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Xiahou Yuan 夏侯淵

Jul 1, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald

Xiahou Yuan 夏侯淵 (d. 219 CE), courtesy name Xiahou Miaocai 夏侯妙才, was a high military commander during the very late Eastern Han period 東漢 (25-220 CE).

He was a cousin of Xiahou Dun 夏侯惇, a highly confidential commander of the warlord Cao Cao 曹操. Xiahou Yuan took part in Cao Cao's campaigns against Yuan Shao 袁紹 and, after the latter's death, organized the logistics of Cao's armies. When Xiahou Yuan suppressed the rebellion of Chang Xi 昌狶 he was rewarded with the post of Commandant of the Control Army (dianjun xiaowei 典軍校尉).

In the following years he took over the task to put down the last contingents of the Yellow Turban rebels 黃巾 that had haunted northern China. In 209 he was made superior field commander (xinglingjun 行領軍) and commanded the armies campaigning against Lei Xu 雷緒 in Lujiang 廬江. For his victory he was rewarded with the title military protector conquering the west (zhengxi hujun 征西護軍).

He was then ordered to fight against Han Sui 韓遂. As general military protector in the field (xinghujun jiangjun 行護軍將軍) he defeated Han Sui, Ma Chao 馬超 and Liang Xing 梁興 and was therefore rewarded with the noble title of Marquis of Bochangting 博昌亭侯. Xiahou Yuan continued campaigning against Han Sui and Ma Chao and in the west defeated the rebellious tribes of the Qiang 羌 in the region of Changli 長離, the Di tribes 氐 of Xingguo 興國, Tuge 屠各 and Gaoping 高平, and cleared the whole western region of the province of Liangzhou 涼州.

When Cao Cao attacked Zhang Lu 張魯, one of the leaders of the Yellow Turban movement, Xiahou Yuan took over control over the northwest and conferred with Cao Cao at Xiuting 休亭 and Luping 魯平. As general chief military protector in the field (xing duhu jiangjun 行都護將軍) he conquered the commandery of Bajun 巴郡 (modern Chongqing) and secured the region of Hanzhong 漢中 when Cao Cao returned to his residence in Ye 鄴.

Xiahou Yuan was then given the title of General conquering the west (zhengxi jiangjun 征西將軍). In 219 he engaged the army of Liu Bei 劉備, who controled the Sichuan Basin, in the battle of the Yangping Pass 陽平關 and was killed by general Huang Zhong 黃忠, highest commander of Liu Bei's army. His posthumous title is Marquis Min 愍侯.

Zhang Shunhui 張舜徽, ed. (1992). Sanguozhi cidian 三國志辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 343.