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Sima Zhao Biography [ZZTJ Compilation]

Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2013 9:35 pm
by capnnerefir
Sima Zhao (Zishang)

Sima Zhao was the second son of Sima Yi and the younger brother of Sima Shi.

When Emperor Cao Rui fell ill at the end of the year 238,[1] he sought appointed officials to guide his eight-year old heir, Cao Fang. [2] Early in 239, he made Cao Shuang Grand General [da jiangjun] with [jie][3], Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing [lu shangshu shi], and director of military affairs. [4] Shortly after this, he also appointed Sima Yi, who was then Grand Commandant [taiwei], as one of Cao Fang’s chief advisers[5]. In addition, Cao Rui made one of his consorts, a woman of the Guo family, his empress.[6] This ensured that she would be Empress Dowager after his death.

Empress Guo’s position was critical at this time. Under the Later Han and Wei, if the emperor died and his heir was too young to oversee the empire, the Empress Dowager could assume authority within the court. During the Han, she was typically advised by her oldest male relative, who held the position of Grand General [da jiangjun], though that position had been stripped of its connection to the empress’s family after the death of He Jin.[7] Under certain circumstances, the Empress Dowager could even dethrone the emperor and replace him with a candidate of her choice, provided that the candidate was from the imperial family. This was a power that no other officials held and made the Empress Dowager one of the most powerful officials in the empire. [8]

Shortly after making these appointments, Cao Rui passed away.[9] Empress Guo was made Empress Dowager.[10] Sima Yi and Cao Shuang were made Palace Attendants [shizhong], and Sima Yi was also given authority as director of military affairs and Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing [lu shangshu shi] and [jie] authority.[11]

Cao Shuang and Sima Yi worked well together at first,[12] but Cao Shuang then began to take advice from a group of scholars led by a man named He Yan.[13] Hoping to remove Sima Yi from court affairs, He Yan and the others urged Cao Shuang to have him promoted to the position of Grand Tutor [taifu].[14] While a position of great respect, the Grand Tutor had no substantive authority, and such promotions had been used in the past to remove the influence of powerful officials.

Cao Shuang and He Yan succeeded in making Sima Yi Grand Tutor,[15] but they were not able to remove his authority. The edict promoting him to Grand Tutor also specified that he would retain his control over the military.[16] Furthermore, Sima Yi had ensured that an official named Deng Ai was made a Gentleman Master of Writing [shangshu lang], which guaranteed that he would still be informed of the affairs of the Imperial Secretariat.[17]

In this year, Sima Zhao was enfeoffed at Marquis of Xincheng.[18]

Believing that their authority was absolute, Cao Shuang, He Yan, and their party began to abuse their power. Cao Shuang made his siblings generals and attendants to the emperor.[19] He Yan inserted himself as the Director of Personnel [libu shangshu] and took charge of imperial appointments. Others of his clique became Masters of Writing [shangshu] and one was made Colonel Director of Retainers [sili xiaowei]. He Yan promoted and rewarded those who agreed with him and demoted or dismissed all those who criticized him.[20]

Around the year 240, Sima Zhao was made General of the Gentlemen of the of Agriculture Colonies [diannong zhonglang jiang]. A year or so later, he was made Cavalier Attendant-in-Ordinary [sanji changshi].[21]

In 244, at the urging of their subordinates, Cao Shuang and Xiahou Xuan,[22] the General Who Conquers the West [zhengxi jiangjun] and Marshal [dudu][23] of Yong and Liang, planned a campaign against the rebel state of Shu. Sima Yi advised against this campaign, but they did not listen to his warnings.[24] Sima Zhao followed Cao Shuang during this campaign.[25] In the third month [March 26 – April 24) Cao Shuang advanced to Chang’an, where he assembled an army of nearly 70,000. He then advanced to Hanzhong, where the Shu defending forces numbered only 30,000. Shu’s Grand General Who Conquers the North[zhenbei da jiangjun], Wang Ping, sent forces to guard the strategic point of Mount Xingshi while he defended the rear until reinforcements arrived.[26] Shu sent its own Grand General [da jiangjun] Fei Yi[27] to reinforce Wang Ping.[28]

By the time Cao Shuang’s army reached Mount Xingshi, Wang Ping’s forces had already fortified their positions and he was unable to find a way to attack. Furthermore, Cao Shuang had been relying on the Di and Qiang tribes to transport supplies for him. However, they did not have the resources to adequately supply the army, causing many to starve. Much of their livestock died in the attempts to supply the army. As Cao Shuang’s army waited, Fei Yi’s reinforcements arrived and supported Wang Ping at Xingshi.[29] Cao Shuang’s Adviser to the Army [canjun], Yang Wei urged him to retreat, which displeased Cao Shuang.[30] However, by the fifth month (June 23 – July 21), Cao Shuang had come to agree with those who advised against the campaign, so he turned his army around and led them back Wei.[31] The army arrived back in the capital on July 13.[32]

After returning from the southern campaign, Sima Zhao was made a Gentleman Consultant [yilang].[33]

On February 4 of 249, Sima Zhao’s father and brother informed him that they had been plotting to remove Cao Shuang and his party from power.[34] On February 5, Emperor Cao Fang, Cao Shuang, and his siblings left Luoyang to pay their respects at Cao Rui’s tomb.[35] Bearing an edict from Empress Dowager Guo,[36] Sima Yi and his sons sealed the gates of Luoyang and seized the armory. They then took up a position on the bridge over the Luo River.[37] Sima Yi sent a memorial to Cao Fang, citing various crimes committed by Cao Shuang and demanding the Grand General’s resignation.[38] Cao Shuang agreed to this and resigned his position.[39] When he returned to the capital, he was placed under house arrest.[40] On February 9, officials arrested a man named Zhang Dang, who they accused of giving palace women to Cao Shuang. Zhang Dang claimed that Cao Shuang, He Yan, and the others of their party had been conspiring against Cao Fang. Cao Shuang and the others were subsequently executed, and their families were slaughtered.[41]

In 251, on September 7, Sima Yi passed away. Sima Zhao’s older brother, Sima Shi, was promoted to be Grand General Who Comforts the Army [fujun da jiangjun] and Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing [lu shangshu shi]. [42] In the first month of 252, Sima Shi was further promoted to be Grand General [da jiangjun].[43] Around this time, Sima Zhao was made General Who Tranquilizes the East [andong jiangjun] and Marshal [dudu] of Yang.[44]

In 252, the Grand Tutor [taifu] of the state of Wu, Zhuge Ke, built a dam at Lake Chao in Dongxing, which was in Wei’s territory.[45] In response to this, Sima Shi and Sima Zhao organized a counterattack. The Grand General Who Conquers the South [zhengnan da jiangjun] Wang Chang was sent to Nanjun. The General Who Conquers the South [zhengnan jiangjun] Guanqiu Jian was ordered to attack Wuchang. Sima Zhao, as Marshal of Yang, led the General Who Conquers the East [zhengdong jiangjun] Hu Zun and the General Who Guards the East [zhendong jiangjun] Zhuge Dan to attack Lake Chao with 70,000 soldiers.[46]

The first stages of the campaign went well for Sima Zhao’s forces. Hu Zun easily captured the dam. However, he could not attack, the fortresses to the east and west of the lake directly because they were too well positioned. As his army settled in for a siege, Zhuge Ke approached with 40,000 soldiers to reinforce Lake Chao.[47] Hu Zun did not maintain control over his soldiers, and they did not do their jobs properly. As a result, they were caught off guard by a surprise assault from Wu’s General of the Champions [guanjun jiangjun], Ding Feng and Hu Zun lost his forward camps. Ding Feng’s assault was followed by the arrival of the main Wu force. Hu Zun’s soldiers panicked and fled. Many drowned in the lake and several generals, including Han Zong and Huan Jia, were killed.[48] Zhuge Ke captured a great deal of equipment and supplies that were abandoned by the fleeing army.[49] Hearing of this, Wang Chang and Guanqiu Jian withdrew back to Wei territory.[50] Sima Shi held Sima Zhao responsible for this defeat, so he stripped him of his enfeoffment.[51]

In 254, Sima Zhao was sent to the west, to oversee operations against the Shu General of the Guards [wei jiangjun] Jiang Wei, who had made several attacks against Wei in previous years.[52]

While Sima Zhao was in the west, his brother gathered the high officials. Together, they signed a petition calling for the resignation of Emperor Cao Fang, alleging that his conduct made him unfit to be emperor.[53] Cao Fang had been criticized in the past for his unacceptable behavior by He Yan,[54] whose own misconduct was widely known. [55]

Empress Dowager Guo issued a command agreeing that Cao Fang was unfit to rule. It read: “The emperor [Cao Fang] is now of age, yet he does not personally take charge of the myriad affairs of State. Instead he is sunken deep with his women, captivated by female charm. Daily he associates with his singing-girls and gives free reign to their obscene dalliance. He invites the female relatives of his ladies to the palace and detains them in his inner apartments. He has destroyed the regulation of human relationships and disturbed the distinction between man and woman; his reverence and filial piety have warped day by day, and his unruliness and disorder have increased more and more. He is not worthy to carry on the celestial line and serve the Ancestral Temple. Hereupon shall Gao Rou, acting concurrently as Grand Commandant [taiyu], take the Proclamation, and by means of the [yiyuan dawu] report to the Ancestral Temple. Cao Fang shall be sent back to Qi as a vassal prince, abdicating the throne.”[56]

Achilles Fang, who translated and commented on this section of the ZZTJ, believes that Empress Dowager Guo was coerced into issuing this command. While such an assumption has logical merit, it is impossible to prove. Furthermore, the Empress Dowager’s allegations against Cao Fang align with those of He Yan many years earlier, which lends some legitimacy to the charge.

The Empress Dowager Guo selected a fourteen-year-old boy named Cao Mao as the next emperor. He was the son of Cao Lin, who was Cao Rui’s half-brother.[57] Cao Mao took the throne on November 2 of that same year.[58] Shortly after these maneuvers, Sima Shi’s health suffered.[59] His symptoms included swelling of these eyes. As a result, he had a tumor removed from his eye.[60]

In the first month of 255, Guanqiu Jian revolted in the city of Shouchun, allegedly on the orders of Empress Dowager Guo.[61] They accused Sima Shi of numerous wrongdoings and declared their intent to kill him.[62] Guanqiu Jian then marched south of the Huai river to garrison Xiang with around 60,000 soldiers.[63] Sima Shi summoned soldiers from across Wei and marched against Guanqiu Jian with 100,000 soldiers. By this time, Sima Zhao was General of the Guards [wei jiangjun][64]. Sima Shi appointed him as Acting General of the Capital Forces [zhongling jun] and left him to guard Luoyang.[65]

After his general Wang Ji seized an important supply depot at Nandun,[66] Sima Shi sent Zhuge Dan to occupy Shouchun and Hu Zun to seize Qiao and Song while his arm occupied Ruyang, thus surrounding Guanqiu Jian at Xiang.[67] Guanqiu Jian was unable to engage Sima Shi’s forces in battle and most of his army deserted him.[68] Guanqiu Jian’s general Wen Qin was defeated in battle by Sima Shi and Deng Ai at Luojia.[69] Guanqiu Jian fled from Xiang[70] and was later killed by a man named Zhang Shi while he was in hiding.[71]

However, Sima Shi fell badly ill around the time of Guanqiu Jian’s death, so he returned to Xuchang. He left his Adviser to the Army [canjun] Jia Chong behind to supervise the soldiers.[72] Sima Zhao went to visit his brother in Xuchang. Sima Shi instructed his brother to take command of the armies still in the field. He passed away shortly after that, on March 23.[73]
Emperor Cao Mao sent Fu Jia from the capital with an edict saying that Sima Zhao should camp at Xuchang while Fu Jia supervised the army. However, Fu Jia consulted with Zhong Hui and Sima Zhao about this. They agreed to disregard the emperor’s orders, so Sima Zhao instead brought the army to Luoyang.[74] On March 29, Sima Zhao was made Grand General [da jiangjun] and Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing [lu shangshu shi].[75]

On May 15 of 256, Sima Zhao was given honorary clothing by the emperor.[76] On October 2 of the same year, Sima Zhao was given the title Grand Marshal [da dudu] in addition to this title as Grand General. He was given [jie] authority and it became taboo to mention his given name in memorials.[77]

In May of 257, Zhuge Dan rebelled against Sima Zhao at Shouchun. He first killed the Inspector [cishi] of Yang, Yue Lin, who was the son of Cao Cao’s famous general Yue Jin.[78] Zhuge Dan then forced the Yang province troops into his service, adding 100,000 soldiers to the 50,000 he already had. He also sent his son Zhuge Jing to secure reinforcements from Wu.[79] Wu sent Quan Yi and Wen Qin with 30,000 soldiers to reinforce Zhuge Dan.[80]

Sima Zhao led the army against Zhuge Dan, bringing Cao Mao and Empress Dowager Guo with him.[81] After depositing the emperor at Xiang, he advanced to Qituou with 260,000 soldiers. He appointed the General Who Guards the South [zhennan jiangjun] Wang Ji as Acting General Who Conquers the East [zhengdong jiangjun] and Marshal [dudu] of Yang and Yu. He then sent Wang Ji and others to besiege Shouchun. Before Wang Ji had completed the encirclement of the city, Quan Yi and the other Wu soldiers arrived to reinforce Zhuge Dan and were able to enter the city.[82] While Wang Ji besieged the city, another Wu force of 30,000 under Sun Lin[83] and Zhu Yi arrived to support Zhuge Dan.[84] However, Zhu Yi was defeated in several battles against Sima Zhao’s generals Shi Bao, Zhou Tai, and Hu Lie. Sun Lin was infuriated by this and executed Zhu Yi.[85]
Following Zhu Yi’s defeat, Sima Zhao employed a number of strategies against Shouchun. He sent spies into the city to tell people that the rescue party from Wu would arrive soon. As a result, Zhuge Dan was not careful about his provisions.[86] In short order, food ran low in the city and people began to defect from Zhuge Dan’s army.[87] On the advice of Zhong Hui, Sima Zhao used forged letters to entice Quan Yi and those of his relatives who were within Shouchun to surrender.[88]

In the first month of 259, Zhuge Dan was desperate.[89] His army made a concentrated attack against an arm of the siege but were unable to break through. After this, Zhuge Dan lost control of himself and killed his general, Wen Qin. Wen Qin’s sons fled from Shouchun and surrendered to Sima Zhao. Many of Sima Zhao’s advisers argued that he should execute them, as they had been involved in Guanqiu Jian’s rebellion years ago. Sima Zhao decided to reward the Wen brothers instead, making them generals [jiangjun] and Guannei Marquis.[90] After seeing the mercy Sima Zhao showed the Wen brothers, people became even more willing to surrender to him and began to defect from Zhuge Dan’s army in large numbers. Sima Zhao then personally took command of the siege and stormed the city. Zhuge Dan was killed while attempting to flee. Sima Zhao also slaughtered all of Zhuge Dan’s relatives that he could find.[91] The Wu generals still within the city surrendered.[92]

Some of Sima Zhao’s advisers suggested that he massacre the people of Huainan because they had rebelled on numerous occasions. Sima Zhao declined this suggestion. Instead, he allowed the Wu soldiers to return home while he relocated many of the people of Huainan to the commanderies near the capital where they could make less trouble.[93] He rewarded those generals who had surrendered and pardoned those who had rebelled.[94]

Sima Zhao considered invading Wu to follow up on his success against Zhuge Dan, but his general Wang Ji dissuaded him from this course of action. Because of his deeds in the siege of Shouchun, Wang Ji was promoted to General Who Conquers the East [zhengdong jiangjun] and Marshal [dudu] of Yang. [95] He also gave great rewards to Zhong Hui, who had contributed many plans during the campaign.[96]

In the fifth month of 258, Sima Zhao was offered the position of Chancellor of the State [xiangguo],[97] as well as the title Duke [gong] of Jin[98] and the Nine Awards. Sima Zhao declined these honors nine times, after which the offers ceased.[99] However, early in 260, an imperial edict again offered these rewards to Sima Zhao, who did not decline them this time.[100]

On June 2 of 260, Emperor Cao Mao issued forth from the palace surrounded by a few hundred of his guards, intending to kill Sima Zhao. Fortunately for Sima Zhao, two of the men in whom the emperor confided his plans were Wang Chen and Wang Ye, who immediately ran to warn Sima Zhao, who prepared a defense against him. The two forces met and Cao Mao was killed by Sima Zhao’s guards.[101] Cao Mao was demoted to the status of a commoner and buried as such. Those who supported Cao Mao’s attempt to murder Sima Zhao were put to death. [102] Shortly after this, at the urging of his uncle, Sima Fu, Sima Zhao and others petitioned that Cao Mao be reburied as an emperor, which Empress Dowager Guo permitted.[103] Sima Zhao’s son, Sima Yan, was sent to fetch a young man named Cao Huang, who was to be the next emperor.[104] Cao Huang later changed his name to Cao Huan.[105] He was only fifteen years old when he took the throne.[106]

Following all of this, Sima Zhao renounced the titles and rewards that he had accepted earlier that year.[107] Cao Huan offered to restore these honors, but Sima Zhao refused.[108]

In the third month (April 17 - May 16) of 261, the Grand Administrator [taishou] of Xiangyang, Hu Lie, sent a memorial to the court, informing Sima Zhao that he had received letters from a group of eighteen Wu generals led by Deng Yu and Li Guang. They claimed that they wanted to surrendered and requested that Hu Lie bring the soldiers from Xiangyang to receive them. Sima Zhao was greatly pleased by this news and ordered Hu Lie to bring all of his soldiers to receive the Wu defectors. However, Wang Ji was suspicious and he sent several letters to Sima Zhao warning him that this could easily be a trap. Sima Zhao was convinced and ordered Hu Lie to return home.[109] Deng Yu, Li Guang, and the others did not surrender, proving Wang Ji correct. Sima Zhao praised him for standing by his convictions.[110]

At an unspecified time, a stableman named Lu Yi approached Sima Zhao and offered to go to Shu as an assassin. Sima Zhao declined Lu Yi’s offer on the advice of Xun Xu.[111]

On October 20 of 261, Sima Zhao was again offered the honors he had previously renounced. Again he declined to accept them.[112]

In 262, Sima Zhao executed two scholars named Xi Kang and Lü An, who had been slandered to him by Zhong Hui.[113]

Later in 262, Sima Zhao began to hold discussions about invading Shu. Many of the officials were opposed to Sima Zhao’s plan. However, he ultimately decided to conduct the invasion anyway. At this time, Sima Zhao issued a proclamation that said: “Since our pacification of Shouchun, we have not engaged in a campaign for six years, during which time we put our weapons in order and repaired our armor with the intention of dealing with the two rebel counties. Now, the territory of the Wu is large and wide, low and damp; it would give us some trouble, because in order to attack it we would have to employ workers [to build ships]. It would be better to conquer Shu first; three years later we shall sail down with the tide, advancing simultaneously on land and on water; this is like destroying Guo to take Yu. I calculate that the Shu have altogether ninety thousand troops, of which not less than forty thousand are stationed in Chengdu to guard it and other places against any eventuality; this being so, the remaining troops can number no more than fifty thousand. Now, we shall keep Jiang Wei occupied at Dazhong, so that he cannot attend to the east; we shall proceed directly to Luogu, take their defenseless positions, and launch a surprise attack on Hanzhong. If they defend themselves in their walled cities and fortresses, they will have to disperse their forces, and their head will be cut off from their tail. We shall then storm their cities with our large forces and disperse our well-equipped troops to plunder their fields. They will not be able to defend Jian’ge, nor preserve Guantou. Since Liu Shan is a foolish sovereign, their overthrow will be certain when the frontier cities on the outside are taken, and the population on the inside is shaken.” Following this, Sima Zhao appointed Zhong Hui as General Who Guards the West [zhenxi] and Marshal [dudu] of Guanzhong.[114]

In the second month of 263, Sima Zhao again declined his previous honors.[115]

Preparations for the invasion of Shu began in earnest. The General Who Conquers the West [zhengxi jiangjun] Deng Ai was sent with 30,000 soldiers to attack Jiang Wei at Dazhong. Zhuge Xu, the Inspector [cishi] of Yong, was sent with another 30,00 to cut off Jiang Wei’s retreat. Zhong Hui was commissioned to lead the main force, some 100,000 soldiers, to Hanzhong. The Minister of Justice [tingwei] Wei Guan was given [jie] authority and sent to supervise all three armies.[116]
In the eighth month (September 20 – October 19) of 263, the army went out from Luoyang. At this time, a general [jiangjun] named Deng Dun continued to protest that the invasion was futile. Sima Zhao executed him in order to silence further objections.[117]

The Shu court, learning of the invasion, sent the General Of the Chariots and Cavalry of the Right [you juji jiangjun] Liao Hua to reinforce Jiang Wei at Dazhong. Other generals were sent to Yang’an pass to support the various encampments there. Those in the encampments were ordered to withdraw to the cities of Hancheng and Luocheng. The force headed for Yang’an instead halted at Yinping, where they waited for Zhuge Xu.[118] Zhong Hui sent generals to besiege Hancheng and Luocheng while he sent another general to assault Yang’an.[119] Zhong Hui’s general, Hu Lie, attacked Yang’an and killed the defending commander and secured the pass, allowing Zhong Hui to advance.[120]

Meanwhile, Deng Ai advanced and drove Jiang Wei out of Dazhong. Unable to retreat directly because of Zhuge Xu’s army, Jiang Wei tried to slip behind Zhuge Xu through bypaths. Zhuge Xu retreated slightly to avoid this, which gave Jiang Wei a chance to flee through the previously blocked route.[121] Jiang Wei proceeded to Jian’ge, where he united with the other commanders in hopes of resisting Zhong Hui.[122]

Because the campaign against Shu was going well, Sima Zhao was once more offered the position of Chancellor of the State [xiangguo],[123] as well as the title Duke of Jin and the Nine Awards. This time, Sima Zhao accepted these honors.[124] Sima Zhao appointed a man named Wei Shu as his Adviser [canjun]. In his youth, Wei Shu had never applied himself to anything and his family was constantly struggling. However, when he was nominated for government service, he mastered the classics with phenomenal speed. He rose rapidly through the government and became one of Sima Zhao’s most trusted aides.[125]
In Shu, Deng Ai advanced to Yinping. He requested that Zhuge Xu join him on a march from Jiangyou to Chengdu. However, Zhuge Xu thought that this was in violation of his orders[126], so he withdrew to the Bo River, where he joined forces with Zhong Hui. Zhong Hui sent his General [jiangjun] Tian Chang to Jiangyou, where he destroyed a Shu ambush unit. Tian Chang then joined with Deng Ai and the two advanced. Meanwhile, Zhong Hui and Zhuge Xu advanced to Jian’ge. However, Zhuge Xu was betrayed by Zhong Hui. Zhong Hui secretly sent a memorial to Sima Zhao claiming that Zhuge Xu had refused to advance[127] because he was a coward. As a result, Zhuge Xu was arrested and sent to the capital while his 30,000 were given to Zhong Hui.[128] Zhong Hui attacked Jian’ge, but he could not gain the advantage and considered retreating because his provisions were low.[129]

The campaign against Shu may have come to a halt had Deng Ai not executed a risky plan. He advanced with an elite force through treacherous and uninhabited territory in the mountains, which allowed him to circumvent the defenses at Jian’ge. They managed to advance in secret to Jiangyou, where the Shu commander Ma Mo surrendered.[130] Zhuge Zhan advanced to Fou to defend against Deng Ai.[131] Deng Ai defeated Zhuge Zhan at Fou, and he retreated to Mianzhu.[132] Zhuge Zhan defended Mianzhu against Deng Ai’s initial attack, though he fell in the second assault and was killed.[133] The Shu court had not anticipated Deng Ai’s arrival and Chengdu was poorly defended.[134] Outnumbered and outmaneuvered, Liu Shan surrendered to Deng Ai.[135] Hearing of Zhuge Zhan’s defeat at Mianzhu, Jiang Wei and the others at Jian’ge retreated to Ba. After hearing of Liu Shan’s surrender, they also surrendered to Zhong Hui.[136]
On February 6 of 264, Sima Zhao issued a special pardon to the people of Shu and exempted them from paying half of their land tax for five years.[137]

After taking Chengdu, Deng Ai sent a letter to Sima Zhao and proposed a plan for defeating Wu. He argued that the people of Wu would be very frightened by the conquest of Shu and that it would be a good time to attack them. On the other hand, Deng Ai remarked that the generals and soldiers who campaigned against Shu were exhausted and needed rest. He proposed that Sima Zhao set officials in charge of harvesting Shu’s natural resources – salt, iron, and copper - while this new source of revenue could be used to build warships. After this was done, envoys could be sent to Wu to lay the situation out before them. Ideally, the Wu forces would surrender without a fight, though if they did choose to resist, Sima Zhao would have the naval force necessary to destroy them. He also suggested treating Liu Shan and the other surrendered Shu officials and generals very well to entice the Wu leaders to surrender as well. Sima Zhao thought that this plan was unfeasible and sent Wei Guan to instruct Deng Ai not to begin this process without authorization. Deng Ai continued to argue in favor of his proposal but took no actions.[138]

Once Shu had been conquered, Deng Ai had taken actions that were supposed to be the sole domain of the imperial court. In particular, he had issued rewards and appointments to surrendered Shu officials. In his own words, Deng Ai justified his position by saying, “In presuming the Imperial authority and conferring appointments, my intention was to put the newly surrendered at ease; I think I have acted properly as far as it was expedient.”[139] However, Zhong Hui misrepresented Deng Ai’s actions to the court and sent a memorial claiming that he was planning a rebellion.[140] Zhong Hui had been manipulating Deng Ai’s letters to the court and forging Sima Zhao’s replies to him for some time in an effort to undermine him.[141]

On February 15, Sima Zhao issued orders for Deng Ai’s arrest, commanding that he be brought to Luoyang in a cage cart.[142] Fearing that Deng Ai might not obey, he ordered Zhong Hui to enter Chengdu. In order to keep an eye on Zhong Hui, he sent his trusted associate Jia Chong to Yegu.[143] Sima Zhao himself went to Chang’an along with the emperor.[144]

Zhong Hui and Wei Guan went to Chengdu to arrest Deng Ai. Zhong Hui sent Wei Guan ahead, hoping that he would be killed and Deng Ai would be further incriminated. However, Wei Guan managed to arrest Deng Ai without incident. On February 29, Zhong Hui entered Chengdu.[145] This put Zhong Hui in command of the region. With his new authority, he decided to execute his plans of rebellion.[146] Earlier, Sima Zhao’s wife, Lady Wang, had warned him that Zhong Hui was untrustworthy, and Zhong Hui proved that her predictions were correct.[147]

On March 1, Zhong Hui summoned all of the various officials and officers to the palace in Chengdu. He then revealed an edict from Empress Dowager Guo[148] commanding that he raise soldiers against Sima Zhao. Those who supported Zhong Hui were promoted while his detractors were arrested.[149] Zhong Hui then intended to execute those who did not support him.[150] However, one of officials under arrest was the general Hu Lie. Hu Lie managed to get a message to his 18-year-old son Hu Yuan, warning him of Zhong Hui’s intentions. Hu Yuan gathered his father’s soldiers and stormed Chengdu, where they killed Zhong Hui and the other rebel leaders. Wei Guan subsequently restored order.[151] However, because he arrested Deng Ai, Wei Guan was afraid that the famous general would bear a grudge against him. As a result, he sent men to assassinate Deng Ai and his son, Deng Zhong.[152] Deng Ai’s sons in Luoyang were also killed, and his remaining relatives were exiled to Xicheng.[153]

Because Zhong Hui’s brother, Zhong Yu, had also warned Sima Zhao that Zhong Hui was untrustworthy, Sima Zhao pardoned Zhong Yu’s sons and allowed them to keep their positions.[154] Zhong Hui’s subordinate, Xiang Xiong, buried Zhong Hui with honors. Initially, Sima Zhao was very upset with him for this, but he relented after having a conversation with Xiang Xiong.[155]

On May 2, Sima Zhao was promoted from Duke of Jin to King of Jin.[156] On May 10, Sima Zhao enfeoffed Liu Shan, former Emperor of Shu, as Duke of Anle.[157] In the next month, June 12, Sima Zhao reinstated an older system of ranks and titles be reinstated.[158] These titles were Duke [gong], Marquis [hou], Count [bo], Viscount [zi], and Baron [nan].[159] After that, on July 5, Sima Zhao posthumously enfeoffed his father, Sima Yi, as King Xuan of Jin and his brother, Sima Shi, as King Jing of Jin.[160] Later in 264, Sima Zhao and his top officials carried out an extensive overhaul of the laws and rituals of the state.[161]

These actions have traditionally been viewed as Sima Zhao’s preparations to officially take command of the empire. When one dynasty replaced another, the new ruling house typically rewrote the laws and rituals of the previous state in order to distance themselves from their predecessors.

Following all of this, he appointed his son, Sima Yan, to be Assistant to the Chancellor of the State [congshi xiangguo].[162] He was later made Grand General Who Comforts the Army [fujun da jiangjun]. Sima Yi, Sima Shi, and Sima Zhao all held this rank – Sima Shi and Sima Zhao both held it just prior to their promotions to Grand General [da jiangjun].

Around the end of 264, the agricultural colonies established by Cao Cao were disbanded and their functions became systemized by the government. Sima Zhao also sought to encourage the people of Shu to move into central China by offering food and tax exemptions.[163]

In the fifth month of 265, Sima Zhao was again promoted, this time to King of Jin. To all appearances, it seemed that Sima Zhao was poised to take control of the empire. However, he died in the eighth month of 265 without actually taking the throne. Cao Huan abdicated to Sima Yan, putting an end to the Wei dynasty and beginning the Jin. At this time, Sima Yan posthumously named Sima Zhao as Emperor Wen of Jin.[164]

Sima Zhao was married to a woman named Wang Yuanji, who was the mother of Sima Yan.[165] She was the daughter of Wang Su and the granddaughter of Wang Lang, who served as Minister Over the Masses [situ] under Cao Pi and Cao Rui. She was made Empress Dowager when Sima Yan took the throne. Her title was Empress Ming. [166]

Sima Zhao showed himself to be a skillful politician. Though he inherited authority from his father and brother, he built upon the foundation they left him and ensured that his family’s prestige and power were unchallengeable. Sima Zhao was very skilled at gaining the loyalty of his ministers and all within Wei looked to him as their leader. His propaganda campaigns enjoyed resounding success and he showed remarkable insight into the hearts of others. He fought against several rebels and oversaw the destruction of the rebel state of Shu. Sima Zhao’s talents do not appear to have extended to the battlefield and was wise enough to delegate military affairs to skilled commanders such as Wang Ji and Deng Ai. Ultimately, he ensured that his family would take control of the empire. His political accomplishments were rivaled only by those of Cao Cao and Sima Yi, and under his guidance Wei achieved the its greatest military achievements since the death of Cao Cao.

[1] Jingchu 2, 37
[2] Jingchu 3, 5
[3] [Jie] authority represented special authority from the emperor. The most common expression of this authority was the authorization to execute officials without prior approval from the court.
[4] Jingchu 2, 47; the Grand General [da jiangjun] ranked even higher the Three Excellencies. The main text of the ZZTJ only says that Cao Shuang was made Grand General. Fang’s note 5.2 of Jingchu 3 lists his other honors.
[5] Jingchu 3, 1
[6] Jingchu 2, 38
[7] de Cespigny’s “Later Han Civil Administration”
[8] de Crespigny’s “Ladies of the Court of Emperor Huan of Han”
[9] Jingchu 3, 2
[10] Jingchu 3, 5
[11] Fang’s note 5.2 of Jingchu 3. Palace Attendants [shizhong] were special advisers to the emperor. An Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing [lu shangshu shi] had special authority to examine the documents of the Imperial Secretariat.
[12] Jingchu 3, 6
[13] Jingchu 3, 7
[14] Jingchu 3, 8
[15] Jingchu 3, 9
[16] Fang’s note 9 of Jingchu 3
[17] Deng Ai’s sanguozhi biography
[18] Fang’s note 4.5 of Jiaping 5; Xincheng was the site of Sima Yi’s famous victory over the traitorous Meng Da, so this place likely held special significance to the Sima family.
[19] Jingchu 3, 12
[20] Jingchu 3, 13; the Colonel Director of Retainers [sili xiaowei] was the head administrator of the capital province.
[21] Fang’s note 14 of Zhengshi 9
[22] Xiahou Xuan was the son of Xiahou Shang, an distinguished general under Cao Pi. He was also Cao Shuang’s cousin (his father’s sister was Cao Shuang’s mother).
[23] Under the Han, a Marshal [dudu] was a relatively low-ranking officer responsible for discipline and training in the army. Under Cao Cao and Wei this rank meant a general or official who had control of the military of one or more provinces. The rank of Marshal [dudu] was usually held in addition to other military titles.
[24] Zhengshi 5, 2
[25] Fang’s note 14 of Zhengshi 9
[26] Zhengshi 5, 3; the main text of the ZZTJ says the army was 100,000. While this is certainly possible, given the resources available to Cao Shuang, Fang’s note 3.2 of Zhengshi 5 says that the army was between 60 and 70 thousand, according to Cao Shuang’s sanguozhi biography, and I am inclined to believe the smaller number.
[27] Fei Yi’s name is sometimes given as Fei Wei. This is because longstanding tradition made it unacceptable o say the given name of the emperor. Because of this taboo, Chen Shou had to change the names of any official whose given name was Yi, Shi, Zhao, or Yan. Fei Wei should not be confused with Fei Shi, who was a different Shu official entirely.
[28] Zhengshi 5, 4
[29] Zhengshi 5, 7
[30] Zhengshi 5, 8
[31] Zhengshi 5, 10
[32] Fang’s note 10 of Zhengshi 5; the main text of the ZZTJ (Zhengshi 5, 11) mentions Fei Yi leading an attack against Cao Shuang as he retreated, killing much of the Wei army. This account comes from the Chronicles of Han and Hin [han jin chunqiu] by Xi Zuochi, and is not found in the sanguozhi biographies of Cao Shuang, Fei Yi, Wang Ping, Xiahou Xuan, or anyone else involved with the campaign. As such, I have chosen to disregard it as a falsehood.
[33] Fang’s note 14 of Zhengshi 9; the title Gentleman Consultant [yilang] was typically used as a “placeholder”. It indicated that the court intended to grant the Gentleman Consultant an important position as soon as one became available. In the mean time, the Gentleman Consultant could participate in the court’s discussions and provide advice. While this position was often an honor, it could also be used to slow the advancement of one’s political rivals. Given that Sima Zhao remained a Gentleman Consultant for more than five years, this appointment was most likely an attempt by He Yan, Cao Shuang, and their party to curb his advancement.
[34] Fang’s note 14 of Zhengshi 9; the main text of the ZZTJ says that Sima Zhao was involved in the planning of these maneuvers, but the biography of Sima Shi in the Book of Jin [jinshu] specifically says that Sima Zhao was not informed of his father’s plans until the day before.
[35] Jiaping 1, 1
[36] While many historians argue that this edict was forged by Sima Yi, such a claim is, by its nature, impossible to verify. Historians have typically viewed the Empress Dowager Guo as a passive player in the events at the end of the Wei dynasty, treating her as a figurehead, at best. Modern historians often take the view that the Empress Dowager was a very active party and led the later opposition to the Sima family.
[37] Jiaping 1, 2
[38] Jiaping 1, 4
[39] Jiaping 1, 9
[40] Jiaping 1, 10
[41] Jiaping 1, 11; again, while many take the (logical) position that the charges against Cao Shuang were fabricated by Sima Yi as an excuse to execute him, this claim is fundamentally impossible to prove.
[42] Jiaping 3, 17
[43] Jiaping 4, 1
[44] Fang’s note 4.5 of Jiaping 5
[45] Jiaping 4, 12
[46] Jiaping 4, 16; the titles of these generals are given in Jiaping 4, 14; Zhuge Dan’s title is found in Jiaping 4, 13 and Sima Zhao’s is mentioned in Fang’s note 4.5 of Jiaping 5.
[47] Jiaping 4, 17
[48] Jiaping 4, 19
[49] Jiaping 4, 21
[50] Jiaping 5, 4
[51] Fang’s note 4.5 of Jiaping 5
[52] Zhengyuan 1, 21; Sun Sheng’s Chronicles of Wei [weishi chunqiu] tells of a plot against Sima Zhao at this time, but the story appears to be fictional.
[53] Zhengyuan 1, 22
[54] Zhengshi 8, 8
[55] Gardner, Daniel K, “Zhu Xi’s Reading of the Analects: Canon, Commentary, and the Classical Tradition” page 11
[56] Fang’s note 22 of Zhengyuan 1
[57] Fang’s note 23.16 of Zhengyuan 1
[58] Zhengyuan 1, 25
[59] The memorial quoted in Fang’s note 2 of Zhengyuan 2 mentions this.
[60] Zhengyuan 2, 5
[61] Zhengyuan 2, 1; historical records indicate that the command of the Empress Dowager was counterfeited by the rebels, though there is no way to know for certain.
[62] Zhengyuan 2, 2
[63] Zhengyuan 2, 3
[64] Zhengyuan 2, 29 gives Sima Zhao’s rank as such; General of the Guards [wei jiangjun] was the title that Sima Shi held prior to his promotion to Grand General Who Comforts the army [fujun da jiangjun].
[65] Zhengyuan 2, 7
[66] Zhengyuan 2, 11
[67] Zhengyuan 2, 14
[68] Zhengyuan 2, 15
[69] Zhengyuan 2, 16
[70] Zhengyuan 2, 22
[71] Zhengyuan 2, 24
[72] Zhengyuan 2, 28
[73] Zhengyuan 2, 29
[74] Zhengyuan 2, 30
[75] Zhengyuan 2, 31
[76] Ganlu 1, 3; specifically, Sima Zhao was given a royal robe and crown with matching red slippers. I do not know the significance of these honors.
[77] Ganlu 1, 10
[78] Yue Lin’s name is sometimes given as Yue Chen.
[79] Ganlu 2, 6
[80] Ganlu 2, 9
[81] Ganlu 2, 8
[82] Ganlu 2, 10
[83] Sun Lin’s name is sometimes given as Sun Chen
[84] Ganlu 2, 11
[85] Ganlu 2, 13
[86] Ganlu 2, 14
[87] Ganlu 2, 15
[88] Ganlu 2, 16
[89] Ganlu 3, 1
[90] A Guannei Marquis (sometimes called a Marquis of the Imperial Domain or a Marquis Within the Passes) is a special honor that is given to favored servants of the state. Unlike a Full Marquis, a Guannei Marquis does not have a fief.
[91] Ganlu 3, 2
[92] Ganlu 3, 4
[93] Ganlu 3, 6
[94] Ganlu 3, 7
[95] Ganlu 3, 8
[96] Ganlu 3, 10
[97] The title Chancellor of the State [xiangguo] had some negative connotations. de Crespigny’s note 83 of Zhongping 6 says that it was originally the title of Xiao He, who was one of the most trusted advisers of Liu Bang, founder of the Han dynasty. It carried more authority than the usual Chancellor title [chengxiang]. This rank was abolished under the Later Han, but Dong Zhuo gave himself this title in 189.
[98] Under the Later Han, the two basic ranks of nobility were Marquis [hou] and Prince [wang]. The title of Prince was reserved for members of the Imperial family. The title of Duke [gong] was awarded to Cao Cao to place him above the other Marquis.
[99] Ganlu 3, 12
[100] Jingyuan 1, 2
[101] This is adapted from passage 3 of Jingyuan 1, and Fang’s notes 5 and 12 of the same year. Xi Zuochi’s Chronicles of Han and Jin [han jin chunqiu], Sun Sheng’s Chronicles of Wei [weishi chunqiu], and the writings of Gan Bao give an account of events that is very sympathetic to Cao Mao. However, none of these is a primary source, all of them being written long after the fact. They contradict the version of events presented in memorials from Sima Zhao and Emperss Dowager Guo, which claim that Cao Mao had tried to kill the Empress Dowager on several occasions. While it is certainly possible that the version of events given by Sima Zhao and the Empress Dowager is false, the same claim can be made about Xi Zuochi and Sun Sheng. Given all of this, I have chosen to present the most neutral version of events.
[102] Jingyuan 1, 5
[103] Jingyuan 1, 8
[104] Jingyuan 1, 9
[105] Jingyuan 1, 13; this name change was because it was forbidden to say the emperor’s personal name. However, Cao Huang’s name was a homophone for many common words, including the color yellow. Thus, his name was changed due to the incredible distress it would cause.
[106] Jingyuan 1, 14
[107] Jingyuan 1, 11
[108] Jingyuan 1, 16
[109] Jingyuan 2, 1
[110] Jingyuan 2, 2
[111] Jingyuan 3, 17
[112] Jingyuan 2, 3
[113] Jingyuan 3, 15
[114] Jingyuan 3, 18; Guanzhong refers, generally, to the northwest region of China. In terms of political territory, this would basically be Liang and Yong provinces.
[115] Jingyuan 4, 1
[116] Jingyuan 4, 3
[117] Jingyuan 4, 6
[118] Jingyuan 4, 7
[119] Jingyuan 4, 8
[120] Jingyuan 4, 9
[121] Jingyuan 4, 10
[122] Jingyuan 4, 11
[123] The title Chancellor of the State [xiangguo] had some negative connotations. de Crespigny’s note 83 of Zhongping 6 says that it was originally the title of Xiao He, who was one of the most trusted advisers of Liu Bang, founder of the Han dynasty. It carried more authority than the usual Chancellor title [chengxiang]. This rank was abolished under the Later Han, but Dong Zhuo gave himself this title in 189.
[124] Jingyuan 4, 14
[125] Jingyuan 4, 15
[126] Zhuge Xu’s orders were to captured Jiang Wei, who was at Jiang’ge, not Chengdu. Zhong Hui was advancing on Jian’ge, which is why Zhuge Xu joined him.
[127] This refers to Zhuge Xu turning down Deng Ai’s offer to march with him from Jiangyou to Chengdu.
[128] Jingyuan 4, 17
[129] Jingyuan 4, 18
[130] Jingyuan 4, 19
[131] Jingyuan 4, 20
[132] Jingyuan 4, 21
[133] Jingyuan 4, 22
[134] Jingyuan 4, 24
[135] Jingyuan 4, 25
[136] Jingyuan 4, 31
[137] Jingyuan 4, 39
[138] Jingyuan 4, 43
[139] Jingyuan 4, 43
[140] Jingyuan 4, 45
[141] Jingyuan 4, 46
[142] Xianxi 1, 1
[143] Xianxi 1, 2
[144] Xianxi 1, 3
[145] Xianxi 1, 7
[146] Xianxi 1, 8
[147] Xianxi 1, 5
[148] The main text of the ZZTJ says that this edict was falsified. Given Zhong Hui’s reputation as a forger, this claim has more merit than most such statements, but it is impossible to say for certain.
[149] Xianxi 1, 9
[150] Xianxi 1, 12
[151] Xianxi 1, 13
[152] Xianxi 1, 14
[153] Xianxi 1, 16
[154] Xianxi 1, 17
[155] Xiaxi 1, 18
[156] Xianxi 1, 23; the rank of King [wang] was traditionally reserved for members of the Imperial family. Cao Cao, Cao Pi, Sun Quan, and Sima Zhao were awarded this title by an emperor even though they were not part of the Imperial line. Cao Cao was made King of Wei by Emperor Xian, and Cao Pi briefly inherited this title after Cao Cao’s death and before he became emperor. Sun Quan was made King of Wu by Cao Pi, and Sima Zhao was made King of Jin by Cao Huan.
[157] Xianxi 1, 27
[158] Xianxi 1, 30
[159] Fang’s note 30.1 gives these ranks and their westernizations.
[160] Xianxi 1, 32
[161] Xianxi 1, 34
[162] Xianxi 1, 39
[163] Xianxi 1, 49
[164] ZZTJ Chapter 79, Xianxi 2
[165] Fang’s note 5.2 of Xianxi 1
[166] Xianxi 1, 45