Wei Guan

Wei Guan

Wei Guan (衛瓘) (220-291), courtesy name Boyu (伯玉), formally Duke Cheng of Lanling (蘭陵成公), was a Cao Wei and Jin Dynasty (265-420) official.

Early life and career during Cao Wei

Wei Guan was from Hedong Commandery (roughly modern Yuncheng, Shanxi). His father Wei Ji (衛覬) was a high-level Cao Wei official and a marquess, who died in 229. Wei Guan inherited his title, and when he grew older became a low-level official. Throughout the years, he became known for his capability and was continuously promoted. After Cao Huan became emperor, he became the justice minister, and was known for his strength in logical thinking.

When the Cao Wei regent Sima Zhao commissioned Zhong Hui and Deng Ai to attack Shu Han in 263, Wei served as Deng's deputy. After Shu Han's fall that year, Zhong planned a rebellion, and the first step of his preparation was to falsely accuse Deng of crimes. Sima Zhao, believing Zhong's accusations, ordered Deng arrested, and Zhong in turn ordered Wei to arrest Deng, hoping that Wei would fail and be killed by Deng so that he could further affirm his accusations against Deng. Wei knew this, and surprised Deng in the middle of the night and arrested him successfully. When Zhong later declared his rebellion, Wei pretended to be seriously ill. Zhong therefore did not guard him securely, and later, Wei participated in rousing the troops to kill Zhong and thus end the rebellion. Fearful that Deng would then retaliate him, he had Deng tracked down and killed. When Du Yu publicly denounced Wei, instead of becoming angry and retaliate against Du, Wei visited Du to apologize to him. He also declined a larger march that Sima Zhao was ready to bestow on him for his accomplishments.

Career during Jin

In 265, Sima Zhao died and was succeeded as regent by his son Sima Yan, who later that year forced Cao Huan to abdicate to him, ending Cao Wei and establishing Jin (as Emperor Wu). Throughout Emperor Wu's reign, Wei Guan continued to be an important official and general, serving in a variety of roles capably. As a result, one of his brothers and one of his sons were granted marquess titles. Wei attempted to implement a revised civil service system, where the civil service examiner (中正) would have less input on grading officials, and actual job performance would become more important, but while Emperor Wu liked Wei's suggestions, he did not carry them out.

Wei was one of the few officials who dared to openly speak to Emperor Wu about his choice of crown prince, his son Sima Zhong, who was developmentally disabled. On one occasion, Emperor Wu, after Wei hinted that Crown Prince Zhong should not be crown prince, sent a number of inquiries to Crown Prince Zhong to have answered. When the inquiries were appropriately answered (because Crown Prince Zhong's wife Crown Princess Jia Nanfeng had someone else answer the inquiries for Crown Prince Zhong), Emperor Wu was happy and publicly showed Wei the answers, embarrassing Wei greatly and making it clear to other officials that Wei had said something.

After Emperor Wu's death in 290, Yang Jun, the father of Empress Dowager Yang assumed the regency for Crown Prince Zhong (who ascended the throne as Emperor Hui), but in 291 was overthrown and killed by Empress Jia. Wei was then made regent, along with Emperor Hui's granduncle Sima Liang. Wei and Sima Liang did tried to get the government on track, but Empress Jia continued to interfere with governmental matters. They also became concerned about the violent temper of Emperor Hui's brother Sima Wei the Prince of Chu (who was heavily involved in the coup against Yang Jun) and therefore tried to strip him of his military command, but Sima Wei persuaded Empress Jia to let him keep his military command. Sima Wei's assistants Qi Sheng (岐盛) and Gongsun Hong (公孫宏) thereafter falsely told Empress Jia that Sima Liang and Wei planned to depose the emperor. Empress Jia, who had already resented Wei for having, during Emperor Wu's reign, suggested that he change his heir selection, also wanted more direct control over the government, and therefore resolved to undergo a second coup.

In summer 291, Empress Jia had Emperor Hui personally write an edict to Sima Wei, ordering him to have Sima Liang and Wei removed from their offices. His forces thereby surrounded Sima Liang and Wei's mansions, and while both men's subordinates recommended resistance, each declined and was captured. Against what the edict said, both were killed -- Sima Liang with his heir Sima Ju (司馬矩) and Wei with nine of his sons and grandsons. After Empress Jia, concerned about Sima Wei's power, then falsely declared that the edict was forged by Sima Wei and had him executed, Wei was posthumousy honored and created a duke.

ee also

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

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