Sun Li Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

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Sun Li Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:07 pm

Sun Li (Deta)
?-250
Highest Office: Minister of Works


Sun Li was from Rong county in Zhuo commandery, You province.[1] He was known to be a man of upright and uncompromising character.[2] In his early years, he earned a good reputation as a scholar in his home region. When Cao Cao took control of You province in 205, Sun Li joined him. He later became an assistant to the Grand Administrator [taishou] of Hejian. After this, he was made Commandant [wei] of Rongyang commandery. Following this appointment, he was made Chancellor [xiang] of Lu. As Chancellor, Sun Li suppressed local bandits by offering food to those who surrendered.[3]

During the reign of Cao Pi (220-226), Sun Li served as the Grand Administrator in a number of commanderies. [4]

In 228, a Wu Grand Administrator named Zhou Fang sent letters to Wei’s Grand Commander [da sima] Cao Xiu offering to defect. [5] Cao Xiou marched with 10,000 soldiers to receive Zhou Fang. [6] Sun Li was serving under him at this time and warned Cao Xiu that this was likely a setup for a Wu ambush, but Cao Xiu did not heed Sun Li’s advice. [7] The Wu army did indeed attack Cao Xiu, who was cornered at Jiiashi.[8] Fortunately, he was rescued by Jia Kui.[9]

In 235, Sun Li served Emperor Cao Rui of Wei as one of the Masters of Writing [shangshu]. At that time, Cao Rui was having several palaces built. Sun Li thought that it was not the appropriate time to engage in such building projects due to frequent floods throughout Wei and he sent repeated memorials to Cao Rui urging him to cease construction. Eventually, Cao Rui accepted Sun Li’s arguments and agreed to dismiss the workers. However, the superintendent of the construction workers sent a memorial to the throne claiming that the work would be completed in one month. Sun Li went personally to the construction site and, without consulting Cao Rui, dismissed the workers, claiming Cao Rui’s previous response to his memorial as justification. Cao Rui admired Sun Li’s conviction and did not reprimand him for this.[10]

On December 31 of 238, Cao Rui fell badly ill.[11] Because Cao Rui’s heir was very young, he appointed several officials to guide him. On January 19 of 239, he appointed Cao Shuang, son of the famous general Cao Zhen, to be Grand General [da jiangjun]. Fearing that Cao Shuang might not be competent enough to fulfill his duties, Cao Rui also appointed Sun Li as his Chief Clerk [changshi].[12] Sun Li was also given the title Cavalier Attendant-in-Ordinary [sanji changshi].[13]

On January 22, Cao Rui passed away. His adopted son, Cao Fang, was enthroned as the new emperor.[14]

In addition to Cao Shuang, Sima Yi was also appointed as a guardian for the eight-year-old emperor. Along with Cao Shuang, he served as Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing [lu shangshu shi], which empowered them to oversee all of the memorials to the throne, and was director of all military affairs.[15] Initially, the relationship between Cao Shuang and Sima Yi was harmonious, with Cao Shuang consulting Sima Yi before making any decisions.[16] That did not last.

Years ago, a group of men including Bi Gui, Deng Yang, Li Sheng, He Yan, Ding Mi, and Zhuge Dan were known for being talented scholars. However, they also were known for soliciting favors, money, and honors. They kept company with the high ministers of the state and relied on their influence. Cao Rui disliked this and considered them superficial, so banned these men from holding office. However, these men used to be friends with Cao Shuang, so when he came to power he gave them very high positions and accepted them as his advisers.[17]

He Yan and the others advised Cao Shuang to monopolize power. In order to remove his authority as Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing, Cao Shuang sent a memorial suggesting that Sima Yi be raised to the position of Grand Tutor [taifu]. While this was the highest honor a minister of the state could hold, it technically removed all of his authority in civil matters, meaning that, in theory, all memorials and edicts would pass through Cao Shuang’s hands so that he could exercise his influence over them.[18] Cao Shuang’s memorial was accepted and Sima Yi was made Grand Tutor. Cao Shuang’s plot did not go entirely as planned. While he lost his civil position, Sima Yi retained his control of the military. [19] Furthermore, prior to Cao Rui’s death, Sima Yi had discovered the talents of a man named Deng Ai. Sima Yi advanced Deng Ai’s career and ensured that he was made one of the Masters of Writing [shangshu],[20]which guaranteed that Sima Yi would be kept informed of all memorials and edicts.

Cao Shuang’s faction continued to monopolize power. His brother Cao Xi was made General of the Capital Forces [zhongling jun]. Another brother, Cao Xun, was made General Who Guards the Army [wuwei jiangjun]. Both of these were ranks of considerable prestige. Cao Shuang’s other brothers all became attendants to the emperor. They entered the palace freely and received unrivaled rewards.[21]

Cao Shuang demoted the [libu shangshu][22] Lu Yu and replaced him with He Yan, putting He Yan in charge of selecting individuals for imperial service. Deng Yang and Ding Mi were also made Masters of Writing [shangshu]. Bi Gui was promoted to be Colonel Director of Retainers [sili xiaowei] and Li Sheng was made Intendant [yin] of Henan.[23]

He Yan and the others abused their power relentlessly. Those who agreed with them were promoted and rewarded, while their detractors and critics were demoted and expelled from office.[24] An official named Fu Jia spoke to Cao Xi, warning him that He Yan was avaricious and did not see to his duties. He Yan heard about this and removed Fu Jia from office over a petty offense.[25] Lu Yu, the former [libu shangshu] was made Minister of Justice [tingwei], removing him from the inner circle of the emperor’s advisers. Bi Gui then made false accusations against Lu Yu in a memorial to the throne. Though the charges were fabricated, Lu Yu was dismissed from office. However, due to popular pressure, Lu Yu was later reinstated as Minister of the Household [guangluxun].[26]

Sun Li was himself caught in these purges. Because he was uncompromising in his principals, Cao Shuang dismissed him from his position as Chief Clerk, sending him to be Inspector of Yang province.[27] Sun Li’s authority in Yang was eroded one year later, in 240, when Wang Ling Chief Commandant [dudu] of Yang, giving control over the province’s military affairs to him rather than Sun Li. However, on top of these demotions, Sun Li was made General Who Calms the Waves [fubo jiangjun] and a Guannei Marquis [guannei hou].[28]

In 241, Sun Quan sent his general Quan Cong to attack Huainan commandery, which was under Sun Li’s control in Yang province. Quan Cong achieved great initial success, destroying the dam at Shaopo and capturing Ancheng.[29]

Quan Cong’s attack was well timed, as many of the soldiers of Yang province were being given leave at that time. Sun Li led the defense at Shaopo against Quan Cong, taking part personally in the fighting. He is said to have fought from morning to evening. Over half of Sun Li’s soldiers were killed or wounded, and Sun Li himself received several wounds, as did his horse. However, he held his defense against Quan Cong, showing no concern for his personal safety.[30] Though Sun Li was unable to prevent Quan Cong from breaking the dam, he was able to hold his position until Wang Ling, the General Who Conquers the East [zhengdong jiangjun] was able to arrive with reinforcements. Together, they drove Quan Cong out of Huainan.[31]

In 247, Sun Li was made Governor [mu] of Ji province. For the previous eight years, the Prince of Qinghe and the Prince of Pingyuan had been arguing over which one of them possessed a certain district. The two previous Inspectors of Ji had not resolved the issue, and Sima Yi advised Sun Li to settle the matter. Sun Li decided to look at a map of Ji at the time when the Prince of Pingyuan was enfeoffed to see where the district belonged. Together with Sima Yi, he went to the palace archives to look at the map.[32] After investigating the matter, Sun Li believed that the district belonged to the Prince of Pingyuan. However, Cao Shuang favored the Prince of Qinghe and decided that the map was not admissible as evidence.[33] Sun Li sent a memorial defending his position, in which he used forceful language. In response, Cao Shuang sentenced Sun Li to five years of exile from government affairs.[34] Many people argued on Sun Li’s behalf. One year later, in 248, he was made [zhengmen xiaowei][35]. Later that year, because Cao Shuang was growing concerned about the Xiongnu and Xianbei tribes in the north, Sun Li was sent to be Inspector [cishi] of Bing province. He was also made General Who Inspires Prowess [zhenwu jiangjun] and General of the Gentlemen of the Household For Protection Against the Xiongnu [hu xiongnu zhonglang jiang].[36] Before leaving for Bing, Sun Li paid a visit to Sima Yi. He was very angry and had difficulty bringing himself to speak. After some prodding by Sima Yi, Sun Li wept and confessed that he was angry because he thought that Sima Yi would have moved against Cao Shuang and restored the government to proper order. Sima Yi is said to have told him, “Stop for the time being, and bear the unbearable.”[37]

Sun Li did not have to wait long. On February 5 of 249, while Cao Shuang and the emperor were out of the city, Sima Yi raised soldiers against them and seized control of the capital.[38] He accused Cao Shuang of corruption and demanded that he relinquish his authority.[39] Cao Shuang agreed to relinquish his power.[40] On February 9, the eunuch Zhang Dang was accused of giving many of the emperor’s consorts to Cao Shuang. Zhang Dang was sent to the Minister of Justice and alleged that he had been involved in a plot with Cao Shuang, He Yan, and the others to overthrow the emperor. Subsequently, Cao Shuang and his partisans were executed, along with many members of their families.[41]

Sun Li was elevated to replace Bi Gui as Colonel Director of Retainers [sili xiaowei]. On February 6 of 250, he replaced Wang Ling as Minister of Works [sikong].[42]

In the eleventh month of 250 (December 11, 250 – January 9, 251), Sun Li passed away. He was canonized as the Illustrious Marquis of Dali.[43]

Sun Li was a loyal and upright minister of the state. He was a man of conviction and decisiveness. Though his behavior was not strictly proper, Cao Rui approved of him and valued his opinion highly. Sun Li frequently suffered at the hands of Cao Shuang’s party, but his loyalty to the state never wavered and he always served his office with his whole heart. Sun Li showed remarkable courage in battle and intelligence in dealing with civil matters. He enjoyed the respect and trust of illustrious men like Sima Yi. Sun Li was fortunate enough to outlast his rivals in Cao Shuang’s regime and became one of the chief ministers of the state before his death.

Notes
[1] Fang’s note 18 of Qinglong 3
[2] Jingchu 3, 16
[3] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 771
[4] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 771
[5] Taihe 2, 23
[6] Taihe 2, 24
[7] de Crespigny, Rafe, “A Biographical Dictionary of the Later Han and Three Kingdoms”, p. 771
[8] Taihe 2, 28
[9] Taihe 2, 29
[10] Winglong 3, 18; the Masters of Writing [shangshu] handled memorials to the throne and edicts from the emperor. As such, they worked very closely with the emperor and were among his closest advisers.
[11] Jingchu 2, 37
[12] Jingchu 2, 47; the Chief Clerk was the highest assistant of a general and handled all of the administrative aspects of his command.
[13] Fang’s note 47.2 of Jingchu 2. A Cavalier Ordinary Attendant appears to have been an attendant to the emperor. This gave Sun Li direct access to the emperor, independent of Cao Shuang.
[14] Jingchu 3, 2
[15] Jingchu 3, 5
[16] Jingchu 3, 6
[17] Jingchu 3, 7
[18] Jingchu 3, 8
[19] Jingchu 3, 9
[20] Taken from Deng Ai’s sanguozhi biography.
[21] Jingchu 3, 10
[22] Fang’s note 12 of Jingchu 3 indicates that the [libu shangshu] was responsible for selecting officials for imperial service.
I am uncertain exactly what this rank signifies. From context, it would appear to be one of the senior officers of the Masters of Writing [shangshu], though likely subordinate or an alternative to the Prefect of the Masters of Writing [shangshu ling].
[23] Jingchu 3, 12; the Colonel Director of Retainers was the head administrator of the capital province. In another province, his title would be Inspector [cishi] or Governor [mu]. The Intendant was the head administrator of the capital commandery. In another commandery, his title would be Grand Administrator [taishou] or Chancellor [xiang]. Li Sheng’s appointment is mentioned in Fang’s note 12 of Jingchu 3.
[24] Jingchu 3, 13
[25] Jingchu 3, 14
[26] Jingchu 3, 15; the Minister of Justice [tingwei] was the chief legal authority in the empire, second only to the emperor. The Minister of the Household [guangluxun] was responsible for the immediate security of the emperor. While both of these are high positions, in practical terms this was a step down for Lu Yu, who was previously in charge of appointing officials and was one of the emperor’s immediate advisers.
[27] Jingchu 3, 16; at that time, most of Yang province was in the hands of Sun Quan. Sun Li had little authority in most of the province. While his title was still respectable, his practical authority was greatly diminished.
[28] Fang’s note 3 of Zhengshi 2; a Guannei Marquis was below a Full Marquis [tinghou] and did not have a fief.
[29] Zhengshi 2, 2; the capture of Ancheng is mentioned in Fang’s note 2 of Zhengshi 2.
[30] Fang’s note 3o f Zhengshi 2, paraphrasing from Sun Li’s sanguozhi biography.
[31] Zhengshi 2, 3
[32] Fang’s note 9.1 of Zhengshi 9. Though this incident is recorded in Zhengshi 9 (248), it is possible from later events to extrapolate the actual year of this incident as 247.
[33] Fang’s note 9.2 of Zhengshi 9.
[34] Zhengshi 9, 9
[35] I am uncertain what this rank was, though given that it is some sort of colonel [xiaowei], it must have been far below Sun Li’s earlier ranks.
[36] Fang’s note 9.5 of Zhengshi 9.
[37] Zhengshi 9, 9
[38] Jiaping 1, 2
[39] Jiaping 1, 4
[40] Jiaping 1, 9
[41] Jiaping 1, 11
[42] Jiaping 1, 32 gives Sun li’s rank as Colonel Director of Retainers prior to his promotion to Minister of Works. From context, one can assume that he became Colonel Director of Retainers following the execution of Bi Gui, who was killed along with Cao Shuang and held that position previously. Before this, Sun Li was Inspector of Bing.
[43] Jiaping 2, 8
Last edited by capnnerefir on Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sun Li Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:04 pm

Made some updates to Sun Li's career before 235.
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Re: Sun Li Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Sun Sep 08, 2013 5:36 pm

Neat addition to the established information... here's a slightly edited version fixing word errors.

Sun Li was from Rong county in Zhuo commandery, You province.[1] He was known to be a man of upright and uncompromising character.[2] In his early years, he earned a good reputation as a scholar in his home region. When Cao Cao took control of You province in 205, Sun Li joined him. He later became an assistant to the Grand Administrator [taishou] of Hejian. After this, he was made Commandant [wei] of Rongyang commandery. Following this appointment, he was made Chancellor [xiang] of Lu. As Chancellor, Sun Li suppressed local bandits by offering food to those who surrendered.[3]
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Re: Sun Li Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postby capnnerefir » Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:07 am

Thanks, Xu Yuan.
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