Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A.D. 538

In A.D. 538, Liang Wudi (梁武帝), the founder of the Liang Dynasty, ruled China. Liang had been an official during the Qi Dynasty, but took the throne after the emperor Hedi was killed by his own guards. The guards preserved Hedi's head in wax and sent it to Wudi as a gift. (Imagine opening something like that this Christmas!)

Liang Wudi was at first an able administrator, both diligent and frugal. Unfortunately, however, he tolerated corruption in his family members. By 538, Wudi had entrusted much of the government to Zhu Yi and He Jingrong. But He Jingrong was politically incompetent, and Zhu Yi was corrupt and inclined to be very jealous. Zhu Yi would eventually be dismissed because of corruption, but it was several years later.

Liang Wudi simply reigned too long and grew tired of ruling. The conflicts of the later years devastated the kingdom. The capital, Nanjing, was besieged and only a tenth of the defending army survived. Eventually (in 550) he was overthrown by his son, Jian Wendi who disapproved of his father's Buddhism. The Liang dynasty limped along for another eight years before being consigned to the dustbin of history.