Xu Chu style Zhongkang was a man from Qiao of the Qiao state. He was over eight chi’s in height, his waist was round. His appearance was firm and manly. His courage and strength was above ordinary men. During the end of the Han, at a young age [Xu Chu] and his family clan numbering a thousand held strong and defended against bandits. At the time the Ru Nan thieves numbered over ten thousands that attack Xu Chu’s walls. The crowd with Xu Chu didn’t have enough to resist, the battle was extremely exhausting. When the defenders ran out of arrows, [Xu Chu] gave out orders to the men and women to place rocks on the four walls. Xu Chu hurled the rocks injuring those down below. The thieves dared not to advance. Provisions were lacking, so a truce was called with the thieves. Oxens were exchanged for food from the thieves. When the thieves came to collect the oxen, the oxen fled. Xu Chu came out and with one hand grabbed onto the oxen’s tail, dragging it over one hundred steps. The thieves were frightened and didn’t dare to get the oxen back, so they left. His name was then feared throughout Huai, Ru, Chen and Liang.
When Tai Zu [Cao Cao] got Huai and Ru, Xu Chu and his followers submitted to him. Upon seeing him, [Cao Cao] spoke: “This is my Fan Kuai. (I)” Xu Chu was then promptly promoted to Chief Commandant (du wei) and made a Commandant of the Palace (su wei). Various people saw him as a chivalrous person and all commented him as a tiger soldier (hu shi).
(I): Cao Cao was making a comparison between Xu Chu and Fan Kuai of the Former Han dynasty. Fan Kuai was Liu Bang’s personal guards, who saved the latter at the Hong Men banquet. A ‘friendly’ swordplay was planned to execute Liu Bang by Xiang Yu. Thanks to Fan Kuai’s intervention, Liu Bang was able to escape unscathed. This later became the Hong Men banquet scheme, in which it is mentioned in San Guo Yuan Yi a few times.
When the attack on Zhang Xiu was made, [Xu Chu] led the attack; it was calculated that he beheaded ten thousand men. Xu Chu was then transferred to be a Colonel (xiao wei).
An attack was made on Yuan Shao at Guan Du. At the time, there were some soldiers that planned to mutiny. Xu Chu was usually around in attendance [protecting Cao Cao], thus they didn’t dare stike. They waited until Xu Chu was resting later on in the day before they concealed a dagger to enter. Xu Chu had a suspicious feeling so he returned to duty. They didn’t know this so they entered the tent and saw Xu Chu there. They were startled upon seeing him and their complexions changed. Xu Chu noticing this, quickly killed them. Xu Chu got [Cao Cao’s] personal trust and always accompanied him, never leaving his sight.
When attacking Ye, [Xu Chu] had many merits in battle and was bestowed as Marquis of Guan Nei.
Afterwards Xu Chu was there for the battle at Tong Gate against Ma Chao and Han Sui. [Cao Cao] went north and crossed the river, first sending the troops. Along with Xu Chu and over one hundred tiger soldiers, they stayed on the southern banks. Ma Chao rushed at [Cao Cao’s] army with over ten thousand cavalry; shooting arrows like it was raining. Xu Chu reported to [Cao Cao] that the traitors were many. And since they ferried many troops across the river it was best for them to depart. Xu Chu helped [Cao Cao] onto a ship. The traitors continued to pour on the pressure. The troops didn’t want to drown and strived to get across. Xu Chu killed those troops on the ship; with his left hand he raised the horse saddle to cover [Cao Cao]. The ship workers were killed by the falling arrows. With his right hand Xu Chu helped ensured the boat to make it across the river. Indeed what a perilous situation they were in that day. Afterwards, [Cao Cao] met up with Han Sui and Ma Chao’s troops on horseback alone to talk. All around there was no one, except General Xu Chu. Ma Chao wanted to secretly attack [Cao Cao] unexpectedly. But he had heard of Xu Chu’s bravery and stayed his hand in doubt on his horse. He asked [Cao Cao]: “The Duke has a Tiger Marquis, where is he?” [Cao Cao] looked and pointed Xu Chu out. Xu Chu glared angrily with his eyes. Ma Chao dared not to make a move. Many days after, a battle between the two armies clashed with Ma Chao’s alliance suffering defeat. For his merits of beheading many enemies, Xu Chu was made General of the Gentleman of the Household of the Martial Commandant (wu wei zhong lang jiang). The marital guard’s name was started from this. In the army, Xu Chu’s might was like that of a tiger, thus the name ‘tiger’. From when Ma Chao asked for the ‘tiger marquis’; All under Heaven to this day referred to him as this name.
Xu Chu’s nature was one that was prudent and cautious; he respected the laws, and was a man of few words. One time Cao Ren came from Jing Zhou to pay respects at court. [Cao Cao] had not came out yet, so he went to see Xu Chu outside the palace. Cao Ren called out to Xu Chu to come sit down and talk. Xu Chu only said these words: “The royal general comes,” and returned inside the palace. Cao Ren resented this and said to him: “征南宗室重臣 , 降意呼君, why does the gentleman leave then?” Xu Chu replied: “Even though you are a relative, you are still external [of the palace]. I am an internal officer, talking with the crowd is enough, what private business do you have inside?” [Cao Cao] heard of this incident and loved [Xu Chu] the more for it, making him General of Central Firmness (zhong jian jiang jun).
With the collapse of [Cao Cao], Xu Chu wept and coughed out blood. The Literary Emperor [Cao Pi] advanced his promotion to Marquis of Wan Sui Ting, changed his ranked to General of Martial Commandant (wu wei jiang jun); Chief Controller of the Central Army (du du zhong jun).
Earlier, all of Xu Chu’s tiger troops followed to attack Fa, [Cao Cao] thought they were followers of his. On the same day promoted [Xu Chu] to become a general. Afterwards due to the merits promoted to general with additional Marquis status, with several tens of people. Chief Commandant (du wei), Colonel (xiao wei) over a hundred people. When the Illustrious Emperor (Cao Rui) assumed the throne he further added the title of Marquis of Mou Xiang. An addition of seven hundred households was added to the fiefdom. The son was bestowed a feudal rank of Marquis of Guan Nei. When Xu Chu died, he was given a posthumously title of Marquis of Zhuang. His son Xu Yi inherited [his father’s titles]. Xu Chu’s brother, Xu Ding also had military merits was bestowed General who Raises Might (zhen wei jiang jun), Chief Controller (du du) jiao dao hu bi. In the middle of Tai He (II), the Emperor thought of Xu Chu’s loyalty and obedience thus issued an imperial decree of praises and support. He again bestowed upon [Xu Chu’s] son and grandson feudal rank of Marquis of Guan Nei. Xu Yi was killed by Zhong Hui. In the beginning of Tai Shi, [Xu Yi’s] son, Xu Zong inherited his father’s titles.
(II): The reign year for Tai He started in AD 227 and ending in AD 233 Thus it would place the event somewhere between AD 229-231
Copyright © 2003 jiuwan (Giao Chau)
Translated from Chen Shou’s Records of the Three Kingdoms annoted by Pei Songzhi