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Zhao Zhuangzi 趙莊子 Zhao Shuo 趙朔

Jan 3, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhao Shuo 趙朔 (d. 597 BCE), posthumous title Zhao Zhuangzi 趙莊子, was a nobleman in the state of Jin 晉 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770 - 5th cent. BCE). He was a grandson of Zhao Shuai 趙衰 (Zhao Chengzi 趙成子) and a son of Zhao Dun 趙盾 (Zhao Xuanzi 趙宣子). His wife was an older sister of Duke Cheng of Jin 晉成公 (r. 607-600).

When Zhao Dun died, his post as a ducal grand master (gongzu dafu 公族大夫) was transferred to Zhao Ji's 趙姬 younger son Zhao Kuo 趙括 (or Zhao Pingkuo 趙屏括), yet neither Kuo nor his older brother Zhao Tong 趙同 (or Zhao Yuantong 趙原同) displayed proper conduct according to their position. The whole family Zhao therefore laid their hope on Zhao Shuo, who succeeded in being given the post of minister (qing 卿).

Somewhat later, he was promoted to the position of vice commander of the Lower Army (xiajun fushuai 下軍副帥), which had formerly been occupied by Xu Ke 胥克 and Xi Que 郤缺 (Xi Chengzi 郤成子).

In 597, Xun Linfu 荀林父 was appointed commander of the Central Army (zhongjun yuanshuai 中軍元帥), a post identical to that of regent. His lieutenant was Xian Gu 先縠. Under his command, the army of Jin engaged in the battle of Micheng 泌城 with the army of Chu 楚. The Upper Army (shangjun 上軍) was commanded by Shi Hui 士會 (Fan Wuzi 范武子) and Xi Ke 郤克, the lower army by Zhao Shuo and Luan Shu 欒書. Han Que 韓厥 (Han Xianzi 韓獻子) and Gong Shuo 鞏朔 commanded the rear train.

When Tu'an Gu 屠岸賈 was made Minister of Justice (sikou 司寇), he slandered Zhao Dun, accusing him of being responsible for Duke Ling's 晉靈公 (r. 621-607) death. The only person contradicting this accusion was Han Que. Tu'an Gu thereupon usurped the Duke's right and ordered to kill all male members of the Zhao family, Zhao Shuo, Zhao Tong, Zhao Kuo, and Zhao Yingqi 趙嬰齊.

This incident was called the "disaster of the lower palace" (xiagong zhi nan 下宮之難). The only male person surviving was Zhao Wu 趙武 (Zhao Wenzi 趙文子), who was then still an unborn child in the womb of his mother, Lady Zhuang 莊姬.

Fifteen years later, he won the support of Han Que, restored the honour of the family Zhao, and wiped out the family Tu'an. The duke also gave him back the territories formerly owned by his fathers. The chronicle Zuozhuan 左傳 says that at the time of the massacre Zhao Shuo was already dead.

This source also reports that Lady Zhuang had an illicit affair with Zhao Tong, and that this affair caused the disaster. The story of the intriguer Tu'an Gu and Cheng Ying 程嬰 and Gongsun Wujiu 公孫杵臼, who both rescued the baby, is only told in the Shiji 史記. It is quite probable that the main source of the Shiji were the annals of the family Zhao (see feudal state of Zhao) in which the downfall and the resurrection of the house was told in a somewhat exaggerated and even false way. The Zuozhuan, for instance, proves that Zhao Tong and Zhao Kuo, for instance, died as soon as 583.

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