Luo Xian

Luo Xian (died 270), courtesy name Lingze, was a military general of the Jin dynasty of China. He previously served in the state of Shu during the Three Kingdoms period.[2] He is best known for defending his position at Yong'an (present-day Fengjie County, Chongqing) for about six months against attacks from Shu's former ally state Wu after the fall of Shu.

Luo Xian
羅憲 / 羅獻[a]
Champion General (冠軍將軍)
In office
267 – 270
Monarch Emperor Wu of Jin
Administrator of Wuling (武陵太守)
In office
264 – 267
Monarch Cao Huan /
Emperor Wu of Jin
General Who Rises Above the River
In office
264 – 267
Monarch Cao Huan
Army Commandant (領軍)
In office
? – 264
Monarch Liu Shan
Administrator of Badong (巴東太守)
In office
? – ?
Monarch Liu Shan
Personal details
Born Unknown
Died 270
  • Luo Shi (brother)
  • Luo Shang (nephew)
Children Luo Xi
Father Luo Meng
Occupation General
Courtesy name Lingze (令則)
Posthumous name Marquis Lie (烈侯)
Peerage Marquis of Xi'e County

Early life

Luo Xian's ancestral home was in Xiangyang in present-day Hubei.[3] His father, Luo Meng (羅蒙), left Xiangyang and took shelter in Shu (蜀; present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) during the chaos towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty. Luo Meng later served as the Administrator of Guanghan Commandery in the state of Shu during the Three Kingdoms period.[4][5]

At a young age, Luo Xian was known for being talented in scholarly arts. He could already write essays when he was just 12 years old.[6] He also studied under the tutelage of Qiao Zhou and his fellow students compared him to Zigong.[7] When Liu Shan was designated as the Crown Prince of Shu in 221, Luo Xian was appointed as a close attendant to him and was later reassigned to serve in the personnel department of the imperial secretariat. Some time later, he was commissioned as a Colonel and sent on a diplomatic mission to Shu's ally state Wu. He received high praise from the Wu officials.[8][9]

Fall of Shu

When the eunuch Huang Hao rose to power in the Shu government around the 250s, many officials fawned on him in the hope of receiving favours from him. Luo Xian was one of the officials who refused to have any dealings with Huang Hao. As a result, Huang Hao resented him and found an excuse to send him out of Chengdu, the Shu capital, to serve as the Administrator of Badong Commandery (巴東郡; around present-day Fengjie County, Chongqing) near the border between Shu and its ally state Wu.[10] At the time, as the Shu general Yan Yu (閻宇) was already in charge of guarding Badong Commandery, the Shu emperor Liu Shan reassigned Luo Xian to be an Army Commandant (領軍) and ordered him to serve as Yan Yu's deputy.[11]

Between September and November 263,[12] when Shu's rival state Wei launched a large-scale invasion of Shu, Yan Yu received orders to lead troops from Badong Commandery to defend Shu from the Wei invaders. Luo Xian remained behind in Yong'an (永安; present-day Fengjie County, Chongqing) with only 2,000 troops.[13][14]

When news of the fall of Chengdu reached Yong'an, there was much unrest and panic among the people. Some of the officials at Yong'an even abandoned their posts and fled. Luo Xian managed to restore order and stability in Yong'an after executing one of the men who spread the news that Chengdu had fallen.[15] After receiving news of Liu Shan's surrender, Luo Xian gathered all his troops and mourned the end of Shu for three days.[16]

Defence of Yong'an

In the meantime, when Shu's ally state Wu learnt that Shu had fallen to Wei, they prepared to invade and capture Badong Commandery under the pretext of sending reinforcements to Shu.[17] Upon receiving news of the impending Wu invasion, Luo Xian told his men: "Our dynasty has collapsed. Wu was supposed to be our ally but now, instead of helping us, they break our alliance and seek to seize our territories. As Shu has fallen, Wu won't last long too. Who would want to surrender to Wu?"[18][19] He then rallied his troops, reminded them of their allegiance to Shu, and strengthened their defences.[20][21]

In March 264, the Wei general Zhong Hui, who took charge of Chengdu following Liu Shan's surrender, started a rebellion against the Wei regent Sima Zhao. However, the rebellion failed and Zhong Hui was killed by his officers who refused to join him.[12] Upon learning of Zhong Hui's death, the Wu emperor Sun Xiu thought that no one was in charge of Shu, so he sent his troops to seize control of the Shu territories. However, the Wu forces led by Bu Xie encountered strong resistance from Luo Xian and his men at Badong Commandery and could not advance further west into the heartland of Shu.[22][23]

As the Wu forces rained arrows on Luo Xian's position along the Yangtze, Luo Xian feared that he might not be able to hold out for long so he ordered his subordinate Yang Zong (楊宗) to break out of the siege and head north to seek help from the Wei general Chen Qian. He also surrendered his tallies and sent his son as a hostage to the Wei regent Sima Zhao to prove his sincerity in seeking help from Wei to counter the Wu invasion. When the Wu forces under Bu Xie's command attacked Yong'an, Luo Xian led his men out of the city to strike back and succeeded in defeating the enemy.[24]

Enraged at the Wu defeat, the Wu emperor Sun Xiu ordered his general Lu Kang to lead an additional 30,000 troops to reinforce Bu Xie and besiege Yong'an. After about six months of siege with no sign of Wei reinforcements arriving, more than half of Yong'an's population had fallen sick.[25][26]

When someone suggested that he break out of the siege and head south towards Zangke Commandery (牂柯郡; covering parts of present-day Guizhou) or head north to Shangyong Commandery (上庸郡; covering parts of present-day northwestern Hubei), Luo Xian replied: "If you are a leader of people, the masses will look up to you. A junzi will try to restore stability in a crisis and not flee in the face of danger. I am prepared to end my life here."[27][28]

After Chen Qian relayed Luo Xian's call for help to Sima Zhao, the Wei regent ordered the general Hu Lie to lead troops from Jing Province to help Luo Xian and lift the siege on Yong'an. The Wu forces retreated after seeing that Wei reinforcements had arrived.[29][30]

Service under the Jin dynasty

The Wei regent Sima Zhao accepted Luo Xian's surrender and ordered him to remain there and continue guarding Yong'an (永安; present-day Fengjie County, Chongqing). He also appointed Luo Xian as General Who Rises Above the River (淩江將軍), and awarded him the peerage of the Marquis of Wannian Village (萬年亭侯). When four counties in Wuling Commandery (武陵郡; around present-day Changde, Hunan) rebelled against Wu rule, the Wei government appointed Luo Xian as the nominal Administrator of Wuling (武陵太守) and Army Supervisor of Badong (巴東監軍).[31][32]

In 265, after Sima Zhao's son Sima Yan (Emperor Wu) usurped the Wei throne and established the Jin dynasty to replace Wei, he promoted Luo Xian from the status of a village marquis to a county marquis under the title "Marquis of Xi'e County" (西鄂縣侯). The emperor also issued an imperial decree as follows: "(Luo) Xian is loyal, courageous, decisive and resolute. He is talented and capable. He should have a ceremonial guard to accompany him." He also awarded Luo Xian a ceremonial sword made of shanxuan jade.[33] After Luo Xian's family moved to Luoyang, the Jin imperial capital, Emperor Wu appointed Luo Xian's son Luo Xi (羅襲) as an Official Who Concurrently Serves in the Palace (給事中).[34]

In the winter of 267, Emperor Wu summoned Luo Xian to his imperial court in Luoyang, appointed him as Champion General (冠軍將軍) and granted him acting imperial authority.[35]

In April 268, when Luo Xian attended a banquet hosted by Emperor Wu in Hualin Gardens, the emperor asked him to recommend some talents from among the descendants of former Shu officials. Luo Xian then recommended Chang Ji (常忌), Du Zhen (杜軫), Shou Liang (壽良), Chen Shou, Gao Gui (高軌), Lü Ya, Xu Guo (許國), Fei Gong, Zhuge Jing and Chen Yu. Emperor Wu recruited all of them to serve in the Jin government; these men all put their talents to good use.[36][37]

After Luo Xian returned to his post at Yong'an, he led his troops to attack and occupy Wu County (巫縣; present-day Wushan County, Chongqing), which was under the control of Eastern Wu. He then presented a plan to Emperor Wu for the Jin dynasty to conquer Eastern Wu.[38]

Throughout his life, Luo Xian was known for holding himself to high moral standards and being respectful towards scholar-officials. Although he did not own any private property or enterprises, he was generous with his wealth and did not hesitate to use it to help the poor.[39] He died in 270 and was awarded the posthumous appointment of General Who Stabilises the South (安南將軍) and the posthumous title "Marquis Lie" (烈侯; literally "vehement marquis").[40][41]


Luo Xian's son, Luo Xi (羅襲), served as General Who Rises Above the River (淩江將軍) and inherited command of his father's troops. He died early, however, and was awarded the posthumous appointment of Administrator of Guanghan Commandery.[42][43] Luo Xi's son, Luo Hui (羅徽), served as a clerk under the Prince of Shunyang (順陽王) and was killed by the rebel leader Wang Ru (王如) in 311.[44]

Luo Xian's nephew, Luo Shang (羅尚), also served as a general under the Jin dynasty.

See also


  1. ^ The fifth-century historian Pei Songzhi noted that Luo Xian's given name Xian was written as instead of in some historical records. He did not know why there was such a discrepancy.[1]


  1. ^ (此作「獻」,名與本傳不同,未詳孰是也。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  2. ^ de Crespigny (2007), p. 633.
  3. ^ (羅憲,字令則,襄陽人也。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  4. ^ (父蒙,蜀廣漢太守。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  5. ^ (父蒙,避亂於蜀,官至廣漢太守。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  6. ^ (憲少以才學知名,年十三能屬文。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  7. ^ (憲年十三,能屬文,早知名。師事譙周,周門人稱為子貢。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  8. ^ (仕蜀為太子舍人、宣信校尉。再使於吳,吳人稱焉。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  9. ^ (後主立太子,為太子舍人,遷庶子、尚書吏部郎,以宣信校尉再使於吳,吳人稱美焉。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  10. ^ (時黃皓預政,眾多附之,憲獨介然。皓恚之,左遷巴東太守。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  11. ^ (時大將軍閻宇都督巴東,拜憲領軍,為宇副貳。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  12. ^ a b Sima (1084), vol. 78.
  13. ^ (魏之伐蜀,召宇西還,憲守永安城。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  14. ^ (魏之伐蜀,召宇西還,留宇二千人,令憲守永安城。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  15. ^ (及成都敗,城中擾動,邊江長吏皆棄城走,憲斬亂者一人,百姓乃安。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  16. ^ (知劉禪降,乃率所統臨於都亭三日。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  17. ^ (吳聞蜀敗,遣將軍盛憲西上,外托救援,內欲襲憲。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  18. ^ (憲曰:「本朝傾覆,吳為脣齒,不恤我難,而邀其利,吾寧當為降虜乎!」) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  19. ^ (憲曰:「本朝傾覆,吳為脣齒,不恤我難而徼其利,背盟違約。且漢已亡,吳何得乆,寧能為吳降虜乎!」) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  20. ^ (乃歸順。於是繕甲完聚,厲以節義,士皆用命。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  21. ^ (保城繕甲,告誓將士,厲以節義,莫不用命。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  22. ^ (及鐘會、鄧艾死,百城無主,吳又使步協西征,憲大破其軍。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  23. ^ (吳聞鍾、鄧敗,百城無主,有兼蜀之志,而巴東固守,兵不得過,使步協率衆而西。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  24. ^ (憲臨江拒射,不能禦,遣參軍楊宗突圍北出,告急安東將軍陳騫,又送文武印綬、任子詣晉王。協攻城,憲出與戰,大破其軍。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  25. ^ (孫休怒,又遣陸抗助協。憲距守經年,救援不至,城中疾疫太半。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  26. ^ (孫休怒,復遣陸抗等帥衆三萬人增憲之圍。被攻凡六月日而救援不到,城中疾病大半。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  27. ^ (或勸南出牂柯,北奔上庸,可以保全。憲曰:「夫為人主,百姓所仰,既不能存,急而棄之,君子不為也。畢命於此矣。」) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  28. ^ (或說憲奔走之計,憲曰:「夫為人主,百姓所仰,危不能安,急而弃之,君子不為也,畢命於此矣。」) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  29. ^ (會荊州刺史胡烈等救之,抗退。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  30. ^ (陳騫言於晉王,遣荊州刺史胡烈救憲,抗等引退。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  31. ^ (加陵江將軍、監巴東軍事、使持節,領武陵太守。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  32. ^ (晉王即委前任,拜憲淩江將軍,封萬年亭侯。會武陵四縣舉衆叛吳,以憲為武陵太守巴東監軍。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  33. ^ (泰始初入朝,詔曰:「憲忠烈果毅,有才策器幹,可給鼓吹。」又賜山玄玉佩劍。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  34. ^ (泰始元年改封西鄂縣侯。憲遣妻子居洛陽,武帝以子襲為給事中。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  35. ^ ([泰始]三年冬,入朝,進位冠軍將軍、假節。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  36. ^ (初,憲侍宴華林園,詔問蜀大臣子弟,後問先輩宜時敘用者,憲薦蜀人常忌、杜軫等,皆西國之良器,武帝並召而任之。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  37. ^ ([泰始]四年三月,從帝宴于華林園,詔問蜀大臣子弟,後問先輩宜時叙用者,憲薦蜀郡常忌、杜軫、壽良、巴西陳壽、南郡高軌、南陽呂雅、許國、江夏費恭、琅邪諸葛京、汝南陳裕,即皆叙用,咸顯於世。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  38. ^ (憲還,襲取吳之巫城,因上伐吳之策。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  39. ^ (性方亮嚴整,待士無倦,輕財好施,不營產業。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  40. ^ (泰始六年卒,贈使持節、安南將軍、武陵太守,追封西鄂侯,諡曰烈。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  41. ^ ([泰始]六年薨,贈安南將軍,謚曰烈侯。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  42. ^ (子襲,曆給事中、陵江將軍,統其父部曲,至廣漢太守。) Jin Shu vol. 57.
  43. ^ (子襲,以淩江將軍領部曲,早卒,追贈廣漢太守。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.
  44. ^ (襲子徽,順陽內史,永嘉五年為王如所殺。) Xiangyang Ji annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 41.

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