Xiahou Mao
General Who Guards the East (鎮東將軍)
In office
? (?)–? (?)
MonarchCao Rui
General Who Stabilises the West (安西將軍)
In office
220 (220)–? (?)
MonarchCao Pi / Cao Rui
Personal details
Spouse(s)Princess Qinghe
Courtesy nameZilin (子林)

Xiahou Mao (fl. 220s–230s), courtesy name Zilin, was a military general of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was the second son of Xiahou Dun, a general who served under the warlord Cao Cao, who laid the foundation for the Cao Wei state in the late Eastern Han dynasty. He married Princess Qinghe, one of Cao Cao's daughters, and held the title of a marquis.


Xiahou Mao was a close friend of Cao Pi, Cao Cao's heir and the first emperor of Cao Wei. After Cao Pi usurped the throne from Emperor Xian (the last emperor of the Han dynasty) in 220, he appointed Xiahou Mao as General Who Stabilises the West (安西將軍) and put him in charge of military affairs in the Guanzhong region, with his headquarters at Chang'an (present-day Xi'an, Shaanxi). According to the Weilue, Xiahou Mao was known for being an incompetent military commander – such that Wei Yan, a general from Cao Wei's rival state Shu Han, once attempted to exploit Xiahou Mao's incompetence by sending an army across harsh terrain to launch a sneak attack on Chang'an. However, the plan did not go through because Zhuge Liang, the Chancellor of Shu, rejected Wei Yan's plan.

In 228, the second Wei emperor, Cao Rui, personally led reinforcements to Chang'an to defend against a series of invasions by Shu forces under Zhuge Liang's leadership. He removed Xiahou Mao from his command and reassigned to be a Master of Writing (尚書) in the Wei central government in Luoyang.

In Luoyang, Xiahou Mao came into conflict with his own wife (Princess Qinghe) and two younger brothers, Xiahou Zizang (夏侯子臧) and Xiahou Zijiang (夏侯子江). As his brothers constantly misbehaved and abused their powers, Xiahou Mao had to discipline them regularly so they resented him for that. Later, they found an ally in their sister-in-law (Princess Qinghe), who was jealous that her husband had been keeping numerous concubines. The three of them slandered him in front of the emperor Cao Rui and caused him to be arrested and almost executed. However, Xiahou Mao was saved by Duan Mo (段默), an official who urged Cao Rui to further investigate the allegations. Cao Rui listened to him and eventually found Xiahou Mao to be innocent, so he released Xiahou Mao and restored him as a Master of Writing.

Some time later in Cao Rui's reign, Xiahou Mao was appointed as General Who Guards the East (鎮東將軍). It is not known when he died.

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Xiahou Mao's supposed impotence was dramatised in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. When he was assigned to defend the Wei-Shu border, he was not well respected by his colleagues, who assumed that Xiahou Mao would be unable to fulfil his role. Xiahou Mao reportedly responded to such criticism as follows:

Ever since I was a boy, I have studied strategy, and I am well acquainted with army matters. Why do you despise my youth? Unless I capture this Zhuge Liang, I pledge myself never again to see the Emperor's face."

His early encounter against Shu turned out badly, and he was forced to flee. After consulting with his generals, he planned a successful ambush against the Shu general Zhao Yun and duelled him for over 50 rounds. Unfortunately for Xiahou Mao, this victory was only temporary, as Shu generals Zhang Bao and Guan Xing both arrived with 10,000 troops to save Zhao Yun; Xiahou Mao's army was utterly routed by nightfall. Xiahou Mao escaped to Nan'an Commandery with just 100 horsemen. He managed to resist a siege for ten days until Zhuge Liang arrived and directed his efforts towards Tianshui Commandery. Cui Liang, a defeated Wei officer who was en route to Tianshui, offered Zhuge Liang to convince the governor of Nan'an, Yang Ling, to turn the city over. In fact, he had no such intention, instead telling Yang Ling what had taken place, and the two of them and Xiahou Mao attempted to lure the Shu army into the city and destroy them.

Zhuge Liang saw through the plot and turned it against them. Both Cui Liang and Yang Ling were slain by Zhang Bao and Guan Xing respectively, and Xiahou Mao was captured. He begged for his life and was released by Zhuge Liang on the condition that he convinces Jiang Wei to defect to Shu. In fact, Xiahou Mao was simply being played a fool, and was tricked into thinking that Jiang Wei had already defected. He went to Tianshui Commandery to meet Ma Zun (馬遵), the commandery's Administrator, and his false belief of Jiang Wei's defection was reinforced when a fake Jiang Wei led troops to attack Tianshui. He was driven off, and so was the real Jiang Wei when he came to Tianshui later. Due to the later defection of Jiang Wei and the betrayal of Liang Xu (梁緒) and Yin Shang (尹賞) (friends of Jiang Wei), Tianshui fell to Shu forces. Xiahou Mao fled with a few hundred loyalists and sought refuge with the Qiang tribes, and, staying true to his words, never returned.

See also