An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Gongshu Cuo 公叔痤

Mar 9, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Gongshu Cuo 公叔痤 (d. 360) or Gong Shu 公叔, also called Gongsun Cuo 公孫痤, was a counsellor (381-360) and general of the state of Wei 魏 during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE).

In 362, he defeated the armies of Han 韓 and Zhao 趙 in the battle of River Hui 澮水 (today's Quwo 曲沃, Shanxi), captured general Yue Zuo 樂祚 from Zhao, and occupied the town Pimou 皮牟 or Pibei 皮卑 (Jicheng 翼城, Shanxi). Shortly after, he defeated Zhao once more and occupied Lieren 列人 and Fei 肥 (Feixiang 肥鄉, Hebei), advancing closely to Handan 邯鄲 (Hebei), the capital of Zhao.

King Hui 魏惠王 (r. 371-335) rewarded him with 1 million mu 畝 of land, but Gongshu Cuo refused with the argument that he had just profited from the instructions of the military strategist Wu Qi 吳起, and that the main work was done by his officers Ba Ning 巴寧 and Cuan Xiang 爨襄. The king thereupon distributed the land among the three persons.

Gongshu Cuo was captured in the battle of Shaoliang 少梁 by the army of Qin 秦, but was released soon. When he fell ill, the king in person visited him at the sickbed. Gongshu Cuo recommended Wei Yang 衛鞅 (the future Shang Yang 商鞅) to the king because his outstanding talents in young years. Yet Gongshu Cuo warned the king that if he should not chose Wei Yang, he should kill him or prevent him from leaving the country. After Gongshu Cuo's death, King Hui was convinced by his dignitaries not to employ Wei Yang. The young man was able to leave Wei and went to Qin, where he became an influential reformer, making Qin a strong opponent of Wei.

Gongshu Cuo was also the name of a minister of Han who is known for developing a strategy to prevent Qin from marching through the royal territory of Western 西周 and Eastern Zhou 東周 to attack Han. He also supported Gongsun Yan 公孫衍, the counsellor of Wei, in fighting against the machinations of Qin.

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