Encyclopedia: Zhuge Liang

Zhuge Liang (Kongming); Chuko Liang (K‘ung-ming); 諸葛亮 (孔明)

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You are viewing the profile of Zhuge Liang (諸葛亮), styled Kongming (孔明), born in Yangdu, Langye (Presently Yinan, Shan Dong Province). “Mastermind of Shu’s rise as a great power. Also known as ‘Sleeping Dragon’.” Zhuge Liang was affiliated with and the Shu Kingdom. Return to the Three Kingdoms Encyclopedia to learn more or explore our Encyclopedia Directory to browse by kingdom or category.


Zhuge Liang (Kongming) 諸葛亮 (孔明)

Lived: AD 181–234


Served: Shu

Mastermind of Shu’s rise as a great power. Also known as ‘Sleeping Dragon’.

Officer Details

Wade-Giles: Chuko Liang (K‘ung-ming)
Simplified Chinese: 诸葛亮 (孔明)
Pronunciation: Zhu1ge3 Liang4 (Kong3ming2Pronunciation
Cantonese (Yale): Jyugot Leung (Hung-ming)
Cantonese (Jyutpin): Zyugot Loeng (Hung-ming)
Min-Nan: Cukat Liang (Khong-beng)

Birthplace: Yangdu, Langye
(Presently Yinan, Shan Dong Province)

Other Names: Wo Long, Sleeping Dragon

Name Notes: Also known by his nickname, ‘Sleeping Dragon’ or ‘Wo Long’ (臥龍). His original novel introduction, with Pang Tong, comes under this title.

Rank and Titles

Army Advisor, General of the Gentlemen of the Household, Army Advisor General; Lieutenant Chancellor (AD 221); Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing; Director Colonel of Retainers (AD 222); Marquis of Wuxiang (AD 223); Governor of Yizhou; General of the Right (AD 228, Demotion); Marquis Zhongwu (posthumous)

Family and Relationships

Zhuge Feng (Ancestor); Zhuge Gui (Father); Zhuge Xuan (Uncle); Zhuge Jin, Zhuge Jun (Brothers); Zhuge Dan (Cousin); Huang Yueying (Wife); Zhuge Zhan (Son); Zhuge Qiao from Zhuge Jin (Adopted Son); Zhuge Shang, Zhuge Jing (Grandchildren)

Fact vs. Fiction

Differences Between Fact and Common Fiction

  • Zhuge Liang did not plan the events of the Battle of Chibi or change the winds. He did not ‘borrow arrows’ from Cao Cao, Sun Quan did: one side of his boat became so heavy with crossbow bolts that he turned to avoid capsizing.
  • Zhuge Liang did not have a great rivalry with Zhou Yu or plot his death. He did not attend Zhou Yu’s funeral. Pang Tong, however, did mourn his passing.
  • Was not adviser during the Hanzhong campaign. This responsibility was handled by Fa Zheng.
  • Liu Bei gave Zhuge Liang authorization to depose Liu Shan, not kill him. And this authorization was not given via public announcement. His intentions are not certain.

Literary Appearances

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: 9, 3546, 4857, 6067, 7073, 7682, 84103, 104, 105106, 111, 113, 115117, 119, 120

Sanguozhi: Shu 5

Popular Quotation

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 43
Responding to Zhang Zhao, Zhuge Liang said, “How can the common birds understand the long flight of the cranes?”

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Chapter 99
From the hilltop Kongming watched Zhang He charge and thrust to and fro, even more splendid and valiant than before. Turning to his aides, Zhuge Liang said, “They say men gaped in awe when Zhang Fei fought Zhang He; now seeing Zhang He for myself, I can appreciate his prowess. But he will prove dangerous to Shu, and so we must do away with him.”

Search Results

Why So Much Hate on Zhuge Liang?
Date: 05/12     Replies: 28
Deng Ai vs Zhuge Liang
Date: 01/12     Replies: 74
SGYY—How Did Liu Bei Secure the Service of Zhuge Liang?
Date: 08/11     Replies: 34
Zhuge Liang, A Strategiest or a Mere Illusionist?
Date: 04/11     Replies: 51
Why Zhuge Liang’s Shu Couldnt Succeed in Northern Conquest?
Date: 11/10     Replies: 53
Who is Best Strategist? Sima Yi, Lu Xun, or Zhuge Liang?
Date: 08/10     Replies: 123
Zhuge Liang’s Successor
Date: 07/10     Replies: 62
Jiang Wei Vs. Zhuge Liang
Date: 08/09     Replies: 51
Did Zhuge Liang Want to Die?
Date: 05/08     Replies: 35
Zhuge Liang’s Types of Generals
Date: 04/08     Replies: 57
Zhuge Liang’s Relationship With Guan Yu
Date: 03/08     Replies: 32
Zhuge Liang Books
Date: 02/08     Replies: 28
View ≈48 Additional Results?

Premium External Linkage

First class external must-reads. Enjoy!

  • The Way of the General
    Strategic work attributed to Zhuge Liang with good introduction. Translated by Thomas Cleary.
  • The Wooden Ox Makes a Comeback
    Interesting article about Zhuge Liang’s Wooden Ox (wheelbarrow)—the invention he used to transport supplies through the difficult Bashu terrain.
  • Kongming’s Eight Array Battle Formation
    The “Eight-Unit Formation” was a battle array formed by eight fighting units represented by Heaven, Earth, Wind, Cloud, Dragon, Tiger, Bird and Snake. …
  • Kongming’s Niche
    A sunken part of the sheer cliffs in the Yangtze River looks like a huge niche. It was said that once Zhuge Kongming wrote an inscription on it describing the scenery in Wu Gorge and Wu Mountains.
  • Zhuge Liang’s Northern Campaigns
    A fantastic article written by John Killigrew about Zhuge Liang’s Northern Campaigns and the motivations behind them.


Internet (Consistent)

Zhuge Liang was the most famous Prime Minister of Shu-Han during the Three Kingdoms period. He was orphaned while only 4 years old. Zhuge Liang was raised by his uncle. The scholar Pang Degong gave Zhuge Liang the nickname Wo Long (Sleeping Dragon).

Zhuge Liang was recommended to Liu Bei by Sima Hui. At around the same time, Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang and others fled from Jing. The reason for this retreat was that the warlord Cao Cao was initiating his conquest of the region. Later, Zhuge Liang went as an envoy to meet Sun Quan on behalf of Liu Bei. Meeting Sun Quan at Chaisang, Zhuge Liang warned the sovereign of the Southlands that if Cao Cao was not opposed immediately, he would be impossible to deal with later. Sun Quan decided to oppose Cao Cao in alliance with Liu Bei. The two forces inflicted a devastating blow to Cao Cao’s army at the Battle of Red Cliffs.

Following this victory, Liu Bei took command over several cities in Jing. Liu Bei next vied with Liu Zhang for control of Yi province. Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu and others were left behind to guard Liu Bei’s possessions in Jing. In AD 214, however, Zhuge Liang and Zhang Fei left Jing to support Liu Bei’s invasion of Yi. They won a victory against Liu Zhang’s general Yan Yan, capturing him. Riding on this momentum, Liu Bei besieged Liu Zhang’s capital of Chengdu. Zhuge Liang commanded troops to assist. Liu Zhang at long last capitulated thanks to the diplomatic efforts of Liu Bei’s subordinate Jian Yong.

Liu Bei conquered Hanzhong from Cao Cao. However, Sun Quan betrayed Liu Bei and successfully took Liu Bei’s territories in Jing. Liu Bei warred with Sun Quan and decisively lost at the Battle of Yiling. He then grew ill and died. Before dying, Liu Bei wished for Zhuge Liang to take over matters of the state.

Liu Bei’s death resulted in a breakdown of order within southern Yizhou. Yong Kai, Zhu Bao, Gao Ding and Meng Huo were all leaders that raised arms in revolt against Shu-Han. Zhuge Liang worked tirelessly to restore Shu-Han to order, but did not immediately draft troops to oppose the rebels.

Provisions became plentiful in Shu-Han quickly. An alliance with Sun Quan was once more concluded as well. Feeling more confident after some time, Zhuge Liang turned his attention to the insurgents of Southern Yizhou. After they were pacified, Zhuge Liang employed natives of the region to local posts in order to appease the population. With Shu-Han in better order than before, Zhuge Liang wrote a memorial to the Emperor. This memorial announced his intentions to initiate a Northern Campaign against Wei. The Shu commander Wei Yan proposed a risky strategy of charging head-on to take the Wei city of Chang’an. Zhuge Liang opted for a less reckless strategy.

Zhuge Liang commanded Deng Zhi and Zhao Yun to act as decoys in his first campaign. Meanwhile, the rest of the Shu-Han army marched on Qishan. The commanderies of Tian Shui, Nan An and An Ding all mutinied against Wei and joined Zhuge Liang. An officer named Jiang Wei also defected from Wei to Shu. Wei responded to these developments by dispatching Zhang He to counter attack. At the time, Ma Su was leading Zhuge Liang’s advance. He camped on a mountain, which proved to be a fatal mistake. Zhang He cut off Ma Su’s water supply from below and defeated him at the Battle of Jieting. As a result, Shu-Han troops dispersed. Only the Shu general Wang Ping successfully kept his soldiers in order and managed an orderly withdrawal. Several Shu generals were put to death on account of the first campaign’s failure, including Ma Su.

The first campaign’s finale resulted in the displacement of numerous civilians that had defected from Wei to Shu. Zhuge Liang moved these citizens to Hanzhong. In AD 229, Zhuge Liang attempted to take down the city of Chen Cang. The city staunchly resisted until Zhuge Liang’s supplies were depleted. Although retreating, Zhuge Liang set up an ambush. The Wei general Wang Shuang pursued the Shu forces, thus falling right into Zhuge Liang’s trap, and was killed.

During the spring, Zhuge Liang made a third incursion against Wei. He sent Chen Shi to conquer Wu Du and Yin Ping. The Wei general Guo Huai opposed Chen Shi, but Zhuge Liang reinforced and drove Guo Huai back. Guo Huai escaped to a defensive position. Unable to gain anything further, Zhuge Liang retreated again. This time, Zhuge Liang did not prepare for a fourth invasion. Instead, he set up defenses in anticipation of a Wei counter-strike. Sure enough, Wei did invade in winter. Unfortunately for Wei, heavy rains made advancing difficult. Before Wei gave up, the Shu general Wei Yan advanced into enemy territory and traded with some non-Han barbarians. Guo Huai surrounded the encampments of Wei Yan, but Zhuge Liang once more drove him back. Wei Yan again expressed a desire to press on to take Chang’an. Zhuge Liang was fearful and insisted on returning to Hanzhong instead.

Zhuge Liang invented a device called the wooden oxen, which he used to transport rations. He then began his fourth campaign. During his march, he was confronted by Fei Yao and Guo Huai. He easily defeated both in a battle. The Wei general Sima Yi heard of this reversal. He decided to keep a defensive position. Responding, Zhuge Liang took advantage of his opponent’s inaction by harvesting wheat in Wei territory. Once finished, Zhuge Liang marched south hoping to lure Sima Yi out. Sima Yi did pursue, but was hesitant to outright attack Zhuge Liang. Sima Yi’s own inferiors mocked him saying, “You fear the Shu army as if they were tigers.” Incensed, Sima Yi engaged the Shu-Han army at Lucheng. Zhuge Liang’s forces were overwhelmingly victorious. They successfully captured thousands of suits of armor, swords and crossbows. Sima Yi from then on refused to move out to battle Zhuge Liang.

The Shu officer Li Yan was in charge of bringing supplies to the frontlines. He feared that due to the season’s torrents, transporting grain would be difficult. To save his own skin by avoiding any sort of failure, Li Yan forged a letter allegedly written by the Shu-Han Emperor. This false message entreated Zhuge Liang to return to Cheng Du. Zhuge Liang accepted this order, but once again set up an ambush. The Wei general Zhang He pursued Shu during its retreat. Zhang He and his entire force of cavalry were annihilated by Shu-Han crossbowmen at Mumen. When Zhuge Liang came back to Shu-Han, he realized that he had been duped. He succeeded in proving Li Yan guilty of forgery and deceit.

Frustrated at the setbacks of his various campaigns, Zhuge Liang turned to domestic issues. In the South, a group of barbarians led by Liu Zhou had revolted. Zhuge Liang had Zhang Yi and Ma Zhong defeat them. Otherwise, Zhuge Liang encouraged agriculture and gave the people a few years of rest from warfare. It was at this time that he also engineered a second device called the flying horse. The flying horse was meant to ferry supplies across water.

Finally in AD 234, Zhuge Liang set off on his 5th and final Northern Campaign. He created agricultural colonies for a sustained war effort. He tried to taunt Sima Yi into doing battle. The two armies of Shu and Wei faced each other at Wuzhang Plains, but Zhuge Liang’s health took a turn for the worse. Eventually, Zhuge Liang died. During his lifetime, Zhuge Liang had invented a multi-bolt firing crossbow, a formation designed to neutralize cavalry called the eight-gates formation, and several devices designed to make transportation of supplies more efficient. Upon seeing Zhuge Liang’s encampments, Sima Yi declared that his adversary was a true genius. His death was greatly mourned.

Additional Sources:

Chronicles of the 3k (see TheScholars forum for write-ups courtesy of Liang Shuo/Gabriel, ZhangLiao17 and silver.nick)





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February 17, 2023