Lu Kang (Han dynasty)

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Lu Kang
Official of the Han dynasty
Born 126[a]
Died 195 (aged 69)[1]
Traditional Chinese 陸康
Simplified Chinese 陆康
Pinyin Lù Kāng
Wade–Giles Lu K'ang
Courtesy name Jining (simplified Chinese: 季宁; traditional Chinese: 季寧; pinyin: Jìníng; Wade–Giles: Chi-ning)

Lu Kang (126–195),[1] courtesy name Jining, was an official who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty.


Lu Kang was from Wu County, Wu Commandery (吳郡), which is in present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu. His grandfather, Lu Xu (陸續), served as a minor officer in a commandery in the early Eastern Han dynasty. When the prince Liu Ying plotted to overthrow Emperor Ming, Lu Xu was implicated for his alleged involvement in the plot, and arrested and tortured. Emperor Ming eventually pardoned Lu Xu but placed him under permanent house arrest. Lu Xu died of old age.[2] Lu Kang's father, Lu Bao (陸襃), had a reputation for being morally upright. The Han government repeatedly asked Lu Bao to join the civil service but he refused.[3]

Lu Kang was already known for being virtuous and diligent at a young age. He was nominated by Wu Commandery's Administrator, Li Su (李肅), as a xiaolian (civil service candidate), and was appointed as a minor officer in Wu Commandery. After Li Su was executed for committing some offence(s), Lu Kang collected Li's body, brought back to Li's home in Yingchuan Commandery (潁川郡) for burial, and mourned Li's death.[4] Zang Min (臧旻), the Inspector of Yang Province, nominated him as a maocai (茂才), so Lu Kang was appointed as the Prefect (令) of Gaocheng County (高成縣). Gaocheng County was very remote and its security was poor. Every household in the county was armed with bows and arrows. When the previous Prefects entered office, they made the locals build and repair the city walls. After arriving in Gaocheng County, Lu Kang freed the labourers and governed the county so well that the people were very pleased with him and even criminal activity ceased in the county. The commandery office reported Lu Kang's achievements to the Han imperial court. In 178, during the reign of Emperor Ling, Lu Kang was promoted to serve as the Administrator (太守) of Wuling (武陵). Later, he was reassigned to be the Administrator of Guiyang (桂陽) and Le'an (樂安) commanderies. He governed his jurisdictions well.[5]

Around the time, Emperor Ling wanted to build bronze statues but realised that the imperial treasury was unable to support his spending, so he issued a decree to increase taxes and recruit labour from the masses. Lu Kang observed that the people were already suffering from natural disasters such as floods and droughts, so he wrote a memorial to Emperor Ling, advising him against constructing the bronze statues and urging him to relieve the people's burdens. The eunuchs (Emperor Ling's close aides) accused Lu Kang of defaming the emperor and showing disrespect in the memorial, so Lu was arrested and brought to the office of the Minister of Justice (廷尉) for questioning. Liu Dai, an Imperial Clerk (侍御史), carefully examined Lu Kang's case and wrote to the imperial court to explain matters for Lu and clear his name. Lu Kang was released but was dismissed from office and sent home. However, not long later, he was recalled back to the court to serve as a Consultant (議郎).[6]

Around 180, Huang Rang (黃穰), a bandit chief from Lujiang (廬江), allied with barbarians from Jiangxia (江夏) and formed an army of over 100,000 men. They attacked and conquered four counties in the region. Lu Kang was appointed as the Administrator of Lujiang and was tasked with suppressing Huang Rang's rebellion. While in office, he upheld law and order and succeeded in defeating Huang Rang and forcing Huang's forces into surrender. He received praise from the imperial court for his achievement.[7] By the time Emperor Xian came to the throne in the 190s, the Han Empire was already in a state of chaos as the central government was weak and various warlords were fighting for power. Lu Kang was aware of the high risks involved in paying tribute to the emperor, because his convoy might be attacked and robbed along the way to the capital. In spite of this, he ordered his men to escort the tribute to the capital and they succeeded. Emperor Xian issued a decree to praise Lu Kang, promote him to General of Loyalty and Righteousness (忠義將軍), and increase his income to 2,000 dan (石).[8]

Around the time, the warlord Yuan Shu had garrisoned his forces in Shouchun (壽春) and was planning to attack Xu Province. When he realised he was running short of supplies, he sent a messenger to Lujiang to request 30,000 hu (斛) of grain from Lu Kang. Lu Kang saw Yuan Shu as a traitor and refused to have any contact with him. He also fortified Lujiang's defences and prepared for war. Yuan Shu was angered and he sent Sun Ce to lead an army to attack Lujiang. Sun Ce had a personal vendetta against Lu Kang because he once visited Lu, but Lu refused to meet him in person, and instead sent a Registrar (主簿) to meet him. Sun Ce's forces besieged Lujiang but Lu Kang's troops held their ground. Some of Lu Kang's subordinates and soldiers who were on leave returned to Lujiang and made their way back into the city under the cover of night to help Lu Kang defend the city. Lujiang fell to Sun Ce's forces after a siege that lasted two years. Lu Kang died of illness at the age of 70 (by East Asian age reckoning) during the siege.[9][10]

Family and relatives[edit]

Lu Kang's family and kin comprised some 100 members. Over half of them died of starvation or in war during the chaos towards the end of the Han dynasty.[11]

Lu Kang had two known sons. The elder one, Lu Jun (陸儁), was appointed as a Gentleman (郎中) by the Han imperial court in recognition of Lu Kang's unwavering loyalty to the Han Empire during the siege of Lujiang.[12] The younger one, Lu Ji, was a scholar who came to serve under the warlord Sun Quan as the Administrator of Yulin Commandery (鬱林郡). Lu Ji was also one of the 24 Filial Exemplars.[13]

One of Lu Kang's grandsons, Lu Shang (陸尚), was also appointed as a Gentleman (郎中) by the Han court in recognition of Lu Kang's success in suppressing Huang Rang's rebellion.[14]

Lu Kang was a granduncle of Lu Xun. He raised Lu Xun, who was orphaned at a young age. When Yuan Shu's forces (led by Sun Ce) were about to attack Lujiang, Lu Kang sent Lu Xun and his family members back to their home in Wu County for their safety. After Lu Kang's death, Lu Xun became the new head of the family because he was much older than Lu Kang's son Lu Ji,[15] even though Lu Ji was one generation older than him.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lu Kang's biography in the Houhanshu mentioned that Lu died at the age of 70 (by East Asian age reckoning) during the siege of Lujiang.[1] The siege of Lujiang, which is considered part of Sun Ce's conquests in Jiangdong, ended around 195. By calculation, Lu Kang's birth year should be around 126.


  1. ^ a b c (月餘,發病卒,年七十。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  2. ^ Houhanshu vol. 81.
  3. ^ (陸康字季寧,吳郡吳人也。祖父續,在獨行傳。父襃,有志操,連徵不至。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  4. ^ (謝承後漢書曰:康字季寧,少惇孝悌,勤脩操行,太守李肅察孝廉。肅後坐事伏法,康斂尸送喪還潁川,行服,禮終,舉茂才,歷三郡太守,所在稱治,後拜廬江太守。) Annotation from Xie Cheng's Houhanshu in Sanguozhi vol. 57.
  5. ^ (康少仕郡,以義烈稱,刺史臧旻舉為茂才,除高成令。縣在邊垂,舊制,令戶一人具弓弩以備不虞,不得行來。長吏新到,輒發民繕修城郭。康至,皆罷遣,百姓大恱。以恩信為治,寇盜亦息,州郡表上其狀。光和元年,遷武陵太守,轉守桂陽、樂安二郡,所在稱之。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  6. ^ (時靈帝欲鑄銅人,而國用不足,乃詔調民田,畝斂十錢。而比水旱傷稼,百姓貧苦。康上疏諫曰:「臣聞先王治世,貴在愛民。省傜輕賦,以寧天下,除煩就約,以崇簡易,故萬姓從化,靈物應德。末世衰主,窮奢極侈,造作無端,興制非一,勞割自下,以從苟欲,故黎民吁嗟,陰陽感動。陛下聖德承天,當隆盛化,而卒被詔書,畝斂田錢,鑄作銅人,伏讀惆悵,悼心失圖。夫十一而稅,周謂之徹。徹者通也,言其法度可通萬世而行也。故魯宣稅畝,而蝝灾自生;哀公增賦,而孔子非之。豈有聚奪民物,以營無用之銅人;捐捨聖戒,自蹈亡王之法哉!傳曰:『君舉必書,書而不法,後世何述焉?』陛下宜留神省察,改敝從善,以塞兆民怨恨之望。」書奏,內倖因此譖康援引亡國,以譬聖明,大不敬,檻車徵詣廷尉。侍御史劉岱典考其事,岱為表陳解釋,免歸田里。復徵拜議郎。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  7. ^ (會廬江賊黃穰等與江夏蠻連結十餘萬人,攻沒四縣,拜康廬江太守。康申明賞罰,擊破穰等,餘黨悉降。帝嘉其功,拜康孫尚為郎中。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  8. ^ (獻帝即位,天下大亂,康蒙險遣孝廉計吏奉貢朝廷,詔書策勞,加忠義將軍,秩中二千石。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  9. ^ (時袁術屯兵壽春,部曲飢餓,遣使求委輸兵甲。康以其叛逆,閉門不通,內修戰備,將以禦之。術大怒,遣其將孫策攻康,圍城數重。康固守,吏士有先受休假者,皆遁伏還赴,暮夜緣城而入。受敵二年,城陷。月餘,發病卒,年七十。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  10. ^ (後術欲攻徐州,從廬江太守陸康求米三萬斛。康不與,術大怒。策昔曾詣康,康不見,使主簿接之。策常銜恨。術遣策攻康,謂曰:「前錯用陳紀,每恨本意不遂。今若得康,廬江真卿有也。」策攻康,拔之, ...) Sanguozhi vol. 46.
  11. ^ (宗族百餘人遭離飢戹,死者將半。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  12. ^ (朝廷愍其守節,拜子儁為郎中。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  13. ^ (少子績,仕吳為鬱林太守,博學善政,見稱當時。幼年曾謁袁術,懷橘墯地者也,有名稱。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  14. ^ (帝嘉其功,拜康孫尚為郎中。) Houhanshu vol. 31.
  15. ^ (遜少孤,隨從祖廬江太守康在官。袁術與康有隙,將攻康,康遣遜及親戚還吳。遜年長於康子績數歲,為之綱紀門戶。) Sanguozhi vol. 58.