Biography (COB): Li Yan (Zhengfang)

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Li Yan (Zhengfang)Li Yan (Zhengfang)
李嚴 (正方)

Comprehensive Officer Biography
Translated & Authored by

Place of Birth: Nanyang Prefecture (Presently Nanyang in Henan Province)
Lifespan: AD 185 – 234 (49 Years)
Titles: Chief of the Palace Administration, General of the Flying Cavalry, Lord of Fief

Li Yan was a talented officer and able commander under Liu Zhang. When Liu Bei took over Yi Zhou, Zhengfang gladly offered his services to him.

Li Yan was appointed General Who Assists the Kingdom and Chief of the Secretariat. When Liu Shan succeeded the throne as Shu Emperor, Li Yan was made Central District Guard and managed the general affairs with Zhuge Liang.

His career was going smoothly as he was successively appointed as Chief of the Palace Administration and General of the Flying Cavalry, and also titled Lord of Fief.

When Zhuge Liang was not present, Li Yan would take over official matters concerning the Empire. Around this time, his name was changed from Li Yan to Li Ping (1). When Kongming marched his troops into Qishan, Li Yan was in charge of organizing the military food supplies and depots. However, because of serious rain fall, there was no way to supply Zhuge Liang’s troops with food.

Zhengfang asked Kongming to withdraw his forces, but in order to avoid being blamed for losing Qishan, Li Yan claimed that Zhuge Liang withdrew because he was uncertain of his own position.

When Kongming found out about Li Yan’s cowardice, he immediately reported it to the Emperor (2). Li Yan was stripped of rank and demoted to commoner. He died of natural causes in the year AD 234, at the age of forty-nine.

(1) Upon reaching certain heights of Nobility, officers were able to change their name to something nobler, if they were from a low class background. To avoid confusion, I decided to use Li Yan through the whole text. My guess is that after he was dismissed from his office, he went back to the name Li Yan. <return>

(2) The irony of the situation was that Zhuge Liang claimed that Li Yan was equal in ability to Wu’s Lu Xun. However, Li Yan’s cowardly attitude must have disappointed the Prime Minister greatly. <return>

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A Kongming’s Archives Exclusive Production
Major Sources: Zhongguo Lishizhu Professor T.Chen (1965 Peking)