He Qi

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Note: In this article, to differentiate between "He" (reference to males) and the Chinese surname "Hè" (賀), the latter will be used when referring to He Qi.
He Qi
Official of Sun Quan
Born (Unknown)
Died 227
Traditional Chinese 賀齊
Simplified Chinese 贺齐
Pinyin Hè Qí
Wade–Giles Ho Chi
Courtesy name Gongmiao (Chinese: 公苗; pinyin: Gōngmiǎo; Wade–Giles: Kung-miao)

He Qi (died 227[1]), courtesy name Gongmiao, was an official serving under the warlord Sun Quan in the late Eastern Han Dynasty and early Three Kingdoms period. Hè Qi was especially noted as being very extravagant, favouring showy type weapons, armour and ships. At the same time, he was also adept in fighting the Shanyue tribes and was credited with quelling numerous local uprisings. His achievements secured the stability of the inner regions of Jiangdong, and assisted the development of the state of Eastern Wu. His expedition to the south also allowed future expansion that would be carried out by others such as Bu Zhi and Lü Dai. In his later years, Hè Qi was involved in several battles against Wu's rival state, Cao Wei, during which he seldom scored a victory.

Early life and career[edit]

Hè Qi was born in Shanyin County of Kuaiji Commandery, within present-day Shaoxing. He became the chief of Yan (剡) county under the warlord Wang Lang. During his tenure, he quelled several uprisings of the area. After Wang Lang fled to Dongye (東冶), Hè Qi surrendered to Sun Ce, who was trying to establish reign around the area of Wu. Sun Ce appointed Han Yan (韓晏) as the Commandant of Southern Region (南部都尉), and promoted Hè Qi to the Chief of Yongning and placed him under Han Yan's command. Han Yan and Hè Qi were tasked with the assignment to pursue Wang Lang, who had gained the support from the chief of Houguan (侯官長).[2]

Subjugating southern counties[edit]

Han Yan was soon killed in a battle with Wang Lang's remnants, and Hè succeeded his direct supervisor and continued on the mission. Fearing Hè Qi's military reputation, the chief of Houguan surrendered, but a rebel leader, Zhang Ya (張雅), did not agree with the chief's decision and had him killed. Since Zhang Ya's troops were strong, Hè Qi halted his attack and awaited further actions. When Zhang Ya quarrelled with his son-in-law, Hè Qi sent some spies to further deteriorate their relationship. When Zhang Ya was about to attack his son-in-law, Hè Qi launched a full assault on the former and had Zhang Ya routed. The rest of the rebels thus surrendered to Hè Qi. Even Houguan was pacified, the large area of southern Wu were infested with rebels and Shanyue barbarians, and they openly resisted Sun Ce, so Hè Qi kept on his expedition.

When Sun Ce ordered the southern counties under his control to gather 5,000 soldiers for Hè Qi, one of the chiefs refused to take command from Hè Qi because of his lower origin. Hè Qi immediately executed that chief and the remaining chiefs had no more doubts in following his orders. Within two years, Hè Qi had most of the rebel leaders captured, and had 6,000 rebels killed in the process.

By 205, Hè Qi had re-established the control of the counties, conscripted 10,000 men, and suggested Sun Quan, who succeeded Sun Ce, to split Shangrao (上饒) to form Jianping county (建平縣). Sun Quan agreed and granted Hè Qi the title of Colonel Pacifying the East.

Fighting the Shanyue[edit]

In 208, Hè Qi was appointed General of the Gentlemen of the Firm and Majestic Household, and was tasked to quell the Shanyue rebels residing within Danyang (丹陽). He then led his army towards Yi and She area, along the way, four villages surrendered upon his arrival. However, the Baopuzi book of Ge Hong of the fourth century tells of a story where the Shanyue tribe of this region used preventive magic; it made metal weapons useless, and arrows turn back at the soldiers. Hè Qi is recorded to have remarked "I have heard that a cutting edge of metal can be prevented and the poison of snake can be prevented. However a thing that has no edge, and a snake that cannot poison cannot be affected by these spells." He then ordered his soldiers to make wooden clubs, and the enemy was utterly defeated. After the Shanyue leaders were defeated, Hè Qi suggested Sun Quan to restructure the administrative districts around the area. Sun Quan then promoted one village to a county, and broke Yi and She into smaller counties, which he grouped several of them to form the Xindu commandery (新都郡), and named Hè Qi as the governor and promoted him to Lieutenant General (偏將軍).

Three years later, Lang Zhi (郎稚) of Yuhuan county managed to persuade a few thousand peasants to follow him and joined the Shanyue in rebellion, and Hè Qi was again sent to deal with Lang Zhi. Hè Qi easily crushed the rebels, and advised Sun Quan to split Yuhuan into two counties, and Sun agreed. In 213, Yuzhang residents numbering roughly 10,000 turned into bandits, Hè Qi defeated them and had their leaders executed. He then selected the strongest of the bandits to be soldiers, and registered the rest as citizens of the commandery.

Later life[edit]

As Hè Qi gained fame from his successful subjugations, he started to join Sun Quan's war against rival warlord Cao Cao, and he served in the futile Battle of Xiaoyao Ford. During the battle, Cao Cao's general, Zhang Liao once charged towards Sun Quan, and defeated Xu Sheng on the way, He was said to have retrieved Xu Sheng's lost spear on the field. In 216, Cao Cao granted the local strongman of Pongyang, You Tu, seal of authority, and three counties revolted with You. Hè Qi and Lu Xun crushed the rebellion, and killed several thousand rebels. After this, he stayed on the Yangtze frontier and defended against the eastern commander of Wei, Cao Xiu. In the Battle of Dongkou, Cao Xiu defeated the navy led by Lü Fan, and pressed on the remaining Wu forces, who just suffered from a tornado. The Wu generals were scared to death because they had lost half of the ships to the natural disaster, but were overjoyed by the arrival of Hè Qi, who arrived behind schedule and was not affected by the cyclone. Coincidentally, Hè Qi was obsessed with luxuries, and every ship of his was finely decorated and well equipped with elite bows and crossbows, even the arrows were amongst the best; thus, Cao Xiu was shocked when he saw Hè Qi's grandeur display of his refulgent navy.[3] Believing the Wu still possessed a strong navy, Cao Xiu retreated, and Hè Qi was promoted to the General of Rear because of this incident.

In June, 223, a Wu commander named Jin Zong (晋宗) defected to Wei, and overtook Qichun (蕲春) by launching a rebellion. Sun Quan ordered Hè Qi and Liu Shao with subordinate generals Mi Fang and Xianyu Dan to attack Jin Zong. The campaign did not meet with initial success and the army was about to return due to hot weather. At the time, Jin Zong laid his guard down and was surprise-attacked by the supposedly retreating Wu army. Hè Qi captured Jin Zong alive and retook Qichun. That was the last battle he fought, and four years later, he died in 227. His son, He Da, and his younger brother, He Jing, would continue to serve Wu.

Appointments and titles held[edit]

  • Filial and Incorrupt (孝廉) - nominated candidate to be a Gentleman Cadet (郎)
  • Colonel Who Pacifies the East (平東校尉)
  • General of the Household of Military Might (威武中郎將)
  • Administrator of Xindu (新都太守)
  • Lieutenant General (偏將軍)
  • General of Uplifting Martial Might (奮武將軍)
  • General Who Pacifies the East (安東將軍)
  • Marquis of Shanyin (山陰侯)
  • General of the Rear (後將軍)
  • Governor of Xu Province (徐州牧)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Sanguozhi indicated that Hè Qi died four years after capturing the Wei general Jin Zong. According to vol. 70 of the Zizhi Tongjian, Jin Zong was captured in 223.
  2. ^ (時王朗奔東冶,侯官長商升為朗起兵。) Sanguozhi vol. 60.
  3. ^ (所乘船雕刻丹鏤,青蓋絳襜,干櫓戈矛,葩爪文畫,弓弩矢箭,咸取上材,蒙衝鬥艦之屬,望之若山。休等憚之,遂引軍還) Vol. 60 of the Sanguozhi depicts how grandiose Hè Qi's ships were.