Liu Ye
Palace Counsellor (太中大夫)
In office
? (?)–234 (234)
In office
232 (232)–? (?)
MonarchCao Rui
Grand Herald (大鴻臚)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchCao Rui
Palace Attendant (侍中)
In office
220 (220)–? (?)
MonarchCao Pi
Personal details
Shou County, Anhui
RelationsLiu Huan (brother)
  • Liu Yu
  • Liu Tao
  • Liu Pu (father)
Courtesy nameZiyang (子揚)
Posthumous nameMarquis Jing (景侯)
PeerageMarquis of Dong Village

Liu Ye (170s[2] - 234),[a] courtesy name Ziyang, was an adviser to the warlord Cao Cao during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. After the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty, he served as an official in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period, serving under Cao Pi and Cao Rui. He was a member of the House of Liu, the imperial clan of the Han dynasty, and a direct descendant of Emperor Guangwu, via Guangwu's seventh son Liu Yan. He had two sons: Liu Yu (劉寓) and Liu Tao (劉陶).

Early life

Liu's mother died when he was six. On her deathbed, she told him and his brother Liu Huan to kill a dangerous and treacherous servant belonging to his father Liu Pu once they were older.[3] Liu killed the servant six years later. Liu Pu was angry and asked his son the reason for the murder.[4] Liu Ye replied that he was just following his mother's last wish and was ready to take punishment. After hearing the explanation, Liu Pu had a change of heart, and forgave Ye.[5]

Due to his family background and act of killing the servant, Liu already had a great reputation when he was in his early twenties. During this time, some local rich landowners had formed their own private armies. Among them, Zheng Bao (郑宝) was the strongest and he wanted to force people living in Huainan to move to another prefecture.[6] Zheng wanted to take advantage of Liu's reputation to assist with the eviction; Liu Ye was unwilling to do so. Around this period, an emissary from Cao Cao came to visit Liu Ye to discuss current state of affairs; Liu Ye persuaded the emissary to stay with him for a few days.[7] Zheng Bao wanted to meet Cao Cao's emissary, so he went to Liu's home with hundreds of soldiers, bringing along cows and wine.[8] Liu Ye then entertained Zheng with a feast. During the feast, he killed Zheng during a toast and threatened the now-leaderless soldiers to withdraw by claiming that by Cao Cao's orders, anyone who attacked would be guilty of the same offences as Zheng.[9] After the feast, Liu went to Zheng Bao's military camp with several servants. At the camp, Liu persuaded Zheng's private army to surrender by analysing the situation for the soldiers. Liu Ye felt that as a member of the imperial Liu clan, he should not have his own army as the Han dynasty was by then floundering; he then gave these thousands of surrendered soldiers to the local governor, Liu Xun (刘勋).[10] After this incident, Liu Ye became a counselor serving under Liu Xun.

Liu Ye could be the "Liu Ziyang" mentioned in Lu Su's biography in Sanguozhi, who was a friend of Lu and wrote a letter to him, asking him to join Zheng Bao.

Serving Liu Xun

While Liu Ye was serving under Liu Xun, Sun Ce invited Liu Xun to attack Shangliao City (上缭城); Sun sent Liu Xun gifts and Sun's emissary was overly humble. Liu Ye advised Liu Xun not to attack Shangliao, but Liu Xun did not listen. During the attack on Shangliao, Sun Ce attacked Liu Xun. The defeated Liu Xun then decided to join Cao Cao, and Liu Ye followed suit. [11]

Serving Cao Cao

Serving Cao Pi

When Zhang Liao fell ill while stationed at Yongqiu, Cao Pi sent Liu Ye, along with imperial physicians, to visit Zhang.[12] Also, just before Cao Pi's death, he asked various officials, including Liu Ye, about Yang Fu. At the officials' recommendations, Cao Pi wanted to promote Yang, but died before he could do so.[13]

Serving Cao Rui

Liu Ye's downfall came when Cao Rui was warned by someone that Liu was second-guessing him. Cao Rui decided to test this out; when he realised that Liu Ye was indeed pandering to him, he began to avoid Liu.[14]

See also


  1. ^ a b Liu Ye's biography in the Sanguozhi recorded that he served in office for two years after his appointment in the 6th year of the Taihe era (227–233) of Cao Rui's reign before his death.[1] Therefore, it is deduced that he died in 234, which corresponds to the 2nd year of the Qinglong era (233–237) of Cao Rui's reign.


  1. ^ (太和六年, ... 在位二年遜位, ... 薨。謚曰景侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 14.
  2. ^ According to the chronology of Liu Ye's biography in Sanguozhi, he was in his 20s while serving under Liu Xun. Liu Xun was independent only in 199, after Yuan Shu's death. By calculation, Liu Ye's birth year should be in the 170s.
  3. ^ (而母病困。临终,戒涣、晔以“普之侍人,有谄害之性。身死之后,惧必乱家。汝长大能除之,则吾无恨矣。) Sanguozhi, vol. 14
  4. ^ (普怒,遣人追晔。) Sanguozhi, vol. 14
  5. ^ 晔还拜谢曰:“亡母顾命之言,敢受不请擅行之罚。”普心异之,遂不责也。 Sanguozhi, vol. 14
  6. ^ (宝最骁果,才力过人,一方所惮。欲驱略百姓越赴江表) Sanguozhi, vol. 14
  7. ^ (会太祖遣使诣州,有所案问。晔往见,为论事势,要将与归,驻止数日) Sanguozhi, vol. 14
  8. ^ (宝果从数百人赍牛酒来候使), Sanguozhi, vol. 14
  9. ^ (晔因自引取佩刀斫杀宝,斩其首以令其军,云:“曹公有令,敢有动者,与宝同罪。”) Sanguozhi, vol. 14
  10. ^ (晔睹汉室渐微,己为支属,不欲拥兵, 遂委其部曲与庐江太守刘勋) Sanguozhi, vol. 14
  11. ^ (勋不从。兴兵伐上缭,策果袭其后。勋穷踧,遂奔太祖。) Sanguozhi, vol. 14
  12. ^ (辽还屯雍丘,得疾。帝遣侍中刘晔将太医视疾...) Sanguozhi, vol. 17
  13. ^ (文帝问侍中刘晔等:“武都太守何如人也?”皆称阜有公辅之节。未及用,会帝崩。) Sanguozhi, vol. 25
  14. ^ (《傅子》曰:或恶晔于帝曰:“晔不尽忠,善伺上意所趋而合之。陛下试与晔言,皆反意而问之,若皆与所问反者,是晔常与圣意合也。复每问皆同者,晔之情必无所逃矣。”帝如言以验之,果得其情,从此疏焉.) Fu Zi annotation in Sanguozhi, vol. 14