Emperor Wei of the Sui Dynasty ruled China between 541CE and 604CE. He was also known as Wen-Di, and he was born Yang Jian. Emperor Sui was the founder of China’s first Sui Dynasty.
Who Was Emperor Yang Jian/ Wen
Emperor Wen was one of the most hard-working administrators and worked as a micromanager. He was a Buddhist, and during his time, he encouraged the spread of the Buddhist religion throughout the state. His government, however, supported Confucian beliefs. He would go on to form the Sui Dynasty, where he ruled until 619CE, which was when Tang Dynasty’s first ruler came to power.
In childhood, Yang Jian was born into one of the powerful families in China, under the non-Chinese dynasties controlling the North and Central China when the country was undergoing fragmentation. He was brought up by a Buddhist nun and briefly attended a school that was maintained by the state. He, however, only learned the basics, including just a bit of history, the maxims of the Confucian morality, and afterward, knowledge of hunting, horsemanship, archery, falconry, and he even gained military experiences.
During the brief reign of the Sui dynasty, the Great Wall of China was rebuilt. There also were numerous land reforms made regarding the use of the land, and also the gap between the poor and the rich was largely reduced. Also, Buddhism was used by the dynasty to unify China’s very diverse groups.
Emperor Wen is also known as one of the most reputable public leaders recorded throughout Chinese history. But burdened by many responsibilities, Emperor Wen still behaved like the perfect Confucian, and he never complained. During his reign, Emperor Wen seized power not just for himself but also for the sake of the entire nation. His ambition and pursuits made him most suitable for the role of the emperor, a role that he deserved and earned by merit. He was a very visionary individual who possessed a great deal of integrity and character.
One of the things that made Emperor Wen stand out is the fact that the Emperor never allowed himself to succumb to the vices of the flesh even though his position meant he could have gotten it all. The emperor also had the ability to win really wide in public support for the reforms he initiated, which was no mean fete. Even so, Emperor Wen’s leadership was stained by a lot of bloodsheds, as it was with the reigns of many other emperors who made many big reforms. Unfortunately, his son was unable to continue the work of his dad.
Emperor Wen’s time started at the time when the Han Dynasty fell in 220AD. At the time, China was divided significantly, with many regions fighting for control over the country. There was constant war, and early in the year 500, China was ruled by two main dynasties, the Northern and the Southern Dynasties. But in the year 581, a young man called Yang Jian took over control of China’s Northern Dynasty, and he established China’s Sui Dynasty. He was consequently named the Emperor Wen of Sui.
After he gained control over Northern China, the Emperor gathered a large army and then invaded the South. And in 589, 8 years later, Emperor Wen’s rather massive army conquered the South, bringing the rest of China under one rule.
The emperor was a very strong leader throughout his reign, and he made many remarkable changes during his reign. These changes included the establishment of fair taxes, a more organized government, and even encouraged building of grain reserves.
Emperor Wen Of Sui Accomplishments
- Creation of a centralized China
Emperor Wen set up a centralized government, and this required a lot of reforms on the existing leadership structures. His changes included the replacement of the local hereditary offices by bureaucracy, meaning that everyone was answerable to the throne. This also meant the abolishing of the hereditary rights held by officers, and officials were selected based on an examination system from which their results would determine their appointment. The power to appoint the leaders was vested on the Board of the Civil Office or the Libu. The new governance system was guided by something called the Rule of Avoidance which forbade officials from serving in the native places they were born.
Emperor Wen planned his conquest in the south with great care and a great deal of attention to detail. This featured an 8-prong assault on the land and water, overwhelming the southerners. This led to the integration of a different cultural region ruled by the Sui Empire, facilitated by the canal system.
After some years and despite his many accomplishments, the emperor was quite unhappy and was also his aging wife henpecked him. He wasn’t on the best terms with his sons either. As a result, he turned against Confucianism, embracing Buddhism more. Soon, Buddhist observances increased, and he also built shrined in the key cities and towns. The emperor also carried sealed holy relics in special jars carried by eminent delegations of the eminent monks.
Emperor Wen is also known for the creation of this land system in which land was distributed equally to all, based on the size of the household, meaning larger families got larger parcels of land. The existing landowners were, however, allowed to keep their large parcels of land, as long as they only farmed on the land and never sold it. Taxes on merchants and farmers were relaxed, too, resulting in the most productive agricultural period in Chinese history.
Other accomplishments include:
- Reunification of all of China under one rule
- Reconstruction of the Great Wall of China
- Building the Grand Canal for improved trade and transportation
- Establishment of grain reserves
Emperor Wen Of Sui Cause Of Death
It is believed that Emperor Wen might have died after he was strangled by his son, whose title was striped when he was caught raping one of the emperor’s concubines. Other people, however, claim that he died from an illness.