Duke Chu of Wei

Duke Chu (衛出公) only became the ruler of Wei because his father, the former crown prince Ji Kuaikui (姬蒯瞶), had been forced to flee the state after failing in an attempt to kill Nanzi (南子), the notorious consort of his father, Duke Ling (衛靈公), in 499 BC.

After assuming the throne when Duke Ling died in 492 BC, Duke Chu refused to allow his father to go back to Wei, no doubt out of concerns that his legitimacy would be challenged. Not surprisingly, Kuaikui was less than delighted at this state of affairs and spent over a decade plotting a triumphant return to his homeland.

In 480 BC, Kuaikui saw his opportunity when he found out that Hun Liangfu (渾良), a bondservant of Kong Wenzi (孔文子), a deceased noble, was having an affair with Kong’s widow, Lady Bo (伯姬).

Lady Bo was also Kuaikui’s sister, and he promised to pardon Hun and make him a high official if he would help him gain power. After succeeding in entering the capital of Wei, Kuaikui hid in the garden of his sister’s mansion while she persuaded her son, Kong Kui (孔悝), to join her in an alliance with her brother to overthrow his son. When Duke Chu heard about the plot he made his escape to the state of Lu, while Kong Kui proclaimed Kuaikui as Duke Zhuang of Wei (衛莊公).

For all his scheming, Kuaikui only managed to stay in power for a couple of years, before being sent into exile once again in 478 BC.

Duke Chu’s personal name was Ji Zhe (姬輒). In The Analects, he is simply referred to as the Duke of Wei (衛君). Confucius was drawn into the struggle between father and son when he visited the state of Wei. Wisely, he didn’t allow himself to get directly involved, though his comments in Chapter XIV of Book 7 suggest that he thought that Duke Chu should cede the throne to his father.

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius
Book 7, Chapter XIV

Book 7
Chapter XIV
冉有曰:「夫子為衛君乎?」子貢曰:「諾,吾將問之。」入曰:「伯夷、叔齊何人也?」曰:「古之賢人也。」曰:「怨乎?」曰:「求仁而得仁,又何怨?」出曰:「夫子不為也。」
Ran Qiu said: “Does our Master support the Duke of Wei?” Zigong said: “Well, I am going to ask him.” Zigong went in and asked Confucius: “What sort of people were Boyi and Shuqi?” “They were virtuous men of old.” “Did they complain?” “They sought goodness and attained goodness. Why should they have complained?” Zigong left and said to Ran Qiu: “Our Master does not support the Duke of Wei.”

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