masters of Writing were a special component of the government. They were technically under the supervision of the Minister Steward. The Masters of Writing were responsible for drafting the edicts of the emperor, giving them direct access to the highest levels of government. - paraphrased from de Crespigny, Later Han Civil Administration

11. ZZTJ Huangchu 1, 44

12. ZZTJ Huangchu 4, 3

13. ZZTJ Huangchu 6, 23

14. ZZTJ Huangchu 6, 25

15. ZZTJ Huangchu 6, 26

16. ZZTJ Huangchu 7, 2

17. Also called a Guannei Marquis (or Guannei Lord). This was an honorary title that came with a yearly salary of 950 shi. Note that this is not the same as a Full Marquis, who is awarded a marquisate and given a portion of the tax revenue of a number of households.

18. ZZTJ Taihe 2, 26

19. Fang, Taihe 2, 26; note 26.3

20. ZZTJ Taihe 6, 11

21. ZZTJ Taihe 6, 12

22. ZZTJ Taihe 6, 20

23. ZZTJ Qinglong 1, 17

24. ZZTJ Jingchu 1, 34

25. ZZTJ Qinglong 3, 15

26. ZZTJ Qinglong 3, 17

27. ZZTJ Jingchu 2, 3

28. ZZTJ Jingchu 2, 40

29. ZZTJ Jingchu 2, 46

30. ZZTJ Zhengshi 3, 4

31. ZZTJ Zhengshi 8, 3

32. ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 4

33. ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 8

34. ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 9

35. ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 26

36. ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 11

37. Fang, Jiaping 1, 26; note 26.1

38. Fang, Jiaping 1, 26; note 26.3 quoting the Sanguozhi biography of Jiang Ji

39. ZZTJ Jiaping 1, 26

40. ZZTJ Jian’an 13, UU


*** (8) - Based on the spelling used within Jiang Ji's bio and the spelling in commentary (V) of Pang De's SGZ, to be consistent, "organisation" should take the American spelling "organization" instead.
Last edited by Zyzyfer on Fri Feb 08, 2013 6:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: ZZTJ Biography of Jiang Ji

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Feb 07, 2013 4:34 pm

What a great way to introduce yourself. Welcome to the forum
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Re: ZZTJ Biography of Jiang Ji

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:47 pm

A superb read! It was great learning about this fellow. Thank you for the biography and welcome to the forums.
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Re: ZZTJ Biography of Jiang Ji

Unread postby capnnerefir » Sat Feb 09, 2013 7:33 pm

Thank you all. It is nice to receive approval.
Zyzyfer wrote:I'm going to go ahead and proofread* it for you to patch up a few typos.

Thanks; I'm bad about typos sometimes. I've edited in the corrections you suggested by clarifying Sun Quan's motives regarding Gongsun Yuan (my phrasing wasn't clear. It sounded like I meant that he was doing it to help the public rather than to fool them). And I changed the spelling of Organization/Orgaisation for the sake of consistency.
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Re: ZZTJ Biography of Jiang Ji

Unread postby capnnerefir » Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:21 pm

I've made a few updates to this biography, mostly regarding his life before 209.
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