Hou Jing - As Eastern Wei General

As Eastern Wei General

Hou Jing continued to serve under Gao Huan, and he became known as a brilliant tactician even though he, unlike many generals at the time, was not skilled at horseriding, archery, or personal combat. Gao, however, knew of his abilities and honored him appropriately. Hou was, however, arrogant, and he often compared two other key generals, Pan Le (潘樂) and Gao Aocao (高敖曹), to be like wild boars in their charges. He also often claimed that if Gao allowed him to lead an army south, he could easily capture Emperor Wu of Liang and make Emperor Wu, an avid Buddhist, the head monk of the Taiping Temple (太平寺).

In late 534, Gao sent Hou to attack Heba Sheng (賀拔勝, Heba Yue's brother), who controlled the southern provinces at the time and was loosely allied with Yuwen Tai, and Hou defeated Heba, forcing Heba to flee to Liang Dynasty and taking those provinces for Eastern Wei. In 536, Gao put him in charge of the provinces south of the Yellow River, and from that point on, those provinces were under his command.

In 537, when Gao launched a major attack on Western Wei, seeking to destroy it, Hou was with him, and advised against advancing in a single large army, advocating dividing the army into two which would remain at a distance and support each other. Gao did not accept his advice, and was defeated by Yuwen Tai at Shawan (沙苑, in modern Weinan, Shaanxi), suffering heavy losses—partly because Hou made the poor tactical advice that Gao should not try to set fires against Yuwen's troops. After the defeat, however, Hou offered to take the elite troops to launch a surprise attack on Yuwen, arguing that Yuwen would not be taking any precautions against such an attack and could be captured. However, when Gao consulted with his wife Lou Zhaojun, Princess Lou reminded him that if Hou actually captured Yuwen, he would not return (i.e., he would then try to take power himself). Gao therefore decided against Hou's plan.

In 538, Hou recaptured several southern provinces that had defected to Western Wei in light of Eastern Wei's defeat at Shawan. He followed up by sieging the old Northern Wei capital Luoyang, then defended by the Western Wei general Dugu Xin (獨孤信), precipitating a major battle in which both Eastern Wei and Western Wei suffered major losses. At the end, however, Western Wei troops, commanded by Yuwen, was forced to withdraw, and the Luoyang region was again controlled by Eastern Wei.

In 543, when the Eastern Wei general Gao Zhongmi (高仲密) defected to Western Wei, along with the important garrison Hulao (虎牢, in modern Zhengzhou, Henan), which he controlled, Hou was one of the generals who served under Gao in both sieging Hulao and in combatting the Western Wei forces commanded by Yuwen that tried to relieve Hulao. Western Wei forces were defeated and forced to withdraw, but even then, Hulao did not fall, and Yuwen sent secret messengers to order its defender Wei Guang (魏光) to hold position and await relief forces. Hou captured the messengers and, judging that it was more important to capture the garrison quickly, changed the messengers' message to "Withdraw from Hulao," and then allowed the messengers to reach Wei Guang. Wei Guang quickly withdrew from Hulao, which became again under Eastern Wei control. For this achievement, Hou was promoted to the honorific post of Sikong (司空).

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