Wen Yang
Colonel of the Dongyi (東夷校尉)
In office
c. 280s (c. 280s)–291 (291)
MonarchEmperor Wu of Jin
Emperor Hui of Jin
Protector of the Army Who Pacifies the Barbarians
In office
? (?) – c. 280s (c. 280s)
MonarchEmperor Wu of Jin
Personal details
Wen Chu (文俶)

Died291 (aged 53)[2]
RelativesWen Hu (brother)
OccupationMilitary officer
Courtesy nameCiqian (次騫)
PeerageSecondary Marquis (關內侯)

Wen Chu (238–291),[1][2] courtesy name Ciqian, better known as Wen Yang,[b] was a military officer of the Jin dynasty of China. He previously served in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. In 255, he participated in a rebellion in Shouchun started by his father, Wen Qin, and another Wei general, Guanqiu Jian. However, the rebellion was suppressed and Wen Qin and his family were forced to defect to Eastern Wu, Wei's rival state. In 257, when another rebellion broke out in Shouchun, Wen Qin and his sons led troops from Wu to support the rebel leader, Zhuge Dan. However, by 258, when the odds were against him, Zhuge Dan became increasingly suspicious of Wen Qin and eventually executed him. Wen Yang and his younger brother, Wen Hu (文虎), escaped from Shouchun and surrendered to the Wei regent, Sima Zhao, and assisted him in suppressing the revolt. Wen Yang continued serving under the Jin dynasty, which replaced the Wei regime in 266, and achieved fame for leading a successful military campaign against Xianbei forces in northern China. In 291, he was falsely accused of plotting a rebellion with Yang Jun, an ousted regent, and was arrested and executed along with his family.


Wen Yang was the second son of Wen Qin, a general of the state of Cao Wei. His ancestral home was in Qiao Commandery (譙郡), which is in present-day Bozhou, Anhui.[3] He was already known for his great physical strength since he was young.[4]

Second Rebellion in Shouchun

Main article: Second Rebellion in Shouchun

In 254, the Wei regent Sima Shi, who effectively monopolised state power in Wei, deposed the emperor Cao Fang and replaced him with Cao Mao. Wen Qin, who was serving as the Inspector (刺史) of Yang Province at the time, felt angered by Sima Shi's actions and wanted to rebel against Sima Shi. Another Wei general, Guanqiu Jian, supported Wen Qin. In the spring of 255, Guanqiu Jian, Wen Qin and others sent out a fake imperial decree in the name of Empress Dowager Guo, listing out 11 crimes allegedly committed by Sima Shi, and started a rebellion in Shouchun (壽春; present-day Shou County, Anhui) to remove Sima Shi and his clan and supporters from power. After receiving news from Deng Ai about the rebellion, Sima Shi secretly mobilised imperial troops and personally led them to suppress the rebellion and reached Yuejia (樂嘉; present-day Xiangcheng, Henan). Wen Qin was surprised when he heard that Sima Shi had showed up so quickly.[5]

Wen Yang told his father, "The enemy has yet to establish a foothold. We can defeat them if we attack them now." Wen Qin heeded his son's advice and sent two separate forces to attack Sima Shi at night. That night, Wen Yang led his men to raid the Wei camp and shouted out Sima Shi's name during the attack. The Wei soldiers were shocked. Sima Shi, in his anxiety, aggravated the condition of his eye, which had recently been operated on, and caused his eye to pop out. However, he did not want his troops to find out about his condition and become even more panicky, so he bore the pain and bit his pillow and blanket to relieve the pain until they were torn to shreds. Wen Yang saw that the enemy was still superior in numbers and that his reinforcements did not show up, so he retreated before dawn.[6][7]

After Wen Yang retreated, Sima Shi ordered his officers to pursue the enemy, but they said, "Wen Qin and his son are war veterans. They didn't suffer any losses, so why would they retreat and give up?" Sima Shi replied, "Strike the iron when it is hot or we'll lose momentum. (Wen) Yang is impatient and didn't receive support in time. They have lost momentum and have no choice but to retreat!" In the meantime, Wen Qin had retreated back to Shouchun, but Wen Yang told him, "We shouldn't retreat until we have inflicted significant damage on the enemy." He then led about 10 riders with him to attack the Wei forces like an unstoppable force before withdrawing. Sima Ban (司馬班), an officer under Sima Shi, led about 8,000 horsemen to pursue Wen Yang and his men. Wen Yang turned back to attack them and killed about 100 enemy soldiers while charging in and out of the enemy formation a total of six to seven times. The enemy did not dare to approach him.[8]

The rebellion was eventually suppressed in 255 by Wei forces and Guanqiu Jian was killed. Wen Qin and his family defected to Eastern Wu, Wei's rival state. Sima Shi died of illness in Xuchang (許昌; present-day Xuchang, Henan) within the same year after the revolt was crushed.[5]

Third Rebellion in Shouchun

Main article: Third Rebellion in Shouchun

In 257, the Wei general Zhuge Dan started another rebellion in Shouchun (壽春; present-day Shou County, Anhui) against the regent Sima Zhao, who had taken over the reins of power from his elder brother, Sima Shi. The Wu regent Sun Chen ordered Wen Qin and his sons, along with other Wu officers, to lead troops to Shouchun to help Zhuge Dan. Sima Zhao personally led the Wei forces to Shouchun to suppress the rebellion. By 258, when the odds turned against Zhuge Dan, he became more suspicious of Wen Qin, whom he was already highly distrustful of. Zhuge Dan eventually had Wen Qin executed.[9]

When Wen Yang and his younger brother, Wen Hu (文虎), received news of their father's death, they led their men to confront Zhuge Dan and avenge their father, but their men refused to obey their orders. In desperation, Wen Yang and Wen Hu climbed over the city walls, escaped from Shouchun, and defected to Sima Zhao's side. Sima Zhao said, "Wen Qin committed an unpardonable crime (treason). His sons should be executed. However, since (Wen) Yang and (Wen) Hu have decided to surrender under desperate circumstances, and since the city (Shouchun) is yet to be captured, killing them will only harden the enemy's decision to continue resisting." He pardoned Wen Yang and Wen Hu, appointed them as military officers, awarded each of them the title of a Secondary Marquis (關內侯), and ordered them to lead 100 horsemen to travel around Shouchun's perimeter and call out to the rebels, "See, Wen Qin's sons are spared after they surrendered. What's there to be afraid of?" The rebels, who already ran out of supplies and were trapped inside the city, lost their fighting spirit. In the following month, Sima Zhao's forces succeeded in breaking through and captured Shouchun. Zhuge Dan was killed while trying to escape. The rebellion was effectively suppressed.[9] Sima Zhao allowed Wen Yang and Wen Hu to recover their father's body and hold a proper funeral, and gave them carriages and oxen.[10]

Service under the Jin dynasty

Wen Yang continued serving under the Jin dynasty, which, in 266, replaced the state of Cao Wei after Sima Zhao's son, Sima Yan, forced the last Wei emperor Cao Huan to abdicate the throne in his favour. In 277, Wen Yang, who held the position of Protector of the Army Who Pacifies the Barbarians (平虜護軍), led Jin forces from Yong and Liang provinces to attack Xianbei forces led by Tufa Shujineng. He defeated them, forced some 200,000 Xianbei tribespeople to submit to the Jin dynasty, and became famous for his military exploits and martial prowess.[11][12]


During the Taikang era (280–289), Wen Yang was appointed Colonel of the Dongyi (東夷校尉). He visited Emperor Wu (Sima Yan) at his imperial court to bid the emperor farewell before leaving to assume office. However, Emperor Wu did not like Wen Yang after meeting him and found an excuse to remove him from his appointment. In 291, during the reign of Emperor Hui, after the regent Yang Jun was ousted from power, Zhuge Dan's maternal grandson, Sima Yao (司馬繇), the Duke of Dong'an (東安公), bore a grudge against Wen Yang for the downfall of his maternal grandfather so he falsely accused Wen Yang of plotting a rebellion with Yang Jun. Wen Yang was arrested and executed along with his family.[2][13]

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Wen Yang appears in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which romanticises the historical events before and during the Three Kingdoms period. He is described as follows:

"... Wen Yang was 18 years old, eight chi tall, [he was] dressed in full armour, with an iron club attached to his belt, [he] grabbed his spear swiftly and mounted his horse, observed the Wei camp in the far distance and advanced forward."[14]

A verse in the novel compared his courageous actions during the raid on Sima Shi's camp at Yuejia to Zhao Yun's heroics at the Battle of Changban.[15]

In popular culture

Wen Yang was first introduced as a playable character in the eighth instalment of Koei's Dynasty Warriors video game series.

See also


  1. ^ The Zizhi Tongjian recorded that Wen Yang was 18 years old (by East Asian age reckoning) in 255.[1] By calculation, Wen Yang's birth year should be around 238.
  2. ^ Yang (鴦) was Wen Yang's infant or childhood given name. His formal or adult given name was Chu (俶).



  1. ^ a b ([正元二年] ... 欽子鴦,年十八,勇力絕人, ...) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 76.
  2. ^ a b c Zizhi Tongjian vol. 82.
  3. ^ (魏書曰:欽字仲若,譙郡人。) Wei Shu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  4. ^ (魏氏春秋曰:欽中子俶,小名鴦。年尚幼,勇力絕人, ...) Wei Shi Chunqiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  5. ^ a b Zizhi Tongjian vol. 76.
  6. ^ (... 謂欽曰:「及其未定,擊之可破也。」於是分為二隊,夜夾攻軍。俶率壯士先至,大呼大將軍,軍中震擾。欽後期不應。會明,俶退,欽亦引還。) Wei Shi Chunqiu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  7. ^ (於是分為二隊,夜夾攻軍,鴦帥壯士先至鼓譟,軍中震擾。師驚駭,所病目突出,恐衆知之,囓被皆破。欽失期不應,會明,鴦見兵盛,乃引還。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 76.
  8. ^ (師與諸將曰:「賊走矣,可追之!」諸將曰:「欽父子驍猛,未有所屈,何苦而走?」師曰:「夫一鼓作氣,再而衰。鴦鼓譟失應,其勢已屈,不走何待!」欽將引而東,鴦曰:「不先折其勢,不得去也。」乃與驍騎十餘摧鋒陷陳,所向皆披靡,遂引去。師使左長史司馬班率驍將八千翼而追之,鴦以匹馬入數千騎中,輒殺傷百餘人,乃出,如此者六七,追騎莫敢逼。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 76.
  9. ^ a b Zizhi Tongjian vol. 77.
  10. ^ (欽子鴦及虎將兵在小城中,聞欽死,勒兵馳赴之,衆不為用。鴦、虎單走,踰城出,自歸大將軍。軍吏請誅之,大將軍令曰:「欽之罪不容誅,其子固應當戮,然鴦、虎以窮歸命,且城未拔,殺之是堅其心也。」乃赦鴦、虎,使將兵數百騎馳巡城,呼語城內云:「文欽之子猶不見殺,其餘何懼?」表鴦、虎為將軍,各賜爵關內侯。城內喜且擾,又日飢困,誕、咨等智力窮。 ... 聽鴦、虎收斂欽喪,給其車牛,致葬舊墓。) Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  11. ^ ([咸寧三年]三月,平虜護軍文鴦督涼、秦、雍州諸軍討樹機能,破之,諸胡二十萬口來降。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 80.
  12. ^ (幹寶《晉紀》曰:文淑,字次騫,小名鴦,有武力籌策。楊休、胡烈爲虜所害,武帝西憂,遣淑出征,所向摧靡,秦涼遂平,名震天下。爲東夷校尉,姿器膂力,萬人之雄。) Taiping Yulan vol. 275.
  13. ^ (鴦一名俶。晉諸公贊曰,俶後為將軍,破涼州虜,名聞天下。太康中為東夷校尉、假節。當之職,入辭武帝,帝見而惡之,託以他事免俶官。東安公繇,諸葛誕外孫,欲殺俶,因誅楊駿,誣俶謀逆,遂夷三族。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  14. ^ (且說文鴦年方十八歲,身長八尺,全裝貫甲,腰懸鋼鞭,綽鎗上馬,遙望魏寨而進。) Sanguo Yanyi ch. 110.
  15. ^ (後人有詩曰:長坂當年獨拒曹,子龍從此顯英豪。樂嘉城內爭鋒處,又見文鴦膽氣高。) Sanguo Yanyi ch. 110.