Biography (SGZ): Zhang Xiu

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Zhang Xiu
張繡
(AD ?-207)

San Guo Zhi Officer Biography
Pei Songzhi in Blue, Translator Notes in Green
translated by

Zhang Xiu, who hailed from Zuli in Wuwei, was a junior relative to Zhang Ji, General of the Agile Calvary. When Bian Zhang and Han Shui revolted in Liang Province, one Qu Sheng of Jincheng attacked Liu Jin, prefect of Zuli, and killed him. Zhang Xiu was a minor officer in the prefecture office at that time, and he tracked Qu Sheng down and killed him. All within the commandery praised him for that. Thus Zhang Xiu gathered many young people to himself and became a formidable force in the neighbourhood.

After Dong Zhuo’s defeat, Zhang Ji and Li Jue among others attacked Lü Bu to avenge Dong Zhuo – this has been recorded in Dong Zhuo’s biography. Zhang Xiu followed Zhang Ji’s banner, and for his military merits he was eventually promoted to General who Establishes Loyalty, and made Marquis of Xuanwei. Zhang Ji [returned to garrison] at Hongnong. Because his soldiers were famished, he led a raid on Rang in the south. However, he was hit by a stray arrow and died. Zhang Xiu took over his troops, stationed himself at Wan, and allied with Liu Biao.

Cao Cao marched south and as he arrived at the Yu River, Zhang Xiu and some others led their men to surrender. Cao Cao took Zhang Ji’s widow, and Zhang Xiu loathed him for that. Hearing that Zhang Xiu was displeased, Cao Cao devised a plan in secret to murder him. However, the plan was discovered, and Zhang Xiu surprise-attacked Cao Cao. Cao Cao lost the battle and two of his sons died (I). Zhang Xiu returned to defend Rang (1), and despite many years of fighting, Cao Cao was unable to conquer the city.

(1) Fuzi: Zhang Xiu had a trusted man named Hu Ju’er, whose strength made him a champion in the army. Cao Cao liked him for his prowess and personally gave him a gift of gold. Upon hearing about that, Zhang Xiu became suspicious that Cao Cao was going to have [Hu] assassinate him. Thus he rebelled.
History of Wu: After surrendering, Zhang Xiu adopted Jia Xu’s plan and requested to move his troops to the high road. The road passed through Cao Cao’s camps. Zhang Xiu then said [to Cao Cao], “We have few carts and they are too heavily-loaded; I beg for your permission to let my men put their armour on [to relieve the load in the carts].” Trusting Zhang Xiu to be true, Cao Cao allowed him to do so. Thus Zhang Xiu armed his men and launched a surprise attack in Cao Cao’s camps. Being unprepared for this, Cao Cao lost.
(I) referring to Cao Cao’s first-born, Cao Ang, and his nephew Cao Anmin.

When Cao Cao was holding off Yuan Shao’s men at Guandu, Zhang Xiu adopted Jia Xu’s suggestion and brought his men again to surrender to Cao Cao – this is discussed in Jia Xu’s biography. When Zhang Xiu arrived, Cao Cao held his hand and feasted together with him. He also proposed a marriage between his son Cao Jun and Zhang Xiu's daughter, and made Zhang Xiu General who Manifests Firmness. Because of his martial accomplishments at the Guandu battle, Zhang Xiu was promoted to General who Defeats the Qiang. He then followed [Cao Cao] to conquer Yuan Tan at Nanpi, and for that his fief was increased to 2,000 households. At that time, the number of households in the land had decreased sharply, and only one-tenth remained [from before the wars]. All the other generals had fiefs fewer than a thousand households, but Zhang Xiu alone was granted an especially large number.

He followed [Cao Cao] to fight the Wuhuan at Liucheng, but before he reached there, he died (2). He was given the posthumous title of Marquis of Stability. His son, Zhang Chuan, inherited his title, but he was executed later on the account of treasonous plotting together with Wei Feng. The fief was taken from his family.

(2) Wei Epitome (Wei Lue): General over the Officers [Cao Pi], having been invited on several occasions [by Zhang Xiu], became angry and said, “Having killed my older brother, how can you still show your face to me?” Zhang Xiu became troubled at heart, and committed suicide.

Copyright © 2004
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi with Pei Songzhi’s Annotations