Yu Bing (Eastern Jin)

Yu Bing (296–344), courtesy name Jijian, was a Chinese politician. He served as a minister of the Jin dynasty (266–420). He was a part of the prestigious Yu clan of Yingchuan as the younger brother of Yu Liang and Emperor Ming of Jin's empress, Yu Wenjun. After Yu Liang died in 340, Yu Bing and another brother of his, Yu Yi inherited Liang's influence in the court. During the succession issues of 342 and 344, Yu Bing pushed for his nephews to inherit the throne to retain his clan's power, in contrast to his court rival He Chong, who supported the dying emperors' sons to succeed instead.

Yu Bing
Chief of the Palace Secretariat (中書監)
In office
339 (339)–344 (344)
MonarchEmperor Cheng of Jin/Emperor Kang of Jin/Emperor Mu of Jin
Inspector of Yangzhou (揚州刺史)
In office
330 (330)–343 (343)
MonarchEmperor Cheng of Jin/Emperor Kang of Jin/Emperor Mu of Jin
Personal details
ChildrenYu Xi
Yu Xí
Yu You
Yu Yun
Yu Qian
Yu Miao
Yu Rou
Yu Daolian
  • Yu Chen (father)
Courtesy nameJijian (季堅)
Posthumous nameZhongchang (忠成)


Yu Bing was a prodigy and highly looked upon since a young age. He once received an appointment from the Minister over the Masses but turned it down, and instead became an Assistant in the Palace Library. In 311, he assisted in putting down the rebellion of the Inspector of Yangzhou, Hua Yi (華軼), and for that, he became Marquis of Dunxiang. Wang Dao later promoted him to Minister of Education and Chief Clerk of the Right to the Minister Over The Masses.[1]

Su Jun's rebellionEdit

In 327, war was about to break out between Bing's brother, Yu Liang and the warlord Su Jun. Yu Liang made Bing his Interior Minister of Wu to prepare against Su Jun. Shortly after the war began, Yu Liang was driven out of Jiankang by Su Jun's forces. Su then turned to Wu Commandery where Yu Bing was situated. Yu Bing retreated and fled to Kuaiji, so Su Jun placed a bounty on his head. An attendant soldier of Bing's offered him an escape through his boat, covering him under bamboo mats. Along the way to Kuaiji, Bing and the soldier would chant and sing with each other. Whenever they reached a checkpoint, they acted wildly, shouting, "Who's looking for Yu Bing? I got him right here!" The guards at these checkpoints all thought they were simply drunk men, and allowed them to pass. Eventually, Yu Bing safely arrived at Kuaiji.[2]

When a loyalist coalition was created against Su Jun in 328, the Interior Minister of Kuaiji, Wang Shu, made Yu Bing General Who Asserts Valour and ordered him to lead troops to Zhejiang. Meanwhile, Su Jun's minister, Cai Mo, surrendered to Yu Bing and gave back Bing his office of Interior Minister of Wu. Together with Yu Tan (虞潭), Bing fought against Su's general Zhang Jian (張健) and later, during the final push to capture Shitou, Yu Bing sent Sima Tenghan (司馬滕含) to assist the coalition. After the rebellion dissipated in 329, Yu Bing was offered the title of Marquis of Xinwu, but Yu Bing rejected it. Instead, he became General Who Spread Might and Interior Minister of Kuaiji.[3]

After Wang Dao's deathEdit

After Wang Dao died in 339, Yu Bing took his place as Chief of the Palace Secretariat, Inspector of Yangzhou, and advisor of affairs of the Masters of Writing. Bing was dedicated to his offices. He respected the old ministers and recruited talented newcomers into the administration, so he was seen by many as virtuous. However, unlike Wang Dao, he was stricter on the officials, which attracted some criticism from people such as Yin Rong (殷融) and Fan Wang (范汪). During this time, he rectified the household rolls by registering more than 10,000 unlisted people and increased the military figures. Yu Bing enjoyed investigating into every matter with extreme thoroughness but became more lenient as time goes by. However, his leniency became too excessive to the point that many did not take his laws seriously.[4] Yu Liang died in 340 and his positions were given to his younger brother Yu Yi. Together with Yi, Bing filled in his late brother's role and maintained their family's prominence in the court.

In 341, the Inspector of Yan, Murong Huang demanded the court to bestow him with the titles of Grand General and Prince of Yan. There was great debate surrounding this, as while Huang was one of the last of Jin's loyalists in the north, Huang was not a part of the imperial family. The debate went on for a year. Meanwhile, Huang sent a memorial to the court accusing the Yu brothers of monopolizing power and calling for their removal. He also wrote a personal letter to Yu Bing faulting him of inefficiently running the state despite holding high positions. Bing was afraid that if Huang rebels, the court will blame him for it. Because of this, Yu Bing and He Chong sent a joint memorial in support of Huang, and Huang was granted his titles.[5]

Succession issuesEdit

Emperor Cheng of Jin grew ill in 342. False edicts were published, forbidding any ministers from entering the palace. However, Yu Bing suspected something was amiss and upon further investigation, the edicts were proven to be forged. The emperor's children, Sima Pi and Sima Yi were both still young and not fit to rule. Yu Bing and Yu Yi's sister, Yu Wenjun was the mother of Emperor Cheng, and for this reason the brothers were able to have a strong presence in the state. They feared that if either one of Cheng's sons were to ascend, their ties to the throne will become more distant which in turn will diminish their influence. Thus, they proposed that another nephew of theirs, Sima Yue, be made to succeed his brother to the throne. This was met with remonstration from He Chong, who believed that the emperor's son should succeed, but Yu Bing ignored him.[6]

Yu Bing was among the few to receive Emperor Cheng's final testament. After his death, Sima Yue ascended the throne and became Emperor Kang. While the new emperor mourned, Yu Bing and He Chong took care of government affairs for him. In 343, Yu Bing supported Yu Yi's decision to launch a joint attack with Former Liang and Murong Huang against Later Zhao, although he was in the minority that advocated for this. However, not long after, when the Zhao administrator, Dai Kai (戴開), defected to Jin, Yu Yi used this as a pretext to stage his northern expedition against Zhao. In order to help Yu Yi, Yu Bing requested to be moved to border command, so the court place him in command of Jingzhou, Jiangzhou, Ningzhou, Yizhou, Lianzhou, Jiaozhou, Guangzhou and four commandaries of Yuzhou. Yu Bing then moved out of the capital to camp at Wuchang.[7]

In November 344, while Yu Yi's campaign was still going on, Emperor Kang became deathly ill. In similar fashion, the emperor's eldest son, Sima Dan, was only a child. Yu Bing and Yu Yi were once again pushing for a brother to succeed him, this time being Sima Yu. However, He Chong successfully convinced the dying emperor to go with Sima Dan, much to the anger of the Yu brothers. Sima Dan ascended the throne as Emperor Mu of Jin with Empress Dowager Chu acting on his behalf.[8]

Just one month later, Yu Bing would fall sick as well. Empress Dowager Chu tried to summon him to help her in the government, but Bing could not respond. He eventually succumbed and died on December 29th of 344. He was posthumously named Zhongchang and posthumously appointed Palace Attendant and Minister of Works.[9] His daughter, Yu Daolian became the empress to Emperor Fei of Jin in 365.


  1. ^ (冰字季堅。兄亮以名德流訓,冰以雅素垂風,諸弟相率莫不好禮,為世論所重,亮常以為庾氏之寶。司徒辟,不就,征秘書郎。預討華軼功,封都鄉侯。王導請為司徒右長史,出補吳國內史。) Book of Jin, Volume 73
  2. ^ (峻遣兵攻吳國內史庾冰,冰不能禦,棄郡奔會稽,至浙江,峻購之甚急。吳鈴下卒引冰入船,以X蒢覆之,吟嘯鼓X,泝流而去。每逢邏所,輒以杖叩船曰:「何處覓庾冰,庾冰正在此。」人以爲醉,不疑之,冰僅免。峻以侍中蔡謨爲吳國內史。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 94
  3. ^ (會蘇峻作逆,遣兵攻冰,冰不能禦,便棄郡奔會稽。會稽內史王舒以冰行奮武將軍,距峻別率張健于吳中。時健党甚眾,諸將莫敢先進。冰率眾擊健走之,於是乘勝西進,赴於京都。又遣司馬滕含攻賊石頭城,拔之。冰勳為多,封新吳縣侯,固辭不受。遷給事黃門侍郎,又讓不拜。司空郗鑒請為長史,不就。出補振威將軍、會稽內史。徵為領軍將軍,又辭。尋入為中書監、揚州刺史、都督揚豫兗三州軍事、征虜將軍、假節。) Book of Jin, Volume 73
  4. ^ (冰既當重任,經綸時務,不捨晝夜,賓禮朝賢,升擢後進,由是朝野翕然稱之,以為賢相。初,王導輔政,每從寬恕;冰頗任威刑,丹楊尹殷融諫之。冰曰:「前相之賢,猶不堪其弘,況如吾者哉!」范汪謂冰曰:「頃天文錯度,足下宜盡消御之道。」冰曰:「玄象豈吾所測,正當勤盡人事耳。」又隱實戶口,料出無名萬餘人,以充軍實。冰好為糾察,近於繁細,後益矯違,復存寬縱,疏密自由,律令無用矣。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 96
  5. ^ (會皝上表稱:「庾氏兄弟擅權召亂,宜加斥退,以安社稷。」又與庾冰書,責其當國秉權,不能為國雪恥。冰甚懼,以其絕遠,非所能制,乃與何充奏從其請。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 96
  6. ^ (夏,五月,乙卯,帝不豫;六月,庚寅,疾篤。或詐為尚書符,敕宮門無得內宰相;眾皆失色。庾冰曰:「此必詐也。」推問,果然。帝二子丕、弈,皆在襁褓。庾冰自以兄弟秉權日久,恐易世之後,親屬愈疏,為它人所間,每說帝以國有強敵,宜立長君;請以母親弟琅邪王岳為嗣,帝許之。中書令何充曰:「父子相傳,先王舊典,易之者鮮不致亂。故武王不授聖弟,非不愛也。今琅邪踐阼,將如孺子何!」冰不聽。下詔,以岳為嗣,並以弈繼琅邪哀王。壬辰,冰、充及武陵王晞、會稽王昱、尚書令諸葛恢並受顧命。癸巳,帝崩。帝幼沖嗣位,不親庶政;及長,頗有勤儉之德。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 97
  7. ^ (三月,以中書監庾冰爲車騎將軍... 冬十月辛巳,以車騎將軍庾冰都督荊江司雍益梁六州諸軍事、江州刺史,以驃騎將軍何充爲中書監、都督揚豫二州諸軍事、揚州刺史、錄尚書事,輔政。) Book of Jin, Volume 7
  8. ^ (帝疾篤,庾冰、庾翼欲立會稽王昱為嗣;中書監何充建議立皇子聃,帝從之。九月,丙申,立聃為皇太子。戊戌,帝崩於式乾殿。己亥,何充以遺旨奉太子即位,大赦。由是冰、翼深恨充。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 97
  9. ^ (十一月庚辰,車騎將軍庾冰卒。) Book of Jin, Volume 8