A good horse met a good rider: Di Qing was elevated from a military deserter to a great general

0
97
Fan Zhongyan (Public Domain)

As the saying goes; “A hero is not afraid of low status”. Di Qing was once a military deserter and was caught and punished with characters tattooed on his face in accordance with the system during the Song era. Through his own effort and given the chance to defend his State, he won a lot of battles and became a great general; it was not easy.

In the Northern Song Dynasty, when ministers Han Qi and Fan Zhongyan first arrived in Shaanxi to search for military talents, their subordinates highly recommended Di Qing who was said to be a local military officer; heroic, courageous, good at war and has the ability of a general. Fan Zhongyan wanted the detailed account of Di Qing’s military achievements.

Di Qing’s background was an ordinary soldier. He learned martial arts since young age and excelled in mounted archery. He was courageous and strong.

After Li Yuanhao assumed the title of emperor as Zhao Yuanhao, he named his new dynasty as the state of Xi (Western) Xia and embarked on a campaign to conquer all of China. Emperor Renzong of Song sent his army to the border to defend the State. Soon the Xia army attacked Bao’an in Shaanxi (now known as Zhidan County, Shaanxi). The Song army in Bao’an was defeated several times and they feared the Xia army. The Song general, Lu Shouqin was worried. When Di Qing took the initiative and volunteered to be the vanguard to fight the Xia army in Bao’an, Lu Shouqin was naturally happy.

Each time when Di Qing went to war, he donned a bronze mask only revealing his two eyes and armed with a long spear. He let his hair run wild and disheveled.

The Xia army had never encountered a powerful opponent like Di Qing ever since they invaded the Song. When they saw Di Qing’s appearance, they became scared. Di Qing led the army charging into the battlefield and won a big victory. The Xia army retreated and was in chaos.

News of Di Qing’s victory reached the palace. Emperor Renzong of Song upgraded Lu Shouqin’s official position and promoted Di Qing by a jump of four grades.

During the subsequent years, the Xia army continued to attack the border making the place unsafe. Di Qing participated in a total of twenty-five battles, was injured eight times and never lost a single battle. The moment the Xia army heard of Di Qing’s name, they were scared to fight with him.

Fan Zhongyan, after hearing the recommendation by his subordinates, immediately summoned Di Qing. He asked Di Qing about books. Di Qing being born into a poor family and joined as an ordinary soldier in the army was not literate, therefore, he was not able to answer Fan Zhongyan’s question.

Fan Zhongyan then advised Di Qing: “You are a general and not well-versed in ancient history and current State affairs; relying on personal courage is not enough”. He then presented Di Qing with a copy of the Zuo Zhuang (a book that focused on political, diplomatic and military affairs covering the era from 722 to 468 BC).

Di Qing was inspired by Fan Zhongyan’s encouragement. He then took up scholarly pursuits and became well versed in military strategies of the Qin and Han generals. Di Qing was well-recognized for his military achievements and was transferred to the Capital.

Di Qing was once summoned to the palace by Emperor Renzong. He saw the tattoos on Di Qing’s face and found that it is disrespectful for Di Qing being a general. He told Di Qing to apply medicine to remove the tattoos.

However, Di Qing said: “Your Majesty does not look down at me. I am very grateful to be elevated to the present status based on my military achievements. On the tattoos, I would rather keep it for my soldiers to see and as an encouragement for them to advance forward!”. When Renzong heard these words, he respected Di Qing even more.

Di Qing was promoted to be Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of Military Affairs after achieving more meritorious success. From a solider to become an Assistant Commissioner had never happened in the history of Song Dynasty. A person from a soldier to become the Assistant Commissioner had never happened in the Song history.

Translated by: Chua BC

千里马遇伯乐 狄青从逃兵成长为一代名将

所谓“英雄不怕出身低”,狄青从一个曾经在军队里开小差当“逃兵”,不幸被抓回来以后还被处罚于脸上刺青的人,凭借自己的努力,有朝一日竟然能够当上保家卫国、战功彪炳的大将军,实属不易。而胸襟开阔、用人唯才的北宋皇帝宋仁宗和鼓励他上进的良相范仲淹,更是成就其英名的幕后推手。一代名将狄青“千里马”遇“伯乐”,留与后世千古传颂。

北宋年间,韩琦、范仲淹刚到陕西的时候,有人向他们推荐,当地军官中有个狄青,英勇善战,有大将的才干。范仲淹正需要将才,听了这话,很感兴趣,要部下把狄青的事迹详细说一下。

原来,狄青本是京城禁军里的一个普通兵士。他从小练得一身武艺,骑马射箭,样样精通,加上胆壮力大,后来被选拔做了小军官。

西夏的元昊称帝以后,宋仁宗派禁军到边境去防守,狄青被派到陕西保安(今陕西志丹)。不久,西夏兵进攻保安。保安的宋军多次被西夏兵打败,兵士们一听说打仗都有点害怕。守将卢守勤为了这件事正在发愁。狄青主动要求让他担任先锋,抗击西夏军。

卢守勤见狄青愿意当先锋,自然高兴,就拨给他一支人马,跟前来进犯的西夏军交战。

狄青每逢上阵,先换了一身打扮。他把发髻打散,披头散发,头上戴着一个铜面具,只露出两只炯炯的眼睛。他手拿一支长枪,带头冲进敌阵,东挑西杀。西夏兵士自从进犯宋境以来,没有碰到过这样厉害的对手。他们看到狄青这副打扮,已经胆寒了。经狄青和宋军猛冲了一阵,西夏军的阵脚大乱,纷纷败退。狄青带领宋军冲杀过去,打了一个大胜仗。

捷报传到朝廷,宋仁宗十分高兴,把卢守勤提升了官职,狄青提升四级。宋仁宗还想把狄青召回京城,亲自接见。后来因为西夏兵又进犯渭州,调狄青去抵抗,不得不取消了召见的打算,叫人给狄青画了肖像,送到朝廷去。

以后几年里,西夏兵不断在边境各地进犯,弄得地方不得安宁。狄青前后参加了二十五次大小战斗,受了八次箭伤,从没有打过一次败仗。西夏兵士一听到狄青的名字,就吓得不敢跟他交锋。

范仲淹听了部下的推荐,立刻召见狄青,问他读过什么书,狄青出身兵士,识字不多,要他说读过什么书,他答不上来。

范仲淹劝他说:“你现在是个将官了。做将官的如果不能博古通今,只靠个人的勇敢是不够的。”接着,他还介绍狄青读一些书。

狄青见范仲淹这样用心鼓励他,十分感激。以后,他利用打仗的空隙时间刻苦读书。过了几年,他把秦汉以来名将的兵法都读得很熟,又因为立了战功,不断得到提升,名声更大。后来,宋仁宗把他调回京城,担任马军副都指挥。
宋朝有个制度。为了防止兵士开小差,在兵士的脸上刺上字。狄青当小兵的时候也被刺过字。过了十多年,狄青当了大将,但是脸上还留着黑色的字迹。

有一次,宋仁宗召见他以后,认为当大将脸上留着黑字,很不体面,就叫狄青回家以后,敷上药,把黑字除掉。

狄青说:“陛下不嫌我出身低微,按照战功把我提到这个地位,我很感激。至于这些黑字,我宁愿留着,让兵士们见了,知道该怎样上进!”

宋仁宗听了,很赞赏狄青的见识,更加器重他。

后来,因为狄青多次立功,被提拔为掌握全国军事的枢密使。一个小兵出身的人当上枢密使,这是宋朝历史上从来没有过的事。有些大臣嫌狄青出身低,劝仁宗不该把狄青提到这么高的职位,但是宋仁宗这时候正在重用将才,没有听这些意见。

狄青当了枢密使,有人总觉得他的出身和地位太不相称。有一个自称是唐朝名相狄仁杰后代的人,拿了狄仁杰的画像,送给狄青说:“您不如认狄公做祖宗吧!”

狄青谦虚地笑了笑说:“我本来是个出身低微的人,偶然碰到机会得到高位,怎么能跟狄公高攀呢?”那人听了无话可说,只好讪讪的离去。一代名将的气度果然不同凡响。

Facebook Comments