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Zhou Tai (Cao Wei)

Zhou Tai
General Who Attacks Barbarians (征虜將軍)
In office
? (?) – 261 (261)
MonarchCao Huan
Inspector of Yu Province (豫州刺史)
In office
? (?) – ? (?)
MonarchCao Mao
Inspector of Yan Province (兖州刺史)
In office
? (?) – ? (?)
MonarchCao Mao
Administrator of Xincheng (新城太守)
In office
c. 228 (c. 228) – ? (?)
MonarchCao Fang
Personal details
Posthumous nameMarquis Zhuang (壯侯)[1]

Zhou Tai (died 261)[1] was a military general who served in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China.


Zhou Tai was from Nanyang Commandery (南陽郡), which is around present-day Nanyang, Henan. He came from the same commandery as Deng Ai and was around the same age as him. He was described as "eager to achieve glory, and well-versed in military tactics".[2]

Early in his career, Zhou Tai served as an Assistant Officer (從事) to Pei Qian (裴潛), the Inspector (刺史) of Jing Province. Sometime between 227 and 230, when the general Sima Yi was stationed at Wan County (宛縣; present-day Wancheng District, Nanyang, Henan) to oversee the military affairs of Jing and Yu provinces,[3] Zhou Tai became acquainted with Sima Yi after frequently helping Sima Yi and Pei Qian deliver messages to each other.[4]

In 227, when Sima Yi led Wei forces to suppress a rebellion by Meng Da in Xincheng Commandery (新城郡; around present-day Fang County, Hubei), he recruited Zhou Tai to serve an officer in his army. Later, when his parents and grandfather died, Zhou Tai had to retire temporarily to perform filial mourning for nine years. Sima Yi valued Zhou Tai so much that he reserved a position for him. After 36 days, Zhou Tai was appointed as the new Administrator (太守) of Xincheng Commandery.[5] Sima Yi secretly instructed a Master of Writing (尚書)[a] to tease Zhou Tai, "You discarded your plain clothing and entered a high office. After only 36 days, you now wield great power and command the armed forces in a commandery. It's like a beggar riding on a (horse-drawn) carriage – that's really fast!" Zhou Tai quipped, "You're right. You come from a famous aristocratic family, and you're already known for your talents since you were young. That's why you're still a Master of Writing. It's like a macaque riding on an ox – that's really slow!" Everyone present was amused.[7]

In the spring of 251, the Wei emperor Cao Fang ordered Wang Ji (Inspector of Jing Province) and Zhou Tai (then Administrator of Xincheng Commandery) to lead forces to attack Wei's rival state, Eastern Wu. They defeated the enemy and forced thousands of enemy troops into surrendering.[8]

Zhou Tai climbed the ranks steadily in the 250s and became the Inspector (刺史) of Yan Province and later the Inspector of Yu Province.[9] In the summer of 257, the Wei general Zhuge Dan started a rebellion in Shouchun (壽春; present-day Shou County, Anhui) with support from Wei's rival state, Eastern Wu. Zhou Tai, then the Inspector of Yan Province, received orders from the Wei regent Sima Zhao to mobilise troops to suppress the rebellion. Sima Zhao sent troops under the command of Zhou Tai, Shi Bao (石苞; General of Uplifting Martial Might (奮武將軍) and overseer of military affairs in Qing Province), Hu Zhi (胡質; Inspector of Xu Province) and others to attack Zhuge Dan and his Wu allies. Zhou Tai defeated Wu forces led by Zhu Yi at Yangyuan (陽淵). As Zhu Yi and his men attempted to retreat, Zhou Tai led his forces in pursuit and killed and wounded over 2,000 enemy troops.[10] In autumn, the Wu general Sun Chen ordered Zhu Yi, Ding Feng, Li Fei (黎斐) and three others to lead troops to relieve the siege on Shouchun. They left their supplies and heavy equipment at Dulu (都陸) and advanced toward Lijiang (黎漿). Shi Bao and Zhou Tai attacked and defeated them.[11] The rebellion was completely suppressed by early 258.[12]

The highest office Zhou Tai ever reached was General Who Attacks Barbarians (征虜將軍). He was also given imperial authority to supervise military affairs in the Jiangnan region.[13] He died in 261 and was posthumously appointed as General of the Guards (衞將軍), and given the posthumous title "Marquis Zhuang" (壯侯).[1]

See also


  1. ^ The Shiyu (世語) identified Zhong Yao as the Master of Writing (尚書) who teased Zhou Tai. However, it is unlikely that it was Zhong Yao because Zhong Yao had already been promoted to the highly prestigious office of Grand Tutor (太傅) around 227.[6] Besides, Zhong Yao, as Grand Tutor, was at least on par in terms of prestige with Sima Yi, who was General of Chariots and Cavalry (驃騎將軍) at the time, so it made no sense for Zhong Yao to do as Sima Yi instructed.


  1. ^ a b c d (景元二年薨,追贈衞將軍,謚曰壯侯。) Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  2. ^ (艾州里時輩南陽州泰,亦好立功業,善用兵, ...) Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  3. ^ (太和元年六月,天子詔帝屯于宛,加督荊、豫二州諸軍事。 ... 四年,遷大將軍,加大都督、假黃鉞,與曹真伐蜀。) Jin Shu vol. 1.
  4. ^ (世語曰:初,荊州刺史裴潛以泰為從事,司馬宣王鎮宛,潛數遣詣宣王,由此為宣王所知。) Shiyu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  5. ^ (及征孟達,泰又導軍,遂辟泰。泰頻喪考、妣、祖,九年居喪,宣王留缺待之,至三十六日,擢為新城太守。) Shiyu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  6. ^ (明帝即位,進封定陵侯,增邑五百,并前千八百戶,遷太傅。) Sanguozhi vol. 13.
  7. ^ (宣王為泰會,使尚書鍾繇調泰:「君釋褐登宰府,三十六日擁麾蓋,守兵馬郡;乞兒乘小車,一何駛乎?」泰曰:「誠有此。君,名公之子,少有文采,故守吏職;獼猴騎土牛,又何遲也!」衆賔咸恱。) Shiyu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  8. ^ ([嘉平]三年春正月,荊州刺史王基、新城太守州泰攻吳,破之,降者數千口。) Sanguozhi vol. 4.
  9. ^ (後歷兖、豫州刺史,所在有籌筭績效。) Shiyu annotation in Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  10. ^ (司馬昭又使奮武將軍監青州諸軍事石苞督兗州刺史州泰、徐州刺史胡質等簡銳卒為游軍,以備外寇。泰擊破朱異於陽淵,異走,泰追之,殺傷二千人。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 77.
  11. ^ (秋,七月,吳大將軍綝大發兵出屯鑊里,復遣朱異帥將軍丁奉、黎斐等五人前解壽春之圍。異留輜重於都陸,進屯黎漿,石苞、州泰又擊破之。) Zizhi Tongjian vol. 77.
  12. ^ (大將軍司馬文王督中外諸軍二十六萬衆,臨淮討之。 ... 又使監軍石苞、兖州刺史州泰等,簡銳卒為游軍,備外寇。欽等數出犯圍,逆擊走之。吴將朱異再以大衆來迎誕等,渡黎漿水,泰等逆與戰,每摧其鋒。孫綝以異戰不進,怒而殺之。城中食轉少,外救不至,衆無所恃。將軍蔣班、焦彝,皆誕爪牙計事者也,棄誕,踰城自歸大將軍。) Sanguozhi vol. 28.
  13. ^ (... 官至征虜將軍、假節都督江南諸軍事。) Sanguozhi vol. 28.