Liu Cong (Han dynasty)

For other people named Liu Cong, see Liu Cong.
Liu Cong
Traditional Chinese 劉琮
Simplified Chinese 刘琮
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Liu.

Liu Cong was the second son and heir of the warlord Liu Biao during the late Han dynasty period of Chinese history.

Family background

Liu Cong's ancestral home was in Gaoping, Shanyang (present-day Zoucheng, Shandong). He was the second son of Liu Biao, the Governor of Jing Province (荊州; covering present-day Hubei and Hunan). He was a descendant of Liu Yu, Prince Gong of Lu. He had an older full brother named Liu Qi, also born to Liu Biao's first wife. Their mother died early.


Liu Biao initially favoured his older son Liu Qi because the latter resembled him in appearance. Liu Cong later married the niece of Liu Biao's second wife, Lady Cai. Due to this, the Cai clan was naturally inclined to support Liu Cong, and they often spoke ill of Liu Qi in front of Liu Biao. Liu Qi fell out of his father's favour and heeded Zhuge Liang's suggestion to leave Jing Province's capital Xiangyang and travel to Jiangxia. On the other hand, Liu Biao loved Liu Cong deeply and wanted to let his younger son succeed him as Governor of Jing Province. A rift developed between Liu Cong and Liu Qi as a consequence.[1]

In 208, Liu Biao became seriously ill, and Liu Qi returned from Jiangxia to visit his father. Lady Cai's younger brother, Cai Mao, and Cai Mao's nephew Zhang Yun were worried that Liu Biao might change his decision after meeting Liu Qi, so they denied Liu Qi entry and refused to let him see his father. Liu Biao died shortly afterwards and Liu Cong became the new Governor of Jing Province.[2]

About a month later, the northern warlord Cao Cao led an army to invade Jing Province. Liu Cong's advisors Marshal Kuai Yue, Han Song (韓嵩), and Fu Xun urged him to surrender to Cao Cao. Liu Cong initially desired to put up resistance but was eventually persuaded by Fu Xun to dismiss the idea. When Cao Cao's army reached Xiangyang, Liu Cong surrendered Jing Province to him. Cao Cao appointed Liu Cong as Inspector of Qing Province (青州刺史) and granted him the title of a marquis. On Cao Cao's recommendation, Liu Cong was later promoted to Counsellor Remonstrant (諫議大夫) and Army Advisor (參同軍事).[3]

In fiction

In Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Cong was born to Liu Biao's second wife Lady Cai. Lady Cai detested Liu Qi and plotted with her brother Cai Mao to have Liu Qi killed. Liu Qi evaded danger by leaving Xiangyang and traveling to Jiangxia. Liu Cong succeeded Liu Biao as Governor of Jing Province after the latter died.[4]

When Cao Cao invaded Jing Province, Liu Cong surrendered immediately and yielded the province to Cao. Liu Qi, however, defended Jiangxia and allied with the warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan to resist Cao Cao. Liu Cong was appointed as Inspector of Qing Province by Cao Cao after his surrender. However, Cao Cao later sent his general Yu Jin to lead soldiers to kill Liu Cong and Lady Cai while they were traveling to Qing Province.[5]

See also


  1. Book of the Later Han, 74:2423
  2. Book of the Later Han, 74:2424
  3. Records of Three Kingdoms, 6:214 and 215, n 1
  4. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, 40:258–60
  5. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, 41:266


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