Encyclopedia: Guan Yu

Guan Yu (Yunchang); Kuan Yü (Yün-ch‘ang); 關羽 (雲長)

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You are viewing the profile of Guan Yu (關羽), styled Yunchang (雲長), born in Xie County, He Dong (Presently Yun Cheng in Shan Xi Province). “Sworn brother of Liu Bei and Zhang Fei. First of the Five Tiger Generals.” Guan Yu was affiliated with the Han Dynasty, the Wei Kingdom and the Shu Kingdom. Return to the Three Kingdoms Encyclopedia to learn more or explore our Encyclopedia Directory to browse by kingdom or category.


Guan Yu (Yunchang) 關羽 (雲長)

Lived: AD 160–219


Served: Han, Wei, Shu

Sworn brother of Liu Bei and Zhang Fei. First of the Five Tiger Generals.

Officer Details

Wade-Giles: Kuan Yü (Yün-ch‘ang)
Simplified Chinese: 关羽 (云长)
Pronunciation: Guan1 Yu3 (Yun2chang2Pronunciation
Min-Nan: Kwan Yu (In-tiang)

Birthplace: Xie County, He Dong
(Presently Yun Cheng in Shan Xi Province)

Other Names: Guan Gong, Lord Guan, Changsheng

Name Notes: Originally styled Changsheng (長生). He is frequently referenced by the honorary title, Guan Gong (關公), or ‘Lord Guan’. Guan Yu appears as Guan Gong or Lord Guan in most novel translations, many historic texts, and modern conversation outside the Three Kingdoms community, and on most merchandise. In religion he is called Saintly Emperor Guan (關聖帝君) or in Buddhism, Sangharama Bodhisattva (伽藍菩薩) (more).

Rank and Titles

Major; Lieutenant General (AD 200); Marquis of Hanshou (AD 200); Governor of Xiangyang; General Who Terrifies Criminals; General of the Front (AD 219); Marquis of Zhuangchou (posthumous); One of the ‘Five Tiger Generals’

Groups and Associations

Five Tiger Generals of Shu ƒ

Family and Relationships

Guan Ping ƒ, Guan Xing, Guan Suo ƒ (Sons); Guan Ping ƒ (Adopted Son); Lady Guan [Yinping] ƒ (Daughter); Guan Tong (Grandchildren); Guan Yi (Great Grandchildren); Liu Bei ƒ, Zhang Fei ƒ (Sworn Brothers); Red Hare [Chituma] ƒ (Horse)

Fact vs. Fiction

Differences Between Fact and Common Fiction

  • The Peach Tree Garden oath did not actually take place but Sanguozhi states that Liu, Guan and Zhang ‘slept in the same bed and were as close as brothers.’
  • Did not kill Hua Xiong. Hua Xiong was killed in battle with Sun Jian by Jian’s troops.
  • Did not give specific terms of surrender to Cao Cao at Xiapi.
  • Never killed Wen Chou, who actually died in battle with Cao Cao after falling for a plot.
  • Guan Yu did not ‘traverse five passes’ and ‘slay five generals’. Cao Cao admired his honor and sense of duty, and allowed him to leave. In majority, the characters that appeared in this novel event were fictional.
  • Did not ‘fight with and release’ Huang Zhong. Han Xuan and Huang Zhong surrendered of their own accord.
  • In the events following Chibi, Guan Yu did not meet with and spare Cao Cao at Huarong.
  • Was not healed by Hua Tuo, though the story did take place at the hands of an unnamed doctor.
  • Did not plan to duel Ma Chao when he was promoted. Simply sent a letter asking how they compared.
  • When poisoned during the Battle of Fan, Guan Yu was not treated by Hua Tuo. Rather, he was treated by an unnamed physician. Also, rather than play chess with Ma Liang, he hosted a banquet while being operated on.
  • In the novel Lü Meng feigned illness to trick Guan Yu. Historically, Lü Meng was truly ill.
  • The flooding of Fan Castle was not Guan Yu’s stratagem. It was a natural occurrence.

Literary Appearances

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: 1, 2, 57, 1122, 2428, 31, 3443, 45, 4953, 55, 56, 60, 63, 6567, 70, 7376, 77, 7883, 85, 94, 97, 110, 120

Sanguozhi: Shu 6

Zizhi tongjian: 60, 63, 65-68

Popular Quotation

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 25
Speaking to Cao Cao about Yuan Shao’s army, Guan Yu said, “I regard them as so many clay fowls and mud dogs.”

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 73
Speaking to Zhuge Jin of Sun Quan, Guan Yu said, “How can my tiger-lass marry a dog’s whelp of a son? Were it not for your brother, I would take your head. Say no more!”

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 77
Having possessed Lü Meng, to Sun Quan, Guan Yu said, “O green-eyed boy! O purple-bearded rat! Do you know me?”

Search Results

Did Guan Yu Ever Do Anything Noteworthy?
Date: 12/14     Replies: 28
Guan Yu Versus Yan Liang in Bricks!
Date: 09/13     Replies: 20
If Guan Yu Was Made a God, Who else Could Be One?
Date: 11/11     Replies: 103
Does Guan Yu Deserve the Amount of Fame That He is Given?
Date: 05/11     Replies: 113
Did Guan Yu Let The Power Go To His Head?
Date: 10/09     Replies: 40
Guan Yus Arrogance
Date: 08/09     Replies: 56
Zhang Fei >>>>>> Guan Yu
Date: 08/08     Replies: 106
The Unexpected Side Effect of Konming’s Letter to Yunchang
Date: 05/08     Replies: 61
Guan Yu and Zhang Fei!!!
Date: 04/08     Replies: 206
The Slaugther of Guan Yu’s Family
Date: 03/08     Replies: 40
Zhuge Liang’s Relationship With Guan Yu
Date: 03/08     Replies: 32
Guan Yu..your Opinion on Him
Date: 12/07     Replies: 561
View ≈35 Additional Results?


Guan Yu New Bio
Date: 05/08     Replies: 21


Internet (Trusted)

Guan Yu was an early friend of Liu Bei’s. He and Zhang Fei joined with Liu Bei near the beginning of Liu Bei’s career and served him their entire lives. Although brave, Guan Yu was arrogant towards his peers. He was nevertheless depended on extensively by Liu Bei. Appearance-wise, Guan Yu was known for his “beautiful beard.”

When Cao Cao and Liu Bei fought over Xu province, Guan Yu was captured. Cao Cao treated Guan Yu well and admired him. Out of honor, Guan Yu decided to repay Cao Cao back for his kindness. After Yuan Shao and Cao Cao declared war against one another, Yuan Shao sent Yan Liang to attack the governor Liu Yan. Guan Yu was among the generals that Cao Cao dispatched in defense. In battle, Guan Yu proved himself by decapitating Yan Liang, which resulted in Yuan Shao’s troops being routed. Feeling that he repaid Cao Cao’s generosity with this deed, Guan Yu took his leave and returned to the service of Liu Bei.

From then on, Guan Yu stuck with Liu Bei through thick and thin. Following the Battle of Chi Bi (Red Cliffs), Guan Yu guarded Jing province for Liu Bei. The province was divided between Liu Bei and Sun Quan.

In AD 219, Liu Bei gave out various ranks to his officers. In the same year, Guan Yu commanded Mi Fang and Fu Shi Ren to guard the Jing territories Jiangling and Gong’an respectively. Meanwhile, Guan Yu marched to attack the Wei officer Cao Ren in the North. At the time, heavy rains caused floods and Guan Yu’s men occupied boats. The Wei armies opposing Guan Yu were led by Yu Jin, Pang De and Cao Ren. Yu Jin’s troops were beleaguered by the rains and harassed by Guan Yu’s soldiers. At long last, Yu Jin gave up and surrendered. Guan Yu then fought with Pang De. Although Pang De mounted an impressive defense, the water continued to rise and eventually his men all gave in. Guan Yu had Pang De executed after the latter refused to serve him.

Guan Yu continued the siege against Cao Ren for many days. The Grand Administrator of Nanxiang, Fu Fang, surrendered to Guan Yu along with several others. The troops under Cao Ren began to grow demoralized, but Cao Ren urged continued resistance. At this time, Guan Yu started running low on supplies. Worried, he had his troops steal grain from Sun Quan. Relations between Sun Quan and Liu Bei were already tense, and this proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Cao Cao sent Xu Huang to help stave off Guan Yu. Xu Huang was repeatedly successful and held back Guan Yu’s men on many occasions. Guan Yu retreated. While he had been away, Sun Quan’s officer Lü Meng had enticed Fu Shi Ren and Mi Fang to defect to Wu. The result was that Guan Yu’s army was left very vulnerable. Sun Quan’s men then attacked Guan Yu and drove him to the fortress of Mai. Shortly after, a man named Ma Zhong caught Guan Yu and his son. Both were swiftly executed. Guan Yu’s martial skill in later times became highly admired. He was deified as the God of War.



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February 17, 2023