Jia Chong

Jia Chong


Jia Chong (217-282), courtesy name Gonghe (公闔), formally Duke Wu of Lu (魯武公), was an important official during the reign of Jin Dynasty (265-420)'s founding emperor, Emperor Wu.

Early life and career during Cao Wei

Jia Chong's father Jia Kui was an important Cao Wei general and considered an epitome of faithfulness to the empire. He did not have a son until late in his life, and when Jia Chong was born he was very pleased. After Jia Kui's death, he inherited Jia Kui's title as a marquess. He later served under the regent Sima Shi, and then Sima Shi's brother and successor Sima Zhao. In 257, Sima Zhao sent him to probe the general Zhuge Dan's intentions should he decided to usurp the Cao Wei throne. When Jia incessantly praised Sima in Zhuge's presence, Zhuge rebuked him, and when Jia returned to the capital Luoyang, he warned Sima that Zhuge would surely not submit to him. Sima therefore summoned Zhuge back to the capital, forcing Zhuge into a rebellion that was quickly crushed. After the incident, Jia became even more important in Sima's eyes.

In 260, the Cao Wei emperor Cao Mao, unable to contain his anger about Sima Zhao's power grab any further, attempted a coup d'etat to try to take back power. When forces under Sima Zhao's brother Sima Zhou (司馬伷) quickly collapsed against Cao Mao's forces, it was Jia who was willing to stand against the emperor and who further ordered his subordinate Cheng Ji (成濟) to take any measure to crush the emperor. Cheng therefore killed the emperor with a spear -- and in the aftermaths of the incident, public sentiment called for both Cheng and Jia to be executed. Sima Zhao considered the matter for more than 10 days, eventually resolving to kill Cheng (and his clan) but sparing Jia, not wanting to execute someone who had been so loyal to him. From that point on, however, Jia's reputation among the people was one of regicide.

Jia would also play a key role in Sima Zhao's suppression of Zhong Hui's rebellion in 264, as Jia was commissioned with a force ready to intercept Zhong should Zhong attempt to make a quick attack against the central parts of the empire. (Zhong was eventually killed by his own soldiers, however, without having met Jia in battle.)

Career during Jin

In 265, after Sima Zhao's death, Sima Zhao's son Sima Yan forced the Cao Wei emperor Cao Huan to abdicate to him, ending Cao Wei and establishing Jin Dynasty (as Emperor Wu). Jia, as a key contributor to the Simas' power, continued to be an important figure in government, and was commissioned by Emperor Wu with authoring the Jin penal laws, initially considered to be far more merciful than the strict Cao Wei laws. (However, uneven enforcement of these laws meant that the main beneficiaries were nobles.) He was created the Duke of Lu.

For years, Jia had constant struggles within the government against Ren Kai (任愷) and Yu Chun (庾純), and in 271, Ren and Yu were able to have Jia sent out to battle the Xianbei rebel Tufa Shujineng (禿髮樹機能). Jia did not want to battle Tufa at all, and he was able to reverse the order by having his wife flatter and persuade Emperor Wu's wife Empress Yang Yan into recommending his daughter Jia Nanfeng to be crown princess to Emperor Wu's developmentally-disabled heir, Crown Prince Zhong. In 272, he fought back and was able to get Ren and Yu excluded from government.

In 279, when Emperor Wu was set on launching a major attack on Eastern Wu to try to conquer it, Jia opposed, arguing that Eastern Wu was too difficult to conquer. Emperor Wu did not listen to him, and in fact made him the coordinator of the six-pronged attack; when Jia declined, Emperor Wu told him to coordinate anyway -- or otherwise Emperor Wu himself would personally coordinate. Jia relented, but continued to oppose military action. In early 280, after some military successes against Eastern Wu, Jia continued to argue for the campaign to be stopped after conquering the western half of Eastern Wu. Soon after his submitted his petition arguing for the campaign to stop, however, Eastern Wu's emperor Sun Hao surrendered, and Jia became ashamed and offered to resign. Emperor Wu did not accept the resignation, and further rewarded him for what Emperor Wu perceived to be his contributions during the campaign.

Family life

Jia's first wife Lady Li was a daughter of Li Feng (李豐), who was suspected by Sima Shi to have conspired with the emperor Cao Fang in 254 and executed. By that point, Lady Li had borne Jia two daughters -- Jia Bao (賈褒) and Jia Yu (賈裕). Because Jia wanted to show his loyalty to Sima Shi, he divorced Lady Li, who was exiled. He then married Guo Huai (郭槐), who bore him two daughters as well -- Jia Nanfeng and Jia Wu (賈午). She also bore him a son, Jia Limin (賈黎民) -- but her unusual jealousy and cruelty would doom her son. One day when Jia Limin was two, when Jia Limin's wet nurse was holding Jia Limin, Jia Chong had just returned from the palace, and he saw his son and caressed him. Lady Guo saw this and misinterpreted and, believing that Jia Chong was having an affair with the wet nurse, killed the wet nurse. Jia Limin was so distressed by the death of the wet nurse that he grew ill and died. Later, Lady Guo bore him another son, but the same thing happened again -- she killed the wet nurse after suspecting an affair between the wet nurse and Jia Chong, and the son again died in distress. Therefore, Jia Chong was sonless.

In addition to Jia Nanfeng, who became crown princess, Jia Chong's oldest daughter Jia Bao also married an imperial prince -- Emperor Wu's younger brother Sima You the Prince of Qi, who was considered the most talented and virtuous among the imperial princes. At one point, when Emperor Wu grew ill, the people and the officials were all hoping that Prince You would inherit the throne instead. The mayor of Luoyang, Xiahou He (夏侯和) tried to persuade Jia to support Prince You -- pointing out that both Crown Prince Zhong and Prince You were his sons-in-law. Jia declined, however, perhaps because he was fearful of his wife.

After Emperor Wu established Jin, he declared a general amnesty of political prisoners and their families, and Jia's first wife Lady Li was able to return from exile. Believing that Jia might want to take his first wife back, Emperor Wu offered to allow him to have two wives -- but Jia, fearful of Lady Guo, never took Lady Li back despite entrities from Jia Bao and Jia Yu. Rather, he established a separate residence for Lady Li but never visited her -- but Lady Guo, jealous of Lady Li, nevertheless had her associates set up watch near Lady Li's residence for any signs of Jia Chong. Once, Lady Guo went to visit Lady Li herself, but became humiliated when she tripped and fell at Lady Li's feet; she would never again visit Lady Li.


As Jia fell ill in 282, Emperor Wu bestowed the special honor of having Crown Prince Zhong personally visit him in his illness. After he died, Lady Guo wanted to have Jia Limin posthumously adopt Jia Wu's son Han Mi (韓謐) and become Jia's heir for his dukedom. Emperor Wu approved, even though it was considered irregular to have a grandson by a daughter to inherit the title of a maternal grandfather. Because of this, the official Qin Xiu (秦秀), who was responsible for selecting important officials' posthumous names, initially wanted to select "Huang" (荒, literally "performer of illegal acts") as Jia's posthumous name, but Emperor Wu overrode Qin's recommendation and chose "Wu" (武, literally "martial") as Jia's posthumous name.

After Lady Li's subsequent death, Jia Nanfeng, by that point Emperor Hui's empress, would not permit her to be buried with Jia Chong. Only after Empress Jia was deposed and poisoned (300) was Lady Li buried with Jia Chong. (Presumably, Lady Guo was initially buried with Jia Chong; it is not known whether she was removed from the joint tomb after Empress Jia's death.)

Personal information

* Father
** Jia Kui (賈逵)

ee also

*Three Kingdoms
*Personages of the Three Kingdoms
*"Records of Three Kingdoms"
*"Romance of the Three Kingdoms"

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