Wang Jian (Former Shu) - As Emperor of Shu - Early Reign

Early Reign

It was said that while Wang Jian was illiterate, he favored talking with the intelligentsia, and was often retaining members of Tang aristocratic families so that they could pass on their knowledge. However, as his oldest son Wang Zongren (王宗仁) was disabled from his childhood, he created his second son Wang Zongyi initially the Prince of Sui while creating no other son imperial princes, hinting that Wang Zongyi was to be his heir. (He would not create his other sons imperial princes until late 910; a few, but not most, of his adoptive sons would be created imperial princes as well then.)

Wang Jian made Wang Zongji and Wei Zhuang his chancellors. However, Wang Zongji viewed himself as the oldest among the adoptive sons and a potential heir, and he was arrogant toward all other officials, including Wang Jian's close associate Tang Daoxi the director of palace communications. In 908, unhappy about this situation, Wang Jian gave Wang Zongji the honorific title of Taishi (太師) but stripped him of his chancellor status, replacing him with Zhang Ge. When Wang Zongji submitted a petition in which he challenged Wang Jian to name either him or Wang Zongyi crown prince, Wang Jian was offended; when Wang Zongji further offended him at a face-to-face meeting, Wang Jian had Wang Zongji put to death and then created Wang Zongyi crown prince.

In late 908, Qi, Former Shu, and Jin forces launched a joint attack on Chang'an, but after the Later Liang generals Liu Zhijun and Wang Zhongshi (王重師) defeated Qi forces, the Former Shu and Jin forces withdrew.

Also in 908, Wang Jian created his wife Lady Zhou empress. He would also create his concubines Consort Zhang (Wang Zongyi's mother) Guifei and two Consorts Xu (who were sisters) Xianfei and Defei respectively; he thereafter favored the Consorts Xu greatly.

In 910, Wang Zongyi and Tang began to have disputes with each other. Not wanting to see an open struggle between them, Wang Jian sent Tang out of the capital to serve as the military governor of Shannan West. Meanwhile, he continued his alliance with Qi, sending Qi such supplies as tea, silk, and textiles, but when Li Maozhen requested that he cede Ba (巴州, in modern Bazhong, Sichuan) and Jian (劍州, in modern Guangyuan) Prefectures, he refused. In 911, though, the Shu-Qi alliance would break up over marital relations — as Wang's daughter, who had married Li Jichong and whom Wang had created the Princess of Puci, wrote a letter to Wang complaining of Li Jichong's arrogance and drunkedness. Wang thus summoned her back to Chengdu, ostensibly just to visit the family. When she arrived at Chengdu, he kept her and refused to return her to Li Jichong. Li Maozhen, in anger, broke off the alliance with Shu.

Later in the year, Li Maozhen amassed troops on the Shu-Qi border. Wang Jian reacted by mobilizing a large force and commissioning Wang Zongkan as the overall commander, with Wang Zongyou, Wang Zonghe, and Tang as his deputies, to counteract the Qi move. Qi forces subsequently attacked Xingyuan but were repelled by Tang. Wang Jian himself headed for Li Prefecture, while leaving Wang Zongyi in command at Chengdu. After several victories by Shu forces over Qi forces, Wang Jian returned to Chengdu and left Wang Zonghui in charge at Li Prefecture. After he did, however, Li Jichong and Liu Zhijun (who had by this point surrendered to Qi and was serving as a Qi general) jointly attacked Xingyuan, nearly capturing it. Wang Jian sent Wang Zonghui and Wang Zongbo to relieve the siege, and they defeated Qi forces in conjunction with Tang. However, Qi forces continued to threaten Xingyuan and the nearby Anyuan Base (安遠), and it was not until Wang Jian himself went to Xingyuan late in the year to aid the Xingyuan and Anyuan forces that Shu forces were able to decisively defeat Qi forces, forcing them to withdraw. (Hearing of the war between Qi and Shu, Zhu Quanzhong wanted to take advantage of it, and sent messengers to Wang Jian, calling him "older brother." There was no record of what Wang Jian's reactions were.)

Read more about this topic:  Wang Jian (Former Shu), As Emperor of Shu

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