The Eighth Year of Xianhe (The Guiyi Year, 333 AD)
1. In spring, the first month, Cheng's Grand General Li Shou captured Zhuti. Dong Bing and Huo Biao both surrendered. Li Shou’s might was then feared throughout Nanzhong.
2. On the day Bingzi, Shi Le dispatched messengers Jin in an attempt to improve relations. The Jin court burned the money that Shi Le had sent them.
3. In the third month, Jin's Inspector of Ningzhou Yin Feng offered his surrender to Cheng. The whole of Nanzhong thus came under Cheng authority. A general amnesty was declared there, and Grand General Li Shou was granted acting authority over Ningzhou.
4. In summer, the fifth month, on the day Jiayin, Duke Wuxuan of Liaodong, Murong Hui, died. In the sixth month, his son Murong Huang was promoted from General Who Pacifies The North to Inspector of Pingzhou, and given authority over the domain. All prisoners were granted amnesty. He appointed the Chief Clerk Pei Kai as Libationer Who Counsels The Army, and the Prefect of Attendants Gao Xu as Administrator of Xuantu. He further offered to appoint the Administrator of Daifang Wang Dan as Chief Clerk of the Left. Wang Dan suggested that the Administrator of Liaodong, Yang Wu, be given the position instead because of his talents. Murong Huang agreed, and appointed Yang Wu as Chief Clerk of the Right.Murong Hui’s domain was in the far northeast, around the Liao River, roughly equivalent to the territory once held by Gongsun Du and his heirs. Many people fled there from the Central Plains seeking stability, which added to their prosperity. The Murongs were a Xianbei clan. Like the Zhangs of Liangzhou, Murong Hui was nominally a vassal of Jin but de facto independent, although his heirs would eventually formalize their rule. Unlike Liangzhou, they were better able to remain in communication with the Jin court thanks to access to the sea, similar to Gongsun Yuan’s contacts with Eastern Wu. Their state would be known as Former Yan.
5. Shi Le became deathly ill. The Prince of Zhongshan Shi Hu then entered the inner palace to attend to Shi Le. He forged an edict forbidding anyone else, whether minister or relative, from seeing Shi Le, and nobody knew whether the illness was getting better or worse.
Shi Hu forged an edict summoning the Prince of Qin Shi Hong (not the same son as the Crown Prince) and the Prince of Pengcheng Shi Kan to return to the capital Xiangguo. Shi Le had then recovered somewhat from his illness, and when he saw that Shi Hong was in the capital, he was alarmed and said to Shi Le, "I sent him to guard the border for just such a day as this. Has someone summoned him, or did he come on your own? If someone summoned him, they should be punished!" Shi Hu worriedly said to Shi Le, "The Prince of Qin was only concerned about you. He has come just for a moment, and I'll order him to be sent away." However, Shi Le did not actually order Shi Hong to leave. A few days later, when Shi Le asked about it again, Shi Hu said, "I ordered him to go back as soon as you commanded me to." Xiangguo was the capital city during Shi Le’s reign. It was a short distance north of Ye.
It was tradition to send princes of the blood to distant outposts, both to have them protect the borders and to prevent them from interfering with matters of succession.
Locusts appeared in Guang'a, so Shi Hu secretly sent his son, the Inspector of Jizhou Shi Sui, to lead three thousand cavalry to deal with the locusts.
6. In autumn, the seventh month, Shi Le's illness became critical. He issued a final command stating, "Daya (Shi Hong) and his brothers must do good and defend one another. Beware of the example set by the Sima clan. The Prince of Zhongshan should deeply reflect upon the examples of the Duke of Zhou and Huo Guang, and not give any further cause for others to reproach him." On the day Wuchen, Shi Le died. Shi Le’s mention of the Sima Clan here refers to the War of the Eight Princes, the civil war between rival princes of Western Jin that weakened the dynasty and left it helpless to prevent the northern invasions.
The Duke of Zhou served as regent to the second Emperor of the Zhou dynasty, his nephew. Although he wielded great power over the state, he remained totally loyal to his young sovereign and even defeated uprisings against him. Perhaps no other figure in Chinese history better exemplifies a capable and loyal chief minister.
The Prince of Zhongshan Shi Hu placed the Crown Prince Shi Hong upon the throne, while he arrested the Household Counsellor of the Right Cheng Xia and the Prefect of the Masters of Writing Xu Guang, and sent them to the Minister of Justice. He summoned his own son Shi Sui to lead soldiers into the palace, and the ministers and officers all fled. Shi Hong was very afraid. Claiming his own feebleness and unsuitability to rule, he offered the throne to Shi Hu. Shi Hu replied, "When a lord dies, his crown prince inherits; this has always been the tradition." Shi Hong wept as he continued to offer Shi Hu the throne, but Shi Hu angrily responded, "The realm will judge whether or not you are unsuited for the throne. Why keep talking about it now?" So Shi Hong at last accepted the throne. A general amnesty was declared; however, Shi Hu killed Cheng Xia and Xu Guang.
That night, Shi Le was secretly buried in some mountain valley, and no one knew the location. On the day Jimao, great ceremonies were conducted, and an empty coffin was buried at Gaoping Tombs. Shi Le's posthumous name was Emperor Ming, and his temple name was Gaozu.Secret burials had long been the custom among the tribes of Central Asia. Genghis Khan may be the most famous example of this tradition.
7. The Zhao general Shi Cong and the Administrator of Qiao Peng Biao both sent word asking to surrender to Jin. Shi Cong was originally a native of Jin, but had changed his surname for the Shi clan. The Jin court sent the Protector Qiao Qiu to bring troops to assist them, but before the troops could arrive, Shi Cong and the others had already been executed by Shi Hu.
8. Murong Huang sent his Chief Clerk, Wang Ji of Bohai, and others to inform the Jin court of his mourning for his father's death.
9. In the eighth month, the lord of Zhao Shi Hong appointed the Prince of Zhongshan Shi Hu as Prime Minister, Prince of Wei, and Grand Chanyu, and granted him the Nine Bestowments. Shi Hu was given the thirteen commandaries of Wei as his state, for him to exercise dominion over. Chanyu was a traditional title among the northern tribes, the Xiongnu and others. It was a forerunner of the later title Khan.
The Nine Bestowments were nine sets of precious treasures traditionally granted by the Emperor to a servant who had demonstrated outstanding service. In practice, ever since the time of Wang Mang, a minister receiving the Nine Bestowments was almost always a prelude to his usurpation of the throne.
Shi Hu proclaimed an amnesty within his domain, and set up his wife Lady Zheng as Princess of Wei. He appointed his son Shi Sui as Crown Prince of Wei, and further appointed him as 使持節, Palace Attendant, Commander of all military affairs, Grand General, and 錄尚書事. His second son Shi Xuan was appointed as 使持節, Grand General of Chariots and Cavalry, Inspector of Jizhou, and Prince of Hejian. His third son Shi Tao was appointed General of the Vanguard, Colonel Director of Retainers, and Prince of Le'an. Of his other sons, Shi Zun was appointed Prince of Qi, Shi Jian as Prince of Dai, Shi Bao as Prince of Leping, and the Prince of Pingyuan Shi Bin as Prince of Zhangwu.
Shi Hu removed all the old ministers and officials that had held office under Shi Le, and replaced them with members of his own faction, and so dominated the government. He appointed the General Who Guards The Army Kui An as Deputy Director of the Left, and the Master of Writing Guo Yin as Deputy Director of the Right. He further ordered the Crown Prince's Palace to be renamed the Chongxun Palace, and the Empress Dowager Lady Liu (Shi Le’s wife) and her children, Shi Le’s other sons, were all relocated there. Shi Hu helped himself to all the finest of Shi Le’s former possessions, whether palace attendants, horses, carriages, clothing, or treasures, and moved them into his own Prime Minister's household.
10. Yuwen Qidegui was driven out of his territory by the chieftain of an eastern tribe, Yuwen Yidougui, and he fled and died away from his land. Murong Huang led soldiers to attack Yuwen Yidougui, and the army marched to Guang'an. Yuwen Yidougui was afraid and asked for peace, and so Murong Huang constructed the two forts of Yuyin and Anjin on the border before returning.The Yuwen were another group of Xianbei tribes, rivals to the Murong clan. Their territory was adjacent to Yan, probably to the north.
11. Cheng's two commandaries of Jianning and Zangke attempted to defect to Jin, but Li Shou attacked them again and captured them.
12. Zhao's Empress Dowager Liu said to the Prince of Pengcheng Shi Kan, "The First Emperor (Shi Le) has only just passed away, and yet the Prime Minister has hurried to bully us like this. Though the Emperor holds his throne for now, he may not keep it for long. Prince, what do you intend to do about this?"
Shi Kan replied, "All of the First Emperor's old ministers have been swept away, and the army is no longer under our command. Please allow me to escape to Yanzhou, and compel the Prince of Nanyang Shi Hui to serve as our leader. I shall capture Linqiu, and then proclaim your edict calling on all the Governors, Administrators, and army captains to bring troops and punish this usurpation, and thereby gain assistance for us."
Lady Liu said, "This is urgent business! You should act quickly."
In the ninth month, Shi Kan disguised himself as a commoner and left the city. He led a group of light cavalry to attack Yanzhou, but he was unsuccessful, and he fled south to Qiao. Prime Minister Shi Hu sent his general Guo Tai to pursue him, and he captured Shi Kan at Chengfu. Shi Kan was sent back to Xiangguo, where he was burned to death. Soon the Prince of Nanyang Shi Hui also returned to Xiangguo. When Lady Liu's involvement in the plot was discovered, Shi Hu deposed and then killed her. He then named Shi Hong's mother, Lady Cheng, as Empress Dowager.
Shi Kan was originally a son of the Tian clan, and because of his many successes, Shi Le had adopted him as one of his own sons. Lady Liu had courage and resourcefulness. Shi Le always consulted her on army affairs, and she helped Shi Le in accomplishing his grand designs. In this way she was very similar to Empress Lü, although she was not as jealous as Empress Lü had been.Empress Lü Zhi was the wife of Liu Bang. She was an extraordinarily intelligent woman whose advice greatly contributed to Liu Bang’s rise and his success as Emperor. However, after Liu Bang’s death, she and her family zealously guarded their power in a series of incidents known as the Lü Clan Disturbance.
13. Zhao's Prince of Hedong Shi Sheng was stationed at Guanzhong, and Shi Lang was stationed at Luoyang. In winter, the tenth month, Shi Sheng and Shi Lang both raised troops to oppose Prime Minister Shi Hu; Shi Sheng declared himself Inspector of Qinzhou, and sent messengers offering submission to Jin. The Di chieftain Pu Hong declared himself Inspector of Yongzhou, and sought aid from Zhang Jun to the west.關中 Guanzhong or “Between the Passes” refers to the region west of Hangu Pass, or more specifically to Chang’an and its environs in the Wei River Valley. The territory east of Hangu Pass is considered 關東 Guandong or “East of the Passes”.
The 氐 Di were a proto-Tibetan tribe from the west, similar in many respects to the Qiang. They should not be confused with the 狄 Di, an older Chinese general term for northern barbarians.
14. Shi Hu left his Crown Prince Shi Sui to defend Xiangguo, and assembled a force of infantry and cavalry seventy thousand strong to meet Shi Lang at Jinyong. He was victorious at Jinyong, capturing Shi Lang, and cut off his feet before beheading him. Jinyong is just outside of Luoyang.
Shi Hu then advanced towards Chang'an, appointing his son the Prince of Liang Shi Ting as Grand Commander of the Vanguard. Shi Sheng dispatched General Guo Quan to command the twenty thousand Xianbei under the chieftain Shegui as the vanguard force to oppose them, while he followed behind with the main host, advancing to Puban. Guo Quan and Shi Ting joined battle at Tong Gate, where Guo Quan inflicted a great defeat on the Zhao soldiers, and Shi Ting and the Prime Minister’s Chief Clerk of the Left Liu Kui were both killed. Shi Hu retreated to Mianchi, and the dead littered the ground for more than three hundred li. Puban is the modern city of Yongji in Shanxi province.
The Xianbei plotted with Shi Hu, planning to attack Shi Sheng. Shi Sheng, not knowing that Shi Ting was already dead, was afraid and so fled to Chang’an alone on horseback. Guo Quan gathered up the remaining troops, falling back to Weituo. Shi Sheng then abandoned Chang'an, hiding himself at Mount Jitou. General Jiang Ying occupied Chang’an and defended it, but Shi Hu advanced and attacked Jiang Ying, killing him. Shi Sheng's subordinates killed him and surrendered; Guo Quan fled to Longyou.
15. Shi Hu spread his forces to garrison the regions around the Qian River and the Long Mountains, while dispatching General Ma Qiu to deal with Pu Hong. Pu Hong with his twenty thousand households surrendered to Shi Hu, who welcomed him and granted him the titles of General of Glorious Ferocity and Colonel Who Protects The Di. This was not the first time Pu Hong had fought against Shi Hu. When Shi Hu captured the last stronghold of Han-Zhao at Shanggui in 329, Pu Hong had then been a Han-Zhao vassal commander, but he submitted to Shi Hu. It is unclear why he chose to rebel this time, or why Shi Hu so easily accepted his submission.
When Pu Hong reached Chang'an, he persuaded Shi Hu to relocate many households of Guanzhong people, along with the Di and Qiang households, to the east, saying, "All the Di are under my family's command; once I issue the order, who will dare disobey it?" Shi Hu then relocated the hundreds of thousands of Di and Qiang households that had been in Qinzhou and Yongzhou, moving them to Guandong. Pu Hong was made General of Dragon Cavalry and Marshal of Refugees, being based at Fangtou; the Qiang chieftain Yao Yizhong was made General of 奋武 and Grand Commander of the Western Qiang, with his hosts of many tens of thousands being relocated to Shetou in Qinghe.
16. When Shi Hu returned to Xiangguo, he issued a general pardon. The lord of Zhao, Shi Hong, ordered Shi Hu to build Wei Tower, much as King Wu of Wei (Cao Cao) had once done to uphold Han.
17. Murong Huang officially inherited his father’s position. He enforced a strict and harsh rule, greatly worrying the people. The Registrar Huangfu Zhen admonished him, but Murong Huang did not listen to him.
18. Murong Huang had several brothers, among them the General Who Establishes Might Murong Han, who was his elder brother born of one of their father’s concubines, and the General Who Conquers The Caitiffs Murong Ren, one of Murong Huang’s younger brothers by the same mother. They were brave and cunning, often winning great success in battle, and they had the support of the scholar-officials class. Another brother, Murong Zhao, possessed great talent as well. Murong Hui had favored all three of them, and so Murong Huang was suspicious of them.
Upon Murong Hui's death, Murong Han exclaimed, "My father entrusted me with affairs, and I dared not do less than my utmost. It was only through his spirit that I was able to accomplish so much, and that was Heaven's favor supporting our state. Yet people will attribute my successes to my own mortal talents, and believe that I will be difficult to control. How can I remain here and await misfortune?" So he and his sons fled to seek refuge under the Duan clan. Duan Liao had long heard of his talents, and accepted him in Jizhou, holding him in high esteem.Like the Yuwen clan, the Duan clan were another rival group of Xianbei. Duan Liao controlled the Youzhou region, especially around the city of Ji (modern Beijing).
19. Murong Ren hurried from his defense post at Pingguo to attend the mourning. There, he told Murong Zhao, "We have been arrogant, and have been discourteous to the new ruler on many occasions. The new ruler is austere and harsh; even the innocent fear him, let alone those who have offended him!"
Murong Zhao replied, "We were all born of the same mother; we ought to have an equal share of the state. Elder Brother, the scholar-officials have long held regard for you. Since our brother does not yet suspect me, I will observe events from within, watching for an opening. It will not be difficult to do away with him. You should go and raise troops, while I coordinate things from this side. On the day of success, Liaodong shall be ours. We must take action without fearing death; we cannot be like the General Who Establishes Might (Murong Han), living out a pointless existence in a foreign land."
Murong Ren said, "Excellent!" So he returned to Pingguo.
In the intercalary month, Murong Ren raised troops and marched west.
20. Murong Huang learned of his brothers' plot. Still trusting his brothers, he sent messengers to look into the matter. Murong Ren's soldiers had already reached the Yellow River, and learning that his treason was discovered, he killed the messengers, and fell back on Pingguo.
This is not the more famous Yellow River, but probably refers to the Xar Moron River, which flows into the Liao River.
Murong Huang ordered Murong Zhao to commit suicide, and dispatched his Army Libationer Feng Yi to go stabilize Liaodong. He further appointed Gao Xu as General Who Spreads Valor, and sent him with his younger brothers, the General Who Establishes Valor Murong You, Murong Zhi, the General Who Spreads Might Murong Jun, the General Who Calms Distant Places Murong Han (a younger brother by that name), and the Marshal of Liaodong Tong Shou to lead an army of five thousand men against Murong Ren.
Gao Xu and the others fought Murong Ren north of Wencheng, where they suffered a great defeat. Murong You, Murong Zhi, and Murong Jun were all captured by Murong Ren. Since Tong Shou had once served as Murong Ren's Marshal, he surrendered to him. The former Minister of Agriculture Sun Ji and others offered over the cities of Liaodong to Murong Ren. Feng Yi could not enter the region, and he returned to Murong Huang's territory along with Murong Han. The Colonel of Eastern Tribes Feng Chou, the Protector of the Army Yi Yi of Pingyuan, and the Chancellor of Liaodong, Han Jiao of Taiyuan, all abandoned their cities and fled. Murong Ren thus came into complete possession of Liaodong. Duan Liao and the Xianbei then coordinated with Murong Ren to provide assistance.
Murong Huang recalled Huangfu Zhen’s earlier warning, and so appointed him as Attendant Officer of Pingzhou.遼東 Liaodong refers to the region east of the Liao River.
This begins a curious set of discrepancies between the ZZTJ account and the one in the Book of Jin involving Gao Xu. Here we see that Gao Xu led the initial army that attacked Murong Ren. However, the Book of Jin claims that he was still only the Administrator of Xuantu, and that he abandoned his city and fled with the others.
21. In the eleventh month, Guo Quan seized control of Shanggui, and sent notice of his submission to Jin; the territories of Jingzhao, Xinping, Fufeng, Pingyi, and Beidi all did the same.Guo Quan was Shi Sheng’s subordinate who commanded the remnants of his army.
22. Before, Zhang Jun of Liangzhou had wished to send diplomatic messages to Jiankang by way of Cheng, but the lord of Cheng, Li Xiong, would not permit it. Zhang Jun thereupon sent his 治中從事 Zhang Chun to offer fealty to Cheng in order to pass through their territory. Li Xiong pretended to permit it, but sent pirates to lay in wait at the eastern gorges on the Yangzi. A native of Shu, Qiao Zan, secretly told Zhang Chun about it. Jiankang was the name for Jianye during this period. It was the capital of Eastern Jin. Its name had been changed to avoid conflicting with a naming-taboo of a member of the Sima clan.
Zhang Chun said to Li Xiong, "My lord has sent me to make diplomatic ties with Jiankang because he knew Your Majesty values loyalty and righteousness, and are ready to lend a hand. If you prefer to kill me, you ought to behead me in the market square, and then post a notice for the crowd to read saying, ‘Liangzhou has not forgotten the old virtues, seeking to send word to Langye. Their lord is sagely and his minister bright. When I discovered this, I killed him.’ By this, word of your virtue will spread far and wide, and all the realm will fear your might. By sending pirates to kill me along the Yangzi, you do not demonstrate your might; how then could the realm know of it?"
Li Xiong, shocked, replied, "How could this be?"Langye was a region in Qingzhou. Sima Rui, the Prince of Langye, had been the one to found Eastern Jin from his base at Jiankang after the north fell to invasion, and thereafter the crown prince of Eastern Jin tended to hold the title Prince of Langye. Here it appears to be a general term to refer to the Jin Emperor.
23. The Colonel Director of Retainers Jing Qian said to Li Xiong, "Zhang Chun is a brave man; please permit him to stay here."
Li Xiong replied, "Why would such a brave man be willing to stay? But you may discuss matters with him."
Jing Qian then said to Zhang Chun, "It is currently quite warm in our territory now, and it may pose difficulties for a man of your robust build. Why not remain here until the weather cools, and in the meantime send a minor official in your stead?"
Zhang Chun replied, "Our lord has sent me to express his loyalty to the imperial court, lamenting that the court remains in exile, the coffins of the former Emperors have not yet returned to the north, the people live in suffering and misery, and yet even so my lord remains powerless to change such things. This is far too important a matter to be left to some minor official. If a minor official could be sent, then there would be no point in my having come here. Though the mountains erupt or the seas boil over, even so I will arrive, so how could I be concerned about mere heat or cold?"
Li Xiong said to Zhang Chun, "Your lord is heroic and renowned, peerless in the realm. His land is well-guarded and his soldiers are strong. Why does he not assume imperial title to please himself?"
Zhang Chun replied, "My lord's family has been steadfast and loyal for generations, and the world knows their sincerity. As he has not yet avenged the imperial court's shame, he sleeps with his spear as a pillow waiting for day to break (ie, he is prepared for battle). Why would he merely think of pleasing himself?"
Li Xiong felt ashamed, and he said, "My family, too, had been loyal servants for generations. But when the realm fell into chaos, and the people of the six commandaries (of Qinzhou) came to this province seeking refuge, the multitude pushed my father to be their leader, and that is how things came to be as they are now. If Langye is able to restore Jin as the ruler of the Middle Kingdom, then I too will lead troops to support him." So he presented Zhang Chun with gifts and sent him on. Zhang Chun eventually carried out his orders at Jiankang.Li Xiong presumably meant his father, Li Te. Around 300, Li Te led a large band of refugees who fled from their homes in Qinzhou to go to Shu. After meeting with opposition from the Jin commanders there, Li Te began fighting against them, and was hailed by the refugees as their leader. He died in battle, but his relatives completed the conquest and founded the state of Cheng, with Li Xiong as its first Emperor.
24. When Chang'an had first fallen to Han-Zhao in 316, the counting clerk of Dunhuang Geng Fang had gone from Hanzhong to the Southland. He sent many petitions to the court, asking for an imperial envoy to be sent to console and assist Liangzhou. The court appointed Geng Fang as 侍書御史, planning to send him to appoint Zhang Jun as Grand General Who Guards The West, and selected Jia Ling of Longxi and twelve other men to be his subordinates.
When Geng Fang reached Liangzhou (that is, the province of northern Shu centered on Hanzhong), the roads were blocked. Geng Fang transferred his commission to Jia Ling, while Geng disguised himself as a merchant and continued on. During this year (333 AD), Jia Ling finally arrived at Liangzhou and presented the Jin titles, and Zhang Jun sent the 部曲督 Wang Feng and others back to Jin to express appreciation.
"You have attacked us before, and we survived! You cannot defeat us. Submit!"
"We have. You did. We can. No."