Fang Xiaoru

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fang Xiaoru
Died25 July 1402
Cause of deathDisputed (according to one account, Fang was executed by waist severing during China's only instance of an extermination of the ten degrees of kinship)

Fang Xiaoru (Chinese: 方孝孺; pinyin: Fāng Xìaorú; 1357 – 25 July 1402), courtesy name Xizhi (希直) or Xigu (希古), a native of Ninghai County, Zhejiang (present-day Ningbo, Zhejiang), was a Chinese official and Confucian scholar of the Ming dynasty. He was an orthodox Confucian scholar-bureaucrat, famous for his continuation of the Jinhua school of Zhu Xi and later for his loyalty to the former Jianwen Emperor (Zhu Yunwen), who died in the rebellion of the Prince of Yan (Jingnan rebellion).[1][2][3][4]

During the Jingnan rebellion, Fang served as one of the Jianwen Emperor's closest advisors. After Zhu Di, the Prince of Yan, usurped the throne to become the Yongle Emperor in 1402, he summoned Fang Xiaoru, who was famed for his connection to Song Lian and the scholars of the Jinhua school as well as for his own talent and lucid composition. He demanded Fang write an inaugural address that would compare his usurpation of the throne with the regency of the Duke of Zhou during the reign of his nephew King Cheng of Zhou in ancient China. Fang refused, retorting "Then where is King Cheng?"[5] Zhu replied, "He was killed by his own fire." Fang continued to press the issue, asking Zhu, "Why not enthrone King Cheng's son?" Zhu answered, "The country requires a mature ruler." Fang again asked, "What about the Emperor's brother?" Zhu answered: "That is my family matter. The address must be written by you." Fang then wrote on the paper Zhu provided the words "燕賊篡位" ("The Bandit of Yan is a usurper"). Threatened with the execution of nine kinship, Fang Xiaoru is reported saying: "莫說九族,十族何妨" ("Never mind nine agnates; I am fine with ten!"). He was granted his wish with perhaps the only officially designated case of an "extermination of ten degrees of kinship" in the history of China. In addition to his own execution, his blood relations and their spouses were killed along with all of his students and peers as the 10th group. Altogether, 873 people are said to have been executed.

Before his death, Fang Xiaoru was forced to watch his brother's execution. Fang Xiaoru himself was executed by "waist severing" (腰斬). The legend goes that prior to his death, he dipped his finger in his own blood and wrote on the ground the Chinese character "篡" (cuàn), meaning "usurper".[6]

People in Fujian (闽南人) regard Fang Xiaoru, along with Tie Xuan and Jing Qing (景清), as the Sanfu Qiansui (三府千岁) deities in the Wang Ye worship (王爷神).



  1. ^ Xinhuanet. ""骨鲠之士"方孝孺遭灭十族 正气还是迂腐? Archived 2011-07-20 at the Wayback Machine" (in Chinese)
  2. ^ "方孝儒生平 Archived 2011-09-02 at the Wayback Machine." (in Chinese)
  3. ^ Xinhuanet. "方孝孺故裏溪上方". (in Chinese)
  4. ^ Zhang Tingyu, History of Ming, Volume 141《明史》(卷141):“方孝孺,字希直,一字希古,宁海人。父克勤,洪武中循吏,自有传。孝孺幼警敏,双眸炯炯,读书日盈寸,乡人目为“小韩子。”长从宋濂学,濂门下知名士皆出其下。先辈胡翰、苏伯衡亦自谓弗如。孝孺顾末视文艺,恒以明王道、致太平为己任。”
  5. ^ "Fang Xiaoru". The Human Tradition in Premodern China.
  6. ^ Zhang Tingyu, History of Ming, Volume 140.《明史》(卷140):“孝孺投笔于地,且哭且骂曰:“死即死耳,诏不可草。”成祖怒,命磔诸市。孝孺慨然就死,作绝命词曰:“天降乱离兮孰知其由,奸臣得计兮谋国用犹。忠臣发愤兮血泪交流,以此殉君兮抑又何求?鸣呼哀哉兮庶不我尤!”时年四十有六。”