Li Hui (Three Kingdoms)

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Li Hui
Administrator of Jianning (建寧太守)
In office
229 (229) – 231 (231)
MonarchLiu Shan
ChancellorZhuge Liang
General Who Pacifies Han (安漢將軍)
In office
225 (225) – 231 (231)
MonarchLiu Shan
ChancellorZhuge Liang
Inspector of Jiao Province (交州刺史)
In office
221 (221) – 229 (229)
MonarchLiu Bei / Liu Shan
ChancellorZhuge Liang
Area Commander of Laixiang (庲降都督)
In office
221 (221) – 231 (231)
MonarchLiu Bei / Liu Shan
ChancellorZhuge Liang
Preceded byDeng Fang
Succeeded byZhang Yi
Personal details
Chengjiang County, Yunnan
Hanzhong, Shaanxi
RelationsLi Qiu (nephew)
ChildrenLi Yi
Courtesy nameDe'ang (德昂)
PeerageMarquis of Hanxing Village

Li Hui (died 231), courtesy name De'ang, was an official of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period of China.[1]

Early career[edit]

Li Hui was born during the late Eastern Han dynasty in Yuyuan County (俞元縣), Jianning Commandery (建寧郡), which is present-day Chengjiang County, Yunnan.[2] He started his career as a local inspector (督郵) in his native Jianning Commandery. His aunt married Cuan Xi (爨習),[a] who served as the Prefect of Jianling County (建伶縣; present-day Jinning District, Kunming, Yunnan). When Cuan Xi committed an offence, Li Hui got implicated in the case because of his relationship to Cuan Xi and ended up being removed from office. However, Dong He, the Administrator of Jianning Commandery, considered that Cuan Xi wielded great influence in the commandery and decided to drop the case, so Li Hui was restored to office.[4]

Around 212,[b] Dong He then recommended Li Hui as a talent to Liu Zhang, the Governor of Yi Province, and sent him to the provincial capital Chengdu. During his journey to Chengdu, Li Hui heard that the warlord Liu Bei had led his forces from Jiameng Pass (葭萌關; in present-day Zhaohua District, Guangyuan, Sichuan) to attack Liu Zhang.[6]

Service under Liu Bei[edit]

Liu Bei's takeover of Yi Province[edit]

Li Hui knew that Liu Zhang would lose and Liu Bei would eventually seize control of Yi Province, so he pretended to be a messenger from Jianning Commandery and headed north to join Liu Bei at Mianzhu.[7] Liu Bei was overjoyed to see Li Hui. When they reached Luo County (雒縣; present-day Guanghan, Sichuan), Liu Bei sent Li Hui as his representative to meet the general Ma Chao at Hanzhong Commandery and lead him to Chengdu to force Liu Zhang to surrender to Liu Bei.[8]

After Liu Bei seized control of Chengdu in 214,[9] he declared himself the new Governor of Yi Province and appointed Li Hui as a scribe, registrar and Officer of Merit (功曹).[10] On one occasion, Li Hui was falsely accused of plotting a rebellion, arrested and escorted as a prisoner to see Liu Bei. Liu Bei believed that Li Hui would never rebel against him so he not only freed Li Hui, but also promoted him to the position of an aide-de-camp.[11]

As the Area Commander of Laixiang[edit]

Following the end of the Eastern Han dynasty and start of the Three Kingdoms period in 220, Li Hui served in the state of Shu Han, which Liu Bei established in 221.[12]

In the same year, as Deng Fang, the Area Commander of Laixiang (庲降都督),[c] had just died, Liu Bei was eager to find someone to replace him so he asked Li Hui: "Who can replace him?".[15] Li Hui replied: "People's abilities vary from one person to another. That was why Confucius said, 'in his employment of men, he uses them according to their capacity.' When there is a wise ruler, there will be subjects who strive to do their best. During the Battle of Xianling, Zhao Chongguo said, 'none other than me, Your Majesty's old subject.' I humbly overestimate my ability and hope that Your Majesty will consider me."[16] Liu Bei laughed and said: "I already have you in mind."[17]

Liu Bei thus appointed Li Hui as the Area Commander of Laixiang and granted him imperial authority to serve as the nominal Inspector of Jiao Province, which was actually a territory of Shu Han's ally state Eastern Wu. Li Hui's administrative headquarters were at Pingyi County (平夷縣; northeast of present-day Bijie, Guizhou) when he served as the Area Commander of Laixiang.[18]

Service under Liu Shan[edit]

Nanzhong campaign[edit]

Following Liu Bei's death in 223,[19] rebellions broke out in three commanderies in the Nanzhong region of southern Shu: Yong Kai (雍闓), Gao Ding (高定) and Zhu Bao (朱褒) rebelled in Jianning (建寧; around present-day Qujing, Yunnan), Yuexi/Yuesui (越巂; around present-day Xichang, Sichuan) and Zangke (牂柯; around present-day Guiyang or Fuquan, Guizhou) commanderies respectively.[20]

In the spring of 225, Zhuge Liang, the Imperial Chancellor and regent of Shu, personally led a military campaign into Nanzhong to deal with the rebels.[19]

During the campaign, Li Hui led a detachment of the Shu army from Pingyi County (平夷縣; northeast of present-day Bijie, Guizhou) to attack Jianning Commandery. When he reached Kunming, however, he lost contact with Zhuge Liang and the main Shu army. The rebels, who had twice as many troops as him, converged on his position and surrounded him.[21] Li Hui then lied to the rebels:

"We have run out of food supplies and we plan to retreat. We also miss our families as we have been away from home for a long time. Now, we finally have our chance to go home. If we can't return to our homes in the north, we will then join you in your rebellion. We are very frank in revealing our intentions to you."[22]

Just as the rebels believed him and lowered their guard, Li Hui seized the opportunity to launch an assault and succeeded in breaking their encirclement. As the rebels retreated and scattered, Li Hui led his troops to attack them and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. He then moved south to Panjiang (槃江) to meet up with the Shu general Ma Zhong, who had just defeated Zhu Bao's rebel forces and recaptured Zangke Commandery. Ma Zhong and Li Hui then led their troops to rendezvous with Zhuge Liang and the main Shu army.[23][19]

By the autumn of 225,[19] the Shu army had pacified all the rebellions in Nanzhong and restored peace in the region. As Li Hui was deemed to have made the greatest contributions during the campaign, he was promoted to the rank of General Who Pacifies Han (安漢將軍) and enfeoffed as the Marquis of Hanxing Village (漢興亭侯).[24]

Maintaining the peace in Nanzhong[edit]

After Zhuge Liang and the Shu army left Nanzhong, some indigenous tribes started another rebellion against Shu rule and killed the military officers in charge of guarding the commanderies in the region.[25] Li Hui personally led government forces to attack the rebels and eliminated them, after which he forced the tribal chiefs to relocate to the Shu capital Chengdu. At the same time, he also made the Sou (叟) and Pu (濮) tribes pay tribute to the Shu government in the form of cattle, horses, gold and silver, rhinoceroses' horns, leather, and other valuable resources. These resources served as sources of funding for Shu's military campaigns against its rival state Wei.[26]

In 229, after Shu reaffirmed its alliance with its ally state Wu and recognised the legitimacy of the Wu emperor Sun Quan, it renounced its earlier claim to Jiao Province and agreed that it was Wu territory. As a result, Li Hui stopped holding the nominal appointment of Inspector of Jiao Province (交州刺史). He was then given a new appointment as the Administrator (太守) of his native Jianning Commandery (建寧郡) and was ordered to relocate to Jianning Commandery's capital at Pingyi County (平夷縣; northeast of present-day Bijie, Guizhou).[27]

Some time later, Li Hui received orders to move north to Hanzhong Commandery. He died there in 231.[28]


Li Hui's son, Li Yi (李遺), inherited his father's peerage and became the next Marquis of Hanxing Village (漢興亭侯).[29]

Li Hui's nephew, Li Qiu (李球), served as a commander of the yulin section of the imperial guards. In 263,[30] during the Wei invasion of Shu, Li Qiu accompanied the Shu general Zhuge Zhan to resist the Wei general Deng Ai at Mianzhu, where he was killed in battle.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Chronicles of Huayang recorded that Cuan Xi later served as a military officer in the state of Shu during the Three Kingdoms period.[3]
  2. ^ The conflict between Liu Bei and Liu Zhang started in 212.[5]
  3. ^ "Laixiang" (庲降) refers to the Nanzhong region in southern Shu during the Three Kingdoms period. It covers parts of present-day Yunnan, Guizhou and southern Sichuan provinces.[13] The Area Commander of Laixiang was an appointment established by the Shu government to oversee the region. During the Taishi era (265–274), the Jin dynasty partitioned part of the region to form Ning Province (寧州).[14]


  1. ^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 416.
  2. ^ (李恢字德昂,建寧俞元人也。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  3. ^ (華陽國志曰:習後官至領軍。) Huayang Guo Zhi annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  4. ^ (仕郡督郵,姑夫爨習為建伶令,有違犯之事,恢坐習免官。太守董和以習方土大姓,寢而不許。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  5. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 66.
  6. ^ (後貢恢於州,涉道未至,聞先主自葭萌還攻劉璋。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  7. ^ (恢知璋之必敗,先主必成也,乃託名郡使,北詣先主,遇於緜竹。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  8. ^ (先主嘉之,從至雒城,遣恢至漢中交好馬超,超遂從命。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  9. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 67.
  10. ^ (成都旣定,先主領益州牧,以恢為功曹書佐主簿。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  11. ^ (後為亡虜所誣,引恢謀反,有司執送,先主明其不然,更遷恢為別駕從事。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  12. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 69.
  13. ^ Herman, John (2009). "The Kingdoms of Nanzhong: China's Southwest Border Region Prior to the Eighth Century". T'oung Pao. 95 (4): 241–286. doi:10.1163/008254309X507052. ISSN 0082-5433.
  14. ^ (臣松之訊之蜀人,云庲降地名,去蜀二千餘里,時未有寧州,號為南中,立此職以總攝之。晉泰始中,始分為寧州。) Pei Songzhi's annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  15. ^ (章武元年,庲降都督鄧方卒,先主問恢:「誰可代者?」) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  16. ^ (恢對曰:「人之才能,各有長短,故孔子曰『其使人也,器之』。且夫明主在上,則臣下盡情,是以先零之役,趙充國曰『莫若老臣』。臣竊不自量,惟陛下察之。」) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  17. ^ (先主笑曰:「孤之本意,亦已在卿矣。」) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  18. ^ (遂以恢為庲降都督,使持節領交州刺史,住平夷縣。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  19. ^ a b c d Sima (1084), vol. 70.
  20. ^ (先主薨,高定恣睢於越嶲,雍闓跋扈於建寧,朱襃反叛於䍧牱。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  21. ^ (丞相亮南征,先由越嶲,而恢案道向建寧。諸縣大相糾合,圍恢軍於昆明。時恢衆少敵倍,又未得亮聲息, ...) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  22. ^ (... 紿謂南人曰:「官軍糧盡,欲規退還,吾中間乆斥鄉里,乃今得旋,不能復北,欲還與汝等同計謀,故以誠相告。」) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  23. ^ (南人信之,故圍守怠緩。於是恢出擊,大破之,追犇逐北,南至槃江,東接䍧牱,與亮聲勢相連。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  24. ^ (南土平定,恢軍功居多,封漢興亭侯,加安漢將軍。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  25. ^ (後軍還,南夷復叛,殺害守將。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  26. ^ (恢身往撲討,鉏盡惡類,徙其豪帥于成都,賦出叟、濮耕牛戰馬金銀犀革,充繼軍資,于時費用不乏。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  27. ^ (建興七年,以交州屬吳,解恢刺史。更領建寧太守,以還居本郡。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  28. ^ (徙居漢中,九年卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  29. ^ (子遺嗣。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.
  30. ^ Sima (1084), vol. 78.
  31. ^ (恢弟子球,羽林右部督,隨諸葛瞻拒鄧艾,臨陣授命,死于緜竹。) Sanguozhi vol. 43.