Guo Si

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Guo Si
Li Jue and Guo Si sack the capital at Chang'an.jpg
After Dong Zhuo's death, Guo Si and Li Jue sacked the Han capital at Chang'an. This is a Qing Dynasty illustration depicting the offense.
Co-Regent of Eastern Han Dynasty
Born Unknown[1]
Died 197
Traditional Chinese 郭汜
Simplified Chinese 郭汜
Pinyin Guò Sì
Wade–Giles Kuo Sèħ
Other names Guo Duo (郭多)

Guo Si (died 197[2]), also known as Guo Duo (郭多), was a general serving under the warlord Dong Zhuo during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. He assisted Dong in his many campaigns, and was placed under Dong's son-in-law after Dong relocated the imperial capital to Chang'an. He later became one of the de facto regents of Emperor Xian, wherein they occupied the capital and held the emperor and imperial officials hostage. However, his downfall came when he quarreled with another regent, Li Jue, and together with Li, they were defeated by Yang Feng and Dong Cheng, who assisted the emperor to flee the capital. Guo was eventually betrayed and murdered by one of his subordinate generals.


Early to mid-career[edit]

As an early supporter of Dong, he participated most of Dong's major battles, including the subjugation of the Yellow Turbans, the battle of Liang Province, and the war with the coalition against Dong Zhuo.

At the start of the war with the eastern warlords, Guo was sent to assist Niu Fu to develop Mei into an invincible citadel, thus, they built up fortifications and stored 30 years of food supply there before Dong moved the capital to Chang'an from Luoyang. After Hu Zhen and Lü Bu suffered a major defeat from the hands of Sun Jian and Dong's retreat to Chang'an, Niu, Guo and Li Jue were ordered to station in Shan (modern day Shaanxi), which was the front against the anti-Dong-Zhou coalition. At the time the alliance was having internal conflicts and did not focus on fighting Guo and Li, so the senior imperial officer, Zhu Jun could only ask his old friend, Tao Qian to give him a hand in a futile effort to fight the forces of Dong.[3] Tao, despite having a general alliance with Dong, indeed sent 3,000 elite danyang troops to Zhu to battle Guo and Li at Zhongmu, where Zhu was totally crushed. Guo, Li, and Zhang Ji then performed raids around area of Chenliu and Yingchuan, wherein Cao Cao and the likes were unable to stop them, and many residents there were hijacked and enslaved.[4]

Battle of Chang'an[edit]

Because he was stationed outside the capital, he was able to return to Liang Province when Dong Zhuo was assassinated by Lü Bu. Guo along with his comrades Fan Chou, Li Jue, and Zhang Ji initially wanted to make Niu their leader, but the later was so scared and listened to his strategist, Hu Chi'er, to flee with the treasures he had been saved all his life. However, Hu murdered Niu after he decided to take the wealth of his master for himself. Guo, along the other three generals, then pleaded the de facto leader of Han court, Wang Yun, for amnesty since they were Dong's most trusted aides. To the exact contrary, Wang granted amnesty to all of Dong's former generals except for these four, so they planned to relinquish their positions and go into hiding. Advisor Jia Xu suggested that they should take this opportunity to launch a strike at Chang'an since the Liang Province power was actually unscathed after the coup. At the beginning of their campaign, not much Liang residents joined them, only several thousands soldiers followed the four, but the number grew along the way. Wang sent out Xu Rong and Hu Zhen to fight the Liang force en route at An'feng, but Xu was killed in the first encounter and Hu led his troops (which originated from Liang) to join the rebels and the size of the rebel force was now greatly inflated. A fierce battle was fought outside the wall of Chang'an, where Guo Si personally dueled the famous Lu Bu. Even Guo himself was defeated and was pierced by Lu's spear, but he survived the wound and the Liang army pushed Lu back into the city.[5] The four then surrounded Chang'an with their army and lied that they would leave if Wang Yun would go with them. Wang, thinking that the four rebels only wanted his life and didn't have an intention to besiege the city, committed suicide. After Wang's death, the rebels managed to take control of Chang'an and secured power for themselves within the Imperial Court by taking Emperor Xian hostage and selecting imperial officials for the emperor.

As a regent[edit]

The four then demanded high ranks, and Guo and Li even thought about assassinating the emperor to take the throne, however was dissuaded from doing so by Fan and Zhang. With Li as the leader of the rebels, the four took almost complete control of the court and demoted and promoted anyone at will.

When the western forces of Han Sui, Ma Teng and Liu Yan formed an alliance to challenge the Han court controlled by the four, Li sent out his nephew Li Li (李利), Guo, and Fan to counter the allied force. The allied force was dealt a major defeat with a casualty up to ten thousand about 13 miles west to Chang'an. Knowing the allied force was low on grain, Li Li asked Fan to pursuit and wipe the enemy out, but was refused by the former because of his friendship with Han. This incident was reported by Li Li to Li Jue upon the army's return, and Li Jue assembled the officers in a banquet, whereins he had Fan openly executed, causing the Liang generals to distrust Li Jue.

At the time, Guo Si's jealous wife became suspicious that her husband was having an affair with one of Li Jue's concubines, and decided to prevent her husband from attending Li Jue's banquets. She poisoned the gifts of food that Li Jue had given to them and convinced her husband that he shouldn't be so trusting of Li Jue. Later, Guo Si became very drunk at another one of Li Jue's banquet and suddenly convinced himself that he was poisoned. He ingested liquid feces to force himself to vomit, which greatly offended Li Jue and drove the two leaders to battle. The situation ended up with Li Jue kidnapping the Emperor and Guo Si kidnapping the Imperial court.[1]

Downfall and death[edit]

However, the situation was totally out of control: there were several tens of battles fought everyday in the alleys or market at its peak. The frequent battles had made Chang'an untenable for its inhabitants. Therefore, Emperor Xian asked Jia Xu to request a truce between Guo and Li, who listened to Jia's words and temporarily ceased fighting.

Capitalizing on the chaos and massive confusion, the Emperor sneaked out of the capital, and was rescued by the leader of White Wave Bandits, Yang Feng. Yang Feng, along with Dong Cheng, Yang Ding, and subordinate Xu Huang, defeated the army of Guo Si when he pursued. Guo Si returned to Li Jue to make a last-ditch effort to recapture the Emperor. Li Jue and Guo Si gained initial success by defeating Yang Ding, but was defeated by the counter-attack of Yang Feng and Dong. Since then, Guo returned to Mei, and never took further action to retrieve the emperor, while Li occupied Chang'an.

Cao Cao became the next hegemonist to seize control of the Emperor as Dong Zhuo, Li and Guo had done before him. The power of Li and Guo had greatly diminished resulting from previous infighting and the loss of Emperor Xian. Guo Si was eventually slain by his own officer Wu Xi (伍習), who led his remnant forces to join Li in 197.

Appointments and titles held[edit]

  • General Who Spreads Vehemence (揚烈將軍)
  • General of the Rear (後將軍)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Brill. p. 289. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0. 
  2. ^ de Crespigny, Rafe (1996). "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 978-0-7315-2526-3. Passage X of section Jian'an 2.
  3. ^ Book of Later Han. Biography of Zhu Jun.
  4. ^ Records of the Three Kingdoms. Biography of Dong Zhuo.
  5. ^ Annal of Heros.