Jia Sidao

Jia Sidao (1213–1275), courtesy name Shixian, was a chancellor of the late Song dynasty of China, the younger brother of a concubine of Emperor Lizong, who subsequently had a relationship of special favor with Emperor Duzong, and had roles in the Mongol-Song Battle of Xiangyang and an unpopular land nationalization program in the 1260s. Jia was assassinated by a court-designated sheriff charged with his custody after his court failures in 1275.

Jia Sidao
Grand Chancellor of the Song Dynasty
In office
MonarchEmperor Lizong
Emperor Duzong
Emperor Gong
Preceded byDing Daquan
Succeeded byWen Tianxiang & Chen Yizhong
Personal details
Taizhou, Zhejiang
Died1275 (aged 61–62)
Zhangzhou, Fujian
RelationsConsort Jia (sister)
MotherLady Hu
FatherJia She
Nickname(s)Shixian (師憲)

Early lifeEdit

Jia Sidao was born in 1213, to Jia She and Lady Hu; Hu was a renounced concubine of Jia She. Jia She died when Jia Sidao was 11. By the time he earned his jinshi at the age of 25 in 1238 CE, his elder sister was already a concubine of the Emperor Lizong with the rank of guifei.[1]


Jia Sidao was a chancellor from 1260 - 1273 during the late Song dynasty of China.[2] According to History of Song, he is reported to have risen to the rank of chancellor because his sister, Lady Jia, was a favored concubine of the Emperor Lizong.[1][3]

Jia is best known for his intervention in the Battle of Xiangyang, where he hid the true situation (Xiangyang was under heavy attack from the Mongols and would almost certainly fall without reinforcements) from the Song court and so is suggested by some[who?] to be responsible for its demise.[citation needed] Jia is also referred to by some[who?] as corrupt and impotent.[citation needed]

Jia enjoyed the special favor of the Emperor Duzong. Being Jia's junior by 27 years, the Emperor used to stand up upon his entrance, called him "teacher" (though Jia was not an imperial degree holder, and never held such a formal post), and is said[by whom?] to have knelt in tears on one occasion,[when?] begging Sidao to remain in office.[citation needed]

Jia pioneered a policy of land nationalization highly unpopular among the Confucians, who favored low taxes and a small role for the state.[citation needed] The land survey, endorsed by several other officials, was undertaken ca. 1262. It was driven by pressing military needs, and by rampant concentration of land in the hands of powerful landlords, who were often high-ranking court officials.[citation needed] In 1263, the gongtian (公田, "public field," a northern Song feature) system was re-introduced, whereby the amount of land held by individuals was restricted, and the excess land being classified as gongtian. The income from gongtian was then used to supplement military expenditure; this system functioned for the next 12 years.[citation needed] Jia's land reform activities went even further than those undertaken by Wang Mang, as under Wang Mang, the state monopolized only 1/3 of the excess land holdings, and at least provided some minimal compensation.[4] In contrast, Jia's reforms offered no compensation; another of Jia's aims was to abolish the hedi policy, and reduce the amount of paper money in circulation, as under the hedi policy, with the government purchasing more grain, they had to issue more paper money, resulting in rising inflation.

Later, at the Battle of Yihu, Jia Sidao, while leading an army of 130,000, panicked and escaped the battlefield in a small boat. The troops, seeing that their commander had abandoned them, retreated hastily; the result was a defeat whereby the remnants of the Song army were routed, allowing the Mongols to advance on the capital, Lin'an.[citation needed] As a result of this defeat, Sidao was demoted from the post of chancellor.[citation needed]


The possibility of executing Jia Sidao for his court failures was hotly debated in Lin'an (now Hangzhou) on the verge of its fall.[citation needed] Dowager Empress Xie objected to this as a cruelty, but issued progressively severe decrees of banishment and property confiscation that included Sidao and his family under the pressure of the public.[citation needed] Ultimately, in 1275,[1] Sidao was assassinated by a court-designated sheriff, Zheng Huchen (郑虎臣), who had been charged with his custody.[5] Whether the execution was court-sanctioned remains unclear.[6]

In popular cultureEdit

In the 2014 Netflix TV series Marco Polo, Jia Sidao is portrayed by Chin Han,[7] while the sister to whom he owes his position is played by Olivia Cheng. In the series he was assassinated by the invading Mongols, some time after he (ahistorically) assassinated Dowager Empress Xie.


  1. ^ a b c "Jia, Sidao (1213-1275)". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Jia Sidao - Chancellor During the Late Song Dynasty". Cultural China. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  3. ^ Lily Xiao Hong Lee, Sue Wiles. Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women: Tang Through Ming, 618-1644. East Gate Book. p. 490. ISBN 978-0-7656-4314-8. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  4. ^ Cambridge History of China, 5.1:894-5
  5. ^ Tan Koon San (17 April 2014). Dynastic China: An Elementary History. The Other Press Sdn. Bhd. p. 299. ISBN 978-983-9541-88-5. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  6. ^ Cambridge History of China, 5.1:936
  7. ^ "Chin Han joins Marco Polo cast". May 16, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.

Further readingEdit

  • Li, Bo and Zheng Yin. (Chinese) (2001). 5000 years of Chinese history. Inner Mongolian People's publishing corp. ISBN 7-204-04420-7.

See alsoEdit