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Guo Wei
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Guo Wei

Guo Wei Song dynasty person CBDB = 46526

Song dynasty person CBDB = 46526
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Song dynasty person CBDB = 46526
Countries China
Gender male
The details
Biography

Guo Wei (郭威) (10 September 904 – 22 February 954), also known by his temple name Taizu (太祖), was the founding emperor of imperial China's short-lived Later Zhou during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, reigning from 951 until his death.

Nicknamed "Sparrow Guo" (郭雀兒) after a sparrow-shaped tattoo on his neck, he rose to a high position in the Later Han as an assistant military commissioner. He founded the Later Zhou in 951.

Early life

When Guo Wei was born in 904 in Yaoshan (堯山; in modern Longyao County, Hebei), the Tang Dynasty had disintegrated into regions controlled by warlords fighting amongst one another. Guo was just a toddler when his family moved to Taiyuan (in modern Shanxi), as his father Guo Jian (郭簡) became the prefect (刺史) of Shunzhou (順州, modern Shunyi District, Beijing), serving the Taiyuan-based warlord Li Keyong. Shortly afterwards, Guo Jian was killed by warlord Liu Rengong's forces which conquered Shunzhou, and before Guo Wei's deciduous teeth fell out his mother Lady Wang (王氏) also died. Orphaned, the young boy was raised by a distant relative, Lady Han (韓氏).

Guo Wei grew up into a muscular young man interested more in warfare than agriculture. He was also fond of drinking and gambling and frequently participated in brawls. When he was around 17, to escape arrest, he went to live with an acquaintance Gentleman Chang (常氏) in Huguan close to Luzhou (潞州, modern Changzhi, Shanxi), shortly before joining the army of Luzhou's interim regent (留後) Li Jitao. Li Jitao was serving Jin, ruled by Li Keyong's son Li Cunxu, but actually plotting to defect to the Later Liang, Jin's archenemy. He was therefore more interested in recruiting brave and talented soldiers than enforcing the law, so when an inebriated Guo stabbed a menacing marketplace butcher to death following an argument, he let Guo walk free, eventually summoning Guo back to serve him.

Career under Later Tang

In 923, Li Cunxu established the Later Tang and overthrew Later Liang. Li Jitao was killed a few months later and all of his former soldiers, including 19-year-old Guo Wei, were assigned to the cavalry rotations. As Guo was literate and good at mathematics, he soon became an officer. He delved into the available literature on military strategy as much as he could, particularly enjoying Spring and Autumn Annals for a Wider World (閫外春秋), recommended by a blood brother Li Qiong (李瓊).

In 927, the Later Tang emperor Li Siyuan personally led an army to suppress Zhu Shouyin's rebellion. Guo Wei, then under the leadership of general Shi Jingtang, was among the first soldiers scaling the defensive wall of Xun (in modern Henan). Shi saw Guo's literary talents and tasked him to manage military records. Guo proved very popular among generals and ministers.

Career under Later Jin

Later Tang was replaced by the Later Jin in 936.

Career under Later Han

The Later Han was founded by a Shatuo Turk by the name of Liu Zhiyuan, posthumously known as Gaozu of Later Han. Guo Wei was already familiar with life under the Shatuo Turks as he had lived under their rule since he was nineteen years old. He served as the Assistant Military Commissioner to the founder of the Later Han. However, when a teenager assumed the throne in 948, court intrigue enabled Guo to usurp the throne in a coup and declare himself the founding Emperor of the Later Zhou Dynasty on New Year’s Day in 951.

Reign

He was the first Han Chinese Emperor in northern China since 923. His rule was able and he passed reforms that attempted to relieve pressures on China’s massive peasantry. His rule was vigorous and well-organized. However, he died from an illness three years into his reign in 954.

Family

Ancestry

16. Guo Jing (郭璟)
16. Guo Jing (郭璟)
8. Guo Chen (郭諶)
17. Lady Zhang (張氏)
4. Guo Yun (郭蘊)
9. Lady Shen (申氏)
2. Guo Jian (郭簡)
5. Lady Han (韓氏)
1. Guo Wei
3. Lady Wang (王氏)
16. Guo Jing (郭璟)
8. Guo Chen (郭諶)
17. Lady Zhang (張氏)
4. Guo Yun (郭蘊)
9. Lady Shen (申氏)
2. Guo Jian (郭簡)
5. Lady Han (韓氏)
1. Guo Wei
3. Lady Wang (王氏)
8. Guo Chen (郭諶)
17. Lady Zhang (張氏)
4. Guo Yun (郭蘊)
9. Lady Shen (申氏)
2. Guo Jian (郭簡)
5. Lady Han (韓氏)
1. Guo Wei
3. Lady Wang (王氏)
  • 1st son, no mention in historical texts, most likely died young
  • Guo Qingge (郭青哥), 2nd son, almost certainly still a child when he was killed in 950 by Liu Chengyou
  • Guo Yige (郭意哥), 3rd son, almost certainly still a child when he was killed in 950 by Liu Chengyou
  • 1st daughter, no mention in historical texts, most likely died young
  • 2nd daughter, no mention in historical texts, most likely died young
  • 3rd daughter, killed in 950 by Liu Chengyou
  • 4th daughter, married Zhang Yongde
  • 5th daughter, died before 951
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Sources
References
http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E8%88%8A%E4%BA%94%E4%BB%A3%E5%8F%B2/%E5%8D%B7110
http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E8%88%8A%E4%BA%94%E4%BB%A3%E5%8F%B2/%E5%8D%B7113
http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E6%96%B0%E4%BA%94%E4%BB%A3%E5%8F%B2/%E5%8D%B770
http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E6%96%B0%E4%BA%94%E4%BB%A3%E5%8F%B2/%E5%8D%B711
http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E6%96%B0%E4%BA%94%E4%BB%A3%E5%8F%B2/%E5%8D%B719
http://zh.wikisource.org/wiki/%E5%AE%8B%E5%8F%B2/%E5%8D%B7261
//tools.wmflabs.org/geohack/geohack.php?pagename=Guo_Wei&params=34_32_17.95_N_113_41_55.90_E_
https://id.loc.gov/authorities/names/no2002083570
https://viaf.org/viaf/26737954
https://www.worldcat.org/identities/containsVIAFID/26737954
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