Liu Bei

Liu Bei

Three Kingdoms infobox
Name=Liu Bei

Title=Founding emperor
Kingdom=Shu Han
Birth_place=Zhuozhou, Hebei, China
Died=June 21 223
Death_place=Baidicheng, Chongqing, China
Successor=Liu Shan
Pinyin=Liú Bèi
WG=Liu Pei
Zi=Xuándé (玄德)
Post=Zhāoliè (昭烈)
literary meaning: Shining Accomplishment
Era=Zhāngwǔ (章武; 221–223)

*Yùzhōu (豫州)Yu Province is the province Tao Qian formally offered Liu Bei in 194. This became Liu Bei's formal title before he declared himself King of Hanzhong, even though Liu Bei himself was never able to exercise actual gubernatorial authority over it. See "Zizhi Tongjian", vol. 61.]

Liu Bei (161–June 21 223), styled Xuándé (玄徳), was a general, warlord, and later the founding emperor of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms era of China. Although having a later start than his rivals, also lacking both the material resources and social status they commanded, Liu Bei overcame his many defeats to carve out his own realm, that at its peak spanned modern day Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan, part of Hubei, and part of Gansu.

Culturally, due to the tremendously popular novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" by Luo Guanzhong, Liu Bei is widely known as the ideal benevolent, humane ruler who cared for his people and picked good advisors. His character was to advocate the Confucian set of moral values, such as loyalty and compassion.


Early life

Born in Zhuo Commandery (涿, present day Zhuozhou, Hebei), Liu Bei was a descendant of Liu Sheng, a son of Emperor Jing. His grandfather Liu Xiong (劉雄) and father Liu Hong (劉弘) were both employed as local clerks.

Liu Bei grew up poor, having lost his father when he was still a child. To support themselves, he and his mother sold shoes and straw-woven mats. At age fourteen, Liu Bei, sponsored by a more well-off relative who saw his potentials, went to study under Lu Zhi (a prominent scholar and, at the time, former Administrator of Jiujiang). There he met and befriended Gongsun Zan.

The adolescent Liu Bei was said to be unenthusiastic in studying but rather fond of hunting, music, and nice clothings. Few of words, calm in demeanor, and kind to his friends, Liu Bei was well-liked by his contemporaries. He was said to have long arms and large earlobes.

Yellow Turban Rebellion

In 184, at the outbreak of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, Liu Bei called to raise a volunteer army. For that, he got financial contributions from two wealthy horse merchants and he gained a group of loyal followers, most famous amongst whom were Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.

Liu Bei led his army to join with the provincial army. Together they scored several victories against the rebels. As reward, he was appointed Prefect of Anxi (安喜令), Zhongshan commandery (中山)—a position he soon left by refusing to bend to a corrupted inspector.

He then traveled south with his followers to join another volunteer army to suppress the Yellow Turbans, who flared up again in Xu Province (徐州, northern Jiangsu). For that achievement, he was appointed Prefect and Captain of Gaotang (Gaotang ling 高唐令, Gaotang wei 高唐尉).

ucceeding Tao Qian

In 192, after the coalition against Dong Zhuo broke up, the country sank into war and chaos. Overran by rebels, Liu Bei moved north to seek safety with Gongsun Zan, who at the time was fighting with Yuan Shao for control of Ji Province (Hebei) and Qing Province (Shandong). Gongsun Zan sent him to help Tian Kai (to fight Yuan Shao) in Shandong. For this, he was later made Prefect of Pingyuan County (平原), then Chancellor of Pingyuan, located on the border of Yuan Shao.

In 194, Cao Cao launched a campaign against Tao Qian in Xu Province. At the time, there were two opposing alliances—Yuan Shu and Gongsun Zan on one side, Yuan Shao and Cao Cao the other. Because Tao Qian was being hard pressed, he appealed to Tian Kai for help. Tian Kai and Liu Bei moved to save him.

However, Zhang Miao rebelled and called in Lü Bu to take over Cao Cao's base (Yan Province—兗州, present day western Shandong). Cao Cao had to withdraw. Tao Qian asked Liu Bei to station in nearby Xiaopei (小沛, present day Pei County, Jiangsu) and gave him 4000 more troops, in addition to 1000 or so troops and some Wuhuan cavalry already under his command.

Later that year, Tao Qian died. On his deathbed, he had resolved to have Liu Bei taking over his domain and entrusted Mi Zhu to carry out the transfer of power. Hesitant initially, Liu Bei refused but eventually accepted on advices from Kong Rong and Chen Deng.

Conflicts with Lü Bu

In 195, Lü Bu was eventually defeated by Cao Cao and sought refuge under Liu Bei. In the next, Yuan Shu invaded Xu Province. Liu Bei led his army to Xuyi and Huaiyin (淮陰, in Guangling, south of Xu Province) to counter. They faced each other for a month without any decisive result.

Zhang Fei, left by Liu Bei to hold Xiapi (capital of Xu Province at the time), quarreled and killed Cao Bao (曹豹), Chancellor of Xiapi from the time of Tao Qian, causing unrest in the city. Lü Bu took this opportunity and made a surprise attack to capture Xiapi, with it the families of Liu Bei and his officers.

Liu Bei returned on receiving the news, but his army had disintegrated by the time he reached Xiapi. Gathering whatever he could, he then moved to Guangling but was defeated by Yuan Shu. Liu Bei then retreated to Haixi (海西), Donghai Commandery (東海). Faced with enemies on both sides and desperate little supplies (Mi Zhu had to provide the army out of his personal wealth), Liu Bei requested a truce with Lü Bu, who accepted and returned Liu Bei's family as an act of good faith, because he was becoming apprehensive of Yuan Shu. Lü Bu, fearing isolation, obstructed further attempt by Yuan Shu to eliminate Liu Bei.Liu Bei moved his camp to Xiaopei. There he rebuilt his strength, gathering over ten thousand men. Lü Bu became concerned and attacked Xiaopei. Liu Bei fled to Xuchang, where Cao Cao received him well, gave him some troops, provisions, and official appointment of Governor of Yu Province (豫州牧, Yuzhou mu), stationing in Pei to keep an eye on Lü Bu.

In 198, Lü Bu renewed his alliance with Yuan Shu to stem Cao Cao's growing influence and sent Gao Shun and Zhang Liao to attack Liu Bei. Cao Cao sent Xiahou Dun to support Liu Bei but he was defeated by Gao Shun. Liu Bei had to flee to Cao Cao again. Cao Cao himself led an army against Lü Bu, and eventually captured and executed the latter at Xiapi.

Role in the Cao-Yuan conflict

By 199, Cao Cao had Emperor Xian in his control and was issuing orders under pretense of imperial decrees. Liu Bei joined a conspiracy headed by Dong Cheng, a cousin of the emperor, and some other men to remove Cao Cao. Moreover, he was anxious to leave Cao Cao's stronghold Xuchang. Hence, on hearing that Yuan Shu had surrendered to and was on his way, via Xiapi, to join Yuan Shao in the north, Liu Bei asked to lead a force to intercept. Before his advisers were able to change his mind, Cao Cao consented, commissioned Liu Bei and Zhu Ling an army to move south. Having his path blocked, Yuan Shu turned back to Shouchun and died there.

Zhu Ling returned to Xuchang, but Liu Bei stayed behind with the army. He took the opportunity to kill Che Zhou (車冑), Cao Cao's appointed Governor of Xu Province, and took over the region once again. He left Guan Yu to guard Xiapi while he himself garrisoned Xiaopei.

Yuan Shao, having defeated Gongsun Zan, started moving against Cao Cao, set up camps on the north bank of the Yellow River. Liu Bei sent Sun Qian to Yuan Shao to request an alliance.

In 200, Dong Cheng's plot was discovered. All conspirators and their families were summarily executed.

Having to confront Yuan Shao at Guandu, Cao Cao sent his subordinates Liu Dai and Wang Zhong against Liu Bei. Liu Bei defeated them. Predicting Yuan Shao would be hesitant to attack Xuchang, Cao Cao turned south, overran Liu Bei's position. Not knowing if Liu Bei was dead or alive, Guan Yu submitted to Cao Cao.

Liu Bei fled north to Yuan Shao. There Yuan Shao and Yuan Tan treated him with honor. Liu Bei participated in the battles of Boma, in which Yuan Shao successively lost two of his best generals Yan Liang and Wen Chou, the former slain by Guan Yu.

Liu Pi in Runan rebelled against Cao Cao. Yuan Shao sent Liu Bei and some troops south to help them. Liu Bei and Liu Pi attacked Xuchang but were defeated by Cao Ren. Around this time, Guan Yu left Cao Cao and returned to Liu Bei. The defeated Liu Bei returned to the north and urged Yuan Shao to ally with Liu Biao, governor of Jing Province (荆州, present day Hubei and Hunan). Yuan Shao sent him south to Runan again to aid the bandit Gong Du. There Liu Bei defeated and killed Cao Cao's general Cai Yang.

Taking refuge with Liu Biao

After defeating Yuan Shao at the Battle of Guandu, Cao Cao led his army to attack Runan in 201. Liu Bei fled to Jing Province to seek refuge with Liu Biao.

Liu Biao welcomed Liu Bei personally, treating him as an honored guest. He also gave Liu Bei some troops and asked him to station in Xinye.

Liu Bei stayed in Jing Province several years. One time he was in attendance upon Liu Biao and he got up to go to the lavatory. As he came back, he was weeping. Surprised, Liu Biao asked what was the matter. Liu Bei answered "In earlier times, I never left the saddle. My thighs were thin. Now I do not ride anymore, they are fat and flabby. The days and months pass like a stream, and old age will come, but I have achieved nothing. That's why I am sad."

In 202, Cao Cao sent Yu Jin and Xiahou Dun to attack Liu Bei. Liu Bei ambushed and defeated them at Bowang.

In 207, Cao Cao planned a campaign to conquer the Wuhuan in the north, but was apprehensive that Liu Biao might attack his base. Guo Jia assured him that Liu Biao wouldn't move, because "he knows his ability is no match for Liu Bei. If he gives Liu Bei an important post, he must be concerned that Liu Bei will become too powerful. But if he gives him a lesser position, Liu Bei would be reluctant to serve him." Cao Cao agreed. Indeed when Liu Bei advised Liu Biao to attack Xuchang while Cao Cao was away, Liu Biao would not agree—only to express regret when the opportunity was gone.

Away from the battlefields in the east and under the capable rule of Liu Biao, Jing Province was prosperous and a popular destination for literati fleeing the destruction of war. Liu Bei inquired Sima Hui, a revered recluse, about scholars. Sima Hui named Zhuge Liang and Pang Tong as exceptional men that comprehended the important affairs of the age. Xu Shu also urged Liu Bei to call on Zhuge Liang.

So Liu Bei went to see Zhuge Liang. He had to make three trips before he was able to see him. Zhuge Liang showed Liu Bei the Longzhong plan, a long-term strategy that outlined how Liu Bei could compete with Cao Cao.

In 208, Liu Biao died. His younger son Liu Cong succeeded him and instantly submitted to Cao Cao, without informing Liu Bei. By the time Liu Bei heard something, Cao Cao had reached Wancheng (modern Nanyang City). Abandoning his camp at Fancheng, Liu Bei led his troops away. Many of Liu Cong's attendants and the people of Jing Province turned to Liu Bei. By the time he reached Dangyang (当阳), his followers numbered more than one hundred thousands, moving only 10 li a day. He however sent Guan Yu ahead to wait for him in Jiangling, where the arsenal was, with Jing Province's fleet.

Afraid that Liu Bei might reach Jiangling before him, Cao Cao led his cavalry on a chase. In a day and a night, they caught up with Liu Bei and captured all his people, army, and baggage at the Battle of Changban. Leaving his family behind, Liu Bei fled with only scores of followers. With Guan Yu's fleet, they crossed the Mian River to Jiangxia (江夏) then the Yangzi to Xiakou (夏口) with Liu Qi, Liu Biao's eldest son, and his men.

The Battle of Red Cliffs

When Liu Bei was still at Changban, Sun Quan's envoy Lu Su hinted to him that he should ally with Sun Quan against Cao Cao. Zhuge Liang, as Liu Bei's envoy, together with Lu Su went to meet Sun Quan at Chaisang (柴桑) to seal the alliance.

Liu Bei and Sun Quan formed their first coalition against the southward expansion of Cao Cao. The two sides clashed at the Red Cliffs (northwest of present day Puqi County, Hubei). Cao Cao boasted 830,000 men (historians believe the realistic number was around 220,000), while the alliance at best had 50,000 troops.

However, Cao Cao's men, mostly from the north, were ill-suited to the southern climate and naval warfare, and thus entered the battle with a clear disadvantage. Furthermore, a plague that broke out undermined the strength of Cao Cao's army. The fire tactic used by Huang Gai and Zhou Yu also worked effectively against Cao Cao's vessels, which were chained together and thus allowed the fire to quickly spread. A majority of Cao Cao's troops were either burned to death or drowned in the river. Those who tried to retreat to the near bank were ambushed and annihilated by enemy skirmishers. Cao Cao himself barely escaped the encounter.

Cao Cao returned to the north, leaving Cao Ren and Xu Huang to hold Jiangling, Yue Jin to hold Xiangyang (modern day Xiangfan).

Master of Jing Province

While Zhou Yu, followed up his resounding victory, was fighting Cao Ren for Jiangling on the north bank, Liu Bei, after recommending Liu Qi to be the new Inspector of Jing Province (荊州刺史, Jingzhou Shushi), mopped up the four commanderies south of the YangziChangsha, Lingling (零陵, present day Yongzhou, Hunan), Guiyang (桂陽), and Wuling (武陵). Liu Bei set his base at Gong'an (公安) and began building up strength. When Liu Qi died, Liu Bei succeeded him as Governor of Jing Province. Sun Quan gave his younger sister as wife to Liu Bei to bolster the alliance.

Officials and men who previously served Liu Biao now turned to Liu Bei. Under the pressure of Liu Bei's growing influence on the south Jing Province, Sun Quan's position on the north Jing Province became untenable especially after the death of Zhou Yu in 210. Lu Su, successor to Zhou Yu's command post, moved his headquarter further east from Jiangling to Lukou (陸口), yielding western Jing province and access to northern Jing Province to Liu Bei. Diplomatically, they were "lending" Liu Bei Jing Province—a debt that Liu Bei however never recognized.

Conquering Yi Province

In 211, Liu Zhang, governor of Yi Province (益州, present day Sichuan and Chongqing), heard that Cao Cao planned to attack Zhang Lu in Hanzhong. As Hanzhong provided an excellent platform for further incursion into Yi Province, and persuaded by Zhang Song—a malcontent ambitious advisor looking for better master, Liu Zhang sent Fa Zheng to conclude an alliance with Liu Bei, inviting the latter into Yi Province to attack Hanzhong before Cao Cao did.

Leaving Zhuge Liang and Guan Yu behind to hold Jing Province, Liu Bei led an expedition force into Sichuan. Liu Zhang added to Liu Bei's troops, also supplied him generously with provisions and equipments. Before heading to Jiameng Pass (葭萌, southwest of present day Guangyuan, Sichuan) on the northern border with Zhang Lu, Liu Bei acted with generosity and grace to win over the locals.

In 212, Pang Tong outlined three plans and urged Liu Bei to choose—either advance rapidly to Chengdu with picked men before Liu Zhang could react, or take over Liu Zhang's armies in the north then proceed to Chengdu, or return to Baidicheng to link up with the base before attack. Liu Bei picked the middle plan.

Under pretext that Sun Quan was under attacks from Cao Cao and needed help, Liu Bei asked Liu Zhang for 10,000 soldiers with money and provision to assist the defense of Jing Province. Liu Zhang allowed him only 4,000 troops, and half of the other things he asked for.

Discovered that Zhang Song had been communicating in secret with Liu Bei, Zhang Su (張肅), Song's older brother, reported the matter to Liu Zhang, who promptly had Song killed. Liu Zhang also ordered all the passes not to allow any further message to reach Liu Bei.

Angry, Liu Bei summoned Yang Huai and Gao Pei (高沛), Liu Zhang's commanders of Boshui Pass, charged them with discourtesy and executed them, and took the pass and their troops as his own. He then moved to attack Fucheng (涪城).

In Spring 213, Liu Zhang sent Liu Gui (劉璝), Ling Bao (冷苞), Zhang Ren, Deng Xian (鄧賢), Wu Yi (吳懿), and others to repel Liu Bei. They were beaten, and retreated to Mianzhu (綿竹). Wu Yi went out to surrender. Liu Zhang sent Li Yan and Fei Guan (費觀) to take over the command of Mianzhu. They too surrendered. The remnant force under command of Liu Zhang's son Liu Xun retreated to defend Luo (雒, north west of Chengdu). Pang Tong was killed by a stray arrow.

In 214 Luo fell, Liu Bei proceeded to siege Chengdu, where he was joined by Zhuge Liang, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Yun, who made incursion into Yi Province via southern routes.

Liu Zhang continued to hold out. Ma Chao, warlord from Liang Province (涼州, modern Gansu) that recently submitted to Liu Bei, appeared and set his camp north of Chengdu. The people in the city were surprised and shaken. Liu Bei sent in Jian Yong to talk to Liu Zhang. Liu Zhang surrendered.

Liu Bei allowed Liu Zhang to keep his treasure, conferred on him the seal and tassel of General Who Inspires Awe (奮威將軍, "Fenwei Jiangjun") and moved him to Gong'an.

Liu Bei now assumed the role of Governor of Yi Province (益州牧, "Yizhou Mu") and set up new government. Zhuge Liang was made General Master of the Army (軍師, "Junshi") in charge of the Office of the General of the Left (Liu Bei's official office, which meant Zhuge Liang was in charge of all matters), Dong He (董和) was made General of the Gentlemen of the Household Manager of the Army (掌軍中郎將, "Zhangjun Zhonglangjiang"), acting deputy to Zhuge Liang. Old and new followers were granted ranks and given responsibilities.

First Wu-Shu conflict

In 215, Sun Quan sent Zhuge Jin as emissary to demand Jing Province back, but Liu Bei refused after taking Liang Province. Sun Quan sent Lü Meng and 20,000 men to attack southern Jing Province and capture Changsha and Guiyang. Lu Su advanced to Yiyang (益陽) with 10,000 men (to block Guan Yu), and took over the command at Lukou (陸口) himself. Liu Bei himself went to Gong'an and sent Guan Yu to retake the south of Jing Province.

Because Cao Cao was moving against Hanzhong, Liu Bei requested a truce. Liu Bei asked Sun Quan to attack Hefei in return for Jiangxia, Changsha, and Guiyang. Sun Quan accepted, setting the new border on Xiang River.

Hanzhong Campaign

In the fall of 215, Cao Cao had defeated Zhang Lu and took over Hanzhong. Sima Yi advised him to take the opportunity to attack Yi Province while it was still newly settled and Liu Bei was still away in Jing Province. Cao Cao hesitated, then left, leaving Xiahou Yuan, Zhang He, Xu Huang to defend Hanzhong.

Cao Cao entrusted Zhang He to take charge of operations in the region of Ba (巴). Zhang He led his army to Dangqu (宕渠). Liu Bei appointed Zhang Fei Administrator of Baxi (巴西太守, "Baxi Taishou") and sent him to face Zhang He. They faced each other for two months. Zhang Fei made a surprise attack and complete defeated him. Zhang He had to retreat to Nanzheng (南鄭). The Ba region hence belonged to Liu Bei.

In 217, Fa Zheng advised Liu Bei to attack Hanzhong, because "Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He are no match for our commanders." Liu Bei sent Zhang Fei, Ma Chao, Wu Lan (吳蘭) and others to Xiabian (下辨), Wudu (武都) (to block reinforcement from Chang'an, while he and the rest of the army camped at Yangping Pass (陽平關). Cao Cao sent Cao Hong to face them.

In Spring 218, Cao Hong, assisted by Cao Xiu, defeated and killed Wu Lan. Zhang Fei and Ma Chao retreated.

Liu Bei was facing Xiahou Yuan, Zhang He, and Xu Huang at Yangping Pass. He sent Chen Shi and others to barricade Mamingge (馬鳴閣), but Chen Shi was attacked and defeated by Xu Huang. Liu Bei then pressed against Zhang He at Guangshi (廣石) also without success. He sent back instructions to mobilize all the force of Yi Province.

In the fall, Cao Cao decided to come in person and take command himself. He stopped at Chang'an to collect troops.

Spring 219, Liu Bei and Xiahou Yuan had faced each other for over a year. He moved across to the south of Mian river (沔水) and made camp at Dingjun Mountain. Xiahou Yuan made camp at the valley below below to face him. Liu Bei sent 10,000 troops to attack Zhang He at Guangshi by night, and he set fire to the Xiahou Yuan's defense perimeter. Xiahou Yuan had to split his force to fight the fire and reinforce Zhang He. Fa Zheng saw the opportunity, and signaled Liu Bei for an attack. Liu Bei sent Huang Zhong to charge Xiahou Yuan's weakened force from above and completely annihilated them. Xiahou Yuan and Zhao Yong (趙顒), Cao Cao's appointed Inspector of Yi Province, were killed.

Zhang He, elected as replacement commander by Du Xi (杜襲), and Guo Huai, withdrew to Hanzhong, defending the northern bank of Han River. Cao Cao arrived from Chang'an via Yegu Pass (斜谷) with his army. Liu Bei observed "Even if Cao Cao comes, he can do nothing. We will hold the Han River." He led his troops to hold strategic points.

Cao Cao and Liu Bei faced each other across the Han River for several months. As his army became demoralized, the disheartened Cao Cao withdrew to Chang'an. Hanzhong hence belonged to Liu Bei.

Liu Bei then sent Meng Da to conquer Fangling (房陵), then Liu Feng, combined with Meng Da, to conquer Shangyong (上庸). His campaigning in Hanzhong was thus completed.

Founding of Shu Han

Responding to Cao Cao's ascension to King of Wei (魏王 "Wei Wang"), in the Fall of 219, Liu Bei declared himself King of Hanzhong (漢中王 "Hanzhong Wang") and set his headquarters at Chengdu. He appointed Liu Shan Heir-apparent. Wei Yan was made General Who Maintains Distant Lands in Peace (鎮遠將軍 , "Zhenyuan Jiangjun"), and Administrator of Hanzhong (漢中太守 "Hanzhong Taishou"), Xu Jing Grand Tutor (太傅 "Taifu"), Fa Zheng Prefect of the Masters of Writing (尚書令 "Shangshu Ling"), Guan Yu General of the Van (前將軍 "Qian Jiangjun"), Zhang Fei General of the Right (右將軍 "You Jiangjun"), Ma Chao General of the Left (左將軍 "Zuo Jiangjun"), and Huang Zhong General of the Rear (後將軍 "Hou Jiangjun"). All of Liu Bei's officers were granted promotion.

In the same year, forces of Sun Quan led by Lü Meng captured Guan Yu, who was promptly executed, and conquered Jing Province. A year later, Cao Cao died and his successor Cao Pi forced Emperor Xian to abdicate. Cao Pi then declared himself emperor of Cao Wei. Upon hearing the rumor that Emperor Xian had been usurped, Liu Bei also declared himself emperor of Shu Han so as to carry on the lineage of the Han Dynasty.

In 221, Liu Bei made his son Liu Shan the heir apparent.

Defeat and death

In autumn, he personally led a force against Sun Quan to avenge Guan Yu and retake Jing province. After initial victories, Lu Xun, commander-in-chief of the Eastern Wu forces, ordered a retreat to Yiling (present day Yichang, Hubei). There he held his position and refused to engage with the invaders.

By summer, Liu Bei's troops were scorched and low in morale. Liu Bei was forced to camp within the forest for shade. Lu Xun then ordered a counterattack. Using fire, he easily set Liu Bei's entire campground ablaze and forced the enemy to retreat west to Ma'an Hill (马鞍山, northwest of Yiling, not to be confused with Ma'anshan, Anhui). Lu Xun's force then besieged the hill. With most of his troops routed, Liu Bei escaped under cover of the night to Baidicheng. The two parties made peace again in the winter of the same year.

Liu Bei died in Baidicheng in the spring of 223. His body was brought back to Chengdu and entombed at Huiling (惠陵, southern suburb of present day Chengdu) four months later. He was given the posthumous name of Zhaolie (昭烈), literally meaning apparent uprightness. Liu Shan, who succeeded him, eventually surrendered to Cao Wei in 263.

Liu Bei in "Romance of the Three Kingdoms"

"Romance of the Three Kingdoms" is a fourteenth century historical novel based on the events that occurred before and during the Three Kingdoms era. Written by Luo Guanzhong more than a millennium after the said period, the novel incorporated many popular folklore and opera scripts into the character of Liu Bei, portraying him as a compassionate and righteous leader, an embodiment of natural charisma (called "de" in Chinese)Roberts 1991, pg. 942] who built his kingdom on the basis of Confucian values. This is in line with the historical background of the times during which the novel was written. Furthermore, the novel emphasized that Liu Bei was related, however distantly, to the ruling family of the Han Dynasty, thus favoring another argument for the legitimacy of Liu's reign. Famous and notable stories involving Liu Bei from the novel include:

worn brotherhood in the garden of peach blossoms

One of the most well-known stories from the novel, found in the first chapter, speaks of Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei who, having met by chance in the county of Zhuo in 188, found that all three shared the same desire to serve the country in the tumultuous times. They swore to be brothers the next day in Zhang Fei's backyard, which was a garden full of peach blossoms. Liu Bei was ranked the eldest, Guan Yu the second, and Zhang Fei the youngest. Having done this, they recruited more than 300 local men, acquired horses, forged weapons and joined the resistance against the Yellow Turban rebels.

There is no record of the three ever swearing brotherhood. The concept was passed down in popular folklore. The "Records of Three Kingdoms" says the three often shared a bed, and treated one another as brothers. According to a later biography of Guan Yu, he was a year older than Liu Bei.

General worship of Liu Bei

Liu Bei is also worshipped as the patron of shoemakers in Chengdu, which is also known as the "City of Shoes" as more than eighty million pairs of shoes totaling five billion yuan in sales are manufactured there annually. It is said that in 1845, during the reign of the Daoguang Emperor, the shoemakers guild in Chengdu, who called themselves disciples of Liu Bei, sponsored the construction of the Sanyi Temple (三義廟) in Liu Bei's honor. After being relocated many times, the temple can be found in Wuhou District today. Since Mainland China loosened its control on religious practices in recent years, the worship of Liú Bèi among shoemakers has again gained popularity in Chengdu. In 2005, a large procession was carried out in front of the Sanyi Temple to commemorate Liu Bei—the first such event since the founding of the People's Republic of China.cite web|title=武侯祠祭“鞋神”劉備|work=四川在線|url=|accessmonthday=August 26 |accessyear=2005; cite web|title=宣傳成都民俗文化 武侯祠祭祀"鞋神"刘备|work=文化産業網|url=|accessmonthday=August 26 |accessyear=2005 (Both sources in Simplified Chinese)]

A commentary carried by the Yangtse Evening News (揚子晚報) criticized such practice as mere commercial gimmickry to exploit the fame of Liu Bei.cite web|title=劉備啥時候成了“鞋神”|work=揚子晚報|url=|accessmonthday=August 26 |accessyear=2005] It argued that although Liu Bei sold straw-woven shoes and mats for a living when he was young, he was hardly the inventor of shoes. According to legend, it was Yu Ze (于則) who made the first pairs of shoes with softwood during the time of the Yellow Emperor. However, the criticism did not dampen the enthusiastic shoe industry owners in their decision to erect a statue of Liu Bei in the West China Shoe Center Industrial Zone, which is still under construction in Wuhou District as of August 2005.

Modern references

Video games

*Liu Bei appears as a humble and virtuous playable character in Koei's popular "Dynasty Warriors" video game series, in which his weapon of choice are two swords called "Strength and Virtue".

*He also appears in another Koei title, "Romance of the Three Kingdoms". The standard storyline of the game follows the plot of the novel "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" more closely than "Dynasty Warriors", wherein Liu Bei rises from a rogue leader to a sovereign. Player's actions, however, determine the development of events, which could deviate vastly from the original plot.

*Liu Bei is also the protagonist in "Destiny of an Emperor", a role-playing game on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Released in the United States by Capcom in 1989, the game also loosely follows the plot of the historical novel.

*Liu Bei's armour (based on the designs appearing in the "Dynasty Warriors" series) is available in the MMORPG, "MapleStory". Also featured is Cao Cao, Guan Yu, Zhuge Liang, Sun Quan, and Diao Chan's designs.

*Liu Bei also appears in "Warriors Orochi", where he is kidnapped by Orochi and eventually rescued by the coalition army led by Zhao Yun.


* Father
** Liu Hong (劉弘), descendant of Liu Sheng (劉勝), Prince Jing of Zhongshan, son of Emperor Jing of Han
* Uncles
** Liu Yuanqi (劉元起), Liu Hong's younger brother
* Wives
** Lady Mi
** Lady Sun (孫尚香 Sun Shangxiang), daughter of Sun Jian and sister of Sun Ce and Sun Quan (married 209, effectively divorced 211)
** Empress Wu (吳皇后) (created 221, d. 245)
* Major Concubine
** Lady Gan (甘, personal name unknown), mother of Liu Shan, died sometime before 210, later posthumously honored as Empress Zhaolie
* Children
** Liu Shan (劉禪), the Crown Prince, later emperor
** Liu Yong (劉永), initially the Prince of Lu (created 221), later Prince of Ganling (created 230)
*** One son whose name is unknown
**** Liu Xuan (劉玄), last heir of Liu Bei (created and died unknown)
** Liu Li (劉理), initially the Prince of Liang (created 221), later Prince Dao of Anping (created 230, d. 244)
*** Liu Yin (劉胤)
*** Liu Cheng (劉丞)
*** Liu Ji (劉執)
** Two daughters who were captured by Cao Chun in the Battle of Changban.
* Adopted Child
** Liu Feng (劉封) (forced to commit suicide 220)

ee also

*Eastern Han Dynasty
*Personages of the Three Kingdoms
*Tables of Chinese Sovereigns
*"Records of Three Kingdoms"



*de Crespigny, Rafe. [ "To Establish Peace: being the Chronicle of the Later Han dynasty for the years 189 to 220 AD as recorded in Chapters 59 to 69 of the Zizhi tongjian of Sima Guang". Volume 1.] Faculty of Asian Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra. 1996. ISBN 0-7315-2526-4.
*de Crespigny, Rafe. [ "To Establish Peace: being the Chronicle of the Later Han dynasty for the years 189 to 220 AD as recorded in Chapters 59 to 69 of the Zizhi tongjian of Sima Guang". Volume 2.] Faculty of Asian Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra. 1996. ISBN 0-7315-2536-1.
*Fang, Achilles. "The Chronicle of the Three Kingdoms (220–265). Chapters 69–78 from the Tzu Chih T'ung Chien of Ssu-ma Kuang". Volume 1. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 1952.
*Sima, Guang. ""
*cite book|author=Chen Shou|title=San Guo Zhi|publisher=Yue Lu Shu She|year=2002|id=ISBN 7-80665-198-5
*cite book|author=Luo Guanzhong|title=San Guo Yan Yi|publisher=Yue Lu Shu She|year=1986|id=ISBN 7-80520-013-0
*cite book|author=Lo Kuan-chung; tr. C.H. Brewitt-Taylor|title=Romance of the Three Kingdoms|publisher=Tuttle Publishing|year=2002|id=ISBN 0-8048-3467-9
*Roberts, Moss, tr. "Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel" (1991) University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22503-1

External links

* [ Comprehensive biography of Liú Bèi from Kongming's Archive]
* [ Original text of Liú Bèi's biography from the "Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms"] (in simplified Chinese)

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