The great tragedy of Liu Bei’s life: regret that “uniting sun and rejecting Cao” has a beginning but no end

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When the three kingdoms were at their height, Sun Quan of the eastern Wu sent LV Mengzhu generals to attack Jingzhou. Guan Yu and his son were defeated and killed, and Shuhan was severely hit. This is a major turning point in the historical process. Few historians have made in-depth research on this issue, and some people believe that Guan Yu did not seriously implement Zhugeliang’s strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao”, and put the main responsibility on Guan Yu. I once had a similar view. Now I study the annals of the Three Kingdoms again and find that this is not the case. Besides, I once suspected that Zhugeliang might have changed the strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao”. Now after careful investigation, the suspicion is also lack of factual basis and cannot be established.


When Liu Bei stationed in Xinye, considering that his subordinates lacked brains to offer advice, he hoped to recruit Xu Shu. Xu Shu recommended Zhugeliang. Liu Bei visited Longzhong in Nanyang and met for the third time. Zhu Geliang made a comprehensive analysis of the situation at that time and put forward countermeasures. Liu Bei listened to it with great admiration and put Zhu Geliang in important position from then on. In Liu Bei’s own words, “there is Kongming in solitude, just like water in fish.” It can be seen that the degree of intimacy is inseparable for a moment.

Zhugeliang’s main argument is well documented in the annals of the Three Kingdoms, biography of Zhugeliang. Later literary and historical works listed the content of this conversation in a separate article, entitled “Longzhong Dui”. There are two parts, which are closely related to each other. One is “Sun Quan has occupied Jiangdong for three generations. The country is dangerous and the people are attached to it. Talents can be used for it. This can be used for assistance but not for planning”. In short, it can only connect with grandchildren. The first is “if there are Jingzhou and Yizhou, protect their rock resistance, and Zhu Rong in the west, Fu Yi Yue in the south, tie Sun Quan outside, and cultivate political principles inside, and the world changes, then a general will be ordered to lead the army of Jingzhou to Wan and Luo, and the general will lead the people of Yizhou out of Qinchuan. Who dares not to eat pot pulp to meet the general?” In short, it can not only repel Cao, but also destroy Cao.

Because they are all predictions of the future situation, several parts of this strategy are quite vague: “if there are thorns and benefits, there is no clear way to” cross “, that is, to” occupy “. It seems that Zhugeliang also had the intention of not letting go once he possessed “Jing and Yi”. In addition, for Sun Quan, “we can help but not plan” comes first, and “tie up Sun Quan externally” comes later, which has repeatedly emphasized “linking Sun Quan”. But then he thought, “if so, then hegemony can be achieved and the Han Dynasty can flourish!” There is no mention of how to solve the problem of Sun Quan. It can be seen that although Zhu Geliang emphasized “linking Sun Quan” so much, he still despised Sun Quan to a certain extent.

Zhugeliang, who advocated “uniting sun and rejecting Cao”, despised Sun Quan to a certain extent, while Liu Bei, Guan Yu and others despised Sun Quan to a greater extent. Therefore, this situation has its own reasons. Sun Quan knew that he had neither the favorable conditions to coerce the son of heaven to order the princes, nor the political capital of Liu Bei “after King Yasukuni Nakayama”, so he took a low attitude to protect himself, and sometimes did not hesitate to compromise. Because Sun Quan did not have the ambition to unify the world, Liu Bei and Guan Yu relaxed their vigilance against Sun Quan.

Of course, Liu Bei’s “uniting sun and rejecting Cao” had a good start. That was when Liu Bei was chased by Cao Cao’s army and was very embarrassed, he arrived at Xiakou. “Send Zhugeliang to tie up with Sun Quan”. Sun Quan also felt embarrassed. Zhang Zhao and other human leaders welcomed Cao Cao. The younger generals believed that welcoming Cao Cao was tantamount to self destruction and advocated firm resistance. So Sun Quan “worked with his predecessor, fought with Cao Gong in the red cliff, broke it, and burned his boat”. Liu Bei and Sun Quan “advanced by land and water to Nanjun. At that time, they were plagued, and the northern army died many times, and Cao Gong led them back”. This is the battle of Chibi, which established the basis of the Three Kingdoms.

In the battle of Chibi, Liu Bei and Sun Quan were both beneficiaries, but whether in terms of human and material resources or other conditions, it mainly depended on Sun Quan’s strength. Liu Bei’s contribution was minimal and could not play a decisive role. Lu Su people also started from the overall situation and advocated maintaining a good relationship with Liu Bei, so Sun Quan began to tilt to Liu Bei significantly.

Liu Bei had no place to settle down. After the war in Chibi, Sun Quan took Zhou Yu as the South County governor. At this time, Liu Bei obtained a large area of land from Zhou Yu’s South County to settle the families of generals and military brigades. Jiang Biao Zhuan is the most specific:

Zhou Yu was the governor of Nanjun County, and divided the south bank to be prepared. He was prepared to camp in youjiangkou and changed his name to public security.

Liu Bei felt that his territory was still too cramped, so he “[resumed] the right to borrow several counties in Jingzhou”. Did Liu Bei borrow it from Sun Quan? It’s a question. Because “the annals of the Three Kingdoms · biography of Zhugeliang” said: “Cao Gong was defeated by Chibi and led the army back to Ye. The former Lord then took Jiangnan, took Liang as the commander of the army, and made him governor of Lingling, Guiyang and Changsha.” It seems that after Liu Bei captured the “several counties”, Sun Quan tacitly believed that these places belonged to Liu Bei’s sphere of influence. “Guan Yu Zhuan” also said: “the first lord received the counties in the south of the Yangtze River”, just the same. So why is it said to borrow Jingzhou? It is still possible to find the basis from “borrowing several counties in Jingzhou by (resuming) the authority”. There is no doubt that “Lingling, Guiyang and Changsha” all belong to Jingzhou.

Liu Bei asked Zhugeliang to “supervise Lingling, Guiyang and Changsha”. It can be seen that Liu Bei and Zhugeliang attached great importance to these three counties. Later, they delayed and prevaricated, and refused to return them to Sun Quan. This is the reason.

It should be said that the annals of the Three Kingdoms written by Chen Shou is a masterpiece in terms of historical courage and knowledge, but the use of place names is still not unified and standardized. “Wu Zhu Zhuan” also said that “it was divided into Jingzhou, Changsha, Jiangxia and the east of Guiyang”. This Jingzhou does not include Changsha and Guiyang.

No matter what confusion there is in the place name, one thing is clear. Liu Bei and Zhugeliang are determined to take the acquired counties as the base for attacking Yizhou, so they will do their best and never return them unless they have to.

At this stage, the situation had come to an end. As far as Sun Quan was concerned, it could be said that he had done his utmost to Liu Bei. He not only took the initiative to release youjiangkou (Public Security) to Liu Bei, but also satisfied Liu Bei’s request to occupy three counties including Changsha. At this time, they should be close to each other and get along very harmoniously. I don’t know what kind of consideration, Sun Quan actually further “into the younger sister solid good” to Liu Bei. Those who are “solid” should maintain the intimacy between the two sides.


The development of the situation was completely beyond Sun Quan’s expectation. On the contrary, Sun Quan’s sister caused sharp contradictions between the two sides. Sun Quan’s sister did not realize that she was shouldering a heavy political responsibility. She was arrogant, and her bridal chamber was full of swords and swords. Liu Bei did not feel gentle, so she was suspicious of Sun Quan’s move, and then took precautions against it. Sun Quan’s sister felt bored and returned to peace. Liu Bei and Zhugeliang ordered Zhao Yun to intercept the river and seize the fight. The matter ended with Sun Quan losing all dignity, and the “solid good” failed, resulting in future troubles.

Since the two sides are hostile, Liu Bei’s growing strength is certainly considered a great threat by Sun Quan. It is natural to claim back the Lingling, Guiyang and Changsha prefectures that he borrowed. Whether there is a specific agreement at that time, which has not been recorded. It is unknown whether it is stated that Yizhou was obtained, that is, it was returned to Jingzhou. Sun Quan claimed Jingzhou after Liu Bei obtained Yizhou. It can be said that the timing is very appropriate, otherwise it will be more difficult to open his mouth in the future.

According to the biographies of Liu Bei, Zhugeliang, Guan Yu, Sun Quan, Lu Su, and Lu Meng in the annals of the Three Kingdoms, it can be found that the return of Jingzhou was not successful, and had been carried out many times over the years. There were both negotiations between Sun Quan and Liu Bei at the head level, as well as direct negotiations between Lu Su and Guan Yu. The two levels intersect.

It can be confirmed that after the victory of the battle of Chibi, at least after taking advantage of Lingling, Guiyang and Changsha counties, Liu Bei has put the strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao” behind him. Otherwise, he should also adopt a more euphemistic attitude towards the Chun marriage and handle it safely. Even if it is difficult to continue, it can make the other party not so embarrassed. Sun Quan repeatedly tolerated that Liu Bei had no intention of returning Jingzhou he borrowed, and formally pursued Liu Bei. There was nothing wrong with feeling and reason.

According to Wu Zhu Zhuan, in the 16th year of Jian’an (211), Liu Bei invaded Yizhou, Liu Zhang surrendered, and the situation of the Three Kingdoms was further consolidated. Then:

With the right to prepare for the acquisition of Yizhou, zhugejin asked the counties of Jingzhou for permission, saying, “our plan is to build Liangzhou, and Liangzhou will be determined, but we will do everything with Jingzhou and wu’er.” Quan said, “this holiday is not against, but wants to introduce the year with empty words.”. So he set up three sheriffs and officials, and Guan Yu expelled them, and the power was furious

The meeting will be prepared to Jiang’an, so that Guan Yu will send 30000 soldiers to Yiyang, Quan naizhao, Meng and other envoys will also help su.

The word “from beg” is used here. It can be seen that in the whole process of Sun Quan’s claim for the return of Jingzhou, the candidate for sending Zhugeliang is Zhugeliang’s brother, who has always appeared as a loyal elder. He is a typical peacemaker with a gentle attitude and no domineering bullying. However, it was still rejected by Liu Bei. The reason is that it can only be returned after getting Liangzhou. Liu Bei failed to keep his original promise, causing complications and raising the Liangzhou issue, which can be said to have reached the point of “deceiving others too much”. If he still wants to “unite sun and reject Cao”, he can never be so unreasonable.

Guan Yu expelled the “chief officials” of the three counties appointed by Sun Quan. Of course, it was Liu Bei’s decision, and he was the executor. Leading 30000 soldiers to Yiyang is more clearly the assignment of Liu Bei. It is true that Guan Yu has always been very unfriendly to Sun Quan and his subordinates. However, Guan Yu did not take the initiative in these two matters, and there was no doubt that he completely obeyed Liu Bei’s orders.

According to the first master’s biography, the record is basically the same, but it is relatively brief. The time is twenty-five years of Jian’an (215), and the two records are four years apart. It goes without saying that Sun Quan’s claim to return Jingzhou to Liu Bei was at least prevaricated and delayed by Liu Bei for four years.

Lu Su’s biography has many more specific plots than Wu Zhu’s biography and Xian Zhu’s biography. Especially when “general Shan Dao club”, the dispute between Lu Su and Guan Yu made the atmosphere very tense and dangerous. Guan Yu’s attendance at the meeting was neither Guan Yu’s initiative nor Guan Yu’s responsibility. Because “prepare for news, return to the public security, send Yu to fight for three counties, Su to Yiyang, and refuse to meet Yu”, the “single knife meeting” of “Su invites Yu to meet” occurred.

Liu Bei ordered Guan Yu to negotiate with Lu Su, but Guan Yu could only comply. Liu Bei did not want to return Jingzhou, and Guan Yu could not make an unauthorized claim and agree to return it. Moreover, Guan Yu has always been proud of himself, and his contempt for Sun Quan and his civil servants and generals is worse than that of Liu Bei.

Lu Su directly questioned Guan Yu, who didn’t give a positive answer at all. “There is a man who said, ‘if you live in the land, but virtue is in your ear, how often does it happen?'”. It is very likely that the wording agreed between Liu Bei and Guan Yu, from “there is one person in the seat”, is a trick. This sentence is more backward than “Liangzhou is determined by Jingzhou and Wu Er”. He doesn’t want to return Jingzhou at all, but intends to occupy it permanently. Moreover, it is intolerable to glorify oneself as “virtue is in the ear”. The “single knife meeting” ended unhappily.

Liu Bei was satisfied with his vested interests and had long forgotten the strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao”, and Sun Quan did not send troops to strive for it. When Cao Cao’s subordinates entered Hanzhong, Liu Bei felt that Yizhou was threatened and was forced to retreat for fear of being attacked on both sides. Biography of Lord Wu:

Be afraid of losing beneficial States and make peace. Zhugejin ordered Zhu Gejin to report and find a better alliance, so it was divided into the east of Jingzhou, Changsha, Jiangxia and Guiyang, and the west of Nanjun, Lingling and Wuling.

It can be seen that Sun Quan did not take advantage of the danger to retaliate, but humbly “let zhugejin report”, and sent the “peacemaker” to once again express the attitude of “looking for a better alliance”. According to common sense, this is a good opportunity to resume the implementation of the strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao”. Things turned around again and went in a dangerous direction.

It turned out that Sun Quan didn’t care about Zhao Yun’s old scores such as “intercepting the river and seizing the fight”, and made a big move in order to “find a better alliance”. Biography of Guan Yu:

Quan sent an envoy to SuoYu as his son. Yu abused his envoy and refused to marry him. Quan was furious.

Guan Yu is not entirely responsible for this matter. Liu Bei himself decided to end the marriage at the beginning, which had a great impact on Guan Yu. If he agreed to betroth his daughter to Sun Quan’s son, it would be inconsistent with Liu Bei’s pace. Of course, Guan Yu can also decline without “abusing his envoy”, but in terms of Guan Yu’s character, it is inevitable to abuse the envoy like this.

Guan Yu’s attitude towards Sun Quan is basically the same as Liu Bei’s, which is rude and overbearing, and Liu Bei can’t dissuade him. Liu and Guan, the leaders of the Shuhan regime and the actual rulers of Jingzhou area (later Jingzhou in the narrow sense) who are closely related to the eastern Wu, ended the two marriages by making friends with each other. The friendship between Shuhan and the eastern Wu is naturally difficult to achieve. “Jin Mei Gu Hao” failed, and “looking for a better alliance” failed again. Sun Quan reflected in pain. As a result, he listened to Lu Meng’s plan, began to paralyze Guan Yu, and finally eliminated him. It seems understandable to think from the standpoint of Sun Quan, the ruler of the eastern Wu Dynasty.

The murder of Guan Yu was, of course, unacceptable to Liu Bei. It became a great hatred, and he tried to retaliate immediately. He was not calm enough. Cao Cao was originally regarded as the main enemy. With the change of the situation, Sun Quan was regarded as the main enemy. The strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao” has become history and no longer exists. So he tried his best to advance eastward along the river and made repeated mistakes in tactics. He was defeated by Lu Xun, a famous general of the eastern Wu Dynasty. He was ashamed and died in Baidi city. Before his death, Liu Bei did not clearly reflect on the mistake of implementing the strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao”, but he did not blame others for his mistakes and failures. He was still worthy of being a great husband.


How should we treat Liu Bei and Guan Yu? Sun Quan took great pains to send friendly envoys twice. Both of them were selected through careful consideration. Zhuge Jin, who was quite qualified, was the second figure in Liu Bei’s camp, that is, the brother of Zhugeliang who firmly advocated “uniting sun and rejecting Cao”. It is reasonable to say that Zhuge Jin is the best candidate, and his envoy can get twice the result with half the effort. But this is not the case. Has Zhugeliang changed his original strategy?

Just because Liu Bei entered Sichuan, there were a number of powerful literary ministers and military generals, and Liu Zhang, the other party, was also a kinsman of the Han Dynasty. Since Liu Bei was king Jing of Zhongshan, he took a certain advantage. Generally speaking, it was relatively smooth, but Liu Bei’s dependence on Zhugeliang was also gradually decreasing. There is a huge gap in the biography of Zhugeliang. At the beginning, he guarded Jingzhou with Guan Yu, and then marched westward with Liu Bei. Only after calming Chengdu, “the LORD went out first, Liang often guarded Chengdu, and there was enough food and soldiers”. and that. What is the negotiation with Cao Cao of Wei and Sun Quan of Wu? What’s the war? What is the connection? None involved. Be used as a housekeeper!

Liu Bei was too confident. Guan Yu flooded the seven armies of Cao Cao and “awed China”. Liu Bei probably believed that there was no need to “unite the sun” whether to “reject Cao Cao” or “destroy Cao Cao”, and he could do it with his own strength. Therefore, the feeling that he had Zhugeliang’s “like a fish in water” no longer exists. Even if Zhugeliang once again emphasized “uniting sun and resisting Cao”, Liu Bei was also ignored!

Wei Lue:

At first, Liu Bei, the only one in Shu, died and remained silent for several years, so he was slightly unprepared. When he died, the government and the public were afraid, especially in Longyou and Qishan. Therefore, the three counties should be lit at the same time.

This is the hard evidence that Zhugeliang was cold treated by Liu Bei for many years. Of course, the strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao” was also cold treated for many years, and further evolved into a situation of incompatibility with Sun Quan. Did Zhugeliang try to dissuade Liu Bei from the eastern expedition? There is no clear record, but the “Fa Zheng Zhuan” states:

Since the former Lord was honored, he would invade Sun Quan in the east to recover Guan Yu’s shame. Many ministers admonished him and refused to comply. In the second year of Zhang Wu’s reign (222), the army failed and lived in the White Emperor. Liang sighed, “if the Dharma and filial piety are straight, it can control the Lord and make him not go east; if he goes East again, he will not be in danger!”!

Zhugeliang, the leader of all the ministers, has always advocated “uniting sun and rejecting Cao”. It is absolutely impossible to stand idly by, and it should be repeatedly advised to conform to his position and morality. It can be seen that before and after Liu Bei became king and emperor, Zhugeliang’s voice over Liu Bei was far less than the FA Zheng who defected from Liu Zhang!

All kinds of signs show that Zhugeliang has always adhered to the strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao”. Of course, he has not made clear his position on the Jingzhou issue. He hopes to have Yizhou and Jingzhou at the same time, and there are clues to be found. However, if the Jingzhou issue is not properly solved and it is impossible to “unite sun”, Zhugeliang will still make painful concessions and maintain the situation of “uniting sun”. When Cao Cao entered Hanzhong, Liu Bei returned Jingzhou to Sun Quan, which was mainly forced by the situation, and it cannot be ruled out that Zhugeliang played a certain role.

Liu Bei was critically ill. He was isolated from Zhugeliang in Baidi City, and restored his trust in Zhugeliang. It may also reflect his inner re understanding of “liansun rejected Cao”, and he felt regret for his failure to implement it seriously and causing a disastrous defeat. The imperial edict to Liu Chan, the later Lord, said, “if you engage with the prime minister, you will do things like your father.” It is also the result of his failure to follow Zhugeliang’s painstaking review of the strategy of “uniting sun and rejecting Cao” in his later years.

Therefore, when Liu Chan ascended the throne, Zhugeliang “sent envoys to employ Wu, and because of the marriage, he became a nation.”. Chen Shou compiled the annals of the Three Kingdoms and wrote a fairly detailed biography of Zhugeliang. He edited the anthology for Zhugeliang and wrote a memorial to the court for this matter. Once again, it was emphasized that Zhugeliang assisted Liu Chan and achieved remarkable political achievements, mainly including “connecting the eastern Wu outside, pacifying the southern Vietnam inside, implementing legislation, and sorting out military brigades…”

However, as far as Liu Bei himself is concerned, his “uniting sun and rejecting Cao” is still a great tragedy with no end in sight.

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