An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Tian Chengzi 田成子 Tian Chang 田常

Nov 13, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Tian Chang 田常 was a high minister of the state of Qi 齊 during the late Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE). He was a son of Tian Qi 田乞, head of the noble Tian family. His actual name was Gui Heng 嬀恆 or Chen Heng 陳恆, but in order to avoid the personal name of emperor Han Wen 漢文帝 (r. 180-157 BCE), Liu Heng 劉恆, he has been called Tian Chang instead of Tian Heng 田恆 from the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) on.

In order to increase his popularity, he used to distribute loans of grain according to the large dou 斗 (a volume unit, approx. bushel), but had taxes collected to the small dou. Tian Chang shared the post of chief counsellor with Kan Zhi 闞止 (also called Jian Zhi 監止), but in 481, he decided to eliminate Kan Jian and sent his retainers and family members like Tian Bao 田豹 and Tian Ni 田逆 to attack the co-counsellor, and had him assassinated. Thereafter the Tians turned upon Duke Jian 齊簡公 (r. 485-482) and enthroned his brother Prince Ao 驁, who is known as Duke Ping 齊平公 (r. 482-456). In the powerful position of quasi-regent, he was able to execute whomever he liked, especially members of the other noble houses relative to the ducal line like the families Luan 欒 and 高.

He was posthumously granted the name Viscount Cheng (Tian Chengzi 田成子, Chen Chengzi 陳成子). The counsellorship remained in the hands of the Tian family. In 379, after the death of King Wei 齊威王 (r. 378-343) who had not produced an issue, the Tians founded their own dynasty in Qi.

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