Qin Hui — A Dreadfully Treacherous Prime Minister and A Terrible Traitor of Song Dynasty
Qin Hui (1090 — 1155), courtesy name Huizhi, was one of the most treacherous officials in the history of China.
He murdered great marshal Yue Fei, set up and banished many righteous officials, and likely betrayed his country by selling Song’s interest to the Jurchen Jin Dynasty.
Intelligent and Rightful Genius Qin Hui
As one of the most resentful, treacherous officials in history, Qin Hui had a bright beginning.
Born into an ordinary family in the Song Dynasty, Qin Hui was exceptionally talented and knowledgeable.
After achieving an excellent score in the Imperial Examination, he was assigned some political positions and did a good job.
At that time, the biggest threat to the Song Empire was their northern neighbor, a nomadic regime named Jurchen Jin.
Young and ambitious Qin Hui insisted that Song try their best to fight against them.
Qin Hui's Calligraphy Work "Shen Xin Tie"
He served several times as a brave emissary to negotiate with the nomadic government and acted bravely and smartly.
Years later, Jurchen Jin invaded Song’s capital city and captured emperors Zhao Ji and Zhao Huan, the royal family, and most high-rank officials, including Qin Hui. Most northern places in China were occupied as well.
This was the Incident of Jingkang.
Emperor Zhao Ji’s other son Zhao Gou was lucky because he wasn’t in the capital city when Jin’s army was robbing and slaughtering.
As the only free prince, he escaped to the southern part of China and reestablished a smaller empire called Song, the Southern Song Dynasty.
Copper Writing Brush Holder (Bi Jia) of the Song Dynasty — Zhuji Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
Secret Surrender to the Enemy
All officials the Jurchen Jin captured were loyal and willing to sacrifice for their emperors. Many were honorably offered; the rest were sent to different places to do heavy work.
Qin Hui was the only exception and served as a strategist for some lords of Jin.
Hence, many people believed that Qin Hui had surrendered secretly.
Sometime later, he arrived at Emperor Zhao Gou’s new government and claimed that he gained the opportunity to escape after he killed his guards.
Many people were suspicious because Qin Hui was the only official escaping Jin’s control.
Moreover, he, his wife, and the entire family safely arrived, which was quite impossible during that period.
But others still believed him due to his talent and loyalty when he was young.
Exquisite Jade Comb of Qin Hui's Wife — Nanjing Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
Qin Hui was then highly valued by Zhao Gou, now the Emperor Gaozong of Song, because, at that time, neither of them wanted to fight against the Jurchen Jin regime to take back two emperors.
As for Qin Hui, he was already serving the Jin government; meanwhile, following the emperor's intention was the most convenient and possible way to obtain power.
For Emperor Zhao Gou, he could not have his throne anymore if his father, big brother, or other older brothers, who were more eligible to reign the Song Empire, came back.
Therefore, Qin Hui and Emperor Zhao Gou were both quite happy to have power at hand and enjoy life in southern China.
Part of Exquisite Embroidery Clothes of the Southern Song — Fujian Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
Inspiring Successes of the Song Empire's Vengeance
Years later, Jurchen Jin invaded Song again, and Emperor Zhao Gou decided to fight back.
He could not stand Jin's constant invasion, and his father, Zhao Ji, had already passed away, hence no significant threats to his throne.
Meanwhile, many of Song's loyal generals and officials had strong wills and the ability to fight and win.
Most civilians in northern China didn't want to be ruled by the Jurchen Jin; many had already voluntarily organized armies and kept fighting.
Part of Ceremonial Guard of Emperor of Song in "Da Jia Lu Bu Tu Shu", Painted Around 1053 to 1065 — National Museum of China
Under those circumstances, some great marshals led Song’s armies and volunteer warriors fought back and achieved exceptional successes; the most famous and contributive general was Yue Fei.
They took back many lost cities and defeated Jin’s aggressive main troops several times.
The reunification of the whole of the Song Empire became extremely possible.
Part of the Painting (Qingming Shang He Tu) Along the River During the Qingming Festival
Genre Painting of the Capital City (Bianjing or Kaifeng) of the Song Dynasty before the Incident of Jingkang, by Artist Zhang Zeduan (1085 — 1145) — The Palace Museum
Murdering of Great Marshal Yue Fei
However, Qin Hui framed Yue Fei and persuaded Emperor Zhao Gou to call a truce with Jurchen Jin.
Qin Hui insisted that Marshal Yue Fei had so many soldiers and an excellent reputation among Song's people; besides, he kept winning and occupying many cities.
Therefore, Yue Fei was possible to rebel against Zhao Gou's reign and establish a new kingdom in those places he had won back.
Besides, the birth mother of Emperor Zhao Gou was still suffering in Jin.
Then, Zhao Gou commanded all their armies to retreat, demoted, and imprisoned Yue Fei.
Yue Fei refused to admit the sins that he had never committed, even after a few months of cruel torture.
Hence, Qin Hui and his wife poisoned Yue Fei in the cell.
Ganoderma Shaped Crystal Hairpin of Song Dynasty, Possibly Belonged to Qin Hui's Wife — Nanjing Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
The Signing of Unfair Treaty As A Sinner of the History
Then, Qin Hui started the negotiation with Jin again and signed a series of shameful treaties, including giving back to Jin all the cities that Song’s armies had won back before, tributing Jin a great deal of money each year, and respecting Jin as the sovereign.
After this treaty, northern China entirely belonged to the Jurchen Jin, and the peace at the border had been maintained for decades.
In this treaty, Jin also required Qin Hui should always stay as chancellor of the Song Empire and shouldn’t be replaced unless they approved.
Afterward, the Song government never had the chance to regain their lost lands and their dignity.
As a reward, Emperor Zhao Gou’s birth mother and his father Zhao Ji’s coffin were sent back.
Auspicious Crane (He Rui Tu), Painted By Zhao Ji the Emperor Huizong of Song — Liaoning Museum
Qin Hui’s Power, Wealth, and Posthumous Reputation
As the most powerful chancellor that won’t be replaced, Qin Hui became even more fearless in obtaining money through corruption, framing up decent officials that didn’t comply with him, and manipulating politics.
In some historical records and novels, Emperor Zhao Gou also was constrained by Qin Hui’s power.
They share similar goals, like pursuing a truce and opposing fighting, while frequently challenging each other for power and authority.
But with Jin’s support, Qin Hui lived a luxurious and influential life and passed away peacefully in his mansion.
Gilding Silver Cup of the Song Dynasty — Zhenjiang Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)
Some decades later, the next emperor, Zhao Shen, cleared Yue Fei's name, and many ancestral temples were built to memorize Yue Fei.
In front of each temple were two statues: Qin Hui and his evil wife, kneeling on the ground for people to spit on and abuse.
Their statues are made of solid iron, but because of angry civilians' beats, they were replaced several times in recent centuries.
The famous treacherous Qin Hui had long gone, but the hatred and contempt for him had never stopped.
Statues of Qin Hui and His Wife in Front of A Yue Fei's Memorial Temple.
You Might Also Like: