Chen Qun

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Chen Qun
Minister of Cao Wei
Born (Unknown)
Died 236[1]
Traditional Chinese 陳群
Simplified Chinese 陈群
Pinyin Chén Qún
Wade–Giles Ch'en Ch'ün
Courtesy name Changwen (traditional Chinese: 長文; simplified Chinese: 长文; pinyin: Chángwén; Wade–Giles: Ch'ang-wen)
Posthumous name Marquis Jing (Chinese: 靖侯; pinyin: Jìng Hóu; Wade–Giles: Ching Hou)

Chen Qun (died 236),[1] courtesy name Changwen, was a minister of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period. Chen Qun initiated the Nine-rank system for civil service nomination in Wei. Following the death of the first Wei ruler Cao Pi, Chen Qun became the Guardian of Wei's military forces. Chen Qun, Sima Yi and Cao Zhen nominated Cao Pi's son, Cao Rui, to become the new emperor.


Early years[edit]

Chen Qun was born into a prestigious family. His grandfather, father and uncle are renowned. As a child, Chen Qun's talents were recognised by Kong Rong, who was also friends with his father, Chen Ji.

In the days when Liu Bei was inspector of his hometown, Chen Qun came to be selected into Liu Bei's service. Chen Qun tried to dissuade Liu Bei from succeeding to Tao Qian's territory following Tao's death in 194; saying that since Xu Province was aimed at by Yuan Shu to the south, and by Lü Bu to the east, therefore holding Xu province would invite disaster. Shortly thereafter, Liu Bei regretted not following this advice when he lost Xu Province to Lu Bu.

Serving Cao Cao[edit]

In 198, after Cao Cao had defeated Lü Bu and conquered his territory, he welcomed the surrender of Chen Qun and his father, Chen Ji, both of whom had previously been serving Lü Bu.

Chen Qun made accusations against Guo Jia on a number of occasions, on the grounds of Guo Jia's unbridled ways. Although Cao Cao was pleased to see that Chen Qun upheld his principles, Cao Cao did not take action against Guo Jia, since Guo's advice was crucial to Cao's gaining military supremacy.

Upon the establishment of the state of Cao Wei in 216, Chen Qun was asked for his opinion about the possible reestablishment of the practice of corporal punishment within Wei, since Cao Cao knew that Chen Qun's late father, Chen Ji, had supported capital punishment, as he found it to be more humane than mutilation. Chen Qun was in favor of mutilation, because he found it to provide more flexibility in the application of justice, since it was more lenient than the death penalty and yet less lenient than flogging. Zhong Yao also held this view, however Wang Lang and others objected to it and the practice of corporal punishment was not reestablished.

Chen Qun once asked Cao Cao to ascend the throne but he declined.

Serving Cao Pi[edit]

In 220, when Cao Pi ascended the throne, he enfeoffed Chen Qun as the "Marquis of Changwu Village" and appointed him as a Master of Writing. Chen Qun proposed the nine-rank system for civil service nominations, and it became law.

Chen Qun unsuccessfully sought pardon for Bao Xun (the son of Bao Xin), who suppressed a report by Liu Yao which implicated Sun Yong in a potentially dangerous breach of protocol when the latter went to pay a visit to Cao Pi.

In 226, as Cao Pi was ill from an unknown disease, he entrusted the care of his heir, Cao Rui, to Cao Zhen, Sima Yi and Chen Qun.

Serving Cao Rui[edit]

Chen Qun prevented Cao Rui from attending the funeral of his father, Cao Pi, on the grounds of protecting Cao Rui from contracting an unknown disease in the hot summer.

When a princess of Cao Rui died, Chen Qun did not want Cao Rui to attend that funeral, because the attendance of the Emperor at funeral rites was only required if the deceased was at least eight years old, and Cao Rui's princess did not meet this criteria as she was less than one year old. However, Cao Rui ignored the advice and attended the funeral.

Many of Cao Rui's officers, including Chen Qun, were concerned about the excessive costs of the construction of Cao Rui's lavish palaces and ancestral temples. Chen Qun memorialised several times for a reduction in the scale of these projects, and eventually Cao Rui was convinced to reduce the scale of his constructions.

Chen Qun died in 236. His son, Chen Tai, inherited his position after his death.


It has been said that in his career, Chen Qun was not affected by his personal preferences in deciding whether a policy had merit or not. In his life, Chen Qun was very much concerned with honour and righteousness, and he was also esteemed as a good judge of character.

Appointments and titles held[edit]

  • Attendant Officer (別駕) to Liu Bei when the latter was in Yu Province
  • West Assistant to the Excellency of Works (司空西曹掾屬)
  • Palace Assistant Imperial Clerk (御史中丞)
  • Palace Attendant (侍中)
  • East and West Assistant to the Chancellor (丞相東西曹掾)
  • Marquis of Changwu Village (昌武亭侯)
  • Master of Writing (尚書)
  • Supervisor of the Masters of Writing (尚書僕射)
  • Prefect of the Masters of Writing (尚書令)
  • Marquis of Ying District (潁鄉侯)
  • Senior General Who Guards the Army (鎮軍大將軍)
  • Central Protector of the Army (中護軍)
  • Marquis of Yingyin (潁陰侯)
  • Excellency of Works (司空)
  • Marquis Jing (靖侯) - granted to Chen Qun posthumously

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chen Qun's biography in Records of the Three Kingdoms mentioned that Chen died in the 4th year of the Qinglong era (233-237) in Cao Rui's reign. (青龍四年薨, ...) Cao Rui's biography in the Records provided a more precise date: kuisi day, 12th month, 4th year of Qinglong. ([青龍四年]十二月癸巳,司空陳羣薨。)