Murong Chao - Reign


Murong Chao, however, immediately showed himself to be capricious and unwilling to listen to criticism. He immediately made one of his associates, Gongsun Wulou (公孫五樓), a major general, despite Gongsun's commonly-perceived lack of qualifications, and he disassociated himself from the officials Murong Zhong (慕容鍾) the Prince of Beidi and Duan Hong (段宏), whom Murong De had entrusted with great responsibilities. He was further described as being surrounded by flatterers and engaging his time on hunting and tours, refusing all advice against doing so. He further wished to restore punishments that included facial tattooing, cutting off noses, cutting off feet, and castration, but with popular opposition, he did not carry out those actions. He was also described as imposing heavy tax and labor burdens on the people.

In 406, Gongsun, in order to grab even more power, falsely accused Murong Zhong of treason. Murong Zhong, Murong Fa, and Duan Hong therefore entered into a conspiracy in which Feng Song (封嵩) and Empress Dowager Duan were also involved in, but Empress Dowager Duan, in fear, eventually revealed the plot to Murong Chao. Feng was executed, and Murong Chao sent generals Murong Zhen (慕容鎮) the Prince of Guilin and Han Fan (韓範) to attack Murong Zhong, Murong Fa, and Duan Hong. Duan Hong fled to Northern Wei, while Murong Zhong and Murong Fa fled to Later Qin.

In 407, Murong Chao sent his official Feng Kai (封愷) to Later Qin to negotiate to have Yao Xing turn his mother and wife over to him. Yao Xing demanded that he submit as a vassal and further give Later Qin either the court musicians of Former Qin (who had, after much travels, settled down in Southern Yan by this point) or 1,000 captives from Jin. Murong Chao readily agreed to be a vassal, but hesitated at both alternative demands. Eventually, in fear of retaliation from Jin, he chose to turn over 120 musicians. Yao Xing then delivered his mother Lady Duan and wife Lady Huyan to him. In 408, he honored Lady Duan as empress dowager and created Lady Huyan empress.

On lunar new year 409, Murong Chao held the traditional imperial gathering, and he lamented the lack of imperial musicians, and he proposed an attack on Jin to capture people to be trained as musicians, despite the opposition from Han Zhuo (Han Fan's brother, name not in Unicode). A month later, Murong Chao sent the generals Murong Xingzong (慕容興宗), Hugu Ti (斛穀提), and Gongsun Gui (公孫歸, Gongsun Wulou's brother) to attack Jin, capturing Suyu (宿豫, in modern Suqian, Jiangsu) and 2,500 men and women, who were given to the music director to be taught music. Encouraged by the success, Murong Chao carried more raids against Jin.

A month later, the Jin general Liu Yu, then the leader of the Jin government, proposed that a major attack be launched against Southern Yan, and even though he faced opposition, he started the campaign regardless. Gongsun Wulou and Murong Zhen proposed that Southern Yan armies defend Daxian Mountain (大峴山, in modern Weifang, Shandong) and not allow Jin forces to pass. Murong Chao, overly confident, instead decided to let Jin forces pass Daxian, and then engage them in the plains north of Daxian. He further rejected suggestions that the crops be burned to prevent them from being used as food supply by Jin forces. When Murong Zhen commented to Han Zhuo that this would lead to the empire's destruction, Murong Chao threw Murong Zhen into prison.

Liu Yu was very pleased that Murong Chao did not defend Daxian, as he feared. The Jin and Southern Yan forces engaged near Linqu (臨朐, also in Weifang), while Murong Chao himself waited in the city of Linqu. Jin general Hu Fan (胡藩) made a surprise attack on Linqu, capturing it and forcing Murong Chao to flee. With Murong Chao having fled, Liu Yu engaged the main Southern Yan forces and defeated them, and Murong Chao fled back to Guanggu. Liu Yu followed and quickly captured the outer part of the city, putting the inner city under siege. Murong Chao released Murong Zhen and requested his assistance in defending the city, but when Murong Zhen suggested that he pitch one final battle rather than just defending Guanggu, he balked, and he instead sent Han Fan to Later Qin to request emergency assistance. Initially, Yao Xing was willing to provide assistance with an army commanded by the general Yao Qiang (姚強), but after he himself suffered a defeat at the hand of the rebel general Liu Bobo (the emperor of Xia), he withdrew Yao Qiang's troops. Han Fan surrendered to Liu Yu, and the Guanggu garrison became even more desperate. A number of officials suggested to Murong Chao that he surrender to Jin, but he refused and executed anyone who would suggest the such.

In spring 410, Guanggu fell, and Murong Chao was captured. Liu Yu rebuked him for refusing to surrender, but he did not answer Liu Yu at all but only entrusted his mother to the Jin general Liu Jingxuan (劉敬宣), who had previously been a subject of his uncle Murong De. Murong Chao was delivered to the Jin capital Jiankang and executed, and some 3,000 Southern Yan officials and nobles were executed as well.

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Famous quotes containing the word reign:

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