Wu Commandery

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Wu Commandery's territories resemble the pale green part of this map
Wu Commandery
Traditional Chinese吳郡
Simplified Chinese吴郡

Wu Commandery was a commandery of imperial China. It covers parts of the contemporary Northern Zhejiang and Southern Jiangsu. The capital of Wu commandery was Wu (today's Suzhou). Major counties of Wu commandery include Wu (county), Yuhang county, and Huating county which later became known as Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai.[1]


During its existence, Wu commandery was ruled by various dynasties and regimes. Chronologically, Han dynasty, Eastern Wu, Jin dynasty, Liu Song dynasty, Southern Qi dynasty, Liang dynasty, Chen dynasty, Sui dynasty and Tang dynasty governed Wu commandery in sequence.

In the year of 129, Wu commandery was established during the reign of emperor Shun of Han.[2] When Kuaiji Commandery was divided, lands west of Qiantang river in Kuaiji commandery formed the new Wu commandery.[3] After the division of Kuaiji, Wu constitutes one of the commanderies of Yang Province.

In 195, local strongman of Fuchun county Sun Ce acquired the entire Wu commandery without the authorization of Han dynasty.[3][4] His family ruled the commandery until 280.[5] The last ruler of Sun clan Sun Hao divided a part of Wu commandery and formed the new Wuxing Commandery.[6]

In 548, Military leader Hou Jing started an open rebellion against Emperor Wu of Liang. Wu Commandery was occupied by Hou's army during his rebellion. Local lords Lu Xiang, Lu An and Lu Yingong of Lu clan were defeated. Xiang died out of fear and anger. The rebels caused great damage to the commandery's economy. It was recorded that, in Wu, human bodies were eaten as rations of the rebels.[7][8]

In 589, Emperor Wen of Sui abolished the commandery system and substituted it with "Zhou"(administrative division). Consequently Wu commandery was renamed as Suzhou. However, In 607, Emperor Yang of Sui re-established Wu commandery.[9]

In 758. Wu commandery was once more renamed Suzhou.[10]

Wu commandery ceased to exist nominally in 758 and continued to exist under the name of Suzhou. Shortly after the An Lushan Rebellion, the imperial court enforced heavy taxes on the people of Wu commandery since Wu was not invaded by An's army. However, the tax collection became unbearable for the ordinary peasants of the commandery (An amount of tax that was equivalent to 8 years of laboring was demanded). In 762, a low rank officer of Taizhou Yuan Chao, with angry peasants, stormed and attacked cities of Wu commandery including Suzhou. The Tang court had to pacify Yuan's unexpected rebellion in 763. Yuan was captured by Li Guangbi and was escorted to the capital Chang'An. He was soon executed under the charge of treason.[7]

Subordinate counties[edit]

  • Wu County: Administrative centre of Wu commandery. Shares the same name with the commandery. Today's Suzhou.
  • Haiyan County: Still exists today under this name as a subordinate county of Jiaxing prefecture. In 549, Hou Jing established Wuyuan Commandery in this county. Shortly afterward, the Wuyuan Commandery was abolished and Haiyan returned to the administration of Wu.[11]
  • Wucheng County: Today's Huzhou. In 266, Sun Hao established the Wuxing Commandery which included this county. No longer a part of Wu after 266. It was the capital of Wuxing commandery.[12]
  • Yuhang County: Today's Hangzhou. Later formed a part of Wuxing Commandery and thus no longer belonged to Wu.[13]
  • Piling County: Today's Changzhou.[14]
  • Dantu County: Today's Zhenjiang.[14]
  • Qu'e county: Today's Danyang.[15]
  • Youquan County: Today's Jiaxing. Changed its name to Jiaxing in 231 according to the decree issued by Sun Quan.[5]
  • Fuchun County: Today's Fuyang district of Hangzhou. In 225, this county became a commandery, the Dong'an Commandery. Dong'an was soon abolished in 228.[16]
  • Yangxian County: Today's Yixing, later became a part of Wuxing Commandery.[17]
  • Wuxi County: Still exists under this name today. Formally joined Wu commandery in 188. Abolished in 234 [18]
  • Lou County: Today's Kunshan. Abolished before the year of 589. Parts of this county formed Kunshan and Xingyi county.[19]
  • Yanguan County: Today's Haining. Originally named Haichang. Established in 223.[20]
  • Huating County: Today's Shanghai. Established in 751 by the governor of Wu commandery Zhao Juzhen.[21]


According to the bureaucratic system of Han dynasty, every commandery has an identical hierarchy of functionaries.

The top administrator of Wu commandery is Taishou(the top official of a Commandery). In addition, the Taishou has a subordinate Juncheng(vice Taishou and an assistant of its work). Military affairs are entrusted to the Duwei of a commandery. In terms of counties, Ling(an officer) is in charge of a county with more than 10 thousand registered families. Zhang(an officer) is in charge of a county with a population that is less than 10 thousand.[22]

In Wu commandery, many counties reached a relatively large population thus were governed by a Ling. Numerous resources proved Wu, Wucheng , Yuhang, Qu'e, Haiyan, Fuchun, Jiaxing, Yangxian to be some of the large counties with a Ling.[23][24]

During Jin and Southern dynasties, the top official of commanderies (including Wu commandery) were called Neishi. The Neishi, in practice, did not differ from Taishou in any manner.[25]


Wu was the home of the four clans of Wu.[26] In Eastern Wu , the four clans were pillars of Emperor Sun Quan's rule.[27] Wu and Huaisi region's lords together formed two main power blocs of Eastern Wu.[4]

Lu Yun, a nobleman of Wu commandery in Jin dynasty, described his native commandery as a culturally and politically advanced region comparable with Zhongyuan. His assertion was validated by the fact that in the records of the three kingdoms, 28 individuals from Wu commandery were biographized making Wu the most prolific source of historically important figures during the three kingdom period.[28]

In Han dynasty, Wu had become known for its economic wealth. The 3rd century intellectual Zuo Si had written a rhymed prose concerning Wu commandery. Through his prose, researchers had discovered Wu's prosperous agriculture. On the other hand, Chen Shou's records indicated a flourishing commercial society in 3rd century Wu commandery.[29]

During the rule of Eastern Wu, the government planned military-led plantations in Wu commandery. The aim was to provide a logistic base for the armies on the mission of border defense (against Cao Wei).[30]

The Disaster of Yongjia forced numerous northern nobles to flee from their homeland. These northern lords later settled down in Wu, Kuaiji and other southern commanderies. However, the four clan's economic, political and social hegemony in Wu was not threatened by Northern immigrants during Jin dynasty.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New Book of Tang. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company. 1975. ISBN 9787101003208.
  2. ^ Book of the Later Han. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company. 2000. ISBN 9787101003062.
  3. ^ a b Zhan, Yixian (1994). Country Annals of Wu. Shanghai: 上海古籍出版社. p. 72.
  4. ^ a b Tian, Yuqing (2011). 秦汉魏晋史探微. Zhonghua Book Company. p. 325. ISBN 9787101079067.
  5. ^ a b Records of the Three Kingdoms. Zhonghua Book Company. 2006. ISBN 9787101052978.
  6. ^ "Kao gu, Issues 334-339". Kao Gu: 743. July 1995 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b Zizhi Tongjian. Zhonghua Book Company. 2009. pp. Vol. ISBN 9787101053463.
  8. ^ Book of Liang. Zhonghua Book Company. 1973. ISBN 9787101003116.
  9. ^ Book of Sui. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company. 1997. ISBN 9787101003161.
  10. ^ Old Book of Tang. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company. 1975. ISBN 9787101003192.
  11. ^ Ruan, Songlin (1993). 平湖县志. People's Press of Shanghai. pp. 1, 53.
  12. ^ Shen, Hui (2005). 湖州古代史稿. Fangzhi Press. pp. 26, 41 108. ISBN 9787801924971.
  13. ^ 余杭县地名志. 余杭县地名委员会. 1987. p. 11.
  14. ^ a b Wang, Xiangzhi (2005). 輿地紀勝. Sichuan University Press. ISBN 9787561432501.
  15. ^ County Annals of Danyang. People's Press of Jiangsu. 1992. p. 65.
  16. ^ 浙江分县简志. People's Press of Zhejiang. 1983. p. 215.
  17. ^ Xie, Aoping (1990). 江苏省宜兴县志. People's press of Shanghai. p. 8.
  18. ^ Zhuang, Shen (1995). 无锡市志. Wuxi: People's Press of Jiangsu. p. 122. ISBN 9787214015778.
  19. ^ Xi, Liufang (1996). 奚柳芳史地论丛. Henan University Press. pp. 80–82. ISBN 9787810412841.
  20. ^ 浙江省海宁县地名志. 海宁县地名办公室. 1985. p. 131.
  21. ^ Yang, Zhenfang (2001). 上海旧政权建置志. Shanghai: 上海社会科学院出版社. p. 34. ISBN 9787806188811.
  22. ^ Lü, Zhengming (2012). 《中国历代政治得失》导读. 中国民主法制出版社. ISBN 9787516200834.
  23. ^ Zheng, Liangsheng (2002). Methodology of Historical Studies. 五南圖書出版股份有限公司. p. 563. ISBN 9789571129310.
  24. ^ Book of Song. Volume 100. Jigu Ge. 1634.
  25. ^ 中国文艺思想史论丛, Volume 3. Peking University Press. 1988. p. 122. ISBN 9787301002964.
  26. ^ Mao, Hanguang (2002). 中国中古社会史论. 上海世纪出版集团. p. 441. ISBN 9787806227862.
  27. ^ Guo, Feng (2010). 唐代士族个案硏究: 以吴郡, 淸河, 范阳, 敦煌张氏为中心. Xiamen University Press. p. 49.
  28. ^ Wang, Weiping (2005). 吴文化与江南社会硏究. Qunyan Press. p. 120. ISBN 9787800804779.
  29. ^ Wan, Shennan (2002). 魏晉南北朝史論稿. Zhishufang Publishing group. pp. 72–73. ISBN 9789867938022.
  30. ^ Gao, Ming (1998). 中国经济通史: 魏晋南北朝经济卷, Part 1. Jingji Ribao Press. p. 244. ISBN 9787801274618.
  31. ^ 江海学刊, Issues 1-6. Social Science Academy of Jiangsu. 1992. p. 126.