Duan Pidi (fl. 312–321) was a Duan-Xianbei chieftain during the Jin dynasty (266–420) and Sixteen Kingdoms period. He was the brother of chieftain, Duan Jilujuan, and served as his general in Jin's war with the Han Zhao state. After Jilujuan made peace with Han in 313, Pidi led his branch of the tribe to continue fighting Han from Jicheng. Pidi became the most powerful Jin vassal in the north, but his decision to kill his ally, Liu Kun and a civil war with his cousin, Duan Mopei severely weakened him. In 319, he was forced to flee to another Jin vassal, Shao Xu. He was eventually captured by the Later Zhao in 321, and despite receiving favourable treatment from its ruler, Shi Le, he would later be executed in fear of that he would rebel.

Duan Pidi
Inspector of Youzhou (幽州刺史)
In office
MonarchEmperor Min of Jin/Emperor Yuan of Jin
Champion General (冠軍將軍)
In office
MonarchShi Le
Personal details
RelationsDuan Jilujuan (brother)
Duan Wenyang (brother)
Duan Shujun (brother)

Early life and careerEdit

Duan Pidi was a member of the Xianbei Duan clan of Liaoxi. His father, Duan Wuwuchen was the head of the clan between 303 and 311. At the start of the 4th century, the Duan clan allied with the Youzhou warlord, Wang Jun and played an important role in Wang's campaign against the Prince of Chengdu, Sima Ying, during the War of the Eight Princes. The Duan tribe and Wang Jun continued their association after the war, combining their efforts to stop the new and growing state of Han Zhao. Some time around 310, Pidi's elder brother, Duan Jilujuan, succeeded Wuwuchen as chieftain following his death.[1]

Duan Pidi participated during Jilujuan's attack on Xiangguo in 312, as part of Wang Jun's plan to divert the Han general, Shi Le, away from the rebelling city of Yuanxiang (苑鄕, in present-day Hebei and Beijing). The Duan forces fought Shi Le at Xiangguo but their star general, Pidi's cousin, Duan Mopei, was captured in battle. Despite being a prisoner, Mopei was treated with courtesy by Shi Le, which pleased Jilujuan. Because of this, the Duan tribe ceased their enmity with Shi Le and distanced themselves from Wang Jun.[2]

Wang Jun was eventually captured and executed by Shi Le in 314. After Wang's defeat, Shi Le appointed a man named Liu Han (劉翰) to be acting Inspector of Youzhou based in Jicheng. However, Liu Han instead fled to Duan Pidi, who he offered control over Jicheng. Pidi accepted on his own accord before occupying the city and submitting himself to Sima Rui, the paramount leader of Jin in the south.[3] For this, Sima Rui made Pidi Jin's new Inspector of Youzhou. Pidi also urged Shi Le's Administrator of Leling, Shao Xu, to submit to the Jin prince as well. Shao Xu did so, and Shi Le immediately responded by sending his army to besiege him. However, Pidi sent Duan Wenyang to reinforce Shao Xu, so Shi Le called off his attack.[4]

As Inspector of YouzhouEdit

Alliance with Liu KunEdit

In 316, Shi Le sent his nephew Shi Hu to attack the Administrator of Wei Commandery, Liu Yan (劉演). Pidi sent Wenyang to rescue Liu Yan, and while the commandery fell, Liu Yan was safely retrieved.[5] Later that year, the Inspector of Bingzhou, Liu Kun lost his province to Shi Le. Liu Kun was left with nowhere to go, so Pidi sent a letter to invite him over to his base. Liu Kun took what was left of his army to meet with Pidi and the two men quickly befriended each other. Forming a brotherly bond, Pidi and Liu Kun arranged their relatives to marry one another to further cement their friendship.[6]

The next year, Pidi and Liu Kun swore an oath of alliance by smearing their lips with blood. Afterwards, they sent their respective envoys to deliver a joint petition urging Sima Rui to claim the imperial title. Liu Kun chose his nephew Wen Jiao to deliver the petition, while Pidi chose his Chief Clerk of the Left, Rong Shao (榮卲). After their envoys reached the southern capital, Pidi proclaimed Liu Kun as Grand Commander. He also later tried to get Jilujuan into joining forces with him in a campaign against Shi Le. However, Duan Mopei advised Jilujuan against agreeing with Pidi, so Jilujuan did not respond, and Pidi had to cancel the campaign.[7]

Arrest and execution of Liu KunEdit

Jilujuan died in early 318 and was succeeded by his uncle, Duan Shefuchen. Pidi left Jicheng to attend his funeral but without his knowledge, Duan Mopei manipulated Shefuchen into believing that Pidi was about to usurp his power. At Zuobeiping, Shefuchen attacked Pidi but was then betrayed by Mopei who assassinated him while his and Pidi's forces were fighting. Mopei then took command of the assault and routed Pidi. During this, Mopei capturing Liu Kun's son Liu Qun (劉群), who was escorting Pidi to the funeral.[8]

Mopei treated Liu Qun well and considered supporting Liu Kun into becoming the new Inspector of Youzhou. He had Liu Qun write a letter to his father asking him to work as an agent within Pidi's camp, but his envoy was caught by Pidi's scouts along the way. Liu Kun knew nothing of the letter when Pidi confronted him with it. Pidi had no suspicion towards Liu Kun, and Liu Kun himself assured that he had no intentions to betray Pidi. Pidi let him off at first, but his younger brother, Duan Shujun (段叔軍), was able to get his brother to heavily reconsider his actions.[9]

Pidi quickly had Liu Kun arrested. Liu Kun's son, Liu Zun (劉遵), upon hearing his father's arrest, mounted a defence in his camp but was defeated by Pidi. Two of Liu Kun's generals, Pilü Song (辟閭嵩) and Han Ju (韓據), also planned to retaliate, but Pidi had the conspirators executed after their plot leaked. On 22 June, through the consent of Sima Rui's commander, Wang Dun, Pidi claimed that he had received an imperial edict to arrest Liu Kun and subsequently executed him along with his four sons and nephews via strangulation.[10]

Although Liu Kun had long helped Jin in attempting to restore its authority in the north, Sima Rui refused to punish Pidi and forbid anyone from mourning Liu Kun, as Rui and most of the court thought of Pidi as a powerful and valuable asset. Despite Sima Rui's leniency, Pidi had underestimated Liu Kun's popularity, and the breaking of his oath caused many of the Han Chinese and tribal people to lose their trust in Pidi.[11]

Alliance with Shao XuEdit

Fleeing to Shao XuEdit

Seeing that support for Pidi was declining, Duan Mopei took the opportunity to attack him. Pidi led his army away from battle and tried to flee to Shao Xu in Leling but was badly routed by Shi Le's general Shi Yue (石越; not to be confused with the Former Qin general of the same name, Shi Yue) at Mount Yan. Pidi retreated back to Jicheng while Mopei declared himself the new Inspector of Youzhou. Pidi remained in his city for a year, but by 319, his situation had worsened. Shi Le's general Kong Chang had taken all of Youzhou's commanderies while most of Pidi's soldiers abandoned him due to depleting rations. Pidi planned to escape through Shanggu but the Prince of Dai, Tuoba Yulü, was waiting to attack him there. Desperate, Pidi abandoned his wife and children and made another attempt to flee to Shao Xu, this time successfully doing so.[12]

Defense of YanciEdit

In 320, Pidi's army was once again harassed by Mopei. Pidi pleaded to Shao Xu to assist him in getting revenge on Mopei, so the two men headed out and routed Mopei. Pidi followed up his victory by attacking Jicheng together with Duan Wenyang to reclaim his old base. This proved a fatal mistake as Shao Xu was left exposed to Shi Le. Shi Hu attacked Yanci (厭次, around present-day Dezhou, Shandong) and captured Shao Xu. News of Shao Xu's defeat reached Pidi, causing him to rush back to save the city. Duan Wenyang helped the army fight their way back into the city, where Pidi commanded the defence together with Shao Xu's family. In the middle of the year, Wenyang defeated Kong Chang, but it was not enough to completely repel the Zhao army.[13]

Fighting continued into the next year in 321. Shi Hu attacked Pidi at Yanci again, while Kong Chang occupied the inner cities. Duan Wenyang volunteered himself to lead a daring charge with his cavalries to drive back the invaders. Wenyang valiantly fought and killed dozens of Shi Hu's soldiers. Supposedly, even after his horse had collapsed, Wenyang fought back with his spear, and when his spear snapped, he fought with his blade. This lasted for a day but Wenyang was eventually captured Shi Hu. His capture lowered the morale of the city's defenders.[14]

Defeat and deathEdit

Faced with imminent defeat, Pidi planned to flee alone to the south to serve Sima Rui. However, Shao Xu's brother, Shao Ji (邵樂) detained him and handed over Sima Rui's envoy, Wang Ying (王英) to Shi Hu. Shortly after, Shao Ji and his sons bound themselves to coffins and went out to surrender.[15] When Pidi met with Shi Hu, he said to him, "I have received the favor of Jin, and my ambition was to destroy you. It is unfortunate that things have come to this, but I cannot respect you." Shi Le and Shi Hu had always respected Pidi, so much so that after his capture, Shi Hu lifted him up in the air and had him saluted as a gesture of companionship. Pidi was made Champion General, while Wenyang was made General of the Household Gentlemen of the Left.[16]

Despite Shi Le's favour, Pidi remained loyal to Jin. Pidi often dressed himself in clothing used in the Jin court and held the imperial staff of authority that Sima Rui gave him. Shi Le was worried that Pidi's attitude foreboded a future revolt. After some time, Shi Le had Pidi put to death along with Wenyang and Shao Xu.[17]


  1. ^ (就六眷與弟匹磾、從弟末波等率五萬餘騎圍石勒於襄國。) Book of Northern Wei, Volume 103
  2. ^ (王浚使棗嵩督諸軍屯易水,召段疾陸眷,欲與之共擊石勒,疾陸眷不至。浚怒,以重幣賂拓跋猗盧,幷檄慕容廆等共討疾陸眷。猗盧遣右賢王六脩將兵會之,爲疾陸眷所敗。廆遣慕容翰攻段氏,取徒河、新城,至陽樂,聞六脩敗而還,翰因留鎭徒河,壁青山。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 88
  3. ^ (劉翰不欲從石勒,乃歸段匹磾,匹磾遂據薊城。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 89
  4. ^ (會段匹磾以書邀續同歸左丞相睿,續從之。其人皆曰:「今棄勒歸匹磾,其如乂何?」續泣曰:「我豈得顧子而爲叛臣哉!」殺異議者數人。勒聞之,殺乂。續遣劉胤使江東,睿以胤爲參軍,以續爲平原太守。石勒遣兵圍續,匹磾使其弟文鴦救之,勒引去。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 89
  5. ^ (石勒使石虎攻劉演于廩丘,幽州刺史段匹磾使其弟文鴦救之;虎拔廩丘,演奔文鴦軍,虎獲演弟啓以歸。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 89
  6. ^ (琨不從,悉發其眾,命澹領步騎二萬爲前驅,琨自爲後繼。勒先據險要,設伏以擊澹,大敗之,一軍皆沒,並土震駭。尋又炎旱,琨窮蹙不能復守。幽州刺史鮮卑段匹磾數遣信要琨,欲與同獎王室。琨由是率眾赴之,從飛狐人薊。匹磾見之,甚相崇重,與琨結婚,約爲兄弟。) Book of Jin,Volume 62
  7. ^ (建武初,匹磾推劉琨為大都督,結盟討勒,並檄涉復辰、疾陸眷、末杯等三面俱集襄國,琨、匹磾進屯固安,以候眾軍。勒懼,遣間使厚賂末杯。然末杯既思報其舊恩,且因匹磾在外,欲襲奪其國,乃間匹磾於涉復辰、疾陸眷曰:「以父兄而從子弟邪?雖一旦有功,匹磾獨收之矣。」涉復辰等以為然,引軍而還。匹磾亦止。) Book of Jin, Volume 63
  8. ^ (就六眷死,其子幼弱,匹磾與劉琨世子羣奔喪。匹磾陰卷甲而往,欲殺其從叔羽鱗及末波而奪其國。末波等知之,遣軍逆擊,匹磾、劉羣為末波所獲。匹磾走還薊。) Book of Northern Wei, Volume 103
  9. ^ (匹磾奔其兄喪,琨遣世子群送之,而末波率眾要擊匹磾而敗走之,群爲末波所得。末波厚禮之,許以琨爲幽州刺史,共結盟而襲匹磾,密遣使齎群書請琨爲內應,而爲匹磾邏騎所得。時琨別屯故征北府小城,不之知也。因來見匹磾,匹磾以群書示琨曰:「意亦不疑公,是以白公耳。」琨曰:「與公同盟,志獎王室,仰憑威力,庶雪國家之恥。若兒書密達,亦終不以一子之故負公忘義也。」匹磾雅重琨,初無害琨志,將聽還屯。其中弟叔軍好學有智謀,爲匹磾所信,謂匹磾曰:「吾胡夷耳,所以能服晉人者,畏吾眾也。今我骨肉構禍,是其良圖之日,若有奉琨以起,吾族盡矣。」匹磾遂留琨。琨之庶長子遵懼誅,與琨左長史楊橋、并州治中如綏閉門自守。匹磾諭之不得,因縱兵攻之。琨將龍季猛迫於乏食,遂斬橋、綏而降。) Book of Jin, Volume 62
  10. ^ (然琨既忠於晉室,素有重望,被拘經月,遠近憤歎。匹磾所署代郡太守辟閭嵩,與琨所署雁門太守王據、後將軍韓據連謀,密作攻具,欲以襲匹磾。而韓據女爲匹磾兒妾,聞其謀而告之匹磾,於是執王據、辟閭嵩及其徒黨悉誅之。會王敦密使匹磾殺琨,匹磾又懼眾反己,遂稱有詔收琨。初,琨聞敦使到,謂其子曰:「處仲使來而不我告,是殺我也。死生有命,但恨仇恥不雪,無以下見二親耳。」因歔欷不能自勝。匹磾遂縊之,時年四十八。子侄四人俱被害。朝廷以匹磾尚強,當爲國討石勒,不舉琨哀。) Book of Jin, Volume 62
  11. ^ (悅,林之曾孫也。朝廷以匹磾尚強,冀其能平河朔,乃不爲琨舉哀。溫嶠表「琨盡忠帝室,家破身亡,宜在褒恤;」廬諶、崔悅因末柸使者,亦上表爲琨訟冤。後數歲,乃贈琨太尉、侍中,諡曰愍。於是夷、晉以琨死,皆不附匹磾。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 90
  12. ^ (末柸遣其弟攻匹磾,匹磾帥其衆數千將奔邵續,勒將石越邀之於鹽山,大敗之,匹磾復還保薊。末柸自稱幽州刺史。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 91
  13. ^ (六月,後趙孔萇攻段匹磾,恃勝而不設備,段文鴦襲擊,大破之。) Book of Jin, Volume 91
  14. ^ (又令文鴦北討末杯弟于薊城,及還,去城八十里,聞續已沒,眾懼而散,復為石季龍所遮,文鴦以其親兵數百人力戰破之,始得入城。季龍復抄城下,文鴦登城臨見,欲出擊之,匹磾不許。文鴦曰:「我以勇聞,故百姓杖我。見人被略而不救,非丈夫也。令眾失望,誰復為我致死乎!」遂將壯士數十騎出戰,殺胡甚多。遇馬乏,伏不能起。季龍呼曰:「大兄與我俱是戎狄,久望共同。天不違願,今日相見,何故復戰?請釋杖。」文鴦罵曰:「汝為寇虐,久應合死,吾兄不用吾計,故令汝得至此,吾寧死,不為汝擒。」遂下馬苦戰,槊折,執刀力戰不已。季龍軍四面解馬羅披自鄣,前捉文鴦。文鴦戰自辰至申,力極而後被執。城內大懼。) Book of Jin, Volume 63
  15. ^ (匹磾欲單騎歸朝,續弟樂安內史洎協兵,不許,洎復欲執臺使王英送于季龍,匹磾正色責之曰:「卿不能遵兄之志,逼吾不得歸朝,亦以甚矣,復欲執天子使者,我雖胡素,所未聞也。」) Book of Jin, Volume 63
  16. ^ (遂渡黃河南。匹磾著朝服,持節,賓從出見季龍曰:「我受國恩,志在滅汝。不幸吾國自亂,以至於此。既不能死,又不能為汝敬也。」勒及季龍素與匹磾結為兄弟,季龍起而拜之。) Book of Jin, Volume 63
  17. ^ (勒及季龍素與匹磾結為兄弟,季龍起而拜之。匹磾到襄國,又不為勒禮,常著朝服,持晉節。經年,國中謀推匹磾為主,事露,被害。文鴦亦遇鴆而死,惟末波存焉。及死,弟牙立。牙死,其後從祖就陸眷之孫遼立。) Book of Jin, Volume 63