During Emperor Gaozong's reign
It is not known when Fan Lübing was born. In 623, Fan passed the imperial examinations in the Jinshi class and served as Hucao Canjun(戶曹參軍) under Prince of Zhou. During Emperor Gaozong's Shangyuan era (674-676), Fan and several colleagues also known for literary talent -- Liu Yizhi, Yuan Wanqing (元萬頃), Miao Chuke (苗楚客), Zhou Simao (周思茂), and Han Chubin (韓楚賓) -- were asked to serve as advisors to Emperor Gaozong's powerful wife Empress Wu (later known as Wu Zetian), and they wrote a number of works on her behalf, including the Biographies of Notable Women (列女傳), Guidelines for Imperial Subjects (臣軌), and New Teachings for Official Staff Members (百僚新誡). Collectively, they became known as the "North Gate Scholars" (北門學士), because they served inside the palace, which was to the north of the imperial government buildings, and Empress Wu sought advice from them to divert the powers of the chancellors.
During Emperor Ruizong's first reign
Emperor Gaozong died in 683 and was succeeded by his son Li Zhe the Crown Prince (as Emperor Zhongzong), but Empress Wu retained actual power as empress dowager and regent. In spring 684, after he showed signs of independence, she deposed him and replaced him with his younger brother Li Dan the Prince of Yu (as Emperor Ruizong), but thereafter wielded power even more firmly. During her regency over Emperor Ruizong, Fan Lübing served successively as Luantai Shilang (鸞臺侍郎) -- the deputy head of the examination bureau of government (鸞臺, Luantai) -- and deputy minister of civil service affairs (春官侍郎, Chunguan Shilang). As of 689, he was serving as the minister of civil service affairs (春官尚書, Chunguan Shangshu), when he was given the designation of Tong Fengge Luantai Pingzhangshi (同鳳閣鸞臺平章事), making him a chancellor de facto. He was also in charge of editing the imperial history. In 690, however, he was accused of having recommended as an official someone who later committed treason, and Empress Dowager Wu ordered him arrested and executed.
Fan had three sons, all passed the imperial examinations in the Jinshi class.
- Fan Dongfen(范冬芬), also known as the ancestor of "the Fans of Huizhou". His grandson Fan Ping(范平) was the ancestor of another branch called "the Fans of Jiangxi"
- Fan Dongqian(范冬倩)
- Fan Dongchang(范冬昌)