Friday, July 8, 2011

Wang Lin

Wang Lin (526–573), courtesy name Ziheng , formally Prince Zhongwu of Baling .was a general of the Chinese dynasties Liang Dynasty and Northern Qi. He initially became prominent during Emperor Yuan of Liang's campaign against the rebel general Hou Jing, and later, after Emperor Yuan was defeated and killed by Western Wei forces in 554, he maintained a separate center of power from the dominant general of the remaining Liang provinces, Chen Baxian. After Chen Baxian seized the Liang throne in 557 and established Chen Dynasty (as its Emperor Wu), Wang, with Northern Qi support, declared the Liang prince Xiao Zhuang emperor in 558, making Xiao Zhuang one of the three contestants for the Southern Dynasty throne, against Chen Baxian and Emperor Xuan of Western Liang, supported by Western Wei. In 560, while trying to attack Chen Baxian's nephew and successor Emperor Wen of Chen, Wang was defeated, and both he and Xiao Zhuang fled to Northern Qi. Wang subsequently served as a Northern Qi general, and during a major Chen offensive against Northern Qi in 573, he was captured by the Chen general Wu Mingche and executed.
Wang Lin was born in 526, and while his father's name was not recorded in history, his father was said to be a military officer, and Wang Lin grew up studying the military doctrines. His family was from Kuaiji Commandery roughly modern Shaoxing, Zhejiang). During the reign of Emperor Wu, Wang Lin had two sisters (one older, one younger) who became concubines to Emperor Wu's son, Xiao Yi the Prince of Xiangdong. As Xiao Yi later became an important provincial governor, Wang, even in his youth, served on Xiao Yi's staff and became a key military officer under Xiao Yi. At least one of his brothers, Wang Xun , was also a military officer under Xiao Yi.
The first historical reference to Wang Lin's military activities was in 549, when Xiao Yi, then governor of the important Jing Province , modern western Hubei), trying to send food supplies to the provincial armies trying to lift the siege on the capital Jiankang by the rebel general Hou Jing, ordered Wang to escort a large supply of rice to Jiankang's vicinity. Before Wang could arrive at Jiankang, however, he heard news that Jiankang had fallen and the provincial armies had disbanded. Fearful that the supply would be seized by Hou, Wang dumped the rice into the Yangtze River and returned to Jing Province. Xiao Yi soon made him a commandery governor and created him the Marquess of Jianning. In fall 550, Xiao Yi promoted the status of Yichang Commandery to Yi Province, and made Wang its governor.
In 551, Hou launched a major assault on Xiao Yi's territory, commanded by himself and his generals Ren Yue and Song Zixian , and after Hou made a surprise attack on Jiangxia , in modern Wuhan, Hubei) and captured it, he headed toward Xiao Yi's headquarters at Jiangling. Wang Lin's brother Wang Xun were among the officers who surrendered. Xiao Yi sent his man forces, commanded by Wang Sengbian, to take up position against Hou's forces at Baling in modern Yueyang, Hunan). Wang Lin served under Wang Sengbian in defending Baling against Hou, and when Hou brought Wang Xun to the frontline, trying to have him persuade Wang Lin to surrender, Wang Lin rebuked him and fired an arrow at him. Wang Xun, embarrassed, withdrew. Soon, Xiao Yi's forces,
commanded by Wang Sengbian, fought back and defeated Hou's forces when Hou's food supplies ran out. Hou retreated, while leaving Song in command at Jiangxia. Wang Sengbian put it under siege, and Wang Lin participated in the battle, capturing Song. By this point, Wang Lin became well-known for his strong rapport with his troops and how he shared the awards he received with his troops. He had about 10,000 men under him, and most of his soldiers were originally bandits from the region between the Yangtze and the Huai River, but who personally became loyal to him.
In 552, Wang Sengbian advanced on Jiankang and recaptured it, forcing Hou to flee. (Hou was subsequently killed by his own subordinates.) Wang Lin made a major contribution in the recapturing of Jiankang, but drew Wang Sengbian's ire by at times being insubordinate to Wang Sengbian. When Taiji Palace was burned in the confusion following Jiankang's fall, Wang Sengbian worried that Xiao Yi would punish him, and therefore sent reports to Xiao Yi implicating Wang Lin in the fire destroying Taiji Palace, requesting that Wang Lin be executed. Xiao Yi thereafter made Wang Lin the governor of Xiang Province modern central Hunan) and ordered him to first report to Jiangling to see him. Wang Lin, realizing that something unusual was happening, sent his army directly to Xiang Province, commanded by his officer Lu Na , while personally reporting to Jiangling. Once he arrived at Jiangling, Xiao Yi arrested him and executed his deputy, Yin Yan . In response, Lu and his forces rebelled against Xiao Yi's son Xiao Fanglüe , whom Xiao Yi had sent to replace Wang Lin, and Lu seized Changsha, the capital of Xiang Province.

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