Yue Fei – A Resolute General and National Hero in Southern Song Dynasty

yue fei

Yue Fei (岳飞), born on March 24, 1103, in Tangyin, Xiangzhou (present-day Tangyin County, Henan Province), was a prominent figure in the Southern Song Dynasty. He was not only a valiant military commander but also a strategist, national hero, calligrapher, and poet. Yue Fei holds a distinguished position among the “Four Great Generals of the Southern Song Dynasty,” symbolizing the resurgence of the dynasty.

At the age of twenty, Yue Fei embarked on his military career, participating in four military expeditions from the second year of Jianyan (1128) until the eleventh year of Shaoxing (1141). Throughout this period, he commanded and took part in numerous battles. In the face of Jin Dynasty aggression against Southern Song, Yue Fei stood out by advocating staunch resistance against the invaders and the liberation of territories, particularly the reclaiming of Jiankang.

In the fourth year of Shaoxing (1134), Yue Fei successfully recaptured six counties in Xiangyang. In the sixth year of Shaoxing (1136), he led his troops on a northern campaign, capturing territories such as Shangzhou and Guozhou. In the tenth year of Shaoxing (1140), when the Jin forces, led by Wanyan Zongbi, violated the peace treaty and attacked the Southern Song, Yue Fei launched a northern expedition. The people along the Yangtze and Huai Rivers rallied to his call, and local militias joined forces to counter the Jin aggression. Yue Fei’s forces reclaimed territories, defeating the Jin forces in Yancheng and Yingchang, advancing towards Zhuxian Town.

Despite these successes, the Southern Song court, under the influence of Emperor Gao Zong and Prime Minister Qin Hui, pushed for a compromise with the Jin Dynasty. They pressured Yue Fei to withdraw his forces, using the so-called “Golden Tablets,” a set of twelve imperial edicts, to demand an immediate cessation of military activities. During the negotiations between the Southern Song and Jin, Yue Fei was unjustly accused of treason and imprisoned, along with his eldest son, Yue Yun, and his trusted general, Zhang Xian.

Tragically, in January 1142, Yue Fei and his son were executed on no charges. It was only during the reign of Emperor Xiaozong that Yue Fei was posthumously exonerated and honored. His remains were relocated to Qixia Ridge by West Lake, and he was posthumously titled “Wumu” (武穆) and later “Zhongwu” (忠武), with the additional honor of being named the Prince of E. Yue Fei’s legacy as a patriot and martyr endures, inspiring generations with his unwavering commitment to defending his homeland.

Yue Fei’s military prowess was matched by his literary achievements. His famous poem “Man Jiang Hong: Nu Fa Chong Guan” (“满江红·怒发冲冠”) resonates through the ages as a patriotic masterpiece. Yue Fei’s literary contributions are preserved in collections that continue to be passed down through generations, ensuring that his legacy transcends the battlefield and resonates in the realms of culture and literature.

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