An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Sun Jian 孫堅

Mar 8, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Sun Jian 孫堅 (155-191), courtesy name Wentai 文台, was a warlord at the end of the Later Han period (25-220) and father of Sun Quan 孫權, the eventual founder of the Wu dynasty 吳 (222-280) , one of the Three Empires 三國 (220-280).

Sun Jian hailed from Fuchun 富春 (modern Fuyang 富陽, Zhejiang) and had been commander (sima 司馬) in Wuxian 吳縣, where he participated in the suppression of the rebellion of Xu Chang 許昌. When the Yellow Turban uprising 黃巾起義 shook the dynasty, he assembled a local army and took part in the campaign of Zhu Jun 朱儁 against the rebels. Sun Jian was able to conquer the city of Wancheng 宛城 (modern Nanyang 南陽, Henan), where the rebels had taken shelter. He was later appointed court gentleman for consultation (yilang 議郎), then governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Changsha 長沙. For his military merits he had accumulated over the years he was given the title of Marquis of Wucheng 烏程侯.

When Dong Zhuo 董卓 usurped the central government of the dynasty, he became virtually independent as regional inspector (cishi 刺史) of the province of Jingzhou 荊州 and governor of Nanyang 南陽. He allied with the warlord Yuan Shu 袁術. As a military commander, Sun Jian proved to be very competent, so that Dong Zhuo, after being defeated several times by Sun Jian's troops, asked for peace. Dong Zhuo even offered several high posts to Sun Jian's relatives, but Sun declined.

In 190 Dong Zhuo, threatened by his adversaries, burnt down the capital Luoyang 洛陽 and forced the imperial court to move to the old capital Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an 西安, Shaanxi) in the far west. A year later, Sun Jian defeated the troops of Dong Zhuo outside of Luoyang, forced Lü Bu 呂布 to retreat and was able to seize the remaining imperial seals of the Han dynasty.

Shortly after, Sun Jian was entrusted with the campaign against Liu Biao 劉表. He was killed buring battle against the troops of Huang Zu 黃祖.

Zhu Zongbin 祝總斌 (1992). "Sun Jian 孫堅", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1062.