Encyclopedia: Liu Bei

Liu Bei (Xuande); Liu Pei (Hsüan-tê); 劉備 (玄德)

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You are viewing the profile of Liu Bei (劉備), styled Xuande (玄德), born in Zhuo county, Zhuo commandery. “First Emperor of Shu and sworn brother of Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.” Liu Bei was affiliated with the Han Dynasty, Gongsun Zan, Tao Qian, the Wei Kingdom, Yuan Shao, Liu Biao and the Shu Kingdom. Return to the Three Kingdoms Encyclopedia to learn more or explore our Encyclopedia Directory to browse by kingdom or category.


Liu Bei (Xuande) 劉備 (玄德)

Lived: AD 161–223


Served: Han, Gongsun Zan, Tao Qian, Wei, Yuan Shao, Liu Biao, Shu

First Emperor of Shu and sworn brother of Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

Officer Details

Wade-Giles: Liu Pei (Hsüan-tê)
Simplified Chinese: 刘备 (玄德)
Pronunciation: Liu2 Bei4 (Xuan2de2Pronunciation
Cantonese (Yale): Lau Bei (Yun-dak)
Cantonese (Jyutpin): Lau Bei (Jyun-dak)
Min-Nan: Lauw Pi (Hian-tek)

Birthplace: Zhuo county, Zhuo commandery

Other Names: Imperial Uncle, Uncle Liu, Princely One, Xianzhu, First Ruler (先主), First Soverign

Name Notes: Liu Bei is commonly referenced by the name, Xianzhu (先主), ‘First Ruler’ or ‘First Soverign’ [of Shu] (蜀先主). Chen Shou, in the Sanguozhi, refers to Liu Bei by this title to indicate the illegitimacy of his dynasty in the eyes of Jin. Sun Quan and his clan are placed on an even lower pedestal. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Princely One’ in the Brewitt-Taylor novel translation.

Rank and Titles

Magistrate of Anxi; Governor of Xia Mi; Gao Tangwei; Magistrate; Bie Bu Sima; Magistrate of Pingyuan; Governor of Pingyuan; Inspector of Yuzhou; General Who Conquers the East; Marquis of Yicheng; Imperial Protector of Yuzhou; General of the Left; Imperial Protector of Jingzhou; Commander-in-Chief; Colonel Director of Retainers; Imperial Protector of Yizhou; Prince of Hanzhong; Emperor

Family and Relationships

Liu Hong (Father); Lady Mi, Lady Sun [Sun Shangxiang], Empress Mu (Wives); Empress Gan (Concubine); Liu Shan, Liu Yong, Liu Li (Sons); Liu Feng (Adopted Son); Guan Yu ƒ, Zhang Fei ƒ (Sworn Brothers); Diluma [Dilu Horse] 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.’
  • Played a minor role during the Yellow Scarves revolt. Did not fight the Scarves at Wan or save Dong Zhuo. Furthermore, he was 23 years old at this point, not 28.
  • Zhang Fei did not whip the imperial inspector. Liu Bei did.
  • Was not offered Xuzhou by Tao Qian directly, but was invited to govern by Chen Deng and Kong Rong. He also never offered Xuzhou to Lü Bu.
  • Was not acknowledged by Emperor Xian as Imperial Uncle.
  • Did not rely on Xu Shu to defend Xinye from Cao Ren and Li Dian. He arranged and carried out the defense himself.
  • Defeated Xiahou Dun at Xin Ye, not Zhuge Liang.
  • Though involved in Chibi, Wu’s role was greater in history.
  • View ≈5 Additional Facts?
  • Although Sun Quan was advised by Zhou Yu and Han Ze to keep Liu Bei hostage during his visit to Wu, no such attempt was made, and Liu Bei left without incident.
  • Huang Zhong was not chief commander of Shu’s Hanzhong campaign. Liu Bei was.
  • Commanded between 40–80,000 troops at Yiling; far fewer than the 700,000 or so mentioned in the novel.
  • Had than three sons and some daughters (which were, unfortunately, captured by Cao Chun at Changban Slope).
  • Historically Liu Bei was a much more talented commander than the novel makes him out to be.

Literary Appearances

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: 1, 2, 57, 1128, 3145, 4749, 5158, 6074, 7684, 85, 8689, 91, 93, 97, 102106, 117120

Sanguozhi: Shu 2, Shu 11, Wei 6

Popular Quotation

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 82
Liu Bei: “However, you may return and tell Sun Quan to wash his neck: the executioner is coming!”

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 85
In his testament to Liu Shan, Liu Bei: “Be vigilant! Be vigilant! If an evil is minor, resist it nonetheless. If a good deed is trifling, perform it all the same. Only wisdom and virtue can truly win men’s devotion.”

Search Results

Lets Discuss Liu Bei Forces and Cao vs Yuan!
Date: 08/17     Replies: 52
Liu Bei’s Top 5 Generals Poll
Date: 04/12     Replies: 34
SGYY—How Did Liu Bei Secure the Service of Zhuge Liang?
Date: 08/11     Replies: 34
Sun Quan, Cao Cao, or Liu Bei?
Date: 05/11     Replies: 35
Monster and His Heir: Liu Bang and Liu Bei
Date: 11/09     Replies: 62
Liu Bei Attacks Wu; Cao Pi Joins
Date: 09/09     Replies: 54
Who Should Liu Bei Have Placed in Charge of Jingzhou?
Date: 03/09     Replies: 55
List of Liu Bei’s "betrayals" and Discussion On.
Date: 02/08     Replies: 27
Did Liu Bei Put His Goals Above Family and Friends?
Date: 01/08     Replies: 38
Why Harbour Liu Bei?
Date: 06/07     Replies: 46
Guan Yu’s Death a Planned Excuse for Liu Bei to Attack Wu?
Date: 02/07     Replies: 30
Discussing Liu Bei’s Military Career
Date: 01/07     Replies: 27
View ≈32 Additional Results?

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Source Undefined

Liu Bei, styled Xuande, was from Zhuo county, Zhuo commandery.

Liu Bei lacked a beard.[SGZ 42]



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September 22, 2023