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|Courtesy name||Gonglu (Chinese: 公路; pinyin: Gōnglù; Wade–Giles: Kung-lu)|
Yuan Shu was said to be a younger cousin of the warlord Yuan Shao, but was actually Yuan Shao's younger half-brother. After the death of He Jin, he led a force to slay the eunuchs as the Imperial Corps Commander of the Imperial Tiger Guards, which was located just outside the capital. Later, he participated in an alliance against Dong Zhuo led by Yuan Shao. After the dissension of this alliance, he was not on good terms with Yuan Shao again until his final moments.
Yuan Shu fled to Shouchun (present day Shouxian, Anhui) after repeated defeats by the combined armies of Cao Cao and Yuan Shao. He declared himself emperor under the short-lived Zhong Dynasty (仲) in 197, citing superstition as his justification, including the Hanzi in his name and style name. 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 of Sun Ce, who had recently conquered most of the Jiangdong territory under Yuan'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 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 his grief.
- Grandfather: Yuan Tang (袁湯)
- Father: Yuan Feng (袁逢)
- Spouse: Lady Feng (馮氏), daughter of Feng Fang (馮方)
- Yuan Wei (袁隗), uncle
- Yang Biao (楊彪), brother-in-law
- He Kui (何夔), distant cousin
- de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Brill. p. 1011. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0.
- Records of the Three Kingdoms, vol. 6
- Book of Later Han, vols. 74, 75..
- See Yuan Shao#Family background for the details on the relationship between Yuan Shu and Yuan Shao.
- Chen Shou. Records of the Three Kingdoms, Volume 6, Biography of Yuan Shu.
- Fan Ye et al. Book of the Later Han, Volume 75.