Xìng 姓:Fàn 范
Míng 名:Zhòngyān 仲淹
Zì 字:Xīwén 希文
Shì 謚:Wénzhèng 文正¹
120 px
1. hence referred to as Fàn

Fan Zhongyan (Chinese: 范仲淹) (9891052), born in Wuxian 吳縣, Suzhou (in Jiangsu province today), was a prominent politician and literary figure in Song dynasty China. He was also a strategist and educator. After serving the central government of the state for many years he finally rose to the seat of chancellor over the whole of the Chinese empire.

Early Official CareerEditar

In the 1030s, Fan served as the prefect of Kaifeng. While there, he took on a young Ouyang Xiu as a disciple; a partnership that would become very important a decade later. However, after criticizing the Chief Councillor of the Song state when he submitted a proposal to reform criteria used in the advancement and demotion of officials, he was demoted to regional government.

Fan was recalled in 1040 when the Liao and Western Xia once again threatened Song borders from the north. Fan, who had long favored a strong defense, was brought back to devise a response to the northern threat. [1]

Qingli ReformsEditar

Main gallery: Qingli Reforms.

After the Song granted Western Xia indemnities similar to those granted the Liao in the Treaty of Shanyuan, Fan, along with other “idealist Confucians” sought reform at the court. He presented a ten-point proposal covering various aspects of government admnistration including reforms to the recruitment system, higher pay for minor local officials to discourage against corruption, [2] and wider sponsorship programs to ensure that officials were drafted more on the basis of their intellect and character. However, many of the reforms that he introduced were met with reaction of opposition by conservative ministers who felt the system did not need drastic changes (and who felt threatened by change halfway in the process of their career as state bureaucrats).The emperor rescinded the reforms in 1045 [3] after being, along with his friend and colleague Ouyang, charged with forming a faction, which was considered subversive by definition. [4] Despite this, his idealist approach to governance inspired those like the later Chancellor Wang Anshi.

Educational reformsEditar

Fan also began educational reforms in the 1040s. In the early Northern Song era, prefectural schools were neglected by the state and were left to the devices of wealthy patrons who provided private finances.[5] While Chancellor, Fan Zhongyan issued an edict that would have a combination of government funding and private financing to restore and rebuild all prefectural schools that had fallen into disuse and abandoned since the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907–960).[6] Fan attempted to restore all county-level schools in the same manner, but did not designate where funds for the effort would be formally acquired and the decree was not taken seriously until the later Emperor Huizong of Song who expanded the county-level school system dramatically.[7] Fan's trend of government funding for education set in motion the movement of public schools that eclipsed private academies, which would not be officially reversed until Emperor Lizong of Song the mid 13th century.[8]

Literary WorksEditar

His most famous work was Yueyang Lou Ji 岳陽樓記, composed on occasion of the reconstruction of Yueyang Lou under the governance of a friend of his. Yueyang Lou, a city gate by the side of Dongting Lake, was known as one of the three great Lou's in Southern China, due to their association with famous literary works (the others being Huanghe Lou 黃鶴樓 and Tengwang Ge 滕王閣). This commemorative Ji was written in prose, with extensive usage of phrases in four. It's most famous for the political ideal he expressed at the end, culminating in the oft-quoted 先天下之憂而憂,後天下之樂而樂 (Feel worried before Tianxia starts to worry, and feel happy after Tianxia has rejoiced.)

He was also known for his ci. Among the most famous are Su Mu Zhe 蘇幕遮 and Yu Jia Ao 漁家傲. Together with Su Shi, he was considered one of the founders of the haofang 豪放 school of ci.


  1. [Mote p. 123]
  2. [Mote p. 137]
  3. [Mote p. 124]
  4. [Mote p. 136]
  5. Yuan, 196.
  6. Yuan, 197.
  7. Yuan, 198–199.
  8. Yuan, 200–201.

See alsoEditar


  • Ebrey, Walthall, Palais (2006). East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Mote, F.W. (1999). Imperial China: 900-1800. Harvard University Press. p. 124,136-138. 
  • Yuan, Zheng. "Local Government Schools in Sung China: A Reassessment," History of Education Quarterly (Volume 34, Number 2; Summer 1994): 193–213.

External linksEditar

de:Fan Zhongyan fr:Fan Zhongyan ja:范仲淹 vi:Phạm Trọng Yêm zh:范仲淹

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