Qian Liu - Service Under Dong Chang and Takeover of Zhenhai Circuit

Service Under Dong Chang and Takeover of Zhenhai Circuit

During the rebellion of the army officer Wang Ying in 876-877, Qian and Dong Chang, also from Lin'an, joined a local militia to defend against Wang's raids. After Wang's rebellion was defeated, Dong, for his contributions during the campaign, was made the defender of Shijing Base (石鏡, in modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang), and Qian became a commander under Dong. In 878, when the agrarian rebel Cao Shixiong (曹師雄) was pillaging both Zhenhai Circuit (鎮海, headquartered in modern Zhenjiang, Jiangsu), which Hang Prefecture (which Shijing and Lin'an belonged to) was a part of, and Zhedong Circuit (浙東, headquartered in modern Shaoxing, Zhejiang), the Hang Prefecture government tried to resist the pillages by recruiting 1,000 men from each of the counties in the prefecture. Dong and seven others became the militia commanders, and their troops became known as the "Eight Corps of Hang Prefecture." Subsequently, when soldiers under the major agrarian rebel Huang Chao pillaged Zhenhai, Qian repelled the pillaging Huang army.

In 881, after Huang headed northwest and captured the imperial capital Chang'an, forcing then-reigning Emperor Xizong (Emperor Xuānzong's grandson) to flee to Chengdu, Gao Pian the military governor (Jiedushi) of Huainan Circuit (淮南, headquartered in modern Yangzhou, Jiangsu) gathered troops in the nearby regions and claimed that he was going to launch troops to recapture Chang'an. As part of that, he summoned Dong to Huainan's capital Yang Prefecture (揚州) as well. However, Qian discerned that Gao had no real intentions to attack Huang, and he advised Dong to claim that he needed to return to Hang Prefecture to defend it. Dong did so, and Gao agreed to let him leave. Meanwhile, the imperial government had just recently commissioned a new prefect of Hang Prefecture, Lu Shenzhong (路審中). Before Lu could get to Hang Prefecture, however, Dong took his troops from Shijing into Hang Prefecture to intimidate Lu. Lu, fearful of Dong, did not take office. Dong then claimed the title of acting prefect, and had his officers submit petitions to the military governor of Zhenhai, Zhou Bao, to have Dong be officially commissioned. Zhou, believing that he could not control Dong otherwise, made Dong the prefect of Hang Prefecture.

In 882, Liu Hanhong the governor (觀察使, Guanchashi) of Zhedong, who wanted to take over Zhenhai, sent his brother Liu Hanyou (劉漢宥) and officer Xin Yue (辛約) to attack Hang Prefecture. Dong sent Qian to resist the Zhedong army, and Qian defeated them, forcing them to flee. Liu made another attack in 883, and Dong's army, under Qian, again defeated the Zhedong army, killing Xin and Liu Hanhong's brother Liu Hanrong (劉漢容).

In 886, Dong and Qian were discussing what to do with Zhedong — which by this point had been renamed Yisheng Circuit (義勝) — when Dong made the offer to Qian, "If you can capture Yue Prefecture, I will yield Hang Prefecture to you." Qian agreed, responding, "You are right. If Yue were not captured, it will eventually be harmful to us." Qian thus launched the Hang Prefecture army and attacked Liu Hanhong, repeatedly defeating his army. By winter 886, Qian had captured Yue Prefecture, and Liu Hanhong was captured by his own subordinate Du Xiong (杜雄) the prefect of Tai Prefecture (台州, in modern Taizhou, Zhejiang). Dong executed Liu, and moved his headquarters to Yue, claiming the title of acting governor, while making Qian the prefect of Hang Prefecture. In 887, Emperor Xizong commissioned Dong as the governor of Zhedong and Qian as the prefect of Hang Prefecture. Later, Dong was made the military governor of Yisheng, which was then renamed to Weisheng (威勝).

In 887, a mutiny at Zhenhai's capital Run Prefecture (潤州), led by Zhou's officer Xue Lang, forced Zhou to flee from Run Prefecture to Chang Prefecture (常州, in modern Changzhou, Jiangsu) to come under the protection of his officer Ding Congshi (丁從實) the prefect of Chang Prefecture, while Xue claimed the title of acting military governor. In response, Qian sent three of the "Eight Corps" commanders, Du Leng (杜稜), Ruan Jie (阮結), and Cheng Ji (成及) to attack Xue. After a victory over Xue's officer Li Junwang (李君暀), however, for reasons unclear, Du attacked and captured Chang Prefecture, and Ding fled to Huainan. Qian had Zhou escorted to Hang Prefecture, where he welcomed Zhou in a grand ceremony fitting the ceremony welcome by a subordinate of a military governor. Zhou would die at Hang Prefecture soon thereafter. (The New Book of Tang indicated that Qian killed Zhou, but Sima Guang, the lead author of the Zizhi Tongjian, found the account not credible and did not adopt it.) Meanwhile, Qian ordered Ruan to attack Run Prefecture, and Ruan captured it. Xue was taken captive, and Qian had his heart cut out of his body to be sacrificed to Zhou. Qian also sent his cousin Qian Qiu (錢銶) to attack Su Prefecture (蘇州, in modern Suzhou, Jiangsu), and Qian Qiu captured it in spring 888, allowing Qian Liu to control most of Zhenhai territory, which he largely held onto from this point on — resisting even an imperial attempt to take control of Su, by a failed assassination attempt against the imperially-commissioned prefect Du Ruxiu (杜孺休), which caused Du Ruxiu to flee and allowed Qian to retain control. (Su Prefecture was briefly captured by Sun Ru, one of the contenders for control of Huainan after Gao was killed in a mutiny, in late 891, but Qian soon recaptured it, and entered into a temporary alliance with Sun's rival Yang Xingmi, supplying Yang's army with food. Meanwhile, to placate Qian, then-reigning Emperor Zhaozong (Emperor Xizong's brother and successor) created Qian the Baron of Wuxing, and in 892 gave him the title of the defender of a new Wusheng Circuit (武勝) with its headquarters at Hang Prefecture, as well as governor (觀察使, Guanchashi) of the Su-Hang region and created him the Marquess of Pengcheng. In 893, Emperor Zhaozong officially made him the military governor of Zhenhai — now with its headquarters at Hang, as Run and Chang prefectures fell into Yang's control in 892. In 894, Emperor Zhaozong bestowed on Qian the honorary chancellor title of Tong Zhongshu Menxia Pingzhangshi (同中書門下平章事). In spring 895, Emperor Zhaozong created Qian the Duke of Pengcheng.

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