Yo Fei (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: The Chinese general Yo Fei was killed in prison by members of his own government during a war against an external army. Since that time he has been hailed as a symbol of patriotic resistance to foreign invaders.
One of the exemplary heroes of Chinese civilization is Yo Fei, also known as Yüeh Fei. The many myths and legends surrounding his life make it difficult to see the real man, and not much is known of his early life. Modern biographers accept that his father, Yo Ho, was a farmer of modest wealth. The family property was damaged by a flood when Yo Fei was an infant, and his mother narrowly escaped with her child by floating to safety in a large water jar.
Although he did not pursue a career in the civil service, Yo Fei was apparently well educated by his father in the literary, historical, and military classics. The discipline and dedication of the young student and devoted father can be seen in the formation of an impressive writing style, evidenced by the extant specimens of his calligraphy. In addition to his scholarly interests, the young Yo Fei had unusual physical strength and became highly skilled in archery, swordsmanship, and the use of the lance.
At age nineteen, Yo chose the military route to prominence when he volunteered to serve in a special force that sought to seize Peking from the Khitan state (Liao Dynasty) in the northeast. Although the...
(The entire section is 1636 words.)
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Yo Fei (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Martyred, he became a symbol of Chinese resistance to foreign aggression.
Yo Fei rose from the position of common foot soldier to high command in the Song armies, as they waged war against the Juchen Jin dynasty, which had conquered Kaifeng and much of northern China by 1127. Between 1128 and 1140, he was the chief commander of Song armies which counterattacked. Working with the Song navy, he drove the Juchen north of the Yangtze River and recaptured Luoyang. A chief spokesman for the war party which sought to reunify China by driving out the Juchen, Yo Fei was relieved of his command in 1141, when members of the peace party came to power. Qin Gui, chief councilor for the appeasers, arranged to have Yo Fei murdered while he was in prison for conspiracy. In 1142, the Southern Song government ceded to the Juchen that portion of China north of the Huai River, bringing some 35 million Chinese under foreign rule for the first time. Within twenty years, not only was Yo Fei’s name rehabilitated, but temples were being built in his honor in recognition of his heroic stand against the Juchen.
Barfield, Thomas. The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China. London: Basil Blackwell, 1989.
Franke, Herbert, ed. Sung Biographies. 3 vols. Wiesbaden, Germany: Steiner, 1976.
Jagchid, Sechin, and Van Jay Symons. Peace,...
(The entire section is 276 words.)