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Liu Chong (Prince Min of Chen)

Liu Chong (劉寵; died 197) was the sixth and last Prince of Chen (陳王) of the Eastern Han dynasty. He was unique in the imperial household in that he maintained his own territory during the last years of the Han dynasty while the rest of the Han princes and marquises played no role. He was assassinated by the imperial pretender Yuan Shu in 197 and became posthumously known as Prince Min of Chen (陳愍王).[1]

Life

The Kingdom of Chen (roughly present-day Zhoukou, Henan) was a fiefdom granted to Liu Xian (劉羨), the second son of the Emperor Ming of Han. Liu Chong, son of Liu Cheng (劉承), was a great-grandson of Liu Xian.[2] Liu Chong was described to be an energetic character who was skilled with the crossbow, even authoring a treatise on the subject, Nushe Bifa (弩射袐法).[3]

In 173, Liu Chong and his former chancellor Wei Yin (魏愔) were accused by the new Chen chancellor Shi Qian (師遷) for inappropriately making sacrifices to deities seeking for fortunes beyond their ranks. This was impiety (不道), the most serious of crimes under the Han dynasty and tantamount to treason.[4] Both Wei Yin and his accuser Shi Qian were brought to the capital of Luoyang in cage-carts for questioning. The eunuch Wang Fu presided over the investigations, and found that while the ceremonies made to Huang–Lao had been improper, there were no grounds for charges of impiety against Liu Chong and Wei Yin. Shi Qian had thus falsely accused his king and was himself guilty of impiety, and in the end both Shi Qian and Wei Yin were executed. Emperor Ling, having just exterminated the family of Liu Kui (劉悝) the Prince of Bohai (渤海王) on similar charges, closed the case against Liu Chong in order to avoid more bloodshed in the imperial household.[3]

When the Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out in 184, many of Liu Chong's peers were chased out of their fiefs, but Liu Chong raised a force of several thousand archers and fortified himself in his capital. His formidable reputation kept the populace in line, and the Chen state was unscathed by the rebellion. In 190, when a coalition was being formed against the warlord Dong Zhuo who had taken control of the imperial court, Liu Chong rallied troops in support of the coalition and styled himself the General who Supports the Han (輔漢將軍).[3] He moved his troops north to Yangxia commandery (陽夏; present-day Taikang County) to join the anti-Dong Zhuo blockade,[5] but as the coalition fell apart and its leaders began to fight amongst themselves, Liu Chong returned to Chen. Under the leadership of Liu Chong and his chancellor Luo Jun (駱俊; father of Luo Tong), the kingdom of Chen became an oasis of peace and prosperity as China descended into civil war, taking in over a hundred thousand refugees from neighbouring territories.[6]

In 197, Yuan Shu declared himself emperor in Shouchun, south of Chen across the Huai River. This audacious action made him a target of the other warlords. After being defeated by the forces of Lü Bu, Yuan Shu could not feed his army and requested supplies from the Chen fief.[7] However, he was rebuffed by Luo Jun, and Yuan Shu responded by sending an assassin to kill both Luo Jun and Liu Chong. With the two leading figures dead, the kingdom of Chen fell into ruin.[3]

References

Notes

  1. ^ de Crespigny (2016), p. 497.
  2. ^ de Crespigny & Sima (2004), Ja2:197 note 31.
  3. ^ a b c d de Crespigny (2007), p. 494.
  4. ^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 494; de Crespigny (2016), p. 94 note 62.
  5. ^ de Crespigny & Sima (2004), Ja2:197 note 33.
  6. ^ de Crespigny & Sima (2004), Ja2:197 passage P.
  7. ^ Leban (1971), p. 292.

Works cited

  • de Crespigny, Rafe; Sima, Guang (2004). To Establish Peace: being the Chronicle of the Later Han dynasty for the years 189 to 200 AD as recorded in Chapters 59 to 63 of the Zizhi tongjian of Sima Guang. 1 (Internet ed.). Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University.
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms 23-220 AD. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004156050.
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2016). Fire over Luoyang : a history of the later Han dynasty, 23-220 AD. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-32520-3.
  • Leban, Carl (1971). Ts'ao Ts'ao and the rise of Wei: the early years. New York: Columbia University.