An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Zhang He 張郃

May 30, 2016 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhang He 張郃 (d. 231), courtesy name Junyi 儁乂 (also written 俊乂), was a general of the very early Wei period 曹魏 (220-265).

He hailed from Moxian 鄚縣 in the commandery of Hexian 河間 (today's Renqiu 任丘, Hebei) and participated as a young man in Han Fu's 韓馥 suppression campaign against the Yellow Turban rebellion 黃巾起義. He later became a commander unter the tyrant warlord Yuan Shao 袁紹, who appointed him leader of court gentlemen (zhonglangjiang 中郎將) of the kingdom of Ning 寧國 and dispatched him to fight against Gongsun Zan 公孫贊. In 200 CE, he participated in the famous battle of Guandu 官渡 and suggested to sent relief troops to support the wing under Wu Chao 烏巢, but Yuan Shao refused and was defeated by Cao Cao 曹操.

Zhang He thereupon defected to Cao Cao, who appointed him deputy general (pian jiangjun 偏將軍) and bestowed to him the title of Marquis of Metropolitan Residence (dutinghou 都亭侯). Zhang was a successful military leader and campaigned against the steppe federation of the Wuhuan 烏桓 (therefore made General Appeasing the Barbarians, pingdi jiangjun 平狄將軍), against Ma Chao 馬超, Yuan Tan 袁譚, Han Sui 韓遂, and the Yellow Turban leader Zhang Lu 張魯. He was rewarded with the title of General Wiping out the Bandits (dangkou jiangjun 蕩寇將軍).

In 219 participated in Xiahou Yuan's 夏侯淵 campaign against Liu Bei 劉備. In the battle of Mt. Dingjun 定軍山, Xiahou died, and Zhang He took over the highest command, saved the army from certain defeat, and securely withdrew the whole body of troops. When Cao Cao's son Cao Pi 曹丕 (known was Emperor Wen 魏文帝, r. 220-226) adopted the title of emperor of the Wei dynasty in 220, Zhang was made General to the Left (zuo jiangjun 左將軍) and given the title of Township Marquis of Duxiang 都鄉侯, and then Marquis of Mo 鄚侯.

In 228 Zhang He campaigned with Cao Zhen 曹真 against Zhuge Liang 諸葛亮, the Counsellor and highest military commander of the state of Shu 蜀漢 (221-263), and met general Ma Ji 馬謖 in the battle of Jieting 街亭. Zhang encircled the army of Shu, then attacked it and threw it back into the region of Hanzhong 漢中. Emperor Ming 魏明帝 (r. 226-239 CE) rewarded him with the title of General of Cavalry and Chariots (cheji jiangjun 車騎將軍). In summer 231 the regent Sima Yi 司馬懿 organized a subsequent campaign against Shu. In Mumen 木門 Zhang's army met an ambush, and Zhang he fell. His posthumous title is Marquis Zhuang 鄚壯侯.

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Ren Zhaokun 任昭坤 (1999). "Zhang He 張郃", in Junshi kexueyuan junshi baike yanjiubu 軍事科學院軍事百科研究部, ed. Junshi renwu baike quanshu 軍事人物百科全書 (Beijing: Zhonggong zhongyang dangxiao chubanshe), 507.
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Zhang Shunhui 張舜徽, ed. (1992). Sanguozhi cidian 三國志辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 453.
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