An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Zhou Chang 周昌

Sep 16, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhou Chang 周昌 (d. 192 BCE) was a high official of the early Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE).

He hailed from Pei 沛 (modern Peixian 沛縣, Jiangsu) and was a petty official in Sishui 泗水, the home town of Liu Bei 劉邦, the coming founder of the Han dynasty. When Liu Bei rose in rebellion against the Qin dynasty 秦 (221-206 BCE), Zhou Chang followed him in the conquest of the Qin capital Xianyang 咸陽 (modern Xianyang, Shaanxi). Liu Bang, made King of Han by the hegemonial lord Xiang Yu 項羽, appointed him Chamberlain for the royal insignia (zhongwei 中尉).

In 204, Zhou was promoted to Censor-in-chief (yushi dafu 御史大夫). When Liu Bang became emperor (Emperor Gaozu 漢高祖, r. 206/202-195 BCE), in 202, Zhou Chang was given the title of Marquis of Fenyin 汾陰侯. He was known as an upright person with a straight character. Emperor Gaozu appointed him counsellor to his beloved son Liu Ruyi 劉如意, prince of Zhao 趙. He knew Empress Lü's 呂后 (r. 188-180 BCE) hatread against Liu Ruyi and was convinced that Zhou Chang would be able to save him from the Empress' intrigues. After Emperor Gaozu's death, the Empress Dowager summoned Liu Ruyi to the court, but Zhou Chang suggested feigning sickness.

Yet the Empress Dowager's plan to kill Ruyi eventually succeeded. Zhou Chang thereupon retired and died soon.

Cang Xiuliang 倉修良, ed. (1996). Hanshu cidian 漢書辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 402.