Biography (SGZ): Zhao Yun (Zilong)

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Zhao Yun (Zilong)
趙雲 (子龍)
(AD ?–229)

San Guo Zhi Officer Biography
Translator Notes in Green
Translated by Jack Yuan

Sanguozhi Scroll 36 Shu 6
<— Huang Zhong | Zhao Yun

Zhao Yun was styled Zilong and a man from Zhending in Changshan. He originally was a subordinate of Gongsun Zan. Gongsun Zan sent the Former Lord with Tian Ti to oppose Yuan Shao and Zhao Yun accompanied them as commander of the cavalry. At the time that the Former Lord was pursued by Duke Cao at Changban, Dangyang, he abandoned his wives and fled south. Zhao Yun cradled the Former Lord’s frail son—the future Latter Lord—and protected the Lady Gan—the mother of the Latter Lord—shielding them from danger. Hence he was promoted to the position of General of the Standard. When the Former Lord entered Shu, Zhao Yun remained in Jingzhou.

At Jiameng, the Former Lord returned from battle, attacked Liu Zhang and summoned Zhuge Liang. Zhuge Liang led Zhao Yun, Zhang Fei and others upstream, securing the various prefectures they passed. At Jiangzhou, he sent Zhao Yun to Jiangyang via the Wai River, to rendezvous at Chengdu. After Chengdu was secured, Zhao Yun was made General of the Flying Army. In the year of Jianxing [223] Zhao Yun was assigned as Central Protector of the Army, General who Subdues the South and enfeoffed as Marquis of Yongchangting, and later promoted to become General who Maintains Peace in the East. In the fifth year [227], Zhuge Liang garrisoned Hanzhong. The next year, Zhuge Liang went on campaign, declaring that he would advance through Xie Gorge, and Cao Zhen led his great army in opposition. Zhuge Liang ordered Zhao Yun and Deng Zhi to counter Cao Zhen, whilst he himself marched to besiege Mount Qi. The troop strength of Zhao Yun and Deng Zhi were inadequate to that of the enemy. Hence they were defeated at Ji Gorge, but their centre held firm and thus avoided a great defeat. After the army retreated, Zhao Yun was demoted to the position of General who Maintains the Army in Order.

In the seventh year [229], Zhao Yun died and received the posthumous appellation of ‘Marquis Shunping’.

Earlier, during the reign of the Former Lord, only Fa Zheng received posthumous appellation. During the reign of the Latter Lord, for Zhuge Liang’s merits and virtues; for Jiang Wan and Fei Wei’s services to the state, these men received posthumous appellations. Chen Zhi received the grace and favour of the throne; Xiahou Ba came to submit from afar. Hence these men also received posthumous appellations. At the time, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Ma Chao, Huang Zhong and Zhao Yun also received posthumous appellations. Their contemporaries thought it most prestigious. Zhao Yun’s noble title was inherited by his son Zhao Tong, who reached the position of General of the Gentlemen of the Household as Rapid as Tigers, with power of superintendence over the army. His second son Zhao Guang was General of the Standard, accompanied Jiang Wei at Tazhong and died on the battlefield.

Appraisal: It was said that Guan Yu and Zhang Fei were the match of ten thousand men and tiger generals of their times. Guan Yu repaid Duke Cao and Zhang Fei treated Yan Yan with rectitude; both had the airs of statesmen. However, Guan Yu was headstrong and Zhang Fei crude and heartless. It is the standard moral that they fell due to these weaknesses. Ma Chao relied on the Rong and was conceited in his valiance. For this his entire clan was exterminated, what a ignominy! But to gain peace in such a predicament, is this not some recompense? Huang Zhong and Zhao Yun were firm, courageous and both were of immense service. They were probably the like of Guan Ying and the Lord of Teng [Xiahou Ying].

Copyright © 2002 Jack Yuan
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi
All Rights Reserved