Encyclopedia: Ren Kai

Ren Kai (Yuanbao); Jên K‘ai (Yüan-pao); 任恺 (元褒)

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You are viewing the profile of Ren Kai (任恺), styled Yuanbao (元褒), born in Lean County (Modern day Boxing county, Shangdong province). “Minister of both Wei and Jin. He was said to be careful and hardworking with official business, and was widely praised. However his career was hindered by conflict with Jia Chong.” Ren Kai was affiliated with the Wei Kingdom and the Jin Dynasty. Return to the Three Kingdoms Encyclopedia to learn more or explore our Encyclopedia Directory to browse by kingdom or category.


Ren Kai (Yuanbao) 任恺 (元褒)

Lived: AD 223–284

None Available

Served: Wei, Jin

Minister of both Wei and Jin. He was said to be careful and hardworking with official business, and was widely praised. However his career was hindered by conflict with Jia Chong.

Officer Details

Wade-Giles: Jên K‘ai (Yüan-pao)
Simplified Chinese: 任恺 (元褒)

Birthplace: Lean County
(Modern day Boxing county, Shangdong province)

Rank and Titles

Palace Writer, Cavalier Regular Attendant, Palace Attendant, Master of History, Prefect of Henan, Minister of the Household, Grand Servant, Minister of Ceremonies, Marquis of Changguo, Marquis Yuan

Family and Relationships

Ren Hao (Father)


Internet Researched

Ren Kai was from from Lean county (modern day Shandong province’s Boxing county). He was the son of Wei’s Minister of Ceremonies [taichang 太常] Ren Hao. He served under both the Wei and Jin dynasties. Ren Kai was said to be careful and hardworking with official business, and was widely admired. However his career was hindered by conflict with Jia Chong.

Ren Kai held the position of Palace Writer [zhongshu 中書] and then served as a Cavalier Regular Attendant [sanqichang 散騎常侍]. In 263, Sima Zhao was made the Duke of Jin, and established the state of Jin. Ren Kai, Now a Palace Assistant [shizhong 侍中] was made a marquis of Changguo county. He was skilled with previous works, always understanding things the first time he came across them, and was loyal and honest to the state as well as his position. He was intimate with Sima Yan, who would consult with him daily on political matters. During the Western Jin era, Zheng Chong, Wang Xiang, He Ceng, Xun Yi, and Pei Xiu were all old and wished to retire. Sima Yan was partial to them, and would not let them come before the court. He assigned Ren Kai to go to their houses to consult with them on important ideas and suggestions.

Ren Kai hated how Jia Chong behaved, and couldn’t bear his high rank, many times restricting Jia Chong. Although Jia Chong was very resentful, he came up with an unprecedented plan. Jia Chong praised Ren Kai, and recommended him to help the crown prince, with the intent of reducing Ren Kai’s power. However, Sima Yan not only appointed Ren Kai the Crown Prince’s tutor, but also had him continue to serve him, making Jia Chong unsuccessful. In 271, Qinzhou and Yongzhou were being harassed by Tufa Shujineng. Ren Kai took the opportunity to propose a prestigious officer to pacify the borderlands, and recommended Jia Chong. The Prefect of the Palace Writers [zhongshuling 中書令] Yu Chun also supported this, and Sima Yan ordered Jia Chong to take over the military affairs of Chang An. Xun Xu came up with a plan to let Jia Chong remain in Luoyang.

At that time, the court divided into two factions under Ren Kai and Jia Chong. Sima Yan attempted to reconcile them, but the two men held a deep hatred, on the surface showing respect, but holding extreme resentments in their hearts. Someone proposed a plan to Jia Chong, to first have Ren Kai leave the Emperor’s side; Jia Chong would then praise Ren Kai’s ability, and recommend him to select choice works of scholarship. Sima Yan appointed Ren Kai Director of Personnel [libu shangshu 吏部尚書], as well as offering him a General [jiangjun 將軍] rank. Ren Kai was impartial with the works he selected, and did his work diligently, but had few opportunities to meet with the Emperor. Jia Chong at this time had Xun Yi and Feng Dan slander Ren Kai’s extravagance, such as using the Imperial utensils, in addition to sending the Right Supervisor of the Master of Writing [shangshu you pushe 尚書右僕射], and had the King of Gaowang Sima Gui present a memorial to Sima Yan. Sima Yan dismissed Ren Kai from office. A later investigation would discover that imperial utensils were really bestowed on Ren Kai’s wife and kids by the Princess of Qichang (Cao Rui’s daughter). However, since Ren Kai had been dismissed from office and slandered, grew apart from Sima Yan. Later after capturing Shan Tao, he’s be appointed Magistrate [ling 令] of Henan, once again dismissed from office, and would later get appointed Minister of the Household [guangluxun 光祿勳].

Ren Kai from these experiences continued to be hardworking and scrupulously abided by his duty, but Jia Chong and his clique said he and Li Jinling conspired with Liu You. The Master of Writing [shangshu 尚書] Du You as well as the Minister of Justice [tingwei 廷尉] Liu Liang made an appeal for Ren Kai, but they were all dismissed from office. Having lost office again, he turned to drinking, spending 10,000 dollars on a meal. At this time, Ren Kai received Sima Yan’s summons, and was greeted by Sima Yan, which made Ren Kai weep. He’d later be appointed as a Grand Servant [taiyi 太僕], as well as a Minister of Ceremonies [taichang 太常].

In 283, the Left Supervisor of the Masters of Writing [shangshu zuo pushe 尚書左僕射] Wei Shu was appointed Minister Over the masses [situ 司徒], replacing Shan Tao. Ren Kai was ordered to instruct him. Wei Shu had formerly been recommended for a promotion by Ren Kai, and was now one of the Three Excellencies, while Ren Kai was only a minister, never achieving the rank of the Three Excellencies, with everyone feeling he was not worthy. Ren Kai lost his ambition, grew depressed and died, having lived to 61, with the posthumous title of Yuan.



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April 10, 2023