Richard Rafe Champion de Crespigny (born 1936), also known as Zhang Leifu (), is an Australian
sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's m ...
and historian, currently an adjunct professor in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. He specialises in the history, geography, and literature of the Han dynasty, particularly the translation and historiography of material concerning the Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period.


The son of Richard Geoffrey Champion de Crespigny, (1907-1966), and Kathleen Cavenagh Champion de Crespigny (1908-2013), née Cudmore, Richard Rafe Champion de Crespigny was born in Adelaide in 1936. He married Christa Boltz in Turner, Australian Capital Territory on 19 May 1959.


De Crespigny received his tertiary education at the University of Cambridge (B.A. Honours History 1957; M.A. History 1961) and the Australian National University (B.A. Honours Chinese 1962; M.A. Oriental Studies Honours 1964; PhD Far Eastern History 1968). During his early years as a scholar and academic, de Crespigny benefited from the guidance of Geoffrey Elton and sinologists such as Hans Bielenstein, Otto van der Sprenkel, Fang Chao-ying, Liu Ts'un-yan, and Göran Malmqvist, and he developed an interest in the late Han dynasty through the historical novel ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms''. His doctoral dissertation of 1968 on the development of the Chinese empire in the south and the origins of the Three Kingdoms state of Wu has provided the basis for much of his later work.


De Crespigny's publications include ''China: The Land and its People'' (Melbourne, 1971); ''China This Century'' (Melbourne 1975; 2nd Edition Hong Kong 1992), both discussions of modern China. His most significant works, however, are those concerned with the Later Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period. Among these are ''Northern Frontier: The Policies and Strategy of the Later Han Empire'' (Canberra, 1984); while ''Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling'' and ''To Establish Peace'' (Canberra, 1996) provide an annotated translation of the chronicle for the years 157 to 189 (chapters 54 to 59) and 189 to 220 (chapters 59 to 69) from the ''Zizhi Tongjian'' of Sima Guang respectively. He has also published more than twenty articles in Australia and overseas. ''Generals of the South'', published in 1990, narrates the rise of the Eastern Wu, Sun clan and the formation of the Three Kingdoms tripartite. It builds on the broad range of his translation experience and is telling about his historical interests. Like ''Northern Frontier'', the work focuses on strategies, campaigns, and personalities. The approach owes a great deal to the narrative tradition of the historical novel ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms'' but ''Generals of the South'' also discusses the population and development of southern China from the second century AD. In dealing with the military defence of the south via the boundary of the Yangtze River, it presents the best discussion of the Battle of Red Cliffs and early Chinese riverine warfare available in English. The work also provides an important prelude to further research into the political and cultural divisions of the Northern and Southern dynasties. In 2007, ''A Biographical Dictionary of Han dynasty#Eastern Han, Later Han to the Three Kingdoms 23–220 AD'' was published by Brill Publishers, Brill as a companion to Michael Loewe's biographical dictionary dealing with the Qin dynasty, Qin, Han dynasty#Western Han, Former Han, and Xin dynasty, Xin periods 221 BC – 24 AD (Brill 2000). De Crespigny's more recent publications include ''Imperial Warlord'', a biography of Cao Cao (Brill 2010), which was awarded the Prix Stanislas Julien, Stanislas Julien Prize for 2011 by the French Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres. In 2016 Brill published ''Fire over Luoyang'', a narrative and analytical history of Later Han. He was brought on as an consultant for the Creative Assembly strategy video game ''Total War: Three Kingdoms'' (released 2019).

Associations and appointments

De Crespigny is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He has also been President of the Chinese Studies Association of Australia, a Fellow of the Oriental Society of Australasia, a vice-president of the Australian Institute of International Affairs; and a member of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, the Historical Association (United Kingdom), Historical Association (UK) and the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia. * 1971: Secretary-General of the 28th International Congress of Orientalists at Canberra * 1971–72: Visiting Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge * 1972 and 1984: Academic Exchange Visitor of the German Academic Exchange Service [DAAD] * 1978: Visiting Professor, Asian Studies Program, University of Hawaii * 1978: Guest Professor, Chinese Culture University, College of Chinese Culture * 1983–97: Honorary Treasurer, Australian Committee for the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust * 1986: Visiting Fellow, Institute of Sinology, Leiden University * 1991–2001: Master of University House, Australian National University, University House, Australian National University


De Crespigny was awarded a Centenary Medal in 2001 for services to Australian society in Asian studies.It's an Honour

See also

* C. T. C. de Crespigny, Rafe de Crespigny's grandfather, includes details of the Australian branch of the Champion de Crespigny family



de Crespigny, Rafe, "Kathleen Cudmore: a Memoir", ''Anne's Family History'', 1 January 2017.

de Crespigny, Rafe, ''Champions from Normandy: An Essay on the Early History of the Champion de Crespigny family 1350-1800 AD'', Anne Young, (Ballarat West), 2017.

External links

Publications of Rafe de Crespigny at the ANU Australian Centre on China in the World

Interview with Rafe de Crespigny
{{DEFAULTSORT:De Crespigny, Rafe 1936 births Living people Alumni of the University of Cambridge Australian historians Australian National University alumni Australian National University faculty Australian sinologists Fellows of the Australian Academy of the Humanities Historians of China