Qian Chu

Qian Chu (simplified Chinese: 钱俶; traditional Chinese: 錢俶; pinyin: Qián Chù), born Qian Hongchu (錢弘俶), (929–988) was the last King of wuyue (reigned 947–978), a kingdom in southern-eastern China during the five dynasties and ten kingdoms period of Chinese history. Qian Chu pledged allegiance to the song dynasty in 978, avoiding certain annihilation from northern imperial Chinese troops and saving his people from war and economic destruction.


Qian Chu came to power after his brother, Qian Zong, was deposed in a coup d'état. At the time, wuyue was at its largest territorial extent, ruling 13 zhous in modern day Zhejiang , Jiangsu , Shanghai , and Fujian . Throughout its history, wuyue maintained a policy of nominally submitting to the successive dominant northern regimes. Unlike the other small states in the south, the wuyue kings never declared themselves Emperor. In return, the northern regimes respected wuyue's autonomy and conferred upon its kings high honours, one of which was the title of "Commnader of All Horses and Soldiers Under Heaven". Indeed, Qian Chu changed his name from the original Qian Hongchu, because the character hong was barred by taboo (as the name of Emperor Taizu of Song's father was Zhao Hongyin (趙弘殷)).

When the song dynasty united northern China in the 970s, Qian Chu reportedly followed his ancestor Qian Liu's instruction to submit as soon as possible when the "true lord" appeared. Thus, Qian Chu surrendered his territories to the Song regime. This protected the wuyue region from the ravages of war that visited other contemporary regimes. The region was able to maintain its infrastructure and economic advantage, built up over the wuyue period, which in no small part contributed to the Yangtze Delta being the economic centre of China up to the present day.

To allay northern suspicions and prevent conflict, Qian Chu moved with 3000 members of his household to the Song capital, Bianjing (now Kaifeng), while nominally remaining a king. On his 60th birthday (by the Chinese calendar) in 988, Emperor Taizong of Song sent him wine as a gift. After drinking the wine, he became violently ill and died that night. He was given a state funeral and buried near Luoyang.

Qian Chu had seven sons, one of whom went on to become a Chancellor in the Song court.

Other legacy

Qian Chu enjoyed writing poetry. One of his published poems survives to this day.

Like the other kings of wuyue, Qian Chu was a devout Buddhist. Leifeng Pagoda in Hangzhou was constructed on his orders to celebrate the conception of his son.

Last update 18-06-2012

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