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Chinese History - Later Zhao 後趙 (319-350) and Ran-Wei 冉魏 (350-353) Dynasties

Periods of Chinese History
The Later Zhao Dynasty Houzhao 後趙 (319-350) ruled over one of the so-called Sixteen Barbarian States 五胡十六國 (300~430) that dominated northern China during the early Southern and Northern Dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600). It was founded by Shi Le 石勒 who belonged to the people of the Jie 羯, said to be a tribe of the Xiongnu 匈奴. From the capital Xiangguo 襄國 (modern Xingtai 邢台, Hebei), later Ye 鄴 (near modern Anyang 安陽, Hebei), the dynasty ruled over the region of the modern provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan and Shandong, as well as parts of Jiangsu, Anhui and Liaoning.
Shi Le 石勒 was originally a native military commander under the Jin dynasty 晉 (265-420), against which he finally rebelled. Together with Liu Yuan 劉淵 and Liu Yao 劉曜, the founder of the Former Zhao dynasty 前趙 (304-329), he sacked the city of Luoyang 洛陽. From 312 on he resided in Xiangyang and was the most powerful potentate of the whole region. With the conquest of Pingyang 平陽 (modern Linfen 臨汾, Shanxi) in 318 on he controled the whole region north of the Yellow River. In 319 Liu Yao proclaimed himself Emperor of the Zhao empire, yet Shi Le was not willing to submit to his rule and adopted the title of Great Khan (da shanyu 大單于) and King of Zhao. Shi Le undertook military campaigns to weep out the Xianbei 鮮卑 tribe of the Duan 段 and came into the possession of what is today Henan and northern Anhui. In 329 he attacked Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi), the capital of the Former Zhao empire, and so also was lord of these western regions and thus of a large part of northern China. It was during this time that the River Huai 淮水 became the border between northern and southern China. In 330 Shi Li adopted the title of emperor (Emperor Ming 後趙明帝, r. 319-333). He died three years later, succeeded by his son Shi Hong 石宏 (r. 333-334). Yet the most powerful man of the empire was his nephew Shi Hu 石虎 who was Counsellor-in-chief (chengxiang 丞相), Prince of Wei 魏 and Great Khan. In 334 Shi Hu overthrew Shi Hong. He killed all other sons of Shi Le and those of Shi Hong and shifted the capital from Xiangguo to Ye. Shi Hu only adopted the title of emperor in 337. Until then he called himself Heavenly King of the Great Zhao (Da-Zhao tianwang 大趙天王). Shi Hu suddenly died in 349 and left a power vacuum that was heavily contested by various princes. All of his sons ruled successively for a short time.
In 350 an adoptive grandson of Shi Hu, Ran Min 冉閔 (accordingly called Shi Min 石閔) used this chance to seize power. He killed Shi Jian 石鑑 and Shi Zhi 石祗 and proclaimed himself Emperor of a Wei dynasty that is known to historians as the Ran-Wei 冉魏 (350-352; Ran Min is therefore also called Wei Ran 魏冉). His empire was soon conquered by the Former Yan 前燕 (337-370).
In the beginning Shi Le did not rely on a regular adminstration but supported his campaigns by simply requisitioning grain of the rich landowners. Only from 313 on he resorted to a regular household registration with the expectation that this would result in regulated state revenues from taxes in grain and corvée services. These measures were expanded after his proclamation to emperor. He sent out officials to assess the tax potential of all provinces and commanderies. The results of this bureaucratisation was that Shi Hu could rely on suffcient grain deliveries to the capital.
Chinese and Non-Chinese peoples were administered by two different and parallel structures. Non-Chinese (guoren 國人) were subject to the officials of the Khan, while the Chinese (Zhaoren 趙人) were governed by Chinese officials in the bureaucratic system inherited from the earlier dynasties. In order to support the needs of the capital, persons from the conquered regions were settled down in the capital region. Except the civilian households, there were a lot of military garrisons with interitable military households. In his early years Shi Le had often killed officials of the Jin dynasty or large landowners. Later on he perceived that such persons could be important for governing his empire and granted them, even if they were captives, the status of "noble households" (junzi ying 君子營). As an emperor, he made use of the traditional system of state offices used under the Jin dynasty, and a lot of Chinese reached highest positions in his administration. He also founded a National University (taixue 太學) for the education of state officals. Shi Le is nonetheless known as one of the most cruel rulers of the Sixteen Kingdoms who permanently campaigned and exploited the people for construction and military labour. This resulted in some peasant rebellions, like that of Liang Du 梁犢 in 348.

Rulers of the Later Zhao Dynasty 後趙 (319-351)
Capitals: Xiangguo 襄國 (modern Xingtai 邢台, Hebei), Ye 鄴 (near modern Anyang 安陽, Hebei)
Ethnicity: Jie 羯, said to be a subtribe of the Xiongnu
dynastic title {temple name}
-----reign periods
personal name
Houzhao Mingdi 後趙明帝 {Gaozu 高祖} r. 319-333
-----Taihe 太和 328-329
-----Jianping 建平 330-333
Shi Le 石勒
The Prince of Haiyang 海陽王 r. 333-334
-----Yanxi 延熙 334
Shi Hong 石宏 (or Hong 弘)
Houzhao Wudi 後趙武帝 {Taizu 太祖} r. 334-349
-----Jianwu 建武 335-348
-----Taining 太寧 (泰寧) 349
Shi Hu 石虎
The Prince of Qiao 譙王, Duke of Qi 齊公 r. 349 Shi Shi 石世
The Prince of Pengcheng 彭城王 r. 349 Shi Zun 石遵
The Prince of Yiyang 義陽王 r. 349-350
-----Qinglong 青龍 350
Shi Jian 石鑑
The Prince of Xinxing 新興王 r. 350-351
-----Yongning 永寧 350-351
Shi Zhi 石祗
Shi Xun 石尋
The Ruler of Ran-Wei 冉魏 (350-352)
r. 350-352
-----Yongxing 永興 350-352
Ran Min 冉閔 (Shi Min 石閔),
adoptive grandson of Shi Hu
352 Later Zhao conquered by Former Yan 前燕.

Sources: Lu Caiquan 魯才全 (1992), "Houzhao 後趙", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, pp. 378-379. ● Zhongguo lishi da cidian bianzuan weiyuanhui 中國歷史大辭典編纂委員會 (ed. 2000), Zhongguo lishi da cidian 中國歷史大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe), Vol. 2, pp. 3319, 3318.

October 30, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail

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