Shen Youzhi - Service Under Emperors Wen and Xiaowu

Service Under Emperors Wen and Xiaowu

It is not known when Shen Youzhi was born. However, it is known that his father Shen Shuren (沈叔仁) was an army officer under Emperor Wen's brother Liu Yiji (劉義季) the Prince of Hengyang and was a cousin of the famed general Shen Qingzhi (沈慶之). Shen Shuren's household was not rich, and he grew up in poverty after apparently losing his father early in life. In 450, when Northern Wei forces made a major invasion into Liu Song territory, Shen Youzhi was conscripted, and he went to see the general Liu Zunkao (劉遵考) to request a sergeant position. Liu was not impressed by his appearance and refused his request, so he went to follow his distance uncle Shen Qingzhi. However, Shen Qingzhi did not initially make him an officer either, and he did not become an officer until 452, when he followed Shen Qingzhi in a campaign against the Xiyang Aborigines (西陽蠻, located in modern Huanggang, Hubei).

In 453, Emperor Wen was assassinated by his crown prince Liu Shao, who then seized the throne. Instead of acquiescing to Liu Shao's reign, Shen Qingzhi persuaded Liu Shao's brother Liu Jun the Prince of Wuling into an uprising against Liu Shao. Shen Youzhi was part of Shen Youzhi's army against Liu Shao, and at the Battle of Xinting (新亭, in modern Nanjing, Jiangsu), near the capital Jiankang, he suffered severe injuries but recovered. After Liu Shao was defeated and killed and Liu Jun became emperor (as Emperor Xiaowu), Shen Youzhi was created the Marquess of Pingluo and promoted.

In 459, when Emperor Xiaowu's brother Liu Dan (劉誕) the Prince of Jingling rose against him, Shen Youzhi again joined Shen Qingzhi in the campaign against Liu Dan in sieging Liu Dan's post of Guangling (廣陵, in modern Yangzhou, Jiangsu), and he contributed to the victory over Liu Dan. Emperor Xiaowu wanted to reward him greatly, but Shen Qingzhi, perhaps because Shen Youzhi was a relative, reduced the award, and Shen Youzhi became resentful of Shen Qingzhi after this point.

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