An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Hua Yuan 華元

Mar 15, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Hua Yuan 華元 was a nobleman and regent (zhizheng 執政) of the state of Song 宋 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE) and a grandson of the mighty Counsellor Hua Du 華督. For fourty years he determined the fate of Song and initiated the first great peace conference between the states of Jin 晉 and Chu 楚.

In 607, he was captured after Song had lost the battle of Daji 大棘 (today's Suixian 睢縣, Henan) against Zheng 鄭 (which was backed by Chu), but he was allowed to returned after Song had paid a ransom. In the aftermath, Song built a city wall around the ducal capital.

In 594, Chu besieged the capital of Song for five months. When the city ran out of grain, Hua Yuan decided to secretly meet the commander of Chu, Zifan 子反, and frankly reported to him the situation. King Zhuang of Chu 楚莊王 respected the enemy and withdrew.

Hua Yuan was acquainted with Prince Zizhong 子重, chief counsellor (lingyin 令尹) of Chu, and Luan Shu 欒書 (Luan Wuzi 欒武子), a high dignitary in Jin. His contacts to these persons made possible a peace agreement (mibing 弭兵) concluded in 580 at the western gate of Song. This agreement was highly important for the state of Song because it was located in the middle of the Central Plain, where the states of Jin, Qi 齊, and Chu contended for power.

After Duke Gong's death 宋共公 (r. 589-576), the Minister of War (sima 司馬) Tang Shan 唐山 (also written Tang Ze 蕩澤) killed the heir apparent, Prince Fei 肥, but failed to kill Hua Yuan, who then enthroned Prince Cheng 成 (Duke Ping 宋平公, r. 576-532). Tang Shan was killed by the ducal army of Song under the command of Minister of the Masses (situ 司徒) Hua Xi 華喜 and Minister of Works (sicheng 司城) Gongsun Shi 公孫師. Hua Yuan appointed Xiang Xu 向戍 Commander to the Left (zuozshi 左師), Lao Zuo 老佐 Minister of War, and Yue Yi 樂裔 Minister of Justice (sikou 司寇).

Hua Yuan was succeeded in office by Zihan 子罕 (Yue Xi 樂喜).

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