The years of the Yung-chia disaster were like a violent storm that as soon as it had passed it was then possible to begin the recovery. However, in the case of the Eastern Chin they squandered quite a few opportunities to regain the north but instead were confined to the Chiang-tung region for 104 years and the reason for this is that from the very beginning of the state it did not show even the slightest sign of improvement. In the 104-year period the Eastern Chin politically had two kinds of abnormal phenomena: the first was that the Emperor lacked any real political power, for it lay in the hands of powerful families; the second was that there usually were two military-political centers, one on the upper Yangtze at Ching-chou and one on the lower Yangtze at Yang-chou, and in the struggle between the two the balance was constantly shifting back and forth. We usually say that the Eastern Chin was secluded and peaceful, but actually it was secluded and not very peaceful, however, if you compare it to the Five Barbarian Tribes to the north then you might be able to say that it was relatively peaceful.
When the news of the death of Min-ti reached Chiang-nan, the King of Lang-yeh,
Ssu-ma Jui, was then proclaimed Emperor and changed the reign title,
establishing a capital at Chien-yeh (later changed to Chien-k'ang) to become
the Emperor Yuan-ti of the Eastern Chin. Yuan-ti had as his confidant and
chief planner a man by the name of Wang Tao (tzu: Mao-hung). When he was
still King of Lang-yeh Wang Tao had shared in many confidential matters and
it was also Wang's plan to establish the capital at Chien-yeh, so he was
very deeply trusted by Yuan-ti. When he became Emperor, Wang then became
the "Prancing Cavalry" (P'iao-chi) General and the K'ai-fu Yi-t'ung San-ssu.
He rose to the post of Court Attendant (Ssu-k'ung), managed the supervision
of the Secretariat, recorded the affairs of the Dept. of State Affairs, and
was in complete control of the court and government affairs. Wherever there
was some achievement it was for the most part a product of Wang Tao's
discussion. Under Tao's government administration the worthy and talented,
stabilized the countryside, and there was peace everywhere so he was
extremely popular. Yuan-ti also made use of Tao's cousin (older paternal),
Wang Tun as the Yang-chou Prefect. After he had put down the revolt of the bandit from
Shu, Tu T'ao, he was promoted to the rank of Cheng-tung Grand General in
control of the military affairs of the six chou of Chiang, Yang, Ching,
Hsiang, Chiao and Kuang, and had the command of Chiang-chou Prefecture and later
was also given that of Ching-chou. The control of a large military rested in
his hands and he was personally in charge of the city of Wu-ch'ang on
the river's upper reaches. At one time the kinsmen and children of the
Wang family accupied most of the influential posts in the administration.
The people of Chiang-tung had a proverb that went:
Wang and the Ma share all under heaven!
This constituted the political origins of the households of powerful ministers.
At the time of the transfer of the Chin Royal to the east, the area of the Central Plain was in complete chaos and in the midst of it all there were only two men who unaided (or out of favor) struggled for the sake of the country, one of whom is Liu K'un while the other is Tsu T'i. Originally these two had been the best of freinds, sleeping on the same mat and at dawn hearing the sound of the roosters crowing when T'i would kick K'un to wake him up and they the two would whip out their swords and dance. Later on they both went their separate ways, one going south and the other going north. Liu K'un became the Ping-chou Prefect, garrisoned Chin-yang and united with Tuo-pa Yi-lu to oppose the Hsiung-nu of the Liu family. During 312 Liu Ts'ung sent Liu Yao and Liu Ts'an to attack Chin-yang. Liu K'un asked Tuo-pa Yi-lu for help and although Liu Yao was beaten back, Chin-yang lay in ruins and so he moved his headquarters to Yang-ch'u. Later on Liu K'un advanced to the post of Ssu-t'ung with military control of the three chou of Ping, Chi and Yu but the Central Plain was lost to the enemy and his situation became more and more isolated. Then in 314 civil strife broke out in the Tuo-pa clan and Shih Le marched with his troops to storm Chin-yang. Liu K'un fled to Yu-chou to seek the protection of Tuan P'i-ti of the Tuan clan of Liao-hsi and there became P'i-ti's sworn brother, agreeing to cooperate with the ruling house. Upon hearing that the Western Capital lay undefended and that the King of Lang-yeh had assumed the regency on the left bank of the Yangtze, Liu K'un then got in contact with 180 men of all the garrisons that remained in the region north of the river (that is He-pei) and together they signed a memorial to submit to the Emperor and sent to the Minister of Mounts, Wen Chiao, to Chien-yeh to convince him to invade. Just before he set off he cried and said: In the past Pan Piao knew of the restoration of the Liu family, Ma Yuan knew how to assist Han Kuang-wu-ti, now although the Chin throne is in decline Heaven's mandate has not yet changed, I have achieved distinction in Ho-pei (the northern bank of the Yellow River) and now send you to request the honor of Chiang-nan, go now and urge them on! Yuan-ti immediately elevated K'un to the rank of Palace Attendant and sent out a summons to every region to unite and put down Shih Le. Later on after not quite two years had passed he was quite unexpectedly killed by P'i-ti because of discord between them. Just before his death K'un sighed and said: Life and death are preordained, but the shame of this hated foe cannot be erased and that is that I am unable to see my parents! As a result of this the only force in the northwest that could restore the fortunes of the dynasty was destroyed in the blink of an eye.
When Lo-yang fell to the enemy Tsu T'i was in command of several hundred families of his kinsmen and fled to the Huai and Ssu River area to escape the calamity, so the group elected Tsu T'i as their march leader, and many of those that followed him were wandering brave fighters. In 313 when Min-ti ascended the throne in Ch'ang-an, the King of Lang-yeh was the Chancellor and garrisoned Chien-yeh, Min-ti issued a summons to every circuit to send troops to him to save the throne. Tsu T'i sent up a letter to the King of Lang-yeh requesting instructions which said: At present the remaining peasants have already been brutalized so the men all have the will to rise up and fight and you, great King, are truly able to issue awe-inspiring commands, if you make me their commander-in-chief then the heroes of the lands will go as if driven by the winds, whose who have suffered will welcome the coming of the great King, and they can all return to the world of the living. The shame of many states can be swept clean, I desire, great King, to do this! The King of Lang-yeh attempted this and then appointed Tsu T'i as the "Awe Inspiring" (fen-wei) General and Yu-chou Prefect, and directed him to personally recruit and enlist troops. Tsu T'i was in command of over one hundred families of retainers (pu-ch'u) and crossed the river to return to Chiang-pei and then stationed troops at Huai-yin where he was able to enlist over two-thousand troops. At this time Liu K'un was still in Ping-chou and upon hearing news of his former friend, Tsu T'i, he could not but say in excitement: I used my spear as a pillow and waited for the dawn, on the contrary I thought the old owl had been taken prisoner so I often feared for Tsu's life, I was the first to apply the whip! At this time in the area of Chiang-pei severa wandering groups of soldiers and their camp followers built walled forts to live together in, and each formed it own government headed by a leader known as the Wu-chu (Village Wall-leader). Tsu T'i sudued and won the allegiance of quite a few of these "Wu-chu", uniting them under his command, and slowly, step-by-step pushed northward restoring the land lost to the enemy, recapturing it turn Chiao-ch'eng, Chun-i, advancing troops up to the border along the Yellow River, subduing and winning the allegiance of the lands in the greater part of the area to the south of the Yellow River while at the same time frequently defeating the soldiers of Shih Le. At this time the remnants of the Chin army in the area of the Central Plain, some were dead, some had fled while others had been destroyed by Shih Le, so there was only Tsu T'i able to contend with Shih Le, so several of the men of Han that had gone over to Shih Le now straggled back tot he other side. Tsu T'i was not engaged in a military counter-attack but was at the same also engaged in the task of political construction, directing the tasks of agriculture and sericulture, looking after the refugees to bind the hearts of the people with gratitue, making the elders of the Central Plain weep and compose a song whose lyrics said: missing text It was this kind of trying struggle that had Tsu T'i deadlocked with Shih Le to the north and south of the Yellow River for eight years, and in those eight years he somehow did not receive any support from his read, falling into the miserable state of a helpless struggle until finally in 321 (T'ai-hsing 4) he died in anger and grief. The Emperor instructed that T'i's younger brother, Tsu Yueh, be appointed the Yu-chou Prefect and continue to command his brother's group. It was not long before internal discord broke out at court and the lost territory that had thus far been recovered once again fell into the hands of the enemy.
When Chin Yuan-ti first came to the throne there was an increase in the trust given to the brothers of the Wang family, but later on when the power and prestige of the Wang family was at its zenith the Court gradually became suspicious of them. In particular, there was Wang Tun the Military Commander of six chou, personally in charge of the upper Yangtze area, whose power and influence grew with each passing day, and with respect to the Imperial Court he gradually came to have an unsubmissive heart. To guard against him Yuan-ti employed all of his trusted subordinates with Tuan Hsieh serving as Prefect of the Secretariat and Liu Wei as Court Attendant, and together they planned to restrain the ambitions of the Wang family. In 321, Liu Wei was also named the Chen-pei General hoping to make use of his control of the military forces of Chiang-pei to guard against a revolt on the upper Yangtze. When the Five Tribes invaded the north, these forces were unable to defend against both foreign aggression and internal revolt at the same time and it was just for this reason that Tsu T'i became angry and died. In 322 (Yung-ch'ang 1) the year after the death of Tsu T'i that Wang Tun, afraid of the Court's growing pressure, immediately offered up a bitter denunciation of Liu Wei's crimes and using as a pretext the need to remove evil advisors from the Emperor's side, began military action setting out from Wu-ch'ang to the east. When the army arrived at Wu-hu (a lake in An-wei), he offered up another letter listing the crimes of Tiao Hsieh. A member of Tun's clique from Wu-hsing, Shen Chung, also incited a mob to take up arms in Wu-hsing and rise in support of Wang Tun and thus attack Chien-yeh from both sides. Yuan-ti urgently summoned the Cheng-hsi General, Tai Yuan, and the Chen-pei General, Liu Wei, to join with the Palace Guard while Yuan-ti personally put on armor to inspect the army and command all of the units to put down the revolt. Contrary to all expectations, he was defeated by Wang Tun and the enlisted men all scattered and fled, Tiao Hsieh fled and was killed while Liu Wei went into exile in Chiang-pei, surrendering to the Latter Chao. As a result of this defeat, Wang Tun commanded his troops to enter into Chien-yeh and execute Tai Yuan and Chou I (the Left P'u-yeh of the Court Secreatriat) while Tun himself became the Chancellor and Chiang-chou Magistrate. Even though Wang Tun had quickly had Tai Yuan, Tiao Hsieh and others executed, Ssu-ma Ch'eng, the King of Hsiang, had rusen up in Ch'ang-sha to rush troops to the emperor and fearing that the rear areas might also waver Wang Tun returned to Wu-ch'ang and also sent a detachment of troops to eliminate the King of Hsiang. So it was that Yuan-ti died in 322 in grief and anger over the revolt of Wang Tun with Crown Prince Shao ascending to the throne as the Emperor Chin Min-ti.
After Ming-ti had ascended the throne, Wang Tun entered the court and then led his troops to switch their garrison to Ku-shu (Tang-t'u in An-wei) and put himself in control of the Yang-chou Magistracy using Wang Tao as the Ssu-t'u. Because Ku is exactly in the center of the upper and lower reaches of the Yangtze, by stationting troops at this central point it is possible to control the upper and lower stream simultaneously. From this time on he intimidated the Court and became more and more unrestrained in his defiance of authority. In addition to this, each of the Wangs was made either a Governor-General of a Prefect so that in reality it had already been transformed into an empire of the Wang family. In order to protect himself, Chin Min-ti was outwardly respectful toward Wang Tun but privately was taking precaustions, meeting clandestinely with the elder brother of the Empress Yu, Yu Liang, to plot Tun's downfall. In 323 (T'ai-ning 1) Wang Tun suddenly took ill and with each passing day his condition became more serious. In 324 the Ssu-t'u (Minister over the Masses) Wang Tao suddenly announced in the capital that Wang Tun had already died and for this reason proceeded to inform his relatives and friends of his passing. At the same time, Min-ti handed down an edict enumerating the crimes of Wang Tun, laying the blame for this on Ch'ien Feng for he was had been served as Wang Tun's chief planner, and ordering Wang Tao to serve as the Grand Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief charged with the task of removing Ch'ien Feng. At Ku-shu when Wang Tun heard of this news he flew into a rage but because of the seriousness of his illness was unable to take the field and command troops but his older brother, Wang Han, was made the Chief Commander and Ch'ien Feng was made a general sending out troops to march to the east. The outcome of this was that the armies of both Wang Han and Ch'ien Feng were defeated and they both committed suicide, while Wang Tun died from his rage. With this the revolt of Wang Tun came to a close, and since the political power of the Wang family had been brought to an end it was the Yu family that followed them to hold the reins of government.
The Revolt of Wang Tun was quelled in 324 and in 325 Min-ti passed away with Crown Prince Yen, only five years old, becoming the Emepror Chin Ch'eng-ti. All of the court ministers petitioned that according to the story of the Han He-hsi Empress Teng, they requested that Empress Dowager Yu assume the regency and rule while her older brother, Yu Liang, became the Prefect of the Palace Writers and along with Wang Tao, the Ssu-t'u, assisted the government. Because Wang Tao was old and constantly ill, the affairs of government were all decided by Yu Liang creating a situation where there was a young emperor on the throne with the Queen Mother serving as regent and her relatives in positions of power. Yu Liang was still quite young and the elder statesmen of the court for the most part did not submit to him but Yu Liang was also good at using laws to rule and as a consequence there was a great loss of public morale. At the time T'ao K'an was the Chen-hsi General-in-Chief and Governor General of the military affairs of the four chou of Ching, Hsiang, Liang and Yung with a garrison on the upper Yangtze; Su Chun was the Li-yang Clerk of the Capital (with duties similar to the Grand Administrator of a Commandery) with troops at Li-yang (Ho-hsien in An-wei); Tsu Yueh was the Yu-chou Prefect and had been compelled by Shih Le to retreat to defend Shou-chun. These were considered to be the important military figures in these three regions.
T'ao K'an's courtesy name was Shih-hsing and he was a famous court official of the Chin Dynasty who since he was young had made a name for himself through his filial conduct. He had in the past served as the Chief Clerk of the Southern Man (Nan Man Ch'ang-shih) and destroyed the rebellion of the supernatural bandit Chang Ch'ang; following this he was made the Chiang-hsia Grand Adminstrator and put down the revolt of Ch'en Min; he also had served as the Ching-chou Prefect and put down the revolts of Tu T'ao and Tu Ts'eng; he then became the Kuang-chou Prefect where he put down the revolt of Wang Chi. He frequently rendered distinguished military service, serving four successive rulers. After he had restored order to Kuang-chou the government was settled and there was no trouble, he rose every day at dawn and moved one hundred large bricks into his study which he would then move back out in the evening. People would ask him the reason for doing this and he would say: "I have just dedicated myself to the task of (retaking) the Central Plain, I am only afraid that my life now is too soft and idle, so if I allow my metal and physical force to lie neglected and slack then in the future I would be unable to undertake this task." He had in the past often exhorted his subordinates saying: "The Great Yu was a sagely man yet he was careful not to waste a moment; we are common folk and should also be careful to do likewise. Human life can not in any case by lost to idleness for this bring about a life that is without purpose during its time, and with death there will be no news of it that remains behind, this is truly forsaking one's self." With the coming of 325 (T'ai-ning 3) he was appointed the Chen-hsi General and Governor General of Ching-chou and Hsiang-chou, once again soothing the armed forces and civilians of Ching-chou, and there was not a one that did not love and support him.
The Li-yang Clerk of the Capital, Su Chun, had a recalcitrant and wild temperment and when put against the personality of T'ao K'an it produced a very strong contrast. Su Chun was anative of I-hsien in Ch'ing-chou and during the time of the southward migration he was in command of several hundred households of refugees from Ch'ing-chou and they gradually drifted into Kuang-ling. The Chin Court commended him for his loyalty and virtue appointing him the Huai-ling Clerk of the Capital to station troops in Chiang-pei. Later because he had distinguished himself helping to put down the revolt of Wang Tun, he was transferred to the post of Li-yang Clerk of the Capital and promoted to "Cavalier Attendant in Regular Attendance", enfeoffed as the Duke of Shao-ling possessing 10,000 men armed with keen weapons and aslo gathered together those forced into exile so that his conduct was in defiance of authority. Yu Liang feaing that he would rebel in 327 (Hsien-ho 2) summoned Su Chun to the court. Su Chun was suspicious and frightened by this so he got together with with Tsu Yueh, the Yu-chou Prefect, to plan a revolt. In Yu-chou Tsu Yueh originally was a screen that protected the nation, but quite unexpectedly he was no longer value by the court and for a long time he had nurtured his hatred and is was for this reason these two raised troops in revolt. Su Chun led his forces across the Yangtze and attacked and seized Ku-shu, then headed straight into the capital, burning everything before him, engaging in large-scale slaughter and plunder, also making slaves of various officials, stripping the men and their women naked, and at this moment the Empress Dowager Yu suddenly died in this amazingly unique great upheaval. Su Chun already occupied the capital and then made himself the General of the Agile Cavalry (??) and Intendant of the Masters of Writing (???) while Tsu Yueh became the Grand Commandant of the Palace Intendants (Shih-chung t'ai-wei)
Yu Liang fled in ruin to Hsun-yang (Chiu-chiang in Jiang-hsi) and along with Wen Chiao, the Chiang-chou Prefect, jointly requested T'ao K'an, the Ching-chou Prefect, to raise troops and go with them to aid the Emperor. Originally T'ao K'an had been quite displeased with Yu Liang's past monopoly of power but having dome to time point he was ready to drop his ill feelings and start anew so he led his forces down east to work together to save the state in this time of national crisis. T'ao K'an and the other descended upon the east with a great army and smashed Chun's army with Su Chun himself being killed in the battle: however, Chun's younger brother, Su I, still resolutely defended Chiang-yeh and it was not until 329 (Hsien-hi 4) that the city fell. In the north Tsu Yueh in order to support Su Chun, led a force to campaign in the south while Shih Le of the Latter Chao took advantage of the vacuum to occupy Shou-chun while Su Chun was being defeated in the south. Tsu Yueh had lost his base and could neither retreat nor advance and so faced with this dilemma he unexpectedly surrendered to Shih Le. This time although Su Chun's revolt had been put down the damage done to the state was great, not only did the people in the vicinity of the new capital suffer great loss but the greater part of the lands of Chaing-pei were lost to the enemy which as a consequence helped to realize the zenith of the Latter Chao. It was a just this time that Shih Le unified the north and was proclaimed Emperor in Hsiang-kuo.
With the ending of Su Chun's revolt, T'ao K'an was appointed Grand Commandant of the Palace Attendants and enfeoffed as the Minor King of Chang-sha (Ch'ang-sha Chun-kung), as well as Governor General of the military affairs of seven chou. After five years had passed T'ao K'an passed away (the year Hsien-ho 9 or 343 A.D.). Yu Liang then replaced K'an as the Ch'eng-hsi General and Governor General of the military affairs of six chou including Ching, Chiang and Yu, and also managed the three chou of Chiang, Ching and Yu as Prefect with a garrison at Wu-ch'ang. When Shih Le died, Yu Liang was strongly in favor of launching a northern campaign to take advantage of the death to recover the lost territories and wipe clean the earlier humiliation. He thereupon sent military forces to Mien-chung but unexpectedly met with defeat and returned to never dare try this again. At this time in the north Shih Hu was newly established and his power was at its peak so the political situation in the south remained the same. In 339 (Hsien-k'ang 5) the Chancellor Wang Tao died (Tao had served at court the longest and of all the famous officials of the restoration there was not a one that could compare to him) and Yu Liang's younger brother, Yu Ping, was appointed the Supervisor of the Palace Writers (Chung-shu Chien), Yang-chou Prefect and Intendant of the Masters of Writing. Yu Liang died in 340 (Hsien-k"ang 6) and his younger brother, Yu I, replaced him as the An-hsi General and Governor General of the military affairs of six chou and also continued to control the garrison at Wu-cheng. With this the two brothers, Yu Ping and Yu I, the one on the upper Yangtze the other on the lower Yangtze, continued as before the regime of the Yu family. The third year after the death of Yu Liang, the Emperor Chin Ch'eng-ti died and his younger brother, Ssu-ma Yueh, was set up as the Emperor Chin K'ang-ti. After a short reign of only two years K'ang-ti died and his son, Ssu-ma Tan, came to the throne as the Emperor Chin Mu-ti. Suddenly within the space of two years both Yu Ping and Yu I died and for a moment all of the Yus were gone. When Mu-ti ascended the throne he was just two years old so Empresss Dowager Ch'u raised the Emperor and assumed the regency, the Palace Attendant Ho Ch'ung helping with the administration, specially recommending the Hsu-chou Prefect, Huan Wen, to serve as the Ching-chou Prefect and An-hsi General in charge of the military affairs of six chou (including Ching and Liang) to replace the Yu Clan's garrison on the upper Yangtze at Chiang-ling. Later on the regime of the Yu Family was changed to become the regime of the Huan family. At this time the political situation of the Western Chin state came to the close of a period. Calculating from the founding of the state by Yuan-ti to the first year of the Yung-ho reign period of the Emperor Mu-ti when Huan Wen supervised Ching-chou, there were five successive rules in a 28-year period. At the same time the north passed from the confrontation between the Former and Latter Chao, through the Latter Chao unification and the disordered government of Shih Hu, to the collapse of the Latter Chao state in 345 (Yung-ho 1) and this also represents the end of a period. With the closing of this period in the south we find the Eastern Chin busy with internal disturbances and lacking the power to complete the restoration; in the north the two Chao states were continually fighting each other so neither had time to descend upon the south while in the west the state of Li-Ch'eng occupied Shu Chung with the consequence of creating a situation of stalemate among the three regions. Below we will look further into the situation in the north.
Originally from the time Liu Yuan was proclaimed Emperor in P'ing-yang and first established the state, the Former Chao was called Han. The areas that it occupied were at first only one small corner of the lands of Shan-hsi. When Liu Yuan died two years after he was proclaimed Emperor and his son, Liu Ts'ung followed him, the year was 310 (Yung-chia 4). Liu Ts'ung split up his generals, Liu Yao, Liu Ts'an, Wang Mi and Shih Le, sending them out to invade. The area of their depradations was extremely wide. In 311 Lo-yang fell and in 316 Ch'ang-an also fell so that the area put under his control was Kuan-chung and the area of the Central Plain north of the Yellow river. The third year after the fall of Ch'ang-an in 318, Liu Ts'ung died and his son Liu Ts'an followed him to the throne. Liu Ts'an was dissolute and tyrannical (without the tao) and handed over the control of government to his relative Chin Chun. Chin Chun revolted and seized and killed Liu Ts'an, calling himself the General-in-Chief and the Heavenly King of Han. At the time Liu Yao was the Chancellor and managed the Yung-chou Magistracy as well as the garrison at Ch'ang-an. Shih Le was General in Chief and managed the two chou of Yu and Chi with a garrison at Hsiang-kuo. Upon hearing of the revolt of Chin Chun, they both raised troops to ge to settle the matter. Liu Yao had proceeded midway to Chih-pi (An-tsu hsien in Shan-hsi) when he then set himself up as Emperor and instructed that Shih Le be made the commander-in-Chief (Ta Ssu-ma) and enfeoffed as Duke of Chao. At this time Shih Le commanded a crack force of 50,000 occupying Hsiang-ling to threaten P'ing-yang with the result that over 100,000 of the Ch'iang and Chieh surendered to him. Within the city of P'ing-yang there was panic so Chin Chun sent his Palace Attendant, Pu T'ai, to meet with Shih Le to arrange terms for peace but Shih Le imprisoned Pu T'ai and sent him to Liu Yao. Liu Yao sent Pu T'ai back to P'ing-yang to convince Chin Chun to come out in person to surrender. Chin Chun hesitated and did not make a decision so he was murdered by his subordinates who then set up his younger brother, Chin Ming, as their leader. Once again Pu T'ai was sent to hand over the Imperial Seal and surrender to the Han leader, Liu Yao. When Shih Le learned of the news he went into a rage thinking that he had been sold out by Liu Yao. He quickly dispatched troops to attack and capture P'ing-yang and they burned the palace to the ground. Chin Ming led 15,000 men and women to seek the protection of Liu Yao but they were killed by him. Since Shih Le had already taken P'ing-yang, he then led troops back to Hsiang-kuo and from this time on he fought with Liu Yao, creating two states.
Liu Yao also returned to Kuan-chung from Ping-chou and immediately set up his capital in Ch'ang-an and changed the name of the state to Chao, and in history in order to distinguish it from Shih Le's state of Chao, it is called the Former Chao. As Liu Yao was of the same house as Liu Yuan, since he had founded a state and fixed its capital, in Ch'ang-an there was a great revival in construction as he built an ancestral temple and one to the god of crops, built mansions, established as Imperial Academy, and repaired the Imperial Tombs as if he were patterning himself after an Emperor. Liu Yao also campaigned in the west against the Ti and Ch'iang, moving over 200,000 of the tribe to Ch'ang-an. In 323 he seized Hsia-kuei killing the Ch'in-chou Prefect, Ch'en An, finally destroying the last remnant of Chin influence in Kuan-chung. Yao once again commanded 28,000 garrison troops to descend on Liang-shou from up river and brought the Liang-chou Magistrate, Chang Mao, to terms making him a Palace Attendant. At this time the Former Chao possessed Yung-chou (Shan-hsi), Ch'in-chou (Kan-su), Ping-chou (Shan-hsi), and also a portionof Ho-nan. Liu Yao had complete control of the western region of Kuan-chung, however in the east he struggled for supremacy with Shih Le, and the area of the great irver south from Hung-nung down to Lo-yang was transformed into a battlefield in the struggle between Liu and Shih.
Among all the kings of the Five Barbarian Tribes, Shih Le was an uncommonly unscrupulous but brave and capable person. Although he was from a humble background, he still had a talent for scheming that surpassed that of other men and his success was also thanks to his brain-trust, Chang Pin. Pin's style name was Meng-sun, a native of Chung-ch'iu in Chao-chun who in his youth was fond of study with a wide background in the Classics and History. In 309 Shih Le became Liu Yuan's An-tung General and led troops to advance and attack Chi-chou, taking in succession Wei-chun, Ch'ang-shan, Chü-lu and Chao-chun, and as a result he obtained the services of Chang Pin, using him as his chief planner. Pin was cunning and never shot without hitting the target, making his plans after taking every possibility into account. Shih Le's luring Wang Mi to his death, his occupation of Hsiang-kuo as a capital and the plan to seize Yu-chou, these three important events were all the products of the planning of Chang Pin. Shih Le respected Chang Pin and always followed his plans, commonly calling him the Marquis of the Right instead of using his name. Because Chang Pin was a man of Chin, it was for this reason that Shih Le mistreated those of different tribes but toward the men of chin he was still respectful. Wherever Shi Le's soldiers went they all had the command to "Do not insult the aristocrats of the Chinese!" In 311 after Lo-yang was occupied by the enemy there were still three pockets of men of Chin that remained in the area of the northeast: one is Kou Hsi, the Ch'ing-chou Prefect who was in Meng-ch'eng in the east; in the northeast there was the Yu-chou Governor General Wang Chun; and in the north there was the Ping-chou Prefect Liu K'un. Besides these three there was still Ts'ao I who occupied and held Ch'ing-chou and the bandits that roamed about the Central Plain the most powerful of which was Wang Mi. Mi had at first been with a group of bandits but later on he offered his services to Liu Yuan as a general and fought by the side of Shih Le In 311 after he had taken Lo-yang, Shih Le first attacked Meng-ch'eng by surprise and Kou Hsi captive. He also planned to lure Wang Mi into a trap to kill him and then incorporate Wang's forces into his own. In addition, Ts'ao I surrendered to Shih and pledged allegiance to him with the consequence that Shih controlled the territories of the three chou of Yu, Yen and Ch'ing. In 308 Shih Le occupied Hsiang-kuo in the north and in the following year fell on Yeh-ch'eng. In 314 he took advantage of Wang Chun's lack of preparation to lead his troops in a surprise attack on Yu-chou which led to the capture and death of Wang Chun. Now that he had seized the two chou of Yu and Chi and with Hsiang-kuo as his center, Shih Le was now ready to move across the T'ai-hang Mountains to attack Liu K'un. Quite naturally Liu K'un was unable to maintain his foothold so in 316 he was forced to seek the protection of the Tuan Clan of Liao-hsi and later was killed by Tuan P'i-ti. By 318 after Shih Le had defeated Chin Chun and taken P'ing-yang by storm, he now possessed the five chou of Yu, Chi, Ch'ing, Hsü and Yen as well as the greater parts of both Ping-chou and Ho-nan. From his quarrel with Liu Yao he then in 319 proclaimed himself the King of Chao and set up a capital at Hsiang-kuo. He then set up ancestral temples and built mansions, set up classical, legal and historical studies Libationers (respected persons in the profession: chi-chiu), sent envoys to inspect the local administration, encouraged agriculture and sericulture, promoted Chang Pin to the rank of Grand Bearer of the Law (Ta Chih-fa) with control over the courts and administration to complete the structure of the state so that along with the Former Chao in the west and the Eastern Chin in the south it formed a triangular balance of power. From 324 (T'ai-ning 2) onwards a fierce struggle developed on the Central Plain with Liu Yao of the Former Chao. In 325 the Latter Chao General Shih Cheng advanced and occupied the lands of Ssu-chou and Lo-yang. By 328 (Hsien-ho 3) Shih Le's nephew, Shih Hu, in command of a force of 40,000 advanced from Shih-kuan to attack the Former Chao position at P'u-pan in Ho-tung. Liu Yao personally led a large force to come to their relief and destroyed Shih Hu's force with dead bodies spread for over 200 li. Liu Yao took advantage of the victory to cross the Yellow River and counter-attack Lo-yang so Shih Le likewise took personal command of a large force to come to their aid. The outcome of this battle of the main forces was that Liu Yao suffered a crushing defeat and was taken captive to be killed shortly after; it was the year 329 (Hsien-ho 4). As soon as Liu Yao died the upheaval in Kuan-chung brought Shih Sheng to quickly lead a force that took Ch'ang-an as the Former Chao Crown Prince Hsi retreated to defend Shang-kuei. Shih Sheng advanced to take the town, seizing and executing Liu Hsi also killing over 3,000 of the rank of King, Duke, Minister and below with the result that the Former Chao was eliminated by the Latter Chao. Shih Le transferred all of the military and civil officials of Kuan-chung along with Kuan-chung refugees and the great families of Ch'in and Yung, in all over 9,000 families, to Hsiang-kuo, and also buried alive over 5,000 of the Wu-pu-t'u-k'o (barbarian name) in Lo-yang. He also marched to put down the Chi-mu-chieh Ch'iang in Ho-hsi and took several tens of thousands captive, so that the Ti and Ch'iang of the Ch'in-lung area were all at peace. The Ti king, Fu Hung, and the Chiang king, Yao I-ch'ung, both submitted to Shih Le. Shih Le used Hung as "Liu-i Chün-shih" and I-ch'ung as the Left Governor-General of the Six Barbarians (Liu-i Tao Tu-tu). He also transferred 15,000 villages (luo) of Ch'iang and Ti into the two chou of Ssu and Chi, constituting a one-time only, large-scale slaughter and large-scale intermixing among the various races.
In the second moon of Hsien-ho 5 (330) Shih Le was proclaimed the King of Heaven and then in the ninth moon ascended to the Imperial throne. In 332 he gave a great banquet for all of the officials and speaking to Hsü Kuang he said: Right now, how could we rank the rulers of antiquity?" Hsü Kuang replied: Your majesty is intelligent and courageous, possessed of great strategic sense, you surpass Han Kao-tsu and in later generations there will be no one that could compare to you. Shih Le roared with laughter and said: "How could a man not know that a minister's words are excessive, if I were to encounter Han kao-tsu we ought to face north (to pay him homage) and serve him and we could stand side by side with Han and P'eng (Han Hsin a famous general; P'eng ???????????????) if we were to encounter Kuang-wu-ti then ought we as one to gallop across the Central Plain and not know whose hand it was that felled the deer?"
Four years after Shih Le was proclaimed emperor he died (in 333) and Crown Prince Shih Hung became emperor with his nephew, Shih Hu, being named the Chancellor. Shih Hu had an absolute disregard for authority and proclaimed himself emperor after deposing and killing Shih Hung. In 335 (Hsien-k'ang 1) Shih Hu transferred the capital to Yeh-ch'eng and then in 338 he mounted a large-scale campaign against the Tuan Clan of Liao-hsi, attacking and conquering Ling-chih, killing Tuan Liao and removing 20,000 of his people to the Central Plain. He also sent troops on a campaign to the south, defeating the Chin army several times to further broaden his territorial expansion to a total of 101 chün (commanderies). The second decade after Shih Hu's removal of the capital to Yeh-ch'eng was the heyday of the Latter Chao but it was also a period of misery caused by government oppression (water deep/flame hot) for the peasants of the Central Plain.
Although Shih Hu was fierce and skilled in warfare, as well as powerful and
strong in his fighting skills, he was however marked with pride, a fondness
for luxury, lust and sloth the sins of the rich and powerful while his
brutality and ferocity went to the extreme. His savagery was thus:
1). When he was embarking on the large-scale construction of palace buildings in Yeh-ch'eng, he ordered that the Chung-hsü (Bell-void), the Chiu-lung (Nine Dragons), the Wen-ch'ung (old man Ch'ung - Confucius), and the T'ung-t'uo (bronze camel) statues (all had been cast by Wei Ming-ti) be moved from Lo-yang to Yeh-ch'eng. In order to transport them all four-wheeled, steel-bound carts were specially built with a wheel-width of four ch'ih (Chinese feet) and two ch'ih deep, and also built boats with a displacement of 10,000 hu in order to ship them. The T'ai-wu Palace that he built had a foundation that was 28 ch'ih tall, 130 ch'ih in length and 150 ch'ih in width built with bricks of streaked stone (agate??) and there were secret tunnels and rooms below. It had glazed drain tiles, jade ornamented beam ends, and silver ornamented pillars all of extreme artistry. In addition, both inside and outside of Yeh-ch'eng he had over 40 viewing terraces built. He also reconstructed the palaces in Lo-yang and Ch'ang-an using over 400,000 people that he enslaved for the long-term.
2). He summoned over 100,000 of the people's females in order to fill (the harem in) the rear palace (see TCT ch97 quoted from a remonstrance by Fu Hung), increasing the ranks of the palace women to 24, that of the Eastern Palace to 12 (the Eastern Palace was the residence of the Heir Apparent) while those of the 70 odd fiefs of the Dukes and Marquis were all 9 ranks so over 30,000 of the people's womenfolk were sent. all reckoned in three classes into order to allocate them. At the chün and hsien ( commandery and district) level the order was received to try and select those with a beautiful appearance and eveywhere men's wives were taken by force and their husbands killed and of those that committed suicide there were over 3,000. In addition, the Court ladies were instructed to practice archery and horse riding with a women's cavalry unit of 1,000 acting as the Lu-pu (shield recorder: the ceremonial guard of the Heir Apparent. Armed with shields -lu- they acted as guides) all wearing purple "kuan" caps (a cap that resembled a ridged roof), the familiar brocade pants, belts engraved with gold and silver, with blue, yellow, white and black armlets, holding the ceramonial plumes (yu-i) sounding drums and blowing in procession behind.
3). Shih Le was quite fond of hunting but late in his life he became too fat to be able to mount a horse so 1,000 hunting chariots were built and all the land from Ling-ch'ang Chin (Spirit Light Ford) south as far as Ying-yang and east to Yang-tu was set aside as a hunting preserve, and sent the Court Censor (Yu-shih) to inspect the animals there and if any were caught poaching the punishments ranged up to a death sentence.
4). Occupying the lands of ten chou, Shih Le hoarded together all of the gold and silks as well as the precious and rare things that were given as tribute by foreign states, the property all in the treasury and storehouses could not be counted, but this was not enough. In 347 (Yung-ho 3) all of the tombs of the earlier dynasties were opened and all of the gold and treasure removed. Also, 160,000 men and women from the outskirts of the city were summoned and with 100,000 carts they transported dirt to build the Hua-lin Garden as well as a long wall along the north of Yeh-ch'eng that was several tens of li long.
5). Shih Hu fought up and down the length of the country following a policy of military expansion that went on without rest. During the years of the Hsien-k'ang reign period, Shih Hu designated four chou (Ssu, Yu, Hsü and Yen) to provide for a southern campaign. Three in the northeast (Ch'ing, Chi and Yo) to provide for an eastern campaign. Four chou in the northwest (Ping, Shuo, Ch'in andYung) were to prepare for suppression in the west. In a mass requisition of supplies and manpower from the adult male population two out of every three adult males were called up, or three out of every five adults in a household. In ever chou over 500,000 armorers and 170,000 shipwrights were summoned and between natural disasters and plague up to one-third died. The additional local officials and functionaries took advantage of the opportunity to oppress the people and the peasantry became unemployed and of their misery there is no telling. When Shih Hu campaigned in force he required every fifteen males to provide one cart, two head of oxen, fiften hu of rice and ten bolts of raw silk with those being unable to do so being beheaded. The populace was driven to the point of selling their children in order to supply the needs of the army, and still they were unable to furnish all, and those that passed through the roads and woods looked at one another.
6). The punitive government of Shih Hu the slayings became extremely brutal, every move brought the butchering of a lineage, and there also were laws set up governing tne commentary and discussion of court administration and from the high ranking officials on down it came to the point where they did not dare to chat among themselves while visiting each other. Both of Shih Hu's Heirs Apparent, Shih Sui and Shih Hsüan, were killed by Shih Hu. Shih Sui and his wife nee Chang along with 26 other men and women were killed and then all buried in the same coffin. Shih Hsüan's death was especially cruel and sadistic for he first had his hair uprooted (scalped?) then his tongue was pulled and he was set on fire and burned to death.
Shih Hu's various kinds of ruthless conduct went to the point of the unimaginable and he was utterly without ethics so there is much the is difficult to record objectively in historical writing and in history he is known as an unusually cold-blooded tyrant. Therefore, in history this period is known as the "Disorder of Shih Hu." Under his rule it was to use the physical resources to their limit and to disregard human life. Because of this for one moment the country was great and strong but also because of this it suddenly then disintegrated.
With the death of Shih Hu, his young son Shih Shih came to the throne but his older brother, Shih Tsun the King of P'eng-ch'eng, did not submit to this and led troops to the capital from Ho-nei and deposed and killed Shih Shih to set himself up as the Emperor. Shih Hu's adopted son, Shih Min (his original surname was Jan) who was a man of Han, killed Shih Tsun and put Hu's son by a concubine, Shih Chien, and declared his allegiance to him. As soon as Shih Chien ascended the throne he want to plan the death of Shih Min and so it was that his younger brother, Shih Chih, rose in arms in Hsiang-kuo condemning Shih Min. On the one hand Shih Min kept a close watch on Chih Chien, while on the other he fought against Shih Chih and within the city walls of Hsiang-kuo there was complete confusion. It was at this time that events transpired to suddenly trigger a confrontation between the different races because Shih Min was a man of Han there were those who took advantage of this to say that Shih Min had said that the Hu-Chieh within the city were all unreliable. Thereafter Shih Min issued a proclamation to the men of Chao within the bity of Yeh, theat if there were any that would deliver the head of one Hu (barbarian) to the Feng-yang Gate that a civil official would would be advanced three ranks, and that those with military posts would be appointed to the Ya-men and within the space of a day there were several tens of thousands of heads. Min also personally led the men of Chao to execute all of the Hu-chieh without regard to whether they were rich or poor, male or female, young or old and behead them all, and those that were killed totalled over 200,000 and there were also many killed by mistake that had high noses or large beards, at the same time he killed Shih Chien and all of Shih Hu's thrity-eight grandsons. Min also restored his surname to Jan, setting himself up as Emperor establishing his capital at Yeh-ch'eng and calling the state Wei so historically it is called Jan-Wei. When Shih Chih heard of the death of Shih Chien he also proclaimed himself Emperor in hsiang-kuo in order to cintinue the sacrifices to the state of Chao. Because of this Shih Chih and Jan Min attacked each other and everywhere the savage Di-ch'iang and Hu tribesmen all declared their independence and with this the state of Latter Chao completely collapsed with the Hsien-pei of the Mu-jung Clan from the north taking advantage of the situation to mount a major operation against the south. In 332 (Hsien-ho 7) Shih Chih was killed by a subordinate officer, Liu Hsien, and the Latter Chao was finished so Jan Min attacked hsiang-kuo in the north and killed Liu Hsien. In the next year Jan Min was captured and killed by the Yen General Mu-jung K'o so after only three years the state of Jan-Wei fell. With the arrival of this event the times of the fighting in the north between the Former and Latter Chao came to a conclusion.