Jia Sidao (1213-1275) was a chancellor during the late Song dynasty of China, the brother of a concubine of Emperor Lizong, a subsequent relationship of special favor of Emperor Duzong, and with roles in the Mongol-Song Battle of Xiangyang and an unpopular land nationalization program in the 1260s. Sidao was assassinated by a court-designated sheriff charged with his custody after his court failures.
Jia Sidao (Chinese: 賈似道; pinyin: Jiǎ Sìdào; Wade–Giles: Chia Ssu-tao) was born in 1213, to a family that included a sister who became a concubine of the Emperor Lizong.
Jia Sidao was a chancellor from 1260 - 1273 during the late Song dynasty of China. He is reported to have risen to the rank of chancellor because his sister, Lady Jia, was a favored concubine of the Emperor Lizong.
Sidao is best known for his intervention in the Battle of Xiangyang, where he hid the true situation from the Song court and so is suggested by some to be responsible for its demise. Sidao is also referred to by some as corrupt and impotent.
Sidao enjoyed the special favor of the Emperor Duzong. Being Jia's junior by 27 years, the Emperor used to stand up upon his entrance, called him "teacher" (though Jia was not an imperial degree holder, and never held such a formal post), and is said to have knelt in tears on one occasion, begging Sidao to remain in office.
Sidao pioneered a policy of land nationalization highly unpopular among the Confucians, who favored low taxes and a small role for the state. The land survey, endorsed by several more officials, was undertaken ca. 1262. It was driven by pressing military needs, and by rampant monopolization by the powerful clans. In 1263, the gongtian ("public field," a northern Song feature) was reintroduced, and functioned for the next 12 years. Sidao's land reform activity has been compared to that of Wang Mang, exaggeratedly since, distinct from Sidao, under Wang Mang the state monopolized only 1/3 of the excess land holdings, provided some minimal compensation, and alleviated the Harmonious Grain levy.
Later, at the Battle of Yihu, Jia Sidao's decisions, considered by some to be incompetent, led to a defeat in which the remnants of the Song army were routed, and allowing the Mongols to advance on the capital, Lin'an. As a result of this defeat, Sidao was demoted from the post of chancellor.
The possibility of executing Jia Sidao for his court failures was hotly debated in Lin'an (now Hangzhou) on the verge of its fall. Dowager Empress Xie objected to this as a cruelty, but issued progressively severe decrees of banishment and property confiscation that included Sidao and his family. Ultimately, In 1275 Sidao was assassinated by a court-designated sheriff, Zheng Hucheng, who had been charged with his custody. Whether the execution was court-sanctioned remains unclear.
In popular culture
In the 2014 Netflix TV series Marco Polo, Jia Sidao is portrayed by Chin Han, while the sister to whom he owes his position is played by Olivia Cheng.