During Liu Cong's and Liu Can's Reigns
After Liu Yuan's death in 310, Liu Cong overthrew his older brother and Liu Yuan's successor Liu He (after Liu He had tried to have him and the other brothers killed and successfully killed two) and succeeded to the throne himself as Emperor Zhaowu. He trusted Liu Yao greatly and commissioned him with a large force, and Liu Yao served his cousin faithfully.
In 311, Liu Yao, in conjunction with Wang, Shi Le, and Huyan Yan (呼延晏), captured Luoyang and Emperor Huai of Jin. He took Emperor Huai's sister-in-law, the deceased Emperor Hui's wife, Yang Xianrong, as his own wife.
Later that year, after Liu Cong's son Liu Can captured Chang'an, Liu Yao was put in charge of the Chang'an region, although he subsequently lost that city to Jin forces under Qu Yun (麴允), allowing the Jin prince Sima Ye (Emperor Huai's nephew) to occupy that city and subsequently declare himself emperor (as Emperor Min of Jin) in 313 after Liu Cong executed the former Jin emperor. In 312, while fighting Liu Kun the Jin governor of Bing Province (并州, modern central and northern Shanxi) and his ally Tuoba Yilu the Duke of Dai in conjunction with Liu Can, Liu Yao suffered a serious injury and was almost captured or killed by Jin forces, but was able to escape after the general Fu Hu (傅虎) yielded his own horse and sacrificed his own life in doing so.
For the next few years, Liu Yao fought largely inconclusive battles against Jin forces, both those directly under Emperor Min and those under Sima Bao the Prince of Nanyang. However, in 316, after Emperor Min's forces collapsed and Sima Bao failed to come to his aid, Liu Yao captured Chang'an and Emperor Min (whom Liu Cong subsequently executed in 318). For this accomplishment, Liu Cong created him the greater title of Prince of Qin.
Late in Liu Cong's reign, Liu Cong grew increasingly cruel and extravagant, as well as increasingly trusting eunuchs and the treacherous official Jin Zhun. In 318, as Liu Cong grew ill, he summoned Liu Yao and Shi Le to be regents for his son Liu Can, but both Liu Yao and Shi declined, perhaps not wishing to contest the authorities of Jin Zhun, whose daughters had sway with Liu Cong and Liu Can as their wives. Subsequently, when Liu Cong died later that year and Liu Can succeeded to the throne, Jin Zhun became powerful and overthrew Liu Can, slaughtering all members of the imperial Liu clan in the capital Pingyang (平陽, in modern Linfen, Shanxi). In the massacre, Liu Yao lost his mother Lady Hu, brother, and (he thought at the time) his son and heir Liu Yin. (However, unknown to his father, Liu Yin fled but was captured by or sold to a tribe named Heiniyuju (黑匿郁鞠) as a slave.)
Upon hearing news of Jin Zhun's coup, Liu Yao and Shi each led their armies against Jin, catching him trapped between their forces. Meanwhile, senior Han Zhao princes and officials who escaped the Pingyang massacre offered the throne to Liu Yao, who accepted. He offered to not only spare Jin Zhun's life but continue to grant him power if Jin would surrender. However, when Jin Zhun was subsequently assassinated and succeeded by his cousin Jin Ming (靳明), who then surrendered to Liu Yao, Liu Yao massacred the Jin clan. As Pingyang was in ruins after the coup and the subsequent war, Liu Yao moved the capital to Chang'an.
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Famous quotes containing the word reigns:
“In the whole vast dome of living nature there reigns an open violence, a kind of prescriptive fury which arms all the creatures to their common doom: as soon as you leave the inanimate kingdom you find the decree of violent death inscribed on the very frontiers of life.”
—Joseph De Maistre (17531821)