Yuan Shu

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Yuan Shu
Yuan Shu Qing portrait.jpg
A Qing dynasty illustration of Yuan Shu
Emperor of Zhong (仲家皇帝)
Reign 197 – 199
General of the Left (左將軍)
In office
192 (192) – 197 (197)
Monarch Emperor Xian of Han
Governor of Yang Province (揚州牧)
In office
192 (192) – 197 (197)
Monarch Emperor Xian of Han
Administrator of Nanyang (南陽太守)
In office
189 (189) – 192 (192)
Monarch Emperor Xian of Han
General of the Rear (後將軍)
In office
189 (189) – 190 (190)
Monarch Emperor Xian of Han
Personal details
Born Unknown
Shangshui County, Henan
Died 199[1]
Spouse(s) Lady Feng
  • Yuan Yao
  • Sun Quan's concubine
  • at least one other daughter
Father Yuan Feng
  • Yuan Tang (grandfather)
  • Yuan Ji (half-brother)
  • Yuan Shao (half-brother)
  • Yuan Yi (cousin)
  • Yuan Yin (cousin)
  • Yuan Wei (uncle)
  • Yang Biao (brother-in-law)
  • He Kui (cousin)
  • Sun Fen's wife (granddaughter)
Occupation General, warlord
Courtesy name Gonglu (公路)

Yuan Shu (died 199), courtesy name Gonglu, was a warlord who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He rose to prominence following the collapse of the Han central government in 189.[1]


Map showing major events of Yuan Shu's life.

Yuan Shu was said to be a younger cousin[2][3] of the warlord Yuan Shao, but was actually Yuan Shao's younger half-brother.[a] After the death of General-in-Chief He Jin, Yuan Shu, as the Imperial Corps Commander of the Imperial Tiger Guards, led his men to kill the eunuch faction. When Dong Zhuo seized control of the Han central government, he wanted to appoint Yuan Shu as General of the Rear, but, fearing Dong Zhuo, Yuan Shu fled to Nanyang Commandery,[4] which he took control over after Sun Jian killed its grand administrator, Zhang Zi.[5] His rule was despotic.[6]

Later, Yuan Shu participated in an alliance against Dong Zhuo led by Yuan Shao. After the dissension of this alliance, he vied with Yuan Shao over control of northern China, each establishing opposing alliances. Yuan Shu allied with Yuan Shao's northern rival Gongsun Zan, and Yuan Shao in turn allied with Yuan Shu's southern rival Liu Biao.[7]

Yuan Shu fled to Shouchun (present-day Shou County, Anhui) after repeated defeats by the combined armies of Cao Cao and Yuan Shao. He declared himself emperor under the short-lived Zhong (仲) dynasty in 197, citing superstition as his justification, including the Chinese characters for his given name Shu and courtesy name Gonglu, and his possession of the Imperial Seal. This audacious action made him a target of the other warlords. His extravagant lifestyle and arrogance caused many of his followers to desert him. Most devastating of the departures and defections – both to Yuan Shu personally and to the strength of his forces – was that by Sun Ce, who had conquered most of the Jiangdong territories under Yuan Shu's banner. Following crushing defeats by the armies of Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Lü Bu, Yuan Shu attempted to flee north to join Yuan Shao. Yuan Shao sent his eldest son, Yuan Tan, to try to aid Yuan Shu; however, an alliance between the Yuan brothers who had long hated each other was not destined, as Yuan Tan arrived too late, and Yuan Shu's forces were destroyed by Liu Bei. He died shortly thereafter of sickness and in grief.[8]


  • Grandfather: Yuan Tang (袁湯)
  • Father: Yuan Feng (袁逢)
  • Siblings:
  • Cousins:
    • Yuan Yi, elder cousin
    • Yuan Yin (袁胤), younger cousin
  • Spouse: Lady Feng (馮氏), daughter of Feng Fang (馮方)
  • Children:
    • Yuan Yao (袁耀), son. After Yuan Shu's death, Yuan Yao and his mother fled to Lujiang Commandery to join the minor warlord Liu Xun. After Sun Ce defeated Liu Xun and conquered Lujiang Commandery, he appointed Yuan Yao as a Palace Gentleman (郎中). Yuan Yao's daughter married Sun Fen (孫奮).
    • Lady Yuan (袁夫人), daughter, personal name unknown, became one of Sun Quan's concubines
    • Lady Yuan (袁夫人), daughter, personal name unknown, married Huang Yi (黃猗)
  • Relatives:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See Yuan Shao#Family background for the details on the relationship between Yuan Shu and Yuan Shao.


  1. ^ a b de Crespigny (2007), p. 1011.
  2. ^ (绍之从弟也) Sanguozhi vol. 6.
  3. ^ Houhanshu vols. 74–75.
  4. ^ (董卓之将废帝,以术为后将军;术亦畏卓之祸,出奔南阳。) Sanguozhi vol. 6.
  5. ^ (会长沙太守孙坚杀南阳太守张咨,术得据其郡。) Sanguozhi vol. 6.
  6. ^ (南阳户口数百万,而术奢淫肆欲,徵敛无度,百姓苦之) Sanguozhi vol. 6.
  7. ^ (既与绍有隙,又与刘表不平而北连公孙瓚;绍与瓚不和而南连刘表。) Sanguozhi vol. 6.
  8. ^ (将归帝号於绍,欲至青州从袁谭,发病道死。) Sanguozhi vol. 6.