Feng Yi (Former Yan)

Feng Yi (died 365), courtesy name Zizhuan, was a Chinese official of Former Yan during the Sixteen Kingdoms period. After his grandfather introduced him to Murong Hui in 310, Feng Yi would go on to be one of the few officials to serve four generations of Murong Hui's lineage. Feng distinguished himself during Murong Huang's tenure as Duke of Liaodong, consecutively defeating the rival Duan and Yuwen Xianbei clans, and later participating in the Yan-Wei War, in which he conquered Bohai and helped capture Ran Min. For his accomplishments, he was given the important positions of Chancellor of the State and subsequently Grand Commandant before dying in 365.

Feng Yi
Marshal of Left (左司馬)
In office
335 (335)–? (?)
MonarchMurong Huang
Chief Clerk Of The Left to the Grand General Who Guards The Army (鎮軍左長史)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchMurong Huang
Chancellor of State (國相)
In office
337 (337)–? (?)
MonarchMurong Huang/Murong Jun
General of the Five Elements (五材將軍)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchMurong Jun
Administrator of Hejian (河間太守)
In office
350 (350)–? (?)
MonarchMurong Jun
Grand Commandant (太尉)
In office
353 (353)–365 (365)
MonarchMurong Jun/Murong Wei
Personal details
Hengshui, Hebei
RelationsFeng Shi (grandfather)
Feng Yu (brother)
Feng Fang (brother)
Feng Fu (nephew)
ChildrenFeng Qi
Feng Quàn
  • Feng Quān (father)
Courtesy nameZizhuan (子專)
PeerageDuke of Wuping (武平公)
Posthumous nameDuke Kuang (匡公)

Service under Murong HuiEdit

Feng Yi's family originated from Tiao County (蓨縣, in modern Hengshui, Hebei) in Bohai Commandery. His father was Feng Quan (封悛), and his grandfather was Feng Shi (封釋), both who served as Jin officials. Feng Shi fell ill in 310, so he sent Feng Yi to meet with the Grand Chanyu of the Xianbei, Murong Hui, rising power in Liaodong but also a loyal vassal of Jin. Hui was very impressed by Feng Yi through a conversation between the two and made Feng Yi a minor commander under him.[1]

In 313, Feng Yi and his brother, Feng Yu (封裕) were one of the few people that Murong Hui entrusted in handling confidential affairs. Murong Hui also made Feng Yi an Army Libationer, and Feng would remain in these roles for more than 20 years.[2]

Service under Murong HuangEdit

Murong Hui died in 333 and was succeeded by his heir Murong Huang. Shortly after, Huang's younger brothers, Murong Zhao (慕容昭) and Murong Ren rebelled against him. After killing Zhao, Huang ordered Feng Yi to march to Liaodong to pacify the region. However, the other generals that Huang sent to defeat Ren were either captured, defeated, or surrendered to him. The official, Sun Ji (孫機) also ceded Xiangping (襄平, in modern Liaoyang, Liaoning) over to Ren. Feng Yi was unable to enter the region, so he retreated while Ren consolidated control over the peninsula.

Battles with the Duan and Yuwen clanEdit

The following year in 334, Feng Yi campaigned against the Xianbei leader, Mudi (木堤) at Bailang (白狼; near present-day Lingyuan, Liaoning) and killed him. Later that year, the leader of the Duan tribe, Duan Liao, sent his younger brother Duan Lan to attack Liucheng (柳城; southwest of present-day Chaoyang, Liaoning). Although their army was well-equipped, they were unable to get past Liucheng's defences. Murong Huang sent Murong Han (慕容汗; not to be confused with his more notable brother, Murong Han (慕容翰)) and Feng Yi to reinforce the city. Han made the rash decision to rush into battle, so Feng Yi advised him to stop, but Han ignored him. As a result, Han was badly defeated by Duan Lan at Niuwei Valley (牛尾谷; north of Liucheng). However, Feng Yi was able to maintain a solid formation and minimize his own losses.

In 335, Feng Yi was made Murong Huang's Marshal of the Right. He was then sent to surprise attack one of the Yuwen tribe's leader, Yuwen Sheyi (宇文涉奕). Feng Yi captured many of Sheyi's soldiers before returning. Sheyi responded by sending his light cavalry against Feng Yi, but Feng defeated them at the Hun River.

Despite his early setbacks, Murong Huang was able to defeat and execute Murong Ren in early 336. However, he was still in conflict with the Duan and Yuwen tribes. In the summer of that year, Duan Lan marched his troops once more to Liucheng while the Yuwen chieftain, Yuwen Yidougui attacked Anjin (安晉) to support him. Huang marched to Liucheng and then to Anjin, and in both cases, the enemies retreated without a fight. Feng Yi pursued and heavily routed them while seizing their equipment and grains. Huang suspected that his enemies were not content with their results and would return soon, so he had Feng Yi prepare an ambush at Mount Madou (馬兜山) in Liucheng. Surely enough, Duan Liao led his troops to attack Liucheng again but Feng Yi ambushed him from two sides and defeated him, even killing his general Rong Bobao (榮伯保).[3]

Soon, Feng Yi launched a successful campaign against the Yuwen tribe. In 337, Murong Huang made Feng Yi his Chief Clerk. In November, Feng Yi and a number of ministers pushed Murong Huang to claim the title of Prince of Yan. Huang agreed, and on the 23 November, he declared himself Prince of Yan, and appointed Feng Yi the Chancellor of the State. Feng was also given the title of Duke of Wuping.[4]

Battle of JichengEdit

In 338, the ruler of Later Zhao, Shi Hu, attacked Yan and placed its capital Jicheng (棘城, in modern Jinzhou, Liaoning) under siege following the breakdown of their alliance against the Duan tribe. Huang was frightened and wanted to flee but was persuaded by his general Muyu Gen not to. He was still unsure of victory, however, so he consulted Feng Yi. Feng told him that Shi Hu would not last long. He pointed out that the campaign had been costly for Shi Hu and that the Zhao army were already worn down due to the long distance that they had travelled. He was confident that strife will grow in a matter of days within Shi Hu's camp, so the best course of action was to wait. Huang was assured by this and remained in Jicheng.[5] After days of fierce fighting, the Zhao soldiers eventually retreated, Huang's son Murong Ke pursued and dealt them a heavy defeat.

Service under Murong Jun and Murong WeiEdit

Advice to Murong JunEdit

In 348, Murong Jun inherited the Prince of Yan following the death of Murong Huang. In 349, Later Zhao descended into civil war, which prompted many of Jun's ministers to call for an invasion. Jun was reluctant at first, as he was still in a state of mourning, but his brother Murong Ba, was also insistent on invading Zhao. Murong Jun consulted with Feng Yi over the matter, in which Feng supported the invasion and expressed confidence in Yan's military capability and its ability to win support from the people living in Zhao.[6] After further consultation with Huang Hong (黃泓) and Muyu Gen, Jun was finally convinced. He amassed an army of roughly 200,000 strong and launched his conquest of the Central Plains early the following year. Although Murong Jun had initially sought out against Later Zhao, it became apparent that his real challenge to him would actually be Zhao's break-away state, Ran Wei, which was established by Ran Min right before his invasion.

Capturing BohaiEdit

After capturing Zhangwu (章武; in modern-day Pingshu, Hebei) and Hejian in 350, Murong Jun appointed Feng Yi to serve as Administrator of Hejian. In September that year, Murong Jun sent Feng Yi and Gao Kai (高開) to subjugate Wei's portion of Bohai commandery, which was defended by its Administrator, Pang Yue (逄約).[7] As natives of Bohai, Feng and Pang had known each other when they were younger. After reaching Pang Yue's fortress, Feng Yi sent a messenger to Pang, stating his interest to converse as old friends. Pang trusted Feng and agreed to the proposal. The two then met outside on horseback and dismissed their escort riders.

After a friendly conversation between the two, Feng revealed his thoughts to Pang, denouncing Wei and praising Yan. Feng offered Pang to switch sides, which left Pang visibly disappointed but unable to respond. Prior to this, Feng Yi had chosen a strong man named Zhang An (張安) as one of his escorts. Following the instructions given to him, as soon as Pang's expression changed, Zhang quickly rushed forward and snatched the reins of Pang Yue's horse. Zhang rode back to Feng Yi's camp with Pang pulled behind him. After Gao Kai arrived at Bohai, Pang's allies, Liu Zhun (劉准) and Feng Fang (封放; a younger cousin of Feng Yi) surrendered without a fight. Because he had fallen for Feng Yi's ploy, Murong Jun renamed Pang Yue to Pang Diao (逄釣, meaning 'fishhook').[8]

Fall of Ran WeiEdit

On May 17, 352, Feng Yi and Murong Ke attacked Ran Min and fought him at Ran Wei's Changlin Terrace (昌廉臺; west of modern-day Wuji County, Hebei). They defeated and captured him in battle, before sending him to Murong Jun (Jun later ordered his execution).[9] In September, Wei's general in Lukou (魯口; in present-day Raoyang County, Hebei), Wang Wu (王午), declared himself King of Anguo, so Feng Yi, Murong Ke and Yang Wu marched against him. They later retreated after Wang Wu handed over Ran Min's son, Ran Cao (冉操) to them. A few days later, Ran Min's successor, his son Ran Zhi, surrendered Ye and himself to Yan, thus ending the Yan-Wei War.

Later career and deathEdit

At the end of 352, Feng Yi, along with 210 Yan officials, presented a petition urging Murong Jun to claim the title of Emperor, which he agreed to. Feng and 55 other officials presented Jun with the imperial seals of office in December, and on 3 January, 353, Murong Jun began handing out imperial offices, making Feng Yi his Grand Commandant. The next day, Murong Jun became Emperor and proclaimed Yan's independence from the Jin dynasty.[10]

In 358, military drafts and levies became increasingly common. Too many ministers and officers were sending their agents out to handle the drafting. The roads and streets were filled with agents, and there was a lot of trouble in trying to accommodate for all of them in counties and commanderies. Because of this, Feng Yi told Murong Jun to stop officials from sending their agents to carry out drafts and levies and instead let the local offices to handle these issues. Feng Yi's advice was taken.[11]

Murong Jun's son, Murong Wei, ascended the throne after his father died in 360. Feng continued to serve as Grand Commandant until his death on 15 June, 365. He was posthumously named Duke Kuang and his position of Grand Commandant was succeeded by Yang Wu.


  1. ^ (封釋疾病,屬其孫奕於廆。釋卒,廆召奕與語,說之,曰︰「奇士也!」補小都督。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 87
  2. ^ (未幾, 復以封奕為軍諮祭酒軍, 國機要悉以委之。) Spring and Autumn Annals of the Sixteen Kingdoms, Volume 31
  3. ^ (段遼遣將李詠夜襲武興,遇雨,引還,都尉張萌追擊,擒詠。段蘭擁眾數萬屯於曲水亭,將攻柳城,宇文歸入寇安晉,為蘭聲援。皝以步騎五萬擊之,師次柳城,蘭、歸皆遁。遣封弈率輕騎追擊,敗之,收其軍實,館穀二旬而還。謂諸將曰:「二虜恥無功而歸,必復重至,宜於柳城左右設伏以待之。」遣封弈率騎潛于馬兒山諸道。俄而遼騎果至,弈夾擊,大敗之,斬其將榮保。) Book of Jin, Volume 109
  4. ^ (封弈等以皝任重位輕,宜稱燕王,皝於是以咸康三年僭即王位,赦其境內。以封弈為國相,韓壽為司馬,裴開、陽騖、王寓、李洪、杜群、宋該、劉瞻、石琮、皇甫真、陽協、宋晃、平熙、張泓等並為列卿將帥。起文昌殿,乘金根車,駕六馬,出入稱警蹕。以其妻段氏為王后,世子俊為太子,皆如魏武、晉文輔政故事。) Book of Jin, 109
  5. ^ (皝問計於封弈,對曰:「石虎凶虐已甚,民神共疾,禍敗之至,其何日之有!今空國遠來,攻守勢異,戎馬雖強,無能為患;頓兵積日,釁隙自生,但堅守以俟之耳。」) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 96
  6. ^ (俊猶豫未决,以問五材將軍封弈,對曰:「用兵之道,敵强則用智,敵弱則用勢。是故以大吞 小,猶狼之食豚也;以治易亂,猶日之消雪也。大王自上世以來,積德累仁,兵强士練。石虎極其殘暴,死未瞑目,子孫爭國,上下乖亂。中國之民,墜于塗炭,廷 頸企踵以待振拔,大王若揚兵南邁,先取薊城,次指鄴都,宣耀威德,懷撫遺民,彼孰不扶老提幼以迎大王?凶黨將望旗冰碎,安能爲害乎!」) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 98
  7. ^ (渤海人逄約因趙亂,擁眾數千家附於魏,魏以約為渤海太守。故太守劉准,隗之兄子也,土豪封放,弈之從弟也;別聚眾自守。閔以准為幽州刺史,與約中分渤海。燕王俊使封弈討約,使昌黎太守高開討准、放。開,瞻之子也。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 99
  8. ^ (弈引兵直抵約壘,遣人謂約曰:「相與鄉里,隔絕日久,會遇甚難。時事利害,人各有心,非所論也。願單出一相見,以寫佇結之情。」約素信重弈,即出,見弈於門外。各屏騎卒,單馬交語。弈與論敘平生畢,因說之曰:「與君累世同鄉,情相愛重,誠欲君享祚無窮;今既獲展奉,不可不盡所懷。冉閔乘石氏之亂,奄有成資,是宜天下服其強矣,而禍亂方始,固知天命不可力爭也。奕世載德,奉義討亂,所征無敵。今已都薊,南臨趙、魏,遠近之民,襁負歸之。民厭荼毒,鹹思有道。冉閔之亡,匪朝伊夕,成敗之形,昭然易見。且燕王肇開王業,虛心賢俊,君能翻然改圖,則功參絳、灌,慶流苗裔,孰與為亡國將,守孤城以待必至之禍哉!」約聞之,悵然不言。弈給使張安,有勇力;弈豫戒之,俟約氣下,安突前持其馬鞚,因挾之而馳。至營,弈與坐,謂曰:「君計不能自決,故相為決之,非欲取君以邀功,乃欲全君以安民也。」 ) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 99
  9. ^ (四月,遣輔國恪、相國奕討冉閔,戰于魏昌廉臺,閔師大敗,擒送之。) Spring and Autumn Annals of the Sixteen Kingdoms, Volume 3
  10. ^ (輔國奕等二百一十人勸稱尊號、令曰:「非常之事,匪寡德所宜聞也。」...十月,輔國恪等五百五人奉皇帝璽。十一月,僭即皇帝位於正陽前殿,大赦改年,時晉遣使詣雋,謂之曰:「還白汝天子,我承人乏,為中國所推,已為帝矣。」) Spring and Autumn Annals of the Sixteen Kingdoms, Volume 3
  11. ^ (时燕调发繁数,官司各遣使者,道路旁午,郡县苦之。太尉、领中书监封弈请「自今非军期严急,不得遣使,自馀赋发皆责成州郡,其群司所遣弹督先在外者,一切摄还。」俊从之。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 100