Encyclopedia: Gongsun Du

Gongsun Du (Shengji); Kungsun Tu (Shêng-chi); 公孫度 (升濟)

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You are viewing the profile of Gongsun Du (公孫度), styled Shengji (升濟), born in Liaodong. “Established an independent government in Liaodong, expanding against several tribes.” Gongsun Du was affiliated with the Han Dynasty and Dong Zhuo. Return to the Three Kingdoms Encyclopedia to learn more or explore our Encyclopedia Directory to browse by kingdom or category.

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Gongsun Du (Shengji) 公孫度 (升濟)

Lived: AD c.150–204

Biographies:
None Available

Served: Han, Dong Zhuo, Gongsun Du

Established an independent government in Liaodong, expanding against several tribes.

Officer Details

Wade-Giles: Kungsun Tu (Shêng-chi)
Simplified Chinese: 公孙度 (升济)
Min-Nan: Kongsun Touw (Seng-cee)

Birthplace: Liaodong

Other Names: Gongsun Bao (childhood name)

Rank and Titles

Gentlemen Cadet; Officer of Imperial Secretariat; Inspector of Ji; Administrator of Liaodong; Marquis of Liaodong; Governor of Ping; General Who is Firm and Majestic; Marquis of Yongning District

Family and Relationships

Gongsun Yan (Father); Gongsun Yu (Adopted Father); Gongsun Kang, Gongsun Gong (Sons); Gongsun Yuan, Gongsun Huang (Grandsons)

Literary Appearances

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: 33, 106

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Biography

Historic (Confirmed)

Gongsun Du, called ‘Gongsun Du the Warlike’ in the novel SGYY, was the governor of Liaodong during the Late-Han era. He was born in the middle of the second century AD (Gardiner 60; also see Gardiner 92) in either Xiangping, the capital of Liaodong, or in Xuantu (another commandery entirely) (Gardiner 60). Both Liaodong and Xuantu bordered numerous hostile factions such as Puyo (in Chinese: Fuyu), Koguryo (in Chinese: Gaogouli) and the Xianbei. All of these foreign groups assaulted the region in Gongsun Du’s early lifetime (Gardiner 61).

Around AD 167, when Gongsun Du was aged 18 by Chinese reckoning, Du began his career as a public official in the staff of Liaodong’s governor Gongsun Yu (Gardiner 62). Gongsun Yu became attached to his new subordinate and eventually arranged for Du’s formal education and marriage. Gongsun Du was eventually recommended for service at the Han capital and left for there in AD 169 (Gardiner 62). He was appointed to a post in the Palace Secretariat and then later received rank as the Inspector of Qizhou (Gardiner 62–63). By this time, the Late-Han dynasty was beginning to unravel as it faced numerous rebellions, bankruptcy and local warlords usurping power. In AD 189, the warlord Dong Zhou took control of the Han capital. Although several provincial lords raised troops to oppose Dong Zhou, others benefited from his rise to power. One such man was Gongsun Du. Dong Zhou’s officer Xu Rong (who happened to be a man from Liaodong commandery himself) recommended Gongsun Du for higher office. As a result, Gongsun Du was made Governor of Liaodong in AD 189 (Gardiner 64; see also Gardiner 92).

Official Chinese sources seem to indicate that Gongsun Du’s first step as governor was to carry out a systematic purge of all his personal enemies. Gardiner, however, offers the explanation that Gongsun Du was probably attempting to secure his authority by eliminating potential adversaries with armed retainers [adversaries that might in the future attempt to overthrow the newly appointed governor to seize power themselves] (Gardiner 65–67). Whatever the case, it seems that Gongsun Du was able to establish stability in the region as governor. Several notable scholars such as Guan Ning, Bing Yuan and Wang Lie moved to Liaodong, bringing with them numerous Chinese families (Gardiner 68).

Gongsun Du’s foreign policy thereafter is vague. An account of Koguryo in the Sanguozhi mentions that Gongsun Du cooperated with King Paekko (of Koguryo) in order to eliminate a group known as the Mt. Fu bandits (Gardiner 69). Gongsun Du’s own biography, however, states that Du fought against Koguryo and the Wuhuan (Gardiner 70). Because no date is given for the Mt. Fu campaign, it is difficult to understand the exact chronology of Gongsun Du’s military ventures. At some point in time, Gongsun Du made an alliance with the Kingdom of Puyo in Central Manchuria, marrying a woman of his clan to their king (Gardiner 70). Gardiner also states that Gongsun Du probably extended his authority into Xuantu, but it is unclear how much territory he controlled beyond this (Gardiner 73). The Zizhi Tongjian mentions that he also invaded and took over several counties of Donglai, in the Shandong peninsula, across the sea (de Crespigny 47). Dr. Rafe de Crespigny further opines that Gongsun Du may have held the eastern part of You province. (de Crespigny 60)

In AD 204, Gongsun Du died and was succeeded by his son, Gongsun Kang. The Gongsun family would hold parts of Korea and Northeastern China for many years. In AD 238, however, Gongsun Du’s grandson, Gongsun Yuan, would be defeated by the Wei Empire.

Despite his warlike nature, Gongsun Du was said to have been honored abroad. The Zizhi Tongjian states, “Gongsun Du’s authority was respected across the seas. Many people fled to him to escape the disorders of China proper, including Guan Ning, Bing Yuan and Wang Lie, all of whom hailed from Beihai.” At first, people started immigrating to the Southern portions of Gongsun Du’s land, but later, after Guan Ning established a hut in a mountain valley to the north of Gongsun Du’s territory, a virtual community sprang up there as well (de Crespigny 76).

Works Cited:

Gardiner, Kenneth HJ. “The Kung-Sun Warlords of Liao-Tung (189–238).” Papers on Far Eastern History 5.5 (1972): 59–107. Print.

Crespigny, Rafe D. “To Establish Peace.” Vol.1, Rafe De Crespigny Publications, Faculty of Asian Studies, ANU. Australian National University, 7 June 2004. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.

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May 13, 2014