Peng Yue (d.196 BC)

Peng Yue (d.196 BC) was a Chinese warlord who took part in the overthrow of the Qin Dynasty and the Chu-Han Contention, where he sided with Liu Bang and was rewarded by being made King of Liang (Wade-Giles: P'eng Yüeh).

Peng Yue first appears early in the revolts against the Qin, when he was forced to take command of the revolt in his homeland. In the spring of 207 he is mentioned as having supported Liu Bang in an unsuccessful attack on Chang-yi, early in the campaign that saw Liu Bang invade the Qin heartland and receive the surrender of the last member of that dynasty.

Map showing the Eighteen Kingdoms, 206-202 BC
Map showing the
Eighteen Kingdoms,
206-202 BC

He really came to prominence during the civil wars that followed the fall of the Qin Dynasty, generally known as the Chu-Han Contention (the main conflict eventually being between Xiang Yu of Chu and Liu Bang founder of the Han Dynasty). In fact Liu Bang was only the most successful of a number of rebels against Xiang Yu. In the summer of 206 BC Peng Yue, who then commanded an independent army of 10,000 men, was recruited by Tian Rong, king of Qi.  Tian Rong ordered Peng Yue to cause a revolt in Liang. Peng Yue defeated and killed Tian An, king of Jibei (one of the three kingdoms that Xiang Yu had created in the territory of the Warring States period kingdom of Qi. This victory allowed Tian Rong to unify the three kingdoms, creating a more powerful Qi. Xiang Yu responded by sending an army under the Lord of Xiao, but this was defeated.

In 205 Liu Bang decided to support Liu Bang, who was in the process of conquering the three kingdoms created in the Qin heartland. He provided 30,000 men for the army that Liu Bang led to defeat at Pengcheng (205 BC).

Over the next few years the war developed a clear pattern. Xiang Yu and Liu Bang confronted each other around Xingyang and Chenggao, close to the Yellow River. Xiang Yu won a series of victories but was never able to crush his rival. One of the reasons for this was the activities of Peng Yue in the east. In 204 BC he defeated one of Xiang Yu’s armies at Hsia-p’ei, forcing him to move east. Liu Bang was able to defeat the troops he left behind (battle of Chenggao). Xiang Yu returned west, ended the siege of Xingyang and nearly trapped Liu Bang at Chenggao, but once again was forced to return east to deal with Peng Yu. Early in 203 BC Xiang Yu’s commanders at Chenggao suffered a heavy defeat at the battle of the Si River (203 BC), a defeat that eventually led to a short-lived peace.

In the aftermath of the battle of the Wei River (204 BC) Tian Heng set himself up as King of Qi. He was defeated in turn at Ying (203 BC) and fled to Peng Yue, who at this point was an ally of Liu Bang, but not subject to him. Peng Yue and Tian Heng then harassed Chu troops in Liang, preventing Xiang Yu from focusing his attentions on Liu Bang (after Liu Bang’s victory Tian Heng fled into exile, was offered an amnesty but committed suicide).

Later in 203 BC Liu Bang and Xiang Yu agreed the treaty of the Hong Canal, in which China was to be split, with Liu getting the west and Xiang the east. Liu Bang almost immediately broke this agreement, and summoned his allies to join a grand army that he hoped would end the war. Peng Yue, who by now had been appointed premier or chancellor of state of Wei, didn’t appear (neither did Han Xin, one of Liu Bang’s most able generals). Liu Bang responded by offering to make Peng Yue king of Liang, with a kingdom based on Wei (Hax Xin’s kingdom of Qi was expanded). Both men turned up and their armies played a part in the final victory at Gaixia (202 BC).

Peng Yue didn’t survive to enjoy his kingdom for long. In 196 BC he was discovered to be plotting a rebellion, and he and a large number of his relatives were killed (this may have been Peng Yue’s second revolt, after a first revolt that saw him moved from Liang to Shu).

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 January 2012), Peng Yue (d.196 BC) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_peng_yue.html

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