Fu Xie 傅燮 was a loyal Han minister and officer with a Confucian virtue. In the 180’s Fu Xie was highly succesful when he fought in the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Liang Province Rebellion in which he scored some significant successes or gave useful advice.


Fu Xie was born in Beidi commandery 北地郡 in Liang province 涼州. He grew up to be 185cm tall, with an imposing demeanour and Confucian virtue.[1] Fu Xie was a student of the Grand Commandant Liu Kuan 寬.[n 1] Eventually Fu Xie was nominated as Filial and Incorrupt, but when the Grand Administrator who had nominated him died, he resigned his office and held mourning for him.[1]

Yellow Turban OutbreakEdit

Main article: Yellow Turban Rebellion

When the Yellow Turban bandits (黃巾戝) broke out early in the year jiazi (184 A.D.), the Intendant of Henan He Jin 何進 was appointed General-in-Chief (大將軍). He was given command of the Northern Army for the defense of Luoyang 洛陽. Three days later, on 5 april (the day renzi) a conference was being held and a pacification campaign was being initiated.[4] He Jin was to be assisted by three generals;

Fu Xie was sent along with Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun, as a Major Protector of the Army. Historian Rafe de Crespigny says in Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling that Fu Xie was a Major of Zhu Jun,[4] but in his A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms he says Fu Xie was a Major Responsible for Discipline of Huangfu Song.[1][n 2]

Fu Xie was against the eunuchs at court, and just before he left he sent a memorial to the court in which he said the following:

"I have heard that the misfortunes of the empire come not from the outside but from within. This is why Yu-Shun first banished the four criminals before he appointed the sixteen chancellors. He understood well that if the evil-doers had not been driven away the good men would never come forward."
"Now Zhang Jue has led a rebellion in Zhao [commandery] and Wei [commandery], and the Yellow Turbans are causing disorder in six provinces. This is an illustration of the way that troubles can begin at home and spread through all the world. We have received your commission to attack and destroy the criminals and we obey your commands. Since we first entered Yingchuan [commandery] we have been succesful in every battle. Though the Yellow Turbans are numerous they are nothing to give anxiety to yout court."
"My real concern, however, is that we may be controlling the waters, but we are doing nothing about the source, and the spread of the flood may yet do more damage. Your majesty is loving and virtuous, generous and forgiving, you cannot bear to be too strict, and so your eunuch servants have usurped power and your loyal ministers are unable to come forward."
"Even when Zhang Jue has been beheaded and his followers have changed their clothing and submitted to law and order, your servants will still be anxious that things may get worse. How should that be? In just the same way as one vessel should not contain charcoal and ice, so wicked men and virtuous men should not both take part in government. Wicked men realise that when a good man's work is noticed, there appear the signs of their own destrution. They will work deceits and falsehood and they will combine to create distrust and hypocrisy. A mother may doubt her own true son, and the three men can set a tiger in the market-place. Unless you are careful to test whether you are being told truth or lies, your loyal subjects will find themselves in the predicament of Bo Qi at Duyou."
"Your majesty should remember how Yu-Shun dealt with the four criminals, and you should quickly arrange the execution of your false advisors. Then good men will be glad to come forward and evil will naturally disappear."[4]

Yingchuan CampaignEdit

Fu Xie commanded a troop of Huangfu Song's army and went to attack the Yellow Turban local leader Zhang Bo 張伯 and the Yellow Turban leader Liang Zhongning 梁仲寧. He defeated and killed both of them.[8][9]

We do not know when Fu Xie was given command of a troop of Huangfu Song’s army and if he left before Zhu Jun and Huangfu Song were engaged in a battle with the Yellow Turban Leader Bo Cai 波才, who commanded one of the largest Divisions (Fang 方) of Yellow Turbans and caused the imperial army quite some trouble before being defeated in the fifth month.[10] We know that Huangfu Song was outnumbered by Bo Cai, even though Bo Cai had just fought against Zhu Jun[11] (though victorious, he must’ve lost some men in the battle). Perhaps Huangfu Song was outnumbered because Fu Xie had already left him. Also, Fu Xie is never mentioned while Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun were doing battle with Bo Cai.

In any case, Huangfu Song was victorious against Bo Cai and the latter fell back to Yangdi city 陽翟城. At that moment, Cao Cao 曹操, Chief Commandant of Cavalry from Pei Kingdom, arrived with reinforcements. Huangfu Song, Zhu Jun and Cao Cao combined their armies and pursued the rebels. At Yangdi Bo Cai was defeated and killed. Later, in the sixth month, the combined force beat the local leader Peng Tuo 彭脫 at Xihua 西華 in Runan commandery 汝南郡.[12] Following their victories Zhu Jun and Huangfu Song were ordered, by edict, to separate ways. Zhu Jun was sent to attack Nanyang commandery in Jing province, Huangfu Song was sent north to Dong commandery 東郡 in Yan province 兗州.[4]

Fu Xie probably joined up with Huangfu Song at this point, if not before.

Dong CampaignEdit

The Yellow Turban in charge at Dong commandery was Bu Si 卜巳, a local leader.[13] Fu Xie attacked Bu Si at Cangting village 倉亭 and defeated him. Bu Si was captured and killed.[13]

On the day yisu, which corresponds to 25 September, Huangfu Song was ordered to attack the Zhang brothers in Julu commandery.[14] We are not told if Fu Xie accompanied Huangfu Song to Julu commandery.


Fu Xie was recommended for enfeoffment for his great successes during the Yellow Turbans; the troop he lead killed three rebel leaders. However, when we read through the article we find four victims of Fu Xie: Liang Boning, Liang Zhongning, Zhang Bo and Bu Si. All of these names are taken from Rafe de Crespigny’s A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms. However, in the History of the Later Han 58/48:1875 we find the following sentence:

in English: …he achieved great success against the three (三) commanders (帥) Bu Si (卜巳), Zhang Bo (張伯), Liang Zhongning (梁仲寧) and should be awarded.

Fu Xie was recommended for defeating the three rebels mentioned in the translation above. However, he received slander from the eunuch Zhao Zhong 趙忠 who had found out about Fu Xie's memorial. The Emperor did not punish him, but he likewise did not reward him either.[1]

After the Yellow Turban RebellionEdit

For a while Fu Xie served as Commandant of Anding commandery in Liang province, but he resigned on grounds of illness. Sometime later he became a Consultant at the capital city of Luoyang.[1]

Liang Rebels OutbreakEdit

Main article: Liang Province Rebellion

Back in 184 A.D., while the Yellow Turban Rebellion was nearing its end, another group of rebels broke out in the west, in Liang province. These rebels were led by Beigong Boyu 北宮伯玉 and Li Wenhou 李文侯 and they managed to overpower the provincial authorities. At the capital it was even considered whether or not the province should be abandoned.[15]

In the spring of 185 Beigong Boyu and Li Wenhou plundered in the Sili commanderies of Jingzhao, Youfufeng and Zuopingyi. These three commanderies were also known as the Three Adjuncts and were located around the old capital city Chang'an 長安.[16]

An edict ordered the General of Chariots and Cavalry of the Left (Zuǒ chēqí jiāngjūn 左車騎將軍), Huangfu Song, to guard Chang'an and eventually attack the rebels.[17] At this time, the whole of Liang province was in continual disorder and rebellion, and the court had to call again and again on the corvée services and the taxes. Cui Lie proposed that Liang province should be abandoned, and the Emperor called a council of the dukes, ministers and all court officials to discuss the question.[17] The Consultant Fu Xie spoke most vehemently against the idea:

"If only the Minister over the Masses was executed, all the troubles of the empire would be at an end."

The Masters of Writing protested to the Emperor that Fu Xie had abused a great minister in open court, and the Emperor called upon Fu Xie to justify himself. Fu Xie then said:

"Fan Kuai considered Modun to be treacherous, and he gave his opinion very forcefully. In no way did he offend the conduct of a subject, but Ji Bu could still say, 'Fan Kuai should be executed.'"
"Now Liang province is one of the most important and valuable districts of the empire, and a bulwark of our state. When Gaozu first came to power, he sent Li Shang on a special mission to settle the lands west of the Long Mountain. When the Epochal Exemplar [Emperor Wu] held the government, he established four commanderies in that region, and all agreed that this was like cutting off the right arm of the Xiongnu."
"But now the official administrators have lost control, and they have let the whole province fall into rebellion. Cui Lie is one of the highest ministers, yet he takes no thought to the real needs of the state and he makes no plan for resorting order. Instead he is prepared to abandon ten thousand li of territory, and I have the gravest doubts of his plan. Should this region be occupied by the barbarians, so they could cause trouble by their great military strength, then this would be of the utmost danger to our empire and a serious loss to the nation."
"If Cui Lie failed to realise the consequences of his policy, he is a fool. If he knows what he is saying, he is a traitor."

The Emperor considered Fu Xie's proposal to be excellent and Cui Lie's proposal was rejected.[17] Fu Xie was now consulted an expert in strategy and even the highest of officials consulted him regularly.[1]

Zhao Zhong's RecommendmentEdit

In the spring of 186 A.D. the eunuch Zhao Zhong, earlier enfeoffed as Regular Palace Attendant (中常侍), was now made General of Chariots and Cavalry.[18] He was commissioned to re-examine the rewards and enfeoffments due to those who had served against the Yellow Turbans. Earlier we learned that Fu Xie was very succesful against the Yellow Turbans, but it was Zhao Zhong who prevented Fu Xie from receiving a reward.[1] A certain Zhen Ju convinced Zhao Zhong to award Fu Xie, who then sent his younger brother Zhao Yan 趙延 to present his compliments and say:

"Fu Nanrong, just make a bit of response to my brother, and a marquisate with ten thousand households is yours."

Fu Xie, looking very serious, turned him down and said:

"If I did well and no one took note of it, that is just a matter of luck. But how can I seek for a reward through underhand means?""

When Zhao Zhong heard of Fu Xie’s rejection he became extremely angry and wished to punish him. He was, however, afraid of Fu Xie’s reputation and did not dare to harm him, so instead he had him sent out to be Grand Administrator of Hanyang.[18]

As Grand Administrator of Hanyang Fu Xie encouraged the non-Chinese to surrender with promises of good treatment. He also set up a large number of military colonies to defend the territory.[1] Around that time, in 187 A.D., Han Sui 韓遂 took over the leading role of the Liang rebels and had decided to besiege the headquarters of Longxi commandery.[3] In reply, the new Inspector of Liang province, Geng Bi 耿鄙, made plans against Han Sui and his men. Fu Xie, however, gave some conflicting advice:

"Commissioner, you have not had much experience in administration, and the people are not yet accustomed to you. When the rebels hear that your powerful army is approaching, they will all be united against you. Those men from the border country are excellent fighters, and it will be hard to match their attacks. On the other hand, our men have only recently been gathered together, and the officers and soldiers are not yet used to one another. If there should be some trouble within our ranks it will be too late for regrets."
"The best thing to do is let the army halt a while and build up morale. Make your rewards clear and your punishments certain. When you take the pressure off the rebels like this, they are sure to say to themselves that we are afraid of them. Such evil men will certainly struggle for power, and they will soon quarrel among themselves. After that, you will be leading people who know what they are fighting for, and bringing them against an enemy who is completely disorganized. You need only sit and wait, and success will come."[3]

For some reason, Geng Bi ignored Fu Xie’s advice and in the fourth lunar month of 187 A.D. his army from the eastern commanderies came to Jincheng commandery and Didao city, the capital city of Longxi commandery. There, his Aide-de-Camp led a mutiny and joined the rebels. Geng Bi and his assistant Cheng Qiu 程球 were killed.[19] Following their victory, the rebels came forward to besiege Hanyang commandery, under the command of a certain Wang Guo 王國, a Didao native.[3]

Attack on Hanyang commanderyEdit

In the capital of Hanyang, Ji county, there were few soldiers and no food reserves, but Fu Xie still held firm.

Several barbarian horsemen from Beidi commandery had been following the rebels and were now involved in the attack on Hanyang commandery. These barbarians had always been treated well in the past by Fu Xie and now they were reluctant to fight him and instead they asked him to accept their escort back to his native village in Beidi commandery.[3]

Fu Xie's 13 year old son, Fu Gan 傅幹, said to his father:

"The nation is in confusion and disorder, and that is why you have never received your true deserts from the court. You have too few soldiers now to maintain your defence, and you should accept the invitation of these Qiang and other tribespeople and go back to our homeland. Wait until a worthy man appears, and then join him."

Even before he had finished speaking, Fu Xie sighed miserably and said:

"You know that I must die. A sage is equal to any position, and even a lesser man should not fail his responsibilities. Zhou of Yin was cruel and tyrannical, yet Boyi died for him because he could not eat the millet of the conquering Zhou dynasty. I have met with a time of disorder and I cannot fulfil my true ambition. I have taken his salary, so how can I seek to avoid his time of danger? Where else can I go? I must die here! You have talent and understanding, I hope you will do your best. Yang Hui, the Master of Records, will act as my Cheng Ying."

Huang Yan 黄衍, the former Grand Administrator of Jiuquan commandery, was sent by Wang Guo to convince Fu Xie into joining them:[3]

"The empire is gone forever from the government of Han. Magistrate, would you be prepared to become our leader?"

Fu Xie, with hand to his sword, shouted:

"You, an official with a seal, have become the messenger-boy for a gang of rebels!"

Then, Fu Xie led an all-out desperate attack against the rebels. He died fighting.[1]


See AlsoEdit


  1. Note that the Biographical Dictionary says Fu Xie studied under Liu Kuang, but this is a typographical error as he actually studied under Liu Kuan.
  2. The latter source is the more recent one and also the more probable one as Fu Xie was sent into the field commanding a troop of Huangfu Song’s army.[1].


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms, biography of Fu Xie, page 234
  2. 2.0 2.1 Fan Ye, History of the Later Han, 58/48
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 de Crespigny, Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling, Zhongping 4
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 de Crespigny, Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling, Zhongping 1
  5. Leban, Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei, page 96
  6. de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary, biography of Huangfu Song, page 355-6
  7. de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary, biography of Zhu Jun, page 1161-3
  8. de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms, biography of Zhang Bo, page 1034
  9. de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms, biography of Liang Zhongning, page 464
  10. Michaud, The Yellow Turbans in Monumenta Serica XVII, page 112
  11. Leban, Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei, pages 98-100
  12. Leban, Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei, pages 102-3
  13. 13.0 13.1 Leban, Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei, pages 110
  14. Leban, Ts'ao Ts'ao and the Rise of Wei, pages 115
  15. Haloun, The Liang-chou Rebellion, page 121
  16. de Crespigny, Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling, footnotes to Zhongping 2
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 de Crespigny, Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling, Zhongping 2
  18. 18.0 18.1 de Crespigny, Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling, Zhongping 3
  19. de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary, biography of Geng Bi, page 248