|Regent of Cao Wei|
7 September 251 – 23 March 255
|Preceded by||Sima Yi|
|Succeeded by||Sima Zhao|
|Died||23 March 255 (aged 47)|
|House||House of Sima|
Sima Shi (pronunciation (help·info)) (208 – 23 March 255), courtesy name Ziyuan, was a military general and regent of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. In 249, he assisted his father Sima Yi in overthrowing the emperor Cao Fang's regent Cao Shuang, allowing the Sima family to become paramount authority in the state, and he inherited his father's authority after his father's death in 251. He maintained a tight grip on the political scene and, when the emperor, Cao Fang, considered action against him in 254, had him deposed and replaced with his cousin, Cao Mao. This tight grip eventually allowed him to, at the time of his death in 255 after just having quelled a rebellion, transition his power to his younger brother, Sima Zhao, whose son Sima Yan eventually usurped the throne and established the Jin dynasty.
After Sima Yan became emperor, he, recognising Sima Shi's role in his own imperial status, posthumously honoured his uncle as Emperor Jing of Jin (景帝), with the temple name Shizong (世宗).
Sima Shi was born in 208. He was Sima Yi's oldest son, born of Sima Yi's wife, Zhang Chunhua (張春華). When he was young, he was known for the elegance in his conduct and his intelligence, earning him a reputation equal to that of Xiahou Xuan and He Yan, with He Yan having gone as far as to once state: "The only person who could have the great achievements under the heaven is probably Sima Ziyuan." As his father was an important Wei official, Sima Shi himself climbed up the ranks of officials fairly rapidly. Between the years of 237 and 239, Sima Shi was appointed as Cavalier Attendant-in-Ordinary (散騎常侍), and received some promotions to the post of Military Protector of the Palace (中護軍).
Main article: Incident at the Gaoping Tombs
When Sima Yi started planning a coup d'état against Cao Shuang; according to the Jin Shu, Sima Yi confided only in Sima Shi, excluding even Shi's younger brother Sima Zhao from the discussion (although Sima Guang found this unlikely and, in his Zizhi Tongjian, opined that Sima Yi planned the coup with both Sima Shi and Sima Zhao). Sima Shi put together a group of 3,000 loyal men without knowledge by Cao Shuang or his associates, and when Sima Yi set to carry out his plans in 249, Sima Shi was able to quickly summon the men to carry out the coup.
Once Sima Yi overthrew Cao Shuang and became the sole regent for the emperor, Cao Fang, he rewarded his son with the title Marquess of Changpingxiang, a large fief of 1,000 households, and shortly thereafter, the rank of General of the Guards (衛將軍). Sima Shi became his father's assistant, although there was no particular record of his accomplishments during these years. After Sima Yi died in 251, he took over his father's positions without significant opposition—after his father had, earlier that year, suppressed a failed rebellion by Wang Ling (王淩) and massacred the clans of Wang and his associates.
Main article: Family tree of Sima Yi § Sima Shi
Adopted son: Sima You, Sima Zhao second son
Sima Shi first appears as a playable character in the seventh instalment of Koei's Dynasty Warriors video games series.
Hardly was this rebellion crushed than Sima Shi died (in March 255); and his brother Sima Zhao took command...
On the day xinhai (March 23), Sima Shi died at Xuchang. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
The Emperor appointed his son, the wei jiangjun Sima Shi to be fujun da jiangjun and lu shang-shu shi. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
The taishou of Cheng-yang Dent Ai sent up his opinion: “The Rong and Di barbarians have the hearts of beasts. They have no conception of loyalty and friendship. When they are strong they invade, when they are weak they submit. Therefore, in the time of King Xuan of Zhou there was the incursion of the Xianyun; and the Han Emperor Gaozu suffered adversity under them at Pingcheng. Whenever the Xiongnu have become powerful, they have been a heavy worry to past dynasties. Since the shan-yu came to the interior of China, the barbarians have lost their leader, and lack a ruler to control their unity or disunity. At present the dignity of the shan-yu daily declines, while the power of the outer territory daily increases. We must take deep-seated precautions against the barbarians. I hear there are dissenters among Liu Bao’s horde. We may well utilize this dissension and divide his country in two, so that his power will be reduced. Chubei distinguished himself under the previous dynasty, but his son has not succeeded him in his work. We should distinguish this son by a prominent title and have him live in Yan-men. Cleave their territory and weaken their force, give them posthumous honors – this is the best plan for defense of the frontiers.” He further set forth how those of the barbarians who were living together with the Chinese people should be gradually segregated and made to live outside the Chinese people, so they would respect the teachings of modesty and shame, and to obstruct the way to wantonness and villainy. Sima Shi followed all these proposals. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
First month (Jan. 29 – Feb. 26). On the day guimao (Jan. 30) the fujun da jiangjun Sima Shi was appointed da jiangjun. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Autumn, seventh month (August 12-September 9). Zhuge Ke retreated with his troops. The wounded and sick soldiers wandered on and dragged themselves along the roads, some stumbling to their deaths in ditches and holes, some being captured and made prisoners. Alive or dying, they all lamented grievously; high or low, they all wailed. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Summons after summons came to him from the Emperor, and he then slowly returned with the troops. Thereafter the masses lost their hopes of him, and resentment and complaint arose. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
During the two years when he served as zhongshu ling, Li Feng was frequently given private audience by the Emperor, no one knowing what they said. Sima Shi knew they discussed him, asked Li Feng to an interview and questioned him. Li Feng would not tell him the truth. Sima Shi in anger struck him with the ring of his sword hilt, killing him. He then sent the corpse to the tingyu. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
In the end, Li Feng's son Li Tao, as well as Xiahou Xuan, Zhang Qi, etc. were arrested and all committed to the tingyu. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
On the day gengxu (March 27), Li Tao, Xiahou Xuan, Zhang Qi, Su Shuo, Yue Dun and Liu Xian were put to death, and their relatives to the third degree were all annihilated. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Third month (April 5-May 3), the Empress Zhang was degraded. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Ninth month (September 29-October 28). Sima Zhao came to the capital with his troops to visit the Emperor. The Emperor went to the terrace Pingluo Guan to see the troops march past. His attendants advised the Emperor to kill Sima Zhao when the latter came to take his leave, and seizing his troops, use them to repulse the Generalissimo. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
The Imperial rescript was already placed before him. But the Emperor was afraid and dared not issue it. Sima Zhao led his troops into the city, whereupon the Generalissimo Sima Shi arranged to depose the Emperor. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
On the day jiaxu (October 17), Sima Shi convened an assembly of officials in the name of the Empress Dowager, which he informed that the Emperor was conducting himself with unbounded license and with indecent intimacy toward singing-girls, and was not worthy to carry on the celestial line. None of the crowd of officials dared disagree with him. Thereupon he memorialized the Empress Dowager to take the Imperial seal from the Emperor and send him to Qi as a vassal prince. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Sima Shi again sent a messenger requesting the Imperial Seal from the Empress Dowager. The Empress Dowager said, “The Prince of Pengcheng is my junior uncle. Now he is coming to mount the throne. Where will I stand? Furthermore, must Ming Huangdi become forever hairless? I am considering that the Duke of Gaogui xiang is the eldest grandson of Wen Huangdi and a son of Ming Huangdi's younger brother. According to the Rites, a son of the collateral branch can become an heir to the main branch. Let this be discussed in detail.” Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
On the day dingchou (October 20), Sima Shi convened another assembly of officials and showed them the Empress Dowager's command. It was then decided to fetch the Duke of Gaogui Xiang, Cao Mao, from Yuancheng. Cao Mao was a son of the Prince Ding of Donghai, Cao Lin (曹霖); At this time, he was aged fourteen. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Spring, first month (January 25-February 23). Guanqiu Jian and Wen Qin, counterfeiting the command of the Empress Dowager, rose up in arms at Shouchun and issued throughout the provinces and prefectures a call to arms for the purpose of punishing Sima Shi. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Guanqiu Jian reached Shenxian. His attendants and troops gradually left Guanqiu Jian and went away. Guanqiu Jian, without any companion except his younger brother Guanqiu Xiu, and his grandson Guanqiu Zhong (毌丘重), went to hide in the grass along the bank of the water. On the day jiachen, Zhang Shu (張屬), a man of Anfengjin, killed Guanqiu Jian and sent his decapitated head to the capital. Zhang Shu was enfeoffed as a Lord. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Members of Guanqiu Jian's family were exterminated to the third degree. Partisans of Guanqiu Jian, more than seven hundred persons, were sent to prison. The shiyushi Du You (杜友) sat in judgment of them. He sentenced only the ringleaders, ten in all, and set the remainder free by memorializing the throne. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Wen Qin returned to Xiang, because his solitary army, lacking reinforcements, could not defend itself, he wanted to return to Shouchun. Shouchun had already fallen, and so he fled to Wu. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
At that time Sima Shi had recently had a tumor removed from his eye, and the wound was serious. Some thought the generalissimo should not go in person, and that it would be best to send the taiyu Sima Fu to make resistance. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Only Wang Su, the shangshu Fu Ji, and the zhongshu Zhong Hui, advised Sima Shi to go in person. Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.
Sima Shi hesitated and made no decision. Fu Jia said, “The troops of Huai and Chu are strong. Guanqiu Jian and the others, trusting to their strength, have come a long way to fight. Their keen edge cannot easily be encountered. Should the subordinate generals fight unsuccessfully and the tide be turned against you, then your cause will be ruined.” Sima Shi jumped up from his seat and said, “I shall go in spite of my ailment.” Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms, Achilles Fang.