Zhang Xutuo

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Zhang Xutuo
Dahai Temple near Xingyang
NationalityImperial China
Sui Dynasty

Zhang Xutuo, courtesy name Guo, was one of the most celebrated generals in Sui dynasty[1]. He was best known for his achievements in suppressing rebellions and uprisings during Emperor Yang's reign.

In history[edit]

Zhang Xutuo originally served in the military under the command of Shi Wansui during the campaign against Cuanman in 597. After this campaign, he was promoted to be a mid-ranked officer. In 604, Emperor Yang's younger brother Yang Liang rebelled against the emperor seeking for the throne. Zhang Xutuo took part in the campaign against Yang Liang under the command of Yang Su. he was promoted again after this battle[2].

In 610, Zhang Xutuo became a local governor of Qi Prefecture. At that time, Sui dynasty was invading the Goguryeo and there was no cereals left in the barns of Qi. Coincidentally, Qi Prefecture suffered from natural disasters during the same year. Zhang Xutuo thus ordered to hand out everything left in the storage to save people. His advisors warmed him that he had no authority to do this, but he did it anyway at the risk of being punished by the emperor. As a result, he obtained great reputation among people in Qi Prefecture, and the emperor was also very proud of what he did[3].

In 611, led by Wang Bo, the first peasant uprising of Sui dynasty broke out in Zouping region near Qi Prefecture. Zhang Xutuo led his troop to Zouping and drove out the peasant force. Wang Bo retreated to Lu Prefecture and then to Mountain Tai, but still, he was eventually defeated by Zhang Xutuo. Wang Bo ran to the north and was ambushed by Zhang Xutuo again near the Yellow River. Wang Bo's uprising triggered massive peasant rebellions all around the Sui dynasty. He had to run further north[4]. In 613, Wang Bo, allied with other peasant forces, such as Sun Xuanya and Hao Xiaode, went back and fought against Zhang Xutuo. Zhang Xutuo, allied with another Sui general Zhou Fashang, attacked the peasant alliance near Zhangqiu and seriously weakened the peasant force. Wang Bo, Sun Xuanya and Hao Xiaode fled away and eventually submitted to Dou Jiande. After this battle, Zhang Xutuo was praised by the emperor for his bravery and intelligence. The emperor even ordered to have a copy of Zhang's portrayal hanging on the wall in his palace.[5].

After the battle at Zhangqiu, Zhang Xutuo continued fighting against rebellion forces. Major peasant rebels in Shandong region including Pei Changcai, Shi Zihe[6], Guo Fangyu[7], Zuo Xiaoyou[8], Lu Mingyue[9], Lyu Mingxing, Shuai Rentai and Huo Xiaohan [10] were all defeated by Zhang Xutuo. Zhang Xutuo also discovered and promoted several talented warriors, including Qin Shubao and Luo Shixin, from his troops. In 614, Zhang Xutuo was appointed by the central court as the chief commander of Eastern China and the guard of Qi.

In 616, Zhang Xutuo met his strongest opponent in the battlefield, the Wagang Army led by Zhai Rang and Li Mi. During the Battle of Dahai Temple against Wagang Army, Zhang Xutuo was ambushed and surrounded by Wagang forces led by Wang Bodang, Shan Xiongxin and Xu Shiji, near the city of Xingyang. He managed to break the encirclement after a bloody battle, but he went back into the encirclement after realizing that some of his subordinates, such as Fan Hu and Tang Wanren, were still desperately fighting in the field. He charged at Wagang Army for several times trying to save his subordinates, but he failed and was eventually killed in the battle by Wagang Army. After the battle, his survived troops all cried for him, and the emperor was very sad after hearing this news.

Zhang Xutuo was buried on the site of the battlefield. Later during Tang dynasty, his grandsons relocated his grave to Lingbao in 711. His grave was discovered by archaeologists in 2009. According to the record on his tombstone, he was also good at writing and literature.

In popular cultures[edit]

Although Zhang Xutuo rarely appears in folk tales or dramas, his stories triggered the creation of the fictional person called Yang Lin, who was believed to be one of the best warriors of Sui dynasty, and was given the title of Prince of Backing (Kaoshan Wang) by the emperor.


Notable ancestor:

Great Grandfather:


  • Zhang Si: a high-ranked official in the central court of Western Wei dynasty



  • Zhang Yuanbei: a lower-ranked general


  • Zhang Zhizhi
  • Zhang Zhixuan


  1. ^ Tombstone of Zhang Xutuo:君讳须陀,字果
  2. ^ Book of Sui:炀帝嗣位,汉王谅作乱并州,从杨素击平之,加开府。
  3. ^ Book of Sui:大业中,为齐郡丞。会兴辽东之役,百姓失业,又属岁饥,谷米踊贵,须陀将开仓赈给,官属咸曰:“须待诏敕,不可擅与。”须陀曰:“今帝在远,遣使往来,必淹岁序。百姓有倒悬之急,如待报至,当委沟壑矣。吾若以此获罪,死无所恨。”先开仓而后上状,帝知之而不责也。
  4. ^ Book of Sui:明年,贼帅王薄聚结亡命数万人,寇掠郡境。官军击之,多不利。须陀发兵拒之,薄遂引军南,转掠鲁郡。须陀蹑之,及于岱山之下。薄恃骤胜,不设备。须陀选精锐,出其不意击之,薄众大溃,因乘胜斩首数千级。薄收合亡散,得万余人,将北度河。须陀追之,至临邑,复破之,斩五千余级,获六畜万计。
  5. ^ Book of Sui:薄复北战,连豆子贼孙宣雅、石秪阇、郝孝德等众十余万攻章丘。须陀遣舟师断其津济,亲率马步二万袭击,大破之,贼徒散走。既至津梁,复为舟师所拒,前后狼狈,获其家累辎重不可胜计,露布以闻。帝大悦,优诏褒扬,令使者图画其形容而奏之。
  6. ^ Book of Sui:其年,贼裴长才、石子河等众二万,奄至城下,纵兵大掠。须陀未暇集兵,亲率五骑与战。贼竞赴之,围百余重,身中数创,勇气弥厉。会城中兵至,贼稍却,须陀督军复战,长才败走。
  7. ^ Book of Sui:后数旬,贼帅秦君弘、郭方预等合军围北海,兵锋甚锐,须陀谓官属曰:“贼自恃强,谓我不能救,吾今速去,破之必矣。”于是简精兵,倍道而进,贼果无备,击大破之,斩数万级,获辎重三千两。司隶刺史裴操之上状,帝遣使劳问之。
  8. ^ Book of Sui:十年,贼左孝友众将十万,屯于蹲狗山。须陀列八风营以逼之,复分兵扼其要害。孝友窘迫,面缚来降。其党解象、王良、郑大彪、李 宛等众各万计,须陀悉讨平之,威振东夏。以功迁齐郡通守,领河南道十二郡黜陟讨捕大使。
  9. ^ New Book of Tang:俄从通守张须陀击贼卢明月下邳,贼众十余万,须陀所统才十之一,坚壁水敢进,粮尽,欲引去。须陀曰:“贼见兵却,必悉众追我,得锐士袭其营,且有利,谁为吾行者?”众莫对。惟叔宝与罗士信奋行。乃分劲兵千人伏莽间,须陀委营遁,明月悉兵追蹑。叔宝等驰叩贼营,门闭不得入,乃升楼拔贼旗帜,杀数十人,营中乱,即斩关纳外兵,纵火焚三十余屯。明月奔还,须陀回击,大破之。
  10. ^ Book of Sui:俄而贼庐明月众十余万,将寇河北,次祝阿,须陀邀击,杀数千人。贼吕明星、帅仁泰、霍小汉等众各万余,扰济北,须陀进军击走之。寻将兵拒东郡贼翟让,前后三十余战,每破走之。