A Qing dynasty portrait of Han Sui
|Courtesy name||Wenyue (traditional Chinese: 文約; simplified Chinese: 文约; pinyin: Wényuē; Wade–Giles: Wen-yüeh)|
Han Sui (died 215), courtesy name Wenyue, was a warlord who lived in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. For most of his life he was active in Liang Province (涼州; covering parts of present-day Shaanxi and Gansu) and was involved in several rebellions against the Han government and the warlord Cao Cao.
With the backing of the Qiang people who populated much of Liang province, Han Sui participated in the Liang Province Rebellion against the Han Dynasty during the rule of Emperor Ling. He joined forces with others in the area, such as Bian Zhang, Beigong Yu (北宫玉), and Liwen Hou (李文侯). Despite suffering a defeat by government forces under Dong Zhuo, Han Sui maintained the support of the Qiang people and maintained his territory in Liang Province. Han Sui is thought to have preferred to remain somewhat behind the scenes, placing someone else in the position of leadership while holding the real power himself. When Bian Zhang and the other leaders passed from the scene, he placed Wang Guo (王國) in power with the help of his ally Ma Teng, whom he pledged a pact of brotherhood with. The arrangement did not last long, however, and Wang Guo was removed from power after being defeated by the senior government official Huangfu Song. It was at this point that Ma Teng and Han Sui declared themselves co-rulers of the Liang province, now mostly autonomous due to turmoil in the Han dynasty.
Early in 192, the two of them submitted to Dong Zhuo's government, but Dong Zhuo was assassinated by Lü Bu and Wang Yun in April, and when Li Jue succeeded in taking power of Dong Zhuo's loyal followers; Han Sui and Ma Teng allied themselves with Liu Yan and moved their armies toward Chang'an. With a major defeat 13 miles west to Chang'an, and running short on supplies, the allied forces retreated to Liang Province.
Not long afterward, however, Han Sui and Ma Teng's relationship soured and the two of them battled each other for control of Liang province. Their battle escalated to the point where both were killing each other's wives and children. Cao Cao, having achieved victory at the Battle of Guandu, sent Zhong Yao to broker a peace between the two warring sides and to place Liang Province under Cao Cao's authority. After the terms were agreed to, Han Sui and Ma Teng would give assistance to Cao Cao in the remainder of his battles against Yuan Shao. After this, Ma Teng was forcibly summoned to Ye and Han Sui placed Ma Teng's son Ma Chao in charge of the region.
When Cao Cao began gathering armies with the intent of invading Hanzhong, then under the rule of Zhang Lu, Han Sui and Ma Chao suspected that it was they, and not Zhang Lu who would be attacked. The two of them gathered warlords from the western regions and went to war against Cao Cao. In the course of the conflict, however, Cao Cao managed to turn Ma Chao and Han Sui against each other. Han Sui realized that there was no hope for victory with the forces divided against each other in suspicion, and retreated once again to Liang province. Cao Cao captured and killed Han Sui's son and grandchildren.
When Xiahou Yuan began his subjugation of the Liang province, Han Sui fought against this, but was ultimately defeated and forced to retreat. He discussed the idea of retreating to Shu, but his subordinate Cheng Gongying encouraged him to continue his fight against Cao Cao instead. At this point, he was either murdered by some of his own followers or died of illness. In either case, his head was brought to Cao Cao by Han Sui's generals as they all surrendered. He was believed to have been over 70 years old at the time of his death.
In the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Han Sui is depicted as a military general under Ma Teng, when in fact he was a warlord of equal footing. Han Sui's preference to remain out of the scenes may have been a reason for this depiction.
According to the story, in the battle against the forces of Cao Cao, Han Sui leads eight loyal generals of Ma Chao's into battle. However, due to Jia Xu's plot, Ma Chao grew suspicious of Han Sui and in anger cut off his left arm. Han Sui then defected to Cao Cao, and was given a post. Afterwards, the story has him stationed in Liang province with Xiahou Yuan.