Zhang Song

Zhang Song (died 213), courtesy name Ziqiao, was an official and adviser serving under the warlord Liu Zhang during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China.

Zhang Song
(under Liu Zhang)
In office
? (?)–213 (213)
Personal details
RelationsZhang Su (brother)
ChildrenZhang Biao
OccupationOfficial, adviser
Courtesy nameZiqiao (子喬)


Little is known about Zhang Song's origins except that he started his career as an adviser to Liu Zhang, the Governor of Yi Province during the Eastern Han dynasty. His appointment was Aide-de-camp (別駕從事).

Around 211, when Liu Zhang received news that Cao Cao, the warlord who controlled the Han central government and the figurehead Emperor Xian, was planning to attack Zhang Lu, another warlord in the neighbouring Hanzhong Commandery, he became fearful that Cao Cao would attack Yi Province after defeating Zhang Lu. During this time, Zhang Song advised Liu Zhang to invite Liu Bei, a warlord based in the adjacent Jing Province, to lead his troops into Yi Province and help Liu Zhang deal with Zhang Lu. Liu Zhang heeded Zhang Song's advice and ordered his subordinate Fa Zheng to lead 4,000 men to welcome Liu Bei into Yi Province, in addition to presenting Liu Bei with several precious gifts.

Liu Bei led thousands of his troops into Yi Province and met Liu Zhang at Fu County (涪縣; present-day Mianyang, Sichuan). He also met Zhang Song and Fa Zheng, who willingly provided him with crucial information about Yi Province such as geography, supplies and deployment of military forces. Zhang Song even drew a map of Yi Province and gave it to Liu Bei. As time passed, Zhang Song conceived the idea of betraying Liu Zhang and helping Liu Bei seize control of Yi Province from Liu Zhang, so he contacted Fa Zheng, who agreed to join him.

In 213, Zhang Song's brother Zhang Su (張肅), who was serving as a commandery administrator under Liu Zhang, found out about his brother's plot. Afraid of being implicated, Zhang Su secretly reported his brother's plot to Liu Zhang, who had Zhang Song arrested and executed. When Liu Bei heard about Zhang Song's death, he exclaimed, "Junjiao[a] killed my spy!"

Zhang Su looked very different from his brother as he was a tall man with an imposing and majestuous appearance while Zhang Song was a rather short man who did not exercise restraint and was known as debauched. However, Zhang Song was also a very knowledgeable man with a good discernment hence he possessed talent and ability. When Liu Zhang sent him to Cao Cao, Cao Cao wasn't polite to him. But the current master of records Yang Xiu deeply respected him. And even recommended Cao Cao to have Zhang Song joined his personal staff but Cao Cao didn't listen to him. When Yang Xiu showed him the military books that Cao Cao had written, Zhang Song quickly had all of them read and memorized them through and through. After this event, Yang Xiu esteemed him even more.[1]

In Romance of the Three KingdomsEdit

In the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhang Song is portrayed as a short, buck-toothed man with a short nose, who does not command respect for his ugly looks. In the novel, his courtesy name is Yongnian (永年).

Liu Zhang sends Zhang Song as an envoy to meet Cao Cao. He brings with him a map of Yi Province and hopes to present it to Cao Cao and aid him in conquering Yi Province from Liu Zhang. However, Cao Cao dislikes Zhang Song for his appearance and treats him rudely. In retaliation, Zhang Song makes sarcastic remarks to humiliate Cao Cao, who orders his men to beat up Zhang Song and chase him away.

Zhang Song is deeply upset by Cao Cao's attitude towards him so he leaves for Jing Province and meets Liu Bei along the way. Liu Bei treats Zhang Song like an honoured guest. Zhang Song is so impressed with Liu Bei's hospitality that he presents the map to Liu Bei and urges him to conquer Yi Province from Liu Zhang. He also introduces his colleagues Fa Zheng and Meng Da to Liu Bei and tells him that they will aid him in defeating Liu Zhang.

Zhang Song is executed by Liu Zhang after the latter discovers that he is plotting against him.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Junjiao (君矯) was the courtesy name of Zhang Song's brother, Zhang Su.


  1. ^ The Miscellaneous Records of the Elders of Yi Province