Huyan Yan

Huyan Yan (fl. 4th century) was a military general and minister of Han Zhao during the Sixteen Kingdoms period. He was an important benefactor of the Disaster of Yongjia in 311 and was also a supporter of Liu Yao following Jin Zhun's coup in 318.

Huyan Yan
Grand Tutor (太傅)
In office
323 (323)–? (?)
MonarchLiu Yao
Personal details


Not much is known about Huyan Yan except that he was from the Xiongnu Huyan clan, a close ally to Liu Yuan's clan through Empress Huyan's marriage with him. He and his clan members worked as officers under Liu Yuan's state of Han Zhao and would continue to do so going into Liu Yao's reign.

Huyan Yan's most important contribution to the state and arguably the period as a whole was during the Disaster of Yongjia in 311. Liu Yao, Shi Le and Wang Mi were instructed by Liu Cong to take the capital of Luoyang from the Jin dynasty. As the Jin defenses continued to falter, Liu Cong sent Huyan Yan with fresh troops to aid the trio in taking the capital. Before they could meet up, Huyan Yan placed his supplies at a rampart near Luoyang which had been built by Zhang Fang during the War of the Eight Princes.[1]

Huyan Yan was first to arrive at Luoyang, setting fire to many of city's important infrastructures, plundering its wealth and capturing prisoners as he waited for his reinforcements to arrive. The Jin emperor, Emperor Huai, who was in the capital wanted to escape the city by boat, but Huyan Yan had them burned too. Reinforcements finally arrived in the form of Wang Mi. The two men led their men into the palace, taking whatever they could find in the building from treasures to servants. Emperor Huai attempted to flee, but Wang Mi and Huyan Yan's men found and held him. This event was the beginning of the end for Jin's control over their northern territories.[1]

The following year in 312, Huyan Yan was appointed as Liu Cong's Supervisor of the Right.[2]

In 315, Liu Cong had removed his close advisor, Chen Yuanda from power as he remonstrated him for his controversial marital practice of having multiple empresses at once. Huyan Yan was one of the many ministers to sign a petition offering their positions to Chen Yuanda, so Liu Cong recalled Chen Yuanda to the government. In 318, Liu Cong was dying, so he made a number of appointments to his officials, including making Huyan Yan the Grand Guardian and authority over the Masters of Writings.

Liu Cong's death was followed by turmoil as the chancellor Jin Zhun slaughtered his family and his successor Liu Can in Pingyang the same year. Liu Yao and Shi Le combined forces to attack Jin Zhun. Huyan Yan led the surviving loyalists from Pingyang to meet Liu Yao at Chibi, where they urged him to become emperor. Liu Yao did so, granting amnesty and giving appointments. Huyan Yan in particular was made Minister of Works, and following this, Liu Yao and Shi Le quickly put down Jin Zhun's rebellion.[3]

In 320, Liu Yao was struck with a crisis as the non-Xiongnu tribes in the Guanzhong region rebelled and place his capital under pressure. He had previously imprisoned the minister, You Ziyuan, who was against his decision to execute all the conspirators of a prior rebellion that led to the more drastic current one. Now that he had been proven wrong, Liu Yao wanted to kill You Ziyuan too, but Huyan Yan and his peers pleaded for his innocence, and that Liu Yao should forgive and release him instead. Liu Yao agreed and with You Ziyuan, he managed to quell the rebellion in only a few months.[4]

Liu Yao went to war with Former Liang in 323. Huyan Yan was tasked in attacking Liang's county of Sangbi (桑壁, in present-day Longxi County, Gansu). However, the war ended with the two sides peacefully withdrawing and Liang offering their vassalage to Liu Yao.[5] Huyan Yan's last appearance in history was in later in 323. Liu Yao's son Liu Yin had returned after he went missing during Jin Zhun's coup back in 318. He was in support of having Liu Yin replace Liu Xi (Liu Yao's other son) as Crown Prince but this was met with a lengthy debate from the other ministers. Huyan Yan was no longer recorded from this point on.[6]


  1. ^ a b (署其衛尉呼延晏為使持節、前鋒大都督、前軍大將軍。配禁兵二萬七千,自宜陽入洛川,命王彌、劉曜及鎮軍石勒進師會之。晏比及河南,王師前後十二敗,死者三萬餘人。彌等未至,晏留輜重于張方故壘,遂寇洛陽,攻陷平昌門,焚東陽、宣陽諸門及諸府寺。懷帝遣河南尹劉默距之,王師敗於社門。晏以外繼不至,出自東陽門,掠王公已下子女二百餘人而去。時帝將濟河東遁,具船于洛水,晏盡焚之,還于張方故壘。王彌、劉曜至,復與晏會圍洛陽。時城內饑甚,人皆相食,百官分散,莫有固志。宣陽門陷,彌、晏入於南宮,升太極前殿,縱兵大掠,悉收宮人、珍寶。曜於是害諸王公及百官已下三萬餘人,于洛水北築為京觀。遷帝及惠帝羊後、傳國六璽於平陽。) Book of Jin, Volume 102
  2. ^ (呼延晏爲右僕射。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 88
  3. ^ (光初元年十月,太保呼延宴等自平陽來奔,上尊號於曜,僭即皇帝位。) Annals of the Sixteen Kingdoms, Volume, 1
  4. ^ (中山王雅、郭汜、朱紀、呼延晏等諫曰:「子遠幽囚,禍在不測,猶不忘諫爭,忠之至也。陛下縱不能用,柰何殺之!若子遠朝誅,臣等亦當夕死,以彰陛下之過。天下將皆捨陛下而去,陛下誰與居乎!」曜意解,乃赦之。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 91
  5. ^ (趙主曜自隴上西擊涼州,遣其將劉咸攻韓璞於冀城,呼延晏攻寧羌護軍陰鑒於桑壁,曜自將戎卒二十八萬軍于河上,列營百餘里,金鼓之聲動地,河水爲沸,張茂臨河諸戍,皆望風奔潰。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 92
  6. ^ (初,趙主曜長子儉,次子胤。胤年十歲,長七尺五寸,漢主聰奇之,謂曜曰:「此兒神氣,非義眞之比也,當以爲嗣。」曜曰:「藩國之嗣,能守祭祀足矣,不敢亂長幼之序。」聰曰:「卿之勳德,當世受專征之任,非他臣之比也,吾當更以一國封義眞。」乃封儉爲臨海王,立胤爲世子。旣長,多力善射,驍捷如風。靳準之亂,沒於黑匿郁鞠部。陳安旣敗,胤自言於郁鞠,郁鞠大驚,禮而歸之。曜悲喜,謂羣臣曰:「義光雖已爲太子,然沖幼儒謹,恐不堪今之多難。義孫,故世子也,材器過人,且涉歷艱難。吾欲法周文王、漢光武,以固社稷而安義光,何如?」太傅呼延晏等皆曰:「陛下爲國家無窮之計,豈惟臣等賴之,實宗廟四海之慶。」) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 92