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The He-Dong Pei Families of the Wei, Jin & Northern and Southern Dynasties (220-589 A.D.): A Case Study of Political Actions and Cross-Regions Developments of Chinese Medieval Aristocracy
He-dong Pei families,Wei, Jin & Northern and Southern Dynasties,Chinese medieval aristocracy,Region,Politics,
|Publication Year :||2008|
The He-dong Pei families belonged to Chinese medieval aristocracy, rising in the period between the Eastern Han and Wei Dynasties, continuing their development to the T’ang. The evolution and glory of the He-dong Peis lasted about seven hundred years, approximately equal to the whole historical process of Chinese medieval aristocracy from rise to collapse. Accordingly, we can regard the He-dong Peis as an indicative representation of Chinese medieval aristocracy.
The first chapter of this thesis is the introduction. Following is the second chapter, tracing the He-dong Peis’ origins by analyzing the annals including the Chinese official historiography, historical literature, and the records on tablets. Meanwhile, the third and fourth chapters explore the He-dong Peis of the Eastern Han, Wei and Western Jin Dynasties in depth. Through the accurately dissecting toward the background, official experience, interpersonal relations, and connections based on intermarriage of the He-dong Peis, we can realize that the most important factor of the Peis’ rising in the Cao Wei Dynasty is the close association between the two families of Pei Qian（裴潛）and Sima Yi（司馬懿）. Pei Qian’s descendants could survived the bloody political conflict in the later ages of Cao Wei because of their intimate relationship with the Simas, moreover, the Peis rapidly reconstructed their political status. In the Western Jin, many of the Peis secured high-class official positions, and constituted tight combinations on politics and intermarriage with Sima Yue, the Prince of Dong-hai, who was one of the main political and military leaders in War of the Eight Princes（八王之亂）. What mentioned above was the mainspring of the He-dong Peis’ flourishing in the Wei and Western Jin Dynasties.
During the chaos between the Western and Eastern Jin, the He-dong Peis encountered severe buffets, losing their influence fast. However, the He-dong Peis could still keep their blood, for several members of the Peis moving to the regions successfully survived; nevertheless, in the following three hundred years the Peis couldn’t retrieve the spectacular glory and nobility their ancestors of Wei and Western Jin Dynasties possessed. The fifth chapter of this thesis concentrates on how the plural Pei families migrated and developed in several different regions, analyzing how the He-dong Peis, who revived in the Sui and T’ang Dynasties, went on evolving to maintain the strength of the whole Pei clan. It’s considerable that the He-dong Peis, who were regarded as one of the local leading clans of Guanzhong（關中）during the T’ang Dynasty, promoted their political and social status both substantially and rapidly between the Sui and T’ang Dynasties, and the most influential men contributing to the above-mentioned prosperity weren’t those members of the Peis joining the Group of Guan-Long（關隴集團）but the ones who were active in politics with rather marginal background, like Pei Ju（裴矩）and Pei Yun（裴蘊）. Judging from these stated above, it was apparent that the prospects of one clan, which was a member of Chinese medieval aristocracy, were deeply influenced by the actions of the individual members as well, and the importance of both the interpersonal relations and personal experiences of the individual members of that clan was obvious and clear.
It showed several types one single clan of Chinese medieval aristocracy might be with the multiple developments of the He-dong Pei families during the Southern and Northern Dynasties in various regions. In this period, Some branches of the Pei families seemed to be the “parasitic bureaucracy”（寄生官僚）, and the others seemed to be the “local leaders with charisma and prestige”（名望家）much more. According to the facts, we can realize that one clan which was considered a member of Chinese medieval aristocracy contained kinds of existence shapes composed of different contents and conditions. Furthermore, each branch also had different effects on the whole clan.
Through the case of the He-dong Peis, we could realize that the two ideas “parasitic bureaucracy” and “local leaders with charisma and prestige” were not only the definitions of the character of Chinese medieval aristocracy, but also the attitudes taken by the members of Chinese medieval aristocracy to keep their existence and development; there was no zero-sum relationship between the two ideas, which also had no consequential influence on the rising and declining of the members of Chinese medieval aristocracy. In the long-term historical process of regionalization or centralization, the internals and characters of the two ideas mentioned above should come to each branch of the Pei families repeatedly. We can see some historical actions of the Peis in the concrete case study of the He-dong Pei families proving these previous theories, but we can also perceive the limitations of these theories through this case study.
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