Biography (SGZ): Han Dang (Yigong)

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Han Dang (Yigong)
韓當 (義公)

Sanguozhi Officer Biography
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Han Dang, styled Yigong, was from Lingzhi in Liaoxi. Adept at archery and riding, and possessing great strength in his arms, he was favoured by Sun Jian. Following Sun Jian he fought near and far, encountering great danger not only once, battling deep in enemy territory and capturing captives; and thus he was made Major with a Separate Command (1). When Sun Ce sailed east, Han Dang followed him to fight for the three commanderies [that were to be the basis of Wu], and was promoted to Colonel, and given two thousand soldiers and fifty horses. He then followed him to wage war against Liu Xun, and then to defeat Huang Zu. Upon his return he fought for Poyang. After that he was made to Chief of Le’an prefecture, all the Shanyue people succumbed to him. Later on, as a General of the Inner Guard, and along with Zhou Yu and others, Han Dang defended against Cao Cao’s invasion and defeated him. Then he attacked and and took over Nanjun along with Lü Meng, and was promoted to Lieutenant-General and Grand Administrator or Yongchang. During the battle of Yidu, Han Dang, Lu Xun, Zhu Ran amongst others attacked the Shu army at Zhuoxiang and won a great victory over them. And so he was given the title of General of Majesty and Courage, and was made a Marquis of a Chief Commune. When Cao Zhen attacked Nanjun, Han Dang was protecting the southeast.

Whenever Han Dang was out leading troops, he inspired all his captains and soldiers to be of one heart and to put up a stout defense. Furthermore, he showed respect and obedience to his superiors and followed the rules and orders to the word, and so Sun Quan thought well of him. In the second year of Huangwu (AD 223), Han Dang was made Marquis of Shicheng, and promoted to the rank of General Who Shines in his Firmness, with the additional assignment of Grand Administrator of Guanjun. Later on the title of Chief Controller was also added to him. Once he led ten thousand dare-to-dies and relieve troops to fight the bandits at Danyang, and achieved victory. Soon after that, he died of illness, and his son Zong inherited the marquisate and military command.

In that year, Sun Quan went to wage war at Shiyang, and as Han Zong was in mourning,A he let him stay behind to guard Wuchang. However, Han Zong lived in debauchery and great depravity. Although Sun Quan, for the sake of Han Dang, did not demand an account of Han Zong’s actions, Zong was fearful inside (2); and so, while still in his mourning period, he fled to Wei, taking several thousands of people from his mother’s family and his retainers with him. Wei made him a general and Marquis of Guangyang. Many times he assaulted the boarder [of Wu], killing the common folk there, causing Sun Quan to loathe him. During the battle of Dongxing, Zong was the vanguard, but his troops were vanquished and he died in the battle. Zhuge Ke cut off his head and returned to sacrifice it at Sun Quan’s temple.

(1) In History of Wu: Han Dang was diligent and won many merits, but as he gave all his captives to other generals, his rank was not increased.B He was only made Major with a Separate Command at the end of Jian’s time. <return>

(2) In History of Wu: Han Zong wanted to rebel against Wu, but was afraid that his subordinates wouldn’t follow him. And so he pardoned them even when they ridiculed the imperial messengers and robbed and plundered. However, this became a trend and was threatening the discipline of his troops. Later, it was rumoured that he was being summoned to Sun Quan, and that he was going to be reprimanded for his subordinates’ thieving. So he said, “Those below the rank of general should be controlled.” He also feared that the crimes would implicate him, and so those around him said to him, “The only thing to do now is to leave.” They then plotted together, and using the pretense of burying his father, Han Zong had all his female relatives come, and married them off to his subordinate generals. The maids and concubines that he liked he also gave to those who were close to him. Together with his officers, they killed the sacrificial ox, and swore an oath by drinking the wine and smearing their lips with the blood of the ox. <return>

Translator Notes
(A) Traditional Confucian code requires the observation of a 3-year mourning period for the death of a father, during which one stays in guard of the grave. <return>

(B) Since martial achievements were partially measured according to the number of enemy soldiers captured, Han Dang allowed his cohorts to advance faster than him by giving his captives to them. <return>

Copyright © 2002 - 2003
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi