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Sima Yi coup


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#1 allie

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 07:34 AM

After the coup by Sima Yi, Cao Shuang surrendered and was killed by Sima Yi who than held absolute power and made the Emperor Cao Fang a puppet.

Why is that there were so many Cao generals who belonged to the imperial family but none of them gathered their troops to fight Sima Yi? I am not sure other than Sima Yi and Cao Shuang, which other generals were there but there should still be alot of external generals and generals in the Cao family who remains loyal to the Emperor.

No doubt that Sima Yi was a capable politician who was well respected in Wei, but still his coup means the emperor became a puppet and there should be generals who were loyal to the emperor who did not wish to see such a situation happen.

Even though they maybe in a weaker position than Sima Yi, why didn't they gather together to lead an army into the capital to defeat Sima Yi?

Edited by allie, 25 February 2008 - 07:48 AM.


#2 popcorn

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 08:47 AM

Yes, they may be loyal,but they may not able to fight with simayi when it comes to wits and troops.
KY

#3 Yun

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 05:01 PM

Why is that there were so many Cao generals who belonged to the imperial family but none of them gathered their troops to fight Sima Yi?


There weren't that many by this time (AD 249-250), thanks to some plotting by Sun Zi 孫資 and Liu Fang 劉放 in 239. We know from Sanguo Zhi, Wei-Jin Shiyu 《魏晉世語》(a 3rd/4th-century history book by Guo Ban 郭頒), and Han-Jin Chunqiu 《漢晉春秋》(a 4th-century history book by Xi Zuochi 習鑿齒) that other senior members of the Cao clan, such as Cao Xiu's son Cao Zhao 曹肇 and Cao Cao's son Cao Yu 曹宇, were originally meant to share the regency with Cao Shuang. Sima Yi was not even included in this original selection of regents. But Cao Rui changed his mind at the last minute, and appointed only Cao Shuang and Sima Yi as regents. Why?

When Cao Rui was dying from his illness, he originally intended to appoint Cao Zhao, Cao Yu, Cao Shuang, Xiahou Xian 夏侯獻, and Cao Cao's adopted son Qin Lang 秦朗 as joint regents for Cao Fang. But Liu Fang and Sun Zi, two powerful ministers in the Palace Secretariat 中書省, were on bad terms with Qin Lang, Xiaohou Xian, and Cao Zhao, and accused them of flirting with Cao Rui's concubines during his illness. They also warned Cao Rui that Cao Yu would seize the throne if made regent over the underaged Cao Fang. Cao Rui believed them and asked who should be regent then. Sun Zi and Liu Fang said Cao Shuang could be trusted, and also recommended Sima Yi to be joint regent with Cao Shuang. Some scholars have inferred from this that Sun Zi and Liu Fang were supporters of Sima Yi even before this

Cao Rui followed the advice of Sun Zi and Liu Fang, and ordered Cao Yu, Cao Zhao, Xiahou Xian, and Qin Lang to retire from office. From then on, Cao Shuang and his brothers were the only members of the Cao clan to hold political or military power (however, Xiahou Xuan and Xiahou Ba were close kin of the Cao clan, and were members of Cao Shuang's political faction). The self-interested actions of Sun Zi and Liu Fang were responsible for the rivalry between the factions of Cao Shuang and Sima Yi, but Sun and Liu themselves stayed out of the conflict by retiring from office in the late 240s. Liu Fang died in 250, and Sun Zi died in 251.

Shortly after the 249 coup, Grand Marshal Wang Ling 王淩 (nephew of the Wang Yun who plotted Dong Zhuo's assassination), who was then commanding the Wei armies south of the Huai River, began plotting a rebellion to replace Cao Fang with Cao Cao's son Cao Biao 曹彪 as emperor. Member of this plot included Wang Ling's nephew Linghu Yu 令狐愚, the governor of Yanzhou 兗州; Linghu Yu's general Zhang Shi 張式; and Wang Ling's general Yang Hong 楊弘. However, Linghu Yu died in late 249 and was replaced as governor by Huang Hua 黃華, and when in 251 Wang Ling sent Yang Hong to try and recruit Huang Hua into the plot, Yang instead betrayed Wang and joined with Huang Hua in reporting the plot to Sima Yi. Sima Yi marched against Wang Ling with the full imperial guard from Luoyang, and Wang Ling knowing he was outnumbered decided to surrender. He later committed suicide with poison when being sent to Luoyang as a prisoner. Cao Biao, who had been in contact with Wang Ling and Linghu Yu through Zhang Shi, was ordered to commit suicide one month later.

In 254, after Sima Yi's death, Palace Secretary Li Feng 李豐 plotted with the empress' father Zhang Ji 張緝 to overthrow Sima Shi and replace him with Xiahou Xuan. The plot was discovered, and Li Feng, Zhang Ji, and Xiahou Xuan were all executed. Sima Shi also replaced Cao Fang with Cao Mao shortly after this. No member of the Cao or Xiahou clans was involved in any subsequent rebellions against the Sima faction, except for Cao Mao himself.

Cao Zhao died sometime in the 240s, before Sima Yi's coup. Cao Yu lived on into the early 260s, but was never involved in politics after his retirement in 239. He probably knew that this was the only way for he and his sons to live to a ripe old age. But his son Cao Huan did become the last Wei emperor in 259, after Cao Mao was killed trying to overthrow Sima Zhao.
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#4 Ma Su

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 02:40 AM

Didn't Xiahou Xuan predict he and his family would survive under Yi but not after that?

#5 allie

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 07:16 AM

Sun Zi? Same name as the Sun Zi in the spring and autumn period who wrote the Sun Zi Art of War?

I am puzzled as to why Wang Ling actually was willing to go to the capital to face execution and than commit sucide on the way.

Why didn't Wang Ling and Cao Biao rebell and send their troops to attack the Sima family instead on the pretext of overthrowing the Sima family to restore power to the emperor?

Also, the likes of Cao Shuang and Wang Ling should have many generals under them. Even after they were killed/surrendered, the generals under their command could still gather together to attack the Sima family on the pretext of helping the Emperor to get rid of traitors.

#6 Yun

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 03:41 AM

Sun Zi? Same name as the Sun Zi in the spring and autumn period who wrote the Sun Zi Art of War?


Of course not. The Sun Zi of Art of War fame is not even a name, but rather a title meaning Master Sun.

I am puzzled as to why Wang Ling actually was willing to go to the capital to face execution and than commit sucide on the way.


According to the records, it was because Sima Yi was marching against him with a larger army than his. Wang Ling simply got on a boat and went unarmed to meet Sima Yi, bringing with him his clerk Wang Yu 王彧. Wang Yu, on Wang Ling's orders, presented Ling's seal of office, staff of authority, and axe of authority to Sima Yi. Wang Ling also had himself tied up awaiting punishment. Sima Yi, "obeying an edict from the emperor", sent his own clerk to untie Wang Ling and return his seal, staff, and axe. Then Wang Ling was sent to the capital under an armed escort of 600 troops. He is said to have taken poison on the way, but it is also possible Sima Yi had him murdered.

Also, the likes of Cao Shuang and Wang Ling should have many generals under them. Even after they were killed/surrendered, the generals under their command could still gather together to attack the Sima family on the pretext of helping the Emperor to get rid of traitors.


There were probably many changes of personnel at the time that we have no information about, with pro-Cao Shuang generals getting replaced by pro-Sima generals. Remember also that all of the actions taken by Sima Yi and Sima Shi (including the overthrow of Cao Shuang and replacement of Cao Fang with Cao Mao) were made with the official permission of the Empress Dowager Guo, who was the last of Cao Rui's three empresses and was essentially Cao Fang's guardian. Empress Dowager Guo lived on until 264, and although she was practically powerless, the Sima clan was able to use her status to give its actions legitimacy. When Wuqiu Jian 毋丘儉 rebelled against Sima Shi in 255 and Zhong Hui rebelled in Shu in 263-264, both claimed to have received secret instructions from Empress Dowager Guo. This shows that they understood how important the Empress Dowager was to the Sima clan's position.
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#7 Yun

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 03:57 AM

Didn't Xiahou Xuan predict he and his family would survive under Yi but not after that?


That story is from Weishi Chunqiu 《魏氏春秋》by Sun Sheng 孫盛 of the 4th century. In it, Xiaohou Xuan's friend Xu Yun congratulates him on the death of Sima Yi, saying, "You need worry no more." But Xiahou Xuan replies, "Don't you understand? This man could still show me some respect on account of his old friendship with my clan, but his sons will surely not spare me."
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#8 allie

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 07:54 AM

According to the records, it was because Sima Yi was marching against him with a larger army than his. Wang Ling simply got on a boat and went unarmed to meet Sima Yi, bringing with him his clerk Wang Yu 王彧. Wang Yu, on Wang Ling's orders, presented Ling's seal of office, staff of authority, and axe of authority to Sima Yi. Wang Ling also had himself tied up awaiting punishment. Sima Yi, "obeying an edict from the emperor", sent his own clerk to untie Wang Ling and return his seal, staff, and axe. Then Wang Ling was sent to the capital under an armed escort of 600 troops. He is said to have taken poison on the way, but it is also possible Sima Yi had him murdered.


Wang Ling surrendered just because Sima Yi had a larger army than him? He should know that in history there were lots of cases of a smaller army defeating a larger army. Even if Sima Yi had an edict from the emperor, he can claim that it is a fake and he got the real edict from the emperor asking him to kill Sima Yi.

This also applies to the overthrow of Cao Shuang and replacement of Cao Fang. They can claim that the edict by the empress dowager is fake and they have the real edict from the empress dowager to get rid of Sima Yi and Sima Shi.

To surrender without even fighting just because Sima Yi had permission from the empress dowager and also because Sima Yi had a larger army than him shows that Wang Ling, Cao Shuang and Cao Fang are weaklings and foolish people.
(Espically for Cao Shuang who had the seal of the power of the grand commander bought to him by Huan Fan and yet he surrendered without fighting)

Edited by allie, 27 February 2008 - 07:58 AM.


#9 Ma Su

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 10:38 AM

Ok this period of the three kingdoms is by far from my strong suit so if I say something stupid, my apologises in advance.

Allie, couldn't then the Empress Dowager then be brought out before the court and the factions to support the Sima family? The fake claims of Cao Shuang and Cao Fang would easily be dismissed and their fates become certain death. I thought Wang Ling was meant to be an intelligent commander?

#10 allie

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 12:25 PM

Ok this period of the three kingdoms is by far from my strong suit so if I say something stupid, my apologises in advance.

Allie, couldn't then the Empress Dowager then be brought out before the court and the factions to support the Sima family? The fake claims of Cao Shuang and Cao Fang would easily be dismissed and their fates become certain death. I thought Wang Ling was meant to be an intelligent commander?


I also don't know much about Wang Ling and Cao Fang. These are my personal opinion.

Even if the Sima family bought the Empress Dowager out to the court to support themself, couldn't Cao Shuang and Cao Fang claim that the Sima family held the Empress Dowager hostage and force her to support the Sima family's claim?

Wang Ling should be a intelligent commander. It makes me think why did such a intelligent commander surrender without even fighting? Maybe afraid that Shu or Wu will take advantage of him fighting with Sima Yi and take the opportunity to attack Wei?

#11 Yun

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 01:20 AM

Wang Ling should be a intelligent commander. It makes me think why did such a intelligent commander surrender without even fighting? Maybe afraid that Shu or Wu will take advantage of him fighting with Sima Yi and take the opportunity to attack Wei?


There is indeed something strange about how Wang Ling lost his nerve and gave up without a fight after two years of secret planning and preparation. His biography in Sanguo Zhi gives us no doubt that he was a courageous and experienced military commander. In the Battle of Shiting/Jiashi in 228 (on which see the recent thread), he and his unit fought hard to get Cao Xiu's retreating army to safety from the Wu encirclement. Although the biographies of Jia Kui and Jiang Ji state that it was the arrival of reinforcements led by Jia Kui that really saved Cao Xiu, Wang Ling's contribution was significant enough that his biography says "Ling fought vigorously and broke out of the encirclement, and Xiu was thereby spared from disaster (i.e. death or capture)."

In 241, the Wu general Quan Cong led several tens of thousands in an attack on Shaobei, near Hefei. Wang Ling, who was by then the commander-in-chief of Wei forces on the Yangzhou front, engaged Quan Cong in several days of hard battle. Finally, Quan Cong retreated after more than ten of his senior commanders were killed.

Wang Ling does not seem to have worried that Wu would attack if he rebelled against Sima Yi. In fact, just one or two months before his plot was exposed, he tried to use signs of an impending Wu attack as a pretext to mobilize his army and rebel. But his memorial to the imperial court, requesting permission to start a campaign against Wu, was not approved. Presumably if the court approved his memorial, he would have turned back during the invasion and marched on Luoyang instead.
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#12 Ma Su

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 03:22 AM

Even if the Sima family bought the Empress Dowager out to the court to support themself, couldn't Cao Shuang and Cao Fang claim that the Sima family held the Empress Dowager hostage and force her to support the Sima family's claim?


Oddly enough, I have never seen that excuse used in a civil revolt like Dou Wu and Chen Fan. I think an edict from the Wei emperor/empress dowager is enough to deal with the likes of Wei officers and soldiers, it would be a blow to Wang Ling/Cao Shuang/whoever.

#13 allie

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 07:18 AM

Oddly enough, I have never seen that excuse used in a civil revolt like Dou Wu and Chen Fan. I think an edict from the Wei emperor/empress dowager is enough to deal with the likes of Wei officers and soldiers, it would be a blow to Wang Ling/Cao Shuang/whoever.


Is just an edict from the Wei emperor/empress dowager enough?

If that is the case, when Cao Cao held the Emperor hostage, he could just get the Emperor to issue an edict to get the rest of the warlords to surrender. But obviously such a method will not have worked or else Cao Cao will not have to fight Lu Bu, Yuan Shao, Sun Quan etc.

#14 sima old bandit

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 09:22 AM

Under Cao Shuang, Wei was apparently going down the drain and wronged alot of officials. After Sima Yi's coup, him and his sons restored alot of these ppl to their posts and pardoned alot of Cao Shuang's supporters so that won them alot of brownie points as they did do the kingdom some good. Xiahou Xuan obeyed his orders and returned to the capital. Xiahou Ba fled to Shu...

As to Wang Ling surrendering, well Sima Yi, as Sun Quan commented, was: "invincible wherever he goes". As experienced as Wang Ling might have been i see no indication of how he could match Sima Yi. That Sima Yi received wind of his plot, when he marched against Wang Ling, he must have been prepared.

One can make all sorts of claims about legitimacy but none is better than having the source of authority at hand ie. Cao Cao having emperor Xian etc. Liu Bei made all sorts of claims about restoring Han, but how many ppl in Shu really cared about that? When Wang Ling rebels and he fakes an edict, can he either defeat Sima Yi and/or convince the rest of the kingdom to join him or not obey their orders to attack him?

Edited by sima old bandit, 28 February 2008 - 09:33 AM.


#15 Ma Su

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 01:34 PM

Is just an edict from the Wei emperor/empress dowager enough?

If that is the case, when Cao Cao held the Emperor hostage, he could just get the Emperor to issue an edict to get the rest of the warlords to surrender. But obviously such a method will not have worked or else Cao Cao will not have to fight Lu Bu, Yuan Shao, Sun Quan etc.


Lu Bu, Yuan Shao, Sun Quan were not controlling Wei troops though or controlling Wei officers like, for example, Wang Ling. The Han was great as long as it gave rank and benefited said warlords, otherwise warlords and the people seemed content to ignore it when they wished as long as, for awhile, nobody was too openly against it. The Empress Dowager at least still seems to have influence on her own side




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