An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

He Chong 何充

Jun 24, 2018 © Ulrich Theobald

He Chong 何充 (292-346), courtesy name Cidao 次道, was a high minister of the Eastern Jin period 東晉 (317-420). He hailed from Qian 灊 in the commandery of Lujiang 廬江 (today's Liu'an 六安, Anhui) and was married with the younger sister of Empress Yu 庾皇后, the consort of Emperor Ming 晉明帝 (r. 322-325).

He began his career as a secretary (yuan 掾) of Commander-in-chief Wang Dun 王敦 (266-324). When the two persons disagreed about an important matter, He Chong was transferred to the post of instructor (wenxue 文學) of the Prince of Donghai 東海. After Wang Dun's defeat, He Chong was promoted to the post of court gentleman in the Imperial Secretariat (zhongshu shilang 中書侍郎) and thus served under Wang Dun's cousin Wang Dao 王導 (276-339).

After the accession of Emperor Cheng 晉成帝 (r. 325-342) to the throne, He Chong worked as gentleman attendant at the palace gate (jishi Huangmen shilang 給事黃門侍郎) and participated in the suppression of the rebellion of general Su Jun 蘇峻 (d. 328). The victory over the insurgent yielded He Chong the title of Township Marquis of Duxiang 都鄉侯 and that of Cavalier attendant-in-ordinary (sanji changshi 散騎常侍).

He Chong was later appointed governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Dongyang 東陽 and given the title of General establishing authority (jianwei jiangjun 建威將軍). He was also made chamberlain (neishi 內史) of the princedom of Guiji 會稽 and also metropolitan magistrate (yin 尹) of Danyang 丹楊. His administration was appraised as a benevolent one, and thus corresponded to his excellent education in Confucian literature.

Recommended for promotion by Wang Dao, He Chong was given the post of Minister of Personnnel (libu shangshu 吏部尚書) and the title of General towering over the army (guanjun jiangjun 冠軍將軍) because he also held the post of commander of the army of the princedom of Guiji.

After Wang Dao's death in 339, he received the title of General of the protective army (hujun jiangjun 護軍將軍) and took over the presidency over the imperial secretariat, as deputy of Secretarial Supervisor (zhongshujian 中書監) Yu Bing 庾冰 (296-344), and then as Director of the Imperial Secretariat (shangshu ling 尚書令). In addition, he held the title of General to the left (zuo jiangjun 左將軍).

On the accession to the throne of Emperor Kang 晉康帝 (r. 342-344), He Chong took over the post of Secretarial Supervisor, but the regents then decided to entrust him the command of military affairs in the provinces of Xuzhou 徐州 and Yangzhou 揚州, giving him the title of general of cavalry (piaoji jiangjun 驃騎將軍), and the function of regional inspector (cishi 刺史) of Xuzhou. He thus held the most important military command over the border to northern China and the metropolitan region. Thereafter he was additionally appointed regional inspector of Yangzhou, with the command over all troops in the province of Xuzhou and the princedom of Langya 瑯琊. He Chong was part of a group of ministers who acted as regents for the young sovereign.

Emperor Kang died prematurely and left the throne to Emperor Mu 晉穆帝 (r. 344-361), who gave He Chong the charge over the imperial secretaries (lu shangshu shi 錄尚書事), and shortly later the post of Counsellor-in-chief (zaixiang 宰相).

He Chong said to have fulfilled his duty as if the state altars were that of his own family (yi sheji wei ji ren 以社稷為己任). He neither subdued to embezzlement nor to nepotism. He was given posthumously the honorific title of Minister of Works (sikong 司空) and received the posthumous title of Wenmu 何文穆公 "Cultured and adorable".

He Chong was a Buddhist and studied the early writings of Buddhism which had come to China. Many colleagues criticized him for his "treason" of the Confucian creed.

Huang Huixian 黃惠賢, ed. (1997). Ershiwushi renming da cidian 二十五史人名大辭典 (Zhengzhou: Zhongzhou guji chubanshe), Vol. 1, 151.
Xiong Tieji 熊鐵基, Yang Youli 楊有禮, ed. (1994). Zhongguo diwang zaixiang cidian 中國帝王宰相辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 572.
Zhang Huizhi 張撝之, Shen Qiwei 沈起煒, Liu Dezhong 劉德重, ed. (1999). Zhongguo lidai renming cidian 中國歷代人名大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1079.