Five Elite Generals

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Five Elite Generals
Traditional Chinese 五子良將
Simplified Chinese 五子良将

The Five Elite Generals refer to five military generals serving under the warlord Cao Cao in the late Eastern Han dynasty. They later served in the state of Cao Wei, founded by Cao Cao's son and successor Cao Pi, during the Three Kingdoms period. The five were Zhang Liao, Yue Jin, Yu Jin, Zhang He and Xu Huang.

The biographies of the five generals are found in the historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi), written by Chen Shou in the third century. After writing the biographies, Chen Shou commented, "Throughout Cao Cao's military exploits, these five were the crème de la crème of the best generals of that era."[1]

Chen Shou then appraised Yu Jin, Zhang He and Yue Jin as follows:

"Yu Jin was persistent and steady but he did not remain firm until the end."[2]
"Zhang He was famous for his ability to adapt well to changes in the situations he faced."[3]
"Yue Jin made his name due to his bravery but his deeds are not supported by other historical sources. It could be due to lapses in documentation, which is why (information on Yue Jin) is not as complete as compared to that on Zhang Liao and Xu Huang.[4]

Each of the five is famous for a certain attribute – Yue Jin was renowned for his courage in battle as he was the first to scale the walls of enemy cities in many sieges,[5] while Yu Jin, Xu Huang and Zhang He were known for their leadership skills and their abilities to achieve victory in various battles. Zhang Liao is considered the best of the five, his fame stoked by his victory at the Battle of Xiaoyao Ford of 214-215.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ (評曰:太祖建茲武功,而時之良將,五子為先。) Sanguozhi vol. 17.
  2. ^ (于禁最號毅重,然弗克其終。) Sanguozhi vol. 17.
  3. ^ (張郃以巧變為稱,...) Sanguozhi vol. 17.
  4. ^ (...樂進以驍果顯名,而鑒其行事,未副所聞。或註記有遺漏,未如張遼、徐晃之備詳也。) Sanguozhi vol. 17.
  5. ^ (從擊呂布於濮陽,張超於雍丘,橋曨於苦,皆先登有功,...; 從圍鄴,鄴定,從擊袁譚於南皮,先登,...) Sanguozhi vol. 17.
  6. ^ (太祖既征孫權還,使遼與樂進、李典等將七千餘人屯合肥。 ... 遼率諸軍追擊,幾復獲權。) Sanguozhi vol. 17.