Wang Ji Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

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Wang Ji Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:57 pm

Wang Ji (Boyu or Boxing)
Final Office: General Who Conquers the South, Marshal of Jing

Wang Ji was born in Qucheng county of Donglai commandery, Qing province.[1] He was the son of Wang Bao. Though Wang Bao died in 192 his wife lived until 248. After Wang Bao’s passing, Wang Ji was adopted by his uncle, Wang Weng. People of the time commented on the love and care that Wang Meng gave to his nephew as well as the great respect that Wang Ji showed to his uncle. [2]

At the age of seventeen, in 206, Wang Ji began his career by serving as an official in the local administration. However, Wang Ji quickly came to disapprove of the administration and resigned from the position after a very short term of service. Instead, he traveled to Xu province and studied at the academy founded by Zheng Xuan. [3]

Wang Ji appears to have devoted many years to his studies. During Cao Pi’s reign, Wang Ji went to work in the capitol, holding a position in the Imperial Library. [4]

By 235, Wang Ji was a Gentleman of the Palace Writers [zhongshu shilang]. In 235, he sent a memorial to Emperor Cao Rui, urging him to be more proactive in dealing with the rebel states of Wu and Shu.[5] Around this time, Wang Ji came to the attention of the great minister Sima Yi, who recommended him as Grand Administrator [taishou] of Xuantu commandery.[6]

Wang Ji was still Grand Administrator [taishou] of Xuantu commandery, in You province in 244.[7] Xuantu was the northernmost commandery of the Wei dynasty, located in the Liaodong territory formerly controlled by the Gongsun warlords and seized from Gongsun Yuan by Sima Yi in 238. Xuantu was bordered to the east by the proto-Korean kingdom of Koguryŏ.[8]

During Sima Yi’s campaign against Gongsun Yuan he was given support by King Wigung[9], ruler of Koguryŏ. However, once Gongsun Yuan was defeated, King Wigung resumed his old probing attacks against the Chinese. In 242, he attacked the area around Xiangping, the old capital of Liaodong. In response, Guanqiu Jian, the Inspector [cishi] of You province, led a campaign against King Wigung in 244.[10] Guanqiu Jian achieved great success against Wigung and ultimately destroyed his capital city of Hwando,[11] captured many families, and returned to China.[12]

In 246, King Wigung returned to the ruins of Hwando in hopes of rebuilding his power. To prevent this, Guanqiu Jian sent Wang Ji against him. Wigung retreated from Wang Ji’s army, seeking shelter with the Eastern Okchŏ. Wang Ji attacked this coalition and crushed it, prompting Wigung to flee again. Wigung this time sought shelter with the Northern Okchŏ, in what is now Russia. Wang Ji continued to pursue Wigung far beyond Chinese territory. Ultimately, Wang Ji established contact with the Puyŏ and other states of pre-Korea.[13] Wang Ji’s success broke the tributary system that formed the basis of Koguryŏ’s economy and shattered Koguryŏ. Smaller chieftains in the Korean area began to gather more power and submit themselves to the Wei court.[14]

Since 239, the Wei government had been under the control of two generals, Sima Yi and Cao Shuang. Over time, Sima Yi withdrew from government affairs and retired from the court entirely in the fifth month of 247[15], leaving affairs entirely under Cao Shuang’s control. After Wang Ji’s success against the Koguryŏ, Cao Shuang invited him to become a Gentleman of the General Staff [congshi lang][16]. After serving briefly in this position, Wang Ji was sent from the capital to serve as Grand Administrator [taishou] of Anfeng.[17]

Later in 247, Sun Quan gathered a large army at Jianye and announced that he intended to attack Wei. Zhuge Dan was the Inspector [cishi] of Yang and would be expected to meet any invasion by Sun Quan. He asked Wang Ji for advice. Wang Ji predicted that Sun Quan’s attack was a farce. He argued that Sun Quan was very old and would not lead the attack himself, and that none of his living generals were skilled enough to cause a danger to Wei. Instead, he said, Sun Quan was reorganizing his forces in order to consolidate power. Wang Ji’s prediction proved to be correct, as Sun Quan did not invade Wei.[18]

While part of Cao Shuang’s faction, Wang Ji wrote a document called Essay on the Needs of the Times [shiyao lun], discussed contemporary affairs. After this, Wang Ji claimed that he was ill and resigned from his position in Anfeng. He was subsequently made Intendant [yin] of Henan[19] Before Wanng Ji could begin his new job, though, Sima Yi took control of the government back from Cao Shuang and executed him. Because Wang Ji had been one of Cao Shuang’s associates, he was dismissed from his office. However, Sima Yi apparently respected Wang Ji’s abilities. Later in 249, Wang Ji was made one of the Masters of Writing [shangshu]. Then, he was sent out of the capital as Inspector [cishi] of Jing. He was also given the title General of Vehemence [yanglie jiangjun].[20]

In the twelfth month [January 10 – February 7, 251] of 250, the General Who Conquers the South [zhengnan jiangjun] Wang Chang, a protégé of Sima Yi, proposed a large-scale assault on the Wu territories north of the Jiang River in Jing province. The court – led by Sima Yi – agreed and the armies advanced on Jing. Wang Chang attacked Jiangling and experienced great success, killing two Wu generals and capturing many prisoners. Zhou Tai, the Grand Administrator [taishou] of Xincheng attacked the counties of Wu, Zigui, and Fangling and also achieved impressive results.[21]

For his part, Wang Ji attacked Yiling, which was defended by Wu’s General Who Comforts the Army [fujun jiangjun], Bu Xie. Bu Xie put up a stout defense and Wang Ji feared that he would not be able to capture the city. Ignoring his orders, he launched a decoy attack on Yiling while he brought the bulk of his army to Xiongfu, a major supply depot for the Wu army.[22] Wang Ji successfully captured Xiongfu and all of its food, as well as Wu’s [anbo jiangjun], Tan Zheng and several thousand people, who Wang Ji resettled elsewhere in Yiling. For this achievement, he was made a Guannei[23] Marquis.[24]

Sima Yi passed away in 251[25] and his eldest son, Sima Shi, took his place as Grand General [da jiangjun], assuming control of Wei’s government.[26] In 254, Sima Shi accused emperor Cao Fang of being a sexual miscreant and motioned that he be deposed.[27] In November of that year, Cao Fang was deposed and Cao Mao took the throne.[28]

In the first month [January 5 – February 23] of 255, Wang Ji’s old commander, Guanqiu Jian, revolted against Sima Shi along with the general Wen Qin.[29] They led between fifty and sixty thousand soldiers to Xiang, occupying the city. Guanqiu Jian oversaw the defense of their base while Wen Qin camped outside to engage enemies.[30] Sima Shi gathered 100,000 soldiers and advanced to Chen and Xuchang in order to begin operations against the rebels.[31]

Wang Ji was summoned to be the commander of all the troops in Xuchang. He discussed the rebellion with Sima Shi, explaining that Guanqiu Jian did not have the support of his population or his soldiers in this revolt – his officers and soldiers were only rebelling because they were afraid that Guanqiu Jian would kill them if they did not join him. Wang Ji reasoned that, because of this, the majority of the rebel forces would scatter at the first sign of danger. Initially, Sima Shi appointed Wang Ji to lead the vanguard against the rebels, but he quickly changed his mind. Wang Ji argued that Guanqiu Jian had not advanced in spite of his large army and that it must have been because his soldiers were worried. If Sima Shi’s army refused to advance, it would convince the people that the government soldiers were afraid of the rebels and their support would swing to Guanqiu Jian. He proposed, further, that Sima Shi should attack the supply depot at Nandun, which contained enough food to sustain Sima Shi’s enormous army for forty days. Wang Ji had to request permission repeatedly from Sima Shi, and Sima Shi eventually agreed to advance the army as far as Yin River.[32]

Wang Ji continued to urge Sima Shi to send him against Nandun, but Sima Shi never agreed. Wang Ji finally decided to disregard Sima Shi’s orders and advance on Nandun anyway. He occupied the supply depot and captured the provisions there. As it happened, Guanqiu Jian’s army was on its way to Nandun when Wang Ji occupied it, so Guanqiu Jian retreated without the supplies.[33]

In spite of Wang Ji’s protests, Sima Shi’s passive policy was not entirely without merit. As he waited, enemy generals defected to his camp.[34] Sima Shi reasoned that Guanqiu Jian was controlling his troops by subterfuge and manipulation and that, in time, his lies would reveal themselves and his soldiers would defect. In order to put pressure on the rebels, Sima Shi ordered Zhuge Dan to occupy Shouchun. He also sent the General Who Conquers the East [zhengdong jiangjun] Hu Zun to occupy Qiao and Song counties, blocking Guanqiu Jian’s potential retreat to Wu territories. Sima Shi himself went to occupy Ruyang. With Wang Ji in Nandun, Guanqiu Jian’s position was completely surrounded. Sima Shi ordered his officers to put up defenses but not engage the enemy.[35] Wen Qin and Guanqiu Jian were at a loss for what to do in this position and their soldiers began to defect in huge numbers. Their forces quickly became so depleted that they were forced to conscript the farmers or have no army at all.[36]

The rebellion was finally broken by the arrival of Deng Ai, Inspector [cishi] of Yan province. He led 10,000 soldiers to occupy Luojia city. Sima Shi secretly came to Luojia to join with Deng Ai’s relatively small army. Because he believed Deng Ai’s army to be weak, Wen Qin attacked Luojia. He suffered heavy losses against Deng Ai’s army.[37] Sima Shi sent forces to pursue Wen Qin. They caught the rebel at Shayang and dealt his remaining forces a resounding defeat. Wen Qin fled and his soldier surrendered.[38] Wen Qin himself surrendered to Wu.[39]

Hearing that Wen Qin had been defeated, Guanqiu Jian abandoned Xiang and fled in the night, leaving his army behind.[40] He went into hiding but was discovered by a man named Zhang Shu, who promptly shot him to death and sent his head to the capital.[41]

Sima Shi died very shortly after his exploits at Luojia.[42] His younger brother, Sima Zhao, was promoted to be Grand General [da jiangjun] and continued to rule Wei.[43]

In May of 257, Zhuge Dan rebelled against Sima Zhao. He already possessed between forty and fifty thousand soldiers and he used them to force another 100,000 peasants into military service. With these forces, he seized control of Shouchun. He also sent his son to Wu as a hostage, requesting reinforcements.[44] Sima Zhao advanced to Qiutou with 260,000 soldiers. Some time before this, Wang Ji was promoted to General Who Guards the South [zhennan jiangjun]. Sima Zhao promoted him to Acting General Who Guards the East [zhendong jiangjun] and Marshal [dudu] of Yang and Yu. Shortly after Wang Ji arrived, before he could complete the encirclement of the city, Wu reinforcements arrived for Zhuge Dan, led by Wen Qin and Quan Yi. Because the encirclement was not yet complete, they were able to enter the city.[45]

Sima Zhao ordered Wang Ji not to engage Zhuge Dan in battle, but to build fortifications first. Wang Ji repeatedly requested permission to attack but was always refused, so he put his efforts into fortifying his position. While he was doing this, the Wu general Zhu Yi arrived with 30,000 soldiers to reinforce Zhuge Dan and Wen Qin. Wang Ji was ordered to abandon his position around the city and engage these new forces. Wang Ji argued that, now that they had begun fortifying their position, abandoning it would mean defeat. Zhuge Dan and Wen Qin could attack from within the city and the siege would be undone. Wang Ji sent a memorial explaining his reasoning to the emperor, who gave him permission to attack Shouchun rather than Zhu Yi.[46]

Wang Ji assaulted Shouchun from all sides. Wen Qin led several sorties from the city but Wang Ji repelled him each time. Meanwhile, Sima Zhao sent Shi Bao, Zhou Tai, and Hu Lie to attack Zhu Yi.[47] Zhou Tai and the others defeated Zhu Yi in several battles and Hu Lie destroyed his supplies, forcing Zhu Yi to retreat. The leader of the Wu forces, Sun Lin, was angered by Zhu Yi’s failure and executed him. After this, Sun Lin turned his army around and returned to Jianye, abandoning Wen Qin and the other Wu soldiers inside of Shouchun.[48]

Zhuge Dan’s defenses were subsequently plagued by food shortages[49] and defections[50]. In the first month of 258, the rebels grew desperate. They threw all of their strength against Wang Ji’s encirclement, fighting day and night for six days, but they could gain no headway against Wang Ji. Starving and exhausted, Zhuge Dan’s soldiers began to defect in massive numbers. Eventually, Zhuge Dan completely lost control and murdered Wen Qin. Wen Qin’s sons fled Shouchun and surrendered to Sima Zhao, who treated them well. After this, the rebel army fractured completely. Zhuge Dan attempted to flee from the city but was killed by Sima Zhao’s Major, Hu Fen.[51]

After the victory over Zhuge Dan, Sima Zhao sent a letter to Wang Ji praising him for his insight and conviction, comparing him to the heroes of old. Shortly after that, Sima Zhao suggested invading Wu. Wang Ji argued against this course of action. Sima Zhao heeded his advice and confirmed his position as General Who Conquers the East [zhengdong jiangjun] and Chief Controller [dudu] of Yang. He was also enfeoffed as Marquis of Dongwu.[52] Wang Ji declined the enfeoffment, attributing his success to his subordinates. As a result, seven of his officers were made Marquis instead.[53]

In 259, Wang Ji was confirmed as General Who Conquers the East [zhengdong jiangjun] and Marshal [dudu] of Yang. Furthermore, his enfeoffment was advanced to make him Marquis of Dongwu.[54] The net year, he was transferred to be General Who Conquers the South [zhengnan jiangjun] and Marshal [dudu] of Jing.

In 261, Hu Lie, the Grand Administrator [taishou] of Xiangyang reported that he had been in communication with the Wu generals Deng Yu and Li Guang, who wanted to defect to Wei along with many of their soldiers. Sima Zhao ordered Wang Ji to take his army to Ju River to receive the traitors. Wang Ji sent a letter to Sima Zhao explaining his suspicions that this was just a ruse to lure their armies into a trap. In response, Sima Zhao ordered that all armies on the way to receive the defectors should halt. Wang Ji sent more letters and ultimately convinced Sima Zhao to call off the entire expedition.[55] Sima Zhao praised Wang Ji for standing by his convictions instead of altering his opinions to curry favor with him. Shortly thereafter, it became clear that Deng Yu and Li Guang were only pretending to be disloyal.[56]

Wang Ji passed away in 261 at the age of 71.[57]

Wang Ji was noted for the great love he bore his uncle. He was also extremely devoted to his scholarly learning. He achieved great success against the Koguryŏ and rebels from within Wei. Wang Ji was an independent minded general with strong convictions who always followed what he believed to be the best course of action, whether his superiors approved of it or not. While ordinarily such disregard for his superiors may have resulted in exile or execution, the fact that Wang Ji always achieved success ensured that he was rewarded for his efforts. He was highly valued by Sima Zhao and proved himself to be one the greatest generals whose exploits helped to lay the foundations of the Jin dynasty.

[1] Fang’s note 16 of Qinglong 3
[2] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 818
[3] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 818; as Zheng Xuan himself died in the year 200, Wang Ji must have been educated by pupils of his.
[4] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 818
[5] Qinglong 3, 16
[6] Fang’s note 16 of Qinglong 6; the passage does not specify what position Sima Yi recommended for Wang Ji, but he next appears as Grand Administrator [taishou]of Xuantu, so I have concluded that this is most likely the position he was given.
[7] Zhengshi 7, 2
[8] I have seen several different ways of writing the name of this kingdom. Achilles Fang, in his translation of the ZZTJ, calls them Gaoguli. In his article, “The Three Kingdoms and Western Jin, A History of China in the Third Century AD”, Rafe de Crespigny uses the term Koguryo. “An Introductory Study Of ‘The Annals of Koguryŏ’ in the Samguk Sagi” by Kenneth H. J. Gardiner calls these people the Koguryŏ. Because Gardiner specializes in Korean history while Fang and de Crespigny specialize in Chinese matters, I believe that Gardiner’s transliteration is the more correct one.
[9] Again, I have seen several different versions of this man’s name. I have chosen to defer to Gardiner, who calls him king Wigung. Fang chooses to call him Weigong.
[10] Fang’s note 2.1 of Zhengshi 7
[11] Hwando is Gardiner’s transliteration of the Koguryŏ capital city. Fang uses Wandu in his translation of the ZZTJ.
[12] Zhengshi 7, 2
[13] Gardiner, “An Introductory Study Of ‘The Annals of Koguryŏ’ in the Samguk Sagi”, p. 37
[14] Gardiner, “An Introductory Study Of ‘The Annals of Koguryŏ’ in the Samguk Sagi”, p. 38
[15] Zhengshi 8, 6
[16] Under the Han, the office of the Grand General [da jiangjun] contained several administrative officers called Gentelmen of the General Staff [congshi zhonglang]. These were equal in rank to the Grand General’s Master of Records [zhubu], his chief secretary. At the time of Wang Ji’s appointment, Cao Shuang was Grand General, so he was offering Wang Ji a position in his personal office.
[17] Fang’s note 10.1 of Zhengshi 8
[18] Zhengshi 8, 10
[19] Henan was the commandery in which the capital, Luoyang, was located. The chief official (who would normally be Grand Administrator [taishou] or Chancellor [xiang]) was called the Intendant to reflect his special responsibilities.
[20] Fang’s note 12.6 of Jiaping 2
[21] Jiaping 2, 12
[22] The depot at Xiongfu contained 300,000 hu of rice. 1 hu is equal to 20 liters or 676 ounces. Thus, the depot contained 6,000,000 liters of rice, or 12,675,000 pounds.
[23] Guannei Marquis was an honorary title. Unlike a full marquis, a Guannei Marquis did not receive an estate.
[24] Fang’s note 12.6 of Jiaping 2
[25] Jiaping 3, 17
[26] Jiaping 3, 18
[27] Zhengyuan 1, 22
[28] Zhengyuan 1, 25
[29] Zhengyuan 2, 1
[30] Zhengyuan 2, 3
[31] Zhengyuan 2, 7
[32] Zhengyuan 2, 9
[33] Zhengyuan 2, 11
[34] Zhengyuan 2, 10
[35] Zhengyuan 2, 14
[36] Zhengyuan 2, 15
[37] Zhengyuan 2, 16
[38] Fang’s note 20 of Zhengyuan 2
[39] Zhengyuan 2, 23
[40] Zhengyuan 2, 22
[41] Zhengyuan 2, 24
[42] Zhengyuan 2, 29
[43] Zhengyuan 2, 31
[44] Ganlu 2, 6
[45] Ganlu 2, 10
[46] Ganlu 2, 11; it is interesting to note that Wang Ji sent this request to the emperor, who was nearby in Xiang, rather than to Sima Zhao.
[47] Ganlu 2, 12
[48] Ganlu 2, 13
[49] Ganlu 2, 14
[50] Ganlu 2, 16
[51] Ganlu 3, 2
[52] Ganlu 3, 8
[53] Fang’s note 8.9 of Ganlu 3
[54] Ganlu 3, 8
[55] Jingyuan 2, 1
[56] Jingyuan 2, 2
[57] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 818
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Re: Wang Ji Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:30 pm

Added a few updates to his life and altered my translation of some titles to be more consistent with what I use in other biographies. In particular, I added information on his early life and changed my translation of 督都 to Marshal rather than Chief Controller.
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Re: Wang Ji Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby Zafar Khan » Sat Feb 07, 2015 7:53 pm

this is just something i need..
thank you
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Re: Wang Ji Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby Bush Leagues » Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:22 am

Well done capnnerefir. This is a great job. Thank you for your time and effort.
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