Monday, August 1, 2016

May Hou translates

Premier of the Shu  Kingdom

Where is the well-known premier’s temple to be found?

Outside the City of Brocade, with cypresses around.

Verdant grasses grow along the stairs, presenting a wonderful spring with no one seeing.

Golden orioles sing amid the leaves, performing a pleasant song with no one listening.

Three times his former lord visited his hut for strategies to unify the country as a whole.

Two reigns he served the kingdom with his extraordinary intelligence heart and soul.

Unfortunately he passed away in arms before achieving the final triumph.

How could heroes not sigh sorrowfully with tears staining their sleeves!

--Du Fu

  Zhuge Liang in the Temple of the Marquis of Wu, Chengdu, Sichuan.


  1. Liu Bei (“Xuande”) was a warlord in the late Eastern Han dynasty who founded the state of Shu Han (modern Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Hunan, and parts of Hubei and Gansu). Though descended from emperor Jing, his father was a clerk who died when Liu was a child. To support themselves, Liu and his mother sold shoes and straw mats. However, after leading a volunteer army against the peasant Yellow Turban Rebellion, which began in 184, spread to Sichuan in 188, and was suppressed in 192 by Cao Cao, he began to rise through the ranks of the provinicial government. Due to the turmoil caused by the Yellow Turbans, who continued their depredations as bandit-like forces until 205, before his death in 188 emperor Ling granted administrative and military autonomy to local governors. Upon his death, court eunuch Jian Shuo planned to assassinate general He Jin, a relative of the imperial family, and replace crown prince Liu Bian with his younger brother, Liu Xie, but the plot failed and Liu Bian became emperor Shao. He Jin plotted with Yuan Shao to assassinate the Ten Attendants, a clique of eunuchs led by Zhang Rang and o ordered general Dong Zhuo to bring reinforcements from Liang province to the capital, Luoyang. The eunuchs learned of He's plot and had him killed before Dong arrived, but Yuan stormed the palace complex and massacred the Ten Attendants and 2,000 supporters. The continuing strife led to Dong to order his men to restore order on 24 September 189, and on 28 September he deposed Shao in favor of Liu Xie (emperor Xian). Over the next few weeks, rebellions broke out throughout all of China. Yuan Shao, Yuan Shu, and Cao Cao formed a coalition to restore the legitimate Han dynasty. In 1991 Yuan Shu’s army under Sun Jian drove Dong from Luoyang, and in 192 Dong was assassinated by his former bodyguard. But the civil war continued as the warlords vied against each other for power, From Ye, Ji, Yuan Shao extended his power north of the Yellow River while Cao, Yuan Shu, and others struggled to dominate the area between the Yellow and Huai rivers. Cao drove Yuan Shu to the south of the Huai in 193, and went to war against Tao Qian of Xu province in 194 (because Tao’s subordinate Zhang Kai had murdered his father). Tao allied with Liu Bei and his childhood companion Gongsun Zan, and Lü Bu seized Yan province, Cao retreated, but Tao died and Liu took control of Xu. Cao drove Lü out of Yan in 195, and Lü fled to Xu and allied with Liu, then betrayed him, seized Xu, and formed an alliance with Yuan Shao. Cao received Liu’s surrender in 196 and together they invaded Xu. Lü's men deserted him, Yuan's reinforces never arrived, and his own subordinates captured him and executed him on Cao's 198. By 199 Cao was in complete control of the southern part of the North China Plain. Liu Biao retained power in Jing province, which was prosperous and relatively untouched by the war, and Sun Quan controlled the lower Yangtze.

  2. Liu managed to survive and, allied with his former foe Yuan Shao, consolidated his position despite various military setbacks. Cao defeated Yuan at Guandu and advanced against Liu in Runan in 201, and Liu fled to Jing. Liu stayed there for the next seven years while Cao continued to expand his authority. In an effort to restore his fortunes, Liu consulted Sima Hui, a revered hermit with a reputation for spotting young talents, about the exiles who had taken refuge in Jing. "Confucian academics and common scholars, how much do they know about current affairs? Those who analyze current affairs well are elites. Crouching Dragon [Zhuge Liang] and Young Phoenix [Pang Tong] are the only ones in this region." Born in Yangdu, Langya (Yishui, Shandong), Zhuge was still in his early 20s but had a prominent family. An ancestor, Zhuge Feng, had been emperor Yuan’s director of retainers, and before his death his father had been the assistant officer in the Mt. Tai commandery, but he was raised with his older brother Zhuge Jun (later an official in Shan Han) by their uncle, the administrator of Yuzhang commandery before serving under Liu Biao. Elder brother Zhuge Jin served under Sun Quan. One of his sisters married Pang Tong’s cousin, and the other sister married into the family headed by Kuai Liang and Kuai Yue in Xiangyang commandery. Zhuge himself was married to “Huang Yueying” (as she was referred to in popular culture, though her real name is unknown), Liu Biao’s maternal niece; her father, the scholar Huang Chengyan, had told him, “"I heard that you're seeking a spouse. I've an ugly daughter with a yellow face and dark complexion, but her talent matches yours.” He was also the inventor of the "wooden ox and flowing horse" (perhaps a wheelbarrow or rickshaw), and the Zhuge crossbow (a repeating semi-automatic model). In addition, his “Thirty-Six Stratagems” and “Mastering the Art of War”were regarded as military classics. Liu Bei asked Xu Shu to invite Zhuge to a meeting, but Xu told him. "You must visit this man in person. He cannot be invited to meet you." In 207, after three visits, Liu finally managed to get an audience with him, and Zhuge presented him with his Longzhong Plan that outlined the takeover of Jing and Yi provinces to set up a two-pronged advance against the imperial capital. Longtime supporters Guan Yu and Zhang Fei resented the newcomer’s influence, but Liu told them "Now that I have Kongming [Zhuge's style name], I am like a fish that has found water.”

  3. Liu Biao died in 208 and his younger son surrendered Jing to Cao, but the eldest son, Liu Qi, maintained control over Jiangxia and Xiakou. Liu marched south to join him, sending Guan ahead to Jiangling, where the Jing fleet was anchored. But Cao’s cavalry surprised Liu at Changban, capturing most of his followers and baggage. Leaving his family behind, Liu fled with a few men and, with Guan's fleet, crossed the Mian river to Jiangxia and the Yangtze river to Xiakou, From there he sent.Zhuge to Jiangdong to form an alliance with Sun Quan. In late 208, Liu and Sun defeated Cao at the battle of Red Cliffs. Cao retreated to Ye, and Liu conquered parts of Jiangnan in southern Jing. Sun Quan's general Lu Su wrote to Liu to recommend Pang Tong, and Zhuge also supported him. Liu named both Zhuge and Pang as "military advisor generals of the household" and put Zhuge in charge of Lingling (Yongzhou, Hunan), Guiyang and Changsha. In 211, governor Liu Zhang of Yi province (Sichuan and Chongqing) asked Liu to join him to defend Yi against Zhang Lu of Hanzhong. Pang advised him to comply in order to gain Yi’s resources against Cao. Liu advanced into Sichuan while Zhuge, Guan, and Zhang Fei maintained control in Jing. When Liu Zhang received Liu, Pang urged Liu to capture him and force him to turn over Yi, but Liu demurred, and Liu returned to his capital, Chengdu; learning of Liu’s actual intentions, Liu Zhang declared war in 212. Pang advised Liu to spread rumors that he was returning to Jing, lure Liu Zhang's generals away from the fortified mountain passes they were defending, take control of their positions and troops, and advance towards Chengdu. Zhuge, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun led separate forces to reinforce Liu, while Guan stayed behind to guard Jing. In a battle against Liu Zhang's forces at Luo county (north of Guanghan, Sichuan), Pang was mortally wounded by a stray arrow while attacking the city. In 214, Liu Zhang surrendered, and Liu took control of Yi.

  4. In 219, Lü Meng, one of Sun Quan's generals, invaded Jing Province while Guan’s army was engaged at the battle of Fancheng; Guan returned home, only to be surrounded at Maicheng (in modern Hubei) and captured, then executed in Linju. In 220, Cao Pi forced Xian to abdicate and established his own dynasty in Wei. In response, in 221 Zhuge persuaded Liu to proclaim himself emperor of Shu Han to contest Cao’s claim to the Han throne. Liu made Zhuge chancellor. Sun became a vassal of Wei as king of Wu and named his son Sun Deng crown prince; he also created a staff for him that consisted of the sons of key officials, including Zhuge Jin’s oldest son Zhuge Ke. To avenge Guan and recover Jing, Liu prepared to go to war against Sun, despite Zao’s advice (and possibly Zhuge’s). Liu ordered Zhang Fei to lead 10,000 troops from Langzhong to join him at Jiangzhou, but Zhang Fei was assassinated by Fan Qiang and Zhang Da, who defected to Sun; he was succeeded as director of retainers by Zhuge. In the seventh lunar month of 221, Liu then personally led his army against Sun, who sent Zhuge’s brother Jin to negotiate peace, but the effort failed and Liu invaded. Sun named Lu Xun grand viceroy and ordered him to defend Wu. After an early advance, Liu was routed at Xiaoting and retreated to Baidicheng (near Fengjie county, Chongqing) on the Yangtze river. To foil Lu’s pursuit, Zhuge created the Stone Sentinel Maze, an array of rocks and boulders. After inspecting the area, Lu entered the construction but was unable to find his way out until Zhuge’s father-in-law showed him the way. Distrusting Cao’s intentions, Lu declined to press the pursuit and withdrew before Zao arrived with reinforcements. Not long later, Cao invaded Wu from three directions, and Liu contacted Lu and threatened to resume the attack, but Lu told him "I am afraid your army has recently suffered defeats and has yet to recover. Now is the time for you to make reconciliations, rest and recuperate. This is not the time for you to launch another assault on us again. However, if you do not consider carefully and plan to despatch all your remaining forces on another attack, I assure you none of those you send here will return alive." Liu summoned Zhuge from Chengdu and told him, "You're ten times more talented than Cao Pi, and capable of both securing the country and accomplishing our great mission. If my son can be assisted, then assist him. If he proves incompetent, then you may take over the throne." Zhuge promised to “serve with unwavering loyalty until death." Liu then ordered his son, Liu Shan, to regard Zhuge as his father and to jointly administer administer state affairs with him.

  5. After Liu Bei's death, Liu Shan ascended to the throne of Shu Han and made Zhuge marquis of Wu. Not long later, Zhuge was appointed governor of Yi and put in charge of all state affairs, and he restored the alliance with Wu against Wei. In the spring of 225, the Meng and other regional clans took control of some cities in the south, so Zhuge led an expedition to Nanzhong, concerned that the clans would instigate a revolt by the Nanman (“Southern Barbarians”—the Zhuang, Tai, Bai, Miao pand other tribes) there and threaten Chengdu while Shu Han forces attacked Cao.Wei in the north in an effort to restore the legitimate Han dynasty. Instead of attacking the tribes, however, he rallied their support against the rebel leader, Meng Huo, defeating him seven times but releasing him each time in order to achieve his genuine surrender. Meng finally pledged his allegiance to Shu Han and was appointed governor of the region to secure the southern border. On his way home, he was unable to cross a stream; one of the Nanman leaders told him the river deity must be appeased by the heads of 49 men, Zhuge had his livestock slaughtered and put the meat into buns shaped like human heads, which were then thrown into the river. He called the buns mántóu,("barbarian's head"), which evolved into mantou, the popular cloud-like steamed buns. (In another version, he ordered his men who were sick to be fed steamed bread with meat or sweet fillings.) In 226, Cao Pi died and was succeeded by his eldest son Cao Rui, with Sima Yi as regent. Taking command for the first time, Sima defended Xiangyang against a Wu offensive. While he was in Hanzhong preparing his campaign against Wei, Zhuge wrote a memorial to Liu Shan ( “Chu Shi Biao”) in 227, outlining his rationale for the coming war and presenting his views on good governance. Between 228 and his death in 234, Zhuge launched five Northern Expeditions against Wei, which all failed except the first, when he persuaded Jiang Wei, to defect; Zhuge also conquered the impoverished Wudu and Yinping prefectures. The last of the Northern campaigns was the deadliest of all. In 231, Sima Yi defeated Zhuge at Mt. Qi. When Sima had him trapped in Pingyang, Zhuge devised the Kongming lantern, an early hot air balloon made of paper, which he used to signal nearby forces to rescue him. (In 1412, Jiao Yu claimed, in the preface to his “Huolongjing Quanzhi” that Zhuge used "fire weapons" and land mines of his own devising against Sima at the battle of Hulugu Valley, but gunpowder warfare is otherwise unknown in China until the 10th century, and the land mine until the 13th century.) In late 234 Zhuge and Sima fought to a stalemate at the battle of Wuzhang Plains. Zhuge became seriously ill but tried to extend his life another 12 years through a ritual, but it was disrupted when Wei Yan rushed in to warn of an enemy advance. He presented his “24 Volumes on Military Strategy” to Jiang Wei, who went on to lead nine more campaigns against Wei, and recommended that Jiang Wan and Fei Yi succeed him as regents. He died in camp at the age of 54 and was buried on Mt. Dingjun, posthumously granted the title of "Marquis Zhongwu" ("Loyal and Martial Marquis") by Liu Shan. Sima Yi deduced Zhuge's demise and ordered an attack, but the Shu Han forces struck back almost immediately, causing Sima to allow them to withdraw.

  6. In 243, Zhuge Ke planned to attack the Wei garrison at Shouchun, but Sima Yi arrived and Sun Quan ordered him to withdraw.In 238, Cao Rui die and was succeeded by his 7-year-old adopted son Cao Fang, with Sima Yi recalled as titular regent and Cao Shang as principal regent.Tension grew between the imperial Cao clan and the Sima clan, one of the greatest landowning families of the time. Sima Yi began planning a coup in late 248, along with his son Sima Shi, and assembled 3,000 men for the purpose; in 249, he struck. When he died in 251, he was followed by his son Sima Shi. In 251, at the instigation of his personal assistant Sun Jun, Sun Quan named Zhuge Ke regent for his young son and successor, Sun Liang, who began his reign the following year, Zhuge rebuilt the Dongxing dam on Chaohu lake in Anhui), which Sun Quan had built in 230 but destroyed in 241 to create a reservoir as a defense against Wei and, with two castles built nearby, as a forward attack position for Wu ships. When the dam was restored, Wei's regent Sima Shi launched a major three-pronged attack against Wu, but Zhuge forced Sima to withdraw and then prepared to counter-attack in co-ordination with Jiang Wei, the Shu Han regent. Initially, his target was Shouchun but he changed his mind and attacked Hefei instead. After a long siege, he was forced to withdraw after heavy losses. When he returned to the capital in 253, he tried to suppress dissent against his rule, but Sun Jun told 10-year-old Sun Liang that Zhuge was planning a coup and arranged to have him assassinated. Then Sun Jun exterminated the Zhuge clan, but Wu was already in decline. In 254, suspecting that emperor Cao Fang was plotting with Li Feng aainst him, Sima Shi interrogated Li and then beat him to death with a sword handle; then executed Zhang Ji and his family and forced Cao to depose his wife, Zhang’s daughter. Cao’s entourage plotted to kill Sima’s brother Sima Zhao and use his troops against Sima Shi, but Cao did not act on the plan. Nevertheless, Sima deposed Cao. He planned to replace him with Cao Pi’s brother Cao Ju, but Cao Fang's stepmother, the empress dowager Guo pointed out that since Cao Ju was the uncle of her husband Cao Rui, such a succession would leave Cao Rui without an heir, but suggested that Sima should enthrone Cao Fang’s cousin, 13-year-old Cao Mao, instead. But Sima was sufferibg from an eye disorder that needed surgery, and in 255, generals Wuqiu Jian and Wen Qin revolted. Sima wanted his uncle Sima Fu to lead the Wei army against them but reluctantly took command himself. He defeated and slew Wuqiu and slaughtered his clan, but Wen fled to Wu. A raid by his son Wen Yang aggravated Sima’s bad eye, causing it to pop out. Less than a month after he put down the rebellion, Sima died at Xuchang (Xuchang, Henan), with his younger brother Sima Zhao in attendance to succeed him. Cao Huan succeeded to the throne in 260 after Cao Mao was killed in a failed coup against Sima Zhao, who died soon after and was followed by his son Sima Yan. In 263, Wei forced the Shu army from Hanzhong. Jiang Wei tried to hold Jiange but was outflanked by Deng Ai, who then took Chengdu and forced Liu Shan to surrendered. Sima Yan seized the throne for himself in 264, thus establishing the Jin dynasty. In 269 Yang Hu started preparing for the invasion of Wu by ordering the construction of a fleet and the training of marines in Sichuan under Wang Jun. The planned offensive finally came at the end of 279, when Sima launched five simultaneous offensives along the Yangtze River from Jianye (Nanjing) to Jiangling, while the Sichuan fleet sailed downriver to Jing. The Wu capital Jianye fell in 280 and the last king, Sun Hao, surrendered.


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