The Assassination of Dong Zhuo at Chang'an was an event that took place in May of the year 192 A.D. After the Guandong Coalition, Dong Zhuo's own men were his biggest enemy. Having treated them insolently, he knew they resented him and therefore had Lü Bu guard him wherever he went.

The BattleEdit

The Guandong Coalition had fallen apart and the warlords fought against each other. Yuan Shao took Ji province from Han Fu and battled his kinsmen Yuan Shu several times. Sometime during the first four months of 192 A.D., Dong Zhuo appointed his younger brother Dong Min 董旻 as General of the Left. Dong Huang 董璜, son of Dong Zhuo's elder brother, was made Colonel of the Centre Army. Both of them had control of military affairs.

All members of the Dong clan or people who were related to the Dong clan through marriage now held some rank at court. Dong Zhuo's sons were all enfeoffed as marquises and played with gold and purple tassels. Even those who were still in the arms of maidservants and concubines were enfeoffed.

Dong Zhuo would summon the officials of the Three Terraces, Masters of Writing and below, and all went to his offices to report or receive instructions.

At Mei, Dong Zhuo built a fortress that was sixteen metres high and sixteen metres broad[1]. In there, he stored thirty years of supply of grain and said:[2]

"If things go well I shall be master of the empire. Even if I fail, however, I can hold out here in comfort until I die of old age."

A Resented RulerEdit

Dong Zhuo had become relentless in his punishments: if one of his officers said something that he considered wrong, he was immediately killed. Everyone felt insecure. The Minister over the Masses Wang Yun, with the Colonel Director of Retainers Huang Wan, the Supervisor Shisun Rui, and the Master of Writing Yang Zen made secret plans to kill Dong Zhuo.[3]

Lü Bu was a man greatly trusted by Dong Zhuo. He was stronger than other men and a master of the bow and horse. Dong Zhuo treated men insolently, and he knew they resented him, so he had Lü Bu accompany him everywhere as a guard. He loved and trusted him completely, and they took oath as father and son.

By nature, however, Dong Zhuo was obstinate and over-bearing. On one occasion Lü Bu had a slight disagreement with him. Dong Zhuo grabbed a hand-axe and threw it at Lü Bu, but Lü Bu ducked quickly and it missed. Lü Bu changed his tune and apologised, so Dong Zhuo's anger left him. Lü Bu, however, now held a grudge against Dong Zhuo.

In addition to this, Dong Zhuo ordered Lü Bu to guard the doors to the palace, where he met one of Dong Zhuo's maidservants. He took the opportunity and attempted to seduce here whenever she passed by. Eventually Lü Bu succeeded, but because of that, he now had a guilty conscience.[4]

Wang Yun's PlanEdit

Wang Yun and Lü Bu had always been on good terms. Wang Yun always behaved well towards the Flying General, who entrusted him and told him that Dong Zhuo nearly killed him had he not dodged the hand-axe. Wang Yun then told Lü Bu about the Masters of Writing's plot to kill Dong Zhuo, and asked him to act as an inside agent.

At first, Lü Bu had his doubts and said: "But what if we are like father and son?"

Wang Yun replied: "You bear the surname Lü and he is no true relation by blood. And now, when you are constantly concerned that he may kill you, how can you talk of father and son? When he threw the axe at you, where was the feeling of father and son?"

Thus, Lü Bu agreed to help out.


By 22 May 192 A.D., the Emperor had been ill for some time, but had just recovered and there was a great assembly at the Weiyang Apartments. Wearing his robes of state, Dong Zhuo rode up in his chariot. His troops lined the road from the camp to the palace, foot-soldiers on the left and cavalry on the right, with camps and guards all around. Lü Bu and others were ordered to act as escorts in the front and rear.[5]

Wang Yun had Shisun Rui, the Master of Writing-for-Archery-Gentleman, write an imperial order in his own hand to give to Lü Bu, and Lü Bu ordered his friend, the Chief Commandant of Cavalry Li Su, a man from his own commandery, to disguise himself in a guard's uniform, together with Qin Yi, Chen Wei and a dozen others. They were to stand behind the Northern Lateral Gate to wait for Dong Zhuo.

When Dong Zhuo arrived, Li Su stabbed him with a lance. Dong Zhuo wore armour beneath his clothes, so the lance did not penetrate his body, but he was wounded in his arm, and because of the pain and the surprise of the attack he fell from his chariot. He looked round and called out: "Where is Lü Bu?"

Lü Bu appeared and said: "I have orders to kill a rebel minister."

Dong Zhuo cursed him and said: "Useless dog, you dare do this?"

In reply, Lü Bu stabbed Dong Zhuo with his spear and ordered soldiers to cut his head off. Tian Yi 田儀, the Master of Records, came forward to attend the corpse along with the head of Dong Zhuo's granary. Lü Bu killed them as well. Three men were killed altogether.

Lü Bu took the edict-block from his chest and used it to take command of the troops, saying:

"The order requires that Dong Zhuo be executed, and that is all. For the rest, there are no questions asked."

The men stood fast and made no move, but they all cried out, "Ten thousand years!

After Dong Zhuo's DeathEdit

Tyranny was vanquished and people came out to dance on the streets in joy. The city's shops were all filled with people selling pearls, jade, dresses, and clothing. Expensive items were sold and with the money the people got in return, they bought wine and meat for celebration.

Dong Min, Dong Huan and other members of the Dong-clan were in Mei. They were all cut down, shot down or killed by their own men.

Dong Zhuo's body was shown in the market-place. Dong Zhuo had become a big, fat man and due to the heat, the fat flowed from his body on the streets. The men who were guarding the corpse made a big lamp, set it up on Dong Zhuo's navel and lit it. It burnt clear and bright till dawn. This went on for several days.[6]

Following Dong Zhuo's death there became a struggle for power among Wang Yun, Lü Bu, Li Jue and others. To read about this event and the battle that followed, go to Riot in Chang'an.


  • The conspirators were: Wang Yun, Shisun Rui, Yang Zan, Huang Wan, Lu Xu, Xun Shuang and Zhang Wen.

Fact vs. FictionEdit


  • ...The maid who had an affair with Lü Bu was not called Diao Chan. The name of this maid is unknown.
  • ...Wang Yun was not an adoptive father of this maid.
  • ...The maid did not intentionally entice Lü Bu against Dong Zhuo and she wasn't the one and only reason Lü Bu turned against his master.
    read about this fictional event here.
  • ...the event where Dong Zhuo throws a hand-axe (halberd or spear in fiction) is not related to Lü Bu's affair with the maidservant, or at least, not known to have been related to it.


  1. The dimensions are approximately 70 feet (in US measures) or 53 feet (in UK measures).
  2. HHS 72/62, 2329-31 (8a-b), the Biography of Dong Zhuo.
  3. The conspirators are listed in the biography of Wang Yun, HHS 66/56, 2175.
  4. This all that is known about the maidservant fictionally named Diaochan.
  5. HHS 72/62, 2331-32 (9a-10a), the Biography of Dong Zhuo.
  6. HHS 75/65, 2445 (10a), the Biography of Lü Bu.