Zhai Liao

Zhao Liao (翟遼) (died 391) was the founder of the Chinese/Dingling state Wei. During his reign, he used the title "Heavenly Prince" (Tian Wang), roughly equivalent to emperor.

Early career

Zhao Liao's father or uncle Zhai Bin (翟斌), who had rebelled against Former Qin's emperor Fu Jiān in 383, supported later yan's founding emperor Murong Chui when Murong Chui rebelled against Former Qin as well and established later yan. However, in 384, as Murong Chui sieged the important city Yecheng, which was defended by Fu Jiān's son Fu Pi, Zhai Bin, seeing that Murong Chui was unable to capture the city quickly, began to consider other options. When, in particular, he requested a prime ministerial title from Murong Chui and was refused, Zhai Bin prepared to ally with Fu Pi instead, but his plan was discovered, and he was killed, along with his brothers Zhai Tan (翟檀) and Zhai Min (翟敏). It was apparently at this time that Zhai Liao and his cousin Zhai Zhen (翟真) fled with some of their Dingling troops and resisted later yan's subsequent campaigns to take the territory north of and around the Yellow River. In late 384, Zhai Liao was defeated by Murong Chui's sons Murong Lin and Murong Nong and forced to flee to his cousin Zhai Zhen. In 385, Zhai Zhen's subordinate Xianyu Qi (鮮于乞) assassinated him and attempted to take over, but the Zhai family struck back and killed him; another cousin of Zhai Liao's, Zhai Cheng (翟成), succeeded Zhai Zhen, but many of their subordinates surrendered to later yan. In fall 385, Murong Chui attacked Zhai Cheng, and Zhai Cheng's subordinate Xianyu De (鮮于得) killed Zhai Cheng and surrendered. The Dingling troops were largely slaughtered.

However, Zhai Liao escaped the massacre and sought refuge with Teng Tianzhi (滕恬之), Jin's governor of Liyang Commandery (黎陽, roughly modern Hebi, Henan ). Teng trusted Zhai Liao greatly, and Zhai Liao, taking advantage of Teng's overdedication to hunting and ignorance of his soldiers' needs, began to develop relationships with soldiers. In 386, when Teng was on a campaign, he commissioned Zhai Liao to keep guard of Liyang; instead, Zhai Liao captured Teng and seized Liyang. (Zhai Liao's rebellion contributed to the suspension of Xie Xuan's campaigns to try to recover northern territories for Jin.) During the next two years, Zhai Liao repeatedly tried to attack Jin, but was repelled in his efforts, and he apparently entered into an alliance with Western Yan's emperor Murong Yong. In 387, Murong Chui attacked Zhai Liao, and many of Zhai Liao's subordinates surrendered quickly. Zhai Liao, in fear, agreed to submit to later yan, and Murong Chui permitted him to remain at his post and created him the Duke of Henan .

Establishment of Wei

In winter 387, Zhai Liao repudiated allegiance to later yan and attacked later yan's Qinghe (清河, roughly modern Xingtai, Hebei ) and Pingyuan (平原, roughly modern Dezhou, Shandong ) Commanderies. In spring 388, he sent his subordinate Sui Qiong (眭瓊) to apologize to Murong Chui, but Murong Chui no longer believed him, and killed Sui to show that he was not interested. Zhai Liao then declared an independent Wei state and declared himself the Heavenly Prince. He also changed era name and established an imperial government. He then moved the capital to Huatai (滑台, in modern Anyang, Henan ). In 389, he captured Jin's Yingyang Commandery (滎陽, roughly modern Zhengzhou, Henan ). He also sent his general Gu Ti (故堤) to pretend to surrender to the later yan Prince of Lelang, Murong Wen (慕容溫) and assassinate Murong Wen, although that maneuver yielded him no territory as Gu's forces were quickly destroyed by Murong Nong. In fall 390, Jin general Liu Laozhi (劉牢之) attacked Zhai Liao, capturing Juancheng (鄄城, in modern Puyang, Henan ), forcing Zhai Liao's son Zhai Zhao, who was in charge of the city, to flee, and then defeated Zhai Liao near his capital Huatai, but did not destroy Wei.

In 391, Zhai Liao died. He was succeeded by his son Zhai Zhao.

Last update 30-05-2012

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