World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Emperor Ming of Jin

Article Id: WHEBN0000417932
Reproduction Date:

Title: Emperor Ming of Jin  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Emperor Cheng of Jin, Huan Xuan, Wang Dun, Wang Dao, 325
Collection: 299 Births, 325 Deaths, 4Th-Century Chinese Monarchs, Jin Dynasty (265–420) Emperors
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Emperor Ming of Jin

Jin Mingdi (晉明帝)
Family name: Sima (司馬; sīmǎ)
Given name: Shao (紹, shaò)
Temple name: Suzu (肅祖, sùzǔ)
Posthumous name: Ming (明, míng),
literary meaning: "understanding"

Emperor Ming of Jin (simplified Chinese: 晋明帝; traditional Chinese: 晉明帝; pinyin: Jìn Míng Dì; Wade–Giles: Chin Ming-ti; 299 – 18 October 325), personal name Sima Shao (司馬紹), courtesy name Daoji (道畿), was an emperor of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (265-420). During his brief reign (323-325), he led the weakened Jin out of domination by the warlord Wang Dun, but at his early death, the empire was left to his young son Emperor Cheng, and the fragile balance of power that he created was soon broken, leading to the Su Jun Disturbance and weakening the Jin state even further.


  • Early life 1
  • As crown prince 2
  • Reign 3
  • Era name 4
  • Personal information 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7

Early life

Sima Shao was born in 299, as the oldest son of his father Sima Rui, then the Prince of Langye, by his lowly-born concubine Lady Xun, who then in 300 gave birth to another son, Sima Pou (司馬裒). Sima Rui's wife, Princess Yu Mengmu (虞孟母), who was herself childless, became very jealous of Lady Xun and mistreated her greatly. Lady Xun, not able to bear the abuse, complained bitterly, and was thrown out of the household. Sima Shao was therefore raised by Princess Yu, with whom he apparently had a cordial relationship. During his youth, he was considered intelligent and quick-thinking, although eventually his brother Sima Pou became more favored by their father.

While Sima Rui served as Left Prime Minister under Emperor Min, the teenage Sima Shao was put in charge of defending Guangling. After Sima Rui declared himself the Prince of Jin following Emperor Min's capture by Han Zhao in 316, he initially wanted to make Sima Pou his crown prince, but after Wang Dao pointed out that traditionally the older son should succeed him, he created Sima Shao crown prince. Sima Shao remained in that status after his father declared himself emperor (as Emperor Yuan) in 318, after Han Zhao executed Emperor Min.

As crown prince

While crown prince, Sima Shao was known for seeking out talented men and befriendly them, treating them as friends and not as subordinates. These included Wang Dao, Yu Liang (whose sister Yu Wenjun he married), Wen Jiao, Huan Yi (桓彝), and Ruan Fang (阮放). He was also known for his filial piety and his literary studies. He later also added martial arts to his studies, and he often visited troops to encourage them.

When Wang Dun rebelled against Emperor Yuan in 322, the capital Jiankang fell easily to Wang. Upon hearing news that Wang had breached Jiankang's defenses, Crown Prince Shao was going to himself make a last stand, but Wen stopped him by cutting off the ropes off his horse. When Wang subsequently forced Emperor Yuan into submission, he considered deposing Crown Prince Shao by falsely accusing Crown Prince Shao of being disobedient to Emperor Yuan. However, Wen prevented this by publicly praising Crown Prince Shao of filial piety, making Wang's putative accusations not credible.

Early in 323, Emperor Yuan died in distress after his defeat by Wang. Crown Prince Shao succeeded to the throne as Emperor Ming.


One of the first things that Emperor Ming did was locating his birth mother Lady Xun, putting her in a mansion, and creating her the Lady of Jian'an. However, perhaps out of respect for his deceased stepmother Princess Yu (who had died in 312 but was posthumously honored as an empress), he never gave her an empress dowager title—and Emperor Ming honored Princess Yu's family as appropriately he would a mother's family—and he was particularly close to Princess Yu's brother Yu Yin (虞胤). A few months after he took the throne, Lady Xun moved into the palace. Emperor Ming also created his wife, Crown Princess Yu, empress.

Wang Dun did not think much of the new emperor, and he plotted usurping the throne. In summer 323, he had Emperor Ming summon him to the capital, but actually did not go to the capital, but only moved his headquarters from Wuchang (武昌, in modern Ezhou, Hubei) to Gushu (姑孰, in modern Ma'anshan, Anhui), closer to the capital, and also taking over the governorship of the capital province. When Emperor Ming tried to commission the official Chi Jian (郗鑒) as the military commander at Hefei, positionally behind Wang, Wang resisted, and Emperor Ming was forced to recall Chi.

In 324, Wang Dun grew ill, and became resolved to overthrow Jin so that his adopted son, Wang Ying (王應), could be emperor. (This was after his initial two inclinations—ordering that his troops be disbanded after his death, or having Wang Ying continue to control his troops but pledging allegiance to Emperor Ming—were rejected by his strategists.) He also made Wen Jiao, by that point a trusted assistant, the mayor of Jiankang, to keep an eye on the emperor—forgetting that Wen was loyal to Emperor Ming, and upon arrival in Jiankang, Wen informed Emperor Ming of Wang's plans, as well as his illness. Wang Dao, also loyal to Emperor Ming, then falsely declared to the imperial forces that Wang Dun had died, further increasing their morale, and Emperor Ming reinforced his troops by summoning battle-tested soldiers from the northern borders with Later Zhao back to the capital. (When the generals in command of these forces, Su Jun and Liu Xia (劉遐) arrived at Jiankang, even though it was dark in the night, Emperor Ming went to personally visit the troops, greatly enhancing their morale.) Wang Dun then sent his forces east to Jiankang, headed by his brother Wang Han (王含, Wang Ying's biological father) and Qian Feng (錢鳳), but could not decisively defeat the imperial troops. The imperial troops then attacked by, defeating Wang Han. Wang Dun, upon hearing initial news of defeat, died. The imperial forces then defeated Wang Han's troops more completely, forcing Wang Han and Wang Ying to flee, but they were captured by Wang Dun's brother Wang Shu (王舒), who executed them by drowning to show his loyalty.

In 325, Emperor Ming posthumously awarded officials who had died at Wang Dun's hands throughout the years with titles and honors. He also put the general Tao Kan, known for his military and governing capabilities, in charge of most of Wang Dun's former domain, including the key Jing Province (荊州, modern Hubei).

In fall 325, Emperor Ming grew ill. He entrusted his four-year-old son, Crown Prince Yan, to a group of high-level officials, including Sima Yang (司馬羕) the Prince of Xiyang, Wang Dao, Bian Kun (卞壼), Chi Jian, Yu Liang, Lu Ye (陸瞱), and Wen Jiao, perhaps intending that they lead by group with a balance of power. He died soon thereafter—only 26 years old. The balance of power that he left was soon broken, however, as Empress Dowager Yu became the regent, and her brother Yu Liang became the most powerful of the officials, eventually offending Su Jun and Zu Yue into a rebellion that damaged Jin for years.

Era name

  • Taining (太寧 taì níng) 323-326

Personal information

  • Father
  • Mother
  • Wife
  • Children
    • Sima Yan (司馬衍), the Crown Prince (created 325), later Emperor Cheng of Jin
    • Sima Yue (司馬岳), originally the Prince of Wu (created 326), later the Prince of Langye (created 327), later Emperor Kang of Jin
    • Sima Xingnan (司馬興男), the Princess Nankang, wife of Huan Wen
    • Sima Nandi (司馬南弟), the Princess Luling
    • Princess Taiping
    • Princess Dao of Nanjun



Emperor Ming of Jin
Born: 299 Died: 18 October 325
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor Yuan of Jin
Emperor of China
Eastern Jin
Succeeded by
Emperor Cheng of Jin
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.