Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮

A sage who devotes himself to prospering Shu Han


Chinese Name: 诸葛亮

English Name: Zhuge Liang

Other Names: Kongming 孔明, Wolong 卧龙

Born: 181

Died: Octobrt 8, 234


Longzhong decision 隆中决策

Assist Liu Bei in seizing Jingzhou and Yizhou and establishing Shuhan 协助刘备夺取荆益和建立蜀汉

Launch five northern expeditions 发动五次北伐

Main Works:

Chu Shi Biao 出师表

Book of commandments 诫子书

Art of War (Chapter 24) 兵法二十四篇

Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮
Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮

Brief Biography of Zhuge Liang

Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮, the Prime Minister of Shu Han 蜀汉 in the Three Kingdoms 三国 period, was an outstanding politician, strategist, inventor, and writer in ancient China.

Zhuge Liang (181-October 8, 234), courtesy name Kongming 孔明, art name Wolong 卧龙, was born in Langya 琅琊 Yangdu (now Yinan County 沂南县, Linyi City 临沂市, Shandong Province 山东省). He went to Jingzhou with his uncle Zhuge Xuan in his early years. After Zhuge Xuan died, he lived in seclusion in Longzhong隆中.

When Liu Bei 刘备 was attached to Liu Biao 刘表 in Jingzhou, he visited Zhuge Liang three times. Zhuge Liang proposed to Liu Bei the strategy of occupying Jingzhou 荆州 and Yizhou 益州 and uniting Sun Quan 孙权 to jointly fight against Cao Cao 曹操. Liu Bei successfully established the Shuhan regime according to Zhuge Liang’s strategy, forming a tripartite confrontation with Sun Quan and Cao Cao.

Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮
Sun Quan 孙权

In the first year of Zhangwu 章武 (221), Liu Bei proclaimed himself Emperor and appointed Zhuge Liang as prime minister. After Liu Bei was defeated by Wu 吴, he entrusted the whole country to Zhuge Liang in Yongan 永安. After Liu Shan 刘禅 succeeded to the throne, Zhuge Liang was granted the title of Marquis of Wuxiang 武乡侯 and Yizhou mu 益州牧.

Being diligent and prudent, Zhuge Liang handled all major and minor political affairs in person and gave strict rewards and punishments. He implemented the policy of cultivating farmland and strengthened war preparedness. The five northern expeditions failed to achieve the goal of reviving the Han Dynasty 汉朝.

In the end, he died of illness due to accumulated labor in the 12th year of Jianxing 建兴 (234 years) in Wuzhangyuan 五丈原 (now in Qishan 岐山, Baoji City 宝鸡市, Shaanxi Province 陕西省) at the age of 54. The later generations often called him Marquis Wu 武侯 and he was granted the title of Wuxing king 武兴王 Huan wen 桓温 of the Eastern Jin Dynasty 东晋.

Personal Life and Major Contributions

Longzhong 隆中 Countermeasures

In the 6th year of Jian’an 建安 (201), Liu Bei was defeated by Cao Cao. He joined Liu Biao in Jingzhou and actively contacted local heroes. At that time, Liu Bei attached to Liu Biao and stationed troops in Xinye 新野(located in today’s Nanyang 南阳, Henan 河南). Later, when Sima Hui 司马徽 met Liu Bei, he said: “those Confucian scholars are people with shallow knowledge. How can they understand the current situation of the world? Only those who can understand the current situation of the world are heroes. At this time, only Wolong 卧龙 (Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮) and Fengchu 凤雏 (Pang Tong 庞统).”

In the 12th year of Jian’an (207), Zhuge Liang was recommended by Xu Shu 徐庶. Liu Bei hoped that Xu Shu would lead Liang to see him. However, Xu Shu suggested: “this person can go to see him, and he can’t be forced to come here. The general should condescend to visit him.” Liu Bei went to visit Zhuge Liang himself, and only after many visits did he meet Zhuge Liang.

After meeting Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei asked other people to avoid them and asked Liang: “the Han Dynasty is now in decline, and the treacherous minister has won the power under the pretext of the emperor. I want to uphold justice and revitalize the world, but my wisdom and strategy are not enough, so I often failed until today. However, my ambition was still great. Is there any plan to help me, sir?” Zhuge Liang then told him the plan of dividing the world into three parts. This thesis will be called “Longzhong strategy 隆中对” by later generations.

Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮
Longzhong strategy 隆中对

After hearing this, Liu Bei praised Zhuge Liang and strongly invited him to come out of the mountain to help. Zhuge Liang accepted his invitation and went out. Liu Bei often talked with him, and their relationship became increasingly close. Guan Yu 关羽, Zhang Fei 张飞 and others were greatly displeased. Liu Bei explained to them: “I have Kongming 孔明, just like a fish gets water. I hope you won’t say anything more.” Guan Yu and Zhang Fei stopped complaining. Zhuge Liang’s Longzhong strategy was the basic national policy of Liu Bei and Shu Han in the following decades. Zhuge Liang was just 27 years old at that time.

The Battle of Red Cliffs 赤壁之战

After Liu Bei led his troops to Xiakou 夏口 (now Hankou 汉口, Hubei Province 湖北省), Zhuge Liang said: “the situation is urgent now. I request to go to Jiangdong 江东to ask Sun Quan for help.” At that time, Sun Quan led the army to stay in Chaisang 柴桑 (now Jiujiang 九江, Jiangxi 江西) to watch the development of the situation.

After arriving at Chaisang, Zhuge Liang met Sun Quan. Zhuge Liang analyzed the situation for Sun Quan: “there was chaos in the sea. The general started to take possession of Jiangdong. Liu Yuzhou 刘豫州 also gathered his troops in the south of the Han River to compete with Cao Cao for the world. Now Cao Cao has calmed other forces and basically occupied the north. Now he has gone south to attack Jingzhou and shocked the world. Heroes have no weapons, so Liu Yuzhou fled here.”

Then, Zhuge Liang first gave Sun Quan two choices by dichotomy: “if you can compete with the Central Plains with the military strength of Wu and Yue, it would be better to break off diplomatic relations with Cao Cao as early as possible”; the other option is to use the force of coercion, “if you think you can’t resist, why don’t you stop the military action and submit to the North!”

Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮
the Battle of Red Cliffs 赤壁之战

Sun Quan asked Zhuge Liang why Liu Bei did not surrender. Zhuge Liang raised Liu Bei’s status, saying that Liu Bei had integrity and would never surrender, in order to show Sun Quan Liu Bei’s determination. Sun Quan was furious and vowed not to surrender to Cao Cao. He returned to Liu Bei with the army. In November, Cao Cao’s army was attacked by Sun Liu’s allied forces in Chibi 赤壁. Cao Cao’s army suffered great losses. At this time, the plague broke out in Cao Cao’s army. Cao Cao had no choice but to lead the army back to the north.

Northern Expedition to Cao Wei 曹魏

In order to support the Han Dynasty and unify the Central Plains, Zhuge Liang successively went out of Hanzhong from the spring of 228 to the winter of 234 and launched five wars against Cao Wei.

In the spring of the 6th year of Jianxing 建兴 (228), Zhuge Liang made the first northern expedition. He set up a suspect in Xiegu 斜谷 and led a large army to attack Qishan 祁山. Zhang He 张郃 won Ma Su 马谡 in Jieting 街亭, and he returned to Hanzhong 汉中.

In the winter of the 6th year of Jianxing (228), Zhuge Liang made the second northern expedition. He left the pass, surrounded Chencang, and attacked for more than 20 days. Finally, the Shu army retreated.

In the 7th year of Jianxing (229), Zhuge Liang made the third Northern Expedition. He sent Chen Shi 陈式 to capture Wudu 武都 and Yinping 阴平. Guo Huai 郭淮, the general of the Wei Dynasty, led the troops to rescue. He personally led the troops to Jianwei 建威. Guo Huai withdrew, and Shuhan successfully won the second commandery.

Zhuge Liang 诸葛亮
Northern Expedition to Cao Wei 北伐曹魏

In the 9th year of Jianxing (231), Zhuge Liang made the fourth Northern Expedition. The Shu army surrounded Qishan, and Sima Yi 司马懿 and Zhang He 张郃 led troops to rescue. Li Yan 李严 did not continue to transport grain, and the army of Shu withdrew from the army. Zhang He 张郃 chased the Shu army to Mumen 木门 and was shot by the Shu army.

In the 12th year of Jianxing (234), Zhuge Liang made the fifth Northern Expedition. Because they failed to capture Beiyuan 北原, they held a stalemate with the Wei army for more than 100 days. In the autumn, Zhuge Liang died, and the Shu army returned to Hanzhong. Thus, Zhuge’s Northern Expedition ended.

Video: Zhuge Liang | The China History Podcast

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