The Jin

First Part

The Western Jin

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The brave Deng Ai, always zealous in his lord's service, had no sooner subdued Shu then he wrote from Chengdu to Sima Zhao, & urged him to profit from the renown that this conquest had acquired by forcing the Prince of Wu to sumbit as well.

Deng Ai wrote: "It is commonly said that an army with a reputation flies towards victory; if we fall on the states of Wu, they will undoubtedly fly before us. The opportunity is favorable."

Sima Zhao did not agree with this advice. Knowing that Deng Ai was a man of action, he sent Wei Guan, a court officer, with this short reply: "Do not fail to accurately inform me of everything, and do nothing without orders from the court."

Deng Ai, persuaded that nothing could be done better in the interests of his lord, insisted again, and spoke with such vehemence to Wei Guan that Deng Ai nearly convinced Wei Guan, when Zhong Hui, present at their conversation and jealous of the fame of Deng Ai, winked at Wei Guan and then said to Wei Guan privately that Deng Ai undoubtedly had some intention of rebelling. Wei Guan, on returning to the court, informed Sima Zhao, who without futher investigation gave the order to bring Deng Ai and his son Deng Zhong in chains.

Zhong Hui himself planned to rebel. Only Deng Ai, whose loyalty and bravery Zhong Hui feared, held him back. Thus as soon as this treacherous subject found himself in charge of the army, he spread a false order from the empress of Wei to raise an army and make war against Sima Zhao.

Jiang Wei rushed to Chengdu from the far north, intending to kill Zhong Hui and all the Wei officers, and to search for somebody from the Han bloodline whome could replace the deposed emperor on the throne. Jiang Wei so displeased his soldiers that they took arms themselves and put both Jiang Wei and Zhong Hui to death. The soldiers had detached some horsemen to break Deng Ai's chains and restore his position as general when Wei Guan, who had arrested Deng Ai and taken his position, quickly followed in Deng Ai's footsteps, and killed Deng Ai and his son.

Sun Xiu, Emperor of Wu, died at the end of this year. As the emperor neared his end and could no longer speak, he had a brush and paper brought to him on which he wrote to summon Puyang Xing, his prime minister. When Puyang Xing entered, Sun Xiu reached out his hand and pointed to Sun Wan, the Crown Prince, who was still a child. Sun Xiu then fainted and died.

After the death of the emperor, the nobles gathered to choose a successor. "The Han," they said, "have just been destroyed. Putting Sun-Han on the throne would ruin us. He is a child. The Wei will take advantage of his youth to destroy us. Sun Hao is a prince filled with ability and intelligence; he is decisive and firm in his resolutions, and it is to our advantage to put him on the throne." The plan being decided, Puyang Xing and Zhang Bu went to find Lady Zhu Ji, Sun Hao's mother, to propose the plan and to ask for her agreement. "I am no more", she said, "than a woman who has never involved myself in affairs of state; how can I know what is appropriate to do in the present circumstances? What I recommend to you is to maintain the imperial family on the throne." The nobles, on hearing this response, the nobles no longer hesitated to choose Sun-hao.

No Emperor behaved better at the start of their reign. Honest and generous, Sun Hao showed great humanity towards the unfortunate, whom he had searched for diligently in his kingdom and to whom he distributed generous gifts. He attended to the needs of the people, and showed such good qualities, that his praises were heard from all sides. However, this wise conduct did not last long. As soon as the emperor was convinced that he had nothing to fear and that the people were on his side, he indulged in the debauchery of wine and women with little restraint. This caused Puyang Xing, Zhang Bu, and others who had contributed the most to his rise to power to regret their actions and think of ways to destroy him. Their plan was revealed, and Sun Hao, upon being informed, had Puyang Xing and Zhang Bu arrested as they entered the palace. He exiled them to Guangzhou in the province of Guang Dong, and they were both killed on the way, along with their entire families.

At the beginning of the year 265, Sima Zhao, the prince of Jin, died. His son, Sima Yan, inherited all of his lands, his positions, and his authority. More ambitious than his father, however, he forced Emperor Yuan, the last legitimate Wei emperor, to cede the empire. Emperor Yuan resigned on the twelfth moon of this year. He retired to Kin Yong, a city that no longer exists, but was located north of Hunan.

When this unfortunate emperor left, Sima You, who had been his master, went to bid him farewell, and said to him, tears in his eyes: "My lord, I will be until my last breath the faithful subject of the august dynasty of Wei. " Grief prevented him from saying more, so heavy was his heart. As soon as the emperor left, Sima Yan took the title of emperor himself and gave his dynasty the name of Jin, after the principality he possessed.

Emperor Wu

Emperor Wu was barely on the throne when he made a prodigious change in the top positions of the state, removing all those from the Han and Wei families, appointing his relatives in their place, without regard for merit or ability. Fou-hiuen, whom he had kept in the position of censor of the empire that he had under the Wei emperors but could not see so many honest officials lose their positions to incapable ones without being affected. He petitioned the new emperor and made it so clear the harm that such a great change was doing to the government, that the emperor could not help but agree. But the emperor stopped there, and those who had been removed remained without position or employment.

Although the new emperor could have easily brought the Emperor of Wu under his domination, he did not wish, however, to undertake this at the beginning of his reign. He was fully occupied with firmly establishing his family on the throne. He spent his first years renewing the government, and reviving the old rules of the first sages that the times of chaos had greatly enfeebled.

Sacrifices especially had become rare or were performed with ceremonies very different from those practiced by the ancients. Even in the temple where they offered sacrifices to Emperor Chang was a special place dedicated to the Wu, the five emperors, which the wise men, imbued with ancient doctrine, saw only with extreme difficulty. Therefore, as soon as they became aware of the emperor's good intentions, they did not fail to present him with a petition, in which they said that if these Wu were something real, it could only be the Tien-ti or the Lord of Heaven, whose denomination of five was borrowed from the five elements that serve for the production of beings; but in order to remove any cause for error, it was necessary for His Majesty to suppress this particular place dedicated to the Wu. The emperor received this petition favorably, granted them what they asked for, and forbade under severe penalties any further sacrifices to the Wu. On the thirtieth day of the sixth month of this year, there was a solar eclipse; another one is also recorded, the first of the tenth month of the same year.

Sun Hao, emperor of Wu, who had everything to fear from Emperor Wu, who was not in a position to sustain the war, sent Ting-tchong, one of the highest officers of his court, to ask for his friendship. The emperor, who did not want to undertake anything before providing for everything, received this envoy well and sent him back filled with honors and caresses. Upon his return to his master, instead of giving him a faithful account of the successful outcome of his negotiation, he did everything to persuade him to go to war. "Sima Yan, emperor of Jin," he said, "only thinks of peace; convinced that your majesty would not dare to attack, he takes no precautions. The countries that surround us to the north of China are unguarded; if your majesty wishes, it would be very easy to seize the city of Y-yang (1)."

(1) Y-yang was located in the territory of Guangzhou, three hundred li to the east of Ju-ning-fou, in the province of Ho-nan.

Sun Hao gathered his nobles, informed them of Ting-tchong's proposition, and asked for their opinion. The great general Lu Kai, son of Lu Xun, who had succeeded his father in his positions, immediately spoke up and said, "When your majesty sent Ting-tchong to Prince of JIN, his intention was to congratulate him on the fact that after conquering the country of Shu and destroying the Han family, the prince of We had ceded the throne and the empire to him; your intention was also to live in good understanding with him, since in our position we cannot wage war against him: however, if your majesty is determined to do so, it should be postponed, and preparations should be made to ensure success." The nobles approved of Lou-kai's sentiment, especially Ouang-fan, who strongly protested against the indignity of declaring war after seeking peace. Sun Hao did not want to go against the opinion of all the nobles, but he was very displeased with Lou-kai and was particularly resentful of the way Ouang-fan had expressed himself, to the point that it cost Ouang-fan his life, here is how. A few days after holding this council, Sun Hao prepared a grand feast, where he invited most of the nobles, including Ouang-fan, whom he forced to attend. Sun Hao Having made him drink excessively, he fell to the ground without being able to get up. Seeing him in the state he wanted, Sun Hao pretended to believe that the only thing lacking in decency was the contempt he showed for his own person. Then, pretending to be very indignant, he took a sword, split his head open, and filled everyone present with fear. This violent action, committed after several others, caused murmurs against him, and the general discontent made him so suspicious that he could no longer bear to be looked at directly by his nobles. Lou-kai, always zealous for the common good and for the interests and glory of his master, feared the consequences and could not help but speak to him in a somewhat lively manner. "Have we ever seen," he said, "that the prince and his subjects should not know each other? An prince who withdraws from the perspective of his people, lacks their true interests. "If any unexpected matter arises, can he foresee what will become of him, and does he not have reason to fear everything?" Sun Hao had enough intelligence to sense that Lou-kai was telling him the truth. Although he was naturally impatient and listened to him with annoyance, he had enough prudence not to let his true feelings show: he even pretended to want to change his behavior and became a little more humane.

Lu Kai, satisfied with this small success, then undertook to persuade him to leave Ou-tchang, the capital of Hou-kouang, where he had moved his court the previous year, to establish it in Kien-nié du Tché-kiang where his predecessors held it in the past; the reason that prompted Lu Kai to urge him to make this change was the inconvenience and expenses that the people of Yang-tcheou were obliged to bear to navigate the great river Kiang and transport their tributes; this motive led him to present him with the following petition: "So many concerns that occupy us in administration, it is very painful, prince, to see that in the most favorable circumstances and in a time of peace where we have neither war to support nor any affairs that require extraordinary expenses, the treasures of your majesty are depleted. Towards the end of the Han dynasty, when this family was on the verge of collapse, we saw the empire divided into three kingdoms, of approximately equal power; but the princes of JIN have so greatly increased their power that in a very short time they have extinguished the weak hope that remained for the HAN, and have taken away from the princes of Ouei all the provinces they had usurped. This is what we have seen with our own eyes, and what has raised the most formidable enemy your august family has ever had. I fear for the states of your majesty. Ou-tchang is a place too open; she is exposed to too many dangers there and should not hold her court there: not even the young children are safe. who sing loudly in the streets that it is better to drink the water of Kien-nié and die peacefully, than to eat fish from Ou-tchang and live in anxiety; is it not clear evidence that the Tien, who speaks so clearly through the voice of the people, does not want you to hold your court here?" The stores are empty and the treasures are depleted; the reason is clear: transportation costs are immense, and those who are in charge only think of their own interests; moreover, the expenses of your majesty's palace are excessive. In the past, the women employed there did not exceed a hundred; today, they exceed a thousand: what sums are needed to provide for their maintenance, and for the upkeep of this infinite multitude of useless mouths that serve them? The oppressed people groan under the burden, and your states suffer. Therefore, I ask your majesty to reduce the number of women serving in the palace to a hundred; to establish a" choosing skilled people among his mandarins to take care of his finances; she will follow the orders of Tien; the relieved people will be eager to serve her, and she will put the empire in a state of not fearing anything. "

The Emperor of Wu did not look favorably upon this request; but since Lu Kai had the respect of both the nobles and the people, the emperor did not dare to show his displeasure, especially since the disorders Lu Kai spoke of were known to everyone.

Without responding to this request, as was customary, he ordered preparations to be made to leave for Kien-nié where he intended to hold his court from now on, and appointed Teng-mou, the father of the princess, his legitimate wife, as governor of Ou-tchang.

The princess was offended; she considered this position to be beneath her father; she complained about it and tried to persuade Sun Hao to change this decision; but instead of giving her any satisfaction, the prince banished Teng-mou to Tfang-mou, and left for Kien-nié where he forced her to follow him. Teng-mou died of grief in his exile, without the princess, his daughter, being able to see him.

However, the Emperor of On knew the need he had for skilled people to achieve his plan of uniting the entire empire under his rule. He searched for those who had the most experience in governance and were most highly esteemed. He summoned them to the court and tasked them, along with the assembled nobles, to examine the laws and customs in force in the empire, to eliminate abuses and add any necessary ones.

The main cause of the abuses in the government was the low salaries of the mandarins, which forced them to oppress the people in order to meet their expenses. In order to remove this pretext for not fulfilling their duty, the emperor increased their wages according to their rank.

At that time, there was a certain sect of diviners who claimed to have the power to predict the future. to have the knowledge to discover the most hidden things and even to predict future events; these kinds of people caused a lot of harm among the people, often overturning families. Towards the end of this year, the emperor, under severe penalties, banned this pernicious doctrine, as well as that of astrologers who believed that different events depended on the position of certain celestial bodies.

Kia-tchong and the other high-ranking officials who had been entrusted with the reform of the government offered the emperor the work they had done on this subject. After examining it himself, the emperor wanted to explain these new laws himself in a large assembly of court mandarins; then he had them published throughout his empire and ordered that everything necessary be prepared for him to cultivate the portion of land whose produce was destined to offer a sacrifice to Chang-ti. with all the splendor, magnificence, and ceremonies that were once in use.

In the third month, Empress Ouang-chi, the mother of the emperor, passed away. The prince was deeply affected by this and wanted to mourn her according to the strictness of ancient laws. After the initial funeral ceremonies, he continued to mourn by sleeping on the ground, eating only coarse meats, and only allowing important matters to be brought to his attention.

The nobles presented several petitions to urge him to shorten the mourning period, but he replied, "I have received a thousand benefits from the care that Empress, my mother, has taken of me, and so far I have done nothing to show my gratitude. If I have failed in this essential point during her lifetime, should I not at least, after her death, make known to the entire empire the regret I have for losing her?" However, the nobles insisted strongly, and he yielded to their prayers, only keeping the mourning attire that he continued to wear for three years.

On the seventh moon of this year, in a very strange time, a multitude of stars appeared to fall from the sky and land on the earth on the western side; and on the ninth moon, there were extraordinary floods in the states of Jin.

At that time, in the regions of Yong-tcheou and Leang-tcheou, there were several tens of thousands of Sien pì Tartars, mixed with the Chinese, whom the brave Teng-ngai had previously forced to submit to his master, and to whom lands had been assigned in these two departments. The emperor, who wanted to ensure peace in his states, feared that this mixture of Sien-pi and Chinese would cause trouble in the future; he looked to Hou-liei, who was highly respected in these areas, and appointed him as governor to closely monitor their behavior.

When the states of Jin were in the condition desired by the emperor, this prince devoted himself earnestly to the great project of uniting the entire empire under his rule... to seize the states of Ou; but before resorting to open war, he began by settling everything on the borders, in order to prevent any troubles that the people might raise there: for this purpose, he gave Yang-hou the overall command of the troops in King-tcheou, along with the governorship of Siang-yang; Sima Zhao, whom he appointed governor of Hia-pei, had the overall command of the Siu-tcheou region.

Yang-hou was more capable than anyone else of winning the hearts of the people; attentive to their interests, he welcomed them with kindness, and it was unheard of for anyone to leave him dissatisfied; he was just and sincere. Barely had he arrived in his department when his reputation made him sought after from all sides by the people of Kiang and Han, who came to him and were so pleased with the way he received them that upon returning home, they urged their fellow countrymen to submit to him.

When Yang-hou visited the storehouses in his department, he found that there were not enough grains for more than a hundred days. destined for soldiers, he could not help but express his sorrow; it did not take much more for the people, the following mob, to pour more grains into his vast granaries than was needed to feed the soldiers usually maintained there for at least ten years.

As it was to be feared that by bringing the war into the states of Wu, some faction would form in the country of Shu in favor of the Emperor of Wu, who, by forcing a diversion, could have ruined the plan he had in mind, this consideration led the emperor to give an order of which here is the substance: Zhuge Liang has always served his prince with a zeal and dedication that is rarely found in the most loyal subjects; his son Zhuge Zhan, following in his footsteps, died in the service of his master, and his nephews, imitating such great examples, show nothing that is unworthy of their ancestors: you, the nobles, deliberate among yourselves about the positions that must be given to them.

Fou-tfien, father and son, both died in the service of the princes of Chou, commanding their troops. Fou-tchou and Fou-mou, their descendants, can serve the state effectively; several other warriors from the country of Shu, from whom great advantages could be derived, are idle at home: is this not a loss for the empire? Therefore, let an exact search be made, and let the virtue of the fathers be rewarded in their descendants, giving everyone positions proportionate to their talents."

This order, executed with fairness, gave so much satisfaction to the people of Chou that there was no longer any fear of any party capable of disturbing the emperor's plan.

In the ninth month of autumn, a comet appeared in the constellation Tfé-ouei.

In the following month, the brave Lu Kai, an officer of the highest merit and perhaps the only one truly zealous for the interests of his master, the prince of Ou, died. This prince did not love him and had even developed aversion towards him. But he esteemed his skill and his honesty, and knew perfectly well how much he needed him. When he learned that his illness was fatal, he sent to ask his opinion on several officers of his court; Lu Kai, who did not know how to disguise the truth, replied without hesitation that Ho-ting was a man he absolutely should not use, nor Pou-ly, but that Yao-fin, Leou-hiuen, Ho-chao, Lou-kang, were upright, skilled, and zealous for his service, and that he could definitely rely on them.

Ho-ting was a man who, through his flexibility and deceit, had infiltrated the palace under Sun Hao's predecessor, and had so gained the latter's trust that he entrusted him with the most secret affairs and had absolutely nothing hidden from him. When the prince of Ou was informed of Lu Kai's response and what he thought of Ho-ting, already not favorably disposed towards him, he became so angry that he condemned his entire family to be sent into exile in Kien-ngan (1). (1) Kien-ning-fou in Fukien

Different small wars had prevented the emperor from undertaking the reduction of the Ou states as soon as he desired. Toufa-chukineng, king of the Sien-pi, entered the borders of the empire to engage in the usual banditry against the Tartars, to raid and pillage Tşin-cu-ti, and Tfin-ou-ti. The emperor, fearing that the Sien-pi would disturb him again, sent General Hou-liei against them with strict orders to spare no effort in capturing this Tartar king and to immediately put him to death without waiting for further orders from the court. Hou-lici, upon reaching the borders, dispatched a cavalry unit that moved so quickly to cut off the Sien-pi's path that they were caught in a crossfire. These surprised Tartars fought bravely, but ultimately, forced to yield to the number and valor of the Chinese troops, they were defeated, and their king Toufa-chukineng was found dead on the battlefield. battlefield; General Hou-liei of the imperial army also lost his life.

No sooner had this expedition ended than another war broke out, even more to be feared because it was intense. The people of Leang-tcheou, at a time when there was least reason to expect it, took up arms and openly revolted. The emperor, fearing that their revolt would have unfortunate consequences, immediately appointed Kien-hong to go and appease them. Tchin-kien, the prime minister of war, who did not have a high opinion of Kien-hong's prudence, represented to the emperor that while there were few officers in the empire as brave as Kien-hong, he did not believe he had enough skill to handle a delicate matter where it was more a question of winning back rebellious minds than launching a military attack. Therefore, he begged his majesty to appoint another general. The emperor, believing that Tchin-kien had some reason to be dissatisfied with Kien-hong and that personal motives were behind his representations.

This is just a preview intended to gauge interest in an enthusiast translation of Mailla's Histoire General into English. Let me know if you'd like me to continue.

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