Comprehensive Biography for Zhong Yu

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Comprehensive Biography for Zhong Yu

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Wed May 30, 2018 1:07 am

Zhong Yu, style Zhishu (200-263)

Zhong Yu was the son of Zhong Yao and his prime wife Lady Sun, born in the year 200 he was their eldest son. He had three relatives, a young brother named Zhong Shao (born sometime after 200) and his youngest half-brother the famous Hui (225) of Wei [1], along with a sister (unknown birth date) that would marry Xun Xi and give birth to the famous Xun Xu of Jin. [2] Zhong Yu is described as clever, quick, conversation, full of laughter and was said to resemble his father's mannerisms. His career began rather young at the age of fourteen when he became a Cavalier Attendant-Gentleman under Cao Cao. [3]

In 227 Zhuge Liang was attempting to take Mei during one of his northern campaigns. Wei Yan advised that if he took the path of Ziwu he could take Changan and in twenty days the area of Changan and the west will belong to Shu. Zhuge Liang disagreed and he met the Wei army at Mount Qi. [4]

Cao Rui had plans to march west to fight him, however Zhong Yu sent a memorial to the court,

“In strategy esteem [planning in] headquarters for victory, in achievement esteem [planning in] tents, do not go down from above the palace hall, and decide victory a thousand lǐ away. The Imperial Chariot should defend the central lands, to be the assistant to the Four Corner’s authority. Now the main army campaigns west, and though it has a hundredfold authority, its costs to Guānzhōng, are already massive. Moreover in flourishing heat sending out the army, poets may esteem, but it is not what the time for your Honor to move.“ [5]

In short, it is not the Emperor’s duty to leave the throne to score a victory. The distance isn’t worth it, the straight on Guanzhong isn’t worth it and it’s better to have his majesty shine in the capital. Cao Rui, however, didn’t seem to listen as on March 4th he moved to Changan. Ma Su was charged with leading the vanguard of the Shu forces and he disobeyed Zhuge Liang’s direct orders at Jieting. Rather than occupying a walled city, he camped in the mountains. Because of this, Zhang He cut off his water supply to dehydrate the rebel force and attacked, destroying them in spectacular fashion. [6] The Northern Campaign was a complete disaster, though Cao Rui’s presence in Changan certainly wasn’t a deciding factor. Not that Zhong Yu’s advice being tossed aside was bad, but that Cao Rui truly had no reason to leave. Wei would have won regardless of his presence.

Zhong Yu was eventually made Yellow Gate Attendant Gentleman while Cao Rui was renovating the palace at Luoyang, meaning the court had to meet at Xuchang. However Xuchang was too small, thus Cao Rui decided south of the city shall be where court is held. He wanted there to be preparations for entertainment, and the SGZ makes note that the laborers were those that were common folk forced into doing it. [7] Zhong Yu once more sent another memorial to the throne,

“The season is inappropriate, the treasury is empty, and if there is to be something like this, it can wait for a prosperous year.”

Basically stating it’s the wrong time of the year and the country is broke. Now is not the time for this shit. He also advised that it would be best to devote more men to uncultivated lands to focus on farming. These proposals were accepted. [8]

In the year 244 Cao Shuang invaded Shu, leaving than a force of around 100,000 men. [9] He did not, however, meet with the success he was hoping as the defences of Wang Ping would not budge and the supply lines provided from the Di and Qiang tribes were not sufficient enough for an army of that size. [10] Cao Shuang sent a memorial to the court asking for more soldiers, though if his supply lines were stretched thin I do not see what adding more onto them could possibly achieve. [11] However Zhong Yu sent him a personal letter on the matter,

“I humbly believe the strategy for victory, is to not face arrows and stones. A ruler’s troops, campaigns without battle. Truly spears and axes can take the southwest, withdrawing is enough to take the enemy. We need not imitate Wú Hàn at Jiāngguān, or Hán Xìn at Jǐngxíng. Seeing opportunity and advancing, knowing difficulty and retreating, is governance since ancient times. May you lord consider this!” [12]

Zhong Yu is basically stating that throwing soldiers at a losing cause will not bring about victory. It is best to wait for the right opportunity. There are lessons in the past we must learn from.

Cao Shuang eventually retreated with minimal losses after Sima Yi had sent a letter to Xiahou Xuan advising him to avoid danger [13], and Zhong Yu was soon demoted and sent away from the capital to Weijun. Cao Shuang, however, was eventually killed by Sima Yi in a coup and Zhong Yu was appointed Palace Attendant Minister of Justice. [14] Yu implemented several practices including a son being able to content slander suffered by the father if the father is dead, as well as women not remarrying when their husbands became a Marquis that were once scholars. [15]

In earlier 254 when Sima Shi was in charge of the government, he was met with resistance from men like Li Feng, Xiahou Xuan and Zhang Qi. Li Feng was even given a private audience with the Emperor, Cao Fang, and this infuriated Sima Shi. News somehow leaked that these men were plotting to have Sima Shi killed and be replaced with Xiahou Xuan. He interrogated Li Feng about these meetings, but Li Feng would not confess, so Sima Shi beat him to death with the hilt of his sword. [16] Zhong Yu, the Minister of Justice at this time, was actually sent the corpse. Zhong Yu initially refused the corpse, stating that his office doesn’t deal in these matters, but Sima Shi told him of the charges and forced him to take it. [17]

Li Feng’s son, Tao, along with Xiahou Xuan and Zhang Qi were all implicated on treason charges and sent to Zhong Yu for judgement. Zhong Yu charged them accordingly,

“Li Feng conspired with the huangmeen jian Su Shuo (蘇鑠), the yongning shuling, Yue Dun (樂敦), the rongcong puyi Liu Xian (劉賢), etc. (all eunuchs), and said, ‘On the day when the guiren (imperial concubine) is to be appointed, the troops from the various barracks will be stationed at the palace gates and His Majesty will appear under the gable of the hall; let us take this occasion to obtain permission from His Majesty and lead the officials and troops to kill the Generalissimo. Should His Majesty not assent, he must be coerced and taken away with us.'”

The charge further read, “Xiahou Xuan and Zhang Qi were aware of this conspiracy.” [18]

While Xiahou Xuan was in prison he would refuse to make any confession of guilt. Zhong Yu came before him and Xiahou Xuan chided him, stating that he might as well write the confession himself since Xiahou Xuan will die regardless and he won’t speak the truth. Zhong Yu had known Xiahou Xuan for some time, and respected him greatly. He knew the confession had to be written, and he left to write it. Zhong Yu did his absolute best to make the confession as truthful as possible. The next day he returned to Xiahou Xuan’s cell, and with tears in his eyes presented the confession to Xiahou Xuan who looked at it and simply nodded. With a dignified poise, Xiahou Xuan then left and he was executed, along with all the other conspirators and their families. [19]

Guanqiu Jian rebelled in Shouchun in 255 and was defeated, it was the duty of Zhong Yu to take over Yangzhou and Yuzhou for the time being and issue a general amnesty, as well as soothe the populace of a cantankerous region in Wei. [20]

The new Emperor, Cao Mao, was holding a debate with many of his ministers, including Xun Yi and Zhong Yu. The debate centered around who should receive more credit, Shaokang of Xia, who brought about the resuscitation of a Dynasty fallen into the hands of a traitor and usurper, or Liu Bang of Han, who founded a Dynasty. Xun Yi argued Shaokang would be given preference, while Zhong Yu maintained that while Shaokang was a greater sovereign, he did not accomplish as much as Liu Bang. Cao Mao retorted had there have been more records at the time, Shaokang’s achievements would’ve been recorded. Though this story may not be true, it shows the kind of man Cao Mao was. He views the man saving his Dynasty a greater man than the one founding his own. [21] Little bit of foreshadowing there, eh Sun Sheng?

Zhong Yu was noted as an exceptional archer and everyone admired his ability greatly. However he and Wei Shu once held a competition against one another and Yu was bested. He had been unaware Wei Shu was that skilled with a bow, exclaiming "My talents can never be a match for yours!" [22]

In 256 Zhuge Dan revolted in Shouchun, and Sima Zhao desired to personally march against him. It was reported that Sun Yi of Wu was defecting, and because of that they are unable to send out an army. However Zhong Yu argued that when discussing the enemy one must use oneself as the example. Zhuge Dan has already raised an army, and Sun Yi brings only a few hundred soldiers. If the rebellion is not crushed quickly, the loss of Sun YI won’t be great and Wu may mobilize an army. Sima Zhao agreed and he set off, destroying Zhuge Dan’s rebellion. [23] After this Zhong Yu was made Inspector of Qingzhou, and eventually Commander of Jingzhou. [24]

His younger half brother, Zhong Hui, was receiving quite a lot favor from Sima Zhao. He warned Sima Zhao of this,

“Zhong Hui is crafty and one cannot vouch for his honesty. He should not be given too much trust.”

Sima Zhao laughed at this, and stated that if Zhong Hui is a rebel at heart, the Zhong family will be spared. Zhong Yu was of course proven correct eventually when Zhong Hui did rebel and meet disaster at the hands of loyal soldiers of Wei. [25] However while Zhong Hui was off on campaign against Shu, Zhong Yu passed away. It’s likely Hui never heard about it. Zhong Yu was eneoffed as the Gentle Marquis. [26] From 258 all the way to his death in 263 Zhong Yu held the title of General of the Rear. [27]

Thus ends the story of Zhong Yu. He was an able minister, a wise man and a loyal subject. Truly it seems he was loved by his contemporaries and given that he was said to be similar to his father, it is easy to understand why. Though his advise was not always heeded it never truly proved incorrect. Zhong Yu's career was not as glorious as that of his half-brother or his father, but that does not understate the contributions he made. They were significant enough that when Sima Zhao proclaimed the fate of the Zhong clan in wake of Hui's rebellion, Yu's accomplishments were listed as a reason for them being spared. He did not have a glamorous career, but he had an interesting one that had him involved, in one way or another, with important events during the Three Kingdoms.

[1] Howard L. Goodman, The Calligrapher Chung Yu (Ca. 163-230) and the Demogaphics of a Myth
[2] Howard L. Goodman, Xun Xu and the Politics of Precision in Third-century AD China
[3] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[4] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography, The ZZTJ states that this took place in 228 however the SGZ claims it to be the year before. I defer to Chen Shou's decision and go with 227.
[5] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[6] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[7] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[8] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[9] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[10] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[11] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[12] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[13] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[14] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[15] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[16] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian, The Weilue states that Sima Shi had a muscular man do so while the Jinshu states that he had several armed men do the act.
[17] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[18] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[19] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[20] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[21] Sun Sheng, Wei Shi Chunqiu
[22] Achilles Fang, Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[23] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[24] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[25] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[26] Chen Shou, Zhong Yu's sub-biography in Zhong Yao's Sanguozhi biography
[27] Empire Divided "Ranks of Wei" chart states that Zhong Yu held the position during this time span, and since he passed away in 263 he would have died in office.
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhong Yu

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed May 30, 2018 1:28 pm

Not a figure one often hears about so thanks. I was wondering if you had any thoughts about his legal reforms?
“You, are a rebellious son who abandoned his father. You are a cruel brigand who murdered his lord. How can Heaven and Earth put up with you for long? And unless you die soon, how can you face the sight of men?”
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhong Yu

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Wed May 30, 2018 1:33 pm

I'm fully behind his policy of allowing a son to contest the slander of a father that had passed. Such a thing was, sadly, common at the time and more than likely prevented many people from either getting into office, or getting any substantial promotions and thus intentionally hiding talent from the world.

As for the policy on women not remarrying when their husbands become a Marquis, that one intrigues me. The wording in the SGZ isn't clear, and I don't it's the case, but is he giving women the security that they shall remain on the Marquissate and not be forced to remarry?
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