Huang Zhong

Huang Zhong

Three Kingdoms infobox
Name=Huang Zhong

Caption=Portrait of Huang Zhong from a Qing Dynasty edition of the "Romance of the Three Kingdoms"
Title=Military general
Kingdom=Liu Bei
Pinyin=Huáng Zhōng
WG=Huang Chung
Zi=Hansheng (漢升)
Post=Marquis Gang (剛侯)

Huang Zhong (died 220) was a leading military general of the Kingdom of Shu during the late Eastern Han Dynasty and Three Kingdoms era of China. He was most noted for his victory in the Battle of Mount Dingjun, in which his force routed that of Xiahou Yuan, who was slain during battle. For his merits, Huang Zhong was ranked among the five leading generals of Shu, later popularized as the Five Tiger Generals.

Huang Zhong had always been portrayed in popular literature and arts as an elderly general with youthful vigor and constitution. Even now, the spirit to strive for excellence despite old age is often attributed to him. However, little was documented about him in historical records and it is impossible to tell how old he was when he was named one of the Five Tiger Generals.


Born in Nanyang Commandery (present day Nanyang, Henan), Huang Zhong initially served a military post under Liu Biao, governor of Jing Province (荆州). After Liu Biao's death in 208, the powerful warlord Cao Cao conquered Jing Province and Huang Zhong continued his service under this new lord of the land, specifically in Changsha under the Administrator, Han Xuan.

Following Cao Cao's defeat at the Battle of Red Cliffs in the same year, Liu Bei was gradually taking over the various commanderies in southern Jing Province, including Changsha. Huang Zhong strongly recommended to his lord Han Xuan to surrender to Liu Bei, which they did, sparing many innocent civilian lives that would be lost if there were a battle. Huan Xuan and Huang Zhong then began their service under Liu Bei. He performed extremely well in Liu Bei's campaign to gain Yi Province (益州) from 212 to 214, his bravery in battles unmatched by any. After Yi Province was taken, Huang Zhong was promoted to General who Campaigns against Rebels (討虜將軍).

In 217, Liu Bei led a force upon Hanzhong, which was under the control of Cao Cao. His force met with resistance led by Xiahou Yuan at Yangping Pass (陽平關). The confrontation dragged on for more than a year until one night, Liu Bei set fire to the barbed fence around Xiahou Yuan's camp at the foot of Mount Dingjun. Alarmed by the attack, Xiahou Yuan sent Zhang He to defend the eastern corner of the camp, while he guarded the south. Liu Bei's main force pressed against Zhang He, outmatching the latter. Xiahou Yuan had to dispatch a fraction of his own troops to Zhang He's rescue.

Accompanied by thundering drums, the division led by Huang Zhong then descended upon Xiahou Yuan's dwindling force. The battle became a rout and Xiahou Yuan himself was killed in battle. The victory at Mount Dingjun was a major stepping stone to the later conquest of Hanzhong.

In 219, Liu Bei proclaimed himself King of Hanzhong, a symbolic measure comparing himself to the Emperor Gaozu of Han. He then promoted Huang Zhong to General of the Rear (後將軍), placing the latter on the same level as four other major generals: Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun and Ma Chao. However, Huang Zhong died in the next year, to an unspecified cause. He was given the posthumous title of Marquis Gang, literally meaning the unyielding marquis.

Huang Zhong in Romance of the Three Kingdoms

"Romance of the Three Kingdoms", a historical novel by Luo Guanzhong, was a romanticization of the events that occurred before and during the Three Kingdoms era. In the novel, Huang Zhong was portrayed as an aged but extremely talented warrior, excelling especially in archery.

He was also credited with the slaying of Xiahou Yuan, a prominent general of the Kingdom of Wei, in the Battle of Mount Dingjun, though in reality the latter was most probably killed in the rush of enemy soldiers.

urrender to Liu Bei

When Liu Bei attacked Changsha during his campaign to claim southern Jing Province, Huang Zhong had a chance to kill Guan Yu with an arrow, but instead he hit his helmet claiming that such a warrior did not deserve to die. He then duelled Guan Yu, who killed Huang Zhong's horse. Impressed by Huang Zhong's vigor, Guan Yu allowed Huang Zhong to return to Han Xuan for another horse. When his lord became suspicious of Huang Zhong's loyalty after this exchange, he ordered Huang Zhong's execution, but Huang Zhong was saved when Wei Yan killed Han Xuan. Wei Yan and Huang Zhong then surrendered the city to Liu Bei.

Battle outside Luocheng

Before Liu Bei had gained Yi Province (益州), Luo Guanzhong created a fictional battle in which Huang Zhong competed with his colleague Wei Yan for credits. In Chapter 62, Liu Bei's main force was approaching Luocheng (雒城), a strategic city which would allow further advances on Chengdu, capital of Yi Province.

The enemy had established two camps sixty "li" outside the city, one under Ling Bao (泠苞) and the other under Deng Xian (鄧賢). Huang Zhong had volunteered to lead a vanguard force to vanquish both camps, which Liu Bei approved, when Wei Yan voiced his doubts over the aged Huang Zhong's physical ability. This infuriated Huang Zhong, who challenged Wei Yan to a duel. To appease both, Liu Bei then ordered Huang Zhong to attack Ling Bao and Wei Yan to strike Deng Xian.

Wanting all credits for himself, Wei Yan set out his troops early next morning and headed for Ling Bao's camp instead. However, Ling Bao was ready for the attack and used a flanking tactic on the enemy. Wei Yan's troops, exhausted after a long march, were overpowered and began to retreat. Wei Yan's horse stumbled, throwing its rider off. A force led by Deng Xian had by then arrived, and its commander came straight for Wei Yan with his spear held forth.

Just then, an arrow knocked Deng Xian off in mid-gallop. So it was that Huang Zhong had come to the rescue. Having slain the fallen Deng Xian, Huang Zhong then went for Ling Bao, brandishing his sword. Ling Bao was no match for his ferocious foe and had to retreat. However, his camp was already taken over by Liu Bei's main force. In his frantic attempt to find an escape, Ling Bao was ambushed and captured by Wei Yan, who had regrouped his force in a bid to redeem himself. For the victory, Huang Zhong was heavily rewarded while Wei Yan was pardoned for his disobedience.

Battle of Mount Dingjun

In Chapter 71, Xiahou Yuan stationed his troops on Mount Dingjun and effectively resisted the advance of Huang Zhong. Under the council of advisor Fa Zheng, Huang Zhong occupied Mount Tiandang, a taller peak that lied to the west of Mount Dingjun. From this new vantage point Huang Zhong had an excellent view of Xiahou Yuan's troop movements.

Xiahou Yuan could not tolerate his enemy spying on him and insisted on attacking Mount Tiandang. Setting out his troops to surround Mount Tiandang, Xiahou Yuan rode forth and challenged his enemy to battle. However, Huang Zhong kept his troops back and refused to engage.

In the afternoon, Fa Zheng saw from his lookout post near the peak that Xiahou Yuan's troops had grown tired and dispirited. He then hoisted a red flag, signalling Huang Zhong to attack. Amid deafening drums and war horns, the Shu troops rushed downhill with Huang Zhong galloping in the forefront. Before he could react, Xiahou Yuan was cleft in two below his shoulders by Huang Zhong. With their commander dead, the Wei soldiers were easily defeated and Mount Dingjun was felled.


The events leading up to Huang Zhong's death in Chapter 83 were probably fictitious as well. Luo Guanzhong wrote that in 222, Huang Zhong followed Liu Bei on a campaign against Eastern Wu. One day, hearing that Liu Bei commented on aged and incapable generals, Huang Zhong mounted his horse and rode straight to the forward camp.

Just at this time, an enemy vanguard force had arrived. Huang Zhong insisted on meeting the enemies. Holding his sword ready, the old general challenged for a duel with the enemy commander Pan Zhang . Pan Zhang sent out his aide Shi Ji (史跡), who was slain by Huang Zhong within three bouts.

Brandishing the late Guan Yu's Green Dragon Crescent Blade, Pan Zhang then rode forward to meet Huang Zhong. Neither could establish a clear advantage but Huang Zhong was fighting with all his might. Not expecting to win the battle, Pan Zhang then retreated.

The next day, Pan Zhang rode out to issue challenge for another duel, which Huang Zhong eagerly took up. Within bouts, however, Pan Zhang turned to escape. Huang Zhong gave pursuit without hesitation. It was in fact a plot by the enemy, who had ambushed in wait for Huang Zhong. Running right into the trap, Huang Zhong was struck beneath the collar bone by an arrow fired by Ma Zhong and almost fell off his horse.

Fortunately, a friendly force led by Guan Xing and Zhang Bao came to the rescue and brought back Huang Zhong. Liu Bei came personally to the forward camp to see the injured general, but Huang Zhong was too old and weak to survive the arrow wound. He died that same night in camp, at the age of seventy-five.

Modern references

Huang Zhong is a playable character in the Koei video game series "Dynasty Warriors". Huang Zhong is depicted as a wise and honorable elderly man whom younger officers, such as Zhao Yun, respect and look to for guidance. He is always eager to prove to friend and foe alike that he is still a very capable officer and combatant despite his age. His weapon of choice is a large and elaborate saber, although his prowess with a bow features largely into his cinematic sequences and conversations.

He also features in "Warriors Orochi", a crossover between "Dynasty Warriors" and "Samurai Warriors". He initially defends Shu's castle in Jing Province from the Orochi forces. On the verge of defeat, he is rescued by Oda Nobunaga, whom he then joins. He informs him of the rumor that Cao Cao is alive and living at Honnoji, although this turns out to be a ruse by Orochi's strategist, Da Ji. He also advises Nobunaga to rescue Ma Chao at Kawanakajima, and later commands the defence of Kanegasaki, the Coalition's base, from Date Masamune's assault.


*cite book|author=Chen Shou|title=San Guo Zhi|publisher=Yue Lu Shu She|year=2002|id=ISBN 7-80665-198-5
*cite book|author=Luo Guanzhong|title=San Guo Yan Yi|publisher=Yue Lu Shu She|year=1986|id=ISBN 7-80520-013-0
*cite book|author=Lo Kuan-chung; tr. C.H. Brewitt-Taylor|title=Romance of the Three Kingdoms|publisher=Tuttle Publishing|year=2002|id=ISBN 0-8048-3467-9

ee also

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

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