|General Who Pacifies Han (安漢將軍)|
(under Liu Bei)
214 – 221
|Monarch||Emperor Xian of Han|
|Courtesy name||Zizhong (子仲)|
Mi Zhu (c. 165-221), courtesy name Zizhong, was an official and adviser who served under the warlord Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty, during the Three Kingdoms period, after Liu Bei founded the state of Shu Han. He was also Liu Bei's brother-in-law, as his sister, Lady Mi, married Liu Bei. Mi Zhu was essential to Liu Bei during the defeats of the latter, financing Liu Bei's army in critical times where there was no tax base. Mi Zhu was extremely well educated and helped Liu Bei develop relationships with wealthy rivals such as Yuan Shao, Yuan Shu and Liu Biao. He was also the elder brother of Mi Fang, who served Liu Bei as well until his defection to Liu Bei's ally-turned-rival Sun Quan in 220. Mi Zhu served Liu Bei loyally for more than 25 years, as a high civil official of Liu during all the later's tenures as governor of Xu, Jing and Yi provinces, the former's ideas were regularly and widely circulated to the common people which greatly helped Liu Bei's political movement as Han loyalist and Confucian but, historians would argue it mere rhetoric as Liu ruled more in the tradition of legalism. Nonetheless, Mi along with Jian Yong, Sun Qian, and later Yi Ji, greatly contributed to the Liu's populist movement to restore the Han dynasty through literature and essays. Mi Zhu was thought to be Liu's best friend and most favored subject, he died of illness a little over a year after Liu Bei declared himself emperor.
Mi Zhu was from Qu County (朐縣), Donghai Commandery (東海郡), which is present-day Lianyungang, Jiangsu. He was born in an extremely rich merchant family. According to In Search of the Supernatural (搜神記) by Gan Bao (干竇), a work largely consisting of legends and hearsays, Mi Zhu was once returning home from the capital Luoyang when he met a lady by the road. He gave her a lift out of kindness. When she alighted, she revealed that she was an emissary from Heaven on a mission to burn down Mi Zhu's house. However, to repay his kindness, she agreed to walk slowly so as to allow Mi Zhu the time to evacuate the house. A huge fire indeed broke out at noon as the lady promised.
Legends aside, Mi Zhu initially served under Tao Qian, the governor of Xu Province (present-day northern Jiangsu). Upon his death, Tao Qian passed on the governorship to Liu Bei, to whom Mi Zhu thereafter rendered his service. In 196, Lü Bu seized control of Xiapi, the capital of Xu Province, and proclaimed himself the governor. Henceforth, Liu Bei was forced into exile, forming a series of temporary alliances with different warlords, including Cao Cao, Yuan Shao and Liu Biao. Throughout this trough in Liu Bei's career, however, Mi Zhu stayed loyal. When Liu Bei was defeated by Lü Bu, Mi Zhu sponsored Liu Bei with his all of his family wealth and also married his younger sister to the latter. Cao Cao had once attempted to entice Mi Zhu and Mi Fang to serve him by offering them governorships of Ying Commandery (northwest of present-day Laiwu, Shandong) and Pengcheng respectively but was turned down, and the brothers fled with Liu Bei.
After Liu Bei conquered Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) in 214, Mi Zhu was promoted to General Who Pacifies Han (安漢將軍). Although he was not given any troops to command, as military manoeuver were not his expertise, he was nonetheless the most highly esteemed among Liu Bei's subjects. He was viewed as a role model official for the state of Shu and many young civil officials looked up to him as they did to Zhuge Liang, Fa Zheng, Dong He and Xu Jing.
In 219, Mi Fang defected to Sun Quan when Sun's general Lü Meng launched a surprise attack on Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan), which resulted in the death of Guan Yu. Mi Zhu bound himself and came to Liu Bei, pleading guilty for his brother's crime. Although Liu Bei did not fault him, Mi Zhu was so ashamed that he soon fell sick and died slightly more than a year later.