Huang Quan (died 240), courtesy name Gongheng, was a military general of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period. He previously served under the warlords Liu Zhang and Liu Bei in the late Eastern Han dynasty and in the state of Shu Han (founded by Liu Bei) in the early Three Kingdoms period before defecting to Wei. Liu Bei relied heavily on Huang Quan for counsel in both domestic and foreign policy. Under the Wei government, however, Huang Quan was restricted to only internal affairs because even though the Wei emperor Cao Pi appreciated him for his talent, he doubted Huang's allegiance and believed he was still secretly loyal to Liu Bei.
|General of Chariots and Cavalry (車騎將軍)|
239 – 240
|Inspector of Yi Province (益州刺史)
? – ?
|Monarch||Cao Pi / Cao Rui|
|General Who Guards the South (鎮南將軍)|
222 – ?
|General Who Guards the North (鎮北將軍)|
221 – 222
|Courtesy name||Gongheng (公衡)|
|Posthumous name||Marquis Jing (景侯)|
|Peerage||Marquis of Yuyang
Huang Quan was from Langzhong County (閬中縣), Baxi Commandery (巴西郡), Yi Province (益州; covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing), which is in present-day Langzhong, Sichuan. He started his career as a minor official in the commandery office and was later recruited to be a Registrar (主簿) under Yi Province's governor, Liu Zhang. Around 211, Zhang Song, an advisor to Liu Zhang, suggested to his lord to invite the warlord Liu Bei from Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan) to assist them in countering their rival, Zhang Lu, in Hanzhong Commandery. Huang Quan strongly opposed Zhang Song's idea because he felt that Liu Bei was an ambitious person and might use the opportunity to seize control of Yi Province. However, Liu Zhang refused to listen to Huang Quan and he heeded Zhang Song's suggestion. Huang Quan was appointed as the Chief (長) of Guanghan County (廣漢縣; south of present-day Shehong County, Sichuan). Later, in 212, as Huang Quan foresaw, conflict broke out between Liu Zhang and Liu Bei when the latter initiated a campaign to take over Yi Province from the former. Huang Quan defended his position firmly even though many territories in Yi Province had already either been conquered or had voluntarily submitted to Liu Bei. He only surrendered when he heard that Liu Zhang had surrendered to Liu Bei in Chengdu (Yi Province's capital). After successfully annexing Yi Province, Liu Bei appointed Huang Quan as a Lieutenant-General (偏將軍).
Xu Zhong (徐衆), who wrote a commentary on the historical text Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi), praised Huang Quan for his loyalty towards Liu Zhang. He also commended Liu Bei for appointing Huang Quan as a general after the latter's surrender, but remarked that Liu's actions were not sufficient to highlight Huang's virtues – something that a benevolent man should do. He provided an example of how King Wu of the Zhou dynasty paid homage to two officials known for their loyalty to the Shang dynasty – Bi Gan and Shang Rong – after he succeeded in overthrowing the Shang regime.
In 215, after Zhang Lu lost to Liu Bei's rival, Cao Cao, at the Battle of Yangping, he escaped and took shelter in the Bazhong (巴中) region in northeastern Yi Province. Huang Quan cautioned Liu Bei against losing Hanzhong Commandery to Cao Cao because Hanzhong was the northern gateway into Yi Province. Liu Bei appointed Huang Quan as a Protector of the Army (護軍) and led his followers towards Bazhong to receive Zhang Lu, but when they arrived there, Zhang Lu had already returned to Hanzhong and surrendered to Cao Cao. Huang Quan then urged Liu Bei to attack and seize Hanzhong. Between 217 and 219, Liu Bei, acting on Huang Quan's advice, launched the Hanzhong Campaign to wrestle control of Hanzhong from Cao Cao. He emerged victorious in the campaign in 219 and declared himself King of Hanzhong (漢中王) and Governor of Yi Province (益州牧). Huang Quan was appointed as a "Headquarters Officer" (治中從事) under Liu Bei.
In 221, Liu Bei proclaimed himself emperor and founded the state of Shu Han, after which he planned to launch a military campaign against his former ally, Sun Quan, who had seized Jing Province from him in late 219 and killed his general Guan Yu. Huang Quan noted that Sun Quan's forces were powerful and had the Yangtze River to their advantage, so he volunteered to lead the attack and suggested that Liu Bei remain behind to guard Yi Province. However, Liu Bei rejected Huang Quan's advice: he appointed Huang as General Who Guards the North (鎮北將軍) and ordered Huang to defend the northern flank from possible attacks by the state of Cao Wei (established by Cao Cao's successor Cao Pi), while he personally led the main Shu army and travelled along the Yangtze to attack Sun Quan. Liu Bei suffered a devastating defeat in the ensuing Battle of Xiaoting (221–222) at the hands of Sun Quan's forces and was forced to retreat. Huang Quan and his men were separated from Liu Bei's remaining forces after the battle and could not return to Shu so they surrendered to Wei. After Huang Quan defected to Wei, a Shu judicial officer urged Liu Bei to execute Huang's family members – who were still in Shu when Huang defected to Wei – but Liu refused and said, "I let Huang Quan down but he didn't let me down." Liu Bei's treatment towards Huang Quan's family did not change despite Huang's defection.
Pei Songzhi, who annotated the Sanguozhi, compared Liu Bei's treatment of Huang Quan's family (after Huang's defection) with Emperor Wu of Han's execution of Li Ling's family and noted the difference between Liu Bei's gain from treating Huang Quan's family well and Emperor Wu's loss by executing Li Ling's family. He quoted a line from the Classic of Poetry to describe Liu Bei: 'To be rejoiced in are ye, gentlemen; May ye preserve and maintain your posterity!'
When Huang Quan met the Wei emperor Cao Pi, the latter said, "Are you trying to emulate Chen Ping and Han Xin when you abandoned the villains and agreed to serve me?" Huang Quan replied, "Lord Liu treated me generously so I won't surrender to Sun Quan. I can't return to Shu so I chose to submit to Wei. As a commander of a defeated army, I already feel grateful for being spared from death. Why would I even think about emulating the ancients?" Cao Pi was very impressed with Huang Quan. He appointed Huang Quan as a Palace Attendant (侍中) and General Who Guards the South (鎮南將軍), and enfeoffed him as the Marquis of Yuyang (育陽侯). Later, when other Shu defectors brought news to Wei that Liu Bei had executed Huang Quan's family, Cao Pi ordered a memorial service to be held, but Huang Quan said that the news were false. He was proven right after the defectors were thoroughly questioned. In 223, when news of Liu Bei's death reached Wei, many Wei officials congratulated Cao Pi, except for Huang Quan. Cao Pi knew that Huang Quan would not betray him, but he wanted to intimidate Huang Quan, so he repeatedly sent messengers to summon Huang to see him. Huang Quan's subordinates were very fearful when they saw that Cao Pi had sent so many messengers but Huang remained calm and composed.
Huang Quan was later appointed as the Inspector (刺史) of Yi Province even though the province was not under Wei's jurisdiction. He was stationed in Henan. The Wei general Sima Yi, who regarded Huang Quan very highly, once asked him, "How many others are there like you in Shu?" Huang Quan laughed and replied, "I never expected you to regard me so highly!" On another occasion, Sima Yi wrote to the Shu chancellor-regent Zhuge Liang, "Huang Gongheng is a very straightforward man. He always speaks highly of you." Cao Rui, Cao Pi's son and successor, once asked Huang Quan, "What should we use to gauge the current situation of the Empire?" Huang Quan replied, "The study of the stars. We saw a yinghuo shouxin[b] when Emperor Wen (Cao Pi) passed away while the lords of Wu and Shu remained safe. This was an sign from the stars." In 239, during the reign of Cao Rui's successor, Cao Fang, Huang Quan was promoted to the position of General of Chariots and Cavalry (車騎將軍) and received the same honours as the Three Ducal Ministers – the three highest ranked ministers in the Wei imperial court.
Huang Quan died in 240 and received the posthumous title "Marquis Jing" (景侯). His original marquis title, Marquis of Yuyang, was passed on to his son, Huang Yong (黃邕). Huang Yong did not have a successor when he died.
Another son of Huang Quan, Huang Chong (黃崇), who remained in Shu after his father's defection to Wei, was appointed as a Gentleman of Writing (尚書郎) under the Shu government. In 263, when Wei launched a campaign to vanquish Shu, Huang Chong accompanied the Shu general Zhuge Zhan to resist the Wei invaders led by Deng Ai. When the Shu army arrived in Fu County (涪縣; present-day Mianyang, Sichuan), Huang Chong suggested to Zhuge Zhan to swiftly take control of the mountainous terrain and use the geographical advantage to deter the enemy from advancing into the flat lands. When Zhuge Zhan hesitated, Huang Chong repeatedly urged the former to heed his advice, to the point of breaking down in tears. When Deng Ai's forces approached, Zhuge Zhan led his troops to engage the enemy at Mianzhu, where Huang Chong encouraged his men and expressed his willingness to fight to the death. Huang Chong and Zhuge Zhan were both killed in action at Mianzhu.