Zong Yu (died 264), courtesy name Deyan, was a military general and diplomat of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period of China. Like Liao Hua and Zhang Yi, Zong was one of few officials who served the Shu-Han state throughout its entire existence. [1]

Zong Yu
Senior General Who Guards the Army
In office
258 (258)–263 (263)
MonarchLiu Shan
Inspector of Yan Province (兗州刺史)
In office
258 (258)–263 (263)
MonarchLiu Shan
Senior General Who Attacks the West
In office
? (?)–258 (258)
MonarchLiu Shan
General of the Rear (後將軍)
In office
? (?)–258 (258)
MonarchLiu Shan
Colonel of the Garrison Cavalry (屯騎校尉)
In office
247 (247)–? (?)
MonarchLiu Shan
Master of Writing (尚書)
In office
? (?)–247 (247)
MonarchLiu Shan
Palace Attendant (侍中)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchLiu Shan
Personal details
Dengzhou, Henan
OccupationGeneral, diplomat
Courtesy nameDeyan (德豔)
PeerageSecondary Marquis (關內侯)

Early careerEdit

Zong Yu was born in the late Eastern Han dynasty in Anzhong County (安眾縣), Nanyang Commandery (南陽郡), which is around present-day Dengzhou, Henan.[2]

In 214, Zong Yu followed the general Zhang Fei into Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing)[3] to serve as reinforcements for the warlord Liu Bei, who was fighting for control over Yi Province with the provincial governor Liu Zhang.[4]

After the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty, Zong Yu served in the state of Shu, which Liu Bei established in 221 to challenge the legitimacy of the Wei state that replaced the Eastern Han dynasty in 220.[5] In the early Jianxing era (223–237) of Liu Shan's reign, Zhuge Liang, the Imperial Chancellor of Shu, appointed Zong Yu as his Registrar (主簿) and later made him an Army Adviser (參軍) and Right General of the Household (右中郎將).[6]

Diplomatic trips to WuEdit

Following Zhuge Liang's death in 234,[7] Shu's ally state Wu worried that Wei would take advantage of the situation to attack Shu, so it sent an additional 10,000 troops to the Wu garrison at Baqiu (巴丘; present-day Yueyang, Hunan) for two purposes: 1) to reinforce Shu in the event of a Wei invasion and 2) seize Shu territories if Shu cannot defend itself against Wei. When the Shu government received intelligence of the increased Wu military presence at Baqiu, they immediately strengthened their defences at Yong'an (永安; present-day Fengjie County, Chongqing) near the Wu–Shu border to prepare for unforeseen circumstances.[8]

Shu later sent Zong Yu as their emissary to meet the Wu emperor Sun Quan, who asked him: "The east (Wu) and west (Shu) are like one family. I heard that the west has strengthened their defences at Baidicheng. Why is that so?"[9] Zong Yu replied: "I think it is normal for the west to strengthen its defences at Baidicheng, just as it is normal for the east to send more troops to Baqiu. That's why I don't think it is a cause for concern."[10] Sun Quan laughed and praised Zong Yu for making such a bold and candid reply. Among the Shu diplomats who visited Wu, Zong Yu was second only to Deng Zhi and Fei Yi in terms of how highly Sun Quan favoured and regarded him.[11]

Zong Yu was later reassigned to be a Palace Attendant (侍中) and promoted to serve as a Master of Writing (尚書) in the imperial secretariat. In 247, he was appointed as a Colonel of the Garrison Cavalry (屯騎校尉).[12]

Some time later, Zong Yu made another diplomatic visit to Wu and met Sun Quan again. Before he left, Sun Quan held his hand and tearfully told him: "For many years, you have undertaken the task of strengthening ties between our two states. Now, both of us are old and frail already. I am afraid we might not see each other again!"[13] Zong Yu also told Sun Quan: "Shu is small and isolated. Although they are neighbours in name, the east and west are actually dependent on each other. Wu cannot do without Shu; Shu also cannot do without Wu. I hope that Your Majesty will bear in mind that rulers and subjects need each other." He then described himself as "old and sickly" and expressed his worries that he might not see Sun Quan again.[14] Sun Quan gave Zong Yu one hu of large pearls as a parting gift.[15]

Standing up to Deng ZhiEdit

In 243, when the Shu general Deng Zhi returned to the capital Chengdu to assume his new appointment as General of Chariots of Cavalry (車騎將軍),[16] he met Zong Yu on his way to the imperial court and asked him: "According to the rules of propriety, a man in his 60s should no longer serve in the military. Why do you still want to receive command of troops at this age?" Zong Yu rebuked him: "You are already in your 70s but you haven't relinquished your command of troops. So why can't I receive command of troops when I am in my 60s?"[17]

Deng Zhi's colleagues, including his superior General-in-Chief Fei Yi, tended to give in to his arrogant and condescending attitude. Zong Yu was the only person who stood up to him.[18]

Later career and deathEdit

After he returned from his last diplomatic trip to Wu, Zong Yu was promoted to General of the Rear (後將軍) and put in charge of guarding Yong'an (永安; present-day Fengjie County, Chongqing) near the Wu–Shu border. He was later further promoted to Senior General Who Attacks the West (征西大將軍) and awarded a peerage as a Secondary Marquis (關內侯).[19]

In 258, Zong Yu was recalled to Chengdu due to poor health.[20] Later, he was reassigned to the position of Senior General Who Guards the Army (鎮軍大將軍) and appointed as the nominal Inspector of Yan Province (兖州刺史).[21]

Around the late 250s to early 260s, when Zhuge Liang's son Zhuge Zhan took charge of the Shu central government, Liao Hua asked Zong Yu to accompany him to visit Zhuge Zhan.[22] Zong Yu refused and told Liao Hua: "Both of us are already above the age of 70. All that we desire have passed. Nothing but death remains for us. Why bother to seek favours from the younger generation by paying calls for trivial issues?"[23]

Shu's existence came to an end in 263 when the Shu emperor Liu Shan surrendered to Shu's rival state Wei following a Wei invasion of Shu.[24] In the following year, Zong Yu and Liao Hua received orders to relocate to the Wei imperial capital Luoyang but they died from illness during the journey.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 1178.
  2. ^ (宗預字德豔,南陽安衆人也。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  3. ^ (建安中,隨張飛入蜀。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  4. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 67.
  5. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 69.
  6. ^ (建興初,丞相亮以為主簿,遷參軍右中郎將。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  7. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 72.
  8. ^ (及亮卒,吳慮魏或承衰取蜀,增巴丘守兵萬人,一欲以為救援,二欲以事分割也。蜀聞之,亦益永安之守,以防非常。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  9. ^ (預將命使吳,孫權問預曰:「東之與西,譬猶一家,而聞西更增白帝之守,何也?」) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  10. ^ (預對曰:「臣以為東益巴丘之戍,西增白帝之守,皆事勢宜然,俱不足以相問也。」) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  11. ^ (權大笑,嘉其抗直,甚愛待之,見敬亞於鄧芝、費禕。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  12. ^ (遷為侍中,徙尚書。延熈十年,為屯騎校尉。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  13. ^ (預復東聘吳,孫權捉預手,涕泣而別曰:「君每銜命結二國之好。今君年長,孤亦衰老,恐不復相見!」) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  14. ^ (吳歷曰:預臨別,謂孫權曰:「蜀土僻小,雖云鄰國,東西相賴,吳不可無蜀,蜀不可無吳,君臣憑恃,唯陛下重垂神慮。」又自說「年老多病,恐不復得奉聖顏」。) Wu Li annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  15. ^ (遺預大珠一斛,乃還。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  16. ^ (延熈六年,就遷為車騎將軍,後假節。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  17. ^ (時車騎將軍鄧芝自江州還,來朝,謂預曰:「禮,六十不服戎,而卿甫受兵,何也?」預荅曰:「卿七十不還兵,我六十何為不受邪?」) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  18. ^ (芝性驕慠,自大將軍費禕等皆避下之,而預獨不為屈。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  19. ^ (遷後將軍,督永安,就拜征西大將軍,賜爵關內侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  20. ^ (景耀元年,以疾徵還成都。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  21. ^ (後為鎮軍大將軍,領兖州刺史。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  22. ^ (時都護諸葛瞻初統朝事,廖化過預,欲與預共詣瞻許。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  23. ^ (預曰:「吾等年踰七十,所竊已過,但少一死耳,何求於年少輩而屑屑造門邪?」遂不往。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  24. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 78.
  25. ^ (咸熈元年春,化、預俱內徙洛陽,道病卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 45.
  • Chen, Shou (3rd century). Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi).
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms 23-220 AD. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004156050.
  • Pei, Songzhi (5th century). Annotations to Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi zhu).
  • Sima, Guang (1084). Zizhi Tongjian.