Tao Qian (Three Kingdoms)

Tao Qian (Three Kingdoms)

Three Kingdoms infobox
Name=Tao Qian

Kingdom=Xu province
Pinyin=Táo Qiān
WG=Tao Chien
Zi=Gōngzǔ (恭祖)

Tao Qian (132-194) was governor of Xu province (徐州) during the late Eastern Han Dynasty of China. The incident for which he is perhaps best known for is the death of Cao Cao's father Cao Song in his territory.


Born in the Danyang (丹阳) region, Tao Qian was known as a young man for his integrity and for being just. Also, at a young age he had an affinity to learning. In the service of the Han Dynasty, he led the Danyang armies in many regions to suppress rebellions. During the rebellion of Han Sui, Tao Qian was serving under Zhang Wen (張溫). During the expedition he insulted Zhang and made him very angry. However, Sun Jian and Dong Zhuo served on the same campaign, and both of them also were unhappy with Zhang Wen's leadership as well.

When the Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out he was appointed governor of Xu province and he succeeded in clearing the area of rebels. In the chaos of Dong Zhuo's coup d'état and the battles that followed, Tao Qian gained control of the neighboring Yang province. However, after that he showed no ambition to expand his territory any further.

Tao Qian was responsible for starting the careers of Wang Lang, Zhu Zhi, and Chen Deng, all of whom would play fairly important roles in the Three Kingdoms period. However, at the same time he was prone to joining forces with unscrupulous characters, such as Ze Rong (笮融), Cao Hong (曹宏, a different person from 曹洪, who is the cousin of Cao Cao), and Que Xuan (闕宣), and on the other hand not appointing Zhao Yu (趙昱), who was a very loyal and able servant, to a position of trust. Those who did not respond to his requests to serve him, such as Zhang Zhao and Lü Fan, he had imprisoned.

The Death of Cao Song

In the year 193, Cao Cao's father Cao Song was killed while travelling through Tao Qian's territory. Tao Qian had assigned Zhang Kai (張闓) to guard Cao Song, and it was said that Zhang Kai killed him in order to steal the riches that he was carrying with him. The death of his father prompted Cao Cao to personally lead an army into Xu province. As a result, a very large number of common people living there were massacred by Cao Cao's army. Rebellion by Zhang Miao within Cao Cao's own territory forced him to retreat before he could do conclusive battle with Tao Qian.

Tao Qian was instrumental in the rise of Liu Bei in that when Liu Bei came to his help, Tao Qian provided Liu Bei with several thousand troops of Danyang (丹阳兵), the crack troop among all warlords. Danyang troops were famous for their fighting capabilities and it was due to this exceptional capability, Tao Qian was able to maintain a stalemate with Cao Cao. Most of these troops remained loyal to Liu Bei and followed him for years until he finally established himself, a rather rare occurrence at the time when loyalty was not honored to the extreme when warlords came and went, especially when Liu Bei was the loser on the run for most of time in his early years in the power struggle against other warlords. In 194, as Tao Qian was on his deathbed, he resolved to hand over his domain to Liu Bei, and soon after he died.


*Tao Shang (陶商) (son)
*Tao Ying (陶應) (son)


This page is a rough translation of the Japanese version, re-arranged and re-formatted.

ee also

*Three Kingdoms
*Personages of the Three Kingdoms
*"Records of Three Kingdoms"
*"Romance of the Three Kingdoms"

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