Li Ru
Palace Attendant (侍中)
In office
192 (192)–? (?)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
Prefect of the Gentlemen of the Palace of Hongnong Kingdom
In office
189 (189)–192 (192)
MonarchEmperor Xian of Han
ChancellorDong Zhuo
Personal details
Heyang County, Shaanxi
OccupationOfficial, adviser
Courtesy nameWenyou (文優)

Li Ru (fl. 189–192), courtesy name Wenyou, was an official serving under the warlord Dong Zhuo during the Eastern Han dynasty of China.


Li Ru was from Heyang County (郃陽縣), Zuopingyi (左馮翊), which is in present-day Heyang County, Shaanxi. He served as Prefect of the Gentlemen of the Palace of Hongnong Kingdom (弘農郎中令) when Dong Zhuo controlled the Han central government and the figurehead Emperor Xian between 189 and 192. After Dong Zhuo's death in 192, he served under Li Jue, a former subordinate of Dong Zhuo. In 190, Dong Zhuo sent Li Ru to poison the Liu Bian (the deposed Emperor Shao).[1][2] In the winter of 192, Li Jue recommended Li Ru to be a Palace Attendant (侍中), but Emperor Xian refused to endorse the recommendation and said: "(Li) Ru was formerly a Prefect of the Gentlemen of the Palace under the Prince of Hongnong (Liu Bian). He killed my elder brother and ought to be punished." In defence of Li Ru, Li Jue said, "It was not Li Ru's intention to follow Dong Zhuo's order. We should not punish the innocent."[3]

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Li Ru has a greater role as a minor character in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which romanticises the events before and during the Three Kingdoms period. In the novel, he is not just a trusted adviser of Dong Zhuo, but also a son-in-law of the warlord. As Dong Zhuo's advisor, he has a strong influence over many of the key decisions Dong Zhuo makes. For example, among other things, he advises Dong Zhuo to induce Lü Bu into defecting to his side, replace Emperor Shao with Emperor Xian, and relocate the imperial capital from Luoyang to Chang'an. When Dong Zhuo falls for the "beauty's trap" involving him, Lü Bu and Diaochan, Li Ru tries to warn Dong Zhuo about it but Dong Zhuo fails to heed his advice. After Dong Zhuo meets his end at the hands of Lü Bu in 192, Li Ru is arrested and executed for being an accomplice to Dong Zhuo's "crimes".

See also


  1. ^ Houhanshu vol. 10 (Part 2).
  2. ^ Zizhi Tongjian vol. 59.
  3. ^ (儒前為弘農王郎中令,迫殺我兄,誠宜加罪。) Hou Han Ji vol. 27.