Du You 杜佑

A historian who laid the foundation of political classics

Overview

Chinese Name: 杜佑

English Name: Du You

Other Names: Junqing 君卿

Born: 735

Died: 812

Achievements:

Compile 200 volumes of the general code 编撰《通典》二百卷

Main Works:

The general code 《通典》

Du You 杜佑
Du You 杜佑

Brief Biography of Du You

Du You 杜佑, a famous statesman and historian of the Tang Dynasty, was the grandfather of Du Mu 杜牧, a poet.

Du You 杜佑 (735 ~ 812), also known as Junqing 君卿, was born in Jingzhao 京兆, Wannian 万年 (now Xi’an 西安, Shaanxi Province 陕西省). Born in the Du family of Jingzhao, he joined the army in Jinan 济南. He served as the county magistrate of Yan County 剡县. Later, he followed Wei Yuanfu 韦元甫, the governor of Runzhou 润州, to Western Zhejiang 浙江 and Hunan 湖南.

In the 6th year of Dali 大历 (771), he became an official of the Ministry of industry and served as the governor of Fuzhou 抚州, and the imperial historian. When the Emperor Dezong of the Tang Dynasty 唐德宗 ascended to the throne, Du You became an official of the Ministry of household and the water and land transport envoy of the Jianghuai River.

He offended the powerful prime minister Lu Qi 卢杞 and was released to govern Suzhou 苏州 and Raozhou 饶州. In the first year of Xingyuan 兴元 (784), he moved to Lingnan 岭南 as a governor and imperial historian.

Du You 杜佑
Du Mu 杜牧

In the 19th year of Zhenyuan 贞元 (803), he became the prime minister. When the Emperor Shunzong of the Tang Dynasty 唐顺宗 ascended the throne, Du You was promoted to inspect Situ 检校司徒. When the Emperor Xianzong of the Tang Dynasty 唐宪宗 ascended the throne, Du You was granted the title of Duke of Qi 岐国公.

In the 7th year of Yuanhe 元和 (812), he resigned as a Guanglu Dafu 光禄大夫 and Taibao 太保. In November of the same year, he died at home at the age of 78. He was posthumously awarded Taifu 太傅 and posthumously named Anjian 安简.

Personal Life and Major Contributions

Serve as the prime minister

In the 19th year of Zhenyuan 贞元 (803), Du You became the prime minister and served as the inspector Sikong and the envoy of the Taiqing palace 太清宫使.

In the first year of Yongzhen 永贞 (805), the Emperor Dezong of the Tang Dynasty 唐德宗 died of illness, and the Emperor Shunzong of the Tang Dynasty 唐顺宗 succeeded. Du You was appointed as the inspector Situ 检校司徒 and concurrently served as the envoy of Duzhi salt and iron 度支盐铁使. At that time, Wang Shuwen 王叔文 served as the Deputy envoy of Duzhi salt and iron, determined to carry out innovation, hoping to get Du You’s help, but Du You refused. Soon after, Wang Shuwen failed, and Du You recommended Li Xun 李巽 as deputy envoy.

Du You 杜佑
Du Mu-the grandson of Du You 杜佑的孙子杜牧

In the first year of Yuanhe (806), the Emperor Shunzong of the Tang Dynasty 唐顺宗 died of illness, and the Emperor Xianzong of the Tang Dynasty 唐宪宗 succeeded. Du You photographed the tomb again and gave Li Xun all the salt and iron affairs. Soon after, Du You was promoted as Situ 司徒 and became the Duke of Qi 岐国公.

Later, the Dangxiang 党项 tribe in Hexi 河西 secretly colluded with Tubo 吐蕃 to invade the Tang Dynasty. The border general was greedy for merit and asked for troops to fight against them. Du You opposed the use of troops. He recounts the lessons of the previous generation’s opening up the border to engage in militarism and serial disasters and points out that the Dangxiang’s aggression against the border is caused by the corruption of border generals. It is suggested to carefully select good generals and strengthen border defense.

Glory and favor in old age

In the second year of Yuanhe (807), Du You asked to resign. The Emperor Xianzong of the Tang Dynasty 唐宪宗 allow him to go to the Central Secretariat 中书省 every three or five days, but still participated in the government. Every time Du You went to the palace to give a presentation, the Emperor Xianzong of the Tang Dynasty 唐宪宗 gave him preferential treatment, honoring Situ 司徒 instead of calling him by his first name.

Du You 杜佑
Du Mu and his achievements 杜牧及其成就

In the 7th year of Yuanhe (812), Du You fell ill and asked for retirement four times. The Emperor Xianzong of the Tang Dynasty 唐宪宗 had no choice but to let him resign as Guanglu Dafu 光禄大夫 and Taibao 太保. But he was asked to face the emperor on the 15th day of every month. In November of the same year, Du You died of illness at the age of 78. He was posthumously awarded the title of Taifu 太傅 and his posthumous title was Anjian 安简.

Literature achievements

Although Du You was a prime minister, he still kept on reading. During the day, he handles official business and receives guests. At night, he reads under the lamp and works tirelessly. When the guests talked with him, they all admired his eloquence and erudition. If their views are wrong, Du You can also help correct them.

Du You extensively read ancient and modern Classics and famous scholars’ argumentation in the past dynasties, and traced the origin of various laws and regulations. It took 36 years to write 200 volumes of the general code 通典, and put forward his own opinions and propositions in the form of saying, discussing, commenting and discussing to show admonishment.

Du You 杜佑
The general code 通典

The general code was written in the 17th year of Zhenyuan in the Tang Dynasty (801). It describes the system evolution from the ancient Yellow Emperor period to the end of Tianbao 天宝 in the Tang Dynasty. It is divided into nine parts, namely, food and goods, elections, official positions, etiquette, music, military, criminal law, state and county, and border defense. It is the first historical book in Chinese history to record the systems of ancient laws and regulations.

Video: Rise and fall of the Tang Dynasty Chapter 10 Reform Dilemma 10.1 section 1 Shunzong New Deal

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