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THE LAST HAN. 117
Tsow Tsow, Sunkiuen and Lieoupi, became at a later period the founder of a dynasty, and when Tsow Tsow died his position was inherited by his son Tsowpi. This event occurred in the year A.D. 220 ; whereupon Hienti, apprehensive of violence, abdicated in favour of Tsowpi. Hienti retired into private life as Prince of Chanyang, thus terminating the brilliant dynasty of the Hans which had ruled China for more than four hundred years with splendour and wisdom. Their triumphs in war, and the remarkable progress in material welfare made by China under their guidance, had raised the nation to the first rank among the peoples of the world. Chinese armies had marched under their banners across the continent of Asia, Yunnan had been made a Chinese province, Cochin China and Leaoutung vassal states; while the face of the country had been covered with populous cities and great public works—roads, canals, bridges and aqueducts—which soil remain to testify to the glory of the Hans.
TEMPORARY DIVISION OF THE EMPIRE.
The fall of the power of the Hans, and the disappearance of the main line of their dynasty in the mass of the people, whence five centuries previously it had sprung, left China split up into three independent kingdoms known as the period of the Sankoue. This fact not proving palatable to subsequent native historians, the acts of these three states have been classed together, and treated as if relating to one kingdom under the heading of the sixth dynasty. There can be no question that during this period, which extended over less than half a century, there were three distinct governments in China; and, as many subsequent events were clearly attributable to the occurrences of this time, it is necessary to unravel as best we can the intricacies of the mutual relations and foreign policy of the three contemporary and rival rulers. The first of these was known as the Later Hans, and held possession of the modern province of Szchuen, with the capital at Chentu. Although exercising authority over a smaller extent of territory than either of the others, this family of the Later Hans, on account of its semi-royal descent, is the one which the court historians have since striven to alone recognize. The second, that of Wu, comprised five of the southern provinces, with a capital at Wuchangfoo at one period, and at Nankin at another, and maintained its independence down to a later date than the Hans. The third, the kingdom of Wei, far larger in extent and including the most populous districts in China, embraced all the central and northern provinces, with a capital at Loyang, the recognized mttropolis of the Empire.
THREE STATES. 119
The first ruler of the Later Hans was Lieoupi, already mentioned, who took the name of Chow Lieti, and who was descended in a direct line from the Han Emperor Kingti; while the general Sunkiuen, and Tsowpi, the son of Tsow Tsow, were the founders respectively of the kingdoms of Wu and Wei. It will be seen that the more powerful state of Wei gradually asserted its authority over the rest of China, and that the triumph of the descendants of Tsow Tsow was only marred at the eleventh hour by the intrigue of a successful general.
The great advantage which Tsowpi enjoyed over his contemporaries was that of possessing the recognized capital. By this means he retained his hold upon the vassals and tributaries. The embassies from the princes of Central Asia, and, it cannot be doubted, the trade intercourse as well with the regions of the West, continued to proceed to Loyang, thus giving the Wei ruler a larger claim to general consideration. That claim, however, the court historians have persistently refused to admit.
Chow Lieti, first Emperor of the Later Hans, had no sooner assumed the style of an independent prince than he occupied his mind with thoughts of vengeance for the ruin brought to the House of which he was a scion. His neighbour Sunkiuen, the ruler of the Wu kingdom, was an object of his special resentment, and, although advised that he had more danger to apprehend from Wei, and that it would be better to league himself with Wu against the more formidable enemy, he permitted his personal resentment to get the better of a conviction of political necessities. Rushing blindly into a war without due forethought or preparation, there was no reason to suppose that the Fates would disentangle him from the consequences of his own blunders.
The gravity of the danger that threatened him forced Sunkiuen to accommodate his difficulties with Tsowpi. The latter was acknowledged as Emperor, and the former was confirmed in the possession of his dominions as Prince of Wu. Meanwhile the army of Chow Lieti had taken up a position on the frontier, menacing the existence of the state, and threatening to force a way to its capital. Sunkiuen had the good fortune to possess a skilful general, Lousun, and the ability he displayed in defending the frontier proved a better ally than Tsowpi, who regarded both his neighbours with an eye of doubt. The campaign turned out a protracted one. Twelve months were passed with the two armies each waiting before venturing to attack the other for such favourable circumstances as never came. These Fabian tactics were mostly in favour of the force which was fighting on its own soil and with a friendly population at its back. When Chow Lieti's army was reduced by inaction, and dispirited by the failure to obtain any result, that of Lousun was still comparatively fresh and eager for the fray; and then Lousun resorted to all the strategy within his knowledge. A night attack in force, and at several points, carried everything before it. The best generals of Chow Lieti were either slain or taken prisoners; thousands of his soldiers fell on the field of battle, thousands more were captured, and all the baggage of the camp became the spoil of the victor. Chow Lieti himself barely escaped with his life from the scene of this crushing disaster, which in the stupefaction that fell upon him he could only attribute to the wrath of Heaven.
On the news of this victory Tsowpi at once increased his demands upon Sunkiuen, and the late opponents found in the pretensions of Wei a strong reason for forgetting their differences and combining together for mutual defence —the law of self-preservation again proving superior to every other. Chow Lieti never fully recovered the shock of his great defeat, and three years after his assumption of the Imperial title he died, leaving to his son pretensions greater than his actual power, and the legacy of a feud in which he must inevitably prove the weaker party. That son, Heouchow, began his reign in the year A.D. 223, when he was nearly seventeen years old. About the same time Tsowpi died, leaving his possessions to his brother Tsowjoui, so that of the three rivals Sunkiuen was now the sole survivor that remained. The moment appeared to him to be auspicious for making an attack on his northern LEAOUTUNG. 121
neighbour's dominions. It never occurred to him that Tsowpi's lieutenants might prove more than a match for himself in the conduct of a campaign. From this fond delusion he was speedily awakened. Repulsed in two attempts to seize fortified towns, he was ignominiously defeated when he sought to retrieve his bad fortune in the open field.
And when the ruler of the Hans, or Chows, as they were called, with the aid of the great captain Chu-kwo-liang, strove to restore the balance of power, neither the advantage obtained by a sudden attack, nor the admitted superiority of the commander, availed to produce a different result. The generals of Wei triumphed, in the most decisive manner, over those of both Wu and of Chow. A desultory war ensued, in which the successes were mostly on the side of Tsowjoui, and, whether owing to mismanagement or to the hard decree of fortune, both Wu and Chow met with a long succession of reverses. In the north, too, Tsowjoui was not less successful. Kongsunyuen, King of Leaoutung, incurred his resentment, and a large army under the command of Ssemay was sent against him. Kongsunyuen defended himself with resolution, and obtained a slight success in the beginning of the struggle; but the ruler of Wei sending large reinforcements to his army in the field, Kongsunyuen was shut up in his capital and killed in an attempt to cut his way through the beleaguering lines. His capital was given over to the victorious soldiery to plunder, and the whole of Leaoutung became a province of the Wei kingdom. This decided and brilliant success gave Tsowjoui a more prominent place in the opinion of all his neighbours, but he did not live long to enjoy it. A few days after the return of the victorious general Ssemay, Tsowjoui died, leaving his throne to his nephew Tsowfang, a child eight years old. On his deathbed Tsowjoui exhorted Ssemay to be as faithful to his successor as he had always proved devoted to him (A.D. 239).
To Sunkiuen, who still survived as the last of the former rivals, the accession of this child appeared to be the longvought opportunity for establishing his power on a supreme basis. The skilful arrangements of the general Ssemay foiled