Huangfu Song

Huangfu Song[a] (died c. April 195[1]), courtesy name Yizhen, was a military general who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty of China. He is best known for helping to suppress the Yellow Turban Rebellion and Liang Province Rebellion. He was one of three imperial commanders when the Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out, along with Zhu Jun and Lu Zhi. He was known to be a modest and generous person. Lu Zhi was removed from command after the eunuch Zuo Feng (左豐) made false accusations against him; Lu Zhi had refused to bribe Zuo Feng.[2] Huangfu Song, who took over command of the imperial troops from Lu Zhi, continued to use Lu as a strategist and reported his contributions to the imperial court. Thus, in the same year, Lu Zhi regained his post as Master of Writing (尚书).[3]

Huangfu Song
Minister of Ceremonies (太常)
In office
192 (192)–195 (195)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Grand Commandant (太尉)
In office
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
General of Chariots and Cavalry (車騎將軍)
In office
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
General of the Left (左將軍)
In office
187 (187)–189 (189)
MonarchsEmperor Ling of Han /
Emperor Xian of Han
Personal details
Pengyang County, Ningxia
  • Huangfu Jianshou
  • Huangfu Shuxian
  • She Yuan's wife
  • Huangfu Jie (father)
Courtesy nameYizhen (義真)
PeerageMarquis of a Chief District


Huangfu Song was the nephew of Huangfu Gui, a military general; his father Huangfu Jie (Huangfu Gui's elder brother) was the Administrator of Yanmen Commandery.[4] He was eventually nominated as a xiaolian and maocai. Chen Fan and Dou Wu, both important imperial officials, tried to nominate Huangfu Song as an official, but Huangfu rejected their nominations.[5]

During the Yellow Turban rebellion, Huangfu was initially sent to defeat the Yellow Turban rebels in Yingchuan, along with Zhu Jun.[6] After their success at Yingchuan, Huangfu and Zhu were sent to quell the rebels in Runan and Chen Commanderies, and were also successful.[7] Later, Zhang Bao was defeated and killed by imperial forces led by Huangfu Song and Guo Dian (郭典) at Xiaquyang County (下曲陽縣; west of present-day Jinzhou, Hebei),[8] while Zhang Liang also met his end at the hands of imperial forces led by Huangfu Song at Guangzong County (廣宗縣; southeast of present-day Guangzong County, Hebei).[9]

After the quelling of the Yellow Turban rebellion, Emperor Ling changed the era name to Zhongping. Huangfu Song recommended that one year's worth of taxes from Ji province be used as assistance for refugees who had been displaced by the rebellion; Emperor Ling agreed. The people chanted, "China is in chaos; cities become rubble. Mothers cannot protect their children, while wives lose their husbands. It is because of Huangfu that we are able to live in peace."[10]

In 188,[11] Huangfu Song was sent to lift the siege of Chencang, together with Dong Zhuo; Chencang had been besieged by Wang Guo (王国).[12] In the process, Dong had several tactical and strategic disagreements with Huangfu; after Huangfu managed to achieve victory despite Dong's disagreements (resulting in Wang Guo's death), Dong became resentful and fearful of Huangfu.[13]

In 189, Dong Zhuo was made Governor of Bing Province, and was asked to hand troops under his command to Huangfu Song; Dong refused to comply. At the time, Huangfu Song's nephew Huangfu Li (皇甫郦) advised him, "The dynasty has lost its ability to govern and China is hanging by a thread. Only Your Excellency (Huangfu Song) and Dong Zhuo can bring stability to the realm. Now, there is bad blood between the two of you, with no possibility of co-existence. Dong Zhuo is resisting orders by refusing to hand over his troops. He is harbouring wickedness by delaying his advance and claiming that there is chaos in the capital. As he is brutal and heartless, his troops are not loyal to him. Your Excellency, as grand marshal, should attack Dong Zhuo. In this way, you can show your loyalty and righteousness, as well as remove a great threat to the state. This was what Duke Huan of Qi and Duke Wen of Jin did in the past." Huangfu Song replied, "Although it is a crime to disobey orders, it is also wrong to kill someone arbitrarily. Let us report this to the imperial court and let the court decide." After Huangfu's report reached Emperor Xian, the young emperor showed it to Dong Zhuo, increasing his resentment of Huangfu.[14]

In 190,[15] Dong Zhuo, now in control of the imperial court, intended to kill Huangfu Song, using the pretext of giving him a new appointment to summon him to Luoyang. As Huangfu was about to depart, Liang Yan (梁衍) advised him, "Now, the Han dynasty is weak and eunuchs had caused chaos in court. Although Dong Zhuo has killed them, he is not loyal to the state. He has pillaged the capital, and deposed and crowned emperors at will. Today, he has summoned Your Excellency. In the worst case scenario, Your Excellency will be in great peril. At the very least, Your Excellency will be trapped and humiliated. Now, Dong Zhuo is at Luoyang, while the emperor is in the west. Your Excellency should use 30,000 elite troops to welcome the emperor, while declaring your intent to attack Dong Zhuo. You should then spread this intent throughout the country, and recruit troops and officers. With the Yuans closing in from his east and Your Excellency closing in from his west, Dong Zhuo can be captured." Huangfu ignored Liang Yan's advice and continued his journey to Luoyang.[16]

Huangfu Song's son Huangfu Jianshou was on good terms with Dong Zhuo. After knowing of Dong Zhuo's plans for his father, Jianshou hurried from Chang'an to Luoyang to meet Dong; Dong set a banquet to welcome him. Jianshou gave an emotional speech at the banquet, moving those present; even Dong Zhuo stood up, took Jianshou's hand and had Jianshou sit by his side.[17]

Huangfu Song was made Grand Commandant c.September 192, but was relieved of the position c.February 193.[18] He passed away due to illness as Li Jue and Guo Si began their civil war.[19]

In Romance of the Three KingdomsEdit

In the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Huangfu Song was involved in Wang Yun's plot in getting rid of Dong Zhuo, and led the imperial forces to capture Dong Zhuo's family members and remnants in the capital.[20]

Children and descendantsEdit

Huangfu Song was recorded to have at least 2 sons: Huangfu Jianshou and Huangfu Shuxian. Huangfu Shuxian is the grandfather of Huangfu Mi.[21] He also had a daughter who later became She Yuan's wife.[22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Chinese: 皇甫嵩 pronounced [xuǎŋfùsʊ́ŋ] in Mandarin


  1. ^ Volume 61 of Zizhi Tongjian recorded that Li Jue and Guo Si took their respective hostages on the bingyin day of the 3rd month of the 2nd year of the Xingping era of Liu Xie's reign. This corresponds to 22 Apr 195 on the Julian calendar. As this event marks the beginning of the civil war between Li Jue and Guo Si, Huangfu Song probably died in April 195.
  2. ^ (帝遣小黄门左丰诣军观贼形埶,或劝植以赂送丰,植不肯。丰还言于帝曰:“广宗贼易破耳。卢中郎固垒息军,以待天诛。”帝怒,遂槛车征植,减死罪一等。) Houhanshu, vol.64
  3. ^ (及车骑将车皇甫嵩讨平黄巾,盛称植行师方略,嵩皆资用规谋,济成其功。以其年复为尚书。) Houhanshu, vol.64
  4. ^ (度辽将军规之兄子也。父节,雁门太守。) Houhanshu, vol.71
  5. ^ (初举孝廉、茂才。太尉陈蕃、大将军窦武连辟,并不到。) Houhanshu, vol. 71
  6. ^ (嵩、俊各统一军,共讨颖川黄巾。) Houhanshu vol.71
  7. ^ (嵩、俊乘胜进讨汝南、陈国黄巾,追波才于阳翟,击彭脱于西华,并破之。馀贼降散,三郡悉平。) Houhanshu vol.71
  8. ^ (嵩復與鉅鹿太守馮翊郭典攻角弟寶於下曲陽,又斬之。) Houhanshu vol. 71.
  9. ^ (嵩與角弟梁戰於廣宗。梁眾精勇,嵩不能剋。明日,乃閉營休士,以觀其變。知賊意稍懈,乃潛夜勒兵,雞鳴馳赴其陳,戰至晡時,大破之,斬梁,獲首三萬級,赴河死者五萬許人,焚燒車重三萬餘兩,悉虜其婦子,繫獲甚眾。) Houhanshu vol. 71.
  10. ^ (以黄巾既平,故改年为中平。嵩奏请冀州一年田租,以赡饥民,帝从之。百姓歌曰:“天下大乱兮市为墟,母不保子兮妻失夫,赖得皇甫兮复安居。”) Houhanshu vol.71
  11. ^ 5th year of the Zhongping era
  12. ^ (贼王国围陈仓,复拜嵩为左将军,督前将军董卓,各率二万人拒之。) Houhanshu, vol.71.
  13. ^ (国走而死。卓大笾恨,由是忌嵩。) Houhanshu, vol.71. Huangfu Song's biography in the same volume recorded some of these disagreements.
  14. ^ (明年,卓拜为并州牧,诏使以兵委嵩,卓不从。嵩从子郦时在军中,说嵩曰:“本朝失政,天下倒悬,能安危定倾者,唯大人与董卓耳。今怨隙已结,埶不俱存。卓被诏委兵,而上书自请,此逆命也。又以京师昏乱,踌躇不进,此怀奸也。且其凶戾无亲,将士不附。大人今为元帅,杖国威以讨之,上显忠义,下除凶害,此桓文之事也。”嵩曰:“专命虽罪,专诛亦有责也。不如显奏其事,使朝廷裁之。于是上书以闻。帝让卓,卓又增怨于嵩。) Houhanshu, vol.71
  15. ^ 1st year of the Chuping era
  16. ^ (初平元年,乃征嵩为城门校尉,因欲杀之。嵩将行,长史梁衍说曰:“汉室微弱,阉竖乱朝,董卓虽诛之,而不能尽忠于国,遂复寇掠京邑,废立从意。今征将军,大则危祸,小则困辱。今卓在洛阳,天子来西,以将军之众,精兵三万,迎接至尊,奉令讨逆,发命海内,征兵腢帅,袁氏逼其东,将军迫其西,此成禽也。”嵩不从,遂就征。) Houhanshu, vol.71
  17. ^ (嵩子坚寿与卓素善,自长安亡走洛阳,归投于卓。卓方置酒欢会,坚寿直前质让,责以大义,叩头流涕。坐者感动,皆离席请之。卓乃起,牵与共坐。) Houhanshu, vol.71
  18. ^ According to Liu Xie's biography in Book of the Later Han, Huangfu Song was made Grand Commandant in the 8th month of the 3rd year of the Chuping era of his reign, and was relieved of the post in the 12th month of the same year. The two months correspond to 26 Aug to 24 Sep 192 and 21 Jan to 18 Feb 193 in the Julian calendar. ([初平三年]八月,...车骑将军皇甫嵩为太尉。....冬十二月,太尉皇甫嵩免...) Houhanshu , vol.09
  19. ^ (寻李傕作乱,嵩亦病卒.) Houhanshu vol.71
  20. ^ Sanguo Yanyi ch. 9.
  21. ^ (谧字士安,安定朝那人,汉太尉嵩曾孙也。祖叔献,灞陵令。) Jin Shu (by Wang Yin) annotation in Shishuo Xinyu, vol.04
  22. ^ (援亦少有名行,太尉皇甫嵩賢其才而以女妻之。) San Fu Jue Lu Zhu annotation in Sanguozhi, vol.32
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0.
  • Fan, Ye (5th century). Book of the Later Han (Houhanshu).
  • Luo, Guanzhong (14th century). Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi).