Comprehensive Biography for Zhang Hua

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Comprehensive Biography for Zhang Hua

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Fri Jun 01, 2018 9:59 am

Zhang Hua, style Maoxian (232-300)

Zhang Hua was born in 232 in Fanyang, however while he was young his father died. Zhang Hua would support himself by herding goats. [1] Zhang Hua’s story is similar to Deng Ai’s in a way, his mental capacity and brilliance were recognized by the higher ups in Fanyang. One of these men was Liu Fang, a member of Sima Yi’s supporters. He was so impressed with Zhang Hua, who by all accounts is not only a genius but also well mannered, he wed his eldest daughter to him in 249. [2] Zhang Hua wrote a poem on this marriage entitled Epithelium Rhapsody, in which he describes how eager he was to marry, while praising her beauty while referencing the impatience again as he could not see his beloved due to the hundreds of well-wishers. There was even a second poem written by him that once more references her radiant beauty. [3]

This is a man in love. Can we really take a moment to appreciate that before we get depressing again? Most marriages are rarely ever talked about, and if they are typically it’s a line or two. Zhang Hua truly adored his wife. He was excited at the prospect of marrying her, and he thought she was the most beautiful creature ever. He makes note of her radiant beauty on more than one occasion. It’s really adorable.

However, as typical with these stories, good things rarely last. Later than year his father-in-law Liu Fang passed away and Zhang Hua was grief striken. With the loss of his own father, Liu Fang was there for him and was proud to call him his son-in-law. Zhang Hua composed a dirge for him [4] but sadly I cannot find it anywhere.

There is some discrepancies over another poem that are rather interesting. The Jinshu states that he composed the Rhapsody on the Wren in the hopes of gaining a position in government [5], however it’s also argued by some that it was written in 261. [6] The rhapsody goes as followed

Oh, this bird so lacking in knowledge,
In deporting itself seems so wise!
It does not hold onto treasure, and thus courts no harm;
It does not adorn itself, and thus invites no trouble.
Resting, it is restrained and is never haughty;
Active, it follows the natural course of simplicity and ease.
Relying on spontaneous action for its basic substance,
It is not seduced by the hypocrisy of the world.

The philosophy behind this is drawn from the Daoist notion of the “utility of being useless”. The poem is self-deprecation in a way, however it isn’t negative. He is justifying his obscurity by citing his personal safety against those in the public eye, as many prominent scholars and politicians had met disaster as of late. [7]

Ruan Ji, one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove, saw this piece and he was enthralled by it. He reported sighed happily and exclaimed to all that could hear, “This is the talent of a minister of state”. High praise coming from someone such as Ruan Ji. [8]

Zhang Hua’s first official appointment to office came in 255 when he was 23 years old. [9] The positions he held in Wei were typically in the bureaucratic branches. [10] His career in Wei did not seem all that remarkable, though it only lasted less than 10 years as Sima Yan would eventually depose Yuan-di of Wei, Cao Huan, thus ending Wei and ushering in Western Jin.

Zhang Hua took office under the Jin Dynasty and he worked very closely with Xun Xu. The two were tasked with implementing a cataloging system for the Imperial Library, as well as establishing new court rituals which was a very important task. [11] Having been a man with perhaps an eidetic memory knew the rituals of the Han Dynasty, as well as the administrative systems of the Han and Wei, which proved invaluable in these tasks. [12]

In 268 Jia Chong petitioned to Emperor Wu of Jin, Sima Yan, that the laws be reviewed and amended, which Wu-di took on himself. The Emperor then assigned Pei Kai to review and rewrite what was necessary. [13] Zhang Hua, who was at the time the Gentleman Attendant of the Palace Secretariat, along with the Palace Attendant Lu Ting asked if they may transcribe the new laws that carry capital offenses, and then hang them in public places so the people are fully aware of what the laws are. Wu-di allowed them to do so. [14]

When the Empress Yang died in 274, Zhang Hua took it upon himself to personally pen her funeral dirge [15] but that is sadly something I do not have. Following in the foot steps of the former rebel emperor Liu Shan, Wu-di then made her sister Empress two years later. [16] Because that’s what you do when your wife dies.

Zhang Hua was not only a statesman and a poet, but also a historian. [17] In 277 he presented the Bowuzhi, Record on Various Things, which was a local history text as well as lore book. The idea behind this was to look back at old local histories like the Shan-haijing and Shangshu and correct or add onto them. He cited that these works truly weren’t complete and fall short in detail, and that his work would make sure that no one would be hindered reading them as he would finish what began. [18] There was a time when the work was described as “marvelous hearsay and odd occurrences”, but later scholars would cite it as an important work regarding customs of early China. [19]

People from all across the Dynasty sought Zhang Hua when they first arrived in the capital as he had a reputation as an influential man. All he sought from them has information on various places, whether it was word of mouth or written documents. He was a man in love with knowledge. [20]

There were two prime factions in the Jin court at this time. One rallied around Yang Hu with the intention of invading and conquering Wu, while the other rallied around Jia Chong who felt that not only was it impossible, but Jin had their own issues with the Tufa Xianbei and other tribes. Zhang Hua fell into the Yang Hu camp and he had been arguing for an invasion of Wu since earlier into the Dynasty’s founding. [21]

In 276 Yang Hu, who had experience fighting the Wu army during his post in Jingzhou, feeling entirely confidant that an invasion would succeed with the death of Lu Kang sent up a rather lengthy memorial encouraging Wu-di to launch a campaign against Wu. [22] He sites that natural defenses cannot protect them, Jin had been riding on a wave of momentum and most of all he cites the ministers that opposed the invasion of rebel state of Shu. They all said the same thing the ministers now say that oppose the invasion of Wu, and yet their defenses all fell and their capital was captured. He proposed a plan for conquest, citing Sun Hao as a terrible ruler suspicious of his subjects, generals who can’t trust the court and no loyalty from his people. [23]

Wu-di was agreement but the Jia faction was very vocal, and cited the Xianbei in Qingzhou and Liangzhou as imminant threads to the security of the Dynasty. [24] Yang Hu retorted saying that when Wu was pacified, the tribes would settle down but they must act quick. However the ministers again refused and Yang Hu sighed. [25]

In 278 Yang Hu had fallen ill. He requested to come to the court and speak with Wu-di. He sat face to face and explained every little detail about his plan to conquer Wu, and Wu-di liked the idea. [26]

The Emperor, not wishing to strain Yang Hu’s health by making him travel, sent Zhang Hua to speak with him. Yang Hu told him that Sun Hao was violent and cruel, the people would certainly give up without fighting. If Sun Hao were to meet his end and another took his place, they could never defeat Wu. The greatest danger is waiting, he said. [27] Zhang Hua agreed whole heartedly and Yang Hu looked into his eyes and told him “You are the only one who can realize my ambition.” [28]

Later that year Yang Hu nominated Du Yu replace him in Jingzhou, and he died not long after. [29]

Remember earlier how I mentioned the Jia faction citing the barbarians as a reason they could not invade Wu? Those barbarians were the Tufa Xianbei, lead by the famous Shujineng. [30] He had been fighting Jin for 9 straight years and had killed the famous Hu Lie. Over the years only one significant victory was achieved by the Imperial Army. This was under Wen Yang who took thousands of captives, but this did not stop Tufa Shujineng. [31] Ma Long, standing up when no one else would, marched against the Tufa and he did what no other man could: Killed him. [32] Now there was no excuse to stop the invasion of Wu, and Du Yu himself saw this as an opportunity to do what Yang Hu did: immediately draft a petition and send it forth to Sima Yan.

“Since this year’s intercalary month, although the enemy has set their men in readiness, they have no more soldiers to drawn upon. If we threaten them with all our power, it will overwhelm them; unable to have strength enough to defend both fronts completely, they will certainly concentrate their forces east of Xiakou to observe us, watching and waiting. They shall not have many troops left to defend anywhere west of there, leaving their state and their capital exposed. Yet Your Majesty would lend an ear to what has been claimed, and cast aside the great plan because of others. That would allow the enemy to grow ever more powerful; what a pity that would be.”

“If you would raise a proposal only with reservations, then you cannot propose it. For the matter which we are now undertaking, we must have absolute firmness in our purpose. If we attain success, then we build the foundation of a lasting peace; if we are not successful, we will have spent no more than a few days’ or months’ worth of time. But how tragic would it be not to even make the attempt at all! If you put off this affair until some later year, beware: man proposes, but Heaven disposes. You cannot treat it like an ordinary issue, for I fear that it would become even more difficult.

“There are countless reasons to undertake the campaign now, and one cannot become a slave to deviations or doubts. My own heart is set, and I dare not be led astray by the clouded thinking of others. May Your Majesty consider my words.” [33]

TL;DR Du Yu is saying that despite the fact Wu’s army seems ready, they have no one else to spare. The overwhelming might of JIn would easily be able to apply pressure onto the Wu, causing them to withdraw east to defend the capital, which in reality would leave it defenseless. He then goes on to say that Sima Yan lets men like Jia Chong ruin these grand ambitions, which in turn strengthens Wu.

However his went unanswered. And so Du Yu sent another memorial to the court,

“When Yang Hu explained his plans before, he did not expound upon them before the court ministers, but only discussed his planning with Your Majesty in personal discussion. This is why so many of the court ministers share the same reservations. It is true that every idea has its share of benefits to some and harm to others. However, the plan now being proposed shall benefit eight or nine of every ten people, while harming merely one or two. To stop simply because of that means that there would be no success at all.

“There are certainly some ministers of the court who speak words of defeatism, but their words cannot be accepted. They are simply saying these things because if their counsel is not followed, then they can claim no successes themselves, while each of them will be ashamed that their earlier words were ignored; thus they guard against such a thing all the more.

“When going against court affairs, whether large or small, an unorthodox idea stands out all the more. Although men’s hearts are not in agreement, because of the favor that you have shown me, I cannot help but consider future dangers. This is why I must somewhat go against so many.

“But ever since the arrival of autumn, the concept of our campaign against the enemy has already taken substance. If we were to stop now, Sun Hao might become afraid and develop his own plans. He could move his capital to Wuchang and fully repair his various cities south of the Yangzi, while sending his people far away. Then we would not be able either to take his cities or to forage his countryside for supplies. This is why an invasion that does not come until next year would be bound to fail!” [34]

Another TL;DR for you. He says the reason so many in the court aren’t willing to attempt the invasion, and act cowardly is due to Yang Hu only discussing his planning in private. The ministers do not know the intricusies of the idea. The men in the court that speak of defeatism are not to be listened to. Their own plans are already in the works. If they stop now, Sun Hao may act, and in a year it will be impossible to ever invade Wu. Du Yu is stating that this may be the last time ever for a chance to bring peace to the land.

By the time this second petition had arrived Sima Yan was engaged in a game of Weiqi with Zhang Hua. [35] Sima Yan had the petition read allowed as he continued with the game, though once it was finished Zhang Hua threw the board aside and begged Sima Yan to accept.

“Your Majesty, you are a sage and martial man; your state is prosperous and your soldiers are strong. The ruler of Wu is a wild and wicked man, and he punishes and kills the worthy and the able. If we campaign against him now, Wu can be taken even without effort. What reason is there for any further doubts?“ [36]

Zhang Hua gave the simplest reasons for invading, you are strong and just, Sun Hao is evil and cruel. It won’t be a hard campaign.

Sima Yan was moved by this, but Zhang Hua would earn the scorn of Jia Chong and Xun Xu for this. The two of them made countless objections about Sima Yan wanting to invade and Yan had enough and he shouted at Jia Chong, which terrified him. He groveled and begged for forgiveness, which Sima Yan gave. [37]

Zhang Hua was assigned to be the Logistical Director and was put in charge of arranging logistics and supplies for this massive campaign. Jia Chong was made the Grand Commander in charge of coordination between the armies at Xiangyang, Sima Zhou was made the General who Guards the Army and sent to Chuzhong, Wang Hun became the General Who Maintains the East and was sent to Jiangxi, Wang Rong was the General who Establishes Might went to Wuchang, Hu Fen was the General who Pacifies the South was to be sent against Xiakou, Du Yu was the Grand General who Conquers the South marched for Jiangling and the Director of Badong Tanbin, along with the Soaring Dragon General Wang Jun were to come from the former lands of Shu in Yizhou. The army in total was no less than 200,000 men. [38]

Eventually the invasion was under way and Jin saw success on every front, however fourth months in the faction in the court that opposed it initially was once more calling for it to end. However Zhang Hua, and only Zhang Hua, remained true to his belief that Wu will be destroyed. [39] The Jia faction were brutal in their attempts to get this to stop. Jia Chong submitted a petition that cited that since summer is approaching, the river will be humid and the grand army will fall ill. He must recall the army before it’s too late. He also requested that Zhang Hua be cut in half at the waste to apologize to the realm for this travesty and even that would not be enough to fully earn the acceptance of the apology. [40] Luckily Sima Yan did what he does best; ignore Jia Chong when his advice is bad. He replied that the invasion is his idea and Zhang Hua is simply agreeing with him. [41] Xun Xu sent his own petition in, urging the same advice (possibly more Zhang Hua severing), but Sima Yan didn’t listen. [42]

Du Yu heard the news of these petitions and he immediately sent out his own to discredit these people that are trying to stop the campaign. However before the messenger could even cross the Yangtzi river, Wu was conquered after Wang Jun accepted Sun Hao's surrender. [43] Jia Chong and the other ministers were so ashamed that they rushed to Sima Yan to beg forgiveness, which Sima Yan just waved off and gave it yet again. [44]

It’s important to note that the Conquest of Wu had larger troops numbers and spanned the entirety of what they knew as China at the time, and unlike the Conquest of Shu, there were no reported logistical errors. Zhang Hua kept the entire army perfectly supplied. It is not an aspect of campaigns people often think but perfectly managed supply lines are often more important than the number of soldiers.

For his efforts in uniting China Zhang Hua’s fief was increased by 10,000 households and he was eneoffed as Marquis of Guangwu County. [45] He eventually became the Master of Writing, and due to the respect he earned from many in the court, they suggested that he become one of the Three Excellencies. Xun Xu and Feng Dan, both partisans of Jia Chong, despised Zhang Hua and they used a very touchy subject to Sima Yan to slander him. [46]

Sima Yan had a brother named You. You was adopted by Sima Shi as he had no heirs of his own, and Yan’s father Zhao was truly contemplating making You his heir and turning control back to Sima Shi’s lineage. However Jia Chong and many other dissuaded him of this. While on their death beds Sima Zhao and Empress Dowager Wang Yuanji both begged and pleaded for Sima Yan to treat his brother well as they knew he wasn’t the kind of person to take care of his younger brother. [47] Boy where they right. Think of Cao Pi’s treatment of Cao Zhi, except Sima You literally did nothing to deserve it.

So what does this have to do with Zhang Hua? Well Sima Yan had asked Zhang Hua who should he entrust with his affairs when he’s gone, i.e make his heir. Zhang Hua replied, "In perception, in virtue and in closeness to you, no one compare to the Prince of Qi.” The Prince of Qi was Sima You, and Xun Xu and Feng Dan would use this as Zhang Hua have his own personal ambitions in mind, and so they would attempt to slander him. [48]

Zhang Hua was named Commander of Military Affairs in Youzhou, and his time there was actually very successful. He subdued the local tribes peacefully and everyone praised him. Life in the province was prosperous and even the harvests were bountiful. [49] While he was present he penned a poem named Houyuanhui, Gathering in the Rear Garden, which praised the Emperor and all the worthy officials in the court. [50] Sima Yan then summoned him back to the capital and in that time Feng Dan spoke with him, “It has been said that Sima Zhao was responsible for Zhong Hui’s rebellion.”

Sima Yan was furious and he demanded to know what nonesense Feng Dan was speaking.

Feng Dan replied, “I have heard that those who are good at restraining affairs must know how to properly employ the Six Reins. This was why when Zhong You participated in men’s affairs, Confucius withdrew from him, but when Ran Qiu retired on account of infirmity, Confucius advanced him. Emperor Gaozu of Han (Liu Bang) honored and favored the Five Kings, yet he had to eliminate them all; Emperor Guangwu restrained and reduced his various generals, and by doing so he secured them. When those above do not make a distinction between benevolence and cruelty, and those below do not distinguish between foolishness and wisdom, so that the rising and falling contend with each other, this is merely the natural result.

“Now Zhong Hui’s talents and intelligence had their limits, yet Taizu was overly proud of him and rewarded him without restraint. He gave Zhong Hui greater power, and placed him at the head of a grand army. He had Zhong Hui follow his own council without a plan to restrain him, and when Zhong Hui felt that his achievements had not been rewarded as he saw fit, his bold disobedience naturally followed. If Taizu had properly noted Zhong Hui’s meager abilities, dealt with him by the highest rites, pressed down on his power and influence, and kept him on his proper course, then there would have been nothing to stir up a rebellious heart.”

Sima Yan replied, “Well said.”

Feng Dan then kowtowed and said that since Sima Yan understands, he cannot allow his followers to be like Zhong Hui. When Sima Yan asked who would today’s Zhong Hui be, and Feng Dan spoke "Your Majesty has a minister with whom you have developed all your plans, who has achieved great deeds in the realm, who occupies an important garrison, and who has a great number of arms and horses. May Your Majesty, in your sage wisdom, ponder these things.”

Sima Yan knew exactly who he was talking about, and thus he canceled Zhang Hua’s orders to return to the capital. [51] However in 285 Zhang Hua was eventually recalled to the court and he was appointed Grand Master of Ceremonies. [52] Seemingly having some sort of change of heart on the issue.

Several years later Zhang Hua saw a terrible omen. The ridgepole in the Imperial ancestral temple snapped in half, and he interpreted this as something terrible. He resigned from office, and in 290 Emperor Sima Yan would pass away at the age of 54. [53] Before he passed away however, his son and heir, Zhong was to be given two regents to watch over him. Zhong suffered from some kind of mental disability though due to some very cunning moves on his wife, Princess Jia Nanfeng’s part, Sima Yan truly didn’t know the extent of his disability. [54] There is also an argument to make that Sima Zhong's disability actually did not become noticeable till later in his life, and the story presented here is merely to show Princess Jia Nanfeng in a poor light as she deceives the Emperor.

The two regents put in place were Yang Jun, the father of both Empress Yang’s, and Sima Liang was to be the second regent. [55] Though there appears to be another story in which Yang Jun and the Empress Yang had forged the edict naming only Yang the regent. This seems unlikely given what happens. [56]

Sima Yan’s coffin was placed in the mourning hall and everyone came to pay their respects. Yang Jun, however, remained in the Taiji Hall under heavy guard. [57] The mourning process at this time went through the Taiji Hall. [58] Sima Liang, being in one of the palaces, was supposed to come an attend the mourning for Sima Yan, however he feared Yang Jun and he merely wept outside his office. He then submitted a petition asking for forgiveness for not being able to attend. [59]

A rumor began to arise that Sima Liang was going to raise an army to campaign against Yang Jun, so now Yang Jun was fearful of him. Yang Jun intended to attack him, but the Minister of Justice He Xu sided with him as did Shi Jian. Rather than moving against Yang Jun, Sima Liang decided to flee Luoyang and head for Xuchang to save his life and remove himself from the equation. Yang Jun sought to appoint or advance many people as a way to cultivate their loyalty. Fu Zhi, the son of Fu Jia, admonished him for this but Yang Jun refused to listen. [60]

The Empress of Jin just so happened to Jia Nanfeng. A woman with quite a sinister reputation. Some of it earned, though her worse aspects are debatable as they fall into a trope within Chinese history that dates back to Empress Lu Zhi of the Han. That being said, Nanfeng was a very cunning woman and Yang Jun was terrified of her. Yang Jun effectively stole power from her by appointing his nephew to control secret affairs, placed Zhang Shao in command of the guards, and any edict that was made was to be sent to the Empress Dowager Yang for her approval. [61] Yang Jun ruled harshly and stole power, this earning the scorn of everyone. Officials continued to try to dissuade him lest he meet disaster but he ignored every plea for moderation. [62]

In that same year Zhang Hua was appointed to the Lesser Tutor for Emperor Sima Zhong, Hui-di. [63]

Supporters of Empress Jia Nanfeng told her that Yang Jun was plotting to overthrow the Emperor and her, and so she requested Sima Liang, the former regent, bring his army to the capital to kill Yang Jun. Liang refused stating that it was “not worth the bother”. [64] Sima Wei on the other hand accepted, and he was someone that Yang Jun feared more than anyone. He was said to be fierce, and he came to Luoyang as quickly as he could. Palace guards surrounded Yang Jun’s home and they set it on fire. Crossbowmen shot at the compound as to stop anyone from escaping. As Yang Jun ran to the stables he was killed after being pierced through the chest with a spear. Yang Jun’s entire clan, several thousands of them, were all slaughtered barring the Empress Dowager Yang. Sima Yao took this chaos to implicate Wen Yang, Wen Hu and their entire clan in the coup and they were slaughtered too. This all occurred on April 23rd, 291. [65]

Empress Jia Nanfeng then accused Empress Dowager Yang of being apart of her father’s plot and numerous Jin officials submitted memorials condemning Yang Zhi. Though Zhang Hua was decidedly in Jia Nanfeng’s most ardent supporters, he desired to pardon the Empress Dowager. [66]

“The Empress Dowager committed no crime against His Late Majesty, and although the criminals today were her intimates, their offenses do not extend to their mother’s exalted generation. We ought to follow the example of when Han deposed Empress Dowager Zhao Feiyan to become merely Empress Cheng. In the same manner, we may depose the Empress Dowager to become merely Empress Wu, and have her reside in a separate palace. Then the grace she has been shown will be fulfilled.” [67]

Nanfeng did not listen and demoted her to a commoner status and locked up in the Jinyong cheng, a metal walled compound located outside of the city. The ordered no food be given, and so Yang Zhi starved to death while baking in a hot metal, enclosed compound. [68] Sima Yao was secretly plotting now to overthrow Empress Jia Nanfeng, though his brother Dan despised him. He slandered him to Sima Liang and eventually he was ousted from office and exiled. [69]

Allegedly in 292 Zhang Hua composed a rather famous piece entitled Nushu zhen, Admonitions of the Female Scribe. It is apparently directed toward either an empress or palace women. It references many historical texts, and outlines gender roles, feminine conduct and prizing inner virtue over physical beauty. [70] The Jinshu claims this was made in 292 and is directed toward Jia Nanfeng, and many people agreed. Modern Scholars have a different take. Although his name did not pop up frequently during the war between Yang Jun and Jia Nanfeng, Zhang Hua did play a role in that and sided with Jia Nanfeng, thus making him admonishing her very unlikely. Farmer notes that if Zhang Hua did criticize her in any harsh way, why would he not have been executed? [71] It’s also worth noting that Zhang Hua worked with her for close to a decade, being one of her greatest officials. The most likely scenario is that it was directed at the former Empress Dowager who he sided against.

With Jia Nanfeng in full control of the court Zhang Hua’s power continued to grow and in 294 he eneoffed as Lord of Zhuangwu commendery. [72] However he did run into an incident when the Imperial Arsenal, which held historical records, caught fire. Zhang Hua first stopped the fire from spreading to his home and then moved to help at the arsenal. However it was destroyed and many artifacts and documents were lost. People slandered him, and you can certainly argue they have a point. [73] However he came out fine and even rose up to finally become one of the Three Excellencies when he became Minister of Works. This earned him an enemy who desired this post, someone that will come up very shortly. Sima Lun. [74]

Zhang Hua took his new found position and influence to recommend many scholars for positions all over the government including Zuo Si and Shu Xi, as well as Wei Zhong, though Zhong declined due to illness. [75] Zhang Hua was also directly responsible for employing and securing the office of one Chen Shou, the author of the Sanguozhi. Zhang Hua also grew close with the famous Lu clan of Wu, and appointed many of them to positions in the government. [76] Using his authority he turned all his attention to repairing the damages in the government. His merit brought peace within the four seas. [77]

More trouble came in 299. Empress Jia Nanfeng was without a son of her own and she despised Prince Sima Yu, the heir-apparent. She desired to remove him from his post but the plot leaked, and one of Sima Yu’s men approached Zhang Hua in an attempt to win his support. Zhang Hua refused in the best way possible, citing Sima Yu would become an unfilial parent to betray his father by murdering Wu-di's wife. Since Zhang Hua refused and no one else dared join this coup, Yu was framed for treason and executed on April 27th. [78] This prompted some retaliation. Sima Lun, her great uncle mustered an army and took over the capital. Empress Jia Nanfeng and all her supporters, including Zhang Hua were arrested. [79] On May 7th, 10 days after Sima Yu was killed, Jia Nanfeng was forced to commit suicide by allegedly drinking wine with gold fragments in it which was a type of poison. [80] Several days later Zhang Hua and the rest were all executed. [81] Zhang Hua was 68 years old at the time of his death. [82] This created a power vacuum that would become know as the War of the Eight Princes which tore the nation in half for a very long time, creating a period that makes the Jian'an and Three Kingdoms periods look like a school yard fight.

Zhang Hua is fabled to have owned one of two legendary swords. The reason he only held one is that the man who discovered them lied about finding the second, as he knew disaster would fall Zhang Hua and thus having both prized possessions lost would be a tragic blow. Zhang Hua knew he was lying about the second sword being lost but he did not question it. [83] Zhang Hua had a true love of learning, and a rather hilarious anecdote states that after his death officials raided his home in order to find any illicit wealth he may have pocketed, as he was seen as part of an evil regime, and thus corrupt. However when they searched his home, all they found of books on literature and history, as well as objects that some thought were lost. His household was like a museum of artifacts and knowledge, and was considered peerless in his time. [84] Think of Zhang Hua’s home as the Library of Alexandria.

And thus ends the story of Zhang Hua. He rose from a goat farmer to one of the highest offices in the land after uniting China, suffering slander and making his way through a landscape of hell that was the Western Jin court. Despite historians slandering him by saying he opposed Empress Jia Nanfeng and wrote his famous doctrine against her, we can see that isn’t the case. He supported her to the very end. And might I remind you that her that her father Jia Chong WANTED TO CUT HIM IN HALF!!!!!! Talk about not holding a grudge. Zhang Hua sided with her and did every single thing he could to benefit the state. He knew turning on her would be terrible not only for himself and his family, but also for the country. While her removal of her enemies was harsh it was needed to assert her power. Not only that Jia Nanfeng's rule is considered to be one of the most stable periods in Jin. Zhang Hua was a loyal man, a fantastic minister and a damn good poet. An adorable husband and a great goat herder as well. He deserves nothing but the utmost respect. Without Zhang Hua in his position we never would've gotten the Sanguozhi, thus the history of the era may not be recorded as it was and this lovely forum and many others like it may have never come into fruition over the years. His impact on history is often forgotten, but it should not be as we may not even know what we do without him.


[1] Fang Xuanling, Zhang Hua's Jinshu biography
[2] Fang Xuanling, Zhang Hua's Jinshu biography
[3] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[4] Fang Xuanling, Zhang Hua's Jinshu biography
[5] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[6] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[7] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[8] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[9] Fang Xuanling, Zhang Hua's Jinshu biography
[10] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[11] Howard L. Goodman, Xun Xu and the Politics of Precision in Third-Century AD China
[12] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[13] Fang Xuanling, Zhang Hua's Jinshu biography
[14] Fang Xuanling, Zhang Hua's Jinshu biography
[15] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[16] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[17] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[18] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[19] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[20] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[21] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[22] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[23] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[24] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[25] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[26] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[27] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[28] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[29] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[30] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[31] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[32] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[33] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[34] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[35] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[36] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[37] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[38] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[39] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[40] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[41] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[42] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[43] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[44] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[45] Fang Xuanling, Zhang Hua's Jinshu biography
[46] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[47] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[48] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[49] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[50] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[51] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[52] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[53] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[54] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[55] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[56] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[57] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[58] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[59] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[60] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[61] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[62] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[63] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[64] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[65] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[66] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[67] J. Michael Farmer, On the Composition of Zhang Hua's "Nushi Zhen"
[68] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[69] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[70] J. Michael Farmer, On the Composition of Zhang Hua's "Nushi Zhen"
[71] J. Michael Farmer, On the Composition of Zhang Hua's "Nushi Zhen"
[72] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[73] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[74] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[75] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[76] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[77] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[78] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[79] Taishi Ci 2.0, Zizhi Tongjian: Western Jin (Book 79-93), Sima Guang, Zizhi Tongjian
[80] Fang Xuanling, Jia Nanfeng's Jinshu biography
[81] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[82] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
[83] Fang Xuanling, Zhang Hua's Jinshu biography
[84] J. Michael Farmer, Zhang Hua (232-300)
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhang Hua

Unread postby Jia Nanfeng » Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:01 pm

Great biography!

Thanks for reading between the lines of the records and seeing that Empress Jia and her partisans weren’t completely evil in their intentions. Sure, they were brutal at times; but there was peace, and Zhang Hua was a big part of that as well.
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhang Hua

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Fri Jun 01, 2018 10:41 pm

Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it. I loved reading about Zhang Hua and the more I delved into him, the more I came to doubt how the Jinshu presents Jia Nanfeng's regime and her as a person. J. Michael Farmer's appraisal of her also held greatly. She was a real fascinating women, at times brutal but that is truly to be expected of any ruler when faced with what she had to deal with, as well as an exceptional leader. I plan to write on her in the future as well.
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhang Hua

Unread postby Jia Nanfeng » Fri Jun 01, 2018 11:43 pm

I don't want to derail the thread away from Zhang Hua too much, but I'll just say that I've always felt that the crude portrayal of Nanfeng was retrospective to her deposing (and ultimately ordering the assassination) of Sima Yu. In other words, that was her great error (and a bad one indeed), and surely only an evil person could dare interfere with Heaven's imperial plans (much worse an evil woman), so the records characterized her as such.

It's why, I theorize, the records are strangely quiet after she becomes the de facto regent/ruler. This is most obvious in the ZZTJ which glosses over the period and dedicates most of the space to weather-related omens and other portents.

Don't get me wrong, she schemed the hell out of the place. But her "cruelty" is questionable.

Zhang Hua was worthy of much respect, as you explained well, and it was hard for people to understand why he'd stick with the Jia. Even harder for historians to justify. In the end he comes out as a loyal martyr of sorts, as yet another casualty of the scheming Jia.

I'd be happy to help you a bit with your future JN biography! I've dedicated a lot of time to organizing her timeline for my own writings about her. There's a lot of conflict between the 'pedias and the records, and even between Farmer and the records, so if there's any confusion feel free to ask. :)
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhang Hua

Unread postby Fornadan » Sun Jun 03, 2018 3:11 pm

Jia Nanfeng wrote:It's why, I theorize, the records are strangely quiet after she becomes the de facto regent/ruler. This is most obvious in the ZZTJ which glosses over the period and dedicates most of the space to weather-related omens and other portents.


I used to think like this myself, but I'm not so sure anymore. First of all, ZZTJ's record for these years is for the most part based on the Annals of Emperor Hui in Jinshu 004 (which I, shameless self-plug, have attempted to translate here: http://bookofjin.tumblr.com/js004)

As you see JS004 coverage of the same years is equally short, and has several curious errors and omissions.
The Jinshu, like the ZZTJ, is a compilation of older sources which was written several hundred years after the fact, and most of these sources are no longer extant.

Now when writting the Annals chapters, the Jinshu compilers, or more likely whatever older Jin history they were following, must have drawn upon the imperial court diaries.

In the bibliography in Suishu 033 we find the following record of Jin diaries still supposed to be extant (Spoilered for length)

Imperial Diaries of the Jin's Taishi era [265 – 274], 20 Scrolls. Compiled by Li Gui李軌.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Xianning era [275 – 280], 10 Scrolls. Compiled by Li Gui.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Taikang era [280 – 289], 21 Scrolls. Compiled by Li Gui.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Yuankang era [291 – 299], 1 Scroll
Liang had Imperial Diaries of the Yongping [291], Yuankang [291 – 299] and Yongning [301 – 302] eras, 6 Scrolls. Also had Imperial Diaries of Emperor Hui [290 – 306], 2 Scrolls, Imperial Diaries of the Yongjia [307 – 313] and the Jianxing [313 – 317] eras, 13 scrolls. [The reigns of Emperors Huai and Min.] Lost.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Jianwu [317 – 318], Taixing [318 – 321] and Yongchang [322 -323] eras, 9 Scrolls. [The reign of Emperor Yuan]
Liang had 20 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Yuankang era [291 – 299], 1 Scroll [?]
[Nothing on Emperor Ming's reign, 323 – 325]
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Xianhe era [326 – 334], 16 Scrolls. Compiled by Li Gui.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Xiankang era [335 – 342], 22 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Jianyuan era [343 – 344], 4 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Yonghe era [345 – 356], 17 Scrolls.
Liang had 24 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Shengping era [357 – 361], 10 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Longhe [362 – 363] and Xingning [363 – 365] eras, 5 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Xian'an era [371 – 372], 3 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Taihe era [366 – 371], 6 Scrolls.
Liang had 10 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Ningkang era [373 – 375], 6 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Taiyuan era [376 -396], 25 Scrolls.
Liang had 54 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Long'an era [397 – 402], 10 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Yongxing era [402 – 404], 9 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Yixi era [405 – 418], 17 Scrolls
Liang had 34 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin's Yuanxi era [419 – 420], 2 Scrolls.
Imperial Diaries of Jin [265 – 420], 317 Scrolls, compiled by Song's Master of Accounts for Xu province, Liu Dao.
Liang had 322 Scrolls.


As you can see, by the early Tang they still had a relatively complete set of the Jin imperial diaries, and even more so during Liang. However there are some lacunas, notably for Emperor Hui's reign.

The diaries of Emperor Wu and Eastern Jin average about 2 scrolls per years, but for Emperor Hui we have only the following (as they existed in Liang times):
Diaries of Yuankang (291 - 299): 9 years, 1 scrolls, 0.11 scrolls per year
Diaries of Yongping, Yuankang, Yonging (291 - 299, 301 - 302): 11 years, 6 scrolls, 0.55 scrolls per year
Diaries of Emperor Hui (290 - 306): 17 years, 2 scrolls, 0.12 scrolls per year

If we take a leap and assumes that in the "Diaries of Yongping, Yuankang & Yongping" actually only 1 scroll covered the Yuankang era (as in the "Diaries of Yuankang"), then we're left with ~2.5 years, 5 scrolls, which is spot on the average.

I'm not sure if you follow this rambling, but basically my theory is that the archives for the Yuankang era were destroyed early on (deliberately or by accident, many opportunities for either) so that later historians had no choice but to treat the era briefly because the material no longer existed.

There is one obvious problem with this theory, for the years 303 - 306 there are no diaries listed at all, yet the annals' treatment of these years is quite detailed. One possibilty is that these diaries were still extant when Jinshu's source was written, but were lost before the creation of the Liang bibliography.
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Re: Comprehensive Biography for Zhang Hua

Unread postby Jia Nanfeng » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:01 pm

Thanks for that writeup, Fornadan.

I too considered the destruction of sources as being part of (or perhaps the primary reason for) the poor coverage. As you said there were plenty opportunities. If deliberate, I assume one reason would be to punish the Jia (and yes, that’s an assumption, but it would make sense due to their association with regicide and the sheer amount of political rivals they had), but I’ll be more careful with my words in the future so I don’t imply it could be the only reason. They were hardly the only clan to face turmoil.

It’s just fishy to me that the detail of the records expands post-Sima Lun, who definitely hated Nanfeng and Emperor Hui; and that the portents were seemingly recorded without issue.

Another reason, of course, could be that there wasn’t much going on during those years! :P
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