Wang Mi

Wang Mi (died 311), was a bandit leader and military general of Han Zhao during the Western Jin dynasty. He participated in a rebellion led by Liu Bogen during the War of the Eight Princes but after it was quelled, he fled to Mount Zhangguang where he became a notorious outlaw and was given the nickname "Flying Leopard". After two years of banditry, he joined the Xiongnu king, Liu Yuan and his state of Han Zhao in 308. He became one of the state's most important commanders in their war against Jin, playing a crucial role in capturing Luoyang during the Disaster of Yongjia. However, Wang Mi's career was cut short after he was assassinated by his peer and rival Shi Le in 311.

Wang Mi
Duke of Donglai (東萊郡公)
In office
307 (307) – 311 (311)
MonarchLiu Yuan/Liu Cong
Personal details
Yantai/Weihai, Shandong
Ningling County, Henan
RelationsWang Qi (grandfather)
Nickname(s)Flying Leopard (飛豹)

Early lifeEdit

Wang Mi's family came from a line of officials in Donglai Commandery in the Jiaodong Peninsula. His grandfather, Wang Qi, was the Administrator of Xuantu during the Cao Wei period who greatly contributed in the Goguryeo-Wei War and participated in the conquest of Wei's rival state, Shu Han. In his youth, he was noted to be brave and well-versed, surrounding himself with books and records. He also once worked as a knight-errant (Youxia 遊俠), offering his service around Luoyang. During the reign of Emperor Wu of Jin, Wang Mi was appointed as Grand Administrator of Runan. A hermit by the name of Dong Zhong (董仲) encountered Wang Mi on the road and said to him, “My Lord speaks life a wolf and looks like a leopard. Excellent in confusion, happy with misfortune, assumes all under heaven is disturbed and agitated. Not the acts of a scholar and nobleman!”[1]

Liu Bogen's rebellionEdit

During the War of the Eight Princes in 306, the Prefect of Jian County (惤縣, near Longkou, Shandong), Liu Bogen (劉柏根) staged a revolt in Donglai. Hearing this, Wang Mi brought his followers along with him in order to join the rebellion and he was appointed as Bogen's Chief Clerk. The rebels invaded the capital of Qingzhou in Linzi and the commander of Qingzhou, Sima Lue (司馬略) sent Liu Tun (劉暾) to quell the rebellion. However, the rebels managed to defeat Tun and Sima Lue was forced out of Qingzhou.[2]

Despite the rebellion's initial success, it soon fell apart the same year with the intervention of the Youzhou warlord Wang Jun. In the wake of Sima Lue's defeat, Wang Jun attacked Liu Bogen in order to aid Lue in recovering his territories. Bogen was killed in battle and Wang Mi decided to lead the remaining forces to the small islets in the east. However, on his way, he was intercepted and defeated by Gou Chun (苟纯). Wang Mi survived the attack and fled to Mount Zhangguang (長廣山) instead to become a bandit.[3]

As a bandit leaderEdit

Invasion of Qingzhou and XuzhouEdit

During his time as an outlaw, Wang Mi led many raids in Qingzhou against its people. His notoriety earned him the name "Flying Leopard (飛豹)" by the locals.[4] The following year in 307, Wang Mi invaded Qingzhou and Xuzhou. He declared himself Grand General Who Conquers the East and executed any official he could find. The emperor’s regent, Sima Yue, sent Ju Xian (鞠羨) to repel Wang Mi but Wang defeated and killed him. The Inspector of Yanzhou, Gou Xi, was then sent instead and Wang Mi’s forces were routed.[5]

Siege of Luoyang (308)Edit

After his recent defeat, Wang Mi decided to submit to Liu Yuan of Han Zhao. Liu Yuan accepted his submission and appointed him the Duke of Donglai, Inspector of Qingzhou and Great General who Garrisons the East. With a state now backing him up, he gathered his scattered forces and raised his troops' morale. In 308, he sent out several of his generals to pillage the Qingzhou, Xuzhou, Yanzhou and Yuzhou where they killed many of the regions' administrators and prefects. Gou Xi fought Wang Mi's forces multiple time but this time he could not overcome them. Soon, Wang Mi reached the city of Xuchang, where he emptied the city's arsenal of weapons and equipment in order to rearm his troops.[6] With his momentum looking unstoppable, Wang Mi set his eyes on Luoyang.

As Wang Mi's army marched towards the capital, Sima Yue sent his Marshal, Wang Bin (王斌), in order to defend the capital. The governor of Liangzhou, Zhang Gui, also sent his general Beigong Chun (北宮純) to reinforce the city. When Wang Mi finally arrived at Luoyang, the Minister Over the Masses, Wang Yan, was appointed to command the army against him. The defences of Luoyang succeeded in overwhelming and driving away Wang Mi. Wang Mi burned the city's gate before retreating, but Wang Yan sent Wang Bing (王秉) to pursue him and he was defeated once more at Seven Li Gully (七里澗).[7]

Service under Han ZhaoEdit

During Liu Yuan's reignEdit

After failing to capture Luoyang, Wang Mi went to formally join Han Zhao. Liu Yuan and Wang Mi had once befriended each other in their youths during their time in Luoyang. Thus, when Liu Yuan heard that Wang Mi was coming to join him, he welcomed Wang with opened arms. Upon meeting Liu Yuan, Wang urged him to declare himself as emperor, which Liu would eventually do later that year. Liu Yuan offered Wang Mi a number of posts as part of his welcome but Wang Mi declined them all.[8]

Under Han, Wang Mi was first tasked in accompanying Liu Yao in invading Henei before joining with Shi Le to attack Linzhang in 308. After that, he and Shi Le besieged Ye, causing the local commander He Yu (和郁) to abandon the city. Emperor Huai sent Pei Xian (裴憲) to camp at Baima (白馬; near present-day Hua County, Henan) to defend against Wang Mi.

The next year, Wang Mi was appointed to a number of important posts; Palace Attendant, Commander of military affairs in Qingzhou, Xuzhou, Yanzhou, Yuzhou, Jizhou, and Yangzhou and Governor of Qingzhou. After that, he was sent to campaign against the Inspector of Bingzhou, Liu Kun, to capture Huguan county from his territory together with Liu Cong and Shi Le. In order to support Liu Kun, Sima Yue sent Wang Kuang (王曠) and others to attack Wang Mi but Wang greatly routed them. Meanwhile, Liu Cong and Shi Le defeated Liu Kun's forces and captured Huguan.[9]

Later that year, Wang Mi participated in Liu Yuan's campaign in Luoyang under Liu Cong. Although Luoyang was poorly defended, the campaign went badly for the Han forces as several of their generals were killed during the assault. Wang Mi advised Liu Cong to retreat as their supplies were beginning to run low, but Liu did not dare to do so without his father's permission. It was not until Liu Yuan recalled his forces that they could retreat, ending the siege in failure.[10]

Later that year, Wang Mi marched his troops south through Huanyuan Pass (轘轅, located approximately 3 kilometers northwest of the Shaolin Monastery in Henan) to invade Xiangcheng commandery but he was defeated by Bao Sheng (薄盛) at Xinji (新汲, in modern Fugou County, Henan). However, at the same time, many refugees in Yingchuan, Xiangcheng, Runan, Nanyang, and Henan commanderies were rebelling in order to join Wang Mi. These refugees, who initially fled to escape the fighting, were discriminated against by the local populace. In order to show their loyalty to Wang Mi, they set fire to the towns and cities and killed the chief clerks and local officials.[11]

Shortly after, Wang Mi petitioned Liu Yuan so that his Chief Clerk of the Left, Cao Ni, could be appointed General Who Maintains The East in Qingzhou, where he would provide security to Wang's family's members.[12] The next year, Wang Mi followed Shi Le in invading Xuzhou, Yuzhou and Yanzhou, routing many of the local generals.

Disaster of YongjiaEdit

Later that year, Liu Yuan died and although his son Liu He succeeded him, He was quickly assassinated by his brother, Liu Cong, making Cong the new emperor only seven days into He's reign. Liu Cong was determined to capture Luoyang, so he sent Liu Can, Liu Yao, Wang Mi and Shi Le to march towards the capital.[13] Wang Mi joined Liu Yao in order to attack Xiangcheng before marching towards Luoyang. Luoyang had barely survived the year before, but conditions in the city had worsened through famines, bandits, and mistrust among the inhabitants of the city. After the death of Sima Yue, Emperor Huai of Jin's new paramount general, Gou Xi, waited for his arrival at Cangyuan (倉垣, in modern Kaifeng, Henan), leaving Luoyang vulnerable to the Han forces. In 311, Liu Cong sent Huyan Yan to besiege the capital and ordered Wang Mi, Liu Yao and Shi Le to join him. Wang Mi arrived at Luoyang and met up with Huyan Yan. They entered the palace, sacking it and capturing many of the palace's servants. Emperor Huai of Jin, who was still in the capital, was caught and sent to Han's capital in Pingyang.[14]

Although Han had won a very important victory over Jin, Wang Mi would get into a dispute with Liu Yao. Liu Yao resented Wang for entering the capital before he had and sacking the capital despite having given orders not to do so. As punishment, Liu Yao beheaded his General of the Serrated Gate, Wang Yan (王延). The two men traded blows with each other because of this, leaving thousands of their men dead before Wang Mi's Chief Clerk Zhang Song (張嵩) advised him to reconcile with Liu Yao, to which Wang Mi agreed and Liu Yao accepted his apology. However, they quarreled again after Wang Mi advised Yao to persuade Liu Cong to move Han's capital from Pingyang to Luoyang. Yao refused to listen, and instead burned the city down. Angered, Wang Mi scolded him, "You Chuge brat, is this how a king or an emperor acts?" Not wanting to escalate it further, Wang Mi returned to Qingzhou.[15]


Wang Mi had long been friends with his colleague, Shi Le, but deep down they were both very suspicious of one another. Shi Le had covertly caught and killed Wang Mi's subordinate Liu Tun who was on his way to inform Cao Ni that he should rally his troops against Shi. Furthermore, Wang Mi's generals Xu Miao (徐邈) and Gao Liang (高梁) had abandoned him with their troops for Cao Ni. When Wang Mi heard that Shi Le had caught his adversary Gou Xi, he wrote a letter to Shi Le seemingly praising him but subtly patronising him. Wang Mi also sent to Shi Le women and treasures that he had captured and looted at Luoyang as gifts in order to win him over. Shi Le was not amused but his advisor Zhang Bin told him that he should wait until Wang Mi's forces had truly dwindled.

Soon enough, Wang Mi was caught in a stalemate with an enemy general named Liu Rui (劉瑞). Shi Le was fighting Chen Wu (陳午) at the time but Zhang Bin told him to leave Chen and aid Wang Mi in order to win his trust. Shi Le agreed and helped Wang Mi overcome Liu Rui. Wang Mi was grateful for his assistance and no longer suspected him. After their victory, Shi Le invited Wang Mi over to a feast in Jiwu County (己吾縣, present-day Ningling County, Henan). Wang Mi complied despite Zhang Song's advising him not to. When Wang Mi became drunk at the feast, Shi Le personally beheaded him and absorbed his army.

After the death of Wang Mi, Shi Le sent Liu Cong a petition to justify his actions, calling Wang Mi a rebel. Although Liu Cong was very infuriated by Shi Le’s actions, he still wanted to ensure his loyalty to Han, so he gave no punishment to Shi Le and instead rewarded him with positions.[16] Wang Mi's subordinate, Cao Ni, continued to maintain control over Qingzhou, where he would remain until his defeat by Shi Le's nephew, Shi Hu in 323.


It is not known what happened to Wang Mi's family after Cao Ni's defeat. However, a nephew of Wang Mi named Wang Li (王立), was found alive in 356. He, along with Cao Ni's grandson, Cao Yan (曹巖), were discovered living among the hills by Former Yan's minister, Ju Yin (鞠殷). Yin's father was Ju Peng (鞠彭), a general who had fought against Cao Ni in Donglai before fleeing to the Liaodong Peninsula to serve Murong Hui. In turn, Peng's father was Ju Xian, the Jin general whom Wang Mi had killed in 307. When Ju Yin was commissioned to govern Donglai, Peng urged his son to find Wang Mi and Cao Ni's descendants and befriend them so that they could properly resolve their conflict. Yin did so and the three men became very close friends, so much so that their bond was famous among the people of Donglai at the time.[17]


  1. ^ 王彌,東萊人也。家世二千石。祖頎,魏玄菟太守,武帝時,至汝南太守。彌有才幹,博涉書記。少遊俠京都,隱者董仲道見而謂之曰:「君豺聲豹視,好亂樂禍,若天下騷擾,不作士大夫矣。」 Book of Jin, Volume 100
  2. ^ (永興初,巾弦令劉根起兵東萊,誑惑百姓,眾以萬數,攻略於臨淄,略不能距,走保聊城。) Book of Jin, Volume 37
  3. ^ (惠帝末,妖賊劉柏根起於東萊之惤縣,彌率家僮從之,柏根以為長史。柏根死,聚徒海渚,為苟純所敗,亡入長廣山為群賊。彌多權略,凡有所掠,必豫圖成敗,舉無遺策。) Book of Jin, Volume 100
  4. ^ (彌多權略,凡有所掠,必豫圖成敗,舉無遺策,弓馬迅捷,膂力過人,青土號為「飛豹」) Book of Jin, Volume 100
  5. ^ (州刺史苟晞逆擊彌,大破之。) Book of Jin, Volume 100
  6. ^ (彌退集亡散,眾復大振,晞與之連戰,不能克。彌進兵寇泰山、魯國、譙、梁、陳、汝南、潁川、襄城諸郡,入許昌,開府庫,取器杖,所在陷沒,多殺守令,有眾數萬,朝廷不能制。) Book of Jin, Volume 100
  7. ^ (太傅越遣司馬王斌帥甲士五千人入衞京師,張軌亦遣督護北宮純將兵衞京師。五月,彌入自轘轅,敗官軍于伊北,京師大震,宮城門晝閉。壬戌,彌至洛陽,屯于津陽門。詔以王衍都督征討諸軍事。北宮純募勇士百餘人突陳,彌兵大敗。乙丑,彌燒建春門而東,衍遣左衞將軍王秉追之,戰于七里澗,又敗之。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 86
  8. ^ (彌謂其党劉靈曰:「晉兵尚強,歸無所厝。劉元海昔為質子,我與之周旋京師,深有分契,今稱漢王,將歸之,可乎?」靈然之。乃渡河歸元海。元海聞而大悅,遣其侍中兼御史大夫郊迎,致書於彌曰:「以將軍有不世之功,超時之德,故有此迎耳。遲望將軍之至,孤今親行將軍之館,輒拂席洗爵,敬待將軍。」及彌見元海,勸稱尊號,元海謂彌曰:「孤本謂將軍如竇周公耳,今真吾孔明、仲華也。烈祖有云:'吾之有將軍,如魚之有水。'」於是署彌司隸校尉,加侍中、特進,彌固辭。) Book of Jin, Volume 100
  9. ^ (永嘉初,寇上黨,圍壺關,東海王越遣淮南內史王曠、安豐太守衛乾等討之,及彌戰于高都、長平間,大敗之,死者十六七。元海進彌征東大將軍,封東萊公。) Book of Jin, Volume 100
  10. ^ (是冬,復大發卒,遣聰、彌與劉曜、劉景等率精騎五萬寇洛陽,使呼延翼率步卒繼之,敗王師于河南。聰進屯於西明門,護軍賈胤夜薄之,戰于大夏門,斬聰將呼延顥,其眾遂潰。聰回軍而南。壁于洛水,尋進屯宣陽門,曜屯上東門,彌屯廣陽門,景攻大夏門,聰親祈嵩嶽,令其將劉厲、呼延朗等督留軍。東海王越命參軍孫詢、將軍丘光、樓裒等率帳下勁卒三千,自宣陽門擊朗,斬之。聰聞而馳還。厲懼聰之罪己也,赴水而死。王彌謂聰曰:「今既失利,洛陽猶固,殿下不如還師,徐為後舉。下官當於袞豫之間收兵積穀,伏聽嚴期。」宣于修之又言於元海曰:「歲在辛未,當得洛陽。今晉氣猶盛,大軍不歸,必敗。」元海馳遣黃門郎傅詢召聰等還師。) Book of Jin, Volume 101
  11. ^ (彌復以二千騎寇襄城諸縣,河東、平陽、弘農、上党諸流人之在潁川、襄城、汝南、南陽、河南者數萬家,為舊居人所不禮,皆焚燒城邑,殺二千石長吏以應彌。) Book of Jin, Volume 100
  12. ^ (彌乃以左長史曹嶷為鎮東將軍,給兵五千,多齎寶物還鄉里,招誘亡命,且迎其室。) Book of Jin, Volume 101
  13. ^ (遣粲及其征東王彌、龍驤劉曜等率眾四萬,長驅入洛川,遂出轘轅,周旋梁、陳、汝、潁之間,陷壘壁百餘。) Book of Jin, Volume 102
  14. ^ (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
  15. ^ (彌之掠也,曜禁之,彌不從。曜斬其牙門王延以徇,彌怒,與曜阻兵相攻,死者千餘人。彌長史張嵩諫曰:「明公與國家共興大事,事業甫耳,便相攻討,何面見主上乎!平洛之功誠在將軍,然劉曜皇族,宜小下之。晉二王平吳之鑒,其則不遠,願明將軍以為慮。縱將軍阻兵不還,其若子弟宗族何!」彌曰:「善,微子,吾不聞此過也。」於是詣曜謝,結分如初。彌曰:「下官聞過,乃是張長史之功。」曜謂嵩曰:「君為硃建矣,豈況範生乎!」各賜嵩金百斤。彌謂曜曰:「洛陽天下之中,山河四險之固,城池宮室無假營造,可徙平陽都之。」曜不從,焚燒而去。彌怒曰:「屠各子,豈有帝王之意乎!汝柰天下何!」遂引眾東屯項關。初,曜以彌先入洛,不待己,怨之,至是嫌隙遂構。劉暾說彌還據青州,彌然之。) Book of Jin, Volume 100
  16. ^ (王彌與勒,外相親而內相忌,劉暾說彌使召曹嶷之兵以圖勒。彌爲書,使暾召嶷,且邀勒共向青州。暾至東阿,勒游騎獲之,勒潛殺暾而彌不知。會彌將徐邈、高梁輒引所部兵去,彌兵漸衰。彌聞勒擒苟晞,心惡之,以書賀勒曰︰「公獲苟晞而用之,何其神也!使晞爲公左,彌爲公右,天下不足定也。」勒謂張賓曰︰「王公位重而言卑,其圖我必矣。」賓因勸勒乘彌小衰,誘而取之。時勒方與乞活陳午相攻於蓬關,彌亦與劉瑞相持甚急。彌請救於勒,勒未之許。張賓曰︰「公常恐不得王公之便,今天以王公授我矣。陳午小豎,不足憂;王公人傑,當早除之。」勒乃引兵擊瑞,斬之。彌大喜,謂勒實親己,不復疑也。冬,十月,勒請彌燕于己吾。彌將往,長史張嵩諫,不聽。酒酣,勒手斬彌而幷其衆,表漢主聰,稱彌叛逆。聰大怒,遣使讓勒「專害公輔,有無君之心」;然猶加勒鎭東大將軍、督幷‧幽二州諸軍事、領幷州刺史,以慰其心。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 87
  17. ^ (殷,彭之子也。彭時為燕大長秋,以書戒殷曰:「王彌、曹嶷,必有子孫,汝善招撫,勿尋舊怨,以長亂源!」殷推求,得彌從子立、嶷孫巖於山中,請與相見,深結意分。彭復遣使遺以車馬衣服,郡民由是大和。) Zizhi Tongjian, Volume 100
  • Fang, Xuanling (ed.) (648). Book of Jin (Jin Shu)
  • Sima, Guang (1084). Zizhi Tongjian