Secrets of the Peaceful Abdication of Western Wei to Northern Zhou: a Perspective of How Yuwen Tai Suppressed and Won over the Yuan Family’s Power
Keywords:魏晉南北朝, 魏周禪代, 宇文泰, 獨孤信, Wei, Jin, Northern, and Southern Dynasties, Wei ceding the throne to Zhou, Yuwen Tai, Dugu Xin
LANGUAGE NOTE | Document text in Chinese; abstract also in English.
The power of the Yuan family remained formidable even at the end of the Western Wei dynasty. If Yuwen Tai (505-556) wanted his son to take over the throne of the Western Wei, he needed to draw the Yuan family to his side yet suppress it at the same time. In addition to appeasing the Yuan family through political marriages, Yuwen Tai also continuously relegated those loyal to the Yuan family to the outer fringes of the empire to remove them from court affairs. These people included: Dugu Xin (553-557), Pillar of State, and three Generals-in- chief, namely Yuwen Gui, Yang Zhong, and Wei Xiaokuan. Yuwen Tai also employed other methods such as political marriages, granting royal surnames, or making important appointments to absorb those loyal to the Yuan family. Dugu Xin enjoyed the highest renown and position among the Yuan faction and was also the most loyal to the Yuan royal family. Yuwen Tai not only attempted to win him over through marriage and canvassing; at two crucial meetings on abdication he also appointed his adherents to suppress him. All these measures were intended to create a general atmosphere of Wei ceding its throne to Zhou. Even so, the last stages of the abdication process were hampered because Yuwen Tai had already died before the most crucial meeting for the assignment of regent and successor. At that time, the successor Yuwen Jue was still young and the future regent Yuwen Hu had “long been ill-renowned.” Any minor mistake would have nullified Yuwen Tai’s lifelong plans. Therefore, the peaceful cession of the throne from Wei to Zhou was in fact ascribed to the many years of effort by Yuwen Tai and was indeed a difficult feat.
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