In the romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhugeliang captured Meng Huo seven times. There is no such thing in history

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“Seven arrests of Meng Huo” is a special chapter of the romance of the Three Kingdoms, which has always been widely circulated. In the late Eastern Han Dynasty, Wei, Shu and Wu were divided into three parts. Zhugeliang, the Prime Minister of Shu, was entrusted by Liu Bei with the imperial edict of Gu, and was determined to carry out the northern expedition to revitalize the Han Dynasty. In the third year of the founding of the Shu Han Dynasty (AD 225), in order to consolidate the rear area and relieve the worries of the northern expedition against the Cao Wei Dynasty, Zhugeliang personally led the army to the south to subdue the rebellion in the south central region. After entering nanzhong, he won successive victories. He heard that Meng Huoshen, the leader of the rebel army, was respected by the local Yi and Han people, so he tried to catch him. Zhugeliang led him to watch the cAMP formation of the Shu army and asked him, “how about this army?” Meng Huo refused and said, “I didn’t know the reality of the Shu army before, so I was defeated. Today you let me watch the camp array, and I will definitely win if I fight again!” Zhugeliang let him go and asked him to organize another war. In this way, when Zhugeliang released Meng Huo for the last time, Meng Huo said: “Gong, Tianwei, the southerners will no longer rebel!” With this offensive strategy, Zhugeliang successfully subdued the rebellion, stabilized the south, and enabled him to focus on the northern expedition without worrying about the future.

From ancient times to the present, almost no one doubts the authenticity of this incident. Historians peisongzhi, Sima Guang and others praise it; Scholars such as Zhao fan’s “if you can attack your heart, you will eliminate yourself. From ancient times, you know that soldiers are not belligerent”; The praises such as “seven escapes should be calculated according to the strategy, and the first battle should determine the barbarian Miao” are numerous; The novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a collection of all kinds of legends and stories, rendering the sentence “seven vertical and seven capture” into a familiar long story. Its influence reaches so far that it is well known in foreign countries. Many people from Southeast Asia, Myanmar and Thailand dare not call Zhugeliang by his name, but respectfully call him Kongming.

However, looking through the authoritative historical work of the annals of the Three Kingdoms, there is no mention of Meng Huo anywhere, let alone the record of “seven arrests of Meng Huo”. Some historians also believe that catching and letting go of a rebel leader seven times is neither in line with Zhugeliang’s cautious character nor with the conventions of war. Is there a man named Meng Huo in history? Did Zhugeliang really “capture Meng Huo seven times”?

Let’s first look at whether Meng Huo was a man in history. In the annals of the Three Kingdoms ยท biography of Zhugeliang, there are 12 words about his pacification of nanzhong: “in the spring of three years, Liang led his people to the south, and he was pacified in the autumn.”. In addition, there are sporadic records about the southern expedition in other chapters of the annals of the Three Kingdoms, and the name “Meng Huo” is not mentioned. According to this, some people think that there may be no “Meng Huo” in history. If there is such a rare successful example of “seven arrests of Meng Huo” in the history of war, how can there be no record in the annals of the Three Kingdoms? However, historians generally believe that the records in the annals of the three kingdoms are too brief and many valuable historical materials have been omitted. Moreover, Zhugeliang’s records of “Meng Huo” and “seven escapes and seven vertical movements” are mentioned in the historical works Han Jin Chun Qiu, which are almost contemporary with the annals of the Three Kingdoms. The famous historical and geographical works Huayang Guo Zhi and Shui Jing Zhu, which were written a little later, also mention “seven escapes and seven vertical movements of Meng Huo”.

The famous Han Dynasty “mengxiaoju tablet” in Zhaotong No. 3 middle school in Yunnan Province was unearthed in the bainijing, Shili south of Zhaotong County, in the 27th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty (AD 1901). This stele records that Meng Xing in Han Dynasty was one of the two most famous surnames in nanzhong in history. In addition, the history of Meng Huo’s sacrifice is very long. According to the physical data found so far, the earliest period is the Tang Dynasty and Song Dynasty. As for the southwest provinces before the founding of the people’s Republic of China, there were many places where ancestral temples were built or attached to Tu Zhu temples to commemorate Meng Huo. Only shizhuzi Tuzhu temple, Qinglong temple and Wuxian temple in Xichang county set up statues for sacrifice. Among the five immortals offered by the people, there is a Meng Huo statue in the third layer on the left of the scroll, commonly known as “the king of sweeping altar”. Therefore, most historians tend to think that although the birth and death time of Meng Huo cannot be verified, there should be “Meng Huo” in history.

Meng Huo is a real man. Then, did Zhugeliang “capture and play” him?

In terms of time, according to historical records, after Zhugeliang captured Meng Huo seven times, he “arrived at Dianchi Lake” in the autumn of that year. It took him only about four months since he “crossed Luzhou in May” to “pacify the four prefectures in autumn” or “pacify the four prefectures in autumn” of the rebel forces who “called for troops and advocated chaos” for two or three years. In such a short period of time, Zhugeliang, who was “doing everything in the north”, on the one hand, wanted to conquer cities and villages, appease the border people and raise food and grass, on the other hand, he had to overcome the harsh natural conditions. In such a short time, it was difficult to accomplish so many things in a society where science, technology and transportation were underdeveloped at that time. “Tongjian collection” also says, “seven vertical and seven capture are the famous names in the records, and they have no knowledge. The barbarians should be convinced by them, but they often send them to tie the canal and play with them. They can do it again and again. That is, the meat on the cloud table is not enough to worry about, so it is not a good policy to take off the eagle and try the tiger. Moreover, those who were in a hurry at that time wanted to set the South and cut the north. They should not be indulged and captured repeatedly, and they knew that they would not come out of this.”

In terms of geographical location, nanzhong refers to the southwest of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan during the Three Kingdoms period. At that time, it was a part of Shu and was called “the land of Yi and Yue” since ancient times, that is, the place where ethnic minorities lived. Zhugeliang set out from Chengdu in March of the third year of Jianxing, crossing Yuejun (now the southeast of Xichang, Sichuan Province) in April, crossing Luzhou (Jinsha River) in May, and then crossing the four prefectures (Yuejun, Jianning, Panke and Yongchang) in autumn, passing through northeast Yunnan, Hanyang (now the Qingfu, Sichuan Province) in winter, and returning to Chengdu in December. It can be seen from the above situation that Zhugeliang obviously did not visit western Yunnan when he settled down in nanzhong. However, it is very strange that many “relics” and folklores about Zhugeliang’s southern expedition have been left in western Yunnan. For example, according to a brief account of Yunnan cloud, “seven captures of Meng Huo: one at Baiya, now Dingxi mountain in Zhaozhou; one at dengkai porcupine cave, now Dengchuan state; one at Foguang stronghold, now the East Erli of the patrol department in langqiong County; one at Zhiqu mountain; one at Aidian, now shunning Prefecture; one at the side of Nujiang River, now Tengyue Prefecture in Baoshan County; one at the valley, namely the snake valley of Nujiang River, by fire attack.” From the distribution of these places, almost all of them are in the area of Dali and Baoshan in western Yunnan today. How could Zhugeliang “capture Meng Huo seven times” in a place he had never been to?

We can see that the story of “seven escapes and seven escapes” does not actually exist. According to the folklore, Zhugeliang’s “seven escapes and Meng Huo” is because Zhugeliang’s policy of “pacifying the barbarians and the Vietnamese in the South” has penetrated into the hearts of the people. The local people have great admiration for Zhugeliang. It is inevitable that the deeds of some other people will be far fetched to Zhugeliang, and even some good people will make up some stories to Zhugeliang, With the passage of time, these stories were spread falsely, which made historians have to believe.

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