Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hou Jing

Hou Jing , courtesy name Wanjing , was a general for the states Northern Wei, Eastern Wei, and Liang Dynasty, and briefly, after controlling the Liang imperial regime for several years, usurped the Liang throne, establishing a state of Han. He was soon defeated by the Liang prince the Prince of Xiandong, and he was killed by his own associates while in flight. He was one of the reviled figures in Chinese history, known for his exceeding cruelty to enemies and civilians.

Early life and career

It is not known when Hou Jing was born, but it was known that he was from Huaishuo Garrison -- one of the garrisons that Northern Wei established on the northern border to defend against Rouran attacks. He appeared to be ethnically , but the matter of his ethnicity is not conclusive. When he was young, he was one of a group of friends who associated with Gao Huan, who often spent time in the countryside, seeking to correct injustice.

During the reign of , Northern Wei plunged into a state of civil war, with much of the state overrun by agrarian rebellions. Around this time, Hou joined the army of the Northern Wei general Erzhu Rong, and initially, he learned tactics from Erzhu's lieutenant Murong Shaozong , but soon, Murong found it necessary to consult Hou for his opinion on tactical matters. After Erzhu largely put down the rebellions, Hou was made the governor of Ding Province . After Erzhu was killed by in 530, and Emperor Xiaozhuang was in turn killed by Erzhu's relatives, members of the Erzhu clan controlled the imperial government. In 531, Gao rose against the Erzhus, and in 532, after Gao had defeated the Erzhus, Hou joined Gao, and Gao made him the governor of Ji Province . Soon, however, Gao appeared to recall Hou and make him one of his subcommanders. In 534, when Gao instigated Houmochen Yue , the lieutenant of the independent general Heba Yue , to assassinate Heba, he sent Hou to try to seize Heba's troops, but on the way, Hou encountered Heba's assistant Yuwen Tai, who sternly warned him against trying, and Hou retreated, allowing Yuwen to take control of Heba's troops. This allowed Yuwen to take control of the western provinces of the state, and in 534, , whom Gao had made emperor in 532, seeking to slip out of Gao's control, fled to Yuwen's territory. Gao made , a member of the imperial Yuan clan, emperor, thus dividing Northern Wei into Eastern Wei and Western Wei .

As Eastern Wei general

Hou Jing continued to serve under Gao Huan, and he became known as a brilliant tactician even though he, unlike many generals at the time, was not skilled at horseriding, archery, or personal combat. Gao, however, knew of his abilities and honored him appropriately. Hou was, however, arrogant, and he often compared two other key generals, Pan Le and Gao Aocao , to be like wild boars in their charges. He also often claimed that if Gao allowed him to lead an army south, he could easily capture Emperor Wu of Liang and make Emperor Wu, an avid Buddhist, the head monk of the Taiping Temple .

In late 534, Gao sent Hou to attack Heba Sheng , who controlled the southern provinces at the time and was loosely allied with Yuwen Tai, and Hou defeated Heba, forcing Heba to flee to Liang Dynasty and taking those provinces for Eastern Wei. In 536, Gao put him in charge of the provinces south of the Yellow River, and from that point on, those provinces were under his command.

In 537, when Gao launched a major attack on Western Wei, seeking to destroy it, Hou was with him, and advised against advancing in a single large army, advocating dividing the army into two which would remain at a distance and support each other. Gao did not accept his advice, and was defeated by Yuwen Tai at Shawan , suffering heavy losses -- partly because Hou made the poor tactical advice that Gao should not try to set fires against Yuwen's troops. After the defeat, however, Hou offered to take the elite troops to launch a surprise attack on Yuwen, arguing that Yuwen would not be taking any precautions against such an attack and could be captured. However, when Gao consulted with his wife , Princess Lou reminded him that if Hou actually captured Yuwen, he would not return . Gao therefore decided against Hou's plan.

In 538, Hou recaptured several southern provinces that had defected to Western Wei in light of Eastern Wei's defeat at Shawan. He followed up by sieging the old Northern Wei capital Luoyang, then defended by the Western Wei general Dugu Xin , precipitating a major battle in which both Eastern Wei and Western Wei suffered major losses. At the end, however, Western Wei troops, commanded by Yuwen, was forced to withdraw, and the Luoyang region was again controlled by Eastern Wei.

In 543, when the Eastern Wei general Gao Zhongmi defected to Western Wei, along with the important garrison Hulao , which he controlled, Hou was one of the generals who served under Gao in both sieging Hulao and in combatting the Western Wei forces commanded by Yuwen that tried to relieve Hulao. Western Wei forces were defeated and forced to withdraw, but even then, Hulao did not fall, and Yuwen sent secret messengers to order its defender Wei Guang to hold position and await relief forces. Hou captured the messengers and, judging that it was more important to capture the garrison quickly, changed the messengers' message to "Withdraw from Hulao," and then allowed the messengers to reach Wei Guang. Wei Guang quickly withdrew from Hulao, which became again under Eastern Wei control. For this achievement, Hou was promoted to the honorific post of ''Sikong'' .

Rebellion against Eastern Wei

Despite the strong personal relationship between Gao Huan and Hou Jing, however, Hou had little respect for Gao's oldest son and heir apparent Gao Cheng, once making the comment to another friend of his and Gao Huan's, Sima Ziru , that he would remain loyal if Gao Huan were still alive, but that he could not serve together with the "Xianbei boy" if Gao Huan died. In late 546, believing that Gao Huan was dead or near death, Hou began to prepare to rebel, and he did so in spring 547. He first surrendered the 13 provinces that he commanded to Western Wei, but subsequently also surrendered to Liang. Both Western Wei and Liang sent troops to support him. Before Western Wei and Liang troops could arrive, Eastern Wei forces commanded by Han Gui surrounded him at Yinchuan . Western Wei forces commanded by Wang Sizheng soon arrived, and Han withdrew. Wang, not believing that Hou actually intended to become a loyal Western Wei subject, secured four provinces that Hou was willing to give up control to. Meanwhile, Emperor Wu of Liang was greatly pleased by Hou's surrender, and launched a major attack commanded by his nephew Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang, intending to relieve the pressure on Hou by opening another front to the east. Soon, Yuwen Tai demanded that Hou visit the Western Wei capital Chang'an to pay homage to Emperor Wen of Western Wei, to show his good faith. Hou refused, and he tried to persuade a number of Western Wei generals to join him, but only Ren Yue did, with a minor army. The rest of the Western Wei forces withdrew their support from Hou and merely defended the provinces that Hou had given up.

Meanwhile, Gao Cheng, pursuant to directions left him by Gao Huan, commissioned Murong Shaozong as the commander of his forces against Hou -- a move that caught Hou by surprise, as he was still apprehensive of Murong's abilities and was surprised that Gao Cheng would make Murong his commanding general. At the same time, Xiao Yuanming arrived at Hanshan , near the important city of Pengcheng , putting pressure on the city by damming the Si River to cause it to flood against Pengcheng. However, against the advice of the senior general Yang Kan , Xiao Yuanming did not quickly siege Pengcheng, but merely waited, pondering his next move. Hou cautioned him against Murong, and also informed him that if he defeated Eastern Wei troops, he should not chase them too hastily, lest that he fall into a trap. He did not heed the warning, and when Murong arrived at Pengcheng, Murong attacked him. The Liang troops were initially successful and quickly forced Eastern Wei forces to retreat, but Murong, anticipating this result, laid a trap, and when Liang troops gave chase, they became trapped and were crushed. Xiao Yuanming was captured.

Having defeated Xiao Yuanming, Murong now turned his attention toward Hou, and he marched toward Chengfu , where Hou was. Hou retreated to Woyang , and the armies faced off against each other. Initially, Hou was successful, forcing Murong's army to flee, but Murong soon regrouped, and the armies' positions stalemated. By the end of 547, Hou's army had run out of food supplies, and one of the generals who first supported him, Sima Shiyun , surrendered to Murong. In spring 548, Murong made a public announcement to Hou's troops that their families were still safe , and Hou's troops, believing Murong, abandoned him. Hou fled with 800 soldiers who were still loyal to him. Murong gave chase, but gave up the chase when Hou reminded him that he himself would be useless if Hou were destroyed. The Liang general Yang Yaren , who was holding Xuanhu , abandoned Xuanhu. The provinces that Hou controlled were now all lost.

Hou himself considered what his next action would be, and he, under advice from the Liang commander Liu Shenmao , ambushed and seized the Liang acting governor of Southern Yu Province , Wei An , taking control of Southern Yu Province's capital city Shouyang . He sent an apology to Emperor Wu, and Emperor Wu, not having the heart to rebuke Hou after his defeat, made him the governor of Southern Yu Province without any punishment.

Rebellion against Liang Dynasty

Meanwhile, Gao Cheng started peace negotiations with Emperor Wu, offering to return Xiao Yuanming and intending to cause Hou to become apprehensive. Hou Jing opposed peace with Eastern Wei, worried that he would be betrayed if there was peace between the two states. Emperor Wu made a personal guarantee that he would not betray Hou -- but Hou then tested Emperor Wu by forging a letter from Gao Cheng, proposing an exchange of Xiao Yuanming for Hou. When Emperor Wu, under advice from -- a key assistant to Emperor Wu whom Hou had bribed, hoping that he would discourage peace talks, but whose opinion was unchanged by Hou's bribes -- wrote back, "If you return Xiao Yuanming in the morning, I will deliver Hou Jing in the evening," Hou was incensed. He wrote a harshly worded accusation to Emperor Wu, who responded with meek words that failed to persuade Hou against a rebellion. Meanwhile, Hou entered into secret negotiations with Emperor Wu's nephew Xiao Zhengde the Prince of Linhe, offering to make the ambitious Xiao Zhangde emperor, and Xiao Zhengde agreed to assist him. At the same time, despite warnings from Yang Yaren and Xiao Fan the Prince of Poyang, Emperor Wu failed to take precautions against a Hou rebellion.

Hou declared a rebellion in summer 548, declaring that his intentions were to have the corrupt officials Zhu Yi, Xu Lin , Lu Yan , and Zhou Shizhen put to death. Emperor Wu commissioned his son Xiao Guan the Prince of Shaoling to lead a four-pronged attack on Shouyang, believing that he could put out Hou's rebellion quickly. Meanwhile, Hou, with advice from his strategist , decided he should not wait for Xiao Guan to close in; instead, he made a speedy march toward the capital Jiankang, surprising Emperor Wu. In winter 548, he arrived at Jiankang and immediately put the capital under siege, quickly capturing the outer city with Xiao Zhengde's help and forcing the imperial troops to withdraw into the palace to defend it. However, with Yang Kan defending the palace, Hou could not quickly capture it. Soon, he declared Xiao Zhengde emperor, and he married Xiao Zhengde's daughter. Meanwhile, as the siege went on, Hou began to become cruel to the civilian population, permitting his army to pillage food from the people and causing large scale starvation among the civilians. He further forced the civilians to conduct siege construction against the palace. His general Fan Taobang secretly offered to defect to Liang, but Emperor Wu's crown prince distrusted Fan and did not take up his offer; soon, Fan's correspondence was discovered, and Hou put him to death. Meanwhile, Yang Kan died, and Hou put even greater pressure on the palace defense.

Around the new year 549, Xiao Guan's forces returned to Jiankang and tried to lift the siege. However, Hou engaged Xiao Guan and defeated him. Xiao Guan reorganized his troops and waited for reinforcement from the other provincial governors. The reinforcements soon arrived, and the provincial generals supported Liu Zhongli as their commander, preparing an assault on Hou's troops to lift the siege. In spring 549, Hou surprised them by attacking them first, killing the general Wei Can . Liu engaged Hou, and both sides suffered heavy losses, with both Liu and Hou nearly dying in the battle. From that point on, Liu no longer displayed any interest in attacking Hou.

Hou, with his food supplies dwindling, offered peace to Emperor Wu, who initially refused. However, Xiao Gang persuaded Emperor Wu to negotiate, and peace terms were negotiated where Hou would be allowed to return to Shouyang, and Emperor Wu would allow him to control the provinces west of the Yangtze River. However, Hou soon decided that peace would not be sustainable, and once the ceasefire had lasted sufficiently long for him to obtain additional food supplies, he reneged, accusing Emperor Wu of a number of faults, putting the palace again under siege. Liu stood by, and the palace fell. Hou took control of Emperor Wu and Xiao Gang, issuing an edict in Emperor Wu's name ordering the provincial forces to disband. They did so, and Hou now had control of the capital region, although the provincial governors largely remained resistant to his orders. Hou deposed Xiao Zhengde back to the rank of Prince of Linhe, and used Emperor Wu as token authority.

Control of Liang emperors

After Jiankang fell to Hou Jing, the northeastern provinces, north of the Yangtze River, largely surrendered to Eastern Wei, while the provinces to the east and west, hearing of the cruelty of Hou's troops, largely initially resisted him. Around this time, the key Liang potentates who were still resisting included:

* Xiao Dalian the Duke of Lincheng , Xiao Gang's son, at Kuaiji
* Xiao Daxin the Duke of Danyang , Xiao Gang's son, at Xunyang
* Xiao Fan the Prince of Poyang, at Hefei
* Xiao Guan the Prince of Shaoling, at the time roving without a settlement
* Xiao Yu the Prince of Hedong, Emperor Wu's first crown prince Xiao Tong's son, at Changsha
* the Prince of Yueyang, Xiao Tong's son, at Xiangyang
* the Prince of Xiangdong, Emperor Wu's son, at Jiangling
* Xiao Ji the Prince of Wuling, Emperor Wu's son, at Chengdu
* Xiao Bo the Marquess of Qujiang, Emperor Wu's cousin Xiao Bing 's son, at Panyu

Of these Liang potentates, the ones with the most military strength at their disposal were Xiao Yi and Xiao Ji. Xiao Ji, however, appeared content to secure his realm, particularly because Xiao Yi discouraged him from advancing east against Hou. Both Xiao Yi and Xiao Ji began to take on imperial trappings and exercised imperial authorities, although neither claimed the throne at this point. Meanwhile, Xiao Yi, believing that his nephews Xiao Yu and Xiao Cha, who were technically his subordinates but not following his orders, would act against him in a coordinated manner, launched an attack on Xiao Yu. Xiao Cha tried to attack Jiangling to relieve the pressure on his brother, but could not, and Xiao Yi's army, while initially repelled by Xiao Yu, eventually, under the general Wang Sengbian, put Changsha under siege. Unable to lift the siege on Changsha and fearful that he would be Xiao Yi's next target, Xiao Cha surrendered to Western Wei, and Western Wei put Xiangyang under its protection and created Xiao Cha the Prince of Liang, intending to have him contend for Liang's throne. Xiao Yi entered peace with Western Wei, leaving Xiao Cha alone at the moment.

Meanwhile, while Emperor Wu was effectively under arrest, he still resisted Hou's will when it came to personnel decisions and other matters that Hou wanted him to issue edicts on. In response, Hou put Emperor Wu under even greater secure guard, and it was said that Emperor Wu's supplies dwindled. In summer 549, Emperor Wu died. Hou allowed Xiao Gang to take the throne . Meanwhile, Xiao Zhengde, angry at Hou's betrayal of him, secretly communicated with Xiao Fan, but his letters were intercepted, and Hou put him to death.

Xiao Fan tried to elicit Eastern Wei help against Hou, but even though he gave up Hefei to Eastern Wei, Eastern Wei did not actually launch troops to help him. He was forced to advance west on the Yangtze. With Xiao Daxin's approval, he settled in Xiao Daxin's realm, but soon Xiao Fan and Xiao Daxin began to have disputes over the control of the territory, and Xiao Daxin stopped supplying Xiao Fan's troops. Xiao Fan died in anger and fear. At the same time, Hou was sending his generals Hou Zijian and Song Zixian against Xiao Dalian and the other Liang officials to the east of Jiankang who were still resisting him, and by winter 549, Xiao Dalian and the other officials had fallen, allowing Hou to control most of modern Zhejiang.

In spring 550, Hou married Emperor Jianwen's daughter the Princess Liyang, and it was said that he loved her greatly. His relationship with Emperor Jianwen appeared to improve by this point. Due to the wars, the territory under Hou's control suffered from a serious famine, and he ruled with the people with a heavy hand.

In summer 550, Changsha fell to Wang, and Wang put Xiao Yu to death, putting Xiao Yu's domain directly under Xiao Yi's control.

In fall 550, Hou sent Ren Yue to attack both Xiao Daxin and Xiao Fan's son Xiao Si . Ren killed Xiao Si in battle, and Xiao Daxin, unable to resist, surrendered, allowing Hou to take his domain under control. Meanwhile, Xiao Guan, who had by now settled at Jiangxia , was planning to attack Hou, but this drew Xiao Yi's ire -- believing that Xiao Guan was intending to contend for the throne -- and he sent Wang to attack Xiao Guan. Xiao Guan, not willing to engage Wang, abandoned Jiangxia and fled to Ru'nan , where he entered into an alliance with Eastern Wei's successor state Northern Qi and was created the Prince of Liang as well. Meanwhile, Hou made Emperor Jianwen create him the Prince of Han.

Ren continued to advance west, intending to attack Xiao Yi, but was repelled by Xiao Yi's general Xu Wensheng . Hou personally led troops to aid Ren, leaving Wang Wei in charge of Jiankang. While Hou was away from Jiankang, Emperor Wu's grandson Xiao Huili the Prince of Nankang organized a plot to overthrow Wang Wei. The plot was discovered, and Wang Wei put Xiao Huili and his confederates to death. Wang Wei could not show that Emperor Jianwen was involved, but both Hou and Wang Wei became increasingly suspicious of Emperor Jianwen from this point on, and very few officials dared to visit the emperor.

In spring 551, Western Wei put Ru'nan under siege, and after capturing it, put Xiao Guan to death. Meanwhile, Xu counterattacked against Ren, and Hou again led troops to reinforce Ren, this time carrying Emperor Jianwen's crown prince Xiao Daqi as hostage. Xu initially had success against Hou, but in summer 551, Hou surprised Xu by bypassing him and making a surprise attack on Jiangxia, capturing it and seizing the general Bao Quan and Xiao Yi's son Xiao Fangzhu , eventually putting them to death in cruel manners. Xu's forces collapsed. Xu was forced to regroup at Baling , and Wang Sengbian took over command of Xiao Yi's forces there. Hou, instead of attacking Xiao Yi's headquarters at Jiangling directly, put Baling under siege but was unable to capture it, and his food supplies began to run low. Soon, he was forced to withdraw, and his forces collapsed. Ren was captured, while Song Jixian and Ding He , both major generals as well, were killed. Hou fled back to Jiankang, and Xiao Yi retook control of Jiangxia. Soon, with Wang Sengbian aided by another general, , Xunyang fell to Xiao Yi's forces as well.

Hou began to believe that his days might be numbered, and he wanted to become emperor in his remaining days. Meanwhile, Wang Wei, who believed that Hou was spending too much time with the Princess Liyang and ignoring the important matters, tried to get him to change his ways, but this drew the princess' ire. Wang Wei, believing that the Princess Liyang would eventually persuade Hou to harm him, instead advised Hou to remove Emperor Jianwen to show off his authority. Hou agreed, and in fall 551, he removed Emperor Jianwen and put the sons of Emperor Jianwen under his control, including Xiao Daqi, to death. He made Xiao Tong's grandson Xiao Dong the Prince of Yuzhang emperor. Two months later, he put the former emperor to death.

Meanwhile, Hou was preparing to take the throne. He had Xiao Dong bestow him the nine bestowments. 14 days later, he had Xiao Dong yield the throne to him, and he claimed the title of Emperor of Han -- a title that was not recognized by the Liang provinces not under his control, which by this point had begun to view Xiao Yi as the ''de facto'' emperor, although Xiao Yi and Xiao Ji still both declined imperial titles by this point.

As emperor

The first action Hou Jing's troops, commanded by Xie Daren , took after he became emperor was to attack several generals to the east of Jiankang, who had risen against him in the last days of Emperor Jianwen's reign. In winter 551, Xie first captured Yuan Jun and Li Zhan , and then in spring 552 captured Liu Shenmao -- who had initially given Hou the advice on how to seize Shouyang. Hou put these generals to death in cruel manners -- cutting off Yuan and Li's arms and feet and then demonstrated them to the public for more than a day until they died; and he made a rolling pin with sharp swords on it to cut Liu to pieces alive. He also executed Xiao Yi's son Xiao Fangzhu.

Meanwhile, Xiao Yi's forces, commanded by Wang Sengbian and Chen Baxian, continued to advance toward Jiankang, and they quickly arrived in Jiankang's vicinity. Hou Jing initially ordered Hou Zijian, whom he sent against Wang, not to engage Wang and Chen on water, but after Wang pretended to be apprehensive, Hou Jing changed to order and allowed Hou Zijian to engage them on water, and Wang defeated him. Chen quickly set up advance positions north of the Qinhuai River , and when Hou Jing himself attacked Chen, Chen defeated him as well. Against Wang Wei's advice to defend Jiankang, Hou Jing abandoned it and fled, commenting:

:''I had defeated Heba Sheng and Ge Rong and become famous north of the Yellow River. Later, after I crossed the Yangtze River, I easily captured the palace and forced Liu Zhongli to surrender. My defeats today are heaven's will.''

Hou put his two young sons, born during the time he was at Jiankang, into saddle bags, and then fled east, intending to join Xie's army to the east.


Hou Jing's hopes of joining Xie Daren, however, were dashed when one of Wang Sengbian's subordinate generals, Hou Tian , intercepted him and defeated him again, causing his remaining guard troops to collapse. Hou Jing took his remaining boats and fled on the Yangtze River, throwing his two sons into the water to drown. He ordered that the boats head to Mengshan , an island off the modern Shandong coast -- apparently intending to return to the north. His guard Yang Kun , however, had other ideas, and while Hou was asleep, he ordered that the boats turn around and head toward Jingkou , by now again under Liang control. When Hou woke up, he tried to give contrary orders, but Yang killed him with a spear and delivered his body to Jingkou. His body was then stuffed with salt and delivered to Jiankang. Wang Sengbian cut off the head and delivered it to Xiao Yi and cut off the hands and delivered them to Northern Qi. he then displayed the body publicly, and the public, including Emperor Jianwen's daughter and Hou's one-time wife, the Princess Liyang, quickly cut off Hou's flesh and consumed it.

Era name

* ''Taishi'' 552-553

Personal information

* Father
** Hou Biao , posthumously honored as Emperor Yuan
* Wives
** Name unknown
** Lady Xiao, daughter of Xiao Zhengde
** The Princess Liyang, daughter of Emperor Jianwen of Liang
* Major Concubines
** Consort Yang, daughter of Liang general Yang Kan
* Children
** Oldest son, name unknown
** Four other sons, names unknown
** Two sons, born in Liang territory

Wang Lin

Wang Lin , courtesy name Ziheng , formally Prince Zhongwu of Baling , was a general of the dynasties Liang Dynasty and Northern Qi. He initially became prominent during Emperor Yuan of Liang's campaign against the rebel general Hou Jing, and later, after Emperor Yuan was defeated and killed by Western Wei forces in 554, he maintained a separate center of power from the dominant general of the remaining Liang provinces, . After Chen Baxian seized the Liang throne in 557 and established Chen Dynasty , Wang, with Northern Qi support, declared the Liang prince Xiao Zhuang emperor in 558, making Xiao Zhuang one of the three contestants for the throne, against Chen Baxian and Emperor Xuan of Western Liang, supported by Western Wei. In 560, while trying to attack Chen Baxian's nephew and successor Emperor Wen of Chen, Wang was defeated, and both he and Xiao Zhuang fled to Northern Qi. Wang subsequently served as a Northern Qi general, and during a major Chen offensive against Northern Qi in 573, he was captured by the Chen general Wu Mingche and executed.

Before Emperor Yuan's reign

Wang Lin was born in 526, and while his father's name was not recorded in history, his father was said to be a military officer, and Wang Lin grew up studying the military doctrines. His family was from Kuaiji Commandery . During the reign of , Wang Lin had two sisters who became concubines to Emperor Wu's son, the Prince of Xiangdong. As Xiao Yi later became an important provincial governor, Wang, even in his youth, served on Xiao Yi's staff and became a key military officer under Xiao Yi. At least one of his brothers, Wang Xun , was also a military officer under Xiao Yi.

The first historical reference to Wang Lin's military activities was in 549, when Xiao Yi, then governor of the important Jing Province , trying to send food supplies to the provincial armies trying to lift the siege on the capital Jiankang by the rebel general Hou Jing, ordered Wang to escort a large supply of rice to Jiankang's vicinity. Before Wang could arrive at Jiankang, however, he heard news that Jiankang had fallen and the provincial armies had disbanded. Fearful that the supply would be seized by Hou, Wang dumped the rice into the Yangtze River and returned to Jing Province. Xiao Yi soon made him a commandery governor and created him the Marquess of Jianning. In fall 550, Xiao Yi promoted the status of Yichang Commandery to Yi Province, and made Wang its governor.

In 551, Hou launched a major assault on Xiao Yi's territory, commanded by himself and his generals Ren Yue and Song Zixian , and after Hou made a surprise attack on Jiangxia and captured it, he headed toward Xiao Yi's headquarters at Jiangling. Wang Lin's brother Wang Xun were among the officers who surrendered. Xiao Yi sent his main forces, commanded by Wang Sengbian, to take up position against Hou's forces at Baling . Wang Lin served under Wang Sengbian in defending Baling against Hou, and when Hou brought Wang Xun to the frontline, trying to have him persuade Wang Lin to surrender, Wang Lin rebuked him and fired an arrow at him. Wang Xun, embarrassed, withdrew. Soon, Xiao Yi's forces, commanded by Wang Sengbian, fought back and defeated Hou's forces when Hou's food supplies ran out. Hou retreated, while leaving Song in command at Jiangxia. Wang Sengbian put it under siege, and Wang Lin participated in the battle, capturing Song. By this point, Wang Lin became well-known for his strong rapport with his troops and how he shared the awards he received with his troops. He had about 10,000 men under him, and most of his soldiers were originally bandits from the region between the Yangtze and the Huai River, but who personally became loyal to him.

In 552, Wang Sengbian advanced on Jiankang and recaptured it, forcing Hou to flee. Wang Lin made a major contribution in the recapturing of Jiankang, but drew Wang Sengbian's ire by at times being insubordinate to Wang Sengbian. When Taiji Palace was burned in the confusion following Jiankang's fall, Wang Sengbian worried that Xiao Yi would punish him, and therefore sent reports to Xiao Yi implicating Wang Lin in the fire destroying Taiji Palace, requesting that Wang Lin be executed. Xiao Yi thereafter made Wang Lin the governor of Xiang Province and ordered him to first report to Jiangling to see him. Wang Lin, realizing that something unusual was happening, sent his army directly to Xiang Province, commanded by his officer Lu Na , while personally reporting to Jiangling. Once he arrived at Jiangling, Xiao Yi arrested him and executed his deputy, Yin Yan . In response, Lu and his forces rebelled against Xiao Yi's son Xiao Fanglüe , whom Xiao Yi had sent to replace Wang Lin, and Lu seized Changsha, the capital of Xiang Province.

During Emperor Yuan's reign

During the campaign, Xiao Yi, who had long had designs on the throne, finally declared himself emperor . However, he was then facing a dire situation -- the empire had been ravaged by the wars, and his brother Xiao Ji the Prince of Wuling, who controlled the modern Sichuan and Chongqing, had several months earlier declared himself emperor, contesting Emperor Yuan's presumptive claim.

Meanwhile, Lu Na continued his campaign of resistance, hoping to force Emperor Yuan to free Wang Lin. He captured Emperor Yuan's generals Ding Daogui and Li Hongya , executing Ding and making Li a nominal leader of the resistance. However, his subsequent attack on Baling was repelled by Emperor Yuan's cousin Xiao Xun the Marquess of Yifeng. Emperor Yuan then sent Wang Sengbian to assist Xiao Xun, and they attacked Lu together, defeating him and forcing him back to Changsha, which Wang Sengbian then put under siege but was not able to capture quickly. Meanwhile, Xiao Ji's forces were approaching Jiangling, and Emperor Yuan, wanting to pull Wang Sengbian's forces to resist Xiao Ji but feared that he would then lose control over Lu, sent Wang Lin to the frontline to have him to persuade Lu to surrender. Lu was willing to surrender, but wanted Wang Lin to take over the command. Eventually, Emperor Yuan agreed, pardoning Wang Lin and putting him back in charge of his original forces. Wang Lin then prepared to respond to Xiao Ji's attack, although Xiao Ji was defeated and killed before he could reach the frontlines.

Meanwhile, Emperor Yuan, while having pardoned Wang Lin, still was apprehensive about the strength of his forces and his rapport with them, made him the governor of Guang Province , against Wang Lin's wishes to guard Liang's northern borders with Western Wei in spring 554. In fall 554, while Wang Lin was still on the way to Guang Province, Western Wei launched a major attack on Jiangling . Upon hearing that Jiangling was under attack, Wang immediately turned his army around and headed for Jiangling, but before he could reach Jiangling, it fell. Around the new year 555, the Western Wei forces put Emperor Yuan to death and declared Emperor Yuan's nephew the Emperor of Liang , to be a vassal to Western Wei.

As independent general

Upon hearing of Emperor Yuan's death, Wang Lin took up position at Changsha and declared a public mourning for Emperor Yuan, while sending his general Hou Ping to attack Emperor Xuan, refusing to acknowledge him as the new emperor. The generals in the western provinces of the empire supported Wang Lin as their leader.

Meanwhile, also not recognizing Emperor Xuan was Wang Sengbian, who was then at Jiankang and who, along with his lieutenant Chen Baxian, controlled the eastern provinces. Wang Sengbian welcomed the only surviving son of Emperor Yuan, the Prince of Jin'an to Jiankang, declaring him the Prince of Liang and preparing to next declare him emperor. However, after Northern Qi attacked, Wang Sengbian, fearing further Northern Qi attacks, accepted Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi's proposal to make Emperor Yuan's cousin Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang emperor, declaring Xiao Yuanming emperor in fall 555. Wang Lin recognized Xiao Yuanming as emperor, although he remained relatively independent in his military actions. Meanwhile, Emperor Yuan's seven-year-old grandson Xiao Zhuang the Prince of Yongjia -- the son of his deceased oldest son Xiao Fangdeng , had been hidden by the Buddhist nun Famu and subsequently delivered to Wang Lin. Wang Lin further delivered him to Jiankang.

In fall 555, Chen, displeased over Wang Sengbian's declaration of Xiao Yuanming as emperor, made a surprise attack on Jiankang, killing Wang Sengbian and deposing Xiao Yuanming, instead declaring Xiao Fangdeng emperor . This move drew attacks from several generals loyal to Wang Sengbian, as well as from Northern Qi. During this time, Wang Lin appeared to recognize Emperor Jing as emperor, but at the time was distancing himself from Chen. He also continued fighting with both Western Wei and Emepror Xuan, but after Hou Ping rebelled against him in 556, he felt he was unable to conduct war on all sides. He made nominal submissions to Northern Qi, Western Wei, and Emperor Xuan, suing for peace on all sides. He also sought the return of his wife Lady Cai and heir apparent Wang Yi , who had been taken captive by Western Wei when Jiangling fell. Emperor Gong of Western Wei created him the Duke of Changsha, and returned his wife and children in 557. When Northern Qi summoned him to its capital , Wang Lin refused to go, but did not formally break with Northern Qi. He also refused Emperor Jing's edict to report to Jiankang and instead prepared to attack Chen. Chen therefore sent his generals Hou Andu and Zhou Wenyu to attack Wang, accusing Wang of being a renegade.

Before Hou and Zhou could engage Wang's forces, however, in winter 557, Chen had Emperor Jing yield the throne to him, establishing Chen Dynasty as its Emperor Wu. Having lost the rationale for attacking Wang, Hou and Zhou's forces suffered from low morale, and Wang defeated and captured them, along with most of their forces. He thereafter moved his headquarters from Changsha to Jiangxia. His subsequent campaigns to takeover the modern Jiangxi region, however, were indecisive, preventing him from making a decisive attack on Chen. In spring 558, he sought aid from Northern Qi and also requested that Northern Qi return Xiao Zhuang to continue the Liang lineage. In spring 558, Northern Qi returned Xiao Zhuang, after Wang had sent his nephew Wang Shubao , along with sons or brothers of the 10 provincial governors under him, to Yecheng as hostages. He declared Xiao Zhuang emperor, and he served as Xiao Zhuang's prime minister, with the capital at Jiangxia.

Attempt to install Xiao Zhuang as emperor

Xiao Zhuang created Wang Lin the Duke of Ancheng. Wang continued his campaign to try to subjugate the semi-independent generals of the modern Jiangxi region, who had been vacillating between pledging allegiance to Xiao Zhuang and allegiance to Chen. In summer 558, Wang's general Yu Xiaoqing and Fan Meng were able to defeat the chief of those generals, Zhou Di , but when Zhou agreed to submit, Yu refused, and Zhou's subsequent counterattack defeated their forces, capturing both Yu and Fan, greatly impairing Wang's target of consolidating the power in the region under him. In fall 558, he entered into a peace agreement with Chen, temporarly ending hostilities. Meanwhile, Zhou Wenyu and Hou Andu escaped and rejoined Chen, giving Chen forces a boost.

In summer 559, Chen's Emperor Wu died suddenly. He was succeeded by his nephew Emperor Wen of Chen. Upon hearing this, Wang prepared to launch a major attack on Chen. He left his lieutenant Sun Yang in command at Jiangxia, while he advanced east on the Yangtze River, heading toward Jiankang, with support from the Northern Qi general Murong Yan . By spring 560, he had reached Dongguan , where Chen forces, commanded by Hou Tian , met him, and the forces initially stalemated. Meanwhile, Northern Zhou, the successor state to Western Wei, had heard of Wang's advances and launched an attack on Jiangxia. Wang considered retreating, but decided to continue, hoping to get a decisive victory over Chen forces and then return to lift the siege on Jiangxia. However, in his subsequent engagement against Hou, he was decisively defeated and unable to regroup his forces, and Chen forces also attacked Northern Qi forces and defeated them as well. Wang was forced to flee to Northern Qi, and Xiao Zhuang soon joined him as well. The territory that Wang Lin controlled became divided between Chen and Emperor Xuan, although Chen soon seized the provinces that Emperor Xuan took as well, reducing territory that was controlled by any Liang sovereign to the several cities around Jiangling.

As Northern Qi general

In spring 561, Emperor Xiaozhao of Northern Qi stationed Wang Lin at Hefei, intending to have him gather the men of the region to prepare for an attack on Chen. When Chen's general Pei Jinghui , a son-in-law of Wang Lin's brother Wang Min , offered to defect, however, Wang Lin hesitated, and Pei, unable to wait for Wang Lin's decision, instead fled and joined him in Northern Qi territory. After this incident, Emperor Xiaozhao made him the governor of Yang Province , to defend Shouyang.

In 562, Wang prepared an attack on Chen, but his deputy Lu Qian believed that time was not right for an attack and instead recommended peace with Chen. They thereafter became rivals, and both of them made submissions to Emperor Wucheng of Northern Qi , accusing each other of inappropriate conduct. Emperor Wencheng summoned Wang back to Yecheng while putting Lu in charge of Shouyang.

Little is known about Wang's activities for the next decade. In 573, Emperor Xuan of Chen sent the general Wu Mingche to launch a major attack on Northern Qi, intending to take the region between the Yangtze and the Huai. Emperor Wucheng's son and successor Gao Wei sent the general Wei Pohu to defend against Wu's attack, while sending Wang to serve as an advisor to Wei. Wang advised caution, but Wei did not listen to him and was defeated by Wu. Wang just escaped with his life, and when he was on the way back to Yecheng, Gao Wei sent him to Shouyang to gather an army to defend against Chen and created him the Prince of Baling -- but also sent Lu to Shouyang as well to assist him, even though it was known that Wang and Lu despised each other -- in order to curb Wang's powers. When Wu's forces arrived at Shouyang in fall 573, Wu put Shouyang under siege, quickly capturing the outer city and forcing Northern Qi forces to withdraw into the inner city. Gao Wei sent the general Pi Jinghe to try to lift the siege on Shouyang, but once Pi reached Shouyang's vicinity, he did not dare to engage Wu, and Wu intensified his siege, capturing Shouyang in winter 573. Wang was taken captive.

Initially, Wu was going to deliver Wang to Emperor Xuan. However, Wu became apprehensive when many of his own officers, formerly Wang's subordinates, not only begged for Wang's life to be spared but further gave him gifts. Worried that his own officers might rebel, Wu had Wang executed. It was said that the whole countryside was filled with wailing in mourning of Wang's death.

The historian Li Yanshou commented in the ''History of Southern Dynasties'':

:''Wang Lin was calm and civil in his expressions, rarely expressing his emotions on his face. His reaction was quick, and his memories were good. He had several thousand officials under him, but he could address each of them by name. His punishments were just, and he did not consider money important -- prefering to value people. His soldiers were faithful to him. While he controlled no territory and was an exile in Yecheng, both the officials and the commoners of Northern Qi praised him for his faithfulness.''

He further commented:

:''Wang Lin was faithful during a time that the dynasty was in a state of confusion. He had great ambitions to reestablish the dynasty and to take vengeance on its behalf. But Heaven favored Chen, and his faithfulness was unable to stem the tide, just as how when a mansion is collapsing, a single column cannot keep it standing.''

Wang Sengbian

Wang Sengbian , courtesy name Juncai , was a general of the dynasty Liang Dynasty. He came to prominence as the leading general under 's campaigns against the rebel general Hou Jing and other competitors for the Liang throne, and after Emperor Yuan was defeated by Western Wei in 554 and killed around the new year 555 became the de facto regent over the remaining provinces of Liang. He made Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang, a cousin of Emperor Yuan and a candidate for the throne favored by Northern Qi, emperor, but four months later, his subordinate carried out a coup, killing him and deposing Xiao Yuanming.

Early career

Wang Sengbian's father Wang Shennian was originally from Northern Wei's Taiyuan Commandery . When he was Northern Wei's governor of Yingchuan Commandery , he, along with Wang Sengbian and his brothers, surrendered to Liang Dynasty. Wang Shennian was created the Marquess of Nancheng, and became successively the governor of several commanderies and eventually a provincial governor. Wang Sengbian was Wang Shennian's second son. He had one known older brother, Wang Zunye and three known younger brothers, Wang Senglüe , Wang Sengzhi , and Wang Sengyin .

In his youth, Wang Sengbian was known for being studious, particularly of the ''Zuo Zhuan''. He was also well-versed in military strategy, although he was noted for not being physically strong for a soldier. When Xiao Yi, then the Prince of Xiangdong, was made the governor of Jiang Province by his father in 540, Wang Sengbian served on his military staff, and in 542, when a member of Ancheng Commandery , Liu Jinggong rebelled, Xiao Yi sent Wang and Cao Ziying against Liu. Wang captured Liu, and also suppressed the of the region, and thereafter became well-known. When Xiao Yi was made governor of Jing Province in 547, Wang followed him to Jing Province and was made the governor of Jingling Commandery .

As Xiao Yi's general during the Hou Jing Disturbance

In 548, when Hou Jing, formerly an Eastern Wei general, rebelled against Emperor Wu and quickly put the capital Jiankang under siege, Xiao Yi did not personally lead forces to aid Jiankang; rather, he sent his heir apparent Xiao Fangdeng and Wang Sengbian. They arrived in Jiankang's vicinity in spring 549, and accepted command, as did the generals of the other provincial forces, of the general Liu Zhongli . However, Liu, after a battle in spring 549 where he was nearly killed, became hesitant to engage Hou's forces, and Hou was able to continue sieging the palace, where Emperor Wu's own forces had been forced to defend themselves. When the palace fell in summer 549, allowing Hou to take Emperor Wu and his crown prince hostage, and Hou subsequently forced Emperor Wu to issue an edict disbanding the provincial troops under Liu's command, Wang and Pei Zhigao suggested Liu to make one last stand against Hou, but Liu took no action, and the provincial forces, including Xiao Fangdeng's, largely returned to their home provinces, although Wang, along with Liu and several other generals, surrendered to Hou. Hou's strategist suggested to Hou that Wang Sengbian should be detained, but Hou decided against it and allowed Wang Sengbian to return to Jingling. Once Wang Sengbian returned to Jingling, he again was under Xiao Yi's command.

Soon thereafter, Xiao Yi was in a dispute with his nephew Xiao Yu the Prince of Hedong and governor of Xiang Province , who refused to follow his orders. Initially, he sent Xiao Fangdeng against Xiao Yu, but Xiao Fangdeng was defeated and killed in battle. He then ordered Wang Sengbian and Bao Quan to attack Xiao Yu and further ordered them to leave immediately. Wang, who was then at Xiao Yi's headquarters in Jiangling, wanted to wait for Jingling Commandery troops to arrive, and so he and Bao personally visited Xiao Yi to request a delay. Xiao Yi, suspecting Wang of not committing to his cause, rebuked Wang and unsheathed his sword, cutting Wang in the thigh and then imprisoning him. Wang's mother immediately visited Xiao Yi, crying and blaming herself for not disciplining her son correctly, asking for Xiao Yi's forgiveness. Xiao Yi calmed down and gave her medicine for healing wounds, and she used the medicine to help her son recover, but Xiao Yi still kept Wang imprisoned. Bao, in fear, did not persist in his request and left to attack Xiao Yu immediately.

In fall 549, with Bao putting Xiao Yu's headquarters at Changsha under siege but unable to capture it, Xiao Yu's brother the Prince of Yueyang, trying to save his brother, attacked Jiangling from his headquarters at Xiangyang. Xiao Yi, in fear, sent messengers to consult with Wang, still in prison, on how to deal with Xiao Cha. Wang made several suggestions, and Xiao Yi released him and made him the commander of Jiangling's defense forces. Wang was able to repel Xiao Cha's attacks, and when Xiao Cha's general Du An defected and attacked Xiangyang, Xiao Cha was forced to withdraw. Xiao Yi subsequently sent Wang to replace Bao as the commander against Xiao Yu, and Wang, when taking over command from Bao, was compelled to lock Bao in chains, despite his friendship with Bao, to avoid an appearance of disobeying Xiao Yi, although Xiao Yi later released Bao.

In summer 550, Changsha finally fell. Wang captured Xiao Yu and beheaded him, delivering his head to Xiao Yi, who subsequently returned the head to Changsha for burial. Wang took Xiao Yu's general Zhou Tiehu captive, and was about to execute Zhou, who had defeated Xiao Fangdeng, by boiling him to death. When Zhou yelled, "Hou Jing has not yet been destroyed. Why kill a brave soldier?" Wang was impressed by Zhou and released him, making him a key subordinate.

In fall 550, with Xiao Yi's older brother Xiao Guan the Prince of Shaoyang reorganizing his forces at Jiangxia and planning to attack Hou, Xiao Yi was displeased because he saw Xiao Guan as a potential competitor for the throne. He therefore sent Wang and Bao toward Jiangxia, claiming to be merely welcoming Xiao Guan and making Xiao Guan the governor of Xiang Province. As Wang approached Jiangxia, Xiao Guan sent Wang a rebuke that stated, "You are a general who killed a man's nephew previously for him, and now you are killing his brother for him. If you use these methods to gain power, you will be rejected by the people." Wang forwarded the letter to Xiao Yi, who ordered him to launch an attack on Xiao Guan. Xiao Guan, instead of engaging him, abandoned Jiangxia and fled. Wang took Ying Province .

In summer 551, Xiao Yi commissioned Wang with a substantial force to have him attack Hou. After Wang departed from Jiangling, however, news was received that Hou's forces under the general Ren Yue had captured Jiangxia, and Ren and Hou were approaching Jiangling. Wang stopped at Baling and fortified it against a possible Hou attack. When Hou arrived, he put Baling under siege, and Wang each time repelled Hou, who became impressed at his bravery. Eventually, Hou's food supplies ran out, and Ren was captured, forcing Hou to flee. Wang advanced to Jiangxia, putting it under siege. When Hou's general Song Zixian , whom Hou left in charge at Jiangxia, offered to surrender the city with the condition that Wang allowed him to retreat, Wang agreed and prepared ships for Song, but as soon as Song left the city, Wang attacked and captured him and Ding He , who were delivered to Jiangling and executed.

Wang continued to advance east, and in fall 551, he joined forces with , who had advanced north from Guang Province . Wang and Chen, by Xiao Yi's orders, stopped at Xunyang to wait for the rest of the troops. Xiao Yi also made Wang the governor of Jiang Province. When Wang heard the news that Hou had killed Xiao Gang, who had succeeded Emperor Wu after Emperor Wu's death in summer 549 , he submitted a petition to Xiao Yi, asking Xiao Yi to take the throne, but Xiao Yi did not accept it.

In spring 552, by Xiao Yi's orders, Wang and Chen continued east against Hou. Before they left Xunyang, they built an altar at which they swore allegiance to Liang. They quickly advanced on Jiankang, defeating Hou's general Hou Zijian . When Hou Jing himself attacked them, they defeated him, and he fled. They entered Jiankang. Records indicate that Wang's forces were lacking in mlitary discipline, and they pillaged the people of Jiankang, stripping them of wealth and clothes. Further, soldiers set the Taiji Palace ablaze -- although Wang blamed this incident on Wang Lin, leading to Xiao Yi eventually putting Wang Lin under arrest. He sent the general Hou Tian to pursue Hou Jing, while burying Emperor Jianwen with proper ceremony. He requested again that Xiao Yi return to Jiankang to take the throne, but Xiao Yi again declined, effectively putting Wang in charge of the eastern empire, and Wang in turn put Chen in charge of the important city Jingkou . Soon, Hou Jing, in flight, was killed by his own guards, and his body was delivered to Jiankang. Wang delivered Hou's head to Jiangling and delivered his hands to Eastern Wei's successor state Northern Qi. Xiao Yi created Wang the Duke of Changning. In light of Hou's defeat, Northern Qi seized nearly all of the formerly Liang territory north of the Yangtze River, and Wang and Chen had to fend themselves against Northern Qi attacks. Once they did, however, Wang, not wanting to aggravate Northern Qi, did not counterattack, and further, when the provincial gentry from those lost provinces requested that he attack because they did not want to be under Northern Qi rule, he rejected their requests, although when the people of Guangling claimed to be ready to rise against Northern Qi, he permitted Chen to advance to Guangling, putting it under siege. Subsequently, Northern Qi agreed to return Guangling and Liyang , and the campaign ended.

During Emperor Yuan's reign

In winter 552, Xiao Yi declared himself empeorr , but stayed in Jiangling rather than returning to Jiankang. He made Wang Sengbian the governor of Yang Province . Meanwhile, after Emperor Yuan put Wang Lin under arrest, Wang Lin's soldiers rebelled at Xiang Province, under the command of Wang Lin's lieutenant Lu Na , and Lu's forces were initially successful, capturing not only Xiang Province but other surrounding territories. Emperor Yuan summoned Wang Sengbian to rendezvous with his cousin Xiao Xun the Marquess of Yifeng to attack Lu. Wang and Xiao Xun were subsequently able to defeat Lu and put Changsha under siege, but were unable to capture it quickly. With Emperor Yuan's brother Xiao Ji the Prince of Wuling also having claimed imperial title and attacking him from the west, Emperor Yuan pardoned Wang Lin, and Lu surrendered to Wang Lin. Wang subsequently arrived at Jiangling to meet Emperor Yuan. In fall 553, Emperor Yuan returned him to his post at Jiankang and returned Chen Baxian, whom Wang had left in charge of Jiankang in his absence, back to Jingkou.

Later in fall 553, Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi prepared for an operation where he would try to impose Emperor Yuan's cousin Xiao Tui the Marquess of Xiangtan as Liang's emperor. Emperor Yuan ordered Wang to head to Gushu to defend against the attack. When Hou Tian subsequently defeated the Northern Qi general Guo Yuanjian , Northern Qi forces withdrew, and Wang returned to Jiankang.

In fall 554, when Western Wei launched an attack on Jiangling, Emperor Yuan summoned Wang from Jiankang. Wang readied his troops to come to Jiangling's aid, but before Wang could do so, Jiangling fell. Western Wei forces took Emperor Yuan captive and, around new year 555, put him to death, creating Xiao Cha, who had become a Western Wei vassal, as emperor instead.

After Emperor Yuan's death

After hearing of Emperor Yuan's death, Wang Sengbian and Chen Baxian did not recognize Xiao Cha as emperor; instead, they welcomed Emperor Yuan's 12-year-old son the Prince of Jin'an, who was then the governor of Jiang Province, to Jiankang, and had him formally take imperial powers with the title Prince of Liang, although not yet with imperial title. Meanwhile, Northern Qi seized Ying Province, and Wang sent Hou Tian to attack Ying Province.

Northern Qi's Emperor Wenxuan again wanted to create a puppet Liang regime, and he created another cousin of Emperor Yuan, Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang, who had been an honored captive since 547 when he was captured after failing in his mission to aid Hou's rebellion against Eastern Wei, emperor, and sent his brother Gao Huan the Prince of Shangdang to escort Xiao Yuanming with an army. Wang initially resisted Northern Qi's overtures, but Gao Huan quickly defeated several generals. Wang began to shake in his position, and in summer 555, he agreed to have Xiao Yuanming become emperor. He sent his son Wang Xian , nephew Wang Shizhen , and Wang Xian's mother Lady Liu to Northern Qi as hostages and, after extracting a promise from Xiao Yuanming that he would create Xiao Fangzhi crown prince, accepted Xiao Yuanming as emperor. Subsequently, Hou Tian was recalled from his attack on Ying Province, although Northern Qi returned Ying Province eventually anyway, as Northern Qi now saw Liang as a vassal.

Chen, however, was displeased with the situation, despite his deep friendship with Wang, as Wang repeatedly rejected his advice against welcoming Xiao Yuanming. Wang Sengbian's son Wang Yi suspected of Chen's intentions and advised Wang Sengbian to watch out for potential attack from Chen, but Wang Sengbian, trusting Chen deeply, did not see Chen as a threat. Chen, indeed, was planning a coup. Meanwhile, news came that Northern Qi was preparing an attack, and Wang Sengbian sent his secretary Jiang Gan to Jingkou to alert Chen. Chen, instead, detained Jiang while preparing his forces. He launched a surprise attack on Wang's headquarters at the fortress of Shitou. Wang was caught defenseless, and was forced to surrender. Chen told Wang, "I am surprised that you did not prepare for an attack." Wang's response was, "I entrusted the northern gate to you. How can you say that I did not prepare?" That night, Chen strangled Wang Sengbian and his son Wang Wei to death. He subsequently deposed Xiao Yuanming and took over the regency over Xiao Fangzhi, whom he declared emperor , but subsequently seized the throne from Emperor Jing in 557, establishing Chen Dynasty.

Emperor Wu of Chen

Emperor Wu of Chen , personal name Chen Baxian , courtesy name Xingguo , nickname Fasheng , was the first emperor of the dynasty Chen Dynasty. He first distinguished himself as a Liang Dynasty general during the campaign against the rebel general Hou Jing, and he was progressively promoted. In 555, he seized power after a coup against his superior, the general Wang Sengbian, and in 557 he forced to yield the throne to him, establishing Chen Dynasty. He died in 559, and as his only surviving son Chen Chang was held by Northern Zhou as a hostage, he was succeeded by his nephew .

Background and early career

Chen Baxian was born in 503, the second year of the reign of Emperor Wu of Liang . He was from Wuxing Commandery . His family traced its ancestry to Chen Shi , a county magistrate and Confucian scholar during Han Dynasty. During the lineage that was traced, Chen's ancestors generally served as low-level officials, although several were important figures in imperial governments of and the subsequent Southern dynasties, including Chen Baxian's grandfather Chen Daoju . However, no record indicated that Chen Baxian's father Chen Wenzan was an official. His mother was a Lady Dong, probably Chen Wenzan's wife.

When Chen Baxian was young, he was considered ambitious, not caring about managing properties. As he grew, he studied military strategies and learned various fighting techniques. Initially, he married a daughter of Qian Zhongfang , who was also from Wuxing Commandery, but she died early. After Lady Qian's death, he married , likewise from Wuxing Commandery. She bore him at least one son, Chen Chang.

In the late 530s, when Xiao Ying the Marquess of Xinyu, a nephew of Emperor Wu, was the governor of Wuxing Commandery, he had the chance to see Chen Baxian and was impressed by him. When Xiao Ying was made the governor of Guang Province around 540, he invited Chen to serve on his staff, and subsequently, Xiao Ying made him an acting commandery governor.

In 541, the people of Jiao Province , dissatisfied with the cruel rule of Xiao Zi the Marquess of Wulin , rebelled under the leadership of Li Ben. Xiao Zi fled to Guang Province. Xiao Ying sent the generals Sun Jiong and Lu Zixiong to attack Li, with Xiao Ying overseeing the operations. In spring 542, Xiao Ying and Xiao Zi ordered Sun and Lu to attack, despite Sun and Lu's request to delay the attack to fall 542 due to fears that hot temperature could cause illnesses. Li crushed their forces with heavy casualties, and Xiao Zi falsely accused Sun and Lu of working in concern with Li, and Emperor Wu ordered Sun and Lu to commit suicide. Lu Zixiong's brothers Lu Zilüe and Lu Zilie and subordinates, the brothers Du Tianhe and Du Sengming and Zhou Wenyu attacked the capital of Guang Province, wanting to kill Xiao Zi and Xiao Ying to avenge Lu Zixiong. Xiao Ying ordered Chen to engage them, and he defeated them, killing Du Tianhe and capturing Du Sengming and Zhou. Believing that Du Sengming and Zhou were both good soldiers, he released them and retained them on his staff. For this accomplishment, Emperor Wu created Chen the Viscount of Xin'an, and while he did not summon Chen to the capital Jiankang, he had an artisan draw a portrait of Chen and deliver it to him.

In winter 544, Xiao Ying died, and initially, Chen started escorting Xiao Ying's casket back to Jiankang for burial. On the way, while he was still at Dayu Mountain , he was ordered to rendezvous with the new governor of Jiao Province, Yang Piao , and another nephew of Emperor Wu's, Xiao Bo , to attack Li. Xiao Bao did not want to set out on the campaign, and therefore try to persuade Yang not to advance. Chen persuaded Yang otherwise, and in spring 545, Yang, with Chen as his lieutenant, attacked Li, defeating him and forcing him flee into the mountains and conduct guerilla warfare instead. In 548, Li's subordinates killed Li, and when Li's brother succeeded him and attacked Ai Province , Chen defeated Li Tianbao. Emperor Wu made Chen the governor of Gaoyao Commandery as well as the commander of the forces of the surrounding commanderies.

During the Hou Jing Disturbance

In summer 548, the general Hou Jing, formerly an Eastern Wei general that Emperor Wu had accepted the defection of, rebelled, and in 549 captured Jiankang, taking Emperor Wu and his son and crown prince hostage. After Jiankang's fall, Hou, who had initially claimed that he wanted to restore Northern Wei's imperial clan to power, from the control of the regent Gao Cheng, enticed the governor of Guang Province, Yuan Jingzhong , a member of Northern Wei's imperial Yuan clan, to join him, and when Chen received the news, he publicly announced Yuan's treachery and gathered the troops of the nearby generals to attack Yuan. Yuan committed suicide, and Chen welcomed Xiao Bo, then the governor of Ding Province to take over Guang Province. In winter 549, against Xiao Bo's request, Chen took his troops and embarked on a campaign to join the fight against Hou, sending messengers to Emperor Wu's son the Prince of Xiangdong, the governor of Jing Province , pledging support and loyalty to Xiao Yi, then commonly viewed as the leader of the remaining Liang provinces not under Hou's control.

For the next year, Chen advanced north through modern Jiangxi, fighting the various local warlords and generals loyal to Hou, with his main struggle against Li Qianshi . In spring 551, he captured and killed Li. Xiao Yi made him the governor of Jiang Province . By fall 551, he had rendezvoused with Xiao Yi's main general, Wang Sengbian, at Xunyang . In 552, after they had sworn a solemn oath to Liang, they advanced east toward Jiankang, where Hou had killed Xiao Gang and taken the throne himself as Emperor of Han. Chen was instrumental in the subsequent siege of Jiankang, and they defeated Hou together, causing Hou to flee. Subsequently, Hou was killed by his own men. For Chen's contributions, Xiao Yi created Chen the Marquess of Changcheng -- Chen's home county. Wang put Chen in charge of the important city Jingkou . For the next two years, Chen was several times involved in border battles against Northern Qi . At times, when Xiao Yi summoned Wang on campaigns, Wang would put Chen in charge of Jiankang.

Seizure of power

In 554, Western Wei launched a major attack on Jiangling, and Emperor Yuan summoned Wang to come to his aid, putting Chen in charge of Jiankang. Before Wang could reach Jiangling, however, Western Wei had already captured Jiangling, killing Emperor Yuan and declaring his nephew emperor instead . Wang and Chen refused to recognize Emperor Xuan; instead, in spring 555, they welcomed Emperor Yuan's 11-year-old son the Prince of Jin'an -- Emperor Yuan's only surviving son -- to Jiankang, preparing to make him emperor and first having him take the title Prince of Liang.

At this time, however, Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi had other ideas, and he sent his brother Gao Huan the Prince of Shangdang to command an army to escort Emperor Yuan's cousin Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang -- whom Eastern Wei had taken captive in 547 -- back to Liang to be emperor. Wang initially rejected Xiao Yuanming, but after his forces lost a few battles to Northern Qi forces, changed his mind and decided to accept Xiao Yuanming as emperor after extracting a promise from Xiao Yuanming to make Xiao Fangzhi crown prince. In summer 555, Xiao Yuanming arrived at Jiankang to take the throne, and he created Xiao Fangzhi crown prince. Wang and Chen continued to be in charge of the military.

Chen, however, was unhappy about the situation, believing Xiao Yuanming to be unworthy of the throne. Despite Wang Sengbian's knowledge of Chen's displeasure, however, Wang did not suspect Chen of having any rebellious intentions, as they had been friendly, and Wang and Chen had agreed on having Wang Sengbian's son Wang Wei marry Chen's daughter, although the marriage had not been established on account of the recent death of Wang Sengbian's mother. in fall 555, believing reports that Northern Qi was going to attack, Wang sent his secretary Jiang Gan to Jingkou to alert Chen. Chen instead detained Jiang and started a surprise attack on Wang. With Wang not suspecting that an attack would occur, Chen quickly reached Wang's headquarters at Shitou , capturing and killing Wang Sengbian and Wang Wei. He took over control of the imperial government, forcing Xiao Yuanming to abdicate and making Xiao Fangzhi emperor .

Immediately, Chen faced resistance from the generals Xu Sihui , Ren Yue , and Hou Tian , and Wang Sengbian's brother Wang Sengzhi and son-in-law Du Kan . Chen initially sent his nephew and his general Zhou Wenyu against Du and Du's ally Wei Zai , but the campaign was inconclusive, and Chen subsequently went to attack himself. Meanwhile, Xu and Ren, aided by Northern Qi, made a surprise attack on Jiankang, nearly capturing it, but were repelled by Chen's general Hou Andu. Soon, Chen defeated Wei and Wei surrendered, and Chen returned to Jiankang, leaving Zhou to face Du.

Despite Northern Qi aid, Xu and Ren could not defeat Chen, and Chen put Shitou, which the Northern Qi general Liu Damo had captured, under siege. Liu sought peace, but requested Chen to send his relatives as hostages to Northern Qi. Most officials advocated peace, and Chen, despite his skepticism about such a peace holding, agreed, and sent his nephew Chen Tanlang , Emperor Yuan's grandson Xiao Zhuang the Prince of Yongjia, and Wang Min , the son of the key official Wang Chong , as hostages, permitting Northern Qi forces to withdraw, and Xu and Ren withdrew with them.

By spring 556, Du had either been captured or surrendered to Zhou and Chen Qian, and Chen Baxian executed Du. Wang Sengzhi fled to Northern Qi, and the capital region was largely under Chen Baxian's control. Meanwhile, Northern Qi forces were preparing another attack, but they invited Xiao Yuanming to their camp to discuss peace. Chen sent Xiao Yuanming to Northern Qi camp, but before talks could began, Xiao Yuanming died from a severe infection on his back. By summer 556, Northern Qi forces were again descending on Jiankang, but once there, their forces stalemated with Chen's forces. Northern Qi forces' food supplies soon ran out, and Chen defeated them, killing Xu and capturing a number of Northern Qi generals, whom Chen executed. Meanwhile, Hou Tian, having been defeated by another general, Hou Ping , chose to submit to Chen.

During the next year, Chen began to receive greater and greater titles and offices, progressing from being the Marquess of Changcheng to Duke of Changcheng to Duke of Yixing to Duke of Chen to Prince of Chen. In 557, Xiao Bo declared a resistance against Chen from Guang Province. Soon, however, Zhou defeated Xiao Bo's general Ouyang Wei , and Xiao Bo was killed by his own generals. At the same time, Wang Lin, who controlled modern Hunan and eastern Hubei, suspicious of Chen's intentions, refused his summon to Jiankang and prepared for battle instead. Chen sent Zhou and Hou Andu against Wang Lin. In winter 557, Chen had Emperor Jing yield the throne to him, establishing Chen Dynasty as its Emperor Wu. He created Emperor Jing the Prince of Jiangyin. He posthumously honored his parents emperor and empress, his deceased wife Lady Qian empress, and his deceased son Chen Ke crown prince. He created his wife Zhang Yao'er empress.


While it is not known when Emperor Wu became a Buddhist, once he became emperor he immediately took steps to officially sanction Buddhism, as he displayed a relic believed to be a 's tooth and held a major Buddhist festival. He also, following the lead of Liang's Emperor Wu, offered himself to Buddha's service on one occasion. He made several requests to Western Wei's successor state Northern Zhou to return Chen Chang and Chen Xu, and while Northern Zhou promised to do so, they would actually not be returned in Emperor Wu's lifetime.

Meanwhile, news that Emperor Wu had accepted the throne had reached the front where Zhou Wenyu and Hou Andu were engaging Wang Lin, greatly depressing Zhou and Hou's forces, as this removed a major appeal that they had -- that Wang was being a rebel for refusing to follow Emperor Jing's orders. Wang defeated Zhou and Hou and captured them. After doing so, however, both Chen forces and Wang Lin's forces were stalemated by the fact that the general Lu Xida , who controlled Northern Jiang Province , was accepting overtures from both sides but refusing to actually obey either side. Not able to make progress in his campaign against the new Chen state, Wang sought help from Northern Qi and requested that it return Xiao Zhuang to be emperor. Soon, Northern Qi returned Xiao Zhuang, and Wang Lin declared Xiao Zhuang emperor at Ying Province .

In summer 558, Emperor Wu had the former Emperor Jing of Liang killed. He sent Hou Tian and Xu Du to attack Wang Lin, but soon negotiated a peace with Wang Lin, after Wang's general Yu Xiaoqing was defeated by the independent general Zhou Di .

In summer 559, Emperor Wu suffered a major illness and died suddenly. At that time, the only close relative of his in Chen territory, his nephew Chen Qian the Prince of Linchuan, was away building a fort at Nanhuan . Empress Zhang, after consulting the officials Du Leng and Cai Jingli , chose not to announce Emperor Wu's death and summoned Chen Qian back from Nanhuan. The imperial officials decided to support Chen Qian as emperor, and while Empress Zhang was initially hesitant, hoping that Chen Chang would return, she eventually agreed, and Chen Qian took the throne as Emperor Wen.

Era name

* ''Yongding'' 557-559

Personal information

* Father
** Chen Wenzan , posthumously honored as Emperor Jing
* Mother
** Lady Dong, probably Chen Wenzan's wife, posthumously honored as Empress An
* Wives
** Lady Qian, daughter of Qian Zhongfang , posthumously honored as Empress Zhao
** Empress Zhang Yao'er , mother of Prince Chang
* Children
** Chen Ke , died early, posthumously honored as Crown Prince Xiaohuai
** Four other sons who died early
** Chen Chang , Prince Xian of Hengyang
** Princess Mu of Kuaiji
** Princess Yongsi

Zhu Yi (Liang Dynasty)

Zhu Yi , courtesy name Yanhe , was an official of the dynasty Liang Dynasty. He was greatly trusted by in Emperor Wu's old age. He is often depicted by historians as corrupt and duplicitous, as well as a reason for Liang's downfall.


Zhu Yi's father Zhu Xuanzhi was known for his integrity, but was only a county magistrate at the prime of his career. Zhu Yi himself, when young, became known for his knowledge of the Confucian classics, history, and astrology. When he met Emperor Wu's minister Shen Yue, Shen was impressed by him, and although Zhu was not yet at the age of 24, which was generally required for junior Liang officials, Zhu was selected as an official at age 20, in 503. That year, he was selected to publicly pronounce Emperor Wu's commentaries on the ''Xiao Jing'' -- an honor for junior officials -- and from that point, he was repeatedly promoted. This was particularly the case after 524, when Zhu correctly judged that the rival Northern Wei's general Yuan Faseng was truly surrendering his garrison of Pengcheng to Liang. That year, one of Emperor Wu's co-de facto prime ministers, Zhou She, died, and after Zhou's death Zhu became increasingly involved in drafting edicts for Emperor Wu and in making judgment in some important matters. He was described to be quick in his reactions, getting work done quickly. After Xu Mian's death in 535, Zhu became de facto prime minister, although he never carried that title. By this point, Zhu was considered to be capable but corrupt, often accepting large bribes and then making recommendations to Emperor Wu based on those bribes. The historian Sima Guang commented about Zhu in this manner in his ''Zizhi Tongjian'':

:''Zhu was spectacular in his writing talent, and for his quick and proper reactions. He used all his effort to build up his reputation among the people. Zhu carefully served the emperor, and was good at flattering. He spent 30 years in power, and he was exceedingly corrupt, deceiving and covering the eyes of the emperor. The people of the entire empire, regardless of how far they were from the capital, hated him greatly. Zhu's garden, residence, favorite items, food, entertainment, and women were all best in the empire. Whenever he had a vacation and returned to his home, the streets were filled with the wagons of his guests.''


In 547, the Eastern Wei general Hou Jing, not willing to submit to Gao Cheng, the son of the paramount general Gao Huan after Gao Huan's death, surrendered his domain -- 13 provinces forming the region between the Huai River and the Yellow River -- to Liang. Emperor Wu initially hesitated at accepting Hou's defection, given his long-standing peace with Eastern Wei, but Zhu, seeing how deep in his heart Emperor Wu wanted more territory, greatly encouraged him to accept Hou. However, both Hou and the army Emperor Wu sent to support Hou, commanded by Emperor Wu's nephew Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang, were defeated by the Eastern Wei general Murong Shaozong . Xiao Yuanming was captured by Murong, while Hou lost his entire territory. Emperor Wu made Hou the governor of Southern Yu Province , but at Zhu's suggestion, entered into peace talks with Eastern Wei. Hou became apprehensive, and he paid a large bribe to Zhu to ask Zhu to stop the peace talks. Zhu accepted Hou's bribes but refused to intercede. At the same time, not taking Hou seriously, Zhu rejected warnings from Emperor Wu's nephew Xiao Fan the Prince of Poyang to prepare for a Hou rebellion. Soon, Hou was suspicious that he would be betrayed, and he forged a letter from Gao Cheng, offering to trade Xiao Yuanming for Hou. Emperor Wu, after Zhu convinced him that Hou posed no actual threat, accepted -- and when Hou saw this, he rebelled in 548, claiming that he was seeking to clear the court of evil officials -- Zhu, along with Xu Lin , Lu Yan , and Zhou Shizhen . Even then, Zhu did not take Hou seriously, and when the general Yang Kan suggested blocking Hou's path to the Yangtze River, Zhu advised against it, and Emperor Wu did not do so, allowing Hou to cross the Yangtze easily and put the capital Jiankang under siege.

During the siege, Hou again repeatedly stated that he was only seeking to execute Zhu. When Emperor Wu asked his crown prince whether the crimes that Hou accused Zhu of were true, Xiao Gang indicated that they were true -- but subsequently spoke against Emperor Wu's thought of executing Zhu, arguing that doing so would only encourage Hou. Zhu was therefore spared, and subsequently participated in the city's defense, and he wrote letters to Hou trying to persuade Hou to lift the siege, to no avail. When Hou's general Fan Taobang subsequently offered to defect and kill Hou, Zhu greatly advocated for the plan, but Xiao Gang suspected Fan's intentions and therefore did not act on the offer.

The people of the capital all believed that Hou's rebellion was stoked by Zhu's corruption. Zhu, in embarrassment and fear, became ill. He died in 549, with the city still under siege. Emperor Wu, still believing in his faithfulness, buried him with honor.