Biography (SGZ): Liu Bei (Xuande)

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Liu Bei (Xuande)
劉備 (玄德)
Lived: 161–223

Sanguozhi Officer Biography
Pei Songzhi in Blue, Translator Notes in Green
Translated by Stephen So

The First Sovereign’s (I) family name was Liu, given name Bei, stylename Xuande. He was a man from the Zhuo county of the Zhuo prefecture (II). The First Sovereign was a descendent of Liu Zhen who was the son of Prince Jing of Zhongshan, Liu Sheng, the son of Emperor Jing (Han Jing Di) of Western Han. In the sixth year of Yuanshou [117 BC] (III), Liu Zhen was sent to the Zhuo prefecture and given the title of Marquis (Ting Hou) of Lucheng. Because no annual tribute was offered due to lack of money in the family, their title was stripped. (1) The First Sovereign’s grandfather was Liu Xiong, father was Liu Hong, and both worked as magistrates in Zhuo. Liu Xiong was chosen as Filial and Incorrupt (Xian Lian) (IV) and worked in Dongjun, Fanling.

I: Throughout the Chronicles of Shu in SGZ, Liu Bei is referred to as the First Sovereign. This shows that Shu was considered only a kingdom rather than a legitimate dynasty at the time of writing. Later on, Liu Bei was also known by various names such as Liu Zhu, Shu Zhu, Han Zhu, and Han Zhao Lie.
II: Zhuo was a prefecture of the Youzhou region in Northern China
III: According to Chronicle of Han (Han Shu), Yuanshou was a reign style of Emperor Wu (Han Wu Di) of Han
1: Dian Lue: Liu Bei descended from the same branch as the Marquis (Hou) of Linyi.
IV: Xiao Lian were a select group of people in a county who are known for their filial piety and chosen to be an official.

The First Sovereign was an orphan, weaving straw mats and selling straw sandles with his mother. In the southeast corner of their home, there was a large mulberry tree that was five zhang (V) tall. From afar, it took on the appearance of a chariot. Everyone who passed the area noticed that from afar, this tree was extraordinary. Most people said that this place would produce an exceptional person. (2) When the First Sovereign was very young, he played with his cousins and other children under the tree. He said, ‘In the future, I will sit in this chariot’. His uncle, Zijing, noticed this and said, ‘Avoid saying such things or it will bring trouble’.

V: A zhang is a chinese measurement for length.

2: Han Jin Chun Qiu (VI): Li Ding of Zhuo said, ‘This family would produce a great person’.

VI: Han Jin Chun Qiu was a historical text written by Xi Zuochi, a historian of Eastern Jin.

At the age of fifteen [AD 175], the First Sovereign’s mother sent him to study abroard, along with fellow clan member, Liu Deran and Gongsun Zan of West Liao, under the Governor (taishou) of Jiujiang, Lu Zhi, who was also from the same prefecture. Liu Deran’s father, [Liu] Yuanqi, always subsidised the First Sovereign and [Liu] Deran. [Liu] Yuanqi’s wife asked, ‘We are two different families, why give him money as well?’. [Liu] Yuanqi replied, ‘This boy from our family is truly exceptional!’ Gongsun Zan and the First Sovereign were good friends. Gongsun Zan was older and the First Sovereign treated him like an elder brother. The First Sovereign was not fond of studying but rather liked dogs, horses, music, and nice clothes. He was seven feet (VII), five inches tall. His arms fell below his knees and he had long earlobes. He did not speak very much but treated his people very well and hid his emotions under a calm exterior. The First Sovereign made friends with famous and heroic people and many youths had struggled to attach to him. At Zhongshan, there were two merchants, Zhang Shiping and Su Shuang, who saved up a thousand gold and went to sell horses in Zhuo prefecture. They saw the First Sovereign and noticed how exceptional he was so they gave him some of their gold. With these resources, the First Sovereign started recruiting the multitudes.

VII: The chinese foot is about three-quarters of the western foot.

Towards the end of Emperor Ling’s reign, the Yellow Turbans revolted [AD 188] and each province enlisted troops of righteousness. The First Sovereign took his followers along with the Colonel (Jiao Wei), Zou Jing, to attack the Yellow Turbans and were successful, later replacing the Magistrate of Anxi. (3)

3: Dian Lue (VIII): Pingyuan’s Liu Ziping knew Liu Bei had courage and martial skills. At the time, Zhang Chun, a yellow turban, had rebelled and orders came from Qingzhou for the army to be dispatched to suppress them. While passing through Pingyuan, he employed Liu Bei and together, they encountered the rebels in the fields. In the midst of it, Liu Bei was seriously injured and after the rebels had withdrawn, his people transported him on a carriage and so he was relieved. Later he had military accomplishments and was made Magistrate of Anxi in Zhongshan.

VIII: Dian Lue was a historical text written by Yu Huan. He is also the author of the Wei Lue.

The Du You, on official duties, went to Anxi. The First Sovereign went to see Du You but was not allowed in. The First Sovereign was angry, charged in, tied up Du You, beat him two hundred times using a plank, and hung his own official seal around his neck before resigning his position. (4) At the time, the General-in-Chief (Da Jiang Jun), He Jin, sent the Chief Commandant (Dao Wei), Wu Qiu, to conscript. The First Sovereign with Wu Qiu went to Xiapi and subdued the rebels there. The First Sovereign was promoted to Governor of Xia Mi. He left this position and became Gao Tangwei and magistrate (Ling). (5) The First Sovereign was overcome by the rebels, so sought Gongsun Zan for safety, who promoted him as Bie Bu Sima. Gongsun Zan sent the First Sovereign and Qingzhou governor, Tian Kai, to repel Yuan Shao, Imperial Protector of Jizhou. The First Sovereign defended Pingyuan and was promoted to Pingyuan Ling (Magistrate) and later Xiang (Governor). In Pingyuan, a man named Liu Ping despised and was jealous of the First Sovereign, hence sent assassins to kill him. But the assassins could not bear to lay their sword on the First Sovereign, hence this showed that everyone in Pingyuan loved Liu Bei. (6)

4: Dian Lue: There was an imperial decree which ordered those minor officials in the regions who obtained their position from military achievement were to be dismissed. Liu Bei suspected that he was going to be targetted. Du You went to Anxi and was supposed to summon Liu Bei. Liu Bei knew the protocol so hearing that Du You was in one of the residences, he requested to see him but Du You, giving the excuse that he was sick, refused the request. Liu Bei was angry because he would have to return authority. He sent his officials to Du You’s residence, went in and said: ‘I have received secret orders from his Honour to arrest Du You’. He dragged Du You out and tied him to a tree, hanging his official seal around his neck. He then beat him a hundred times and threatened to kill him. Du You begged for mercy and so he was subsequently released.

5: Ying Xiong Ji (IX): In the year Emperor Ling died [AD 189], the First Sovereign was already with the divisional troops in the capital. Later together with Lord Cao they went back to their respective regions, enlisting troops and calling to the multitudes. After the death of Emperor Ling, there was chaos in the land so the First Sovereign brought his troops in the campaign against Dong Zhuo.

IX: Ying Xiong Ji, also known as the Han Mo Ying Xiong Ji, was written by Wang Can, part of the famous Jian’an Qi Zi or Seven Scholars of Jian’an.

6: Wei Shu (X): Liu Ping sent assassins to kill Liu Bei. Liu Bei did not know of their purpose but instead treated them generously. The assassins felt rather shamed and left. The people of Pingyuan were very poor, yet Liu Bei treated them very well. On one hand, he dealt with bandits yet on the other hand he distributed money, ate and slept with the commoners, just like he was one of them. Hence the people of Pingyuan loved him.

X: Wei Shu was written by Wang Shen of the third century

Yuan Shao attacked Gongsun Zan. The First Sovereign, along with Tian Kai, stationed east of Qi. (XI) Lord Cao attacked Xuzhou and the Imperial Protector, Tao Qian, asked Tian Kai for help (XII). Tian Kai and the First Sovereign then went to Xuzhou. At the time, the First Sovereign had a thousand or so soldiers as well as an assorted cavalry from the Wuwan tribes of Youzhou. He also acquired several thousand hungry commoners. Tao Qian added four thousand troops of Danyang to the First Sovereign’s force. Forthwith, the First Sovereign then left the service of Tian Kai for Tao Qian. Tao Qian recommended the First Sovereign to be Inspector of Yuzhou (Ci Shi) stationed in Xiaopei. Later Tao Qian was sick and told Mi Zhu, ‘The safety of Xuzhou rests entirely with Liu Bei’. After Tao Qian died, Mi Zhu along with the people of Xuzhou, greeted the First Sovereign as their ruler. The First Sovereign refused to take the intended offer. Chen Deng of Xiapi said to the First Sovereign, ‘The Han dynasty is troubled and chaotic. Now is the time to do great things. Xuzhou is prosperous and a million in population. Please consider this offer’. The First Sovereign replied, ‘Lord Yuan (XIII) is close in Shouchun. His family of four generations filled the five highest positions of the state and is famous throughout the land. We should let Lord Yuan take the position.’ Chen Deng replied, ‘Gonglu (XIV) is not a capable ruler. Shi Jun (Liu Bei) has under him troops and cavalry numbering to a hundred thousand. You can help the Han dynasty and save the people to establish your rule at best or have your own territory to defend at worst. This is my advice to Shi Jun.’ The Governor (Xiang) of Beihai, Kong Rong, said to the First Sovereign, ‘Does Yuan Gonglu really care about the country? He is like bones in a coffin and is not worth speaking of. Today everyone wants you to take it, but if you refuse, you will regret it.’ The First Sovereign then accepted the position. (7)

XI: The ancient state of Qi was around the Qingzhou region with its capital at Linzi.
XII: It is noted that there were two main political factions during this time. One faction consisted of Yuan Shao and Cao Cao while the other consisted of Yuan Shu, Tao Qian, and Gongsun Zan. This would explain the promptness of Tian Kai and Liu Bei to assist Tao Qian as well as Liu Bei’s recommendation of Yuan Shu to succeed as Imperial Protector of Xuzhou.
XIII: Refers to Yuan Shu of Huainan, who is the half-brother of Yuan Shao.
XIV: Gonglu was the stylename of Yuan Shu

7: Xian Di Chun Qiu (XV): Chen Deng sent an emissary to Yuan Shao and said, ‘Xuzhou is in a desperate situation and the people have no ruler. We have lost a few generals. I am afraid unscrupulous people will take this opportunity to dominate the land and this will increase the burden on the Chief of the Alliance (XVI) Now we are asking the Governor (Xiang) of Pingyuan, Liu Bei, to take over so that the people have a good ruler. In these chaotic times, I am thus informing the Chief of the situation’. Yuan Shao replied, ‘Liu Xuande is a very trustworthy person. The people of Xuzhou will be more than deserving to have him as a ruler.’

XV: Xian Di Chun Qiu is a historical text written by Yuan Ye of the third century.
XVI: At that time, Yuan Shao was the Chief of the alliance of warlords against Dong Zhuo. Cao Cao assumed the position of Prime Minister in AD 208, abolishing the Three Excellencies (San Gong) where he once was the Minister of Works (Si Kong) which was third ranked.

Yuan Shu attacked the First Sovereign. The First Sovereign defended at Xu Yi and Huaiyin. Lord Cao petitioned for the First Sovereign to be General Who Conquers the East and Marquis (Ting Hou) of Yicheng in the first year of Jian’an [AD 196] (XVII). The First Sovereign and Yuan Shu warred for a month. Lu Bu took the opportunity and captured Xiapi with the help of Cao Bao. Lu Bu also captured the First Sovereign’s wives. The First Sovereign retreated his troops to Haixi. (8) Yang Feng and Han Xian were causing trouble in the regions between Xu[zhou] and Yang[zhou]. The First Sovereign struck at them and beheaded them. He requested a truce with Lu Bu who subsequently released the First Sovereign’s wives. The First Sovereign then asked Guan Yu to guard Xiapi.

XVII: Jian’an was the reign title of Emperor Xian and translates to Establishing Tranquility
8: Ying Xiong Ji: Liu Bei left Zhang Fei to guard Xiapi while he fought Yuan Shu at Shi Ting in Huaiyin with some mixed victories. Zhang Fei wanted to kill Tao Qian’s general, Cao Bao. Cao Bao stayed in his position and sent someone to ask Lu Bu for help. Lu Bu attacked Xiapi and Zhang Fei retreated. When Liu Bei heard this, he retreated his army to attack Xiapi but was unable to overcome Lu Bu. Liu Bei gathered his troops and went to Guangling to face Yuan Shu again but got defeated.

The First Sovereign returned to Xiaopei. (9) Liu Bei gathered up troops numbering about ten thousand. Lu Bu again become hostile and attacked the First Sovereign. The First Sovereign was defeated and went to Lord Cao. Lord Cao treated the First Sovereign very well and memorialised him to be Imperial Protector of Yuzhou. The First Sovereign regathered the troops at Xiaopei and gave them new supplies, so that he could attack Lu Bu from the east. Lu Bu sent Gao Shun to attack Xiaopei while Lord Cao sent Xiahou Dun [to defend Xiaopei]. Xiahou Dun failed to defend Xiaopei. The First Sovereign was then defeated and Gao Shun captured the First Sovereign’s wives and sent them to Lu Bu. Lord Cao then personally led an eastern expedition. (10) Lord Cao together with the First Sovereign surrounded Lu Bu at Xiapi. Lu Bu was captured and executed while the First Sovereign’s wives were returned. Lord Cao returned to Xuchang and memoralised the First Sovereign to be General of the Left. Lord Cao respected the First Sovereign and they walked out together and sat in the same chariot. Yuan Shu, passing by the north of Jingzhou, wanted to meet up with Yuan Shao. Lord Cao sent the First Sovereign to attack Yuan Shu. Before the First Sovereign had arrived, Yuan Shu already died of sickness.

9: Ying Xiong Ji: In the third year of Jian’an [AD 198], Spring, Lu Bu sent someone to Henei to buy horses, but they were robbed by Bei’s troops. Lu Bu sent the Generals of the Gentlemen of the Household (Zhonglang Jiang), Gao Shun, and Governor of Bei Di, Zhang Liao to attack Liu Bei. Ninth month, they captured Xiaopei and Liu Bei escaped on his own, leaving his wives. Tenth month, Lord Cao personally attacked Lu Bu. Liu Bei on the border met with Lord Cao and since then, accompanied him on expedition.

10: Ying Xiong Ji: In Guangling, Liu Bei’s troops lacked supplies, hunger spread, and were close to mutiny. Liu Bei decided to retreat to Xiaopei, hence sent a messenger to request a truce with Lu Bu. Lu Bu asked Liu Bei to return so they can jointly deal with Yuan Shu. Lu Bu returned Liu Bei’s wives at the River Si.

Wei Shu: Lu Bu’s generals said to their lord, ‘Liu Bei is an untrustworthy person and should be removed’. Lu Bu ignored this advice. Liu Bei was worried and sent someone to Lu Bu and ask to allow him to stay in Xiaopei. Lu Bu agreed.

Before the First Sovereign left Xuchang, Emperor Xian’s uncle, General of the Chariots and Cavalry (Che Ji Jiang Jun), Dong Cheng (11) … received a secret edict in a girdle from Emperor Xian to assassinate Lord Cao. The First Sovereign then waited [for the opportunity]. Around this time, Lord Cao said to the First Sovereign, ‘The heroes of today are Shi Jun and Cao! Others like Benchu (XVIII) will not last long’. The First Sovereign was totally shocked and dropped his chopsticks. (12) Dong Cheng, Colonel of the River Chang regiment (Chang Sui Jiao Wei), Zhong Ji, General Wu Zilan, Wang Zifu, and others who conspired together were captured before any action was taken, and their entire familes were executed. (13)

11: Your servant Pei Songzhi: Dong Cheng was nephew of Empress Dong, who was mother of Emperor Ling, and Emperor Xian’s father-in-law. Dong Cheng preferred to be called the Emperor’s uncle rather than father-in-law.
XVIII: Refers to Yuan Shao whose stylename was ‘Benchu’

12: Hua Yang Guo Zhi (XIX): At that time, there was thunder and lightning. Liu Bei said, ‘As the ancients say: Rapid thunder and strong winds are certain to indicate change. But that powerful shock came quite close.’

XIX: Hua Yang Guo Zhi was a historical text on the people of Ba-Shu, written by Chang Qu in the fourth century
13: Xian Di Qi Ju Zhu: Before the plans of Dong Cheng’s group and Liu Bei were executed, the latter was away from the capital on mission. Dong Cheng said to Wang Zifu, “Guo has a few hundred soldiers while Huai Li commands troops numbering to a few tens of thousands. It seems that we do not share the same confidence! Like in the past, Lu Buwei needed Prince Zi Chu to reach his high status, I need Zi You.” Wang Zifu replied, “I am fearful since there are not many troops [on our side].” Dong Cheng questioned, “After the matter is finished, we will take control of Lord Cao’s troops in the capital, is that not enough?” “But can the capital troops take on that responsibility?” Dong Cheng replied, “The Jiao Wei of Changsui, Zhong Ji, and the Yi Lang, Wu Shuo are my collegues who will follow up with the matter.” Thus the plan was decided.

The First Sovereign retook Xiapi and killed the Inspector (Ci Shi) (XX) of Xuzhou, Che Zhou, and left Guan Yu to guard Xiapi. The First Sovereign then returned to Xiaopei. (14) Dong Hai and Chang Ba rebelled along with other counties against Lord Cao and supported the First Sovereign. The rebellion consisted of several tens of thousands of people. The First Sovereign sent Sun Qian to Yuan Shao to ask for peace. Lord Cao sent Liu Dai and Wang Zhong to attack the First Sovereign but they were defeated. In the fifth year of Jian’an [AD 200], Lord Cao personally led an expedition against the First Sovereign and defeated him. (15) Lord Cao retook the cities of Xuzhou, captured the First Sovereign’s wives as well as Guan Yu, and returned with them.

XX: Ci Shi was a Governor or Inspector of a Province. The difference between a Ci Shi and Zhou Mu (Imperial Protector) was that it was a position given from the Capital and thus had lesser authority than an Imperial Protector.

14: Hu Chong’s Wu Li: Lord Cao invited many people, with the intention of harming them. Liu Bei realised the danger and stayed behind closed doors, growing crops in his yard. Lord Cao sent people to spy on Liu Bei through the opening of the gate. Liu Bei said to Zhang Fei and Guan Yu, ‘I am growing crops here so Lord Cao will get suspicious. We cannot stay here for much longer’. That night, Liu Bei, together with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, escaped through the backdoor and galloped away. All of Liu Bei’s gifts which were given to him, etc. were left behind. He regathered his troops at Xiaopei.

Your servant Pei Songzhi believes: Wei Wu Di (XXI) asked the First Sovereign to direct his troops and attack Yuan Shu. Guo Jia and others remonstrated with Cao Cao, but Cao Cao ignored their advice. Hence this happened not because of growing crops. Hu Chong’s story is certainly very strange!

XXI: Wei Wu Di or the Martial Emperor of Wei was the dynastic title of Cao Cao given to him posthumously by Wei Wen Di, Cao Pi

15: Wei Shu: At that time, Lord Cao put his generals to guard Guandu (XXII) while he himself took elite troops to attack Liu Bei. Liu Bei initially thought that Lord Cao sent his subordinate generals to attack him. When the enemy forces came nearer and Liu Bei heard reports that Lord Cao had personally come himself, he started to panic but was not sure. So Liu Bei took with him a few troops and went to check out the enemy camp. After he saw Lord Cao’s flag, he panicked and ran away.

XXII: At this time, Yuan Shao’s troops were facing Cao Cao’s at Guandu

The First Sovereign went to Qingzhou, where the Inspector (Ci Shi), Yuan Tan, went to meet to him. The First Sovereign followed Yuan Tan to Pingyuan. Yuan Tan sent someone to notify his father, Yuan Shao. Yuan Shao gathered his generals and went to officially welcome the First Sovereign two hundred miles outside the city. (16) After a month in Yuan Shao’s camp, the First Sovereign’s generals, who earlier had scattered, gradually came back. Lord Cao and Yuan Shao fought each other at Guandu. The Yellow Turban leader, Liu Pi in Runan, rebelled against Lord Cao and allied with Yuan Shao. Yuan Shao asked the First Sovereign together with Liu Pi to lead a force to attack Xuchang. At this time, Guan Yu had returned to the First Sovereign. Lord Cao sent Cao Ren to attack the First Sovereign. The First Sovereign returned the troops to Yuan Shao and desired to take leave. The First Sovereign said that he would go and persuade the Imperial Protector of Jingzhou, Liu Biao to ally with him. Yuan Shao agreed and asked the First Sovereign to take the troops back to Runan and meet up with the rebels there, which totalled to about a thousand. Lord Cao sent Cai Yang to intercept but he was defeated and killed by the First Sovereign.

16: Wei Shu: Liu Bei went to Yuan Shao. Both father and son highly respected him.

Lord Cao defeated Yuan Shao and turned south to attack the First Sovereign in Runan. The First Sovereign sent Mi Zhu and Sun Qian to discuss with Liu Biao. Liu Biao received them outside the city and treated them as honoured guests. He gave the First Sovereign troops, supplies, and stationed him in Xinye. Lots of distinguished people from Jingzhou went to meet and join the First Sovereign. Liu Biao started developing suspicions and was careful not to give him an important post. (17) Lord Cao sent Xiahou Dun and Yu Jin to attack the First Sovereign. They arrived at Bowang where the First Sovereign set up an ambush there. The First Sovereign deliberately set his supplies and carts on fire and retreated. Xiahou Dun and Yu Jin pursued him, fell into the First Sovereign’s ambush, and were defeated.

17: Jiu Zhou Chun Qiu (XXIII): Liu Bei lived in Jingzhou for a few years. While coming back from the lavatory, Liu Bei noticed that his thighs were getting fat and he weeped when he came back. Liu Biao asked him what happened and Liu Bei replied that back when he rode a horse everyday, his thighs were fit, but now that he has spent so long in Jingzhou, he was becoming old and eventually useless if this continued on. Thus it made him very sad.

XXIII: Jiu Zhou Chun Qiu was written by Sima Biao of the third century. He was co-authored the Hou Han shu with Fan Ye.

Shi Yu (XXIV): Liu Bei lived in Fancheng and Liu Biao treated him very well. But Liu Biao was a person who never trusted people much so he invited Liu Bei to a dinner party. Kuai Yue and Cai Mao wanted to use this occasion to capture Liu Bei. Liu Bei found out, excused himself, and left on his Dilu horse. To the west of Xiangyang, there was a river called the Tan river, where Liu Bei was trapped. Liu Bei shouted, ‘Dilu, danger has come, you have to try your best’. The horse jumped up three zhang and cleared the river. The pursuing troops arrived and shouted, ‘Why did you leave so quickly?’.

XXIV: Shi Yu or properly known as the Wei Jin Shi Yu was a book written by Guo Song. Often it is confused with the Shi Shuo Xin Yu written by Liu Yiqing and commented by Liu Jun

Sun Sheng comments: I do not believe it happened this way. When Liu Bei was there, he was Liu Biao’s guest. If it did happen this way, then Liu Bei would not have left without excusing himself with Liu Biao personally. Hence this this story is most likely ficticious.

In the twelth year of Jian’an [AD 207], Lord Cao attacked the Hu barbarian tribes in the North. The First Sovereign asked Liu Biao to attack Xuchang but Biao hesitated. (18) Lord Cao headed south to attack Liu Biao. Later Liu Biao died. (19) (XXV)

18: Han Jin Chun Qiu: Cao Cao returned from Liucheng, Liu Biao said to Liu Bei, ‘In the past I did not listen to your advice and now I have lost the opportunity’. Liu Bei replied, ‘In this state of chaos and war, there are many opportunities still, how can there be no more? Just take the next opportunity that arises.’

19: Ying Xiong Ji: Liu Biao was sick and asked Liu Bei to become Inspector (Ci Shi) of Jingzhou.

Wei Shu: Liu Biao was sick and asked Liu Bei to take over the affairs of Jingzhou and said, ‘My sons are useless. My generals are scattered and not uniform. After I die, you must stay and protect Jingzhou’. Liu Bei replied, ‘Your sons are quite able, you have no need to worry.’ Other people urged Liu Bei to accept and asked him why he kept refusing. Liu Bei replied, ‘Liu Biao has been exceptionally good to me. If I accept his offer, others will claim that I have had hidden ambition to take over his land’.

Your servant Pei Songzhi believes: Liu Biao and his wife loved their son, Liu Zong, and planned to install him. But before Liu Zong took over, Liu Bei took the reigns. Hence I question whether the previous two comments are accurate where his sons were neglected, in favour of Liu Bei.

XXV: I find this an intriguing comment to make by Pei Songzhi considering that two other books agree on the same version of events. While Liu Biao certainly may have loved his younger son, Liu Zong, it does not automatically suggest that he wanted him to succeed Jingzhou at a time when there was considerable danger from the North. Liu Bei already amassed great popular support in Jingzhou and had under him three talented generals and Zhuge Liang, so Liu Biao would have had this in mind. It seems to be more sensible to forfeit his young and inexperienced son at a time when Jingzhou was in danger from Cao Cao but rather to have the more experienced Liu Bei take over.

Liu Zong became Imperial Protector of Jingzhou and sent an emissary to offer surrender to Lord Cao. The First Sovereign was stationed in Fancheng but did not know Liu Zong had surrendered when suddenly Lord Cao arrived. The First Sovereign took the people and troops to Xiangyang. Zhuge Liang said to the First Sovereign, ‘If we attack Liu Zong, we still have a chance’. The First Sovereign replied, ‘I cannot bear to do such a thing’. (20). At Dangyang, the First Sovereign took with him civilians which numbered about a hundred thousand. They walked only ten li per day. The First Sovereign sent Guan Yu to take a boat and go to Jiangling. The First Sovereign’s followers said to their lord, ‘You have to get to Jiangling quickly, yet we are stuck here with the people. When Cao Cao arrives, we cannot withstand him’. The First Sovereign replied, ‘For a man to do great things, he cannot neglect the common people. How can I just leave and desert them when they have followed and trusted me so far?’ (21)

20: Kong Yan’s Han Wei Chun Qiu: Liu Zong had surrendered to Cao Cao but did not tell Liu Bei. Liu Bei also did not know. After time, Liu Bei found out and sent someone to ask Liu Zong. Liu Zong sent Song Zhong to inform Liu Bei that he did indeed surrender. At that time, Cao Cao had reached Yuncheng. Liu Bei was afraid and said to Song Zhong, ‘Why was I not told of this earlier? Now only when the danger is so close that you people tell me, is that not unreasonable?’ He grabbed a sword and said, ‘If I cut your head off now, it will not be able to solve my problems but rather will ruin my reputation’. So he released him. He gathered a council of his people. Some said that Liu Zong should be taken hostage and moved together to Jiangling. Liu Bei replied, ‘Liu Jingzhou (XXVI) asked me to take care of his sons, yet I betray his sons like this? How can I face the late Liu Jingzhou when I enter Heaven?’. When Liu Bei galloped passed Xiangyang, he called out to Liu Zong, but Zong refused to see him. Many of Liu Zong’s people switched to the First Sovereign’s side.

Dian Lue: Liu Bei, before he left, went to Liu Biao’s shrine and wept for a while before leaving

XXVI: Liu Biao was also referred to as Liu Jingzhou since he was the Imperial Protector of that region while the First Sovereign was often referred to as Liu Yuzhou

21: Xi Zuochi comments: (XXVII) Liu Xuande, in the most dangerous sitations, still was righteous, and in the most pressed situation, never swayed away from rectitude. He never betrayed his promise to Liu Biao to protect his citizens and this inspired the troops and increased their admiration and loyalty. The First Sovereign therefore deserved the great success he had achieved.

XXVII: Xi Zuochi was a historian of the Eastern Jin dynasty. He was author of the book Han Jin Chun Qiu which set the example of departing from the traditional Wei calendar and accepting the Shu-Han calendar, thus shifting legitimacy from Wei to Shu-Han. This was possibly in line with the politics of the Eastern Jin, whose own legitimacy was put under question, just like the Shu-Han who claimed they were the continuation of the Han dynasty.

Lord Cao realised that Jiangling was an important military centre and feared if the First Sovereign took it. Throwing away heavy armour, he chased him on light cavalry. They travelled three hundred li (miles) per day. When they reached Changban, Dangyang, the First Sovereign along with Zhuge Liang, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Yun [were defeated and] escaped without his wives. Lord Cao took their supplies and equipment. At Hanjin, the First Sovereign met with Guan Yu along with the Governor of Jiangxia, Liu Qi with ten thousand troops. They went to Xiakou. Liu Bei sent Zhuge Liang to discuss alliance with Sun Quan. (22) Sun Quan asked Zhou Yu and Cheng Pu to co-operate with the First Sovereign. (23) [They] defeated Lord Cao and burnt his ships at Chibi. The First Sovereign and the Wu troops pursued Lord Cao along land and water. (XXVIII) They chased Lord Cao to Nanjun. Lots of disease spread in Lord Cao’s camp, hence he retreated. (24)

XXVIII: This part is quite an interesting one. We also note that in Cao Cao’s biography, it said that ‘he advanced to Chibi and was defeated by Liu Bei’. Commentary from Shan Yang Gong Zai Ji in Cao Cao’s SGZ biography said: Cao Cao’s fleet was ignited by Liu Bei, and withdrew via Huarong Path. Cao Cao laughed madly. His generals questioned him for his reasons, Cao Cao replied, ‘Liu Bei, my rival. Had he set fire, I wouldn’t have made this far.’ The various contradictions in Chen Shou’s account only leaves us to speculate what actually happened at Chibi.

22: Jiang Biao Zhuan (XXIX): Sun Quan sent Lu Su to pay his respects for the late Liu Biao to his two sons but in actual fact wanted to discuss alliance with Liu Bei. Before Lu Su arrived, Cao Cao already arrived at Hanjin. Lu Su at Dangyang met with Liu Bei and told him that Sun Quan wanted an alliance. Lu Su said, ‘Where does [Liu] Yuzhou plan to go?’ Liu Bei replied, ‘Governor of Cangwu, Wu Ju, is a former associate so I will go seek his help’. Lu Su replied, ‘Sun Quan is intelligent and generous to his people. Many talented people serve him. He commanded six prefectures, large amounts of supplies and troops and would be willing to co-operate. My mission is to form an alliance with you. Wu Ju is useless so your long trip is all but a waste.’ Liu Bei was delighted and went with Lu Su to Er county, where Zhuge Liang went with Lu Su to see Sun Quan.

XXIX: Jiang Biao Zhuan was written by Yu Pu of the third century.

23: Jiang Biao Zhuan: After listening to Lu Su’s advice, Liu Bei went to Fankou. Zhuge Liang was still with Wu. Liu Bei heard of Cao Cao’s plans to lead a southern expedition, and constantly looked out for Zhou Yu’s naval forces. Someone told Liu Bei that Zhou Yu’s forces arrived, to which Liu Bei asked him, ‘How do you know it is Zhou Yu’s forces?’. The soldier replied, ‘I saw their boat’. Liu Bei sent someone to welcome them. Zhou Yu said, ‘I have a mission from my Lord and am too busy to go to your camp, so I hope you can come instead.’ Liu Bei said to Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, ‘You do not have to worry about this. Today, I have to been asked to go. If I do not go, how can an alliance exist?’. Alone, Liu Bei went to meet with Zhou Yu and said, ‘We are now fighting Cao Cao, so how many troops did you bring?’. Zhou Yu replied, ‘Thirty thousand’. Liu Bei said, ‘So little?’. Zhou Yu replied, ‘It is enough, let me show [Liu] Yuzhou (XXX) how I will defeat Cao Cao’. Liu Bei said that he wanted to see Lu Su. Zhou Yu replied, ‘If you want to see Zijing (XXXI) you can go see him yourself. Kongming will be returning soon, maybe in about three days time’. Liu Bei did not believe Zhou Yu could defeat the Northern troops but afterwards regretted giving two thousand troops to Guan Yu and Zhang Fei rather than to Zhou Yu. This was a forward-retreat (jin tui) scheme. (XXXII)

XXX: Liu Bei was the Imperial Protector of Yuzhou and was often referred to as Liu Yuzhou.
XXXI: Zijing was the stylename of Lu Su.
XXXII: My interpretation of this sentence is that initially, Liu Bei did not believe Zhou Yu was able to defeat Cao Cao. Hence he decided to keep his thousand troops to minimise the loss if Zhou Yu was defeated. However, after Zhou Yu was victorious, Liu Bei regretted that he did not give his troops to Zhou Yu and hence share the victory.

Sun Sheng comments: Though Liu Bei was able, he was in a place where there was no hope and had to beg for the help of Wu. Hence he was in no position to offer any opinion or comment on the military setup. IThis passage in Jiang Biao Zhuan was in line with the people of Wu’s desire to glorify the conversation.

24: Jiang Biao Zhuan: Zhou Yu became Governor of Nanjun, and shared the region south of the river (XXXIII) Liu Bei built barracks at Youjiang Kou, and changed the name to Gong’an. Lots of Liu Biao’s surrendered troops originally with Cao Cao, went to Liu Bei. Liu Bei indicated that Zhou Yu’s allocated land was not enough to support the people. Sun Quan then lent the prefectures of Jingzhou to Liu Bei. (XXXIV)

XXXIII: This is the great river, the Changjiang or Yangtze river, which separated Jingzhou. Northern Jingzhou had the prefectures Nanjun, Jiangxia, Nanyang. Southern Jingzhou had the prefectures Changsha, Guiyang, Lingling, and Wuling.
XXXIV: We note that this commentary came from the book Jiang Biao Zhuan which was inherently presenting history from Wu’s perspective as implied by Sun Sheng’s commentary earlier. Note in Chen Shou’s original text, there is no mentioning of any lending agreement. Only Jiang Biao Zhuan uses the word ‘lending’. It is noted by a few historians that Liu Bei was growing strong south of the River and Lu Su advised Sun Quan to give their ally of the south, access to the northern prefectures of Nanjun and Jiangxia. Rafe De Crespigny and the member Luzon have mentioned of the propaganda perpetuated by the Wu scholars that the whole of Jingzhou was lent to Liu Bei. This was considered a face-saving mechanism for Lu Su’s retreat from Jiangling. Hence Liu Bei did not acknowledge any debt to Wu.

The First Sovereign memorialised Liu Qi to be Inspector (Ci Shi) of Jingzhou and led an expedition to retake the four southern prefectures. Governor of Wuling, Jin Shun, Governor of Changsha, Han Xuan, Governor of Guiyang, Zhao Fan, Governor of Lingling, Liu Du all surrendered. (25). Lei Xu of Lujiang took several tens of thousands of men and submitted to the First Sovereign. Later, Liu Qi died. The officials urged the First Sovereign to become Imperial Protector of Jingzhou. Sun Quan started to fear the First Sovereign and offered his sister to marry the First Sovereign. The First Sovereign went to see Sun Quan. (26) Sun Quan sent a messenger to the First Sovereign to propose a joint attack on Shu, as Wu cannot go across Jingzhou to attack Shu. Jingzhou’s Zhu Bu (Secretary), Yin Guan, said to the First Sovereign, ‘If we are to become Wu’s vanguard and attack Shu first while they come across the borders, and if we fail to defeat Shu, Wu will take the opportunity to attack us from the rear. However, if we agree with them on their attack of Shu, but then say that we only just arrived in Jingzhou and have not settled down yet, and that we cannot fulfill the joint attack, Wu will not dare to cross our borders to attack Shu alone.’ The First Sovereign accepted this advice. As expected, Sun Quan dared not attack Shu. The First Sovereign then promoted Yan Guan. (27)

25: San Fu Jue Lu: Jin Shun’s style name was Xuanji, a native of Jingxiao, served as Huangmen Lang and then Governor of Hanyang, then Yi Lang, then Zhong Lang Jiang, and finally Governor of Wuling. He was killed by Liu Bei. He had a son called Wei. This information came from a book Wei Wu Ben Ji

26: Shang Yang Gong Zai Ji: Liu Bei said to his subordinates, ‘The generals of chariots, Sun [Quan]’s upper half is long and his lower half is short. I do not want to see him again.’ Liu Bei doubled his march from afternoon till evening.

Your servant Pei Songzhi believes: Wei Shu mentions Liu Bei and Sun Quan meeting each other and that Liu Bei made the comment about his appearance. Shu Zhi mentioned the same thing about Sun Quan’s appearance but quoted it from Zhuge Liang, not Liu Bei. In my opinion, before when Cao Cao was attacking at Chibi, Liu Bei had never met Sun Quan, hence he cannot know of Sun Quan’s appearance. Only Zhuge Liang had seen Sun Quan, therefore Wei Shu is incorrect and we should believe Shu Zhi.

27: Xian Di Chun Qiu quotes: Sun Quan wanted to make a joint attack with Liu Bei on Shu and sent a messenger who said to Liu Bei, ‘Zhang Lu in Hanzhong, has declared himself a Prince, and is the eyes and ears of Cao Cao on Yizhou. Liu Zhang is incapable of defending. If Cao Cao takes Yizhou, Jingzhou would be in trouble. Therefore, if we firstly attack Liu Zhang, and then Zhang Lu, then together with Wu and Chu (XXXV), even ten Cao Cao’s represents no threat to us.’ Liu Bei replied, ‘The people of Yizhou are rich and strong and have natural barriers. Liu Zhang, though weak, is capable enough to defend himself. Zhang Lu is hypocritical and untrustworthy and would not be loyal to Cao Cao. Attacking Liu Zhang is still a big risk in itself and success cannot be guaranteed. Even Wu Qi and Sun Wu would not be able to guarantee success in this situation. Even though Cao Cao is disrespectful of the Emperor, he still continues to treat him as a Sovereign. Your people say that Cao Cao’s defeat at Chibi indicated his military strength was gone but this is not the case. Cao Cao now occupies two-thirds of China, why would he be content and wait for old age? Furthermore, if allies attack one another without good reason, they present Cao Cao with a lever and allow the enemy to take advantage of their quarrel. This is not a far-sighted plan (XXXVI)’ Sun Quan disregarded this advice and sent Sun Yu with his naval forces to station at Xiakou. Liu Bei said to Sun Yu, ‘If you want to attack Shu, then I will not allow it. I do not want to lose the trust of the people of this world.’ He sent Guan Yu to Jiangling and Zhang Fei to Zi Gui, Zhuge Liang to Nanjun, while Liu Bei stationed himself in Chanling. Sun Quan realised Liu Bei’s intention and so asked Sun Yu to retreat.

XXXV: Jingzhou occupied a region that was the ancient state of Chu.
XXXVI: From R. De Crespigny, To Establish Peace, Vol. 2, ANU, 1996.

In the sixteenth year of Jian’an [AD 211], the Imperial Protector of Yizhou, Liu Zhang, heard that Lord Cao would send Zhong Yao to attack Zhang Lu of Hanzhong, so he started panicking. Zhang Song said to Liu Zhang, ‘Cao Cao’s troops are strong and near invincible. After he defeats Zhang Lu and starts to attack us, will we be able to defend him?’ Liu Zhang replied, ‘I have no idea what to do’. Zhang Song replied, ‘Liu Yuzhou (Liu Bei) is of the Imperial house, is feared by Cao Cao, and knows how to use his troops well. If we could employ him to attack Zhang Lu first, after Zhang Lu is defeated, Yizhou will be strong and will be able to defend against Cao Cao when he comes’. Liu Zhang agreed and sent Fa Zheng with four thousand troops to welcome the First Sovereign. Fa Zheng advised the First Sovereign that he can take this opportunity to obtain Yizhou. (28) The First Sovereign left Zhuge Liang and Guan Yu to guard Jingzhou, while he took several tens of thousands of troops into Yizhou. They arrived Fucheng. Liu Zhang personally came out to greet them and was very happy. Zhang Song asked Fa Zheng to say to the First Sovereign and Pang Tong, ‘During a banquet with Liu Zhang, you can take the opportunity to capture Liu Zhang’. The First Sovereign replied, ‘This is a serious matter and I cannot do such a thing’. Liu Zhang memorialised the First Sovereign to be Commander-in-Chief (Da Sima) and Colonel Director of Retainers (Si Li Jiao Wei). The First Sovereign memoralised Liu Zhang as ‘General Who Conquers the West’ as well as Imperial Protector of Yizhou. Liu Zhang gave the First Sovereign troops to attack Zhang Lu, as well as commanding the Baishui naval troops. The First Sovereign added thirty thousand of his own men who were very well equipped. Liu Zhang returned to Chengdu. The First Sovereign went north but did not immediately attack Zhang Lu. He treated the civilians very well and won their hearts.

28: Wu Shu (XXXVII): Liu Bei saw Zhang Song. Afterwards he saw Fa Zheng where many gifts were given. Liu Bei asked Fa Zheng about geographical and strategic points of the roads into Yizhou. Zhang Song drew a map. Therefore, Liu Bei knew of the details about Yizhou’s forces.

XXXVII: Wu Shu was written by Wei Zhao, et.~al. in the third century.

In the following year [AD 212], Lord Cao attacked Sun Quan. Sun Quan asked the First Sovereign to help him. The First Sovereign sent someone to say to Liu Zhang, ‘Lord Cao is now attacking Wu and the situation is very serious. Sun Quan and I are very close like teeth and lips. Guan Yu is fighting Yue Jin at Qing Ni. If I do not go to assist, Yue Jin may win, Jingzhou may be lost and Yizhou will be in danger of being captured by Lord Cao. This threat is more serious than the threat from Zhang Lu. Zhang Lu is in a defensive mode now and is not our main threat.’ The First Sovereign asked Liu Zhang to lend him ten thousand troops so that he can head east, but Liu Zhang only gave him four thousand troops and only half the supplies were given. (29) Zhang Song sent a letter to the First Sovereign and Fa Zheng which said, ‘Originally our goal is within reach, why are you retreating?’ (XXXVIII) Zhang Song’s brother who was the Governor of Guang Han, was worried about this matter and told Liu Zhang about it. Liu Zhang executed Zhang Song and hence there developed a rift between him and the First Sovereign. (30) Liu Zhang sent an order to all the passes not to allow the First Sovereign to leave. The First Sovereign was angry and executed Yang Huai, the commander of the Du Bai naval troops, saying he was disrespectful. The First Sovereign asked Huang Zhong and Zhuo Ying to direct their forces to attack Liu Zhang. The First Sovereign personally arrived at Guanzhong, leading the troops and their families, and attacked Fucheng. Liu Zhang sent Liu Gui, Ling Bao, Zhang Ren, and Deng Xiang to defend Fucheng. (31) The First Sovereign defeated these four generals who all retreated to Mianzhu. Liu Zhang sent Li Yan to attack. But Li Yan submitted to the First Sovereign. The First Sovereign was therefore growing very strong and sent troops to attack many places. Zhuge Liang, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Yun attacked Baidicheng, Jiangzhou, and Jiangyang along the water route and left Guan Yu to guard Jingzhou. The First Sovereign led his troops to surround Liu Zhang’s son who was defending the city. The battle lasted for a year.

29: Wei Shu: Liu Bei raised the morale of his own troops by saying, ‘We came to protect [Liu] Yizhou and put in a lot of effort without rest. He is resourceful yet will not reward us. How can he expect us to fight to the death for him?’
XXXVIII: It seemed there was little co-ordination between Pang Tong and Fa Zheng at Jiameng with Zhang Song in Chengdu. With Liu Bei’s adoption of the middle plan of Pang Tong where they pretended retreat, was the importance of letting Zhang Song know of this plan obvious enough for Fa Zheng?

30: Yibu Qijiu Zaji (XXXIX): Zhang Song’s elder brother, Zhang Su, had a great appearance while Zhang Song was short and his appearance was very bad. Despite his appearance, Zhang Song was a very bright and intelligent person, unlike his brother. Liu Zhang sent Zhang Song to meet with Lord Cao. Lord Cao ignored him. Lord Cao’s secretary, Yang Xiu, admired him a lot. Yang Xiu showed Lord Cao’s commentary of war to Zhang Song. Zhang Song read it once and could recite all of it. Yang Xiu admired him even more.

XXXIX: Yibu Qijiu Zaji or Miscellaneous Records of the Elders of Yi was the term used by Pei Songzhi to describe the various sources he had obtained. Most of it was most likely sourced from two books of the same name, Yibu Qijiu Zhuan or Biographies of the Elders of Yi written by Chen Shu (stylename Shenbo) and Chen Shou himself.
31: Yibu Qijiu Zaji: Zhang Ren was a native of the Shu prefecture and his family was poor. When young, he was brave and had high ambitions. He served as a Cong Shi in the region.

In the summer of the nineteenth year of Jian’an [AD 214], the defences of Luocheng were broken. (32) After being surrounded for several days in Chengdu, Liu Zhang came out and surrendered. (33) The people in Shu were very happy and celebrating. The First Sovereign ordered lots of wine to be brought for the troops and conferred gifts to the Shu officials. The First Sovereign became Imperial Protector of Yizhou; Zhuge Liang his assistant; Fa Zheng his advisor; Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Ma Chao his subordinate generals; titles were given to Xu Jing, Mi Zhu, Jian Yong, Dong He, Huang Quan, Li Yan (who were Liu Zhang’s former generals), Fei Guan (who was Liu Zhang’s relative), Peng Yang (who Liu Zhang did not like), Liu Ba. Liu Zhang was wary and jealous of people like Liu Ba but the First Sovereign gave them the right positions and all were very satisfied. (XL)

XL: It can be seen here that Liu Bei not only treated his own subordinates generously but also Liu Zhang’s generals and subordinates. We note that Liu Ba, who constantly avoided Liu Bei for many years, was promoted. Everyone was satisfied and Rafe De Crespigny mentions about Liu Bei’s amazing charisma and how he won the alleigance of people from all over China, from his home province of Zhuo (Jian Yong), to Xuzhou (Mi Zhu), the Jingzhou region and now the officials and generals of Yizhou.
32: Yibu Qijiu Zaji: Liu Zhang sent Zhang Ren and Liu Qi to defend Fucheng, but were both defeated by the First Sovereign. They retreated, taking with them Liu Zhang’s son, Liu Xun, and went to defend Luocheng. Zhang Ren led troops to Yan bridge to fend off the First Sovereign but was again defeated and captured. The First Sovereign knew he was very capable and asked him to surrender. Zhang Ren very loudly replied, ‘Thy old servant cannot serve two lords’. Zhang Ren was then executed. The First Sovereign felt a great loss.

33: Fu Zi (XLI): Initially, when Liu Bei attacked Shu, Zhao Jian, an official of the Prime Minister (cheng xiang) said, ‘How useless is Liu Bei? He was defeated many times and was constantly wandering around. How can he gain a victory? Even though Yizhou is small, there are lots of natural defences hence it is easy to defend.’ (XLII)

XLI: Fu Xuan of Wei.
XLII: This is an interesting piece of commentary included by Pei Songzhi. Assuming it happened in the same period as the current events, it seems to show Zhao Jin commenting on Liu Bei’s lack of ability. However, the previous sentences clearly showed Liu Bei was on a winning streak in Yizhou defeating Liu Zhang’s generals consistently and had no problems. According to Dian Lue, quoted later, Zhao Jian was known to be working for Cao Cao at this time. Hence his comments probably were made to Cao Cao describing the events in Yizhou where Liu Bei was out to take Yizhou but was trapped inside. Therefore, it is natural for it to be so negative.

Zhen Shi Fu Gan: Liu Bei was a person who was very generous and courteous with everyone, hence many people were willing to fight for him. Zhuge Liang was a very capable person. He was very righteous and resourceful, hence he was most suitable to be his Prime Minister. Guan Yu and Zhang Fei were brave yet righteous, able to withstand ten thousand men, and hence were suitable to be his commanders. These three people together were true talents of the time. And together with Liu Bei’s charisma and vision, how can they not succeed?

Dian Lue: Zhao Jian, style name Sumou, was a native of Jingshao of Changling. He was very studious and read a lot of the Classics. He was very considerate with everyone. He worked as a Shang Shu minister. Dong Zhuo wanted to expand his staff but Zhao Jian disagreed. Dong Zhou was angry and wanted to kill him by asking him to come. Others were worried about Zhao Jian’s safety. Zhao Jian was not affected but said strictly to Dong Zhuo, ‘What you propose is simply not right.’ Even though Dong Zhuo was a violent and impulsive man, he felt thankful for his advice and left. When Wang Yun was killed, no-one went to recover his body except for Zhao Jian. When Zhao Jin went to Jingzhou, Liu Biao treated him as an honoured guest. When Cao Cao occupied Jingzhou, he grabbed Zhao Jian’s hand and said, ‘We have met much too late!’. He rose up the ranks to Wu Guan Jiang Sima. He died at sixty something.

In the twentieth year of Jian’an [AD 215], since the First Sovereign had conquered Yizhou, Sun Quan sent an ambassador to the First Sovereign to ask for Jingzhou. The First Sovereign replied, ‘I need to conquer Liangzhou before I can offer Jingzhou’. Sun Quan was angry and asked Lu Meng to attack Changsha, Guiyang, and Lingling. The First Sovereign led fifty thousand troops to Gong’an and asked Guan Yu to station in Yiyang. During this year, Lord Cao settled Hanzhong while Zhang Lu escaped to Ba Xi. When the First Sovereign heard of this, he asked for peace with Sun Quan and offered to divide up the Jingzhou prefectures: Jiangxia, Changsha, and North Guiyang were given to Wu, while he kept Nanjun, Lingling, West Wuling. The First Sovereign then returned his troops to Jiangzhou and sent Huang Quan to accept Zhang Lu. But Zhang Lu had already surrendered to Lord Cao. Lord Cao asked Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He to station in Hanzhong and attack the Ba (Shu) border. The First Sovereign ordered Zhang Fei to lead troops to Yanchu and fight Zhang He at Wakou pass. Zhang He was defeated and retreated to Nanzheng, capital of Hanzhong. The First Sovereign returned to Chengdu.

In the twenty-third year of Jian’an [AD 218], the First Sovereign took all his subordinates to attack Hanzhong and asked Wu Lan and Lei Tong to conquer Wu Du. However, they both got defeated and killed by Lord Cao’s troops. The First Sovereign stationed at Yangping Pass and confronted Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He.

In the spring of twenth-fourth year of Jian’an [AD 219], the First Sovereign at the south of Yangping Pass passed across the Mian river and camped at Dingjun mountain. Xiahou Yuan came to take the area of Zou Ma valley. The First Sovereign ordered Huang Zhong to attack Xiahou Yuan at the height of the battle drums. (XLIII) Xiahou Yuan as well as the Inspector (Ci Shi) of Yizhou, Zhao Yu (XLIV), were defeated and killed by Huang Zhong. Lord Cao led his troops south to attack the First Sovereign. The First Sovereign said, ‘Lord Cao is now coming but he is no threat to us anymore. I will soon have Han Chuan (XLV) within my grasp’. When Lord Cao arrived, the First Sovereign did not attack but continued to defend his camp. Many troops were deserting awayfrom Lord Cao’s side. By the time of summer, Lord Cao finally retreated and the First Sovereign conquered Hanzhong. The First Sovereign sent Liu Feng, Meng Da, and Li Ping (Li Yan) to attack Shen Dan in Shangyong who later surrendered.

XLIII: On a map, Zouma valley was right below Dingjun mountain, where Liu Bei was camped. Hence according the laws of war, Liu Bei had a distinct advantage of altitude over Xiahou Yuan who camped in lower territory. Therefore, Huang Zhong was attacking from above.
XLIV: Cao Cao’s appointed Inspector (Ci Shi) of Yizhou
XLV: According to Rafe De Crespigny, this referred to the Han river

In Autumn, the numerous officials wanted to install the First Sovereign as Prince of Hanzhong. They submitted a petition to Emperor Xian which said: “General Who Pacifies the North, Marquis of a Chief Village (Dou Ting Hou), Ma Chao; General of the Right, Chief Clerk, General Who Suppresses Armies (Zhen Jun Jiang Jun), Xu Jing; Major of the Regiment (Ying Sima), Pang Xi; Gentleman of the General Staff (Zhong Lang Jun, Zhong Lang Jiang) She Yuan (34) General Advisor of the Army (Jun Shi Jiang Jun), Zhuge Liang; General Who Sweeps Away Bandits (Dang Kou Jiang Jun), Marquis of Hanshou (Hanshou Ting Hou), Guan Yu; General Who Subdues the Caitiffs (Zheng Lu Jiang Jun), Lord of Xin Ting, Zhang Fei; General Who Conquers the West, Huang Zhong; General Who Conquers Far, Lai Gong, General Who Manifests Firmness (Yang Wu Jiang Jun), Fa Zheng, General Who Brings the State to Flourish (Xingye Jiang Jun), Li Yan as well as one hundred and twenty others memoralised:

34: San Fu Chu Lu Zhu: She Yuan, style name, Wenhong, was a native of Fu Feng. In the past, his family name was ‘Xie’. His grandfather, Xie Fu, was a general. The Son of Heaven said his name was not a proper one so changed it to She Fu. Ever since then, his family name was She. His brother was She Jian, style name, Wengu, was a Huangmen Shi Lang. At the beginning of the reign of Han Xian Di, there was lots of famine so he was dismissed from office. Together with his brother, She Yuan, they entered Shu and submitted to Liu Zhang. Liu Zhang made She Jian as Chang Shi. After Liu Bei took over, he made She Jian the Governor of Guang Han prefecture. She Yuan’s Tai Wei, Huangpu Song, was impresssed with She Yuan’s ability so married his daughter to him. The Prime Minister, Zhuge Liang, appointed She Yuan as Zhai Zhou until he died.

Before when Tang Yao became sagely, there were still four dangers in the Court. Zhou Cheng [Wang] was humane and righteous, yet there were four States in revolt. Empress of Gaozu was in power, yet many of the Lu family appropriated power. Xiao Zhao [Di] was young and inexperienced, yet high officials plotted secretly. In all these cases, they abused the authority of the State and caused trouble, putting the country in peril. Without people like the Great Shun, Zhou Gong, Zhu Xu, or Bo Liu, order and peace cannot be restored. We hope that Your Majesty’s virtue rules the ten thousand clans and overcome the difficulties in the State. Initially Dong Zhuo rebelled and there was disorder in the Capital. Following this, Cao Cao continued the disorder and stole the Heavenly power. The Empress and Crown Prince were murdered, causing disturbances in the world and destroying the people’s livelihood. Your Majesty has been through these difficult and worrying times for so long, it is like you are in exile, residing in an empty capital. The spirits and men have lost their Sovereign, Imperial orders restricted, and many desire to steal the holy device. The General of the Left, Sili Jiao Wei, leading Yu[zhou], Jing[zhou], Yi[zhou], Marquis of Yicheng, has received much from the dynasty and feels the need to save it from trouble. His observation of the times led to great worry so he plotted with Che Qi Jiang Jun, Dong Cheng, to assassinate Cao Cao and restore peace to the Empire and the ancient Capital. However, Dong Cheng’s plot was divulged, Cao Cao was spared from death and so he continued his life of evil, oppressing the people within the Seas. Your vassals each fear that the Imperial family may suffer the at worst the serious calamity of Yan Yue or the small revolt of Ding An. [Zhao Gao sent Yan Yue to assassinate the Second Emperor while Wang Mang deposed Ru Zi [Ying] and made him Duke of Ding An]. We cannot sleep every night as we worry so much. Before in the Book of Yu, there was praise for the nine degrees in family (jiu zhu). In two generations of the Zhou, there was the feudal system where there was a common surname. The Book of Odes has praised the righteousness of this and has been conveyed for a long duration of time. In the initial stages of the rise of Han, parts of the land were conferred to Imperial relatives. Eventually, the troubles of the Lu family were removed to provide the foundation for Tai Zhong [Han Wen Di]. Your vassals loyally think much of the State and hope that all troubles are pacified. Ever since Cao Cao was defeated at Hanzhong, many heroes from outside have looked to Liu Bei but Bei has no apparent noble rank nor received the Nine Dignities. He therefore is unable to stabilise the dynasty so it can continue in everlasting glory. However we are outside and our communications are cut. In the past, the Governor of Hexi, Liang Tong and others rose in Hanzhong but were restricted by mountains and rivers. Because they shared the similar rank and authority, they were unable to give orders to each other. Later, it was only when they petitioned Dou Rong to become Grand Marshall that effective orders could be given, leading to their victory over Wei Xiao. Now when the State is in trouble, it is important to control Long and Shu. Externally, Cao Cao is swallowing the world while internally he is killing ministers, thus the imperial court is again in danger. He is being disrespectful of Your Majesty and this makes one feel cold in one’s heart. Your vassals who often follow the traditional rules wish to petition Bei as Prince of Hanzhong and Da Sima, to command the six armies and organise the allies, and destroy the evil rebels. With Hanzhong, Ba, Shu, Guang Han, and Jianwei to be our kingdom, [the Empire] is positioned like that of the Dukes (zhu hou) of the times before Han. To have a suitable system which will benefit the country, then it is worth pursuing. In the future when our goals have been achieved, we will resign from our offices and ask for your forgiveness. If we are to die, we will do so without regret.

An altar was set up in Mianyang where the troops and officials were gathered to install the First Sovereign as Prince of Hanzhong. The First Sovereign also memoralised Emperor Xian:

Your vassal has but ordinary talents, yet was I made a general of high rank and led a great army. Though I received a commission to purge the empire of rebels, I was unable to cleanse it and so renew the tranquility to Your Majesty’s house and restore the dynasty. Too long have I delayed to spread Your Majesty’s sacred governance. The world is evil and not in good case, and as I sorrowfully think it over and over, I am distressed as one in severe pain. Rebellion began with Dong Zhuo, and all kinds of evils have spread abroad; cruelty and ferocity have become rife. Strong in faith in Your Majesty’s sacred virtue and inspiring presence, many banded together to help. The loyal exerted themselves to destroy the rebels, but others of them were smitten of heaven. The fierce and the contumacious have been exterminated, and gradually rebellion has melted away. Only Cao Cao now remains, too long unpunished. He has arrogated to himself the authority of the state. His wicked heart is very rebellious. Once I, with General Dong Cheng, the State Uncle, conspired against him, but the plot was discovered and my fellow conspirator suffered. Thenceforward I was a wanderer and my loyalty availed nothing. It only allowed Cao Cao further license and liberty to do evil, till he dared even to accomplish the death of the Empress and the destruction of her sons. Although we might band together and form associations, yet, with all our energy, we had to recognize that we were too weak for war. Wherefore the years passed and nothing was accomplished. In constant fear of destruction, we even fear more lest our duty to the state be forgotten. Waking and sleeping we sighed, and our nights were times of anxiety. Now my fellows consider that history has repeated itself. They attach the utmost importance to the family and would manifest it with all their might. Hereditary succession of rulers is still a principle. The rulers of Zhou, taking the two preceding dynasties as models, strengthened its clan’s position through all the states, and it reinforced itself with the support of the states of Jing and Zheng. When the great Founder of Han came into his own, he ennobled his whole family with kingships and lordships. Later, the dynasty had to issue a general command throughout the whole of the nine regions in order to destroy the widespread Lu Family and to enhance the Liu Family. Now Cao Cao is an enemy of all rectitude, and his followers are all evil. His treachery is manifest. Since the members of the imperial clan are few and weak, the clan is not honored. Having reflected upon the ancient models and being desirous of temporary alleviation, my fellows have made me assume the title of Prince of Hanzhong with the addition of Regent Marshal. I have deeply considered these things. If one receives kindness from the Throne and accepts the responsibility for a portion of the state and fail, then such a fault would only be made the more serious by holding high rank and thereby increasing the burden of reproach. But my fellows have urged me, and they have convinced me that it would be right; and, should I refuse, the wicked will not be destroyed and the danger to the state will not be removed. The temple of our ancestors is in danger, and the imperial prerogatives are failing. A faithful servant, who in the day of tribulation can undertake a suitable policy whereby to preserve the dynasty, should not refuse his help at any cost. Wherefore I have yielded and accepted the position for the glory of the state. Humbly I think of such a title and its exalted position and the favor vouchsafed me, and I would endeavor to show true gratitude. My anxiety is deep, for the responsibility is heavy. I am as one on the brink of a great gulf. I must surely exert myself to the utmost and encourage my armies and lead all disciples of rectitude, in accordance with the will of Heaven and as occasion serves, to smite rebellion so as to restore the dynasty. (XLVI)

XLVI: This was taken from the translation of the SGYY by C.H. Brewitt-Taylor where the petition is identical to the one found in SGZ (

The First Sovereign returned to Chengdu, and instated Wei Yan as Governor of Hanzhong. (35) Guan Yu attacked Lord Cao’s generals, Cao Ren and Yu Jin. Guan Yu captured Yu Jin at Fancheng. However Sun Quan took this opportunity to attack Guan Yu from behind, executed him, and invaded Jingzhou.

35: Dian Lue: The First Sovereign built a lot of post houses in about four hundred villages from Chengdu to Bai Shui Pass.

In the twenty-fifth year of Jian’an [AD 220], Wei Wen Di (XLVII) enthroned himself under the reign title of Huangchu. There were rumours that Emperor Xian was murdered. The First Sovereign wore ceremonial dress and gave the posthumous title of Xiao Min Huang Di. (XLVIII) Liu Bao, Xiang Ju, Zhang Rui, Huang Quan, Yuyan Chun, Zhao Zhuo, Yang Hong, He Zhong, Dao Jing, Zhang Shuang, Yin Mi, Qiao Zhou all memorialised for the First Sovereign to take the throne of Han. {memorial omitted} Xu Jing, Mi Zhu, Zhuge Liang, Lai Gong, Huang Quan also memorialised, saying that since Cao Pi usurped the throne and there was no Emperor of Han, the First Sovereign should take the throne to satisfy the will of Heaven. {memorial omitted} The First Sovereign submitted to the requests and [ascended the imperial throne at the south of the mountain Wu-dan in Chengdu]. (36)

XLVII: Wei Wen Di or the Scholarly Emperor of Wei was the dynastic title given posthumously to Cao Pi
XLVIII: It is noted by Rafe De Crespigny that all Emperors of the Han dynasty, except for Han Gaozu (Liu Bang) and Hou-Han Guang Wu Di (Liu Xiu), had the word ‘xiao’ or ‘filial’ appended to the front of their title. Hence we hear a lot about Han Jing Di being referred to as Xiao Jing Di. Liu Bei gave the posthumous title of Xiao Min Huang Di to Emperor Xian which meant that we should have referred to Liu Xie as Emperor Min and not Emperor Xian. However, since the legitimate dynasty rested with Wei and when Liu Xie (Emperor Xian) finally died later on, he was posthumously entitled Xiao Xian Huang Di by Cao Rui. Therefore this was accepted over Liu Bei’s earlier entitlement of Xiao Min Huang Di.

36: Shu Ben Ji: There was a man in Wudu who became a woman and had a beautiful complexion. It is said that he was a mountain spirit. The King of Shu married this woman but she was not accustomed to the environment of Shu. She became sick and wanted to return to her home. But the King of Shu really wanted her to stay. Fa, the King, [accompanying her] died at Wudu and buried was in Ge Zhong, Chengdu with a mausoleum ten zhang high of which occupied a few acres. The area was renamed as Wudan.

Your servant Pei Songzhi comments: Wudan was the name of a mountain in the north-west of Chengdu. This was the ’qian’ position (in terms of Fengshui) of the northwest [and thus was most suitable for such an event.] The text of his proclamation read: ‘In the summer of the 26th year of Jian’an, in the fourth month, on the day pingwu, Bei, Emperor, dares to offer dark-coloured malee beasts in sacrifice, and to announce clear to the God of Lofty Heaven and the God of Earth.’

Wei Shu: Liu Bei heard that Cao Cao had died and sent Han Ran to take a letter of condolence as well as gifts. Wei Wen Di was angry that his father’s death was used to repair relations and ordered the Inspector (Ci Shi) of Jingzhou to execute [Han] Ran to sever the diplomatic mission.

Dian Lue: Liu Bei sent the Jun Mou Yuan, Han Ran to take a letter of condolence as well as ceremonial cloth. [Han] Ran feigned sickness and went to Shangyong where he wrote a letter saying that he was certain to die in such a mission as there was already an order [from Cao Pi] to that effect. After receiving this letter, Liu Bei understood the reason and gave up on the mission.

First year of Zhangwu [AD 221] (XLIX), summer, fourth month, the First Sovereign gave a general amnesty and altered the reign title. He appointed Zhuge Liang to be Prime Minister (Cheng Xiang) and Xu Jing to be Minister of Finance (Si Tu), and appointed his myriad officers. He set up the Ancestral Temple and offered sacrifices collectively to Gao Huang Di (Han Gao Zu, Liu Bang) downwards. (L) (37) (LI) In the fifth month, the First Sovereign installed Empress Wu, Liu Shan as Crown Prince, Liu Yong as Prince of Lu, and Liu Li as Prince of Liang. Cheji Jiang Jun, Zhang Fei, was murdered by his own subordinates. At the start of the sixth month, the First Sovereign was angry with Sun Quan executing Guan Yu, so he proposed an Eastern expedition. Seventh month in Autumn, he led troops to attack Wu. Sun Quan sent a letter to the First Sovereign to ask for peace. The First Sovereign was angry and did not accept. The Grand Commander of Wu, Lu Xun (LII), Li Yi, Liu A defended Mo and Zi Gui. The generals, Wu Ban and Feng Ze, defeated Li Yi and occupied Zi Gui. The barbarians of Wuling were asked to help the First Sovereign attack Wu.

XLIX: Zhangwu was the reign style of Liu Bei
L: Copied from Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms by Achilles Fang
37: Your servant Pei Songzhi comments: Even though the First Sovereign claimed he was a descendent of Xiao Jing Di, there were too many years of separation till the end of Han to determine which past Han Emperor was to be the true supreme ancestor to be worshipped in the Ancestral Temple. Even though many talented people were in the service of the First Sovereign, not one of them could fully determine and record the system of ancestry to be used in the temple. Alas this is unfortunate!
LI: It is interesting to note that the novel, Romance of Three Kingdoms, by Luo Guanzhong, does state out Liu Bei’s full ancestry since the times of Prince of Zhongshan. However, Pei Songzhi here claims that they could not trace back that far, hence one would assume that either Luo Guanzhong made up the various names of Liu Bei’s ancestry or that it was maybe reconstructed from official records of Latter Han recorded in the Hou Han shu (Chronicle of Latter Han). However, it is rather doubtful at that time for Pei Songzhi to not have access to these records.
LII: Lu Xun is also known by his other name Lu Yi. Chen Shou tends to use Lu Yi more than the name Lu Xun.

In the second year [AD 222], Spring, the First Sovereign recaptured Zi Gui. Wu Ban and Chen Shi stationed the naval troops at Yiling and the west bank of Jiangdong (Land of East of the Great River). The First Sovereign took his troops and stationed at Xiao Ting in Yi Dao, then to Heng Shan, then to Wuling. The First Sovereign sent Ma Liang to discuss with the barbarians at Wuling. The barbarians therefore rebelled and helped the First Sovereign. The General Who Conquers the North, Huang Quan, took the troops from north bank of the Jiang (The Yangzi River) to confront with the Wu troops at Yiling Dao (Pass). In the sixth month, summer, encampments of several tens of miles starting from Zi Gui and tens of zhang wide filled with troops were made. After about ten days, Lu Xun defeated the First Sovereign at Xiao Ting. The generals Feng Ze and Zhang Nan were killed. The First Sovereign retreated from Xiao Ting to Zi Gui. Regathering his troops, he retreated to Yu Fu by way of the land route. The First Sovereign changed the name of Yu Fu to Yong’an. The Wu generals, Li Yi and Liu A pursued the First Sovereign and stationed at Nan Shan. In the eighth month, autumn, Li Yi and Liu A retreated to Mo. At this time, the Si Tu, Xu Jing died. In the tenth month, the First Sovereign asked the Prime Minister, Zhuge Liang to place troops at the south and north of Chengdu. Sun Quan heard that the First Sovereign was in Baidicheng and was alarmed so he sent an emissary to offer a truce. The First Sovereign agreed and sent the Grand Palace Grandee (Taizhong Da Fu), Zhong Wei, to Sun Quan to discuss this. In the twelth month, the Governor of Hanjia, Huang Yuan, heard that the First Sovereign was sick and became dissatisfied, so he rebelled.

In the third year [AD 223], second month, Spring, Zhuge Liang went to Yong’an. In the third month, Huang Yuan led troops to attack Linqiong county. Zhuge Liang sent Chen Hu to attack Huang Yuan. Huang Yuan was defeated and was caught by his own troops, taken to Chengdu, and then executed. The First Sovereign was very sick and entrusted the kingdom to the Cheng Xiang (LIII), with Li Yan, the Prefect of the Masters of Writing (Shang Shu Ling). In the fourth month, the First Sovereign died at the age of sixty-three in the Palace of Yong’an. (38)

LIII: Prime Minister

38: Zhuge Liang’s Selected Works: The First Sovereign’s final edict to Latter Sovereign (Liu Shan) said, ‘My sickness started as a minor stomach trouble, but later developed into something more serious. When a man reaches fifty, he is considered old. Now I am sixty something, I have nothing to regret. Please do not be sad. She Yuan arrived and said to me that the Cheng Xiang (Zhuge Liang) noticed you have greatly advanced in wisdom. If this is so then why should I worry? Do no evil just because it is a small evil, do not leave undone a good just because it is a small good (LIV). Your father’s virtue is very weak. Please do not imitate me. Study more of the Han Shu (LV) and Li Ji (LVI). When you have time, study the ancient works of Zhu Zi, Lu Tao, and Shang Jun Shu (LVII). These will help you improve your knowledge. I have heard that the Prime Minister has compiled a book about Shen, Han Fei Zi, Guan Zi (Guan Zhong), and Lu Tao but I have not read it yet as it has been lost.’ When the First Sovereign was about to die, he said to Prince of Lu, ‘After I have died, you and your brothers are to treat the Cheng Xiang as if he were your father and co-operate with him’.

LIV: Translation adapted from C.H. Brewitt-Taylor’s translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms
LV: This would refer to the Chronicles of Early Han
LVI: Translates to the Book of Zhou Rites
LVII: These ancients works were compiled during the Spring and Autumn period, especially the ‘Zhu Zi Bai Jia’

Zhuge Liang sent a memorial to Liu Shan. {memorial omitted} (LVIII) In the fifth month, Zhuge Liang and the rest returned to Chengdu from the Palace of Yong’an. The First Sovereign was posthumously given the dynastic title ‘Zhao Lie Huang Di’ and buried in Hui Ling. (39)

LVIII: It should be very similar to the one appearing in the novel.
39: Ge Hong’s Shen Xian Zhuan: There was sage called Li Yiqi, a native of Shu. When the First Sovereign was about to attack Wu, he asked someone to invite Li Yiqi to come. When Li Yiqi arrived, the First Sovereign treated him very generously. The First Sovereign wanted to ask him to divine the future. Li Yiqi did not respond but asked for paper and a brush. On the pieces of paper, he drew many pictures of troops. Then he ripped up every page. Then he drew a man on a page, buried it in the ground, and then he left. The First Sovereign then became deeply worried. He personally led troops to attack Wu but was defeated. The First Sovereign was very sad which led to sickness and later died. The people finally realised the meaning of this divination. When Li Yiqi drew a man on the paper and buried it, it meant that the First Sovereign was going to die.

Chen Shou comments: The First Sovereign was kind and generous and knew how to read and use peoples’ abilities well. He had the charisma of Gaozu (Liu Bang) and the qualities of a hero. He entrusted the affairs of the state to Zhuge Liang with utmost sincerity. This demonstrated great trust between a sovereign and minister which is something rarely seen in present and ancient times. His ambition, power, and strategy were below that of Wei Wu (Cao Cao), hence his territories were smaller. Though he suffered many defeats [at the hands of Cao Cao], he always remained resilient and would not bow and serve him. He resisted [Cao Cao] because he knew that [Cao Cao] was certain to not tolerate him [within his ranks]. Hence what he did was not just for personal benefit but also to avoid being harmed.

Copyright © 2003 Stephen So. All Rights Reserved.
Translated from Chen Shou’s Sanguozhi with Pei Songzhi’s Commentary