Biography (SGYY): Bian Rang (Wenli)

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Bian Rang (Wenli)
邊讓 (文禮)
Lived: ?–194

Sanguo Yanyi Officer Biography
Author Notes in Blue
Authored by Sam Wrest

Bian Rang (Wenli)

Bian Rang was the Governor of Jiujiang during the later period of the Han Dynasty. Known as a man of splendid talents throughout the whole of China, Bian Rang was always honest and frank in speech and correct and forthright in expression. In conversation, Bian Rang would only flatter someone if they were deserving of such, and would never do so simply because of their status or rank. Because of these qualities, Rang had an exalted name in China and was highly respected.

By AD 194, China had been divided into various ruling states as a result of the decaying of the Han Dynasty. One such ruling lord was Cao Cao, whose father, Cao Song, had previously held rank in the Han. Cao Cao had arranged for his father to travel to his own province of Yanzhou, and while passing through Xuzhou province, Cao Song had been invited to rest by its governor. Xuzhou’s governor, Tao Qian, was a close friend of Bian Rang’s, and was also known throughout China for being kind and gentle. To ensure Cao Song’s safe passage to Yanzhou, Tao Qian had assigned five hundred of his troops under Commander Zhang Kai, but Kai, a former Yellow Scarf, had instead killed Cao Song and his entire clan for the goods they were carrying. Cao Cao, blaming Tao Qian for the loss of his family, launched a full scale invasion against Xuzhou upon learning what had happened.

Word soon reached Bian Rang at Jiujiang of Cao Cao’s invasion of Xuzhou. Being a friend of Tao Qian’s and knowing him to be innocent of the fate of Cao’s clan, Bian Rang immediately mobilised five thousand of his province’s own troops to aid in the defence of Xuzhou. Rang and his troops set off immediately, but en route were intercepted by one of Cao Cao’s commanders, Xiahou Dun. Dun and his forces attacked, and Bian Rang responded by leading his own men against Dun. However, in the ensuing melee between the two armies, Bian Rang was confronted by Xiahou Dun directly and died fighting in a clash with the young commander.

Xiahou Dun took Bian Rang’s corpse back to Cao Cao, who ordered it decapitated and Rang’s head implanted on a pike. As well as that, Cao had Bian Rang’s wife and children killed. As soon as word spread of what Cao Cao had done to Bian Rang, resentment for him began to rise in China, and scholars throughout the country grew with indignation at the loss of Rang, a leader they greatly respected. (1)

1: Bian Rang’s fate was the first of several incidents which implicated Cao Cao as a villain to the rest of China. Chen Lin, a noted scholar of the era, was so outraged with Cao’s treatment of Bian Rang that he used it in a manifesto highlighting the misdeeds of Cao Cao.

Copyright © 2006 Sam Wrest. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms