Comprehensive Biography for Xiahou Xuan

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Comprehensive Biography for Xiahou Xuan

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Mon May 28, 2018 8:00 am

Xiahou Xuan, style Taichu (209–254)

Xiahou Xuan was the son of Xiahou Shang, a relative to the famous Yuan and Dun. [1] Around the time that Xuan was 20, shortly after his jiaguanli, or capping ceremony,[2] he was appointed to Cavalier Attendant as well as Gentleman Attendant at the Palace Gate.

Many people gathered around him and admired him greatly. This had to due with both his standing as a noble family, but also due to his manner, intelligance, his ability to debate anyone and to remain calm in tough situations.[3] However he was also one not to hide his feelings on matters. One such example was involving Cao Rui, Ming-di of Wei, who had invited him to an audience. Xiahou Xuan was sat next to Mao Zeng, the brother of the Empress. Mao Zeng adored sitting beside Xuan, however Xuan disproved and Cao Rui heard of this, and in his anger he demoted Xuan. [4] Someone of the men in this group were Xiahou Xuan, Zhuge Dan, Ding Mi, Deng Yang, He Yan and many others. Despite the great intellectuals in this group, many people in the court did not like this group. Dong Zhao submitted a rather long memorial that, while not naming this group specifically, chastised the superficial men who seek only to mopolize power and not benefit the state. Cao Rui agreed with this and so he proclaimed that all ministers would endure a harsh examination. Anyone who failed were to be exiled from court and to never hold positions again. This group, barring Xiahou Xuan, all failed and were dismissed. [5]

Xiahou Xuan's career was uneventful under Cao Rui due to the incident with Mao Zeng, however it saw a resurgance when Cao Fang ascended the throne and Cao Shuang was made regent. The two were related and Xiahou Xuan had well-known talent, thus his promotion to Capital Protector and Cavalier Attendant were to be expected. [6]

In 244 Xiahou Xuan would find himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the military affairs of Yongzhou and Liangzhou. He, along with Li Sheng and Deng Yang advised Cao Shuang that his reputaiton as a commander must be established and that a campaign against Shu would be the best way to accomplish this. [7] Not only was this a way to establish Cao Shuang's military career, but also to curb the growing influence of the Sima under the very talented Yi. [8]

Sima Yi, however, did not agree with this and he protested but his words fell on deaf ears. [9]

Xiahou Xuan, now serving as General of the Western Expedition, [10] followed Cao Shuang at the back of one hudnred thousand soldiers to Hanzhong. The commander present for the rebels in Shu was Wang Ping, a former subordinate of Wei. He had less than 30,000 soldiers with him at the current time. Everyone around him was terrified of the overwhelming force coming down upon them and they advised that hiding in their cities would be the proper way. Wang Ping disagreed, and so he spoke

“I disagree. Hanzhong is nearly a thousand li from Fou. If the enemy takes the city of Guan, it will be an overwhelming disaster for us. At this point, the thing to do is first to send the hujun Liu Min and the canjun Tu to occupy the mountain xingshi, while I defend the rear. If the enemy sends out a force toward the Huangjin [valley] I will personally lead a thousand men to meet it. The troops from Fou will arrive soon. This is the best plan." [11]

Wang Ping led his forces to Xingshi just as he had planned along with Liu Min, and Fei Yi as also sent by the rebel Emperor Liu Shan to assist. [12]

The Imperial army met troubles near Xingshi due to logistical errors involving the local tribes of the Di and Qiang who were not equipt to supply an army numbering in 100,000. Yang Wei, an adviser for Cao Shuang, told him that they had best retreat lest they meet with defeat. Deng Yang and Li Sheng both opposed him greatly, which caused Yang Wei to state they were going to bring ruin to the state and must be put to death at once. Cao Shuang did not listen and became furious. [13]

Sima Yi had sent a letter directly to Xiahou Xuan, critisizing the campaign and warning him of the devistating losses that will be incurred if they advance upon Xingshi against the entrenched rebel Shu army.

“In the Chunqiu the severest reproofs are given those of greatest virtue. Formerly Emperor Wu (Cao Cao) twice entered Hanzhong and came close to being badly defeated, as you know. Now the mountain Xingshi is very steep, and the Shu troops have already occupied it. If we advance and fail to take it, our retreat will be cut off, and the army will certainly be annihilated. How are you going to take such a responsibility?”

Reading this, the ZZTJ describes Xiahou Xuan as frightened, and so he advises Cao Shuang to retreat. [14]

Fei Yi's had arrived in Hanzhong with reifnrocements, thus promting Cao Shuang to heed Xiahou Xuan's advise and retreat from Hanzhong. [15] While Cao Shuang was retreating, Fei Yi's army attack and dealt "heavy losses" to the Wei army. [15.1]

Xiahou Xuan and Sima Yi, who at the time was Grand Tutor, had a conversation when it came to current affairs in the state of the Empire. Xiahou Xuan, in a rather lengthy way, stated his thoughts on finding the best talent available and employing them. [16]

Managing talent and employing men is the prerogative of the state. Therefore, the act of “weighing in the balance” [quanheng 銓衡] is wholly reserved for the Imperial Secretariat—and constitutes the high offi cial’s responsibility to assign allotments [of administrative duty] [ fen 分]. Filial conduct is realized in the village lanes. Therefore, [distinguishing between] the excellent and the inferior [candidate] is the responsibility of local offi cials—and constitutes the lower of-ficial’s privilege to determine ranks [xu 敘] Now, if you desire [to provide] pure instruction and [promote] judicious selection, [the key lies in] clarifying these duties and privileges—above all, do not let [superiors and subordinates] interfere with each other.

Why is this?

If high officials bypass their assigned duty [to make appointments], I fear that
departure from fundamentals will follow and that the swift path to meddling
with power will be opened. If local officials overstep their privilege to determine rank, I fear the penetration of outside [influence] on the [bestowal of] Celestial Ranks and the [unacceptable] proliferation of portals to crucial authority. If those below have access to the [process of bestowing] Celestial Ranks—this will be [tantamount to] commoners interfering in the prerogatives [of the state]. When there are multiple portals to crucial authority—this is the origin of confusion and disorder. Indeed, several years have past since [the system using] rectifiers [zhongzheng中正] to rank local administrative talent [was established], yet there is still confusion and disarray. I have yet to hear of any standardized arrangement. How is this not due to the [authority] to distribute allotted responsibility and the privilege to determine rank being at odds? [High and low officials] have each abandoned the basis from which essentials are derived. If you command rectifiers alone to examine conduct and group [candidates for office] into classes, such grouping into classes ought to be implemented equitably, and only then should
[a candidate] be assigned an official post [by the Secretariat].

Why is this?

If a person’s filial conduct is notably displayed within the family gates, how
could he not be loyal and respectful in office? If a person’s humaneness [ren仁] and capacity to imagine himself in another’s place [shu 恕] are praised across the nine-clan relations [jiuzu 九族], how could he not successfully engage in governance? If a person’s fair judgment [yiduan 義斷] is carried out in the townships and villages, how could he not be suited to serving [in positions of central] responsibility? These three categories [of men] are selected by the rectifiers. Even if [those chosen] are not assigned offices and titles, their [fitness for] appointment to office bears acknowledgment. [If we accept that] with conduct [xing 行], there is that which is significant
and that which is minor, and that with comparisons [bi 比], there is the higher
and the lower, then the class [liu 流] [of men] responsible [for governing] likewise becomes brilliantly clear and distinguishable. Why allow the rectifiers to disrupt the mechanisms for “weighing in the balance” from below and grasp crucial authority entrusted to those above—[leading] superiors and subordinates to encroach on one another’s [prerogatives], thereby producing confusion and error? Moreover, the Imperial Secretariat oversees those below by examining merits and collating deficiencies. [In addition,] the associates of the various [lower] offices each have a chief official who investigates them morning and night—nothing is as thoroughly scrutinized as this. [In contrast,] if critiques at the village level are taken as the [sole] consideration for passing judgment, causing the higher offi cials [responsible for] weighing and ranking [potential candidates] to forfeit their positions, the multitude will race about in a panic; and although one desires mores and customs to be pure and tranquil, would this even be possible?
The Celestial Dais is remote and distant, cut off from the thoughts of the
multitude.59 Those who are able to access it [first] effect change in their immediate proximity. Who does not dress up and adorn [himself] to acquire what he seeks? If there is such a path to [obtaining] that which he seeks, then [there will be those who] dress up [the achievements of] their own household [to obtain recognition]; shortly thereafter this will not be as good as self-promotion in the district and villages; and, again, shortly thereafter even this will not be as good as seeking self-promotions at the provincial and territorial [level]. If [you allow] this path to open, you will suffer the afflictions of [falsely] adorned truth and a departure from fundamentals. Even if you subject [such deceivers] to severe reprimand at the hands of the rectifiers [in the form of low local ranks] and reprove them with reforming punishments, this will not be effective. How can [such an approach] compare with causing each [official] to be guided by [the dictates of] his assigned duties? Each chief official considers the abilities and deficiencies of his subordinates and makes recommendations to the Imperial Secretariat. The Imperial Secretariat then, in accordance with the rankings by ability and deficiency made [previously] by the chief officials, and after consulting the classifications of virtuous conduct made by the local officials, forms its own classifications, thereby avoiding partiality or favoritism. In that case, the rectifiers need only examine the traces [ji 迹] of [the candidate’s] conduct to discern his hierarchical position and settle the judgment on his type and category, thereby avoiding [excessively] elevated or debased [rankings]. The Imperial Secretariat considers all of this [input] together, and if [a candidate] it has appointed turns out to have defects or faults, the responsibility naturally will lie with the [recommending] officials. The rankings provided by the chief officials and the classification formed by the rectifiers are then compared [by the Imperial Secretariat, which,] in accordance with the rankings and statistics, employs [the candidate]. If [those employed] do not measure up, the burden of responsibility will lie outside [the secretariat]. Accordingly, mutual consultation among these internal and external authorities [results in] successes and failures having their places [of accountability] and brings about the mutual rectification of formal procedures. [Considering this system of checks and balances,] who could [falsely] adorn [a candidate]? [When the process operates like] this, then the hearts of the people will be settled and affairs orderly.
[17]

There is a lot more to this, and many other letters including replies from Sima Yi, however I have chosen not to include them. If you wish to read them yourselves I would suggest referring to the source. They are quite lengthy which are why I chose to omit all but the one above.

Xiahou Xuan further argues for streamlining bureaucracy as he felt that there were too many redundant positions, as well as pushing to enforce sumptuary regulations. [18]

In 249 Cao Shuang and many of his group fell into a false sense of security and were exterminated in the thousands by the Sima in a coup. Xiahou Xuan was able to escape from this slaughter however. He was summoned by Sima Yi to the capital and replaced by Guo Huai as the Commander-in-Chief of Yongzhou and he was relegated to the less signifigant post of Chamberlain for Dependences. [19] Xuan's cousin, Ba, was not on good terms with Guo Huai and since he was also close with Cao Shuang who was recently killed, he feared that he soon would be killed and so he became a bandit and joined those in Shu. [20]

Sima Yi eventually died in 251 and handed his authority over to his son, Sima Shi. [21] Sima Shi at one point was married to the sister of Xiahou Xuan and had poisoned her in accordance with her dissaproving of his families grabs for power. [22] Xiahou Xuan was one of the many people Sima Shi assigned to be a courtier in the central govornment, along with Li Feng, Zhang Ji, Wang Su Zhong Hui and Chen Ben. [23] However despite this, Xiahou Xuan was not at an influential position because of his ties to Cao Shuang both through the govornment and by blood. Because of this he grew resentful of the Sima. Zhang Qi, father to the Empress, felt the same way. [24] Li Feng's son, Tao, like Xuan and Qi was also tied to the Imperial Clan. Tao had married Ming-di's daughter. Sima Shi however still admired him and confided in him. However Li Feng was above all loyal to Wei and felt a closer connection to the ostrcized Xiahou and Zhang, rather than Sima Shi. [25] Li Feng met with Emperor Cao Fang over the course of two years in secret, their talks never left the palace. [26]

As it turns out Li Feng, Xiahou Xuan and Zhang Qi were plotting to overthrow Sima Shi and replace him with Xiahou Xuan as regent. They were to take advantage of a ceremony with one of the palace women was to be promoted to Honorable Lady. At the height of the ceremony they would use palace troops and loyal officials in revolt and kill Sima Shi, and put Xiahou Xuan in his stead with their full support behind the Emperor. [27]

Sima Shi had grown suspicious and he had Li Feng detained. He questioned him on the matter but Li Feng would not speak, and so Sima Shi beat him to death with the hilt of his sword. [28] He sent the body to the Minister of Justice, Zhong Yu. The other conspirators, including Xiahou Xuan, were all arrested and sent to Zhong Yu as well. They were all charged with high treason and to be executed. [29]

While he was in prison Xiahou Xuan was resolute and would not make a confession. Zhong Yu came to him in person, however Xiahou Xuan wore a sinceare expression and stated "What am I guilty of? You may write it for me yourself." Zhong Yu had long respected Xiahou Xuan and knew him to be too proud to ever admit anything, but since the confession had to be made he spent the night writing down a confession for Xiahou Xuan. He did everything in his power to match the confession to the truth, no bending a single word. The next day he arrived in tears and presented it to Xiahou Xuan. Xuan read it over and gave a solemn nod. He was then escorded to the East Market with a stern expression and his chin up where he was then executed. [30]

Thus ends the story of Xiahou Xuan. He was a man from one of the most respected families in Wei and despite a poor run in with an Emperor, he survived a two purges against groups he was in, asserted that reforms need to be made to bring peace about through streamlining the govornment and creating a successful recruitment system. Though I did not cover it, many western historians such as Rafe de Crespigny cite Xiahou Xuan as one of the greatest intellectuals and statesman of Cao Shuang's regime, and cite him as one of the arbiters for the revitilization of learning and culture that flourished for 10 years in Wei. Unlike his father, Shang, he held no accomplished military career as his own recorded feat was a failure, though the degree of that failure is debatable. In the end however, he was a loyal man of Wei and he would risk everything to attempt to remove the Sima from their usurped position of power. Unluckily for him Sima Shi found out and Xuan was killed. However his final moments were not grovvling, begging, shrieking or decrying. He was staunch, stalwart and accepting of it all. In his heart he was a man of Wei and worthy enough to be called a Xiahou. He was never going to suffer being a guest among bandits.

[1] Chen Shou, Xiahou Shang's Sanguozhi biography
[2] Rafe de Crespigny, Recruitment Revisited: the Commissioned Civil Service of Later Han
[3] Timothy M. Davis, Ranking Men and Assessing Talent: Xiahou Xuan's Response to an Inquiry by Sima Yi
[4] Timothy M. Davis, Ranking Men and Assessing Talent: Xiahou Xuan's Response to an Inquiry by Sima Yi
[5] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[6] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[7] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[8] Timothy M. Davis, Ranking Men and Assessing Talent: Xiahou Xuan's Response to an Inquiry by Sima Yi
[9] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[10] Timothy M. Davis, Ranking Men and Assessing Talent: Xiahou Xuan's Response to an Inquiry by Sima Yi
[11] Chen Shou, Wang Ping's Sanguozhi biography
[12] Chen Shou, Wang Ping's Sanguozhi biography
[13] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[14] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[15] Chen Shou, Fei Yi's Sanguozhi biography
[15.1] Xi Zuochi, Han Jin Chunqiu This is an account I do not believe for a single moment. Neither Wang Ping, Cao Shuang, Xiahou Xuan nor Fei Yi's SGZ mention Fei Yi fighting. The wording is always along the lines of Fei Wei(Yi) arrives and Cao Shuang retreats. The losses are also described as 'heavy' however out of 100,000 soldiers that marched on Hanzhong, 90,000 left so how can these be heavy losses? So while I have included this fable, I am letting my objections be known. I do not take this account as fact.
[16] Timothy M. Davis, Ranking Men and Assessing Talent: Xiahou Xuan's Response to an Inquiry by Sima Yi
[17] Timothy M. Davis, Ranking Men and Assessing Talent: Xiahou Xuan's Response to an Inquiry by Sima Yi
[18] Timothy M. Davis, Ranking Men and Assessing Talent: Xiahou Xuan's Response to an Inquiry by Sima Yi
[19] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[20] Chen Shou, Xiahou Ba's sub-biography in Xiahou Yuan's Sanguozhi biography
[21] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[22] Fang Xuangling, Jinshu. I had severe doubts on this account. Xiahou Hui died in 234 long before the Sima made any grab for power. Cao Rui was Ming-Di at the time leaving Sima Yi with no room to move, nor for Sima Shi to eye the throne. The only instance of any grab for power at this time is the possible, and I stress possible, murder of Zhang He. But again, that is speculation.
[23] Fang Xuangling, Sima Shi's Jinshu biography.
[24] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[25] Timothy M. Davis, Ranking Men and Assessing Talent: Xiahou Xuan's Response to an Inquiry by Sima Yi
[26] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingds, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[27] Timothy M. Davis, Ranking Men and Assessing Talent: Xiahou Xuan's Response to an Inquiry by Sima Yi
[28] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[29] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[30] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Xiahou Xuan

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon May 28, 2018 3:48 pm

After this was posted, 5 spambots turned up and created big spam topics. I'm not saying daolun is head of a secret spambot network but I happen to have torches and pitchforks and it would be shame to let them go to waste

I like the sound of rebel Emperor Liu Shan :P Xaihou Xuan is an intresting man and he dealt with his fate with immense dignity and calm
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Xiahou Xuan

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Mon May 28, 2018 4:05 pm

They were all my Putty Patrollers! ...Anyone? Power Rangers? No? Damn...

Xiahou Xuan's dignified way he met his end is something I admired. He had nothing to say. His intentions spoke for themselves. Noble in his demeanor, he brought the man meant to prosecute him to tears. Not many moments quite like that.

Rebel Emperor does have a nice ring to it. ;)
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Xiahou Xuan

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Tue May 29, 2018 4:28 am

Also liked the Rebel Emperor quip.
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