28 February 2010

A Recent Email to a Friend

Recently a friend was asking how to find Bible verses that are related, and if I knew of any Bibles that would help in this. This was my reply to him:

This is my favorite 2 Part New Testament Bible that is Annotated:
These are some good additions to the New Testament above, as it ties the Old Testament in to the New even more, although these books are heavy reading. Likely one cannot read more than a chapter at a time of these. I own all of these and love them all very much, although occasionally the publisher is polemical in their writings, but this can be chosen to be ignored for the greater enjoyment and education of the reader:
Though I have also occasionally heard some somewhat good things about this cheaper, annotated Bible too. However, I do not own it and cannot tell you anything about it from a first hand experience:
Here are the individual books on each of the Gospels that is over 1100 years old, translated in to every day English. I highly recommend that you buy the hardcover versions, as they will stand up to a lot of usage, and in most cases cost the same as the paperback versions!

21 February 2010

The First Epistle of Peter, Chapter 4

(King James Version & Chinese Union Version-Simplified Characters)

1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 1 基督既在肉身受苦,你们也当将这样的心志作为兵器,因为在肉身受过苦的,就已经与罪断绝了。
2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 2 你们存这样的心,从今以後就可以不从人的情欲,只从神的旨意在世度余下的光阴。
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 3 因为往日随从外邦人的心意行邪淫、恶欲、醉酒、荒宴、群饮,并可恶拜偶像的事,时候已经够了。
4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 4 他们在这些事上,见你们不与他们同奔那放荡无度的路,就以为怪,毁谤你们。
5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 5 他们必在那将要审判活人死人的主面前交账。
6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. 6 为此,就是死人也曾有福音传给他们,要叫他们的肉体按著人受审判,他们的灵性却靠神活著。
7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 7 万物的结局近了。所以,你们要谨慎自守,警醒祷告。
8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 8 最要紧的是彼此切实相爱,因为爱能遮掩许多的罪。
9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 9 你们要互相款待,不发怨言。
10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 10 各人要照所得的恩赐彼此服事,作神百般恩赐的好管家。
11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 11 若有讲道的,要按著神的圣言讲;若有服事人的,要按著神所赐的力量服事,叫神在凡事上因耶稣基督得荣耀。原来荣耀、权能都是他的,直到永永远远。阿们!
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 12 亲爱的弟兄啊,有火炼的试验临到你们,不要以为奇怪(似乎是遭遇非常的事)
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 13 倒要欢喜;因为你们是与基督一同受苦,使你们在他荣耀显现的时候,也可以欢喜快乐。
14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 14 你们若为基督的名受辱骂,便是有福的;因为神荣耀的灵常住在你们身上。
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. 15 你们中间却不可有人因为杀人、偷窃、作恶、好管闲事而受苦。
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 16 若为作基督徒受苦,却不要羞耻,倒要因这名归荣耀给神。
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 17 因为时候到了,审判要从神的家起首。若是先从我们起首,那不信从神福音的人将有何等的结局呢?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 18 若是义人仅仅得救,那不虔敬和犯罪的人将有何地可站呢?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 19 所以那照神旨意受苦的人要一心为善,将自己灵魂交与那信实的造化之主。

17 February 2010

First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13

(International Standard Version & Chinese Union Version-Simplified Characters)

1 If I speak in the tongues of humans and angels but have no love, I have become a reverberating gong or a clashing cymbal. 1 我若能说万人的方言,并天使的话语,却没有爱,我就成了鸣的锣,响的钹一般。
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing. 2 我若有先知讲道之能,也明白各样的奥秘,各样的知识,而且有全备的信,叫我能够移山,却没有爱,我就算不得什麽。
3 Even if I give away all that I have and surrender my body so that I may boast but have no love, I get nothing out of it. 3 我若将所有的 济穷人,又舍己身叫人焚烧,却没有爱,仍然与我无益。
4 Love is always patient, Love is always kind, Love is never envious Or vaunted up with pride. Nor is she conceited, 4 爱是恒久忍耐,又有恩慈;爱是不嫉妒;爱是不自夸,不张狂,
5 And never is she rude, Never does she think of self Or ever get annoyed. She never is resentful, 5 不做害羞的事,不求自己的益处,不轻易发怒,不计算人的恶,
6 Is never glad with sin, But always glad to side with truth, Whene'er the truth should win. 6 不喜欢不义,只喜欢真理;
7 She bears up under everything, Believes the best in all, There is no limit to her hope, And never will she fall. 7 凡事包容,凡事相信,凡事盼望,凡事忍耐。
8 Love never fails. Now if there are prophecies, they will be done away with. If there are tongues, they will cease. If there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 8 爱是永不止息。先知讲道之能终必归於无有;说方言之能终必停止;知识也终必归於无有。
9 For what we know is incomplete and what we prophesy is incomplete. 9 我们现在所知道的有限,先知所讲的也有限,
10 But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will be done away with. 10 等那完全的来到,这有限的必归於无有了。
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways. 11 我作孩子的时候,话语像孩子,心思像孩子,意念像孩子,既成了人,就把孩子的事丢弃了。
12 Now we see only a blurred reflection in a mirror, but then we will see face to face. Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 12 我们如今彷佛对著镜子观看,模糊不清(原文作如同猜谜);到那时就要面对面了。我如今所知道的有限,到那时就全知道,如同主知道我一样。
13 Right now three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 13 如今常存的有信,有望,有爱这三样,其中最大的是爱。

06 February 2010

Shen Yun Performing Arts Family Review

So last night we went to see the show since we were comped 3 tickets. The costumes, the interactive backdrop, and much of the dancing was beautiful, so overall I liked it.

My wife did not. She said classical Chinese dance shows in China were much much better, especially in Changsha. My daughter quasi-agreed, saying that this is probably the best you can get in America, but that the Miao people's show in old Feng Huang Chen in Hunan Province, China was much better. She was disappointed that the M.C. said that you could not see a show like this in China. But, the M.C. was right, because this show was promoting Falun Gong/Falun Dafa.

Although it is definitely talking about the teachings of Falun Dafa about half of the performances, the other half is historical dances and stories. Some sites have complained about this evangelism, and anti-PRC polemics such as the liberal, secular Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the anti-Falun Gong site, Facts.org.cn. That said, was surprised that after the show there was no handing out of leaflets about Falun Gong, free copies of the Epoch Times, or any other thing. It was more like they were telling us about their faith and not trying to recruit us.

With the program guides, there was a comment sheet to fill out. I voted the performance a Very good, my daughter called it good, and my wife called it poor. There were a lot of Chinese people there, not just Falun Gng memas well as Americans of all types of backgrounds. Most people dressed up nice, as if going to a ballet or theatrical performance. New Tang Dynasty Television in Dallas was there doing interviews with performers and people who loved the show.

Anyway, if you have never been to China, I think you will like this show, so if you are interested, you can see when they will near your city at the Shen Yun Performing Arts Website and see a preview at the Sound of Hope Network.

05 February 2010

The Han Dynasty of China

The Han Dynasty (simplified Chinese: 汉朝; traditional Chinese: 漢朝; pinyin: Hàn Cháo; Wade-Giles: Han Ch'ao; IPA: [xan tʂʰɑʊ̯]; 206 BCE–220 CE) was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BCE) and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms (220–265 CE). It was founded by the peasant rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty (9–23 CE) of the former regent Wang Mang. This interregnum separates the Han into two periods: the Western Han (206 BCE–9 CE) and Eastern Han (25–220 CE). Spanning over four centuries, the period of the Han Dynasty is considered a golden age in Chinese history. When Cao Pi, King of Wei, son of Cao Cao, usurped the throne from Emperor Xian, the Han Dynasty ceased to exist.

Shu Han (traditional Chinese: 蜀漢; simplified Chinese: 蜀汉; pinyin: Shǔ Hàn), sometimes known as the Kingdom of Shu (蜀 shǔ) was one of the Three Kingdoms competing for control of China after the fall of the Han Dynasty, based on areas around Sichuan which was then known as Shu. Some historians argue it was the last Han dynasty because Liu Bei was directly related to the Han sovereignty. The other two states were Cao Wei in central and northern China, and Eastern Wu in southern and southeastern China.

The Han Dynasty was an age of economic prosperity, and saw a significant growth of the money economy first established during the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1050–256 BCE). The coinage issued by the central government mint in 119 BCE remained the standard coinage of China until the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE). To pay for its military campaigns and the settlement of newly conquered frontier territories, the government nationalized the private salt and iron industries in 117 BCE. These government monopolies were repealed during the Eastern Han period, and the lost revenue was recouped through heavily taxing private entrepreneurs. The emperor was at the pinnacle of Han society. He presided over the Han government, but shared power with both the nobility and appointed ministers who came largely from the scholarly gentry class. From the reign of Emperor Wu onward, the Chinese court officially sponsored Confucianism in education and court politics, synthesized with the cosmology of later scholars such as Dong Zhongshu. This policy endured until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 CE. Science and technology during the Han period saw significant advances, including papermaking, the nautical steering rudder, the use of negative numbers in mathematics, the raised-relief map, the hydraulic-powered armillary sphere for astronomy, and a seismometer employing an inverted pendulum.

The Kingdom of Shu-Han was not simply a nation of war. During times of peace, Shu began many irrigation and road-building projects designed to improve the economy. Many of these public works still exist and are widely used. For example, the Nine-Mile Dam (Zipungpu Water Control Project) is still present near Chengdu in Sichuan province. These works helped improve the economy of Southwest China and can be credited with beginning the history of economic activity in the Sichuan area. It also allowed trade with Southern China, ruled by Eastern Wu.

Here are the Han leaders from Liu Bang to the son of Liu Bei:
  1. Emperor GaoZu of Han: Liu Bang
  2. Emperor Hui of Han: Liu Ying
  3. Emperor QianShao of Han: Liu Gong
  4. Emperor HouShao of Han: Liu Hong
  5. Emperor Wen of Han: Liu Heng
  6. Emperor Jing of Han: Liu Qi
  7. Emperor Wu of Han:Liu Che
  8. Emperor Zhao of Han: Liu FuLing
  9. Prince He of ChangYi: Liu He
  10. Emperor Xuan of Han: Liu BingYi
  11. Emperor Yuan of Han: Liu Shi
  12. Emperor Cheng of Han: Liu Ao
  13. Emperor Ai of Han: Liu Xin
  14. Emperor Ping of Han: Liu Kan
  15. Emperor Ruzi of Han: Liu Ying
  16. Emperor GengShi of Han: Liu Xuan
  17. Emperor GuangWu of Han: Liu Xiu
  18. Emperor Ming of Han: Liu Yang
  19. Emperor Zhang of Han: Liu Da
  20. Emperor He of Han: Liu Zhao
  21. Emperor Shang of Han: Liu Long
  22. Emperor An of Han: Lu Hu
  23. Emperor Shao of Han: Liu Yi
  24. Emperor Shun of Han: Liu Bao
  25. Emperor Chong of Han: Liu Bing
  26. Emperor Zhi of Han: Liu Zuan
  27. Emperor Huan of Han: Liu Zhi
  28. Emperor Ling of Han: Liu Hong
  29. Emperor Shao of Han: Liu Bian
  30. Emperor Xian of Han: Liu Xie
  31. Emperor ZhaoLie of Shu-Han: Liu Bei
  32. Emperor Huai of Shu-Han: Liu Shan
*Webcomic webisode from San: The Three Kingdoms Comic

02 February 2010

Founding Emperor of the Shu-Han Kingdom: Liu Bei

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

Culturally, due to the tremendous popularity of the 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 selected good advisors for his government. His character was an salutary example of a ruler who adhered to the Confucian set of moral values, such as loyalty and compassion.

Biography: Early life
Born in Zhuo Commandery (涿, present day Zhuozhou, Baoding, Hebei), Liu Bei was a descendant of Liu Zhen, the son 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 in a poor family, having lost his father when he was still a child. To support themselves, Liu and his mother sold shoes and straw-woven mats. At the age of fourteen, Liu Bei, sponsored by a more affluent relative who recognised his potential in leadership, went to study under the tutelage of Lu Zhi (a prominent scholar and, at the time, former Administrator of Jiujiang). He met and befriended Gongsun Zan (a prominent northern warlord in future) there.

The adolescent Liu Bei was said to be unenthusiastic in studying and displayed interest in hunting, music and dressing. 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[2].

Biography: Yellow Turban Rebellion
In 184, at the outbreak of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, Liu Bei called for the assembly of a volunteer army to help the imperial forces suppress the rebellion. Liu received financial contributions from two wealthy horse merchants and he rallied a group of loyal followers, of whom Guan Yu and Zhang Fei were the most outstanding ones.

Liu Bei led his army to join the provincial army. Together, they scored several victories against the rebels. In recognition of his contributions, Liu was appointed Prefect of Anxi (安喜令), Zhongshan commandery (中山). He resigned after refusing to submit to a corrupt inspector who attempted to ask him for bribes.

Liu traveled south with his followers to join another volunteer army to suppress the Yellow Turbans remnants in Xu Province (徐州, northern Jiangsu). For that achievement, he was appointed Prefect and Captain of Gaotang (高唐令、高唐尉).

Biography: Succeeding Tao Qian
In 192, after the splitting of the coalition against Dong Zhuo, China sank into war and chaos. Overran by rebels, Liu Bei moved north to seek safety with Gongsun Zan, who was at war 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, Liu was later appointed Prefect of Pingyuan County (平原)[3].

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. In face of strong pressure from Cao Cao's invading force, Tao appealed to Tian Kai for help. Tian and Liu led their armies to support Tao.

Cao Cao's subordinate Zhang Miao rebelled and allowed Lü Bu to take over Cao's base in Yan Province (兗州, present day western Shandong), forcing Cao to retreat from Xu Province. 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 resolved to let Liu Bei take charge of Xu Province 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.

Biography: Conflict with Lü Bu
In 195, Lü Bu was defeated by Cao Cao and sought refuge under Liu Bei. In the next year, Yuan Shu sent his general Ji Ling with a large army to invade 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, who was left behind by Liu Bei to guard Xiapi (capital of Xu Province at the time), killed Cao Bao (Chancellor of Xiapi when Tao Qian was still in charge of Xu Province) after an intense quarrel. Cao Bao's death caused unrest in the city, providing Lü Bu with an opportunity to seize control of the city and Lü captured the families of Liu Bei and his men during the surprise attack as well.

Liu Bei returned to Xiapi on receiving the news but his army disintegrated by the time he reached there. Liu rallied his remaining men and moved to Guangling where he was defeated by Yuan Shu. Liu then retreated to Haixi (海西), Donghai Commandery (東海). Faced with enemies on both sides and a lack of supplies (Mi Zhu used his personal wealth to support the army), Liu requested for a truce with Lü Bu, who accepted and returned Liu'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 moved his camp to Xiaopei where he rebuilt his army, 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), stationing in Xiaopei 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 they were defeated by Gao Shun. Liu Bei had to flee to Cao Cao again. Cao personally led an army to eliminate Lü Bu and scored a tactical victory at the battle of Xiapi.

Biography: Role in the Cao-Yuan conflict
By 199, Cao Cao had Emperor Xian in his control and was issuing orders under the pretense of imperial decrees. Liu Bei joined a conspiracy headed by Dong Cheng, an imperial relative, and some others to remove Cao Cao from power. Moreover, he was anxious to leave 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 asked to lead an army to intercept Yuan Shu. Before his advisers were able to change his mind, Cao Cao consented, commissioned Liu Bei and Zhu Ling with an army to move south. Having his path blocked, Yuan Shu turned back to Shouchun and died there later.

Zhu Ling returned to Xuchang, but Liu Bei stayed behind with the army. Liu seized the opportunity to kill Che Zhou, the Governor of Xu Province who was appointed by Cao Cao after Lü Bu's defeat. Liu took over Xu Province and left Guan Yu behind to guard Xiapi while he stationed himself in Xiaopei.

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

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 that Yuan Shao would be hesitant to attack Xuchang, Cao Cao turned south, overran Liu Bei's position. Guan Yu surrendered to Cao Cao as he was unsure whether Liu Bei was dead or alive.

Liu Bei fled north to join Yuan Shao, where he was received with respect by Yuan Shao and his son Yuan Tan. Liu participated in the battles along the Yellow River, in which Yuan Shao successively lost two of his best generals Yan Liang and Wen Chou, with the former being slain by Guan Yu.

Liu Pi in Runan rebelled against Cao Cao and Yuan Shao sent Liu Bei to lead an army to help Liu Pi. Liu Bei and Liu Pi attacked Xuchang but were defeated by Cao Ren. 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 to Runan again to aid the bandit Gong Du. Liu Bei defeated and killed Cao Cao's general Cai Yang there.

Biography: Taking refuge under Liu Biao
In 201, Cao Cao led his army to attack Liu Bei in Runan after having defeated Yuan Shao at the Battle of Guandu. Liu Bei fled to Jing Province to seek refuge under 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 for several years. During a meeting with Liu Biao, Liu Bei started weeping and the surprised Liu Biao inquired the reason. Liu Bei answered "In earlier times, I've 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 the Battle of 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 but he was assured by Guo Jia that Liu would not do so for fear of Liu Bei being more powerful than him. Cao Cao agreed and Guo Jia's point was proven later, when Liu Biao refused to attack Xuchang when Liu Bei advised him to do so.

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 from the destruction of war. Liu Bei asked Sima Hui, a revered recluse, about scholars. Sima Hui named Zhuge Liang and Pang Tong as exceptional talents who could comprehend important events of their time well. Xu Shu also urged Liu Bei to call on Zhuge Liang.

Liu Bei went to see Zhuge Liang and finally had an audience with him after three visits. Zhuge showed Liu the Longzhong plan, a long-term strategy that outlined how Liu could compete with Cao Cao.

Liu Biao died in 208 and his younger son Liu Cong succeeded him and surrendered to Cao Cao without resisting and without informing Liu Bei. By the time Liu Bei heard news of Liu Cong's surrender, Cao Cao's army had already reached Wancheng (modern Nanyang City). Liu Bei led his troops away and abandoned Fancheng, leading civilians and his followers (including some of Liu Biao's former attendants) on an exodus to the south. By the time they reached Dangyang (当阳), his followers numbered more than one hundred thousand and they moved only 10 li a day. Liu 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 pursuit. In a day and a night, Cao 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) and the Yangtze to Xiakou (夏口) with Liu Qi, Liu Biao's eldest son, and his men.

Biography: 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 went to meet Sun Quan as Liu Bei's envoy together with Lu Su at Chaisang (柴桑) to discuss the formation 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, while the alliance at best had 50,000 troops.

Cao Cao's troops who were mostly northerners, were unable to adapt to the southern climate and naval warfare, and that posed a major disadvantage to Cao. Subsequently, a plague broke out that undermined the strength of Cao's army. The fire attack masterminded by Zhou Yu and Huang Gai succeeded against Cao's chain-linked vessels and most of Cao's navy was destroyed in the battle. Majority of Cao's troops were burnt to death or drowned in the river while the survivors who retreated to the riverbank were ambushed and killed by skirmishers. Cao Cao barely escaped after his defeat. He retreated back to the north and left behind Cao Ren and Xu Huang to guard Jiangling and Yue Jin to defend Xiangyang.

Biography: Taking Jing Province
Sun Quan's forces led by Zhou Yu attacked Cao Ren after their resounding victory to wrestle for control of Jiangling. Liu Bei recommended Liu Qi to be the new Inspector of Jing Province (荊州刺史) and led his men to capture the four commanderies south of the Yangtze - Changsha, Lingling (零陵, present day Yongzhou, Hunan), Guiyang and Wuling (武陵). Liu set up his base at Gong'an and continued to strengthen his army. When Liu Qi died, Liu Bei succeeded him as Governor of Jing Province. Sun Quan's younger sister Lady Sun was married to Liu Bei to cement their alliance.

Subsequently, several of Liu Biao's former associates went to serve Liu Bei. Following the death of Zhou Yu in 210 and Liu Bei's growing influence in southern Jing Province, Sun Quan's position in the noth became more untenable. Lu Su succeeded Zhou Yu as the Grand Viceroy of Sun Quan's armies and he moved the headquarters further east from Jiangling to Lukou (陸口), yielding western Jing Province and access to the north to Liu Bei. In diplomatic terms, Sun Quan's side thought that they were "lending" Jing Province to Liu Bei as a temporary base that should be returned to them after Liu found another stronghold. However, Liu Bei did not recognise that "debt". In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Sun Quan sent envoys several times to ask Liu Bei to return Jing Province but Liu always dismissed those requests with excuses suggested by Zhuge Liang.

Biography: 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 was a strategic location and the "gateway" for attacks into Yi Province, Liu Zhang sent Fa Zheng to form an alliance with Liu Bei after persuasion from Zhang Song. Liu Zhang invited Liu Bei to join him in Yi Province to capture Hanzhong before Cao Cao did.

Liu Bei led an expedition force into Sichuan after leaving behind Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun to guard Jing Province. Liu Zhang received Liu Bei warmly and provided him with more troops under his command as well as provisions and equipment. Liu Bei headed to Jiameng Pass (葭萌, southwest of present day Guangyuan, Sichuan) at the border between Liu Zhang and Zhang Lu's territories.

In 212, Pang Tong outlined three plans for Liu Bei to choose from. The first was to advance swiftly to seize Chengdu from Liu Zhang with a special task force. The second was to take command of Liu Zhang's armies in the north and then move to capture Chengdu. The third one was to return to Baidicheng to await further action. Liu chose the second option. Liu Bei lied to Liu Zhang that he needed more troops to divert Cao Cao's attention away from the east (where Sun Quan was under attack), and requested for another 10,000 soldiers and additional provisions to aid in the defense of Jing Province. Liu Zhang gave him only 4000 troops and half of the others he asked for.

Zhang Su (張肅), Zhang Song's elder brother, discovered his brother's secret communications with Liu Bei and reported the issue to Liu Zhang. Liu Zhang was furious when he heard that Zhang Song had been plotting to help Liu Bei conquer him and he had Zhang executed. Liu Zhang also issued orders for all the generals guarding the passes to Chengdu not to let any word of this matter reach Liu Bei. In retaliation, Liu Bei summoned Yang Huai and Gao Pei, Liu Zhang's generals guarding Boshui Pass, and killed them on charges of disrespect towards him. Liu Bei captured the pass and advanced to attack Fucheng (涪城).

In the spring of 213, Liu Zhang sent Liu Gui, Leng Bao, Zhang Ren, Deng Xian, Wu Yi and other generals to attack Liu Bei. They were defeated and retreated to Mianzhu (綿竹). Wu Yi surrendered so Liu Zhang sent Li Yan and Fei Guan to take over command of Mianzhu. They surrendered as well and the remnant force under command of Liu Zhang's son Liu Xun retreated to defend Luo (雒, northwest of Chengdu). Liu Bei's advisor Pang Tong was killed by a stray arrow in the battle. In 214, Luo fell and Liu Bei proceeded to besiege Chengdu, where he was joined by Zhuge Liang, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun who had come from Jing Province to support him.

Liu Zhang continued to hold on. Ma Chao, a warlord from Liang Province (涼州, modern Gansu) who had submitted to Liu Bei, appeared and set his camp north of Chengdu. The people in the city were surprised and shaken. Liu Bei sent Jian Yong to ask for Liu Zhang's surrender, which Liu agreed. 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) and moved him to Gong'an.

Liu Bei now assumed the role of Governor of Yi Province (益州牧) and set up his new government. Zhuge Liang was promoted to Grand Advisor (軍師) in charge of the Office of the General of the Left, placing Zhuge in control of managing all affairs. Dong He was appointed Household General of the Army (掌軍中郎將) and acting deputy to Zhuge Liang. The rest of Liu Bei's followers, new and old, were entrusted with new responsibilities and promoted to new ranks.

Biography: First Wu-Shu conflict
In 215, Sun Quan sent Zhuge Jin as an emissary to demand for the return of Jing Province, 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 command of the army at Lukou (陸口). Liu Bei went to Gong'an and sent Guan Yu to retake southern Jing Province.

Liu Bei requested for a border treaty with Sun Quan as he became worried when he heard that Cao Cao was planning to attack Hanzhong. Liu asked Sun to create a diversion for Cao Cao by attacking Hefei. In return, Liu gave the three commanderies Jiangxia, Changsha and Guiyang to Sun, setting the new border along the Xiang River.

Biography: Hanzhong Campaign - Battle of Mount Dingjun and Battle of Han River
In 215, Cao Cao defeated Zhang Lu and seized Hanzhong. Sima Yi advised him to take advantage of the victory to attack Yi Province, since it was still unstable under Liu Bei's new government and Liu himself was away in Jing Province. Cao hesitated and left after leaving behind Xiahou Yuan, Zhang He and 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) while Liu Bei appointed Zhang Fei as Administrator of Baxi (巴西) and ordered him to attack Zhang He. Zhang Fei and Zhang He faced each other for two months, which concluded with a victory for the former following a surprise attack on the latter's camp. Zhang He retreated to Nanzheng (南鄭) and the Ba region henceforth became part of Liu Bei's territory.

In 217, Fa Zheng advised Liu Bei to attack Hanzhong, claiming that Xiahou Yuan and Zhang He were inferior to their generals. Liu Bei sent Zhang Fei, Ma Chao, Wu Lan and a few others to Xiabian (下辨), Wudu (武都) (to block reinforcement from Chang'an, while he led the main army to camp at Yangping Pass. Cao Cao sent Cao Hong to attack them.

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

Liu Bei, who was facing Xiahou Yuan, Zhang He and Xu Huang at Yangping Pass, sent Chen Shi and others to barricade Mamingge (馬鳴閣), but Chen Shi was attacked and defeated by Xu Huang. Liu Bei pressed on Zhang He at Guangshi (廣石) but failed to achieve any success. He ordered for a mobilisation of all of the armies in Yi Province to support the attack. Following that, Cao Cao decided to come to Hanzhong and take command of his armies personally. He stopped at Chang'an to gather reinforcements.

In the spring of 219, Liu Bei and Xiahou Yuan had faced each other for over a year. Liu moved to the south of the Mian River (沔水) and laid camp at Mount Dingjun while Xiahou Yuan encamped in the valley below. Liu sent 10,000 troops to attack Zhang He in Guangshi at night and set fire to Xiahou Yuan's defense perimeter. Xiahou had to split his men to put out the fire and reinforce Zhang He. Fa Zheng saw an opportunity for attack and signaled to Liu to launch an assault. Liu sent Huang Zhong to eliminate Xiahou's weakened force from above and completely routed the enemy. Both Xiahou Yuan and Zhao Yong (趙顒), Cao Cao's appointed Inspector of Yi Province, were killed in the battle.

Zhang He, who had been elected to replace Xiahou Yuan by Du Xi, and Guo Huai, retreated to Hanzhong and continued to defend the northern bank of the Han River. Cao Cao arrived from Chang'an via Yegu Pass with reinforcements. Liu Bei then led his army to seize all strategic points along the riverbank. Cao Cao and Liu Bei faced each other across the Han River for several months. Cao Cao retreated to Chang'an eventually as his army's morale gradually fell and Hanzhong became part of Liu Bei's territory. Liu then sent Meng Da and Liu Feng to capture Fangling (房陵) and Shangyong (上庸) and ordered them to station there.

Biography: Founding of Shu Han
In response to Cao Cao's promotion to the title of King of Wei (魏王), in 219, Liu Bei declared himself King of Hanzhong (漢中王) and set up his headquarters in Chengdu. He appointed Liu Shan as the heir-apparent. Wei Yan was promoted to the rank of General Who Maintains Distant Lands in Peace (鎮遠將軍) and Administrator of Hanzhong (漢中太守). Xu Jing was appointed as Grand Tutor (太傅) while Fa Zheng was made Prefect of the Masters of Writing (尚書令). Guan Yu was appointed as General of the Vanguard (前將軍), Zhang Fei as General of the Right (右將軍), Ma Chao as General of the Left (左將軍) and Huang Zhong as General of the Rear (後將軍). In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, those four generals, along with Zhao Yun, were collectively known as the Five Tiger Generals. The rest of Liu's subjects were promoted as well.

In the same year, Sun Quan's forces 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. In response to the usurping of the Han throne by Cao Pi, Liu Bei also declared himself Emperor of Shu Han so as to carry on the lineage of the Han Dynasty. In 221, Liu Bei appointed his son Liu Shan as the Crown Prince.

Biography: Defeat and death
In the autumn of 222, Liu Bei personally led an army to attack 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). Lu held his position there and refused to engage the invaders.

By summer, the Shu Han troops were weary and low in morale. Liu Bei was forced to camp in a forest for shade. Lu Xun ordered a counterattack and set fire to the Shu Han camps. A large part of Liu Bei's army perished in the battle and the remaining troops were forced to retreat west to Ma'an Hills (马鞍山, northwest of Yiling, not to be confused with Ma'anshan, Anhui). Lu Xun's men besieged the hills and attacked before Liu could reorganise his troops and make a last stand. With most of his troops routed, Liu Bei escaped overnight to Baidicheng.

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. His son Liu Shan succeeded him as Emperor of Shu Han.

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)[4] 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:

Sworn 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 184, 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.

 The concept was passed down in popular folklore. The Records of Three Kingdoms says the three often shared a home, 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.[5]

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.[6] 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.

Modern references: Card games
In the collectible card game Magic the Gathering there is a card named Liu Bei, Lord of Shu, in the Portal: Three Kingdoms set.

In the selection of personality cards in the popular Chinese Game 三国杀 (San1 Guo2 Sha1), there is also a Liu Bei personality that players can select at the beginning of the game.

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". Before DW6, he wielded one sword, and had facial hair.

In DW5, he loses both of his brothers and his love, Shang Xiang, but he unites the land. In DW4 Xtreme Legends, he protects common people from being killed. In DW5 XL, he teams up with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei to protect Lou Sang Village. In DW6, he unites the land, but he loses Guan Yu from the war.

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.

In WO2, he works with Zuo Ci and Shang Xiang in chasing Da Ji from Shi Ting. He sends Tokugawa to try and recruit Date Masamune and Saika Village. He teams up with Honda Tadakatsu and Zhang Fei at Nagashino to battle Lu Bu. He sends Xing Cai and Inahime to find out more about Taira Kiyomori. He greets Akechi Mitsuhide and Hosokawa Gracia, who join Shu. He sends Guan Yu to battle Taira Kiyomori. He proves to Taigong Wang the true human spirit and the virtuous spirit. In Dream Mode, he works with Cao Cao and Sun Quan on proving their worth to Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Leyasu, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi at Osaka Castle.

Liu Bei is featured as one of the main protagonists in real-time wargame Kessen II, also produced by Koei. He rescues his true love, Diao Chan, and becomes a very powerful lord, uniting the land. He almost lost everyone due to his obsession to Diao Chan, but most of the forces return to help him.

  • Liu Hong (劉弘), descendant of Liu Sheng (劉勝), Prince Jing of Zhongshan (中山靖王), son of Emperor Jing of Han and brother of Emperor Wu of Han
  • Liu Yuanqi (劉元起), Liu Hong's younger brother
  • 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
  • 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 Zhi (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 in 220)
  1. 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.
  2. Luo, Guanzhong. Romance of the Three Kingdoms Chapter 1
  3. Pingyuan laid on the border between Yuan Shao and Gongsun Zan's territories.
  4. Roberts 1991, pg. 942
  5. "武侯祠祭“鞋神”劉備". 四川在線. "宣傳成都民俗文化 武侯祠祭祀"鞋神"刘备". 文化産業網.
  6. "劉備啥時候成了“鞋神”". 揚子晚報.
  • 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. Zizhi Tongjian
  • Chen Shou (2002). San Guo Zhi. Yue Lu Shu She. ISBN 7-80665-198-5.
  • Luo Guanzhong (1986). San Guo Yan Yi. Yue Lu Shu She. ISBN 7-80520-013-0.
  • Lo Kuan-chung; tr. C.H. Brewitt-Taylor (2002). Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0-8048-3467-9.
  • Roberts, Moss, tr. Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel (1991) University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-22503-1

First Emperor of the Han Dynasty in China: Liu Bang

Emperor Gao (256/247 BC – 1 June 195 BC), commonly known within China by his temple name, Gaozu (Chinese: 高祖; pinyin: Gāozǔ, Wade-Giles: Kao Tsu), personal name Liu Bang (Wade-Giles: Liu Pang), was the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, ruling over China from 202 BC to 195 BC. Liu Bang was one of the few dynasty founders in Chinese history who emerged from the peasant class (another major example being Zhu Yuanzhang of the Ming Dynasty). In the early stage of his rise to prominence, Liu was addressed as "Duke of Pei", with the "Pei" referring to his hometown of Pei County. He was also granted the title of "King of Han" by Hegemon-King of Western Chu Xiang Yu, when Xiang split the former Qin empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms, and he was known by this title before becoming Emperor of China.

Biography: Birth and early life
Liu Bang was born in a peasant family in Zhongyang, Fengyi, Pei County (沛縣豐邑中陽里; present-day Feng County, Jiangsu province). His parents' names were not recorded in history and they were referred to as "Liu Taigong" (劉太公; Old Sir Liu) and "Liu Ao" (劉媼[7]; Old Madam Liu). Before Liu Bang's birth, his mother was taking a nap one day when she dreamt of a divine being. Just then, there was lightning and thunder and the sky darkened. Liu's father went to see his wife and saw a dragon beside her. Shortly after that, Liu's mother became pregnant and gave birth to Liu Bang.

Liu had a high nose, nice whiskers and a beard, bearing some resemblance to a dragon in appearance. He had 72 dark spots on his left leg as well. The young Liu Bang was outspoken, charismatic and of great forbearance and tolerance. However, Liu enjoyed loafing, disliked reading and showed no interest in farming, hence his father often chided him as a "little rascal". Liu persisted in his idling ways and depended on his brother's family for food and lodging. When he grew older, he was appointed as a patrol officer and forged close relationships with the officials in the county office, earning himself a little reputation in his hometown. While having drinks with his friends in the local taverns, they would notice a silhouette of a dragon on him whenever he was drunk. The tavern owners felt that Liu Bang was an extraordinary person and provided him with drinks each time free of charge.

One day back in his hometown, a respectable man known as Lord Lü, who had recently moved to Pei County, was visited by the most famous men in town. Xiao He, who was in charge of helping Lord Lü collect the gifts from the visitors, announced, "Those who do not offer more than 1,000 coins in gifts shall be seated outside the hall." Liu Bang went there without bringing a single cent and said, "I offer 10,000 coins." Lord Lü saw Liu Bang and was impressed with Liu on first sight, that he immediately stood up and welcomed Liu into the hall to sit beside him. Xiao He told Lord Lü that Liu was not serious, but Liu ignored him and chatted with Lü. Lü said, "I used to predict fortunes for many people but I've never seen someone so exceptional like you before." Lord Lü then offered his daughter Lü Zhi's hand-in-marriage to Liu Bang and they were wed. Lü Zhi bore Liu Bang a son (future Emperor Hui of Han) and a daughter (future Princess Luyuan).

Biography: Insurrection against the Qin Dynasty
Once, Liu Bang was put in charge of escorting some convicts to Mount Li (驪山; in present-day Shaanxi province) to build the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang. During the journey, many prisoners fled and Liu Bang feared for his life as allowing convicts to escape was a capital crime punishable by death at that time. Liu then released the remaining prisoners and became a fugitive, with some of the men he released voluntarily agreeing to follow him. In legend, they encountered a gigantic white serpent that killed some people with its poisonous breath. Liu killed the serpent that night and he encountered an old woman weeping by the roadside the next morning. When Liu's men asked her why she was crying, she replied, "My child, the son of the White Emperor, has been slain by the son of the Red Emperor.", and she disappeared mysteriously. After hearing the old woman's strange words, Liu Bang's men believed that he was destined to become a ruler in future and became more impressed with him. The event was called "Uprising of the Slaying of the White Serpent" (斬白蛇起義).

Liu Bang and his followers sought refuge on Mount Mangdang (芒砀山) near Pei County and lived in an outlaw stronghold there. Liu still maintained secret contact with his old friends, such as Xiao He and Cao Shen, in his hometown. In 209 BC, Chen Sheng and Wu Guang rose up in rebellion against the Qin Dynasty, known as the Daze Village Uprising. The magistrate of Pei County considered rebelling as well, so at the advice of Xiao He and Cao Shen, he sent Fan Kuai (Liu Bang's relative) to invite Liu and his followers back to Pei to support him. However, the magistrate changed his mind later and denied Liu Bang's party entry into the city. He was worried that Xiao and Cao might open the city gates for Liu so he intended to have them executed, but Xiao and Cao escaped and joined Liu. Liu Bang followed Xiao He's suggestion and ordered his men to send letters on arrows fired into the city, urging his townsfolk to surrender and help him. They responded to Liu's call and killed the magistrate, welcoming Liu back into the city. Liu was then addressed as "Duke of Pei" (沛公) or "Lord Pei" by his followers.

In 208 BC, during the reign of Qin Er Shi, the descendants of the royal families of the former Yan, Zhao, Qi and Wei states rose in rebellion against the Qin Dynasty in the name of restoring their states. In Wu (吳; in present-day Jiangsu province), Xiang Liang started an uprising as well and installed Mi Xin as King Huai II of Chu. Liu Bang went to join Xiang Liang and served under the Chu state for some time. After Xiang Liang was killed in action at the Battle of Dingtao, King Huai II sent Xiang's nephew Xiang Yu and Song Yi to lead an army to attack the Qin forces and help Zhao. Liu Bang was granted the title of "Marquis of Wu'an" (武安侯) by the king and put in charge of an army to attack Qin. The king promised that whoever managed to enter Guanzhong (heartland of Qin) first will be granted the title of "King of Guanzhong". In 206 BC, Liu Bang's army beat Xiang Yu's forces in the race to Guanzhong and arrived at Xianyang, the capital city of Qin. The last Qin ruler Ziying surrendered to Liu Bang and the Qin Dynasty ended. Liu issued rare, strict orders for his troops, forbidding them from killing innocent civilians and pillaging the cities they conquered. The peace and stability in Xianyang was restored temporarily while Liu Bang's army was stationed there.

Biography: Chu–Han contention
Xiang Yu was dissatisfied that Liu Bang had beat him in the race so he set a trap to kill Liu Bang, after being instigated by his advisor Fan Zeng and a defector from Liu's side, Cao Wushang. Xiang invited Liu to attend a banquet, known as the Banquet Feast at HongMen (Beautiful Gate), while secretly preparing to kill Liu during the feast. However, Xiang's uncle Xiang Bo, who was a close friend of Liu's strategist Zhang Liang, managed to persuade Xiang Yu to spare Liu's life. Fan Zeng then ordered Xiang Yu's cousin Xiang Zhuang to perform a sword dance during the feast and use the opportunity to kill Liu Bang, but Xiang Bo prevented him from doing so. Liu Bang lied that he needed to go to the latrine and escaped back to his camp. Liu Bang and his troops evacuated from Xianyang and retreated westwards later. Xiang Yu led his men into Xianyang and the city turned into a living hell when Xiang's soldiers plundered and pillaged the city, committing atrocities against civilians and destroying the Epang Palace by fire.

Xiang Yu proclaimed himself "Hegemon-King of Western Chu" and split the former Qin empire into Eighteen Kingdoms. The land of Guanzhong, rightfully Liu Bang's according to King Huai II's earlier promise, was granted by Xiang to three surrendered Qin generals instead. Liu Bang was relocated to Hanzhong in the remote Bashu region and granted the title of "King of Han" (漢王). While Xiang was away suppressing the rebellion in Qi, Liu Bang led his troops to seize Guanzhong and several lands, including Xiang Yu's capital city of Pengcheng (彭城; present-day Xuzhou) at one point. The forces of Western Chu and Han then engaged in a power struggle for supremacy over China for about five years, known as the Chu–Han contention, with victories and defeats for both sides in various battles.

Initially, Western Chu had an advantage over Han, but the tide turned in favour of the latter in 203 BC, after Xiang Yu and Liu Bang came to an armistice, known as the Treaty of Honggou, that divided China into east and west under their domains respectively. Liu Bang renounced the treaty and attacked Xiang Yu shortly afterwards, taking Xiang by surprise and scoring a series of victories in the following battles. Liu Bang's forces defeated Xiang Yu's at the Battle of Gaixia in 202 BC and Xiang committed suicide. Western Chu surrendered and China was unified under Liu Bang's rule.

Biography: Establishment of the Han Dynasty
In 202 BC, Liu Bang became Emperor of China with support from his subjects, even though he had expressed some reluctance in taking the throne. Liu named his dynasty "Han", historically known as "Western Han Dynasty", and he became known as Emperor Gao (or Gaozu). He built his capital city in Luoyang and appointed Lü Zhi as his empress and his son Liu Ying as the crown prince.

The following year, Emperor Gaozu rewarded his subjects who had contributed to the dynasty's founding, but the process prolonged for a year as the subjects started fighting among themselves for the rewards. Gaozu felt that Xiao He's contributions were the greatest, so he granted Xiao the title of "Marquis of Zan" and the greatest amount of food storages. Zhang Liang was granted the title of "Marquis of Liu". Some of Gaozu's subjects expressed their objections because they felt that Xiao did not participate personally in battles so his contributions were not great. Gaozu replied that Xiao He was involved in the strategic planning so credit should be given to Xiao because he was the one who set the direction for them to go. Cao Shen was named as the greatest contributor on the battlefield. As for the other subjects, Gaozu rewarded them accordingly to their contributions.

Biography: Death
Emperor Gaozu was wounded by a stray arrow during the military campaign to suppress Ying Bu's rebellion. He fell seriously ill and remained in his inner chambers for a long period of time, ordering his guards to deny anyone entry. After several days, Fan Kuai barged into the chambers to see Gaozu and the other subjects followed behind him. They saw Gaozu lying on his bed with only a eunuch serving him. Fan said, "How glorious it was when Your Majesty first led us to conquer the empire and how weary we are now. Your subjects are worried when they learn that Your Majesty is ill, but Your Majesty refuses to see us and prefers the company of a eunuch instead? Have Your Majesty forgotten the incident about Zhao Gao?" Gaozu laughed after hearing that and got out of bed to meet his subjects.

Gaozu's health deteriorated later and Empress Lü hired one of the best physicians to heal him. When Gaozu enquired about his condition, the physician told him that his illness can be cured. However, Gaozu was displeased and he scolded the physician, saying, "Isn't it Heaven's will that I managed to conquer this empire in simple clothing and with nothing but a sword? My life is determined by Heaven, and it will still be useless even if Bian Que was here!" Gaozu refused to continue with his treatment and sent the physician away with some gold. Before his death, Gaozu said Cao Shen can be Chancellor after Xiao He dies, and Wang Ling may succeed Cao. Gaozu also said that Wang may be too young to take on his duties so Chen Ping may assist Wang, but Chen is also qualified to take on the responsibilities alone. Gaozu also named Zhou Bo as a possible candidate for the role of Grand Commandant. Emperor Gaozu died in Changle Palace on 1 June 195 BC and was succeeded by the crown prince Liu Ying, who became Emperor Hui of Han.

Reign: Reducing taxes and corvée
Emperor Gaozu disbanded his armies and allowed his soldiers to return home after becoming the emperor. He issued an order for those under the jurisdiction of his regional kings, stating that those who remained in Guanzhong will be exempted from taxes and corvée for twelve years, whereas those who returned to their respective fiefdoms will be exempted for six years and the state will provide for them for a year. Gaozu also granted freedom to those who had sold themselves into slavery to avoid hunger during the war. In 195 BC, Emperor Gaozu issued two imperial decrees, the first to officialize the lowering of taxes and corvée, and the second to fix the amount of tribute paid to the imperial court from the regional kings in the 10th month of every year. The land tax on agricultural production was reduced to a rate of one-fifteenth of crop yield.

Reign: Emphasis on Confucianism
In his early days, Emperor Gaozu disliked reading and placed Confucianism in low regard. After he ascended to the throne, he retained the same perspective towards Confucianism as before, until he was enlightened by the scholar Lu Jia. Lu wrote a twelve-volume book titled Xinyu (新語), stressing the benefits of governing the nation by moral virtue rather than by using coercive laws. Lu read each volume to the emperor after he had finished writing it, and Gaozu was deeply impressed. Under Emperor Gaozu's reign, the influence of Confucianism increased and gradually replaced Legalism, which dominated and prevailed in the previous dynasty. Confucian scholars, including Lu Jia, were recruited into Gaozu's government and Gaozu also introduced reforms to the legal system, lightening the harsh laws from the Qin Dynasty and reducing the severity of punishments. In 196 BC, after putting down Ying Bu's rebellion, Gaozu's army passed by Shandong (native land of Confucius), where Gaozu personally prepared for a ceremony to pay his respects to the late philosopher.

Reign: Dispute over the succession
In his later years, Emperor Gaozu began to show greater affection for Concubine Qi and paid less attention to Empress Lü Zhi. He felt that the crown prince Liu Ying (born to the empress), his oldest son and heir apparent to the throne, was too weak to be a ruler. Gaozu had the intention of deposing Liu Ying and replacing him with another son Liu Ruyi (born to Concubine Qi), Prince of Zhao. Empress Lü became worried and asked Zhang Liang to help her son retain his position. Zhang recommended four reclusive wise men, collectively known as the "Four Haos of Mount Shang" (商山四皓) to help Liu Ying.

In 195 BC, after Emperor Gaozu returned from suppressing Ying Bu's rebellion, his health worsened and he desired even more to change the crown prince. Zhang Liang tried to dissuade him but Gaozu ignored Zhang, so Zhang retired from state affairs on the excuse that he was ill. The crown prince's tutor Shusun Tong and Zhou Chang protested strongly against Gaozu's decision to replace the crown prince. Zhou said, "I'm not good in arguing, but I know that this is not right. If Your Majesty deposes the crown prince, I won't listen to your orders anymore."[8] Zhou was a straightforward man and he had a stuttering problem, which made his speech even more amusing and Gaozu laughed. After that, the four wise men appeared and Gaozu was surprised to see them because they had refused to serve him before. They promised to help Liu Ying in future if he became the emperor. Gaozu was pleased to see that Liu Ying now had the support of the four men, so he dismissed the idea of replacing the crown prince.

Reign: Military campaigns
After establishing the Han Dynasty, Emperor Gaozu appointed several regional kings to help him govern his empire and granted them fiefs spread throughout the land. There were seven of them; Zang Tu, King of Yan; Han Xin, King of Han; Han Xin, King of Chu; Peng Yue, King of Liang; Ying Bu, King of Huainan; Zhang Er, King of Zhao; Wu Rui, King of Changsha. However, Gaozu became worried later that the kings might rebel against him, because they were after all, not from his own clan. He had some of them framed and executed on charges of treason, such as Peng Yue, while others such as Ying Bu and Zang Tu did rebel against him later and were eliminated by him. Only Wu Rui and Zhang Er were left eventually.

During Qin Shi Huang's reign, the threat of the Xiongnu in the north was already present. Qin Shi Huang sent Meng Tian to lead an army to attack the Xiongnu and defend the northern border, while ordering the construction of the Great Wall to safeguard the Qin empire. Meng achieved success in driving the invaders back north. Following the collapse of the Qin Dynasty, the Xiongnu seized the advantage to advance south and raid the border again. In 201 BC, Han Xin (King of Han) surrendered to the Xiongnu and in the following year, Emperor Gaozu led his army to attack the Xiongnu. However, the Han forces were no match for the Xiongnu (led by Modu) and Gaozu's army was besieged at Baideng by 300,000 enemy cavalry. Gaozu left safely after he followed Chen Ping's suggestion to bribe Modu's wife with gifts and ask her to request for her husband to lift the siege. As an act of appeasement, Gaozu initiated the policy of Heqin, which was, to marry noble ladies from his royal clan and offer yearly tributes to the Xiongnu chieftains in exchange for peace between both sides. The policy lasted until Emperor Wu of Han's time.

In contrast with his rival Xiang Yu, usually depicted as a romantic man of noble origin, Liu Bang was often mentioned as a rogue or street ruffian. Xiang treated his subordinates and peers well even though he was ruthless and cruel towards his enemies. On the other hand, Liu appeared as a charismatic but shrewd leader, who manipulated his subjects for his own purposes while putting on an image of a benevolent and righteous lord. Liu Bang forbid his men from killing civilians and pillaging the cities he conquered, in order to win the support and trust of the people. In direct contrast, Xiang Yu was cruel and condoned the acts of brutality by his followers towards the common people, that accounted for his decline in popularity. Liu Bang's strengths include: his ability to make decisions based on advice from his subjects; making sound judgements when accepting others' views; performing acts that would win him the support of others and his personal charisma.

After the establishment of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang initially handsomely rewarded his subjects who helped him gain the throne, but he grew suspicious of them later and doubted their loyalties. Two of his subjects who contributed heavily to the dynasty's founding, Han Xin and Peng Yue, were killed on Empress Lü Zhi's orders and their clans exterminated as well. Despite his various character flaws, Liu Bang treated the people better than the Qin rulers and was a very popular monarch during his reign.

Personal information
  • Liu Taigong (literally: Old Sir Liu)
  • Liu Ao (literally: Old Madam Liu)
  • Empress Lü Zhi, mother of Liu Ying and Princess Luyuan
Major concubines:
  • Consort Cao, mother of Liu Fei
  • Consort Qi, mother of Liu Ruyi
  • Consort Wan
  • Consort Guan
  • Consort Bo, mother of Liu Heng
  • Consort Zhao, mother of Liu Chang
  • Consort Zhao Zi'er
  • Liu Fei, Prince Daohui of Qi
  • Liu Ying, Crown Prince, later Emperor Hui
  • Liu Jian, Prince Ling of Yan (instated 202 BC, d. 181 BC)
  • Liu Ruyi, Prince Yin of Zhao
  • Liu Heng, Prince of Dai, later Emperor Wen
  • Liu Hui, Prince of Liang, later Prince Gong of Zhao
  • Liu You, Prince of Huaiyang, later Prince You of Zhao
  • Liu Chang, Prince Li of Huainan
  • Liu Luyuan, Princess
  • Liu Xiang, Prince Ai of Qi, son of Liu Fei
  • Liu Zhang, Prince Jing of Chengyang, son of Liu Fei
  • Liu Xingju, Marquess of Dongmou, son of Liu Fei
  • Liu Qi, Crown Prince, later Emperor Jing, son of Liu Heng (Liu Bei would be born of this lineage)
Popular culture
Liu Bang is one of the 32 historical figures who appear as special characters in the video game Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI by Koei.

A somewhat negative telling of the story of Liu Bang and Xiang Yu (and their wives and followers) is available as a great Chinese movie (with English subtitles) in two parts: The Great Conqueror's Concubine Part A and The Great Conqueror's Concubine Part B.

Notes and references
  1. Was already Prince of Han (漢王) since March 206 BC, having been enfeoffed by the rebelled leader Xiang Yu. Liu Bang was proclaimed emperor on 28 February, 202 BC after defeating Xiang Yu.
  2. Name meaning "the youngest one". Liu Bang was the third son of his father, his oldest brother was called Bo (伯) , i.e. the "First one", and his second older brother was called Zhong (仲) , i.e. the "Middle one".
  3. Had his name changed into Bang, meaning "country", either when he was made Prince of Han, or when he ascended the imperial throne.
  4. Ji was the courtesy name according to Sima Qian in his Records of the Grand Historian. It may be that Liu Bang, after he changed his name into Bang, kept his original name Ji as his courtesy name. However, some authors do not think that "Ji" was ever used as the courtesy name of Liu Bang.
  5. This is the birth year reported by Huangfu Mi (皇甫謐) (215-282), the famous author of acupuncture books.
  6. This is the birth year reported by Chen Zan (臣瓚) around AD 270 in his comments of the Book of Han (漢書) .
  7. Note that the Chinese character "媼" (ǎo) is not the personal name of Liu's mother. It was used as a formal way of addressing an old woman at that time.
  8. ^ 臣口不能言,然臣期期知其不可。陛下雖欲廢太子,臣期期不奉詔。
Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part 2. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.
Sima, Qian. Records of the Grand Historian (史記; Shiji), Biography of Emperor Gaozu (高祖本紀).

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