Yang Fu (Han dynasty)

Yang Fu
Politician of Cao Wei
Born (Unknown)
Died (Unknown)
Traditional Chinese 楊阜
Simplified Chinese 杨阜
Pinyin Yáng Fù
Wade–Giles Yang Fu
Courtesy name Yishan (traditional Chinese: 義山; simplified Chinese: 义山; pinyin: Yìshān; Wade–Giles: I-shan)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Yang.

Yang Fu (birth and death dates unknown), courtesy name Yishan, was a politician of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period. He previously served as a regional official in Liang Province during the late Eastern Han Dynasty. In the 210s, when the warlord Ma Chao started a rebellion against the Han imperial court (controlled by Cao Cao) and occupied Liang Province by force, Yang Fu and several of his colleagues plotted against Ma and succeeded in driving him out of the province. During the reign of Cao Rui, he proposed to the emperor to correct on his luxurious living style, but was not heeded.

Early life

Yang Fu was a native of Jicheng within Tianshui commandery, where he became a local official during his youth. Once, the generals of Qin area asked his opinion on who would win the battle of Guandu, he replied that "Master Yuan (Yuan Shao) was lenient but indecisive, foxy but inconclusive; people would not be afraid to his might if he was indecisive, and opportunities could not be realized if he was inconclusive. Even he was strong now, he would not accomplish great things in the end. On the other hand, Master Cao (Cao Cao) had the ambition and vision, and he was able to make decisions without hesitation. His army is disciplined and strong, his officers were composed of diversity and hard working, so Cao Cao's forces would win. (“袁公宽而不断,好谋而少决;不断则无威,少决则失后事,今虽强,终不能成大业。曹公有雄才远略,决机无疑,法一而兵精,能用度外之人,所任各尽其力,必能济大事者也。”[1]) His accurate prediction earned him fame around the area of Liang Province, and he was hired by Wei Kang (Inspector of Liang Province at the time,) to be his assistant.

Struggle for Liang Province

After the loose confederation of Guanxi (west of Hangu Pass) forces was crushed by Cao Cao, one of its members, Ma Chao, fled to the Qiang and Hu tribes to recuperate. Cao Cao trailed Ma Chao to Anding when he heard about unrest in the east, so he prepared his troops to return. Yang Fu warned Cao Cao that "Ma Chao had the courage of Ying Bu and Han Xin, and he had the support of the Qiang and Hu tribes. If you order the army to retreat now and don't make enough preparations here, we forfeit the commanderies within Longshang area.[2]" Cao Cao applauded Yang's proposal, but was unable to comply (because he had to deal with Su Bo at Hejian and Sun Quan at Ruxukou). After Cao Cao and his army left Liang Province, Ma Chao indeed attacked the commanderies west of Long mountain ridge, and with the help from Zhang Lu, he besieged the city of Ji, which was the last city in Liang Province still loyal to Cao Cao. Despite Yang's valiant effort to resist the enemy, Ji city fell at last, and Yang Fu was forced to become one of Ma Chao's subordinates. However, Yang formulated a simultaneous rebellion against Ma Chao. He deceived Ma Chao that he must bury his wife who had just recently died, so he could leave Ma Chao to make contact with former officers of the original Inspector of Liang Province, Wei Kang.

In September, Yang Fu rose up at Lucheng. When Ma Chao left his city on an expedition against the uprising, former officers of Wei Kang killed Ma Chao's family including Ma's wife and infants, hanging their corpses atop the city gate. Such actions incurred Ma Chao's wraith in which he purposely took an alternate route to sack Licheng (历城), where he killed Yang's and other rebelling officers' families in vengeance. Almost losing his life, Yang Fu was wounded five places over his body. Indeed, Ma Chao was driven out to take refuge under Han'ning warlord, Zhang Lu.

Service under Cao Rui

In 230, Grand General Cao Zhen led an army to invade Shu Han, but the advancement was thwarted by heavy rainfall, which lasted for more than a month and rendered the mountainous paths untraversable. Yang Fu, alongside others, advised retreat, making the emperor to call back Cao Zhen.

Later, when Cao Rui started his luxurious building projects and collection of women, Yang Fu repeatedly advised his master against such actions. However, the emperor did not heed Yang's words. Yang Fu then asked permission to resign from his post of Minister Steward, but was not granted. Since then, Cao Rui would applaud Yang for his suggestions but seldom act on it. Yang Fu soon died without much inheritance for his descendent, his grandson, Yang Bao.

See also


  1. Records of Three Kingdoms Scroll 25 Wei Book 25
  2. Records of Three Kingdoms Scroll 25 Wei Book 25
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