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Persons in Chinese History - Xiao He 蕭何

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Xiao He 蕭何 (died 193 BCE) was a counsellor or emperor Han Gaozu 漢高祖 (r. 206-195 BCE), the founder of the Former Han dynasty 前漢 (206 BC-8 CE). In his early years he acted as a jail overseer (yuli 獄吏) in the district of Peixian 沛縣. In 209 he became a follower of Liu Bang 劉邦, the eventual Emperor Gaozu, in his rebellion against the Qin dynasty 秦 (221-206 BC). After the conquest of the capital of Qin, Xianyang 咸陽, when everybody ran through the palace and looted gold, silver and other precious objects, Xiao He was the only person caring for the imperial archives. He secured laws and regulations, household register and any reports about the local situation of the empire for Liu Bang, a booty that proved to be more important than anything else for the administration of the future Han dynasty. In 206, when the hegemonial king Xiang Yu 項羽 distributed the regions of the empire among the victors, Liu Bang was invested as king of the remote region of the Han River 漢 valley. Yet Xiao He, his Counsellor-in-chief (cheng 丞) perceived how important it was to secure this region, as well as Shu 蜀 and Ba 巴 (the later province of Sichuan), and the region of the so-called Three Qin 三秦 (south of the modern province of Shaanxi), the old heart of the empire. Liu Band was also, according to Xiao He's suggestion, to attract competent advisors and to exert a benevolent government in order to gain the support of the population. He also introduced the competent general Han Xin 韓信 to Liu Bang who played an important role in the war against Xiang Yu. The region of Qin was important for the supply of Liu Bang's armies, especially after the defeats of Xingyang 滎陽 and Chenggao 成臯. For this high merits Xiao He was not only made Counsellor-in-chief after Liu Bang's accession to the imperial throne in 202, but also given the title of Marquis of Zan 酇. He has been granted the posthumous title of Marquis Wenzhong of Zan 酇文終侯. As an imperial counsellor, Xiao He revised the Qin law and created a new codex of nine chapters, the Jiuzhang lü 九章律. In 196, Xiao he was granted the title of national Counsellor-in-chief (xiangguo 相國) for his plot to arrest the rebellious Han Xin. After the death of emperor Gaozu, Xiao He was very sick and suggested making Cao Shen 曹參 his successor. He died as chief counsellor of Emperor Hui 漢惠帝 (r. 195-188 BCE).

Source: Zhang Lie 張烈 (1992), "Xiao He 蕭何", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, p. 1310.

March 8, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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