Zizhi Tongjian: The Jin Dynasty (Part 1)

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Re: ZZTJ Translations: Western Jin (Book 79-81-??)

Unread postby Fornadan » Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:25 am

I find it somewhat amusing that the quarrel between Wang Hun and Wang Jun take up more space in the historical sources than the actual fall of Wu (or at least that's is the impression I get, haven't actually counted the characters)
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Re: ZZTJ Translations: Western Jin (Book 79-81-??)

Unread postby capnnerefir » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:51 pm

Consider it this way: it's emblematic of the sort of infighting that would destroy Jin only a few years later. No sooner was unity in reach than the cracks started to show.
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Re: ZZTJ Translations: Western Jin (Book 79-81-??)

Unread postby vvill » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:15 pm

Funny how little was worth recording in history in 287, 288 (and 281 to some extent as well). I guess that's a good reflection on Sima Yan in that it appears to have been relatively peaceful. Calm before the storm?
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Re: ZZTJ Translations: Western Jin (Book 79-81-??)

Unread postby DragonAtma » Sat Oct 07, 2017 6:25 pm

Some years are quieter than others. 184 was big, 189 was even bigger, but 185-188 were relatively quiet.
Unless I specifically say otherwise, assume I am talking about historical Three Kingdoms, and not the novel.

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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:27 am


The Tenth Year of Taikang (The Jiyou Year, 289 AD)


1. In summer, the fourth month, the Ancestral Temple was completed. On the day Yisi (May 17th), the sacrifices to the high ancestors were performed. A general amnesty was declared.


(This passage refers to the "lined sacrifice"; this is the great combined sacrifice. The Gongyang Commentary to the Spring and Autumn Annals states, "What is the 'great lined'? It is the combined sacrifice. What purpose does the combined sacrifice serve? When the ancestral temple has been damaged, it is to explain oneself to the great ancestors; when it has not yet been damaged, it is to exalt them. In both cases, food is offered to them.")


2. The Xianbei leader Murong Hui sent notice of his intention to submit to Jin. In the fifth month, Sima Yan bestowed Murong Hui the title Commander of the Xianbei.

Murong Hui came to present himself to the local Jin commander, He Kan. He arrived at the gate of He Kan's camp dressed in the clothing of a scholar-official. He Kan set his guards in strict order before he would received Murong Hui. When Murong Hui saw that, he went and changed his clothing to a military outfit before going in to see He Kan. Someone asked him why he had changed his clothing. Murong Hui told them, “When the host does not receive a guest according to the rites, why should the guest follow them?" When He Kan heard this, he was deeply ashamed, and he greatly respected Murong Hui and marveled at him.

At that time, the power of the Yuwen and Duan clans of the Xianbei was growing ever stronger, and several times they attacked and plundered Murong Hui's territory. By employing modest words and favorable treatment, Murong Hui was able to deal with them. The Chanyu of the Yuwen, Yuwen Kai, gave his daughter to Murong Hui as a wife. This Lady Duan gave birth to Murong Hui's sons Murong Huang, Murong Ren, and Murong Zhao.

Murong Hui felt that Liaodong was too distant and isolated a place, so he moved his people to live at Mount Qing in Tuhe.


(During the Cao-Wei and Jin era, when a scholar-official went to pay his respects to someone of greater honor and esteem than him, it was traditional for him to wear a cloth garment. The term 褠 means an unlined garment.

As the saying goes, 'meeting with a defector is like meeting with an enemy'. He Kan was a border commander, and in setting his guards in strict order before receiving a barbarian from one of the Four Tribes, he did nothing wrong. What reason did he have to feel ashamed?

The Duan clan were another branch of the Xianbei. Du You remarked, "Yuwen Mohuai came from beyond the borders of the realm past Liaodong, where he became a chief of the eastern group of the Xianbei. Duan Jiliujuan of Tuhe came to Liaoxi, where because of the turmoil of the times, he was sold to the chief of the Xianbei of Yuyang, Kunu, and became his household slave. Kunu considered Duan Jiliujuan to be a strong fellow, so he sent him to gather up a host of men and visit Liaoxi to forage for food. After recruiting many men, Duan Jiliujuan fled and rebelled, and he became very powerful."

As for what I (Hu Sanxing) believe, I note that the Biography of 王浚 Wang Jun in the Book of Jin mentions that this Duan Jiliujuan was the eldest son of Duan Shiziwu. Ever since the time that Duan Shizuwu came to power, the Duan clan had been strong and flourishing for quite some time. Perhaps it could have been the case that, because of the turmoil of the times, Duan Jiliujuan was swept up and taken captive. But considering the forces that Duan Shiziwu had at his command, I fear I cannot believe that his son would be allowed to recruit men and so become just as powerful.

The Murong and Duan clans thus became bound by marriage.

During Former Han, Tuhe county was part of Liaoxi commandary. During Later Han, it was part of the Vassal State of Liaodong. Cao-Wei and Jin abolished it, combining the county into the territory of Changli commandary. Later on, the Murong clan recreated Tuhe county. In Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei's eighth year of (Taiping)zhenjun (447), Tuhe county was again combined into Changli commandary, this time as Guangxing county. Du You remarked, "Mount Qing in Tuhe is a hundred and ninety li east of Juncheng in Yingzhou.")

太康十年,廆又遷于徒河之青山。(Annals of the Sixteen Kingdoms 3, Biography of Murong Hui)

In the tenth year of Taikang (289), Murong Hui moved to Mount Qing at Tuhe.

廆以遼東僻遠,徙於徒何之青山。(Book of Northern Wei 95, Biography of Murong Hui)

Murong Hui felt that Liaodong was too distant and isolated a place, so he moved his people to live at Mount Qing in Tuhe.


3. In winter, the tenth month, Sima Yan restored the veneration of the Five Emperors at the Hall of Distinction and Southern Suburbs.


(The veneration of the Five Emperors had been dropped at these places in Book 79, in the second year of Taishi (266.4).)


4. In the eleventh month, on the day Bingchen (?), the Prefect of the Masters of Writing, Xun Xu, passed away. He was posthumously known as Marquis Cheng ("the Accomplished") of Jibei.

Xun Xu had an excellent imagination, and was skilled at playing to people's points of view, so he was able to obtain their favor. He had been in the Palace Secretariat for a long time, where he had a firm grip of control of affairs. When he was then moved to the Masters of Writing, he was very frustrated and disappointed by the assignment. Some people congratulated him, but he replied, "They have stolen my Phoenix Pool, and you gentlemen congratulate me!"


(Xun Xu had the expression of disappointment and frustration at losing what he desired. The term 悵 expresses the same meaning.)


5. Sima Yan exerted himself until he lost color in his face, and he soon developed an illness.

Yang Jun was jealous of the Prince of Runan, Sima Liang, and wanted to have him sent away. On the day Jiashen (December 22nd), an edict was issued appointed Sima Liang as Palace Attendant, Grand Marshal, Grand Commander, and Commander of military affairs in Yuzhou. He was granted the Yellow Battle-axe and sent to administer (or guard) Xuchang.

The Prince of Nanyang, Sima Jian, had his title changed to Prince of Qin, and he was appointed Commander of military affairs in Guanzhong. The Prince of Shiping, Sima Wei, had his title changed to Prince of Chu, and he was appointed Commander of military affairs in Jingzhou. The Prince of Puyang, Sima Yun, had his title changed to Prince of Huainan, and he was appointed Commander of military affairs in Yangzhou and Jiangzhou. All of them were sent to their fiefs, acting as Credential Holders.

Among Sima Yan's sons, Sima Ai was appointed Prince of Changsha, Sima Ying was appointed Prince of Chengdu, Sima Yàn was appointed Prince of Wu, Sima Chi was appointed Prince of Yuzhang, and Sima Yǎn was appointed Prince of Dai. Sima Yan's grandson Sima Yu was appointed Prince of Guangling. Sima Yun's son Sima Di was appointed Prince of Han. Sima Wei's son Sima Yi was appointed Prince of Piling.

The Prince of Fufeng, Sima Chang, had his title changed to Prince of Shunyang, and Sima Chang's younger brother Sima Xin was appointed Duke of Xinye. This Sima Chang was the son of Sima Jun.

The Prince of Langye, Sima Jin, had two younger brothers, Sima Dan and Sima Yao, who were respectively appointed Duke of Dongwu and Duke of Dong'an. This Sima Jin was the son of Sima Zhou.


(Some versions say that Sima Liang "guarded" Xuchang rather than "administered" it.

Regarding Jiangzhou, it was in Emperor Hui's first year of Yuankang (290) that the Jin officials petitioned that, on account of the territory of Jingzhou and Yangzhou being very extensive and distant, it was especially difficult to govern those two provinces. So they proposed splitting off the commandaries of Yuzhang, Poyang, Luling, Linchuang, Nankang, Jian'an, and Jin'an from Yangzhou, and the commandaries of Guiyang, Ancheng, and Wuchang from Jingzhou, and combining these ten commandaries into the new province of Jiangzhou. At the time of the above passage, there was not yet a Jiangzhou. I suspect that the mention that Sima Yun's authority included "and Jiangzhou" is a redundant entry, as will be seen upon further review.

Under the Jin system, there were three ranks of Commanders bearing the Staff of Authority: Commissioners Bearing Credentials, Credential Bearers, and Credential Holders. Commissioners Bearing Credentials were authorized to execute anyone from Two Thousand 石 Salary officials on down. Credential Bearers were authorized to execute anyone who did not hold a government office, and in military matters they were otherwise the same as the Commissioners. Credential Holders only exercised military authority, and could only execute offenders of military law.

Sima Chang had inherited the title Prince of Fufeng from his father Sima Jun. However, since Sima Chang held no post in Guanzhong, he thus had his title changed to Prince of Shunyang.

Under the Jin system, members of the royal clan who were appointed as Dukes of commandaries administered their fiefs according to the same standards as the smallest tiers of princely fiefs.)

長沙厲王乂,字士度,武帝第六子也。太康十年受封,拜員外散騎常侍。(Book of Jin 59 (Sima Ai))

Prince Li (“the Harsh”) of Changsha, Sima Ai, was styled Shidu. He was the sixth son of Emperor Wu (Sima Yan). In the tenth year of Taikang (289), he received his fief as Prince of Changsha, and was granted the title of Counselor-Cavalier In Regular Attendance.

成都王穎,字章度,武帝第十六子也。太康末受封,邑十萬戶。後拜越騎校尉,加散騎常侍、車騎將軍。(Book of Jin 59 (Sima Ying))

The Prince of Chengdu, Sima Ying, was styled Zhangdu. He was Emperor Wu’s (Sima Yan’s) sixteenth son. He was granted his title near the end of the Taikang era (~290), with his fief containing a hundred thousand households. Later, he was appointed as Colonel of Agile Cavalry, and then further promoted to Cavalier In Regular Attendance and General of Chariots and Cavalry.


6. Earlier, Sima Yan had given one of the Talented Ladies from his harem, Xie Jiu, to Crown Prince Sima Zhong. Xie Jiu had given birth to Sima Zhong's son Sima Yu.

Later on, there had been an incident one night where a fire broke out in the palace. Sima Yan was about to ascend a building to observe the fire. Sima Yu, who was five years old at the time, tugged at Sima Yan's sleeve and told him, "When something happens at evening or night, we should guard against anything unusual. We cannot let the light of the fire show the ruler of men." So Sima Yan felt the boy was remarkable because of this incident.

He once compared Sima Yu to his own grandfather Sima Yi at a feast of his ministers, and thus all the realm was inclined towards and admired the boy. Sima Yan knew that Crown Prince Sima Zhong was not talented, but because he felt that Sima Yu was so intelligent and clever, he decided not to depose Sima Zhong as Crown Prince.

Sima Yan also used the plan suggested to him by Wang You, and appointed Sima Zhong's younger brothers by the late Empress Yang Yan, Sima Jian, Sima Wei, and Sima Yun, to hold strategic places in the realm. And as Sima Yan was concerned about the threat posed by the Yang clan, he also appointed Wang You as Palace Marquis of the Northern Army and Director of Guards and Canons. To provide a helper for his grandson Sima Yu, Sima Yan charged the Cavalier In Regular Attendance, Liu Shi, to instruct Sima Yu in maintaining pure and proper desires and conduct, and he had him appointed as Sima Yu's Tutor.


(Talented Lady was a rank among the women of the harem. Li Yanshou remarked, "Emperor Wu of Jin (Sima Yan) selected systems from Han and Cao-Wei. In addition to the Three Wives and the Nine Concubines, there were also the Beauties, the Talented Women, and the Middle Talented Women. They were treated like officials of the rank of One Thousand 石 Salary or below."

This Wang You was the cousin of Wang Ji, Wang Hun's son. He had managed affairs together with Yang Hu and others on behalf of Sima Zhao, and so Sima Yan favored and trusted him.

The "strategic places" which the elder Princes held were Yongzhou, Jingzhou, and Yangzhou.

Ever since Cao-Wei, the princely fiefs had the offices of Instructors and Friends. But since during Jin there was a taboo on the given name of Sima 師 Shi, the office of 師 Instructor was changed to Tutor.)


7. Liu Shi felt that it was the common practice of that time for people to exalt in seeking their own advancement and prestige, and few people were humble or yielding. He had once compiled a text called "Discussion on the Sublimity of Yielding". Liu Shi wished to have it so that someone who had newly left their office should send in a memorial expressing their thanks; they would certainly advocate someone worthy whom they could yield their office to, and then such a person could be obtained. When there was a vacant office, the man who was most yielding in temperament should be the one selected to fill it.

Liu Shi believed, "When people tend to be contentious, then they will wish to ruin one another without even benefitting themselves; when people are yielding, they will strive to recommend one another even ahead of themselves. This is why during an age of dissension, it is difficult to discern the excellent from the lacking, but during a time of yielding, the worthy can be known and the exceptional can be discovered. At such a time, when people are able to withdraw and cultivate themselves, then there will be many who wish to yield to them; even if they wished to remain poor and lowly, they could not keep to it. But rushing to advance oneself while still wishing to be seen as yielding is like striving to go back while seeking to go forward."


Some versions include the sentence "He had once compiled a text called "Discussion on the Sublimity of Yielding"."


8. The Chancellor of the Huainan princely fief, Liu Song, sent up a petition stating, "In the administration of laws and bans, Your Majesty has been quite indulgent. Since it has never yet been the case that such behavior over a long time has been straightened out and discipline imposed on those below in the space of a single day, now is truly the time for you to begin such changes. In order to achieve the ultimate aim of rectifying the age and providing relief from abuse, one must work gradually to spread pureness and respect. Consider that when steering a boat to cross over a river, one does not make straight for the rapids, but gradually approaches the troublesome spots of the river by and by, and through the accumulation of several careful movements, one is able to get past the danger and reach the other side.

"It has been nearly thirty years since the beginning of the Taishi era (265). In the handling of affairs, one must not be extravagant, but must follow the times. Now Your Majesty is a wise sovereign, and you have never turned towards the abuses of an age of ruin. You have truly established a magnificent beginning for the dynasty. Yet when it comes to passing on your legacy to future generations, you cannot be without concern! If you entrust the grand design to someone who is not suited for the times, then should there be any disturbance, Your Majesty will bear the blame for such sorrows.

"From what I have heard, there is no greater policy for securing the fortunes of state than to appoint and establish those who are intimate and worthy. But one must be sure to properly grasp the importance of affairs and of influence. When you send the various nobles out to guard places in the realm, if there is any disturbance, then their power is sufficient to act as a belt protecting the capital region. And even if any one of these nobles hides evil intent within his heart, his power alone will not be sufficient to accomplish anything. But with the current situation posing such difficulties, Your Majesty should consult with all the gentlemen, both of long and of recent service, and develop a plan together with them to deal with it.

"During the Zhou dynasty, if there was anyone among the feudal lords who committed a crime, they were executed and their body was cast out, yet the fortunes of their feudal state were not therefore extinguished. On the other hand, among the nobles of the Han dynasty who committed a crime, if such an offender had no son, then his fief was consequently abolished. Now you ought to oppose this abuse of the Han dynasty and follow the practice of Zhou; that will bring discipline below and security above.

"The realm is so vast, the numerous affairs are so many, and superior men are so few. It is the same with the power of the ruler. In order for a sage ruler to bring about reform, he must himself occupy an important position while delegating assignments to those below. If he does not disdain hard effort, or take comfort in leisure, then the government will be as it should be. What is truly difficult is to discern at the beginning of some new endeavor who is capable of fulfilling its associated tasks and who is not. Conversely, when the endeavor has either been accomplished or proved a failure, it is much easier to determine who deserves the credit or the blame for it. However, Your Majesty has often begun new endeavors with a burst of enthusiasm while being remiss in following up on their conclusions. Such a thing has never been a policy for good governance. It is simple enough for a ruler of men to occupy an important position. If you would couple that with a determination to examine how affairs are concluded, whether satisfactorily or otherwise, and assign the proper share of credit or blame, then there shall not be any ministers or subordinates who flee from your punishments or your rewards.

"In ancient times, when the duties of government were divided among the Six Ministers, the Chief Minister was the one who supervised them. During the Qin and Han dynasties, when the Nine Offices handled affairs, the Prime Minister oversaw everything. But now, the Masters of Writing divvy up affairs, and the various high ministers only see to their own duties. Compared to the older systems, this is an even more serious situation. You might have the specific assignments sent out to the external ministries so that they completely focus on the details of them. Meanwhile, the Masters of Writing may act to direct the general outline of government planning, fulfilling the role of a Prime Minister, and keeping their direct involvement limited to the annual review of accomplishments and the recording of rewards and punishments; this could also be done. With the current state of affairs, whenever something is undertaken, its completion becomes the burden of those at the top of the administration, and when they make some mistake, they cannot further indicate which subordinate offices are also responsible. Furthermore, when credit for affairs is not established through annual review, then no one knows who deserves what.

"When people are led astray and commit tresspasses, it is certainly because of human feelings. But when people are bound together by the law, then no one either in the court or in the country will set up men above it. In recent times, those who were appointed as leaders over the realm were not fazed by general developments, but they always reacted to slight disturbances; although they feared acting tyrannically, they also feared neglecting the duties of their office. Thus did their nets gradually spread wider, moving from entangling those who had slight offenses to bringing charges against one another. Though they seemed to be doing everything according to the public good, in reality they were harming the law even as they acted in service of it. This is why a sage ruler does not approve of cases which involve secret charges and incriminations, since they necessarily involve ominous and crafty petitions, and the perverse harm that they do to governance naturally causes division. So one who would secure the beginning of a great endeavor must set up a defined system and provide instruction regarding it, so that these customs and traditions may be passed down to later ages and provide solace for the hearts of the people. Stern management of this system may be used in order to provide against young or weak rulers, and future generations may rely upon its use. There will thus be wisdom even in the midst of fatuousness, and intelligence even in the midst of foolishness. So it will be sufficient to pass down.

"When one goes so far as to expand and adorn government offices, and is setting out on numerous building projects, they do lasting harm and great damage to the state. When there is no disaster and no danger present, then people will turn towards those who are able regardless of Your Majesty. For this to be a current trend which is gradually developing harm as something to be relied upon is, I believe, a transgression."

But Sima Yan could not put any of Liu Song's suggestions into practice.


(It had been the tradition since Han times that the equivalent of an Administrator for princely fiefs was called a Chancellor. Later on, Jin would change the name of this title to Interior Minister.

Liu Song uses the example of navigating a river. When navigating across a great river, although there are places called rapids that interrupt the course of the river and cause a great churning of its flow, even so there are always spots where the strength of the water gradually slacks off, and when one steers the boat towards these spots, it is like climbing onto a road of land. By doing so, one can cross over the river even despite the strength of the water. But if one is not able to steer the boat to keep close to these places, then one cannot reach the other side.

Sima Yan had accepted the abdication from Cao-Wei at the beginning of the Taishi era (265); it had been twenty-five years since then.

Liu Song meant that when setting up affairs and developing an enterprise, one could not be extravagant and must follow the times.

Sima Yan had sent the various Princes to hold various places across the realm, but he had made no provision for security domestically; this was what Liu Song was so deeply concerned about.

The Zhou dynasty had boiled alive Duke Ai of Qi, yet they had set up his younger brother Jing in his place. King Xuan had executed the Lu Marquis Boyu, but had raised up Duke Xiao in his place. Instances of the abolishing of fiefs during the Han dynasty can be found in the Former Han and Later Han portions of the ZZTJ.

I, Hu Sanxing, believe that the Princes of Jin who occupied border posts should not have been treated as Liu Song here suggests (to allow their fiefs to continue even despite the offense of the holder of the noble title).

The Rites of Zhou states, "The minister of Heaven is the Chief Minister; the minister of Earth is the Minister Over The Masses; the minister of Spring is the Superintendent of the Imperial Household; the minister of Summer is the Marshal; the minister of Autumn is the Minister of Justice; the minister of Winter is the Minister of Works. These are the Six Ministers, and the Chief Minister directs them."

The Prime Minister being the chief office was the system used during Former Han, when the capital was at Chang'an. But ever since Emperor Guangwu of Han restored the dynasty, official affairs had been placed in the charge of the Masters of Writing. Matters returned to the care of the government bureaus, and the high ministers did only their own duties and no more.

The "external ministries" were the offices of the high ministers.

The "leaders over the realm" were the officials of the Imperial Secretary bureau in the capital and the Inspectors of the provinces.

Liu Song's rhetoric about "wisdom in the midst of fatuousness" and the like refers to his conception that the laws and systems would be able to inculcate wisdom in the government. Even if, later on, a fatuous and foolish ruler came to the throne, the existing customs and traditions would still be at hand and could be maintained, and thus by governing through them wisdom and intelligence would still be in evidence. The thrust of this argument was directed at the Crown Prince, Sima Zhong, who was not able to successfully maintain the government, and that Sima Yan had also not developed any defined system of canons that he could hand down to his descendants. But, one cannot neglect the importance of having other men who do not themselves conduct their affairs without principle. We may consider how Liu Shan was an inferior sort of man, yet he had the aid of Zhuge Liang. Even though Emperor Zhaolie (Liu Bei) had died, the government of Shu-Han was the same as if he had not died. But following Kongming's death, although the system by which he had wisely governed Shu-Han was still in place, Liu Shan could not maintain it on his own.)


9. Sima Yan issued an edict appointing Liu Yuan as Commandant of the Northern Division of the Southern Xiongnu.

Liu Yuan thought little of wealth and enjoyed being generous, and he was adept at handling people and forming connections. So many of the famous Confucian scholars of Youzhou and Jizhou flocked to him.


(At this time, the offices of Chiefs of the Five Divisions of the Southern Xiongnu were changed to Commandants of them.

This was why Liu Yuan was able to obtain a great host of people and could threaten the fortunes of Jin.)

後改帥為都尉,以淵為北部都尉。(Book of Northern Wei 95, Biography of Liu Cong)

Later, when the office of Leader of the Divisions was changed to Chief Commandants of them, Liu Yuan was appointed as Chief Commandant of the Northern Division.

太康末,拜北部都尉。明刑法,禁奸邪,輕財好施,推誠接物,五部俊傑無不至者。幽冀名儒,後門秀士,不遠千里,亦皆遊焉。(Book of Jin 101, Biography of Liu Yuan)

At the end of the Taikang reign era (~289), Sima Yan appointed Liu Yuan as Commandant of the Northern Division of the Southern Xiongnu.

Liu Yuan was clear in his enforcement of laws and punishments, forbidding evil things, and he thought little of wealth and enjoyed being generous, adept at handling people and forming connections. So all of the talented people of the Five Divisions came to join him, and many of the famous Confucian scholars or lesser gentry of Youzhou and Jizhou flocked to him, 'not considering a thousand li to be too far'.


10. A hundred thousand men and women of the Xike people came to submit to Jin.


(The Xike were another branch of tribesmen.)
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:36 am


Beginning of the Reign of Emperor Hui, Sima Zhong


(Emperor Hui's name was Sima Zhong. His style name was Zhengdu. He was Emperor Wu's (Sima Yan's) second son. The Laws of Posthumous Names states, "One who is of a gentle nature and kind towards the people may be called Hui ('the Gentle').")


The First Year of Yongxi (The Gengxu Year, 290 AD)


1. In spring, the first month, on the new moon of the day Xinyou (January 28th), the reign era title was changed to Taixi.


(It was Sima Yan who changed the reign era title to Taixi. That was the title for this year until the day Jiyou in the fourth month (May 16th), when Emperor Hui rose to the throne and the reign era title was changed to Yongxi. But to change the reign era title before the full year has elapsed is contrary to the rites. How could it be that Sima Yan had only just left his ministers behind in death, and his Crown Prince had risen to the throne, and yet they rushed to change the reign era title on the same day?)


2. On the day Jisi (February 5th), Wang Hun was appointed as Minister Over The Masses.


3. The Minister of Works, Palace Attendant, and Prefect of the Masters of Writing, Wei Guan, had a son Wei Xuan who was married to the Princess of Fanchang. Wei Xuan had a fondness for wine, and he committed many transgressions. Yang Jun disliked Wei Guan, and wished to have him expelled, so he plotted with the Yellow Gate officials to defame Wei Xuan, and urged Sima Yan to take back the Princess. Wei Guan was ashamed and afraid, so he said he would be resigning his office on account of age. Sima Yan issued an edict appointing Wei Guan as Grand Guardian, and Wei Guan retired to his ducal estate.


(Wei Guan was Duke of Zaiyang.)


4. Wei Shu passed away. He was posthumously known as Baron Kang ("the Peaceful") of Juyang.


5. In the third month, on the day Jiazi (April 1st), the Household Counselor With Golden Tassel of the Right, Shi Jian, was appointed as Minister of Works.


(The Records of Jin states, "The Household Counselors With Golden Tassel of the Left and Right had golden seals and purple ribbons, as did the Household Counselor With Golden Tassel. These offices occupied the second tier of the Nine Ranks system.")


6. Sima Yan was critically ill, but he had not yet given an order transferring his authority. Most of his veteran and accomplished ministers had already passed away. Only the Palace Attendant and General of Chariots and Cavalry, Yang Jun, attended Sima Yan during his illness; he forbade access to the palace, and the great ministers could not see him. Yang Jun wished to fulfill his private intentions, so he had people in close positions exchanged for his own agents. At that time, Sima Yan's illness somewhat abated so that he regained lucidity, and when he saw who the people were who were now being used in these close roles, he sternly said to Yang Jun, "How has this come about?"

Sima Liang had not yet set out to go to his post as Commander of Yuzhou, so Sima Yan ordered the Palace Secretariat to compose an edict naming both Sima Liang and Yang Jun as joint regents. Sima Yan also wished to select several influential people among the court gentlemen to provide further assistance. Yang Jun borrowed the edict from the Palace Secretariat in order to look at it, and he then hid it away somewhere. The Chief of the Palace Secretariat, Hua Yi, was concerned, and he continually demanded Yang Jun return the edict, but to no avail. Sima Yan then fell back into senility, and when Empress Yang Zhi presented a petition asking that Yang Jun be made the sole regent, Sima Yan nodded in approval.

In summer, the fourth month, on the day Xinchou (May 8th), Yang Zhi summoned Hua Yi and the Prefect of the Palace Secretariat, He Shao, and told them to compose a decree announcing Sima Yan's wishes. The decree appointed Yang Jun as Grand Commandant, Grand Tutor to the Crown Prince, Commander of all military affairs, Palace Attendant, and chief of the affairs of the Masters of Writing. When the edict had been completed, Yang Zhi had Hua Yi and He Shao present it to Sima Yan, who looked at it without saying a word. This Hua Yi was the grandson of Hua Xin; this He Shao was the son of He Zeng.

Sima Liang was then sent to report to his post. Sima Yan recovered his lucidity again for a time, and he asked, "Has the Prince of Runan not arrived yet?" Those who were with him said that Sima Liang had not yet come, and Sima Yan thus felt bitter pain.

On the day Jiyou (May 16th), Sima Yan passed away in the Hanzhang Hall of the palace. He was posthumously known as Emperor Wu (“the Martial”).

Sima Yan was a man of great magnanimity and abundant favor, sensible and adept at making plans. He was tolerant and receptive of blunt talk, and never once lost his composure in front of people.


(The term 間 in this instance means when an illness abates for a time.

Sima Liang had been given the assignment as Commander of Yuzhou in the previous year (289.5).

Hua Xin had served under the Han and Cao-Wei dynasties, and He Zeng had served under Cao-Wei and Jin. Both of them became Dukes, and they themselves had reputations as esteemed as Chancellors.

Sima Yan was fifty-five years old when he died.

Regarding the Hanzhang Hall, the Third Six Divided entry of the Kun chapter of the Book of Changes states, "He keeps his excellence under restraint (含章/Han zhang), but firmly maintains it." The Kun chapter views restraint and magnanimity as virtues, and later as principles. The Hanzhang Hall was in the Empress's palace. The Spring and Autumn Annals states, "The Duke died in the Small chamber. (Xi 33.11)" He was at peace.)


7. Crown Prince Sima Zhong inherited the imperial throne, as Emperor Hui. A general amnesty was declared, and the reign era title was changed to the first year of Yongxi. Emperor Hui honored Empress Yang Zhi as Empress Dowager, and he honored his concubine Jia Nanfeng as Empress.


(This was when the reign era title was changed to Yongxi.)

I, the translator, will refer to all Jin emperors other than Sima Yan, Sima Lun, and Sima Rui by their posthumous names, since they are mostly historically known by their titles rather than their actual names. They were not known by these names during their lifetimes. Sima Lun is not commonly counted among the legitimate Jin emperors. The rest of the Jin emperors were of little to no consequence before taking the throne, with the exception of Sima Yu / Emperor Jianwen.

太熙元年四月己酉,武帝崩。是日,皇太子即皇帝位,大赦,改元爲永熙。尊皇后楊氏曰皇太后,立妃賈氏爲皇后。(Book of Jin 4)

In the fourth month of the first year of Taixi (290), on the day Jiyou (May 16th), Emperor Wu passed away. The same day, the Crown Prince rose to the throne. A general amnesty was declared, and the reign era title was changed to the first year of Yongxi. Emperor Hui honored Empress Yang Zhi as Empress Dowager, and he honored his own wife Jia Nanfeng as the new Empress.


8. Yang Jun moved his residence to the Taiji Hall. Sima Yan's coffin was then placed in the mourning hall, and the people of the six palaces all came to pay their respects. However, Yang Jun did not leave the Taiji Hall, and he had a hundred brave warriors assigned to protect him.


(The Taiji Hall was the front hall.

The mourning procession at this time went from Hanzhang Hall through Taiji Hall.)


9. Shi Jian and the Protector of the Palace, Zhang Shao, were summoned to direct the construction of Sima Yan's tomb.


10. Sima Liang feared Yang Jun, so he did not dare to attend the mourning for Sima Yan. He merely wept outside the gate of his office as the Grand Marshal. He then went outside the walls of his camp, sent in a petition asking for forgiveness in not attending the burial, and then left.

Some people said that Sima Liang wanted to raise troops and lead a campaign against Yang Jun, so Yang Jun was greatly afraid of him as well. He told Empress Dowager Yang Zhi about the matter, and they had Emperor Hui write an edict in his own hand, with Shi Jian and Zhang Shao helping him, to direct the soldiers guarding Sima Yan's tomb to move to attack Sima Liang. Since Zhang Shao was Yang Jun's nephew, he had the soldiers placed under the authority of Shi Jian and planned to have him act at once. But Shi Jian believed it could not be done, and he kept the soldiers close at hand and thus protected Sima Liang.

Sima Liang heard about the plan to move against him from the Minister of Justice, He Xu, who said to him, "Everyone, near and far, all turn their hearts to you. Yet you do not punish these people, and you are even afraid of them moving against you!" But Sima Liang did not dare take any action. That night, he fled the city and left for Xuchang, and thus made his escape.

Yang Jun's younger brother Yang Ji and the Intendant of Henan, his nephew Li Bin, both urged Yang Jun to keep Sima Liang close at hand, but Yang Jun did not follow their suggestion. Yang Ji said to the Assistant of the Left to the Masters of Writing, Fu Xian, "If my elder brother could merely humble himself before the Grand Marshal and withdraw himself and keep away from him, then the status of our family could be fully secured."

Fu Xian told him, "The immediate members of the royal family and their more distant relations each rely upon one another for security. But if you summoned the Grand Marshal to come back, and could act in joint regency together with sublime conduct, then there would not even be any need for your elder brother to withdraw."

So Yang Ji further sent the Palace Attendant Shi Chong to see Yang Jun and relay these words to him. But Yang Jun still would not listen.


(Sima Liang had been ordered to go to Xuchang in his role as Grand Marshal, but he had not yet set out, and was still in residence at his government office in the capital. He did not dare to go into the palace to attend the mourning for Sima Yan, so he merely wept outside the gates of his office as Grand Marshal. But when one is mourning for one's lord or father, to weep outside the gate goes against the rites.

Shi Jian protected Sima Liang by not bringing the tomb troops to bear, as he merely kept the soldiers who were to attack him on hand and did not make any movement.)


11. In the fifth month, on the day Xinwei (June 7th), Sima Yan was buried at Junyang Tomb.

夏五月辛未,葬武皇帝於峻陽陵。(Book of Jin 4)

In summer, the fifth month of the first year of Yongxi (290), on the day Xinwei (June 7th), Emperor Wu was buried at Junyang Tomb.


12. Since Yang Jun himself knew that he had little support or favor, he wished to follow the example of Emperor Ming of Wei (Cao Rui), so he planned to make many advancements or appointments among people as a means to win over the multitude.

The General of the Army of the Left, Fu Zhi, wrote to Yang Jun saying, "There has never been an instance when a sovereign had newly perished and yet his ministers and subordinates spoke of merits."

But Yang Jun did not listen to him. This Fu Zhi was the son of Fu Jia.

On the day Bingzi (June 12th), Yang Jun had an edict sent out advancing all officials near and far by one rank, while those who had actually taken part in the mourning for Sima Yan were advanced by two ranks. Officials who were already above the Two Thousand 石 Salary rank were appointed as Marquises Of The Passes. Taxes were waived for one year.

The Cavalier In Regular Attendance, Shi Chong, and the Gentleman Cavalier In Attendance, He Pan, sent up a joint petition stating, "The new Emperor was living in his residence as Crown Prince in the Eastern Palace for more than twenty years, and he has only just now taken up the reins of government and the grand design, yet you are already distributing these rewards and advancements. Even those ministers who implemented the reforms at the beginning of the Taishi era (~265) or the generals who achieved the conquest of Wu were not treated so generously as this. Furthermore, the Jin dynasty must necessarily continue through the ages, and if we use the system which you have now begun, then as we pass through the generations, everyone who has a title or rank will have to be advanced, and after several generations there will not be anyone who has not been made a Duke or a Marquis."

But Yang Jun did not listen to them.


(The Records of Jin states, "In the time of Emperor Ming of Cao-Wei (Cao Rui), there was an Army of the Left.” So the title General of the Army of the Left was a Cao-Wei office.

Fu Jia served Cao-Wei during the Jiaping and Zhengyuan eras (249-256).

In Emperor Xian of Han's twentieth year of Jian'an (215), Cao Cao created the title Marquis Of The Passes. According to the Imperial Annals in the Book of Jin, this title Marquis Of The Passes was below the rank of Marquis Within The Passes.

This passage refers to Shi Chong as a Cavalier In Regular Attendance, but he has just been mentioned above as a Palace Attendant. I fear that this listing of him as Cavalier In Regular Attendance was a mistake on the part of an error in the old histories.)

丙子,增天下位一等,預喪事者二等,復租調一年,二千石已上皆封關中侯。以太尉楊駿爲太傅,輔政。(Book of Jin 4)

In the first year of Yongxi (290), on the day Bingzi (June 12th), everyone in the realm had their offices increased by one rank, while those who had actually taken part in the mourning for Sima Yan were advanced by two ranks. Taxes were waived for one year, and everyone from the Two Thousand 石 salary officials on up were appointed as Marquises Of The Passes. The Grand Commandant, Yang Jun, was appointed as Grand Tutor, and he acted as regent over the government.


13. An edict was issued appointed Yang Jun as Grand Tutor, Grand Commander, and Bearer of the Yellow Battle-axe. He was placed in charge of the court and the government, and all the ministers had to heed his commands.

Fu Xian said to Yang Jun, "The rites of the mourning shed are not being carried out to their full extent, so the Emperor is not indisposed by that account. When a sage fellow sets himself above a ruler who is humble and young, and administers the affairs of state on behalf of the public good, even so the realm does not really approve of such a situation, so I fear that Your Excellency will not find it easy to occupy such a position for yourself. The Duke of Zhou was a paragon of wisdom, and his sovereign King Cheng was young in age when the Duke began to direct affairs, yet even he was faced with loose talk. How much more will that be the case when the man who would be regent places himself above a lord who is not even a young child like King Cheng was? In my view, since the burial of Emperor Wu has been completed, Your Excellency should should be cautious and circumspect in your movements. When people are able to examine you and see for themselves your loyalty and sincerity, then how much could really be said against you?"

But Yang Jun did not listen to him.

Fu Xian often rebuked Yang Jun, who gradually became uneasy, and he wished to have Fu Xian sent away as an Administrator somewhere. But Li Bin said to Yang Jun, "If you oust a virtuous man like that, you will soon lose people's support." So Yang Jun decided against it.

Yang Ji sent Fu Xian a letter stating, "You know the ditty, 'A child born half-wit is not for office fit'. It has never been a simple thing to maintain one's office. I was worried that you might bring harm to yourself, and this is why I am writing to you."

Fu Xian wrote back stating, "The Duke of Wey had a saying: 'It is decadence that kills a man, not his acting rightly.' When decadence kills someone, people feel no regrets about it. However, what they do fear is coming to disaster by being too direct. This is why their hearts cannot be just, and so they would rather neglect wisdom and intelligence. Since ancient times, whenever someone has come to grief because of being direct, it was said that they went too far in trying to correct transgressions, or else that they were not really loyal and sincere, but merely enjoyed hearing the sound of their own harsh rebukes, and thus they simply stirred up anger. Yet how can someone who is trustworthy or sincere, loyal, and useful look back with malice and envy?"


(Ever since Emperor Wen of Han had ordered the mourning period to be curtailed, the tradition of the ruler spending three years dwelling in the mourning shed upon his ascension to the throne in order to bring auspicion to the government had not been carried out.

At the time when the Duke of Zhou became regent for King Cheng of Zhou, King Cheng was still a mere boy. Even so, there was much loose talk concerning the Duke of Zhou from all the states.

In the second year of Taishi (266), Sima Yan had appointed Sima Zhong as his Crown Prince. Sima Zhong was nine years old at that time, so by now, he was thirty-two.

Yang Ji was concerned that Fu Xian would come to grief because of his blunt words.

The Book of Poetry has the verse, "Intelligent is he and wise, protecting his own person. (Zheng Min 4)" Fu Xian's reasoning was that people through the ages who could not speak forthrightly were the ones who especially neglected intelligence and wisdom in order to protect themselves.

The term 悾悾 means trust; Bao Xian says that it means sincerity.)


14. Since Empress Jia Nanfeng was a bold and sinister woman, with great authority and influence, Yang Jun was wary of her. So he had his nephew Duan Guang appointed as Cavalier In Regular Attendance, with control over secret affairs, and Zhang Shao was appointed as Protector of the Palace, and placed in command of the guards and canons. Whenever an edict was to be sent out, once Emperor Hui had completed the draft, it would first have to be presented to Empress Dowager Yang Zhi for her approval, and only then would it be carried out.


15. With Yang Jun having taken control of the government, he ruled sternly and arbitrarily and monopolized power, so that many people near and far resented him.

The Administrator of Pingyi, Sun Chu, said to Yang Jun, "You are someone who is only related to the imperial family by marriage, yet you now occupy the same regency role as Yi Yin or Huo Guang. In your conduct of affairs, you ought to act justly, honestly, and with humble submission. The imperial clan is great and powerful, and yet you do not solicit their help in attending to the affairs of state. Those within harbor doubts and suspicion about you, and those without are all considering their own personal interests. Disaster is not far off!"

But Yang Jun ignored him. This Sun Chu was the grandson of Sun Zi.


The term 愎 here means very.

Sun Zi had served three generations of Cao-Wei rulers as an intimate servant of the household.)


16. The Minister Steward of Hongxun Palace, Kuai Qin, was Yang Jun's cousin. He often scolded Yang Jun with blunt words, and other people feared for what might happen to him. Kuai Qin told them, "Yang Wenchang may be blind, but even he knows that he cannot rashly kill someone who has committed no crime. If he distances himself from me, then by that distance I may escape; otherwise, I am also of his clan."


(When Empress Jing (Yang Huiyu) had resided in Hongxun Palace, she had created the office of Minister Steward for it.

Yang Jun's style name was Wenchang.)


17. Yang Jun summoned a man from the Eastern Division of the Southern Xiongnu, Wang Zhang, to come serve as a Marshal. But Wang Zhang fled the summons and would not accept his appointment. His friend, Zhang Xuanzi of Xinxing, was curious why Wang Zhang would not accept the appointment, and he asked him about it. Wang Zhang told him, "Ever since ancient times, there has never been a family which gave two Empresses to the royal clan which was not destroyed in the end. Can we expect anything different from Grand Tutor Yang Jun, who is close to and favors miscreants while keeping his own lord at arm's length? He hoards all power to himself and does whatever he likes, so the day of his defeat is not far off. I myself have fled across the sea and beyond the borders just to avoid answering his summons, and yet I still fear that the disaster will engulf me too. How could I possibly go along with his call? It was because Emperor Wu (Sima Yan) did not develop any great plan to ensure the fortunes of state that his unworthy son has succeeded him despite being unable to bear the burdens of rulership, and so power is now in the hands of this fellow who is unsuited to it. The realm will soon fall into chaos; wait and see."


(The Eastern Division of the Southern Xiongnu was also the Left Division, and they resided in Zishi County in Taiyuan commandary.

In Emperor Xian of Han's twentieth year of Jian'an (215), the commandaries of Yunzhong, Dingxiang, Wuyuan, and Shuofang were abolished; they were consolidated into a single county, to which all the residents were sent, and this county was merged into Xinxing commandary, which was part of Bingzhou.

Everyone could recognize that Yang Jun would be ruined; he was the only one who did not realize it. As the saying goes, "Unfortunate people treat their bad fortune as good fortune. (Exemplary Sayings 6.12)" This certainly applied to Yang Jun!)


18. In autumn, the eighth month, on the day Renwu (October 16th), Sima Yu was appointed as the new Crown Prince. The Chief of the Palace Secretariat, He Shao, was appointed as Grand Instructor to the Crown Prince, and the Commandant of the Guards, Pei Kai, was appointed as the Lesser Instructor. The Supervisor of the Masters of Writing, Wang Rong, was appointed as Grand Tutor to the Crown Prince, and the former Minister of Ceremonies, Zhang Hua, was appointed as the Lesser Tutor. The Guard General, Yang Ji, was appointed as Grand Guardian to the Crown Prince, and the Master of Writing, He Jiao, was appointed as the Lesser Guardian.

Sima Yu's mother Xie Jiu was appointed as a Virtuous Beauty. Empress Jia Nanfeng often kept Xie Jiu in a separate residence, and did not listen to her requests to remain in contact with her son.

While Sima Yan had been alive, He Jiao had once casually said to him, "The Crown Prince has a pure and sincere nature, and yet he has been very false of late. I fear that he will not be able to carry on Your Majesty's affairs." Sima Yan had made no reply.

Later on, when Sima Yan was being attended by Xun Xu and others, Sima Yan had said, "Recently, the Crown Prince seems to have made some progress while at court. You gentlemen should go and visit him, and see if he measures up to what will be required of him someday."

After Xun Xu and the others had returned from their visit, they had all said that the Crown Prince was wise, knowledgeable, refined, and disciplined, truly worthy of Sima Yan's expectations for him. He Jiao had objected, "His mind is no different than before." But Sima Yan was displeased by that remark and went away.

Now that Emperor Hui had come to the throne, He Jiao followed behind Crown Prince Sima Yu and entered the court. Jia Nanfeng had Emperor Hui say to He Jiao, "You once said that I was unworthy of handling my family's affairs. Now that the succession is settled, what do you have to say for yourself?"

He Jiao replied, "I do admit that while I was serving His Late Majesty, I said such words to him. But it was a blessing for the state that my words were not heeded."


(This was the only time during Jin in which the six Tutor offices of the Eastern Palace (Grand and Lesser Instructor, Tutor, and Guardian) were all filled at the same time.

The Records of Jin states, "The Nine Concubine Ranks were Virtuous Concubine, Virtuous Beauty, Virtuous Wonder, Adorned Splendor, Adorned Bearing, Adorned Wonder, Favored Beauty, Bearing Splendor, and Worthy Splendor. They had silver seals and green ribbons of office.")

秋八月壬午,立廣陵王遹爲皇太子,以中書監何劭爲太子太師,吏部尚書王戎爲太子太傅,衛將軍楊濟爲太子太保。遣南中郎將石崇、射聲校尉胡奕、長水校尉趙俊、揚烈將軍趙歡將屯兵四出。(Book of Jin 4)

In the first year of Yongxi (290), in autumn, the eighth month, on the day Renwu (October 16th), the Prince of Guangling, Sima Yu, was established as the new Crown Prince. The Chief of the Palace Secretariat, He Shao, was appointed as Grand Instructor to the Crown Prince. The Supervisor of the Masters of Writing, Wang Rong, was appointed as Grand Tutor to the Crown Prince. The Guard General, Yang Ji, was appointed as Grand Guardian to the Crown Prince. The General of the Household Gentlemen of the South, Shi Chong, the Colonel of Archers Who Shoot At A Sound, Hu Yi, the Colonel of 長水, Zhao Jun, and the General of Fierce Display, Zhao Huan, were sent out to camp in the four directions.

和嶠為武帝所親重,語嶠曰:「東宮頃似更成進,卿試往看。」還問「何如?」答云:「皇太子聖質如初。」(New Tales 5.9)

He Jiao was intimately loved and respected by Emperor Wu (Sima Yan). He said to He Jiao, "The Crown Prince (Sima Zhong)
lately seems to have grown more mature than before. I suggest you try going to see him."

After He Jiao had returned, Emperor Wu asked, "How was he?"

He Jiao replied, "The Crown Prince's sage nature is as it was before." (tr. Richard Mather)


19. In winter, the tenth month, on the day Xinyou (November 24th), Shi Jian was appointed as Grand Commandant, and the Prince of Longxi, Sima Tai, was appointed as Minister of Works.

冬十月辛酉,以司空石鑒爲太尉,前鎮西將軍、隴西王泰爲司空。(Book of Jin 4, Annals of Emperor Hui)

In the first year of Yongxi (290), in winter, the tenth month, on the day Xinyou (November 24th), the Minister Of Works, Shi Jian, was appointed as Grand Commandant. The former General Who Guards The West and Prince of Longxi, Sima Tai, was appointed as the new Minister of Works.

永熙初,代石鑒為司空。(Book of Jin 37, Biography of Sima Tai)

At the beginning of the Yongxi reign era (~290), Sima Tai replaced Shi Jian as Minister of Works.


20. Jin appointed Liu Yuan as General Who Establishes Might and Grand Commander of all the Five Divisions of the Southern Xiongnu.


(Liu Yuan's appointment as Grand Commander of the Five Divisions would be the seed of his later success as Grand Chanyu of his own state.)

楊駿輔政,以淵為建威將軍、五部大都督,封漢光鄉侯。(Book of Northern Wei 95, Biography of Liu Cong)

When Yang Jun served as regent over the Jin government, he appointed Liu Yuan as General Who Establishes Might, Grand Commander of all the Five Divisions of the Southern Xiongnu, and Marquis of Hanguang district.

楊駿輔政,以元海為建威將軍、五部大都督,封漢光鄉侯。(Book of Jin 101, Biography of Liu Yuan)

When Yang Jun served as regent over the Jin government, he appointed Liu Yuan as General Who Establishes Might, Grand Commander of all the Five Divisions of the Southern Xiongnu, and Marquis of Hanguang district.
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:41 am


The First Year of Yuankang (The Xinhai Year, 291 AD)


1. In spring, the first month, on the new moon of the day Yiyou (February 16th), the reign era title was changed to Yongping.


(Yongping was the reign era title which Yang Jun selected while he held control over the government. Following his execution, the reign era title was then changed to Yuankang.)


2. Earlier, while Jia Nanfeng had still been just the concubine of Crown Prince Sima Zhong, in a fit of jealousy she had personally killed several people, and thrown halberds at pregnant women in order to destroy the children they were bearing. Sima Yan was furious at her, and had her imprisoned in the Jinyong fortress near Luoyang.

Sima Yan was about to depose Jia Nanfeng from her position as Concubine. But Xun Xu, Feng Dan, Yang Yao, and the Worthy Splendor concubine Zhao Can had all pleaded on her behalf. They said, "Concubine Jia is still a young woman, and it is in a wife's nature to be jealous. When she grows older, she will improve herself."

And Empress Yang Zhi had also said, "Jia Gonglü contributed greatly to bringing about the dynasty, and Concubine Jia is his own daughter. Now you are going to repay his just service with jealousy and suspicion. How can you act so rashly that you overlook his past virtues?"

It was thanks to them that Jia Nanfeng was not deposed.


(Jia Chong's style name was Gonglü. He had played a considerable part in Jin's having replaced Cao-Wei.)


3. Now Empress Yang Zhi had often admonished Jia Nanfeng sternly, and Jia Nanfeng did not know that Yang Zhi had acted on her behalf before, but rather believed that she had felt the same way about her as Sima Yan had, so Jia Nanfeng hated Yang Zhi all the more. After Emperor Hui came to the throne, the now Empress Jia Nanfeng could not endure being inferior in womanly affairs to Empress Dowager Yang Zhi, and she further wished to have a hand in the affairs of government itself, but she was restrained by Yang Jun.

The Palace Gentlemen of the Central Hall, Meng Guan of Bohai and Li Zhao, both felt that Yang Jun was acting contrary to the rites, and they secretly criticized him, saying that he would soon bring danger to the state. And the Yellow Gate Attendant Dong Meng, who had long been involved in the affairs of the Crown Prince's Eastern Palace, was now the Chief of the Ministry Men. So Jia Nanfeng secretly plotted with Dong Meng, Meng Guan, and Li Zhao, planning to execute Yang Jun and depose Yang Zhi.

Jia Nanfeng had Li Zhao go and explain their plan to Sima Liang, hoping that he would raise his soldiers and come attack Yang Jun, but Sima Liang would not act. Then Li Zhao went to explain the plan to the Commander of Jingzhou affairs and Prince of Chu, Sima Wei. Sima Wei was much more receptive to the plot and agreed to help.

Sima Wei then sent a request to the capital asking to enter the court. Yang Jun had long feared Sima Wei as a brave and fierce man, and although he wished to summon him he had never dared to go through with it. So when Sima Wei himself submitted his request to come to court, Yang Jun allowed him to do so.

In the second month, on the day Guiyou (April 5th), Sima Wei came to the capital, as did the Commander of Yangzhou affairs and Prince of Huainan, Sima Yun.


(Under the Jin system, the two Guard offices had the subordinate offices of General of the Household, Palace Gentlemen, Colonels, and Marshals.

The Chief of the Ministry Men was the leader of the various eunuchs of the Eastern Palace.)


4. In the third month, on the day Xinmao (April 23rd), Meng Guan and Li Zhao informed Emperor Hui of the plot. That night, they composed an edict slandering Yang Jun, saying he was plotting rebellion. Everywhere was placed under martial law, while agents were sent to present an edict with orders to depose Yang Jun and force him to his Marquisate estate. The Duke of Dong'an, Sima Yao, was ordered to lead four hundred men from the Central Hall to attack Yang Jun. Sima Wei camped his soldiers at the Sima Gate. Sima Yun's Chancellor Liu Song was named as Master of Writing to the Three Excellencies, and he camped his men at the Central Hall.

Duan Guang knelt before Emperor Hui and said, "Yang Jun is a widower without any sons; how could he have any reason to rebel? Your Majesty, please reconsider!"

But Emperor Hui did not respond to him.


(Yang Jun was Marquis of Linjin.

Emperor Cheng of Han had created the office of Master of Writing to the Three Excellencies, and it was in charge of determining cases. And Emperor Guangwu had the Evaluator to the Three Excellencies spend the whole year examining the affairs of the provinces and commandaries.

Duan Guang was Yang Jun's nephew, and on account of his closeness to Yang Jun, he sought to defend him to whoever would listen. But it was to no avail.)


5. At this time, Yang Jun was living in Cao Shuang's former residence, south of the Arsenal. When he heard that there was some inner disturbance, he summoned his officials to discuss what to do.

His Registrar, Zhu Zhen, urged him, "We may know who the source is of this current disturbance; it is certainly those loathsome eunuchs carrying out Empress Jia's plot, and it will bring no benefit to the public good. You should set fire to the Yunlong Gate to hold them off for a time. Then once your affairs are in order, you may force open the Wanchun Gate, lead the soldiers of the Eastern Palace and the outer camps to lead the Crown Prince into the palace, and arrest the culprits. Anyone inside the palace halls who is trembling with fear should be killed and thus sent off. If you do not do these things, you will have no way to escape from danger."

But Yang Jun was timid and apprehensive, and he could not make up his mind. He even said, "The Yunlong Gate was built by Emperor Ming of Wei (Cao Rui); it took a great deal of effort and resources to build it, so how could we burn it down?"

The Palace Attendant Fu Zhi reported to Yang Jun, and asked that he and the Master of Writing Wu Mao enter the palace to observe the situation and see how things were progressing, for he said to the other officials, "The palace should not be left empty." Fu Zhi then bowed with his hands clasped, and headed down the stairs. The officials all left, but Wu Mao remained sitting there. Fu Zhi turned to him and said, "Are you not a servant of His Majesty? Right now, inside and outside are cut off from one another, and we do not know where His Majesty is. How can you just sit there like nothing?" Wu Mao was startled, and so he got up.

Yang Jun's partisan, the General of the Army of the Left, Liu Yu, put his troops into formation at the gate, where he encountered the General of the Army of the Right, Pei Wei. Liu Yu asked where Yang Jun was, and Pei Wei deceived him by saying, "I saw his carriage pass out through the Xiye Gate, so I sent two men to follow him west."

Liu Yu said, "Then what am I to do?"

Pei Wei replied, "You should go to the Minister of Justice."

So Liu Yu followed Pei Wei's suggestion, let his troops there and departed. Then an edict went out ordering Pei Wei to take over Liu Yu's role as General of the Army of the Left, and Pei Wei camped the soldiers at the Wanchun Gate. This Pei Wei was the son of Pei Xiu.

Empress Dowager Yang Zhi wrote a message on silk, tied it to an arrow, and shot it over the walls. The message said, "Whoever saves Grand Tutor Yang Jun will be rewarded." Because of that, Jia Nanfeng proclaimed that the Empress Dowager was in league with the rebels.

Soon, the soldiers from the Central Hall marched out and set fire to Yang Jun's residence. Crossbowmen were also posted atop a pavilion near the residence, where they began shooting at it, so that Yang Jun's soldiers could not get out. Yang Jun fled to a stable, but was then killed.

Meng Guan and the other coup leaders arrested Yang Jun's younger brothers Yang Yao and Yang Ji, as well as Zhang Shao, Li Bin, Duan Guang, Liu Yu, Wu Mao, the Cavalier In Regular Attendance, Yang Miao, the Prefect of the Palace Secretariat, Jiang Jun, and the Colonel of Eastern Tribes, Wen Yang. All of them had their clans exterminated to the third degree, and the dead numbered several thousand.


(The Yunlong Gate was the main southern gate of the palace complex in Luoyang. The Wanchun Gate was the eastern gate.

Fu Zhi uses the term 國家 "the state" to describe the Son of Heaven. This had been a convention ever since Later Han times.

The Army of the Left had existed since Cao-Wei. Sima Yan also created an Army of the Front and an Army of the Right. In the eighth year of Taishi (272), he also created an Army of the Rear. These were the Four Armies.

Liu Yu left his soldiers behind when he went to the Minister of Justice.

Pei Xiu is first mentioned in Book 78, in Emperor Yuan of Cao-Wei's (Cao Huan's) first year of Xianxi (264.45 in Fang's Chronicles).)


6. As Yang Yao was being led to his execution, he said to Sima Yao, "I have a petition encased in stone pardoning me. Ask Zhang Hua about it." And everyone said that Yang Yao had been following the same example as Zhong Yu once had. But Sima Yao did not listen to them, and Jia Nanfeng's partisans carried out his execution just the same. Yang Yao continued to plead until the moment that the executioner's blade chopped off his head.

Sima Yao was the grandson of Zhuge Dan through his daughter, and he held a grudge against Wen Yang, so he had Wen Yang lumped in with Yang Jun's partisans and had him executed too.

That night, Sima Yao determined all punishments or rewards stemming from the coup, and his power spread near and far. Wang Rong warned him, "Now that this business is over, you ought not to hoard your power and influence; let it slip away." But Sima Yao did not listen to him.


(Yang Yao had obtained an edict from Sima Yan pardoning him ahead of time, which was stored in the ancestral temple, as seen in Book 80 in the third year of Xianning (276.12). Zhi Yun remarked, "Besides the ancestral temple's chief purpose of housing the bodies of one's ancestors, there was also a stone container in the western wall, which was called the ancestral stone shrine. Within this container was a basket that held important edicts."

Zhong Yu had warned Sima Zhao ahead of time that his brother Zhong Hui was likely to rebel; because of that, when Zhong Hui's family was executed, Zhong Yu's sons were spared. This is mentioned in Book 78, in Emperor Yuan of Cao-Wei's (Cao Huan's) first year of Xianxi (264.17 in Fang's Chronicles).

During Zhuge Dan's rebellion, Wen Yang had defected from his side and helped Sima Zhao to crush the rebellion and kill Zhuge Dan. This is mentioned in Book 77, in Cao Mao's third year of Ganlu (258.2 in Fang's Chronicles).)


7. On the day Renchen (April 24th), an amnesty was declared throughout the realm, and the reign era title was changed.


(This was when the title was changed to Yuankang.)


8. Jia Nanfeng forged an edict ordering the General of the Rear Army, Xun Kui, to place Empress Dowager Yang Zhi under house arrest at the Yongning Palace. There was also a special order that the Lady of Gaodu, Yang Zhi's mother Lady Pang, would be sent to live in the Yongning Palace with her.

Jia Nanfeng soon arranged for the various nobles to send in a petition stating, "The Empress Dowager has gradually been developing secret sinister plans and plotting to bring danger to the state. She fired arrows containing messages meant to draw the generals over to her side and make common cause with her evil, thus cutting herself off from Heaven. In ancient times, the Marquis of Lu had the lady Wen Jiang cut off, as the Spring and Autumn Annals attest. You act on behalf of your honored ancestors, and you hold a place responsible for the good of all the realm. Although Your Majesty must cherish unfathomable feelings for the Empress Dowager, we dare not wait upon your orders."

An edict was then sent out stating, "This is a serious matter, and requires further consideration."

The officials then submitted another petition stating, "You should depose the Empress Dowager, as a common person of Junyang."

The Chief of the Palace Secretariat, Zhang Hua, proposed, "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."

But the Supervisor of the Left, Xun Kai, the Lesser Instructor to the Crown Prince and Prince of Xiapi, Sima Huang, and others objected, "The Empress Dowager plotted to bring danger to the state. She can no longer be associated with His Late Majesty. Her honored title should be besmirched, and she should be deposed and sent to the Jinyong fortress."

The views of Sima Huang and the others won the debate, and so the ministers petitioned that Yang Zhi be deposed as a commoner. Emperor Hui permitted it.

Then the ministers submitted another petition stating, "Because Yang Jun caused turmoil, his family and his dependents were all executed along with him. You originally gave an order to spare his wife, Lady Pang, in order to soothe the Empress Dowager's heart. But as the Empress Dowager has now been deposed as a common woman, we ask that you now have Lady Pang handed over to the Minister of Justice and slated for execution."

Emperor Hui would not agree at first, but after the ministers continued to press this request, he at last relented.

As Lady Pang was being led to her execution, Yang Zhi held onto her and pleaded for her life. Yang Zhi pulled at her own hair and kowtowed on the ground, and she even sent a request to Jia Nanfeng begging her, saying that she would be Jia Nanfeng's servant if only she would spare her mother's life. But this was all to no avail.

Dong Yang wandered to the Imperial Academy, where he ascended into the hall and lamented, "It was the court that raised this hall, and yet what use will it be soon? Whenever I look at the letters of pardon of the state, the names of those being pardoned are always those who plotted rebellion and were most disobedient, and the only reason that those who went so far as to kill their grandparents and parents were not pardoned was because the royal laws simply could not encompass their crimes. What is to be done when the chief ministers of state all discuss with one another how they may gloss over the rites and canons, even to go so far as all this? The ways of Heaven and of humanity are wasting away. Great turmoil will soon engulf us."


(Cao-Wei had established the Yongning Palace as the residence of the Empress Dowager.

As the Book of Changes states, "'He is treading on hoarfrost; - the strong ice will come (by and by):' - the cold (air) has begun to take form. Allow it to go on quietly according to its nature, and (the hoarfrost) will come to strong ice." The petition was slandering Empress Dowager Yang Zhi as having long plotted sinister things together with Yang Jun, not merely engaging in the actions of a single day.

Wen Jiang was the wife of Duke Huan of Lu. When Duke Xiang of Qi killed Duke Huan, it was at Wen Jiang's instigation. Duke Zhuang then inherited the dukedom of Lu. The Spring and Autumn Annals mention regarding Wen Jiang's subsequent flight to Qi that "The late Duke Huan's wife retired to Qi. (Zhuang 1.2)" The Guliang Commentary to the Spring and Autumn Annals says of this incident, "The Annals does not record Wen Jiang's name or clan in this passage because it means to censure her for what she had done. When one is with Heaven, one accepts its mandate with principle; when one is with men, it accepts their commands with trust. If one does not act with principle, Heaven cuts them off; if one does not act with trust, men cut them off."

Sima Yan's tomb was called Junyang.

The debate over the accusations of malicious plotting towards Empress Zhao Feiyan of Han and how she ought to be dealt with are mentioned in Book 35, in Emperor Ai's first year of Yuanshou (2 BC).

Dong Yang was a native of some place in Junyi County.

Dong Yang's first statement was a lament that the court had established the Imperial Academy in order to instill the virtues of filial brotherhood in its students, and yet now it was tearing away at the great relationship between mother and child. What use would the Academy then serve any longer?

Dong Yang and his wife He Dan later left for the Shu region. It is unknown what their ultimate fates were.)


9. The ministers asked that Yang Jun's subordinate officers be arrested, and they wished to execute them. But the Palace Attendant Fu Zhi kneeled and said, "When Cao Shuang of Wei was overthrown, Lu Zhi was serving as his Marshal, and Lu Zhi went so far as to force his way through the gates of Luoyang to go and join Cao Shuang outside the city. But even so, Emperor Xuan (Sima Yi) still employed him as Inspector of Qingzhou. In the same way, Yang Jun's assistants cannot all be charged with his crimes."

So they were granted letters of pardon.


(Lu Zhi's actions during Sima Yi's coup against Cao Shuang, and Sima Yi's pardon of him, are mentioned in Book 75, in Cao Fang's first year of Jiaping (249.12 in Fang's Chronicles).)


10. On the day Renyin (May 4th), Sima Liang was summoned to be appointed as Grand Governor. He and the Grand Guardian, Wei Guan, were both placed in command of the affairs of the Masters of Writing and made joint regents. Sima Jian was appointed as Grand General. The Prince of Dongping, Sima Mao, was appointed as Grand General Who Nurtures The Army. Sima Wei was appointed as Guard General and acting Palace Marquis of the Northern Army. Sima Huang was appointed as Prefect of the Masters of Writing. Sima Yao was appointed as Supervisor of the Left of the Masters of Writing, and his noble title was advanced from Duke to Prince. This Sima Mao was the son of Sima Wang.

Dong Meng was appointed as Marquis of Wu'an, and his three elder brothers were all made Village Marquises.


11. Sima Liang wished to win over the hearts of the multitude. At that time, discussions were being held on who deserved merits for bringing about Yang Jun's execution, and Sima Liang arranged for as many as 1,081 people to be given title as officers or marquises.

The Central Assistant to the Imperial Secretary, Fu Xian, sent a letter to Sima Liang stating, "Ranks and rewards are being handed out so liberally that it causes a great stir throughout Heaven and Earth. From ancient times until now, such a thing as this has never been done before. When people who have no merits are still being given rewards, then there will be no one who is not happy when the state suffers such misfortunes, and that will cause those disasters to continue endlessly.

"All of this was originally just being done by the Duke of Dong'an, Sima Yao. People said that once Your Highness arrived, you would be acting righteously to thus rectify this situation. When even you yourself have done such things, how could they not be angry about it? At the moment, the people who are angry about the situation are merely unsettled. But if this sort of discussion continues on and on several times greater than it already has, then there will be no one who will not lose hope."

Sima Liang continued to monopolize power and influence, so Fu Xian further rebuked him, saying, "Yang Jun had overweening power that eclipsed his sovereign, and he wielded great influence through his offices and his associations. These are the things which the realm made such an uproar about. When you are handling such serious matters, you should turn away from his example. Silently contemplate and relax yourself, and let the great things fall away, so that you may maintain yourself. You may thus prevent anything serious from occurring, and all can be repressed and diffused.

“When you pass through your honored gate, cover your horse cart with a canopy, and obstruct the streets as you pass, these things turn the crowd against you, and you should put a stop to them. Furthermore, that fellow Xiahou Changrong (Xiahou Jun) has no merit to speak of, and yet he has risen so quickly to a post as high as Minister Steward, and people all say it is just because he is related to you by marriage. When you go so far as to do such things, word spreads to every corner, and it does not bring any benefit."

But Sima Liang did not listen to anything he said.


(When rewards were given out so abundantly, people would desire for more such situations to come about that would provide them the same sorts of opportunities, and this would lead to disasters.

Fu Xian meant how Sima Liang was discussing merits and handing out rewards, even more than how such things were being done when Sima Yao was supervising them.

In this passage, 翕 means gathered or together, and 習 means serious, because of, or still. Fu Xian means that Sima Liang's actions are turning people against him, and that he should thus put an end to them.

Xiahou Jun's style name was Changrong. He was Sima Liang's son-in-law, and was thus 姻 "related by marriage". Zheng Xuan remarked, "The relation between a son-in-law and father-in-law is called 姻.")


12. The affairs of state were now in the hands of several people: the Marshal to the General of Chariots and Cavalry, Jia Nanfeng's elder kinsman Jia Mo; the Guard General of the Right, her uncle Guo Zhang; her nephew Jia Mi; Sima Wei; and Sima Yao.

Jia Nanfeng became more and more tyrannical by the day. Sima Yao was secretly plotting to depose her, and the Jia clan was wary of him. And the Duke of Dongwu, Sima Yao's elder brother Sima Dan, had long disliked him, so he often slandered him to Sima Liang by saying, "Sima Yao is monopolizing the power of advancements, punishments, and rewards because he wishes to control the court and the government."

On the day Gengxu (May 12th), an edict was sent out stripping Sima Yao of office; he was also charged with sinister talk, and he was deposed and exiled to Daifang.


(Sima Zhao had created the offices of Guard General and Guard General of the Palace. When Sima Yan accepted the mandate, he divided the latter office into Guard Generals of the Left and Right.

Jia Nanfeng's younger sister Jia Wu had married Han Shou, and gave birth to Han Mi. After Jia Chong died without an heir, Han Mi's name was changed to Jia Mi, and he became Jia Chong's heir.

During Han, Daifang County was part of Lelang commandary. Gongsun Du created a Daifang commandary. Du You remarked, "During the Jian'an era (196-220), Gongsun Kang split off the southern wastes of Tunyou and Youyan counties and made that place into Daifang commandary.")


13. Thus did Jia Mi's and Guo Zhang's power and influence flourish more and more, and their houses were filled with guests.

Although Jia Mi was an extravagant man, he also appreciated learning and scholarship, and he delighted in meeting with scholar-officials. He had several men in particular who all became attached to him, and they were called the Twenty-Four Friends. These men were Guo Zhang, Shi Chong, Lu Ji and his younger brother Lu Yun, He Yu, Pan Yue of Xingyang, Cui Ji of Qinghe, Ouyang Jian of Bohai, Mou Zheng of Lanling, Du Bin of Jingzhao, Zhi Yu, Zhuge Quan of Langye, Wang Cui of Hongnong, Du Yu of Xiangcheng, Zou Jie of Nanyang, Zuo Si of the Qi princely fief, Liu Gui of the Pei princely fief, Zhou Hui, Qian Xiu of Anping, Chen Zhen of Yingchuan, Xu Meng of Gaoyang, Liu Ne of Pengcheng, and Liu Yu of Zhongshan and his younger brother Liu Kun. This He Yu was the son of He Jiao.

Shi Chong and Pan Yue were especially flattering towards Jia Mi. Whenever they saw Jia Mi and the Lady of Guangcheng, his grandmother Guo Huai, out and about, they would always alight from their carriages, stand on the side of the road, bow down into the dust, and salute them.


(In the first year of Taishi (265), Sima Yan had split off parts of Hejian and Zhuo commandaries to form the princely fief of Gaoyang. In the second year (266), he had split off part of Henan commandary to form Xingyang commandary, and he had split off part of Runan commandary to form Xiangcheng commandary.

Cui Ji was a descendant of the great Qi minister Cui Zhu.

The Registry of Surnames states, "A descendant of King Goujian of Yue was granted his fief at Ouyang in Wucheng, and his descendants took the name of the fief as their clan name."

It was during this year (291) that part of Bohai commandary had been split off to form Lanling commandary.

According to the Biography of Mao Shi, the ancient state of Zhi was ruled by the Ren clan, and their descendants took their clan name from the name of the state.)


14. Sima Liang and Wei Guan were wary of Sima Wei, because they felt he was obstinate and delighted in killing, so they sought to seize his military authority. They appointed the Marquis of Linhai, Pei Kai, to replace Sima Wei as Palace Marquis of the Northern Army. This incited Sima Wei's fury, and when Pei Kai heard of his appointment, he did not dare to accept it. Sima Liang then continued to plot with Wei Guan, planning to have Sima Wei sent back to his fief, which stoked Sima Wei's anger and indignation all the more.

Now Sima Wei had greatly favored his Chief Clerk, Gongsun Hong, and his servant Qi Sheng, and they urged him to align himself with Jia Nanfeng, who kept him close with an appointment as acting Lesser Tutor to the Crown Prince. Qi Sheng had long been on friendly terms with Yang Jun, and Wei Guan was concerned lest Qi Sheng might come to power again, so he was about to have Qi Sheng arrested. So Qi Sheng plotted with Gongsun Hong, and they arranged for the General Who Amasses Crossbows, Li Zhao, to report to Jia Nanfeng with a pretend order he had from Sima Wei, slandering Sima Liang and Wei Guan and saying they were plotting to overthrow her soon. Jia Nanfeng had long borne a grudge against Wei Guan, and she already felt that the two of them held the reins of government so tightly that she herself could not obtain any power.

So in summer, the sixth month, Jia Nanfeng had Emperor Hui compose an edict in his own hand to be delivered to Sima Wei. The edict stated, "Grand Governor Sima Liang and Grand Guardian Wei Guan wish to follow the examples of Yi Yin and Huo Guang. Let the royal will hereby be made known. The Princes of Huainan, Changsha, and Chengdu are ordered to camp their armies at the palace gates, and remove Sima Liang and Wei Guan from office."

That night, Jia Nanfeng sent a eunuch from the Yellow Gate to deliver the edict to Sima Wei. Sima Wei wanted to first send a petition back in response to the edict, but the eunuch told him, "We fear if you did that, the plot might leak out. Letting that happen would go against the wishes expressed by the edict."

Sima Wei already had his own personal hatred for Sima Liang and Wei Guan, so he gave orders to his own army while writing an order summoning the thirty-six armies. This edict stated, "The two lords, Sima Liang and Wei Guan, are making plots and acting without discipline. I now summon and order all of the Commandants, within and without, to bring their armies into the city and place the roads under strict order, and make all needed preparations to maintain order. Those bodies of men who are not engaged in keeping order shall march to secure the government offices, aiding those who are obedient and punishing those who are not."

Sima Wei also composed another order stating, "No fault is to be held against the subordinates of Sima Liang and Wei Guan. All of them are to be released and sent on their way. But if there is any of them who refuses to accept the imperial edict, then those people are to be dealt with according to military law."

Sima Wei sent Gongsun Hong and Li Zhao with soldiers to surround Sima Liang's residence, while he sent the Palace Attendant and Prince of Qinghe, Sima Xia, to arrest Wei Guan.


(Pei Kai did not dare to accept the appointment as Palace Marquis of the Northern Army.

The Registry of Surnames states, "In ancient times, there was a 岐 Qi Bo who served as the instructor of the Yellow Emperor. And King Tai of Zhou resided at Mount Qi. When King Wen moved to Feng, he left his extended kinsmen behind at Qi, and they took their surname from the place."

In the fourth year of Taishi (268), Sima Yan had abolished the posts of Protector-General Who Spreads Might and Who Displays Might. He had created the posts of Generals Who Amass Crossbows of the Left and Right. It is also said, "During Jin's Taikang era (280-89), the camps of Soldiers Who Shoot At Sounds and Soldiers Who Amass Crossbows were formed. Each camp had twenty-five hundred soldiers, and both were under the direction of a general."

Jia Nanfeng resented Wei Guan's attempt to have Sima Zhong removed as Crown Prince, as mentioned in Book 80, in the fourth year of Xianning (278.9).

By "his own army", the passage means the Northern Army over which Sima Wei had direct control.

During Jin, there were thirty-six armies in and around Luoyang.)


15. Sima Liang's Commandant Outside The Tent, Li Long, reported to him, "There is some disturbance going on outside. Please do something to protect yourself against it." But Sima Liang would not listen to him.

Soon, there were soldiers mounting the walls of the residence and shouting loudly. Sima Liang was alarmed and said, "I am no traitor; why have things come to this? Will you not let me see the edict letter?" But Gongsun Hong and the others refused to show it to him, and simply ordered their soldiers to arrest Sima Liang.

Sima Liang's Chief Clerk, Liu Zhun, said to him, "You can see that all this is part of some evil plot. Your residence is filled with talented men, numerous as a forest. We still have the strength to fight back." But Sima Liang still would not listen, and he was soon taken prisoner by Li Zhao.

Sima Liang lamented, "I had a loyal heart; let my destruction demonstrate that to the realm." He and his eldest son Sima Ju both died.


(Under the Jin system, the various Princes and Grand Generals each created Commandants Outside The Tents and Commandants Outside The Gates.)


16. Those who were with Wei Guan also suspected that Sima Xia was carrying a false edict, and they asked Wei Guan to oppose Sima Xia's soldiers; if he could hold out until he could get a response to his own petition, it would not be too late to avoid execution. But Wei Guan would not listen to such pleas either.

Before, when Wei Guan had been Minister of Works, his Commandant Outside The Tent, Rong Hui, had committed some offense, and Wei Guan had rebuked Rong Hui and sent him away. At this time, Rong Hui was with Sima Xia's men as they came to arrest Wei Guan. Rong Hui killed Wei Guan and his sons and grandsons, nine people altogether, and Sima Xia was unable to stop him.


(Wei Guan had been appointed Minister of Works in the third year of Taikang (282.9), and had held that office until he resigned in the first year of Yongxi (290.3).

The Registry of Surnames states, "Those with the surname 榮 Rong are the descendants of Duke Rong of Zhou. The Zhuangzi also mentions a Rong Qiqi.")


17. Qi Sheng urged Sima Wei, "Now that you have so much military strength, you ought to execute Jia Mi and Guo Zhang in order to bring justice to the royal house and settle the realm." But Sima Wei was hesitant and could not decide.

The following day, the Lesser Tutor to the Crown Prince, Zhang Hua, sent Dong Meng to urge Jia Nanfeng, "Since the Prince of Chu has put the two regents to death, the realm will surely bow before his power and majesty, and then how will either the people or the sovereign know peace? You should charge Sima Wei with having carried out these killings through his own presumption, and then execute him."

Jia Nanfeng already wished to get rid of Sima Wei for the same reasons, so she readily agreed.

At this time, there was confusion and fear inside and out, and the court was gripped by terror, not knowing what the final result would be. Zhang Hua reported to Emperor Hui, and then sent the General of the Middle Hall, Wang Gong, to send his soldiers out among the various armies while streaming the Zouyu Banners. They told the posted soldiers, "The Prince of Chu forged the edict; do not listen to his orders!" So Sima Wei's soldiers all cast down their weapons and dispersed. Sima Wei was left without anyone to support him, and as he no longer knew what there was left he could do, he was soon taken prisoner and handed over to the Minister of Justice.

On the day Yichou (July 26th), Sima Wei was beheaded. Before his death, Sima Wei produced the green sheet of the edict from within his bosom, and wept as he showed it to the execution overseer and Master of Writing, Liu Song. Sima Wei said, "I was fortunate enough to have been entrusted by His Late Majesty, yet now I endure such unjust treatment as this!"

Gongsun Hong and Qi Sheng both had their clans exterminated to the third degree.


(Under the Jin system, there were White Tiger Banners and Zouyu Banners. The white tiger is wild, fierce, and a great killer, so the White Tiger Banner calls the soldiers to battle. But the zouyu is a benevolent creature, and so the Zouyu Banner calls the soldiers to disperse.)

及武帝崩,乂時年十五,孺慕過禮。會楚王瑋奔喪,諸王皆近路迎之,乂獨至陵所,號慟以俟瑋。拜步兵校尉。及瑋之誅二公也,乂守東掖門。會騶虞幡出,乂投弓流涕曰:「楚王被詔,是以從之,安知其非!」瑋既誅,乂以同母,貶為常山王,之國。(Book of Jin 59 (Sima Ai))

At the time of Emperor Wu’s death, Sima Ai was fourteen years old, and he conducted himself as a son would towards his father even beyond the usual rites. When the Prince of Chu, Sima Wei, arrived to attend Emperor Wu’s funeral, all the Princes came to welcome him beside the road; only Sima Ai remained by Emperor Wu’s tomb, and waited for Sima Wei to come on account of his own grief. He was granted the title of Commandant of Infantry.

During Sima Wei’s coup against the two regents Sima Liang and Wei Guan, Sima Ai guarded the Eastern Ye Gate. After Sima Wei had killed the regents, the imperial Zouyu Banners were sent out to compel Sima Wei’s soldiers to stand down and abandon him. When Sima Ai saw this happening, he threw aside his bow and wept, saying, “The Prince of Chu acted solely because he did have an imperial edict to act. How could they claim that he acted falsely?” Sima Wei being executed, since Sima Ai was his brother by the same mother, his title was demoted to Prince of Changshan, and he was sent away to that fief.


18. When Sima Wei had raised his soldiers to move against Sima Liang and Wei Guan, the Prince of Longxi, Sima Tai, had put his soldiers in readiness and was about to come assist Sima Wei. But his Libationer, Ding Sui, had remonstrated with him, saying, "You are a great minister of state, and you cannot make any rash movements. It is the middle of the night, and things are moving quickly. You should send someone to ask around and ascertain what is going on."

So Sima Tai did not move.


(Sima Tai was Sima Yi's nephew by a younger brother. At this time, he was Minister of Works. During Jin, the Excellencies had Libationers of the Western and Eastern Chambers.

By ascertain, Ding Sui meant to find out what was really happening.)

尋領太子太保。及楊駿誅,泰領駿營,加侍中,給步兵二千五百人,騎五百匹。泰固辭,乃給千兵百騎。楚王瑋之被收,泰嚴兵將救之,祭酒丁綏諫曰:「公為宰相,不可輕動。且夜中倉卒,宜遣人參審定問。」泰從之。(Book of Jin 37, Biography of Sima Tai)

Sima Tai was later appointed as acting Grand Guardian to the Crown Prince.

After Yang Jun was executed, Sima Tai was placed in command of Yang Jun's troops; he was promoted to Palace Attendant and granted 2,500 infantry and 500 cavalry. But Sima Tai forcefully declined these things, so he was only given a thousand soldiers and a hundred cavalry.

When the Prince of Chu, Sima Wei, was arrested, Sima Tai set his troops in readiness to march to his assistance. But his Libationer, Ding Sui, remonstrated with him, saying, "You are a great minister of state, and you cannot make any rash movements. It is the middle of the night, and things are moving quickly. You should send someone to ask around and ascertain what is going on."

Sima Tai did as he advised.


19. Wei Guan's daughter wrote a letter to the ministers of state, saying, "My late father has not yet been assigned a posthumous name to demonstrate his worth, and I often wonder why the state has yet to offer the slightest word in his defense. These are the faults of the Spring and Autumn Annals; how can we let this censure stand?"

And Wei Guan's former Registrar, Liu Yao, and others held aloft a yellow banner and struck the Announcement Drum, saying to those above, "When those who were enforcing the forged edict arrived, Lord Wei fully complied with their orders, and heeded their commands in a single carriage. Even by the words of the edict, they had been commanded only to remove Lord Wei from office. But they went further, and sent Rong Hui to arrest Lord Wei, his sons, and his grandsons, putting them all to death at once. We beg that you rectify this false feeling at once, and submit Rong Hui to execution."

So an edict went out ordering the execution of Rong Hui and his clan, and posthumously restoring Sima Liang's titles. Sima Liang was posthumously named Prince Wencheng ("the Cultured and Accomplished"). Wei Guan was given the posthumous title Duke Cheng of Lanling Commandary.


(The Gongyang Commentary to the Spring and Autumn Annals states, "According to the Annals, when a lord is murdered and the bandits are not punished, then he has no ministers or sons. Zi Shenzi remarked, 'When a lord is murdered, if his ministers do not punish the bandits, they are not his ministers; when his son does not avenge him, he is not his son.'"

The ancients built the Rebuke Drum and raised the Slander Pole to express their feelings below. According to the Rites of Zhou, the Minister Coachman raised the Street Drum outside the gates of the Grand Chamber to receive those who were exhausted. Zheng Sinong's Annotations on this passage states, "The exhausted means those who were fully innocent and yet had lost their offices; they came and beat this drum in order to appeal to the king, and this has led to our modern tradition of beating the drum when some development occurs." This was the origin of the Announcement Drum. Its name as Announcement Drum first came about during Cao-Wei and Jin. To strike the drum means to hit it.)


20. As Jia Nanfeng now controlled the government, she filled all offices with her relatives and partisans. Jia Mo was appointed as Cavalier In Regular Attendance and promoted to Palace Attendant.

Jia Mi discussed the matter of Zhang Hua with Jia Nanfeng. Although Zhang Hua was not of the same family as them, he posed no threat to their superiority. Furthermore, he was a learned scholar and skilled at making plans, and he held the regard of many, so they wished to employ him at court. But they were still uncertain and could not yet decide, so they asked Pei Wei about it. Pei Wei agreed with them. So Zhang Hua was appointed as Palace Attendant and Chief of the Palace Secretariat, and Pei Wei was also appointed as Palace Attendant. The General Who Maintains The South, Pei Kai, was appointed as Prefect of the Palace Secretariat and promoted to Palace Attendant, and he handled critical affairs together with the Supervisor of the Right, Wang Rong.

Zhang Hua was fully loyal to the imperial family, willing to overlook faults and ignore shortcomings. As ruthless as Jia Nanfeng was, she still knew to respect Zhang Hua.

Jia Mo, Zhang Hua, and Pei Wei all acted in one accord as regents. This was why for the next several years, although a befuddled sovereign was seated on the throne, the court and the land both knew peace and serenity, thanks to the efforts of Zhang Hua and the others.


(This passage uses the term 庶姓 to describe Zhang Hua. Du Yu's Annotations to the Spring and Autumn Annals states, "This term 庶姓 means someone of a different surname."

The Lady of Guangcheng, Guo Huai, was Pei Wei's aunt, and this was why the Jia clan was close to and trusted Pei Wei.)


21. In autumn, the seventh month, ten commandaries were split off from Jingzhou and Yangzhou to form Jiangzhou.


(Jiangzhou was formed at this time, taking its name from the Yangzi or Changjiang River.)


22. In the eighth month, on the day Xinwei (September 30th), Sima Tai's eldest son Sima Yue was appointed as Prince of Donghai.

東海孝獻王越,字元超,高密王泰之次子也。少有令名,謙虛持布衣之操,為中外所宗。初以世子為騎都尉,與駙馬都尉楊邈及琅邪王伷子繇俱侍講東宮,拜散騎侍郎,曆左衛將軍,加侍中。討楊駿有功,封五千戶侯。遷散騎常侍、輔國將軍、尚書右僕射,領遊擊將軍。復為侍中,加奉車都尉,給溫信五十人,別封東海王,食六縣。(Book of Jin 59, Biography of Sima Yue)

Sima Yue, styled Wang Yue, was posthumously known as Prince Xiaoxian of Donghai. He was the son of the Prince of Gaomi, Sima Tai. Even as a youth, Sima Yue had a good reputation; he was modest and conducted himself like a commoner, respected by all.

Originally, as Sima Tai's eldest son, Sima Yue was appointed as a Cavalry Commandant. He attended lectures at the Eastern Palace, along with the Commandant of Side Cavalry, Yang Biao, and Sima Yao, the son of the Prince of Langye, Sima You. Sima Yue was then appointed as a Cavalier Gentleman-Attendant, and he successively served as Guard General of the Left and as a Palace Attendant.

Sima Yue had merit in the coup against Yang Jun, for which he was appointed as a Marquis of five thousand households. He successively became Cavalier In Regular Attendance, General Who Upholds The State, Deputy Director of the Right of the Masters of Writing, and acting General of Roaming Assault. Later, he became a Palace Attendant again, and was then appointed as Commandant of Raised Chariots and granted fifty Warm and Trusted attendants. After that, he was appointed as Prince of Donghai, with a fief of six counties.


23. In the ninth month, on the day Jiawu (October 23rd), Sima Jian passed away. He was posthumously known as Prince Xian ("the Presented") of Qin.


24. On the day Xinchou (October 30th), the Grand General Who Conquers The West, Sima Rong, was summoned to the capital to be Guard General and Chief of the Masters of Writing.


(Sima Rong's given name 肜 is pronounced "yong (y-ong)".)
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:42 am


The Second Year of Yuankang (The Renzi Year, 292 AD)


1. In spring, the second month, on the day Jiyou (March 6th), the former Empress Dowager Yang Zhi passed away at the Jinyong fortress.

Up until this time, Yang Zhi had had more than ten palace attendants who were staying with her. But Jia Nanfeng had all of them taken away from her, and restricted Yang Zhi's meals for eight days until she passed away. Jia Nanfeng feared that Yang Zhi's spirit might appeal to Sima Yan's spirit against her, so she had Yang Zhi's coffin turned upside-down before burying it, and she was buried with several talismans, letters, medicines, and other such things to suppress her spirit.


(In this passage, 厭 means to keep subdued. Things meant to suppress spirits are called 劾.)


2. In autumn, the eighth month, on the day Renzi (September 5th), an amnesty was declared throughout the realm.
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:43 am


The Third Year of Yuankang (The Guichou Year, 293 AD)


1. In summer, the sixth month, it rained hailstones in Hongnong, three 尺 thick.


2. The Xianbei leader Yuwen Mohuai was killed by his subordinates. They replaced him with his younger brother Yuwen Pubo.


3. Tuoba Chuo passed away. His son (or, nephew) Tuoba Fu succeeded him.


(This passage records the Ba in Tuoba Chuo's name as 拔; it should be 跋.

Some versions say that Tuoba Fu was the son of Tuoba Chuo's younger brother, rather than his own son.)

思皇帝諱弗立,文帝之少子也。(Book of Northern Wei 1)

In the seventh year of Tuoba Chuo's reign (293), the leader of the Yuwen tribe of the Xiongnu, Yuwen Mohuai, was killed by his subordinates, who set up Yuwen Mohuai's younger brother Yuwen Pubo as their chief. Tuoba Chuo married his daughter to Yuwen Pubo's son Yuwen Qiubuqin.

Tuoba Chuo ruled his state for seven years (287-293), and then passed away.

Next came Emperor Si, Tuoba Fu, who was the youngest son of Tuoba Shamohan.
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Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:45 am


The Fourth Year of Yuankang (The Jiayin Year, 294 AD)


1. In spring, the first month, on the day Dingyou (February 12th), Shi Jian passed away. He was posthumously known as Duke Yuan ("the Foremost") of Anchang.


(Sima Guang's commentary in the Textual Analysis states, "The Biography of Shi Jian in the Book of Jin states that 'Shi Jian was appointed as Marquis of Chang'an County'. But I follow the Annals of Emperor Hui in the Book of Jin.")


2. In summer, the fifth month, the Xiongnu leader Hao San rebelled. He attacked Shangdang and killed its Chief Clerk.

In autumn, the eighth month, Hao San led his troops to surrender, but the Commandant of Pingyi killed him.


(The 郝 in Hao San's name is pronounced "he (h-e)".

If He San were marching from Shangdang to lead his troops to surrender themselves at Luoyang, then he must have entered into Henei. For the Commandant of Pingyi to have killed him, then He San must have passed clear through Hedong, crossed over the Yellow River, and gone as far as Pingyi before being killed by the Commandant there.)


3. During this year, there was great famine.


4. The Colonel-Director of Retainers, Fu Xian, passed away.

Fu Xian was of a direct and simple nature, severe and strict in manner. When he was first appointed as Colonel-Director of Retainers, he sent up a petition stating, "Bribes are widespread and flowing freely; they should be fully curtailed." The court at that time was tolerant and lenient, letting the powerful do whatever they wished, so Fu Xian submitted charges against Yin Dan of Henan and others, and had them stripped from office. The capital region respected him.


(Sima Guang's commentary in the Textual Analysis states, "The Annals of the Thirty Kingdoms and the Annals of Jin both state, "In the seventh month of the fourth year of Yuankang (294), Fu Xian was appointed as Colonel-Director. In the fifth month of the fifth year of Yuankang (295), he first took up his office. He passed away in the tenth month." These two accounts are both too far of the mark regarding the years and months, so I follow the account of the Biography of Fu Xian in the Book of Jin.")


5. Murong Hui moved his residence to Dajicheng.


(Murong Hui was moving from Mount Qing to Dajicheng. Du You remarked, "Jicheng was at the ruins of Emperor Zhuanxu. It is a hundred and eighty li southeast of the commandary capital of Yingzhou.")

元康四年,廆定都大棘城,所謂紫蒙之邑也。(Annals of the Sixteen Kingdoms 3, Biography of Murong Hui)

In the fourth year of Yuankang (294), Murong Hui settled his capital at Dajicheng, calling it a city of purple covering.


6. Tuoba Fu passed away. His uncle Tuoba Luguan succeeded him.

聰哲有大度,為諸父兄所重。政崇寬簡,百姓懷服。饗國一年而崩。昭皇帝諱祿官立,始祖之子也。(Book of Northern Wei 1)

Tuoba Fu was intelligent and wise, and possessed great capacity, so his father and elder brothers all esteemed him. In his administration of the state, he prized generosity and simplicity, and the common people cherished and obeyed him. He ruled his state for one year (293-294), and then passed away.

After him was Emperor Zhao, Tuoba Luguan, who was another son of Tuoba Liwei.
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