Liu Qi (Liu Biao's son)

Liu Qi (died 209) was an official who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He was the elder son of Liu Biao, the Governor of Jing Province. He provided reinforcements and refuge for Liu Bei when the latter was fleeing from Cao Cao's forces after the Battle of Changban, and assisted Liu Bei and Zhou Yu in the following Battle of Red Cliffs.

Liu Qi
Inspector of Jing Province (荊州刺史)
In office
209 (209) – 209 (209)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Preceded byLiu Cong
Succeeded byLiu Bei
Administrator of Jiangxia (江夏太守)
In office
208 (208) – 209 (209)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Preceded byHuang Zu
Personal details
MotherLady Chen
FatherLiu Biao

Fraternal strifeEdit

Although Liu Qi was Liu Biao's firstborn son, his younger brother Liu Cong had better prospects of succeeding Liu Biao because he married the niece of Lady Cai, Liu Biao's second wife. The Cai family faction, whose members included Cai Mao and Zhang Yun (張允), had a powerful presence in Liu Biao's administration. As the Cai family faction gained influence, they increasingly pressured Liu Biao to designate Liu Cong as his heir to the governorship of Jing Province.[1][2]

When Liu Qi turned to Zhuge Liang for advice on self-preservation, the latter refused to help him. On one occasion, Liu Qi tricked Zhuge Liang into climbing up a tower while visiting the garden. While they were chatting and feasting in the tower, Liu Qi secretly instructed to his servants to remove the ladder. He then told Zhuge Liang, "Now, nothing goes up to Heaven and nothing goes down to Earth. Whatever you say will be heard by me only. Can't you say something now?" Zhuge Liang replied, "Sir, haven't you read that Shensheng was in danger because he remained in Jin while Chong'er was safe because he was outside Jin?" Liu Qi understood what Zhuge Liang was alluding to, and secretly came up with an idea.[3]

Following the death of Huang Zu after the Battle of Jiangxia in 208, Liu Qi volunteered to be the new Administrator of Jiangxia (present-day Xinzhou District, Wuhan, Hubei), about 250 km southeast of Jing Province's capital in Xiangyang. Sources differ on whether Liu Qi requested this appointment to escape the fraternal conflict or if he was forced out of the capital by the Cai family faction.[4] In any case, he seemed to have been tasked with leading a counterattack against the forces of the warlord Sun Quan, who had seized control of Jiangxia Commandery following his victory over Huang Zu.[5]

Shortly after Liu Qi's move to Jiangxia Commandery, Liu Biao died suddenly in Xiangyang[6] and Liu Cong succeeded him as the Governor of Jing Province.[7] Liu Qi henceforth treated Liu Cong like an enemy, and may have attacked him had not it not been for the arrival of Cao Cao's army.

Cao Cao's army arrived from the north, not far from Xiangyang. Liu Qi fled south across the Yangtze.[8] Lacking the numbers and political support to wage war with Cao Cao, Liu Cong took the advice of 15 of his senior advisers and surrendered his governorship of Jing Province to Cao Cao.[9] Not long after this, Liu Bei, somewhat in dire straits after his disastrous defeat at the Battle of Changban, crossed the Han River into Jiangxia Commandery with some dozens of close associates and met up with Liu Qi.[10] Liu Qi took his army and escorted Liu Bei back over the Han River to collect Liu Bei's forces that had scattered after the Battle of Changban.[11]

Battle of Red CliffsEdit

Liu Qi is claimed to have commanded about 10,000 troops. While this may be an exaggeration, it is probable that his local forces were comparable in size to the reconstituted forces of Liu Bei, including Guan Yu's fleet.[12][13][14] The promise of 10,000 more men waiting to join up with his army may or may not have swayed Sun Quan's decision to order the combined assault against Cao Cao's men.

With what little historical information recorded about the Battle of Red Cliffs buried under centuries of accumulated legend, it is difficult to say to any degree what role Liu Qi's forces had in the battle, but with the combined forces of Sun Quan, Liu Bei, and Liu Qi facing an army much more numerous, his troops must have taken part in the battle, possibly under his direct command.

After the victory over Cao Cao, Liu Qi was appointed Inspector of Jing Province, finally succeeding his father, albeit in an incomplete way.[15] He died at Jiangxia within a few months of his appointment.[16] After Liu Qi's death, Liu Bei took over his position at the considerably higher rank of Governor of Jing Province.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Records of the Three Kingdoms, p. 213.
  2. ^ Generals of the South, p. 241.
  3. ^ (琦每欲與亮謀自安之術,亮輒拒塞,未與處畫。琦乃將亮游觀後園,共上高樓,飲宴之間,令人去梯,因謂亮曰:「今日上不至天,下不至地,言出子口,入於吾耳,可以言未?」亮荅曰:「君不見申生在內而危,重耳在外而安乎?」琦意感寤,陰規出計。) Sanguozhi vol. 35.
  4. ^ Liu Biao's biography in the Records of the Three Kingdoms stated Liu Qi was forced out of Xiangyang (p. 213); the biography of Zhuge Liang in the same work claims Liu Qi requested the appointment after a highly secretive yet diligently recorded meeting with Zhuge Liang (p. 914). This later account is followed by the Book of the Later Han (p. 2423) and Zizhi Tongjian (pp. 2081–2).
  5. ^ History of Chinese Warfare, 4:120.
  6. ^ Records of the Three Kingdoms, p. 914. An annotation by Pei Songzhi (p. 214) quotes Yu Huan's Dianlüe (典略) claiming Liu Biao had been sick for some time, and Liu Qi was denied entrance to see his father by his brother's political allies. The Book of the Later Han (p. 2423) and Zizhi Tongjian (p. 2082) follow this.
  7. ^ In many sources, Liu Qi apparently discovered his brother's succession when he received the seal of a marquis from him. Infuriated, he threw it to the ground (Book of the Later Han p. 2424; Zizhi Tongjian p. 2082).
  8. ^ Book of the Later Han, p. 2424.
  9. ^ Generals of the South, p. 242.
  10. ^ Records of the Three Kingdoms, p. 898.
  11. ^ History of Chinese Warfare 4:121.
  12. ^ Records of the Three Kingdoms, p. 878.
  13. ^ Records of the Three Kingdoms, p. 915.
  14. ^ Generals of the South, p. 255.
  15. ^ Records of the Three Kingdoms, p. 879.
  16. ^ Generals of the South, p. 289.
  17. ^ Liu Bei's biography in the Records of the Three Kingdoms claims that Liu Qi's supporters recommended Liu Bei for the position of governor (p. 879).
  • Chen, Shou (1977) [280s or 290s]. Pei, Songzhi (ed.). Records of the Three Kingdoms 三國志. Taipei: Dingwen Printing.
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2004) [1990]. Generals of the South (internet ed.). Faculty of Asian Studies, Australian National University. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07.
  • Fan, Ye, ed. (1965) [445]. Book of the Later Han 後漢書. Beijing: Zhonghua Publishing House.
  • Luo, Guanzhong (14th century). Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo Yanyi).
  • National Defense University Historical Warfare Compilation Committee (1983) [1972]. History of Chinese Warfare 中國歷代戰爭史. 4. Taipei: Military Translation Press.
  • Sima, Guang, ed. (1956) [1084]. Zizhi Tongjian 資治通鑒. Beijing: Zhonghua Publishing House.