Hao Zhao
General of a Miscellaneous Title (雜號將軍)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchCao Pi / Cao Rui
Personal details
Taiyuan, Shanxi
ChildrenHao Kai
Courtesy nameBodao (伯道)

Hao Zhao (fl. 220–229), courtesy name Bodao, was a military general of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He is best known for his victory at the siege of Chencang in 229 when he led a successful defence of Chencang against an invasion by a much larger army from Wei's rival state Shu Han. However, he died of illness not long after that.

Early career

Hao Zhao was from Taiyuan Commandery (太原郡), which is around present-day Taiyuan, Shanxi. He was described as "masculine and strong". He joined the army at a young age and was promoted to a General of a Miscellaneous Title (雜號將軍)[a] after making achievements in battle.[1]

In 220,[2] Qu Yan (麴演), Zhang Jin (張進) and Huang Hua (黃華) started a rebellion in Xiping (西平), Zhangye (張掖) and Jiuquan (酒泉) commanderies, all in present-day Gansu and Qinghai. The local tribes in Wuwei Commandery (武威郡) also rose up and joined the rebels. Hao Zhao and Wei Ping (魏平) joined the Wei general Su Ze (蘇則) in leading government forces to suppress the rebellion and succeeded in killing Qu Yan and Zhang Jin and forcing Huang Hua and the local tribes in Wuwei Commandery to surrender.[3] Hao Zhao remained in charge of the lands west of the Yellow River, covering parts of present-day Shanxi, Shaanxi and Gansu. During his tenure of over 10 years, he maintained peace and security in the region.[4][5]

In 227, Qu Ying (麴英) from Xiping Commandery started a rebellion and killed the officials in charge of Linqiang (臨羌) and Xidu (西都) counties. Hao Zhao and Lu Pan (鹿磐) led government forces to attack Qu Ying and succeeded in suppressing the revolt and killing Qu Ying.[6]

Defence of Chencang

Main article: Siege of Chencang

Following the Tianshui revolts and the Battle of Jieting in early 228, Cao Zhen, the General-in-Chief of Wei, predicted that a future invasion by Wei's rival state Shu Han would come from Chencang (陳倉; east of present-day Baoji, Shaanxi), so he ordered Hao Zhao and Wang Sheng (王生) to guard Chencang and strengthen its defences.[7] Cao Zhen was proven right as the Shu regent Zhuge Liang led troops to attack Chencang sometime in January 229.[8]

Zhuge Liang already knew that Chencang was heavily fortified and difficult to capture, so when he showed up with the Shu army, he was surprised to see that it was so well-defended and was shocked when he heard that Hao Zhao was in charge of defending it. He had heard of Hao Zhao's reputation as a highly capable general and realised that he could not take Chencang easily.[9] Zhuge Liang then ordered his troops to surround Chencang and then sent Jin Xiang (靳詳), who was from the same hometown as Hao Zhao, to persuade him to surrender. Hao Zhao replied, "You're familiar with the laws of Wei and you know me well as a person. I've received much grace from my State and my house is important. There's nothing you can say (to change my mind). Return to Zhuge (Liang) and tell him to prepare to attack."[10] After Jin Xiang reported to him what Hao Zhao said, Zhuge Liang sent Jin Xiang to try to persuade Hao Zhao again and tell him that he stood no chance against the Shu army and that there was no need for him to seek death and destruction. Hao Zhao replied, "I stand by what I told you earlier. I may recognise you, but my arrow won't." Jin Xiang then left.[11]

The odds were drastically against Hao Zhao – he had only about 1,000 men to resist the Shu army numbering tens of thousands, with no sign of Wei reinforcements heading towards Chencang. Zhuge Liang then ordered his troops to use an escalade tactic by scaling Chencang's walls with siege ladders. However, Hao Zhao countered by ordering archers to fire flaming arrows at the siege ladders, setting them aflame and burning the soldiers on them. When the enemy used battering rams, Hao Zhao ordered his troops to link rocks and boulders with chains and roll them down the walls to smash the battering rams.[12] The Shu army then resorted to filling up the moat around Chencang for their siege towers to get close to the walls and allow soldiers to climb up. Hao Zhao countered this tactic by ordering his men to build an interior layer of walls behind the exterior walls to prevent the enemy from advancing further in.[13] Zhuge Liang then thought of getting his troops to dig tunnels leading directly into Chencang, but Hao Zhao was prepared for this again as he ordered his men to dig tunnels in a perpendicular direction to block the enemy.[14][15]

The siege lasted for over 20 days. Zhuge Liang was unable to do anything to overcome Hao Zhao and capture Chencang. After some 20 days, he decided to withdraw his troops when he learnt that Wei reinforcements were approaching.[16]


The Wei imperial court issued a decree to praise Hao Zhao for his valiant defence of Chencang and confer him the title of a marquis to reward him for his achievements. When Hao Zhao came to the Wei imperial capital Luoyang later, the Wei emperor Cao Rui had a meeting with him. Cao Rui told Sun Zi (孫資), an official from the same hometown as Hao Zhao: "Your hometown has such bold and forthright men. What's there for me to worry about if I have generals as fiery as them?" He wanted to assign greater responsibilities to Hao Zhao, but Hao Zhao became critically ill and eventually died not long later.[17]

Before his death, Hao Zhao told his son Hao Kai (郝凱): "As a general, I know what a general shouldn't do. I've dug up many graves to obtain wood for making battle equipment, so I know a grand funeral is of no use to the dead. (After I die,) you must dress me in plain clothing. In life, we have a place to live in; in death, where can we go? It's up to you to decide where my grave will be, be it in the north, south, east or west."[18]

In popular culture

Qin Fanxiang portrayed Hao Zhao in the 2010 Chinese television series Three Kingdoms.

See also



  1. ^ In the Eastern Han dynasty and Three Kingdoms period, there were two categories of general ranks: Generals of Important Titles (重號將軍) and Generals of Miscellaneous Titles (雜號將軍). The former category includes generals with specific appointments such as General-in-Chief (大將軍), General of Agile Cavalry (驃騎將軍), General Who Guards the East (鎮東將軍) and General of the Vanguard (前將軍). The latter category includes generals with no specific appointments such as Lieutenant-General (偏將軍), Major-General (裨將軍), General Who Defeats Barbarians (破虜將軍) and General Who Attacks Rebels (討逆將軍). Hao Zhao's rank belonged to the latter category.

Inline citation

  1. ^ (昭字伯道,太原人,為人雄壯,少入軍為部曲督,數有戰功,為雜號將軍, ...) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  2. ^ Zizhi Tongjian vol. 69.
  3. ^ (後[麴]演復結旁郡為亂,張掖張進執太守杜通,酒泉黃華不受太守辛機,進、華皆自稱太守以應之。又武威三種胡並寇鈔,道路斷絕。武威太守毌丘興告急於則。時雍、涼諸豪皆驅略羌胡以從進等,郡人咸以為進不可當。又將軍郝昭、魏平先是各屯守金城,亦受詔不得西度。 ... 於是昭等從之,乃發兵救武威,降其三種胡,與興擊進於張掖。演聞之,將步騎三千迎則,辭來助軍,而實欲為變。則誘與相見,因斬之,出以徇軍,其黨皆散走。則遂與諸軍圍張掖,破之,斬進及其支黨,眾皆降。演軍敗,華懼,出所執乞降,河西平。) Sanguozhi vol. 16.
  4. ^ (... 遂鎮守河西十餘年,民夷畏服。) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  5. ^ 南门太守 (2016). 诸葛亮:蜀汉舵手的历史真相 [Zhuge Liang: The Historical Truth of the Shu Han Helmsman] (in Chinese). 中国纺织出版社. ISBN 9787518020942. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  6. ^ (太和元年春正月, ... 西平麴英反,殺臨羌令、西都長,遣將軍郝昭、鹿磐討斬之。) Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  7. ^ (真以亮懲於祁山,後出必從陳倉,乃使將軍郝昭、王生守陳倉,治其城。明年春,亮果圍陳倉,已有備而不能克。) Sanguozhi vol. 9.
  8. ^ (魏略曰:先是使將軍郝昭築陳倉城;會亮至,圍昭,不能拔。) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  9. ^ (大和中,魏遣將軍郝昭築城陳倉城。適訖,㑹諸葛亮來攻。亮本聞陳倉城惡,及至,怪其整頓,聞知昭在其中,大驚愕。亮素聞昭在西有威名,念攻之不易。) Taiping Huanyu Ji vol. 30.
  10. ^ (亮圍陳倉,使昭鄉人靳詳於城外遙說之,昭於樓上應詳曰:「魏家科法,卿所練也;我之為人,卿所知也。我受國恩多而門戶重,卿無可言者,但有必死耳。卿還謝諸葛,便可攻也。」). Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  11. ^ (詳以昭語告亮,亮又使詳重說昭,言人兵不敵,無為空自破滅。昭謂詳曰:「前言已定矣。我識卿耳,箭不識也。」詳乃去。) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  12. ^ (亮自以有眾數萬,而昭兵才千餘人,又度東救未能便到,乃進兵攻昭,起雲梯衝車以臨城。昭於是以火箭逆射其雲梯,梯然,梯上人皆燒死。昭又以繩連石磨壓其衝車,衝車折。) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  13. ^ (亮乃更為井闌百尺以付城中,以土丸填壍,欲直攀城,昭又於內築重牆。) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  14. ^ (亮足為城突,欲踊出於城裏,昭又於城內穿地橫截之。) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  15. ^ Shi, Yue. "Taiping Huanyu Ji 25-26" (in Chinese). Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  16. ^ (晝夜相攻拒二十餘日,亮無計,救至,引退。) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  17. ^ (詔嘉昭善守,賜爵列侯。及還,帝引見慰勞之,顧謂中書令孫資曰:「卿鄉里乃有爾曹快人,為將灼如此,朕復何憂乎?」仍欲大用之。會病亡, ...) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.
  18. ^ (... 遺令戒其子凱曰:「吾為將,知將不可為也。吾數發冢,取其木以為攻戰具,又知厚葬無益於死者也。汝必斂以時服。且人生有處所耳,死復何在邪?今去本墓遠,東西南北,在汝而已。」) Weilue annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 3.

Primary sources