During the Southern and Northern Dynasties phase of Chinese history it is generally said that from start to finish the political situation was dismal and without a ray of hope. It is said in particular about the Sung state of the House of Liu that their internal struggles were the most violent. However, during the period of the founding of the state during the reigns of the two emperors, Wu-ti and Wen-ti, politically it still had something of a spirit of exuberance and aggressiveness.
From the Late Han on down to the Two Chin Dynasties in Chinese society much emphasis was placed on high family standing. The single exception to this was Liu Yü who had risen up from the peasantry and during his youth he had been a farmer in Tan-t'u. Based on his struggle against the odds to suceed, Liu Yü therefore knew well the suffering among the people and was able to make exceptions to pick and promote men of talent without attaching great importance to lineage. Both before and after his northern campaign, Liu Yü made use of civil officials and military officers who had been specially chosen for men such as the strategist Liu Mu-chih, the great generals T'an Tao-chi, Chu Ling-shih and others had all come from humble backgrounds. His last wish was that the old wooden plow that he himself had used be set up and displayed in the royal palace to serve as a rememberance. Later on when his son I-lung, the emperor Wen-ti, saw this relic of his father's, his face flushed with shame. At his side one of the court ministers said, "Mighty Shun personally plowed the slopes of Li-shan, Po Yu personally attended to his construction projects, your Majesty does not prominently display this heirloom of his sage father wherefore comes knowledge of the toils and hardships of a farmer's life which was the highest virtue of the former emperor." Liu Yü's success depended then on this kind of spirit of having suffered hardship and honesty, while his failures sprang from his intolerance and excessive ambition so for all his haste in usurping the throne and being proclaimed emperor it was only two years after his coronation that he died, otherwise his achievements probably would not have stopped with this.
In Yung-ch'u 3 永初 (422) Liu Yü sickened and died and the Imperial Heir, I-fu ascended the throne while Hsü Hsien-chih, Fu Liang, Hsieh Hui, T'an Tao-chi and others jointly assisted in the administration. During his first year on the throne a coup was initiated and I-fu was deposed and killed by Hsü Hsien-chih, Hsieh Hui and others then together set up Wu-ti's third son, Liu I-lung King of Pien-tu as Sung Wen-ti and also changed the reign title to Yuan-chia "Source of Excellence" to announce the change. Hsü Hsien-chih, like Wu-ti, had risen up from the ranks of the commoners and with the death of Liu Mu-chih he replaced Mu-chih as counselor and confidant and follow him as Yang-chou Prefect. He dominated government for a long time using his power and authority for his own ends and although he lacked any formal education he was very crafty. Because Sung Wen-ti had been put on the throne by Hsü Hsien-chih and the other powerful courtiers he harbored deep fears about them. After his accession he first sent Hsieh Hui out to serve as the Prefect of Ching-chou; T'an Tao-chi was split off by appointing him Inspector-General of the Military Affairs of Ch'ing-chou and Hsü-chou as well as Northern Expeditionary General; and then after made public charges that Hsien-chih and other had killed I-fu, ordering Tao-chi to punish them. Hsien-chih was pressured into hanging himself while Fu Liang was beheaded. When Hsieh Hui in Ching-chou heard of the deaths of Hsü and Fu he immediately set up a report to the emperor claiming that Hsü and Fu had been unjustly killed while at the same time he raised troops in revolt. Wen-ti order the Ling-chün General Tao Yen-chih to lead a naval force to suppress Hsieh Hui while he personally along with T'an Tao-chi would lead an army as backup. In the battle of P'eng-ch'eng-chou (in the vicinity of Yueh-yang in Hu-nan) the armies of Hsieh Hui were defeated. Hsieh fled back to Chiang-ling and was defeated there also. Finally he was made prisoner and sent to Chien-k'ang for beheading. With the deaths of Hsieh and the others Wen-ti then made T'an Tao-chi the Southern Expeditionary General and Chiang-chou Prefect, Tao Yen-chih became the south Chi-chou Prefect while the emperor's trusted aides, the brothers Wang Hua and Wang T'an-shou, and Liu Chan became Palace Attendants with the emperor calling them his "Four Worthies" (ssu-hsien).
Wen-ti was on the throne for thirty years and although he had no success in the several expeditions he sent north, on the domestic fron his contribution was in his ability to build consensus and strengthen the administration. He paid particular attention to the problem of the people's livelihood by encouraging agriculture, reducing taxes, putting in order the administration, superintending and overseeing the administration of justice and allowing the peasantry to live and work in peace and content. He also promoted mass education by founding schools and engaging in a large-scale effort to search out and collect books and maps. In 431 the Supervisor of the Archives (秘書監 Mi-shu Chien) Hsieh Ling-yün to assemble the Ssu-pu Mu-lu (四部目錄 A Catalog of the Four Literary Categories) which totalled 16,482 chuan (卷 rolls). According to the Chronicle of Wen-ti in the Nan-shu, there is a comment on Wen-ti as having said: "I attend diligently to the affairs of state in person never wearying and with no idle moments in order to increase the duration of my reign, with only simplicity and tanquility as my intent, in timely administration and fair judgements the government and the people are pleased and amiable, this is that which the government on the left bank of the Yangtze has never had." History calls this the Good Administration of the Yuan-chia Period (元嘉之治 Yuan-chia chih chih) and in the midst of the darkness of the Southern Courts it is a period of relative social stability, but with regard to the struggle for political power among kings and ministers at court it was still filled with contradictions and jockeying for power.
Sung Wen-ti's important officials and confidantes the bothers Wang Hua and Wang T'an-shou one after the other took ill and died in 431. In 432 the Minister of the Masses, Wang Hung, also died so Liu I-k'ang King of P'eng-ch'eng and Ching-chou Prefect was summoned to court to serve as Minister of the Masses, Intendent of the Masters of Writing and given concurrent command as Yang-chou Prefect; Liu Chan became the Directing the Army General; Liu Ching-jen became the Supervisor of the Masters of Writing and together they managed the court and the administration. I-k'ang was Wen-ti's younger brother and also possessed a talent for scheming. Beginning the 436 when Wen-ti was troubled by consumption (lei-ping), every time he fell ill he was unable to manage the affairs of government so the power was handed over to King I-k'ang for his decision with the outcome that his authority and power grew with each passing day. When I-k'ang was acting as Ching-chou Prefect Liu Chan had already become Chief Clerk (chang-shih) and was very close to I-k'ang. Chan was competing for power with Yin Ching-jen and not on friendly terms, he was also envious of T'an Tao-chi and often before I-k'ang he would slander Tao-chi. When Wen-ti was ill in 436 I-k'ang then forged an imperial edict to kill Tao-chi, an act that resulted in a great loss for the state. With King I-k'ang's offices there were over six-thousand servants and tribute from the four corners all came first to P'eng-ch'eng. This went on for a long time but after a while although Wen-ti still regarded I-k'ang as his brother he was also gradually beginning to have doubts about him. Since Liu Chan had thrown his lot in with I-k'ang, Yin Ching-jen hated him and so secretly reported to Wen-ti saying, "The authority of the Minister-King is weighty, this is not the state's plan so it is only proper to diminish and restrain him even more." At the same time Liu Pin, the Minister of the Masses and Chief Clerk, along with the Master of Records Liu Ching-wen and Liu Chan seeing the increasing illness of Wen-ti secretly plotted to set up I-k'ang in his place. Wen-ti learned of the affair and it made him very angry. So it was that in 440 he called for the deaths of Liu Chan, Liu Ching-jen and Liu Pin and also sent King I-k'ang out to serve as Chiang-chou Prefect. In 441 he again dismissed I-k'ang to Ling-nan and directed him to serve as the Inspector-Genral of the Military Affairs of Chiao-chou and Kuang-chou (modern Kuang-tung and northern Vietnam). At the time Fu Ling-yu the Military Consultant of the Front Prancing Dragons, went to the palace to see the emperor and present a letter from I-k'ang that asked for mercy, and for this Wen-ti had him thrown into prison and where he was ordered to commit suicide. In 445, K'ung Hsi the Cavalier Attendant Gentleman-in-Attendance along with the Supervisor of the Household of the Imperial Heir, Fan Yeh, Yeh's nephew Hsieh Ts'ung and others planned to invite I-k'ang back, but when the plot was uncovered they were all executed. I-k'ang was then reduced to the status of a commoner and then relocated to Ch'eng-tu (in Si-ch'uan). Then with the coming of 451 when an army was lost at Kao-ch'iao and the soldiers of Wei T'ai-wu-ti came to Kua-pu, the south was panic stricken and awash in rumors. Wen-ti feared that the people would revolt and set I-k'ang up in his place and so sent men to kill him, bringing about the tragedy of brother killing brother known in history as the P'eng-ch'eng revolt.
When the eldest son of Sung Wen-ti, Liu Shao, was appointed as the Imperial Heir he was on friendly terms with the son of Lady P'an the Imperial Consort, Liu Shih-hsing. The two brothers engaged in indecent conduct and were often disciplined by Wen-ti for this. The two therefore bore a grudge against the emperor and together with the witch, Yan Tao-yu, and others conspired to cast a spell using a piece of jade carved in the likeness of the emperor and then buried in front of the Han-ch'ang Palace. When the affair was brought to the attention of Wen-ti he was incensed and planned to depose Shao and kill Chün but hesitated in his decision. When the Lady P'an learned of this she proceeded to inform King Shün and Imperial Heir Shao. It was with great urgency then that Imperial Heir Shao gathered together the Bodyguards of the Eastern Palace (the soldiers of the Imperial Heir) along with the trusted officers Shen Shu-erh, Chang Ch'ao-chih and the Left Army Senior Administator Hsiao Pin and others who in the night entered the grounds of the palace and kiled Wen-ti. Imperial Heir Shao then claimed the throne and appointed King Chün as his Valiant Cavalry General. This all took place in 453 and at the time this rocked the whole country. At the time Liu Chün, the King of Wu-ling and third son of Wen-ti, had just led troops to garrison Wu-chou to supress the Man tribes along the yangtze. When he received news of this, he along with the Colonel of the Infantry, Shen Ch;ing-chih, both raised troops and issued a call-to-arms to the state condemning Liu Shao. Responding to the call were Liu I-hsüan King of Nan-ch'iao, Tsang Chih the Yung-chou Prefect, Liu Tan King of Sui, Hsiao Ssu-hua Prefect of Yan-chou and Chi-chou, and others rose up in throngs to voice their support, and assembling their armies they descended upon the east. Shen Ch'iang-chih was particularly skilled at tactical deployments so the King of Wu-ling deferred to Ch'iang-chih complete authority in this area. All of the armies fought their way in a swarm up to Chien-k'ang. Imperial Heir Shao and Hsiao Pin personally led the troops in the capital out to meet the enemy and their ranks fell apart in a defeat handed to them by Shen Ch'ing-chih. In the battle both Imperial Heir Shao and King Chün were captured and killed. At the same time in the capital itself there were many of the troops and populace killed or injured, but after that affair was settled King Chün of Wu-ling received the acclaim of the masses and ascended the imperial throne to become Sung Hsiao-wu-ti.
During the last years of the Yuan-chia period (424-453) the Sung externally had encountered the devastation of the Wei advance south and internally met the revolt of Imperial Heir Shao so the with the accession of Hsiao-wu-ti the state had already suffered a series of blows from which it could not recover. After Hsiao-wu-ti was on the throne the country suffered through a long series of revolts and disturbances that continued right up to the end of the Liu-Sung state and with it also ended the political continuity of the ruling house.
Liu Chün, the ruler Sung Hsiao-wu-ti, was a man of dangerous ambitions and hidden within his character was a cruel streak which was not diminished when dealing with older males in his family. At the very start of his reign, Liu I-hsuan King of Nan-ch'iang (later changed to Nan-chün) was appointed Overseer of the Palace Writers, Chancellor and concurrent Ching-chou Prefect; Liu Tan the King of Sui became the Guard General and Yang-chou Prefect; Tsang Chih was made the Chariots and Cavalry General and Chiang-chou Prefect; Liu I-kung King of Chiang-hsia served as the Grand tutor and Commander-in-Chief. I-hsüan and I-kung were both Hsiao-wu-ti's paternal uncles. Ever since 443 when he was installed as Ching-chou Prefect, I-hsüan had been in the west for ten years, judicially and adminstratively a power unto himself. Sharing a border with Ching-chou was Chiang-chou whose Prefect, Tsang Chih, had originally served as the Yung-chou Prefect and had played a leading role in the northwest. In 451 when T'o-pa T'ao had come down south Chih had the singular achievement of successfully defending Hsü-i. During his several military campaigns in the north he had been victorious wherever he had gone and had come to consider himself as the hero of the age. Tsang Chih considered Hsiao-wu-ti to be an ignorant, jealous and suspicious man and wanted to overthrow him to set I-hsüan in his place, so with this in mind he entered into a close association with I-hsüan and also established contacts with Hsü I-pao the Yen-chou Prefect and Lu Shuang the South Yu-chou Prefect from the area north of the Yangtze to jointly plan an uprising. Lu Shuang was a man of great bravery but lacked any appreciation of organization and planning so without waiting for the completion of the group's planning he went ahead and activated his troops. Whe Hsu I-pao, Liu I-hsuan and Tsang Chih heard that Lu Shuang had started moving then they also launched their troops into revolt in what was the spring of 454, the first year of Hsiao-wu-ti's reign. When the emperor heard of I-hsuan's revolt he immediately sent out Generals Liu Yuan-ching and Wang Hsuan-mo at the head of an army to go west and put down Tsang Chih and I-hsuan. To the north he sent Hsüeh An-tu and Tsung Yueh under the supervision of Shen Ch'ing-chih to deal with Lu shuang and Hsu I-pao. When Hsu I-pao activated his troops he first assaulted P'eng-ch'eng but was thrown back by the Chi-chou Prefect Yuan Hu-chih and fled back to Lu Shuang. He combined his forces with Shuang and then attacked Li-ch'eng in the south where they were met by Shen Ch'ing-chih, Hsüeh An-tu and the others and gave battle. Lu Shuang's troops were defeated and he was killed in battle while Hsu I-pao fled in ruin to Tung-hai where he was killed by some of the inhabitants and thus the revolt in the region north of the Yangtze was brought to an end. It was unfortunate that Lu Shuang was unexpectedly killed in this civil war for the Yu-chou Prefect was reputed to be a master in tactical warfare and was a distinguished general of the Southern Court. When King I-hsuan and Tsang-chih heard of the collapse of the armies in the north they became frightened and confused while their soldiers no longer had the will to fight. Defeated by Wang Hsuan-mo and Liu Yuan-ching at Liang Shan (Ho-hsien in An-hui) Tsang Chih fled back to Hsun-yang set fire to the depot there and then went to Nan-hu (modern Wu-ch'ang) where he was killed by pursuing troops. Liu I-hsuan fled back to Chiang-ling where his subordinates mutinied, took him captive and threw him into prison. Chu Hsiu-chih, Hsiao-wu-ti's newly appointed Ching-chou Prefect took advantage of the situation to fight his way into Chiang-ling where he killed I-hsuan and his sixteen sons. A section of the officers and men loyal to I-hsuan fled in defeat to the Northern Court. Although the revolt of I-hsuan had been quelled the nation still suffered tremendous losses.
Liu Tan King of Sui who later had his title changed to King of Ching-ling, was the son of Wen-ti and the younger brother of Hsiao-wu-ti. By temperment he was magnanimous and well-mannered, and was a very well liked figure who had also participated in the subjugation of Imperial Heir Shao and King I-hsuan of Nan-chün with distinction. In Ta-ming 2 (458)he was appointed South Hsü-chou Prefect with a garrison at Kuang-ling. In order to guard against the north he assembled a great multitude of talented and able men to train and maintain a crack force of armored soldiers, and in addition to this also repaired the city walls and moats. Hsiao-wu-ti perceived that with each passing day the influence and power of the King of Ching-ling grew and this gave rise to his suspicions and jealousy so that when unscrupulous men from in the court tried to stir up trouble saying that the King had unusual plans, the emperor indicated to an official his intention to bring about the king's impeachment for crimes and requested that he be handed over to the Commandant of Justice. In this manner it came about that Yen-chou Prefect Huan Ling and the Supernumerary Palace Attendant Serving in the Palace Tai Ming-pao who were at the head of an escort of troops accompanying them to Lang's new post were to take advantage of Liu Tan's unpreparedness to suprise and seize him. However, the matter was discovered by Liu and he led troops out to meet them and attack, killing Huan Lang with Tai Ming-pao fleeing back to Chien-k'ang. The emperor then proclaimed a state of martial law within the country and employed the famous general Shen Ch'ing-chih as the Chariots and Cavalry Great General (車騎大將軍) and South Yen-chou Prefect to command a large force that would advance and extinguish the revolt of Liu Tan. Tan quickly moved the population within the city walls, closed the city gates and posted soldiers to the wall to protect himself, while also drawing up a report to present his case to the emperor saying, "your majesty has put credit in slanderous words, and as a consequence nameless, small-hearted men have come to mount a surprise attack on me, to neglect cruel suffering and then to on to add slaughter, since even the mice and birds covet life how much more so is it among men. Now I compel my retainers (chü-pu) to hold Hsü and Yen. Before what sort of misfortune was it to be born into the Imperial Family! Now what could be my error that I have then become like a barbarian?" He also made public a scandal in Hsiao-wu-ti's palace. This incensed the emperor and in retaliation he killed over one-thousand of Liu Tan's relatives, friends and supporters who had remained in Chien-k'ang. Shen Ch'ing-chih led an army up to the very walls of Kuang-ling while the Yu-chou Prefect Tsung Chüeh and the Hsü-chou Prefect Liu Tao-lung also led their groups to join him so that from every road armies came together like clouds gathering for a storm to besiege the town of Kuang-ling. From the 4th lunar month of (459) to the 7th lunar month the siege continued until the walls of the city were breached. Liu Tan fled in ruin and was killed by pursuing troops while his mother and wife both committed suicide. Hsiao-wu-ti order that all of the males in the city of Kuang-ling who were over five feet tall were to be beheaded with no exceptions and over three-thousand men were killed while the women were all banished to the frontier as a reward to the troops there and the heads of the men were piled up beside the Shih-t'ou Ch'eng (an old city west of Chien-k'ang) in order to be seen by those in the capital.
In the third year after the pacification of the revolt of the King of Ching-ling there was the revolt of the King Hsiu-mao of Hai-nien (王). Hsiu-mao, one of Wen-ti's sons and the younger brother of Hsiao-wu-ti, was sent in Ta-ming (458) to become the Prefect of Yung-chou. He had not quite reached twenty at the time and since his temperment was inclined toward envy, when Major, Yu Shen-chih, received a command from the court to oversee the prince, this displeased him. The King's favorite minister, Chang Po-ch'ao, thus advised him to eliminate Shen-chih and revolt so Hsiu-mao issued a call to arms to his units and took military contol of Hsiang-yang, proclaiming himself Chariots and Cavalry Great General. It was not long before he was murdered by the Military Consultant Yin Ch'ing-yuan but the revolt from beginning to end was only a minor affair.
With the emperor's slaughter of the kings and the damaging envy of his distinguished ministers, for the most part the ranking officials at court knew only how to flatter and curry favors, and there was absolutely no spirit of what was right and just that could be spoken of. The emperor again greatly increased public construction in a complete reversal of the frugal habits of Kao-tsu and Wen-ti having completely rebuilt Kao-tsu's Yin T'ang (Spirit Hall: built to commemorate the dead) and had begun construction on the Yü-teng Dien (Jade lamp Palace). Having seen the bean-cloth latern and hemp-rope duster heirlooms of the founding emperor the ministers were lavish in their praise of this self-restraint, while Hsiao-wu-ti could only sneer and say, "if an old country bumpkin had this it would already be too much!" in (464) Hsiao-wu-ti took ill and died with the Imperial Heir Tzu-yeh (子業) coming to the throne. When Tzu-yeh ascended the throne he was only sixteen with a brutal disposition and extremely obstinant in his behavior. Tai Fa-hsing a Palace Writer and Member of the Suite of the Imperial Heir, Liu I-kung the Grand Steward, Liu Yuan-ching the Tan-yang Metropolitan Prefect jointly assisted in the administration. Tai Fa-hsing restrained Tzu-yeh in much of his conduct and this displeased him so he handed down an edict removing Tai from office and ordered him to commit suicide, while he took over control of the government from the regency. Liu Yuan-ching and Yen Shih-po the Left Supervisor of the Masters of Writing, jointly plotted to depose Tzu-yeh and set in his place as emperor I-kung. News of the plot leaked out and Tz'u-yah personally led the Yü-lin Army out to kill I-kung and his four sons; in addition they also killed Liu Yuan-ching and his eight sons and six younger brothers, as well as Yen Shih-po and his six sons. From this point on the young emperor set out to establish his authority and majesty, beating the high-ranking officials as it they were slaves. The only ones that Tzu-yeh favored were the Master of Writing Yuan I and the Left Assistant of the Masters of Writing hsü Ai as well as Shen Ch'ing-chih and when he would go out on outings he would ususlly go with Tsung Ai, Shen Ch'ing-chih and the Shan-yin Princess. The Shan-yin Princess was Tzu-yeh's older sister who had a lewd and libidinous nature and would often say to the young emperor, "your majesty and I, although we are different as a man and a woman, we both the flesh and blood of the late emperor, but your majesty has the multitude of women in the Six Palaces (a general name for the living quarters of the imperial harem) while I have only one man, you must admit that it is unfair." Tzu-yeh was convinced that such was the case and so he established for the Princess the post of male harem keeper () with thirty men. Tzu-yeh had for a long time loathed King Tz'u-lan of Hsin-p'ing so he sent out his men to order the King's suicide. When news of this reached the Hsu-chou Prefect King Ch'ang of I-yang, he want to plan a revolt. Tzu-yeh personally led a force across the Yangtze with Chen Ch'ing-chih leading the vanguard, to go and put down Liu Ch'ang, but Ch'ang and several tens of cavalry fled into exile with the Northern Wei. It was now that Shen Ch'ing-chih, a man of great achievement and an important official of the Southern Court and also relying upon his accomplishments of having subdued Yen Shih-po, Liu Yuan-ching and Liu Ch'ang stood before Tzu-yeh and admonished him, but Tzu-yeh would not listen. At the time Ch'ing-chih had already given up his military authority so he shut his gates and did not venture out. There were men who said to Tzu-yeh that Ch'ing-chih also had "strange ideas". Tzu-yeh then ordered Ch'ing-chih's younger cousin the Chih-ko General (直閣將軍) to present Ch'ing-chih with poison to commit suicide. Ch'ing-chih did not date to drink the poison but Hsiu-chih forced him and so at the age of eighty he died. In this brief span of time many of the meritorious officials and members of the Royal Family had been killed without reason so people everywhere had a feeling of insecurity. In addition Tzu-yeh also feared and envied his senior male relatives, terrified that they might become a source of future troubles so he had King Huo of Hsiang-tung, King Hsiu-jen of Chien-an and King Hsiu-yu all put into detention in Chien-k'ang heaping every kind of abuse on them, calling Hsiu-jen the King of Murder, Hsiu-yu the King of Thievery and Huo because he was obese was called the King of Pigs. The brutal behavior of Tzu-yeh aroused in everyone a sense of outrage at his excesses but it also aroused a feeling of dread. Shou Shu-chih one of the Inner Palace officials who waited on Tzu-yeh was constantly reprimanded by him and so he nursed a hatred of him in his heart. Thus, he along with Juan Tien-fu the Wardrobe master (ju-i?) of the King of Hsiang-tung, Wang Tao-lung the Nei-chien of Liu Kuang-shih the Prime Minister General plotted together to kill Tzu-yeh in the Hua-lin Garden. Moreover, they set up Liu Huo the King of Hsiang-tung as the emperor and he became the ruler Sung Ming-ti.
Liu Huo, who became Sung Ming-ti, was the eleventh son of Wen-ti, the younger brother of Hsiao-wu-ti and the uncle of the deposed emperor Tzu-yeh. In the revolt against Tzu-yeh, Huo had been installed by the palace mob. The affair had been hurriedly carried out and since it did not accord with clan rules governing succession after ascending the throne the government and the people resisted thus giving rise to the revolt of Tz'u-hsun King of Chin-an.
Tz'u-hsun was the younger brother of Tzu-yeh and at the time he was only ten years old and serving as the Chiang-chou Prefect. Among his aides Teng Wan the Chief Clerk, Hsieh Tao-yü the Director of Divination, P'an Hsin-chih the Chief Commander and Ch'u Ling-ssu the Attending Secretary all planned to use the King to instigate a coup and thereby acquire wealth and honor. Before Tzu-yeh's death it was frequently heard that Chiang-chou was unstable so envoys had been sent request the death of Tz'u-hsun. Tang and the others would not submit to his suicide so they all threw their support behind Tz'u-hsun and started military actions in Chiang-chou, spreading hear and far their call to arms condemning the tyranical ruler. But just as they were beginning Tzu-yeh was killed and Ming-ti ascended the throne, appointing Tz'u-hsun as Chariots and Cavalry General palatine, ceremonially equal to the Three Worthies. The imperial decree arrived in Hsun-yang and the minor officials of Chiang-chou all rejoiced saying, "the tyranny and disorder had already been eliminated, and his majesty once again opens the Yellow Door, this is truly a great blessing for both the state and the people!" Only Teng Wan was deeply disappointed, putting the imperial edict down he said bitterly, "while his majesty is at the threshold of his beginnings, the Yellow Door is but a vain hope for me!" Thus he plotted together with Yuan I the Yung-chou Prefect, stating falsely that they had received a secret edict from the Empress Dowager Lu (the mother of Hsiao-wu-ti) to make haste and mobilize, setting up Tz'u-hsun as the emperor and repudiating Ming-ti. All at once the brothers of Tz'u-hsun (the sons of Hsiao-wu-ti) Liu Tz'u-sui King of An-ling and Ying-chou Prefect, Liu Tz'u-hsu King of Lin-hai and Ching-chou Prefect, Liu Tz'u-yuan King of Shao-ling and Hsiang-chou Prefect and Liu Tz'u-fang King of Hsun-yang the Hui-ch'i Grand Administrator all called up their troops in response to Tz'u-hsun's call in what was the winter in the 12th lunar month of 465. In spring of the next year the young king was crowned emperor in Hsun-yang. With this Hsüeh An-tu the Hsü-chou Prefect, Ts'ui Kao-ku the Chi-chou Prefect, Hsiao Hui-k'ai the I-chou Prefect, Yuan T'an-yuan the Kuang-chou Prefect and Liu Yuan-hu the Liang-chou Prefect all rallied behind Tz'u-hsun. The display of influence and power emanatin from Hsun-yang was such that it seemed like it represented the legitimate line of succession as tribute from the four corners of the world assembled in Chiang-chou, while Ming-ti could only hold on to Tan'yang, Nan-yang and several commanderies. In Chien-k'ang there was great agitation and the bureaucrats all wanted to flee in all directions. On the one hand Ming-ti tried to pacify public sentiment while on the other hand he moved troops and dispatched generals in preparation for war, ordering King Hsiu-jen to assume the post of Inspector-General for Military Affairs to Quell the Uprising, Chariots and Cavalry General and Chiang-chou Prefect with Wang Hsuan-mo as his second in command. In additon, Shen Hsiu-chih was made the Hsun-yang Grand Administrator in command of troops which were to guard against any attempt by the King of Chin-an to advance and occupy Hu-chien-chou (southwest of modern Wu-hu). The only one to show support for Chien-k'ang at the time was Yin Hsiao-tsu the Yen-chou Prefect who led troops south from Hsia-ch'iu to adi the throne. As a result the morale in Chien-k'ang received a boost and Ming-ti immediately ordered Hsiao-tsu to lead his troops to reinforce Hu-chien. When Hsiao-tsu arrived his forward units advanced to attack Che-ch'i along with King Hsiu-jen and while Hsiao-tsu fought courageously he was unexpectedly killed in the ranks by an arrow with Shen Hsiu-chih taking over the command of his forces. Having already won the first encounter the western army became haughty and paid the enemy no further heed so Hsiu-chih rallied his troops around a banner to advance and attack this time routing the western army at Che-ch'i. Teng Wan asked Yuan I the Yung-chou Prefect for aid and he led troops down east but they too were defeated by the eastern army at Nung-hu and Yuan I went to his death. Although the power and influence of Chin-an was great it was based on a gathering of crows (NOTE: the implication being that it was a loose association that bound them together) but with the passing of these two defeats the coalition disintegrated. Within the city of Hsun-yang internal bickering unexpectedly came to the surface, as Chang Yueh a Major with the King of Chin-an murdered Teng Wan and then offered his head as a token of surrender. King Hsiu-jen and Shen Hsiu-chih immediately led troops into hsun-yang and killed King Tz'u-hsun. At the time of this death Tz'u-hsun was just eleven and quite suddenly this eleven-year old child had become a sacrifice in the struggle of other men for political power. As soon as the city fell every other place was either defeated or surrendered bringing a complete halt to the insurrection. Because of this provocation Sung Ming-ti suddenly had all of Tz'u-hsun's brothers killed and of the twenty-eight sons of Hsiao-wu-ti not a one remained alive. Ming-ti's suspicions extended even to his own brothers and it was not long before he had King I of Lu-chiang, Hsiu-yu King of Chin-p'ing, Hsiu-jen King of Chien-an and Hsiu-ju King of Pa-ling all killed. At the same time because the impact of the King of Chin-an incident also produced revolts of Hsü-chou Prefect Hsüeh An-tu and the Ho-nan Grand Administrator Ch'ang Chen-ch'i it allowed Wei to take P'eng-ch'eng and Hsuan-hu without a fight, and all of Huai-pei fell to them with a quick march south. This was the end result of the internecine political sturggles among the Liu clan and after Ming-ti of the Liu-Sung regime came to its final stages of existence.
The brutality, jealousy and suspicion of Sung Ming-ti killed almost all of his kinsmen and the capable of his ministers, putting his favor and trust in seamy characters so that he could immerse himself in idle pleasures, but the government fell into ruin. After a reign of eight years he died and the crown passed to Imperial Heir Yu who became known as Hou-fei-ti (the last dethroned emperor). Yu began his reign when he was just ten years old so the Prefect of the Masters of Writing, Yuan Ts'an, and the Right Supervisor of the Masters of Writing, Ch'u Yuan, jointly assisted him in the government. At the time King Hsiu-fan was the Chiang-chou Prefect and was the only survivin brother of Ming-ti so he felt himself to be the only senior relative of the emperor and when he was unable to come to the court to act as prime minister he felt slighted and his resentment grew inside him. Therefore, he prepared and put into order his armored troops in a program to improve his position. At court they feared that he would give rise to further unrest and so Liu Hsieh King of Chin-hsi was appointed Ying-chou Prefect with Wang Huan as his Chief Clerk to administer the affairs of the province with a directive to keep Hsiu-fan under surveillance. This further angered Hsiu-fan and so in (474) he moved troops to begin a revolt and with a force of 25,000 cavalry and infantry he set out from Hsun-yang and rushed eastward proclaiming that he was acting to remove the evil advisors that surrounded the emperor. At the time most of the veteran generals of the court had died and the only one left was the Right Guards General Hsiao Tao-ch'eng who calmly decided on a plan and maintained his composure as he advocated making a stand at Chien-k'ang and conserve his own strength while the enemy would tire during the long march there. Tao-ch'eng requested that he be allowed to command troops to hold and defend Hsin-t'ing, while Generals Chang Ping, Liu Mien and Shen Huai-ping would split up to hold and defend all the strategic points around the capital. The western army marched day and night to arrive at Chien-k'ang aftern coming ashore from Hsin-lin (southwest of chiang-ning hsien). While Hsiu-fan personally supervised the assault on Hsin-t'ing he sent out his capable officers Ting Wen-hao and Tu Hei-lo to advance and attack T'ai-ch'eng. While the fierce battle raged on all fronts Hsiu-fan climbed the Lin-ts'ang Platform to observe the course of the battle with only a few score men to guard him. When Huang Hui the Garrison Cavalry Colonel pretended to surrender to Hsiu-fan he climbed up on the platform and took advantage of Hsiu-fan's unpreparedness to stab him to death. At the front of Hsiu-fan's army the infantry commanders Ting Wen-hao and Tu Hei-lo had already forced T'ai-ch'eng with Liu Mien dying in battle, but suddenly hearing that Hsiu-fan had been killed, Wen-hao's command fell into confusion. Hsiao Tao-ch'eng took advantage of the situation to personally lead a suprpise attack from Hsin-t'ing in which both Ting Wen-hao and Tu Hei-lo fell in the fighting with the remainder of the force scattering to the four winds bringing a close to the revolt of Hsiu-fan. Tao-ch'eng's army filed triumphantly back into Chien-k'ang with the common folk lining the route to see them and they pointed and said, "Of all those in the country, these are truly noble men!"
Two year after the revolt of the King of Kuei-yang had been crushed another revolt broke out that was led by King Ching-su, who was a grandson of Hsiao-wu-ti. All of the sons of Hsiao-wu-ti were already dead and Ching-su was the oldest of the grandchildren. Among them there were men who stirred up trouble hoping to set up Ching-cu as emperor, but the court secretly learned of this and quietly increased precautionary measures. Ching-su felt uneasy and so pressed forward with his plan to revolt with even greater urgency. At the time Ching-su was the South Hsü-chou Prefect, controlled troops garrisoned at Ching-k'ou and had secretly joined with disaffected soldiers at court such as Ts'ao Hsin-chih, Han Tao-ch'ing and Huan Chih who were to act as his agents there. During the 7th lunar month in the fall of (467) Huan Chih abruptly left Chien-k'ang and proceeded to Ching-k'ou to inform Ching-su that those in the capital had already begun to waver so he should promptly begin military operations. The King set about occupying Ching-k'ou at the start of the revolt. leading an army up west. The Imperial Court immediately sent out Tuan Fu-jung, Jen Nung-fu and Li An-min to command separate land and naval forces which were to proceed downstream towards while Hsiao Tao-ch'eng personally controlled a large army garrisoned at Hsüan-wu Lake that deployed to meet the enemy. Moving eastward the government troops were defeated on the river but were victorious on land as Li An-min fought his way into Ching-k'ou and ended the revolt with the killing of Ching-su. This upheaval involved many both inside and outside the court so when Tao-ch'eng dealt with them leniently they all accepted without question.
The child-emperor Liu Yu was an adolescent who was completely without any intelligence and with a perverse nature, who had no experience with life at court, delighted in travelling about incognito and was uninhibited and reckless. Every time he went out he would order men with lances and bows to follow him around in order to kill men for sport causing a great stir among the people, who would then close up their shops. The Gentleman-in-Attendance Serving within the Yellow Gates Juan T'ien-fu and the San-t'eng Regular Attendant Tu Yu-wen secretly plotted to depose the emperor but the plot was discovered and they were both killed. At the time Hsiao Tao-ch'eng was serving as Directing the Armies General and one day Liu Yu rode on his horse into the office of the general, who since it was in the height of summer had just disrobed to nap when Yu ordered him to stand to attention, drew a bulls-eye on his stomach and the drew his bow as if to shoot. Tao-ch'eng, frightened and bewildered, said to him, "the old minister is without fault!" One of those with the emperor said, "the general has a big belly that makes a truly splendid archery target, but a single arrow would shoot you dead and then we would not be able to use it again, would that not be a pity so we might as well use a blunted arrow." So Yu switched arrows to shoot it straight at his navel and then cast his bow to the side and said, "What do you think of that?" Someone reported that Tao-ch'eng had an awesome reputation and Liu Yu therefore sharpened an arrowhead saying, "tomorrow I will kill Tao-ch'eng!" From then on Hsiao Tao-ch'eng was frightened and ill at ease so consequently along with Chi Seng-jen from the Bureau of Merit in the Directing the Armies staff and the Colonel of the Yueh Cavalry Wang Ching-tse, he plotted to have the young ruler killed. Wang bought the services of some of the officials that surrounded the emperor and then one day during the 7th lunar month of (477) they advantage of Liu Yu's coming back drunk to ( kill???? maybe detain) him. Ching-tze reported the news to Tao-ch'eng who immediately entered the palace in his military uniform to report the incident while at the same time using the Empress Dowager's edict to reduce Liu Yu in rank to King of Ts'ang-wu and collectively discussed supporting Liu Chüan King of An-ch'eng (the third son of Ming-ti) as emperor, becoming the ruler Sung Hsun-ti. Since Hsiao Tao-ch'eng had carried out the assassination in and out of court he was held in awe and the ministers viewed him with mistrust.
Of the veteran generals of the Imperial Court at the time those whose fame and influence were sufficient to rival that of Hsiao Tao-ch'eng were just the Ching-chou Prefect, Shen hsiu-chih, who commanded a strong force that held the upper reaches of the Yangtze. Hsiu-chih had long feared Tao-ch'eng's control of the court and when he heard how the emperor had become the King of Ts'ang-wu he immediately went to his aid with troops and issued a call to the provinces and commanderies while at the same time he sent a lette to Tao-ch'eng censuring him for his regicide. When Tao-ch'eng heard that Hsiu-chih had begun military operations he promptly ordered the Ying-chou Prefect to lead troops to bring Hsiu-chih to submission. The Ying-chou Prefect was Liu Tan King of Wu-ling who was still immature so the actual administration of the province was in the hands of the Chief Clerk Liu Shih-lung. At court the three eleder statesmen, Liu Ping Prefect of the Masters of Writing, Ch'u Yuan Supervisor of the Masters of Writing and Yuan Ts'an Overseer of the Masters of Writing still remained and of them Yuan Ts'an and Liu Ping resented Tao-ch'eng's arbitrary and disloyal heart, planning secretly to stage and uprising from within to support Shen Hsiu-chih and jointly punish Tao-ch'eng. Ch'u Yuan knew of the plot and since he was on bad terms with Yuan Ts'an he reported it to Tao-ch'eng. Tao-ch'eng then ordered the army chief Tai Seng-jen to take troops to attack and kill Yuan Ts'an, Liu Ping and their followers. When Shen Hsiu-chih led his army from Ching-chou into the east he was blocked by Liu Shih-lung at Ying-ch'eng. They battled fiercely from the 12th lunar month of 477 until the 1 lunar month of the follwing year with Hsiu-chih unable to obtain a victory. When Tao-ch'eng's oldest son, Hsiao I, led the troops of Chiang-chou to reinforce those of Ying-chou, Hsiu-chih's entire army was defeated and scattered. He fled back to Chiang-ling but found that it too was occupied by the Yung-chou Prefect Chang Ching-erh, so Hsiu-chih fled in ruin to Hua-jung where he hung himself and died. With the defeat of Hsiu-chih's revolt Tao-ch'eng was able to stabilize his control over the government.
The Shen Hsiu-chih incident was brought to a conclusion in 478 and with that Tao-ch'eng advanced from the rank of Grand Tutor to that of Minister of State, enfeoffed as the Duke of Ch'i with the addition of the "Nine Grants" and ennobled as a King. He then forced the abdication of Sung Hsun-ti and thus did Hsiao Tao-ch'eng, King of Ch'i, ascend to the imperial throne and become the ruler Kao-ti of the Ch'i Dynasty. So after eight emperors and fifty-nine years the Sung Dynasty came to an end. After Hsiao Tao-ch'eng overthrew the Sung the deposed emperor Hsun-ti was named the King of Ju-yin and later on he was killed, completely eliminating the Liu clan.
The fifty-nine years of Liu-Sung rule marked a low point in law and morality, particularly within the royal family where the viciousness of the family infighting was such that of Hsiao-wu-ti's nine sons, forty-plus grandsons and sixty-seven great grandsons not a one survived, a thing rarely seen in history. The normal and accepted order of political relationships was trampled into the dirt and thre three major reasons for this were:
Although the Liu-Sung did not restore the feudal system, they did however follow the traditional practices of the Two Chin Dynasties where the kings all occupied provinces and commanderiesm maintaining large forces of soldiers and serving concurrently as Prefect to create what was a feudal structure of power. The most unfortunate aspect of this was that for the most part the Kings of the Sung were all children and political power was held in the hands of the civil and military officials that surrounded them. These men in order to grasp political power would frequently stir up trouble and set traps and there was no extreme they would not go to which led to very complex and brutal struggle. (The Sung continued to use Chin institutions so all of the Kings had armies, the leader of which was called either Chief Commander, General or Major and had a Kingly Master, Kingly Friend and servants and aides such as the Director of Divination, Attending Scholar and Attending Secretary. For the most part the kings were also concurrent Prefects of Pastors of a province. Below the prefect the post of Chief Clerk directed the administration while either a Military Consultant or a Consulting Military Advisor directed the army adn in addition to these there were the Detached Rider (a sort of lieutenant governor), the Attending Functionary (acting as an administrative deputy) and a Master of Records, etc. The administrative agency was extremely large with numerous subordinates. Consult the Monograph on the Hundred Offices in the Sung Shu, the TCTC and also the T'ung-k'ao.)
Ever since the Wei and Chin the moral degenracy of the political community caused the common man to only emphasize practical advantages and disadvantages, (and enjoyment??), neglect decorum and morality, and the outcome of this "ends justifies the means" attitude was the destruction of social relationships (that is, the "three bonds" and the "five constant virtues".)
Liu Yu rose up out of the wilderness and relied on opportunities to grasp political power. The Royal Family that he created had absolutely no formal education to speak of. Many of the boy-kings were born in the women's quarters of the palace and knew nothing at all, behaving in a ridiculous manner. Since they had no direction from a teacher and also lacked the restraint of family regulations, as a consequence this led to every sort of pitiful tragedy. With regard to the rise and fall of the political power of the Royal Family, these tragedies had only a negligible influence but with regard to the distressing plight of the people's life it was great.