The Lotus and the Dagger; the Imperial Succession in Early Eighth Century China

Wed, May 13, 2015, 4:30 pm


David McMullen

Cambridge University

"The Lotus and the Dagger;  the Imperial Succession in Early Eighth Century China"

The aim of this talk is to explore the question of whether the records for Li Longji's 李隆基 (Tang Xuanzong's 唐玄宗)ascent to supreme power over the years 710-712 are internally consistent and reliable. The narrative preserved in the Old and New Tang Histories and in the Comprehensive Mirror suggest that he was predestined to reign, and that his progress towards the throne was both inevitable and marked by exemplary moral attitudes.

Examination of documents contemporary with this ascent to power, however, preserved in two large early Song collections, suggest that there were points in Li Longji's ascent to supreme power where the outcome was far from inevitable. These documents, written from several different points of view, amount to a discourse on the concept of the imperial succession and of emperorship that is distinct from the accounts of emperorship generated seventy years earlier under Taizong's rule. The claims made by Li Longji's supporters were also made by supporters of other protagonists in the blood-stained history of court politics in the early eighth century. The official narrative bears the imprint of later distortion.

202 Jones Hall

Upcoming Events

Site: The Impossibility of Remembering the Past at Nanjing

Tue, Mar 27, 2018, 12:00 pm
Location: 202 Jones

Time: The Memory of an Assassin and Problem of Legitimacy in the Wang Jingwei Regime (1940-45)

China in WWII: Wartime Everydayness and the Globalization of the Second World War

Return to River Town: Twenty Years in the Life of a Chinese City

Wed, Apr 4, 2018, 4:30 pm
Location: 202 Jones

Gender, Genre, and the Everyday: Analyzing Queer 'Lesbian' Potentialities across Japanese Media

Factory Girls: Reporting Among the Working Women of China and Egypt

Mon, Apr 9, 2018, 6:00 pm
Location: Prospect House, Room G

The Linguistics of Chinese Philosophical Keywords

Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 4:30 pm
Location: 202 Jones

Painting in Murderous Times, 885-975: A Discussion about the Tenth Century

The Twelfth Annual Marius Jansen Memorial Lecture: The Politics of the Japanese Emperor’s Abdication

A (Presumably Chinese) Tantric Scripture and Its Exegetical Practices: The Yuqijing (Yogin Sutra) in Medieval Japan