Sima Shi

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Sima Shi ( Chinese  司馬 師 , Pinyin Sīmǎ Shī ), majority name Ziyuan ( 子 元 ; * around 208 ; † 255 ), was an official of the Wei Dynasty at the time of the Three Kingdoms in ancient China . In 249 he and his father Sima Yi overthrew the regent of the Wei emperor Cao Fang , Cao Shuang . With that, the Sima family began to take power in the empire. Sima Shi succeeded his father as regent after his death in 251 . He was firmly in control of power; when Cao Fang considered overthrowing Sima Shi in 254 , he deposed the emperor and instead made Cao Mao emperor. After his death, power passed to his brother Sima Zhao , whose son Sima Yan finally deposed the Wei emperors and founded the Jin dynasty . He paid tribute to the achievements of his uncle Sima Shi by posthumously appointed him Emperor Jing of Jin ( 晉景帝 ), with the temple name Shizong ( 世宗 ).


Sima Shi's date of birth is unknown. He was Sima Yi's eldest son; his mother was Sima Yi's wife Zhang Chunhua ( 張春華 , Zhāng Chūnhuá ). In his youth, Sima Shi was known for his agility and intelligence. Because his father already held a high position among the civil servants, he himself also achieved a rapid rise.

Sima Shi was married to Xiahou Hui, who was a daughter of General Xiahou Shang . She bore him five daughters but no son. In 234 she was poisoned under mysterious circumstances; Sima Yan posthumously awarded her the title of Empress Jinghuai ( 景 懷 皇后 ) after his accession to the throne . His second wife Wu ( ), the daughter of Wu Zhi ( 吳 質 ), he expelled. His third wife was Yang Huiyu . Because she did not have a son either, Sima Shi adopted his nephew Sima You ( 司馬 攸 ), the son of his brother Sima Zhao.

In 248, Sima Yi decided to overthrow the regent Cao Shuang. According to the Jin Shu , he only let his son Sima Shi know about the plans. The historian Sima Guang finds it strange that Sima Yi excluded his second son Sima Zhao, and in his work Zizhi Tongjian expresses the opinion that Sima Yi initiated both of them. Sima Shi gathered 3,000 devoted men, with whose help the coup in the next year went smoothly.

When Sima Yi took over the reign of Emperor Cao Fang, he made his eldest son Marquis of Changpingxiang and made him his assistant. There is no record of Sima Shi's achievements during this period. When his father died two years later, he succeeded him as regent. Shortly before, his father had stifled an uprising by General Wang Ling ( 王淩 ) who had planned to make Prince Cao Biao emperor. Sima Yi had the families of Wang Ling and his co-conspirators executed.

Reign for Cao Fang

Sima Shi was a capable politician and administrator, but he also wanted to quickly demonstrate his military competence. In 252 he attacked the southern rival Wu , whose emperor Sun Quan had recently died. His successor, Sun Liang , was young and under the reign of Zhuge Kes , who inflicted a significant defeat on Sima Shi's army. Sima Shi proved his wisdom by taking the blame for the defeat and promoting those generals who advised against the attack. By defeating Zhuge Ke at Hefei a year later , he was able to restore his reputation. Zhuge Ke, however, perished from his pride and died that same year.

In 254, Sima Shi managed to expand his power at Cao Fang's expense. The emperor had confided in the minister Li Feng ( 李豐 ), and Sima Shi suspected the two of having conspired against him. He interrogated Li Feng, and when he refused to reveal his confidentiality with the emperor, Sima Shi beat him to death with a sword hilt. He accused him and his confidants Xiahou Xuan ( 夏侯玄 ) and Zhang Ji ( 張 緝 ) of treason and had them and their families executed. He even forced the emperor to cast out his wife, Empress Zhang , who was Zhang Ji's daughter. His brutality made Sima Shi subordinate to all officials.

Cao Fang was angry about the deaths of Zhang Ji and Xiahou Xuan and plotted with his confidants. They suggested that he seize Sima Zhao's troops as soon as he came to his official visit to the court, before he took over his command at Chang'an . Cao Fang liked the plan, but hesitated to carry it out. Nevertheless, Sima Shi found out about it. He deposed Cao Fang and demoted him to Prince of Qi , but spared his life. Regarding the question of succession, Sima Shi explained to Empress Mother Guo , Cao Fang's stepmother, that he had chosen Cao Ju ( 曹 據 ), who was a son of the first Wei emperor Cao Pi . Empress mother Guo advised against it, however, because in this way the succession of the second emperor Cao Rui would be passed over. Instead, she suggested Cao Mao, who at 13 was still quite young, but known for his intelligence and who could perhaps become a counterbalance to the power of the Sima family. Sima Shi had to give in and made Cao Mao emperor.

Regency for Cao Mao

The hope of the Empress Mother Guo was not fulfilled because Cao Mao made no move to oppose the growing power of the Sima family. General Wuqiu Jian reacted to the dismissal of Cao Fang with an uprising (255) in the important eastern city of Shouchun ( 壽春 , in today's Lu'an , Anhui ), which was joined by General Wen Qin ( Chinese  chines ). Sima Shi stifled the uprising with his armed forces, and Wuqiu Jian and his family were executed while Wen Qin and his sons fled to the Wu kingdom.

Despite its success, the campaign took its toll. Before the uprising, Sima Shi had an eye disease that had been operated on shortly before the campaign. He wanted to entrust the leadership of the campaign to his uncle Sima Fu , but at the urging of his generals Zhong Hui and Fu Gu ( 傅 嘏 ), he took the lead himself. He achieved a glorious victory, but when Wen Yuan ( 文 鴛 ), a son of Wen Qin, was attacked, he rubbed his eye in the stress and it oozed from his skull. His condition deteriorated rapidly, and he died less than a month later. His brother Sima Zhao followed him.

Source studies

The most important source for the life of Sima Yi are the chronicles of the three kingdoms of Chen Shou (* 233, † 297), who served as an officer of the Shu Han until 263 and later under the Jin dynasty as a historian his views and experiences over time who put down the Three Kingdoms in writing.

In the 11th century, the historian Sima Guang created an extensive history work for the time from 403 BC with his summarized Zeitspiegel to aid the government . Chr. To 959 AD. For the time of the three kingdoms he made particular use of the chronicles of Chen Shou.