An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Zhonghang Xianbo 中行獻伯 Xun Yan 荀偃

Nov 1, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Xun Yan 荀偃 (died 554), also called Zhonghang Yan 中行偃, posthumous title Zhonghang Xianbo 中行獻伯 or Xun Xianbo 荀獻伯, was a high minister in the state of Jin 晉 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE).

He was a son of Earl An of Zhonghang 中行安伯 (Xun You 荀游) and a grandson of Xun Linfu 荀林父, and therefore a member of the house of Zhonghang 中行.

Xun Yan was made assistant commander of the Supreme Army (shangjun zuo 上軍佐) during the reign of Duke Li 晉厲公 (r. 581-573). At that time, the most powerful noble families in Jin were the Luan 欒, the Xi 郤, and the Zhonghang. Duke Li wanted to get rid of these noble families in order to restore the suzerainty of the ducal house of Jin.

The three most important men of the family Xi (called the "Three Xi" 三郤), Xi Qi 郤錡, Xi Chou 郤犨 and Xi Zhi 郤至 were successfully assassinated, and Luan Shu 欒書 and Xun Yan were impeded to leave the court.

Xun Yan thereupon decided to take action. The two men killed Duke Li and enthroned his distant relative Prince Zhou 周 (known as Duke Dao 晉悼公, r. 573-558) who had dwelled at the court of the king of Zhou 周 in Luoyi 洛邑 (modern Luoyang 洛陽, Henan).

Xiong Tieji 熊鐵基, Yang Youli 楊有禮, ed. (1994), Zhongguo diwang zaixiang cidian 中國帝王宰相辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 403.