|General of Yuan Shao|
|Style name||Zhongjian (仲簡)|
Little is known about Chunyu's background other than that in 188, he was a colonel of the newly created Army of the Western Garden along with Yuan Shao and Cao Cao. He may have left the capital at around the same time as Yuan and joined the coalition against Dong Zhuo in 190. It is clear that by the end of the decade, Chunyu had become one of Yuan Shao's leading and most trusted commanders. In a later memorial submitted by Cao Cao, he is referred to as "a great general under Yuan Shao." (紹大將)
In 195, Yuan Shao's strategist Ju Shou suggested that he welcome Emperor Xian to his province so that he could effectively be in control of the imperial government, but Chunyu Qiong opposed — under the faulty logic that if he did, he would have to yield to Emperor Xian on key decisions. Yuan listened to Chunyu and gave up the chance to Cao Cao.
In 200, Cao Cao had become Yuan's main rival for domination of northern China. In the preparations for the clash, Chunyu sided with Guo Tu against Ju Shou, calling for a more aggressive strategy against Cao Cao. As a result, he was given command of a third of Yuan's army along with Guo. In the spring of 200, he joined Guoand Yan Liang in an attack on Boma, held by Cao Cao's general Liu Yan.
In the latter stages of the Battle of Guandu, Chunyu led more than 10,000 troops to Wuchao, about 40 li north of Yuan's main camp, to receive a new shipment of grain supplies. In early dawn, he was surprised by a raid led by Cao himself. Yuan Shao's cavalry were routed and Chunyu was captured during the battle. His nose was cut off, and he was brought to Cao. Cao asked, "What do you have to say for yourself?" and Chunyu replied: "The sky decides the victor, what need have you to ask?" Impressed by the answer, Cao wanted to spare his life, but Xu You urged Cao to kill Chunyu, saying that Chunyu would take revenge later on him for cutting off his nose. Cao then ordered Chunyu to be executed.
With the fall of Wuchao, Yuan Shao's positions collapsed and a number of his commanders, such as Gao Lan and Zhang He, defected to Cao Cao. Chunyu's defeat at Wuchao has earned him a reputation in Chinese folklore as a commander without any real ability.
In Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Chunyu was described as a heavy drinker and often seen with a bottle of wine. During the Battle of Guandu, Yuan Shao left Chunyu as the overseer of the important supply depot in Wuchao. When Cao Cao, who listened to Xu You's advice, found the depot, Chunyu was drunk at the time and failed to put up any significant defence. This resulted in Cao succeeding in burning down the supply depot. Afterwards, Cao mutilated Chunyu and sent him back to Yuan Shao. The furious Yuan ordered Chunyu's execution.
Appointments and titles held
- Right Colonel (右校尉) - Chunyu Qiong held this appointment when he was still in service at the Han Dynasty imperial court
- Chen Shou. Records of Three Kingdoms.
- de Crespigny, Rafe. "To Establish Peace: being the Chronicle of the Later Han dynasty for the years 189 to 220 AD as recorded in Chapters 59 to 69 of the Zizhi tongjian of Sima Guang". Volume 1. Faculty of Asian Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra. 1996. ISBN 0-7315-2526-4.
- Luo Guanzhong. Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
- Sima Guang. Zizhi Tongjian.