Zhāng Fàn, appellation Gōngyí, was a Hénèi Xiūwǔ man. His grandfather Xīn was a Hàn Excellency over the Masses. His father Yán was a Grand Commandant. Grand Tutor Yuán Wěi wished to wed his daughter to Fàn, but Fàn declined. By nature he was calm and gentle and followed his convictions, did not think of glory or profit, and he refused all summons of recruitment.
His younger brother Chéng, appellation Gōngxiān was also well known, and went in his place, was appointed a Consultant, later transferred to Commandant at Yīquē. Dǒng Zhuó rebelled. Chéng wished to join with the armies to punish Zhuó. Chéng’s younger brother Zhāo was at that time a Consultant and had followed to Cháng’ān, and he said to Chéng: “Now you wish to punish Zhuó, but the armies are scattered and cannot match him, and if you rise up with one morning’s plans and battle with the people of the roads, the troops are not supported and the soldiers are not trained, and so it will be difficult to succeed. Zhuó has been beaten militarily and is without faith, so he cannot last long. It is better to choose another to submit to, and wait for opportunity to move, and then our ambitions can be achieved.” Chéng agreed with this, and so he resigned his seals and ribbons of office and left, returning to his home, and together with Fàn they fled to Yángzhōu.
Yuán Shù prepared gifts and invited him, but Fàn plead illness and would not go, and Shù was offended. He sent Chéng to meet Shù, who asked: “In the past the House of Zhōu declined and there was the hegemony of Huán and Wén, and when Qín lost its authority, Hàn seized and used it. Now I have broad territory and many troops and people, and desire to gain the fortune of Huán of Qí and follow the example of Gāo-zǔ. What do you think?”
Chéng answered: “In virtue, not in strength. If a man able to use virtue desires to unite the land, then though he had the resources of a common fellow, then flourishing to the achievement of a hegemon king would not be difficult. But if one plots usurpation, at the time of action the people would desert, and so who could be successful?” Shù was displeased.
At the time Tàizǔ was about to campaign in Jìzhōu, Shù again asked: “Now Excellency Cáo wishes to use a few thousand soldiers to oppose an army of a hundred thousand. It could be said he has misjudged his strength! What do you think of this?”
Chéng thereupon said: “Though Hàn‘s virtue has declined, Heaven’s Mandate has not yet changed. Now Lord Cáo holds Heaven’s Son to command the realm Under Heaven, so that he could oppose even an army of a million.” Shù flustered in anger and was not pleased, so Chéng left him.
After Tàizǔ pacified Jìzhōu, he sent messengers to invite Fàn. Fàn plead illness and remained at Péngchéng, and sent Chéng to join Tàizǔ. Tàizǔ memorialized to appoint him a Critical-Consultant Official.
Fàn’s son Líng and Chéng’s son Jiǎn were captured by bandits east of the mountains. Fàn went to the bandits to ask for the two sons, and the bandits returned Líng to Fàn. Fàn thanked them and said: “You sirs have generously returned my son. Though I love this son, I pity Jiǎn’s youth, and ask to exchange Líng for him.” The bandits were impressed by these words, and returned both to Fàn.
When Tàizǔ returned from Jīngzhōu, Fàn met him at Chén, became a Consultant and Advisor to the Army of the Chancellor, and was given great favor and esteem. When Tàizǔ went on campaign, he often ordered Fàn and Bǐng Yuán to stay with his sons at headquarters. Tàizǔ said to Wén-dì: “Whenever you act you must consult these two men,” and his sons acted with respect expected from sons and grandsons.
He gave out relief to the poor and destitute, so that his house had no excess wealth, and inside and abroad all widows and orphans were given comfort. Everything he was bestowed with he refused, and to the end would not use them and would return it all.
Jiàn’ān seventeenth year  he died. When Wèi state was first established Chéng was appointed Libationer to the Army of the Chancellor and Administrator of Zhào-jùn, and the government underwent great reform. When Tàizǔ led a western campaign, he summoned Chéng to accompany as a military advisor, but at Cháng’ān he fell ill and died. (1)
- Wèishū states: When Wén-dì ascended, Fàn’s son Cān was appointed a Palace Attendant. Chéng’s grandson Shào was a Jìn Central Protector of the Army, and with his maternal uncle Yáng Jùn was put to death. For this matter see Jìnshū.