Zhou Tai

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Zhou Tai
Zhou Tai Qing illustration.jpg
Qing dynasty illustration of Zhou Tai
General of Vehement Might (奮威將軍)
In office
219 (219)–? (?)
Administrator of Hanzhong (漢中太守)
In office
219 (219)–? (?)
General Who Pacifies Barbarians (平虜將軍)
In office
217 (217)–219 (219)
Personal details
Fengtai County, Anhui
Diedc. 223[a][2]
  • Zhou Shao
  • Zhou Cheng
Courtesy nameYouping (幼平)
PeerageMarquis of Lingyang (陵陽侯)

Zhou Tai (About this soundpronunciation ) (died c. 223), courtesy name Youping, was a military general serving under the warlord Sun Quan during the late Eastern Han dynasty and early Three Kingdoms period of China. He previously served under Sun Ce, Sun Quan's elder brother and predecessor.[2]

Service under Sun Ce[edit]

Zhou Tai was from Xiacai County (下蔡縣), Jiujiang Commandery (九江郡), which is present-day Fengtai County, Anhui. Around the early 190s, he and Jiang Qin came to serve Sun Ce, who was on a series of conquests in the Jiangdong region. Zhou Tai was faithful and polite. He also made contributions by fighting in various battles under Sun Ce's banner. When Sun Ce occupied Kuaiji Commandery (present-day Shaoxing, Zhejiang) after the commandery's Administrator, Wang Lang, surrendered to him, he appointed Zhou Tai as a Major of Separate Command (別部司馬) and put him in command of some troops.[3]

Saving Sun Quan[edit]

Sun Ce's younger brother, Sun Quan, favoured Zhou Tai so he requested for Zhou to be transferred to his unit. Once, when Sun Ce was away on a campaign against some bandits who had emerged in the six counties of Kuaiji, Sun Quan was left in Xuancheng County (宣城縣; present-day Xuancheng, Anhui) with less than 1,000 men. Out of negligence, Sun Quan did not set up defence posts, so when thousands of bandits suddenly attacked Xuancheng, he attempted to flee. However, by then, Sun Quan had already been surrounded by the bandits, who attacked him and slashed at his saddle, causing much panic among his men. Only Zhou Tai, with his spirits roused, rushed to protect Sun Quan, emboldening those near him and making them able to fight again. When the bandits finally dispersed, Zhou Tai had sustained 12 deep wounds all over his body and he took a long time to recover. If Zhou Tai was not there on that day, Sun Quan would have surely perished. Zhou Tai's act of bravery was greatly appreciated by Sun Ce, who appointed him as the Chief () of Chungu County (春穀縣; northwest of present-day Fanchang County, Anhui).[4]

Campaign against Liu Xun[edit]

In 199, Zhou Tai followed Sun Ce to attack Liu Xun at Wan County (皖縣; present-day Qianshan County, Anhui) and Huang Zu at Jiangxia Commandery (江夏郡; commandery capital in present-day Xinzhou District, Wuhan, Hubei). When he returned from the campaigns, he passed by Yuzhang Commandery (豫章郡) and was appointed as the Chief () of Yichun County (宜春縣; present-day Yichun, Jiangxi). The residents in the counties under his governorship provided him with the necessary funding and supplies for his troops.[5]

Service under Sun Quan[edit]

Sun Ce was assassinated in 200 CE while he was out on a hunting expedition and was succeeded by Sun Quan. In 208, Zhou Tai participated in the Battle of Jiangxia against Huang Zu. Later that year, Zhou Tai fought at the Battle of Red Cliffs under the command of Zhou Yu and Cheng Pu, and the allied forces of Sun Quan and Liu Bei scored a major victory over Cao Cao's forces. Zhou Tai was also involved in the Battle of Jiangling, a follow-up to Red Cliffs, and Sun Quan's forces defeated Cao Cao's general Cao Ren and captured Nan Commandery (南郡; around present-day Jingzhou, Hubei). After the battles, Zhou Tai was ordered to garrison at Cen County (岑縣).[6]

Battle of Ruxu[edit]

In 217, Cao Cao launched another attack on Sun Quan, leading to the Battle of Ruxu. Zhou Tai participated in the defence of Ruxu, and Sun Quan's forces succeeded in driving back the invaders. After Cao Cao's retreat, Zhou Tai was appointed General Who Pacifies Barbarians (平虜將軍) and was ordered to remain behind to guard Ruxu. At the time, Zhu Ran and Xu Sheng were also stationed at Ruxu and were Zhou Tai's subordinates, but they were reluctant to submit to Zhou's command. Sun Quan made a special trip to Ruxu and he threw a party for all the military officers there. Sun Quan personally served wine to Zhou Tai and asked him to undress. He pointed at every scar on Zhou Tai's body and asked Zhou about it, whereupon Zhou would relate stories of the battles he fought in. At the end, Sun Quan told Zhou Tai to put on his clothes and they revelled through the night. The following day, Sun Quan instructed a herald to grant Zhou Tai his imperial parasol.[7]

The Jiang Biao Zhuan (江表傳) further described this incident as follows:

Sun Quan held [Zhou Tai's] arm and tears crossed his face. He called Zhou Tai by his courtesy name, saying, "Youping, you've fought like bears and tigers for me and my brother. You were willing to lay down your life and you've sustained wounds all over your body. [The scars] appear as though they have been etched into your skin. How can I not treat you like a brother, and not grant you any military appointments? You've rendered meritorious service to Wu, and I'll stand by you whether in honour or shame, and I'll share joy and sorrow with you. Youping, be merry. Don't be disheartened by the fact that you come from a humble background." Sun Quan then bestowed an imperial silk parasol of blue veils upon Zhou Tai. After all was over, he asked Zhou Tai to lead him out of Ruxu, with the sounds of drums and horns in the background.[8]

Zhu Ran, Xu Sheng and the other officers were impressed with Zhou Tai and they submitted to his command.[9]

Jing Province campaign[edit]

In 219, Sun Quan sent his general Lü Meng to invade and seize Liu Bei's territories in Jing Province, which were defended by Guan Yu. After the success of the invasion, Sun Quan planned to attack Liu Bei in Shu (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) so he appointed Zhou Tai as the Administrator (太守) of Hanzhong Commandery even though Hanzhong was still under Liu Bei's control then. He also appointed Zhou Tai as General of Vehement Might (奮威將軍) and awarded him the title "Marquis of Lingyang" (陵陽侯).[10]


Zhou Tai died sometime during the Huangwu era (222–229) in Sun Quan's reign.[11] His year of death was not specified, but the Australian sinologist Rafe de Crespigny estimated it to be around 223.[2]


Zhou Tai's son, Zhou Shao (周邵), was appointed as a Cavalry Commandant (騎都尉) and commanded some troops. He fought in the Battle of Ruxu of 222–223 against the Wei general Cao Ren and made contributions in battle. Later in 228, he participated in the Battle of Shiting under Lu Xun's command, which saw a victory for Wu forces over the Wei army led by Cao Xiu. Zhou Shao was promoted to Major-General (裨將軍) for his achievement. He died in 230 and was succeeded by his younger brother, Zhou Cheng (周承), who inherited his military appointment and their father's marquis title.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

Zhou Tai appears as a playable character in Koei's Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi video game series.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Sanguozhi recorded that Zhou Tai died sometime during the Huangwu era (222-229) of Sun Quan's reign.[1]


  1. ^ (黃武中卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  2. ^ a b c de Crespigny (2007), p. 1148.
  3. ^ (周泰字幼平,九江下蔡人也。 ... 與蔣欽隨孫策為左右,服事恭敬,數戰有功。策入會稽,署別部司馬,授兵。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  4. ^ (權愛其為人,請以自給。策討六縣山賊,權住宣城,使士自衞,不能千人,意尚忽略,不治圍落,而山賊數千人卒至。權始得上馬,而賊鋒刃已交於左右,或斫中馬鞌,衆莫能自定。惟泰奮激,投身衞權,膽氣倍人,左右由泰並能就戰。賊旣解散,身被十二創,良乆乃蘇。是日無泰,權幾危殆。策深德之,補春穀長。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  5. ^ (後從攻皖,及討江夏,還過豫章,復補宜春長,所在皆食其征賦。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  6. ^ (從討黃祖有功。後與周瑜、程普拒曹公於赤壁,攻曹仁於南郡。荊州平定,將兵屯岑。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  7. ^ (曹公出濡須,泰復赴擊,曹公退,留督濡須,拜平虜將軍。時朱然、徐盛等皆在所部,並不伏也,權特為案行至濡須鄔,因會諸將,大為酣樂。權自行酒到泰前,命泰解衣,權手自指其創痕,問以所起。泰輒記昔戰鬬處以對,畢,使復服,歡讌極夜。其明日,遣使者授以御蓋。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  8. ^ (江表傳曰:權把其臂,因流涕交連,字之曰:「幼平,卿為孤兄弟戰如熊虎,不惜軀命,被創數十,膚如刻畫,孤亦何心不待卿以骨肉之恩,委卿以兵馬之重乎!卿吳之功臣,孤當與卿同榮辱,等休戚。幼平意快為之,勿以寒門自退也。」即勑以己常所用御幘青縑蓋賜之。坐罷,住駕,使泰以兵馬導從出,鳴鼓角作鼓吹。) Jiang Biao Zhuan annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  9. ^ (於是盛等乃伏。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  10. ^ (後權破關羽,欲進圖蜀,拜泰漢中太守、奮威將軍,封陵陽侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  11. ^ (黃武中卒。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  12. ^ (子邵以騎都尉領兵。曹仁出濡須,戰有功,又從攻破曹休,進位裨將軍,黃龍二年卒。弟承領兵襲侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 55.
  • Chen, Shou (3rd century). Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi).
  • de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms 23-220 AD. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004156050.
  • Pei, Songzhi (5th century). Annotations to Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi zhu).