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Three Kingdoms

Brief history of the Three Kingdoms

Fall of the Han Dynasty
• Yellow Turban Rebellion
At the end of the second century chaos came throughout the land, people no longer rely on authority of the Han. People joined a religious sect called the Way of Peace, under command of Zhang Jiao. He raised an army together with his brothers Zhang Bao and Zhang Liang and thousands of peasants. Imperial generals like Huangfu Song, Lu Su and Zhu Jun were placed in command to fight Zhang Jiao. Liu Yan asked for help against Zhang Jiao’s armies, Liu Bei and his sworn brothers Guan Yu and Zhang Fei want to help restore the Han dynasty. Because Zhang Jiao’s rebels wore yellow hats they were called the Yellow Turbans. Cao Cao became well known for defeating Zhang Bao and Zhang Liang. Liu Bei rescues Imperial General Dong Zhuo. Officers like Sun Jian eliminated the remnant forces. Later on Zhang Jiao died of illness.

• Battle of Hu Lao Gate
Dong Zhuo takes control over the Imperial Court. Cao Cao tries to assassinate Dong Zhuo but fails and flees. He sent out a call to arms across the land to form an alliance against Dong Zhuo. Yuan Shao, Yuan Shu, Sun Jian and Ma Teng joined forces with Cao Cao. Liu Bei and his brothers joined Gongsun Zan. In 190AD the invasion of capital Luo Yang began. Sun Jian sets off to Si Shui Gate. Dong Zhuo’s Officer Hua Xiong defends Si Shui Gate and dies in a duel with Guan Yu after invading the allied forces base camp. Dong Zhuo prepared Hu Lao Gate for battle with Lu Bu guarding the main entrance gates. Gongsun Zan was surrounded and rescued from death by Zhang Fei. Lu Bu faced Zhang Fei in battle, later on Guan Yu joined them in battle but Lu Bu still fought on. Liu Bei appeared and joined his brothers in battle and it was then that Lu Bu withdrew from battle. Having heard about Lu Bu’s withdrawal Dong Zhuo retreated and set fire to Luo Yang. After the war everyone went back to their own territory.

• Battle of Xia Pi
Dong Zhuo escaped to Chang An and was later on ensnared in a ploy by Wang Yun and slain by Lu Bu. Wang Yun was slain by former Dong Zhuo officers and Lu Bu was driven out of Chang An. Lu Bu fought for control over the Yan province but lost to Cao Cao. Lu Bu joined Liu Bei in Xu. Relation between Zhang Fei and Lu Bu became unstable; Lu Bu betrays Liu Bei and takes over Xia Pi Castle. Liu Bei was forced to ask Cao Cao for help. Soon a joint attack against Lu Bu was formed but Lu Bu discovered the plot. He attacks Liu Bei at Xiao Pei. Cao Cao sends Xiahou Dun who got shot in the eye and withdrew. Liu Bei was defeated by Lu Bu. 198AD Cao Cao flooded Lu Bu’s castle. Lu Bu’s officers rebelled against him after mistreatment. Because of his drinking Lu Bu was caught in his sleep. He offered ruling together with Cao Cao but was later executed. Cao Cao returned to his own capital and Liu Bei fled his army.

Rise of Cao Cao
• Battle of Guan Du
Yuan Shao defeated Gongsun Zan and took He Bei region. Guan Yu joined Cao Cao in the inevitable battle between the great powers Cao Cao and Yuan Shao. During the surprise attack against Yuan Shao at Bai Ma in 200AD Guan Yu slays Yan Liang, one of Yuan Shao’s fiercest generals. During the battle of Yan Jin, Cao Cao used a supply convoy as bait for ambush. Yuan Shao’s Officer Wen Chou was slain in ambush by Guan Yu. In battle Guan Yu found out that Liu Bei was fighting for Yuan Shao and fled Cao Cao’s army to join his brother. During his escape he cleared five gates and slayed 6 guarding generals. Xiahou Dun was sent to pursue and capture Guan Yu but before they faced eachother Cao Cao called off the pursuit. During the battle of Guan Du Cao Cao used catapults to effectively destroy Yuan Shao’s arrow towers. Xu You defects Yuan Shao and tells about the location of the supply depot at Wu Chao. Cao Cao sends a raiding party to take over the supply camp. Yuan Shao retreated from battle and died of illness several years later. Cao Cao became ruler of the Central Plains.

• Battle of Chang Ban
Liu Bei joined Liu Biao in Jing. Zhuge Liang joins Liu Bei and presents a plan to take Jing and Yi Province, to ally with Wu to face Cao Cao. 208AD Liu Biao suffered of illness and gave command to his second son Liu Zong, who gained control over Jing. Cao Cao invaded and Liu Zong immediately surrendered. During Liu Bei’s flight southwards to Jiang Ling thousands of peasants joined him. Cao Cao sent out massive pursuit of 5000 men to stop Liu Bei. They fought at Chang Ban. Zhao Yun rides back alone to rescue Liu Bei’s infant son Liu Chan. Zhang Fei guarded Chang Ban Bridge all alone and froze the enemy army with just a roar. This gave him a nice opportunity to destroy the bridge and delay Cao Cao’s pursuit. Guan Yu arrived with fresh troops and forced Cao Cao to withdraw. Liu Bei escaped with a fleet eastward to Xia Kou. In Jiang Dong, Sun Jian and eldest son Sun Ce died early. The second son Sun Quan became ruler.

• Battle of Chi Bi
Cao Cao went down the Chang Jiang River towards Jiang Dong. Meanwhile Liu Bei secures an alliance with the Sun family by sending Zhuge Liang. In 208AD Sun Quan placed strategist Zhou Yu in command of the naval fleet against Cao Cao. Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu devised a plan with fire attack. Huang Gai sent a false letter about defection to Cao Cao. In order to let Cao Cao believe this was true Zhuge Liang let one of Cao Cao’s spies witness Huang Gai’s punishment. Pang Tong was sent to advise Cao Cao to chain his ships to prevent soldiers from becoming seasick. The season was winter and that meant a northwestern wind, exactly from the direction of Cao Cao’s ships. Zhuge Liang set up an altar at Mt. Nan Bing and began prayers to make the wind blow. Huang Gai started the fire attack once the southeastern wind came. Soon enough the entire Wei fleet was engulfed into flames. Cao Cao was forced to retreat. Sun Quan established Wu and a power to be reckoned with and Liu Bei controlled the Jing Province.

A land divided
• Campaign for Cheng Du
Cao Cao prepares an assault on Wu. He eliminated prefect Ma Teng and defeated his son Ma Chao at Tong Gate. Zhang Lu conquered Yi Province. Liu Zhang did not get help from Cao Cao when he sent Zhang Song to request assistance. Zhang Song approached Liu Bei, who treated him better than Cao Cao did. Zhang Song advised Liu Zhang to visit Liu Bei. Liu Bei did not want to attack fellow kingsmen like Liu Zhang but after Liu Zhang refused a request for reinforcements Liu Bei decided to take Cheng Du. Placed in charge of invading Chang Du was strategist Pang Tong who took Fu Shui Gate but who was assassinated later because he was mistaken for Liu Bei. Luo Castle was taken by Zhuge Liang and Zhang Fei. At Jia Meng Gate they were attacked by Ma Chao, who had aligned himself with Zhang Lu. Ma Chao joined Liu Bei after Zhuge Liang’s plans succeeded. With Ma Chao joining the siege of Cheng Du Liu Zhang lost hope and ultimately surrendered. In 214AD the Shu territory fell under control of Liu Bei. He gained the Yi Province.

• Battle of He Fei
Cao Cao finished off Zhang Lu, controlled Han Zhong and moved south towards Yi. The proposal between Liu Bei and Sun Quan was that Liu Bei would return a portion of Jing Province if Wu was to attack Wei at He Fei. Sun Quan knew it was a ploy by Liu Bei but decided to drive Cao Cao out of Han Zhong. In 215AD Sun Quan crossed the Chang Jiang River with 100.000 troops. Advance guard was controlled by Lü Meng and Gan Ning while Sun Quan and Zhou Tai held the middle. The advance force easily took Wan Castle. He Fei Castle was protected by Li Dian, Yue Jin and Zhang Liao. Zahng Liao attempted to rescue Wan Castle but was too late and prepared for the siege. Yue Jin struck out but upon encountering the Wu force he withdrew. Sun Quan went to the front to pursue Yuen Jin, while Zhang Liao and Li Dian struck out from the sides to attack the Wu flank. Sun Quan began to withdraw but the bridge behind him had been cut. He jumped over the bridge with his horse. Sun Quan returned to his territory to prepare another attack. Zhang Liao requested reinforcements from Cao Cao who now came personally. Zhou Tai prevented Sun Quan from being captured. Sun Quan gave up on his northern campaign and made peace with Cao Cao. Cao Cao crowned himself King of Wei. Liu Bei wants to take back Han Zhong.

• Battle of Yi Ling
After several northern campaigns Liu Bei regained Han Zhong and entitled himself Han Zhong King in 219AD. Jing protector Guan Yu set off to take Fan Castle, protected by Cao Ren. Guan Yu flooded Fan Castle. Jing Province was left behind unguarded. Wu army commander Lü Meng decided to take back Jing and enlisted the aid of the little known but extremely cunning Lu Xun. Together with Wei, Wu forces attacked Guan Yu from the front and rear. Guan Yu was forced to retreat to Mai Castle, where he was captured. Guan Yu scoffed at the notion of serving under Sun Quan and was executed. His head was sent to Cao Cao, who gave him a hero’s funeral. Lü Meng would also die mysteriously thereafter. Cao Cao himself succumbed of illness and passed on. In 220AD Cao Cao’s successor Cao Pi declared himself Emperor and founded the Wei Dynasty. A year later Liu Bei founded the Shu-Han Dynasty and ordered an invasion of Wu to seek revenge for Guan Yu’s death. Liu Bei’s rage could not be contained by even his most trusted officers. For Zhang Fei this meant his downfall for he was assassinated by his own soldiers during his sleep. Sun Quan placed Lu Xun in command during the battle between Shu and Wu. Lu Xun still made no movement even when the highly motivated Shu army advanced as far as Yi Ling. The army showed signs of fatigue, which was exactly what Lu Xun was waiting for. In 222AD Lu Xun began a large scale fire attack. The Shu army crumbled before the attack. Liu Bei escaped into Bai Di Castle. After leaving the fate of Shu in the hands of Zhuge Liang he passed away in 223AD. Liu Chan succeeded his father as Shu-Han Emperor.

• The Nanman Campaign
Zhuge Liang had become Prime Minister of Shu and Chief Advisor to Liu Chan. He renewed peaceful relations with Wu and requested to begin a campaign south to quell uprisings in Nan Zhong. Southern most influential leader was Nanman King Meng Huo. In 225AD Zhuge Liang invaded Nan territory. During the first encounter between Zhuge Liang and Meng Huo, Zhao Yun ripped his forces into shreds and Wei Yan captured Meng Huo. He refused to yield to Zhuge Liang and was set free to try harder in battle. During the second battle several officers betrayed Meng Huo and handed him over. Zhuge Liang gave Meng Huo a tour of the Shu camp before he was set free again. He sent his brother Meng You on a false defection ploy but this was easily discovered and both brothers were captured. After being released again the very angry Meng Huo gathered 100.000 men and invaded the Shu camp. Zhuge Liang evacuated his entire force but ofcourse this was yet another ploy. Meng Huo’s army fell into the numerous pits that had been dug within the camp and he was captured again. Meng Huo’s plan to lure Shu into poisonous marshes failed when his elder brother Meng Jie warned Zhuge Liang about the plan. Meng Huo was captured and set free again while Shu avoided the marshes. Meng Huo’s wife Zhu Rong joined the battle but was easily captured. Meng Huo gathered wild animals such as elephants and tigers to combat the enemy but they were scared away by Zhuge Liang’s fire breathing contraptions. Meng Huo enlisted the troops who wore armor made of rattan that was said to deflect swords and arrows alike. Zhuge Liang discovered the weakness and routed the army with a fire attack. Meng Huo was captured for the seventh time and finally surrendered to Zhuge Liang. The Shu army returned home.

Fall of the Three Kingdoms
• Battle of Wu Zhang Plains
Zhuge Liang begins a campaign against Wei. Cao Pi had passed away, leaving Cao Rui as his successor with Chief Advisor to this child Emperor none other than Sima Yi. Even the great Cao Cao had feared Sima Yi’s cunning. Zhuge Liang feared his abilities aswell and decided to use a ploy to remove him from the Wei Emperor’s favor. The Shu army won many victories under Zhao Yun, however at Tian Shui they fought evenly with Jiang Wei, who saw through Zhuge Liang’s plans. Zhuge Liang used a ploy to cast suspicions of treason upon Jiang Wei and convinced him to join Shu. Cao Rui reinstated Sima Yi’s services. Sima Yi began invading Jie Ting with Zhang He leading the advance force. Zhuge Liang sent Ma Su to defend but despite his high confidence he neglected direct orders and camped on a weak spot. Jie Ting fell to the Wei army. When Zhuge Liang reached Han Zhong he executed Ma Su. Sima Yi left his defense troops at Han Zhong to help Cao Xiu in a battle against Wu. Cao Xiu was tricked into a Wu ploy and eliminated at Shi Ting. In 234AD Zhuge Liang and the Shu army traversed the mountains of Shu and camped in Wu Zhang Plains. Wei sent out Sima Yi to face the Shu army. Zhuge Liang sent an envoy to the newly ascended Emperor of Wu, Sun Quan, and requested that he attacks Wei aswell. Sun Quan would attack the new castle at He Fei. Sima Yi did not respond to Zhuge Liang’s threats and knew Zhuge Liang did not have long to live. Reports of Wu’s withdrawal from He Fei reached the Shu Camp. Zhuge Liang took ill and never again recovered. The Shu army tried to hide Zhuge Liang’s death and began discreet withdrawal. Sima Yi had sensed the great strategist’s passing and ordered pursuit. The Shu army struck back almost immediately, leading Sima Yi to think it was another ploy by Zhuge Liang. Sima Yi called off the pursuit and withdrew. The Shu forces successfully retreated to their territory. Sima Yi returned to Cheng An, marking the end of the Era.

• The Fall of Shu
Liu Chan fulfilled Zhuge Liang’s wish by burying him at Mt. Ding Jun. Shu concentrated its efforts on domestic matters to recover from the losses suffered in battle. Zhuge Liang’s will passed on to Jiang Wei who started another northern campaign. Meanwhile in Wei, Sima Yi seized power and earned the ire of Cao family loyalists such as Xiahou Ba, who eventually defected to Shu. Jiang Wei and Xiahou Ba won many battles and faced even with Wei’s General Deng Ai. Sima Zhao began an offensive against Shu. Jiang Wei continued to fight losing battles and Han Zhong was taken by Wei general Zhong Hui. Jiang Wei withdraws to the stronghold of Jian Ge to defend against Zhong Hui’s massive force. Deng Ai sneaked past Jiang Wei through a valley to the west and began an attack on the barely defended capital of Cheng Du. Zhuge Liang’s son Zhuge Zhan was in command of the defence force. He mobilized together with his son Zhuge Shang to engage the Wei army, both died nobly in battle. Liu Chan surrendered. Hearing the news Jiang Wei surrendered to Zhong Hui but convinced him to declare independence in Shu. This was to be Jiang Wei’s last and greatest attempt to restore the Han Dynasty. However Zhong Hui’s plot was discovered almost immediately and he was eliminated in battle along with Jiang Wei. In 263AD the Shu Dynasty ended with the death of Liu Chan. 30 years after Zhuge Liang’s passing at Wu Zhang Plains.

• The Fall of Wei
In 239AD, 5 years after Wu Zhang Plains, the second Wei Emperor Cao Rui fell ill and passed away, leaving matters of state to Sima Yi and Cao Shuang. The new Emperor was Cao Rui’s son Cao Fang, who at that time was only 8 years old. Sima Yi feigned an illness and withdrew from public life. His two sons soon followed suit. One day in Cao Shuang’s absence, Sima Yi stormed into the Imperial Court and made an official protest against Cao Shuang. He was stripped of his power and executed. Sima Yi became Prime Minister. After his death, his elder son Sima Shi became Grand General. His second son Sima Zhao was also assigned a position as a high general. Emeperor Cao Fang feared the power of the brothers and attempted to remove them from power. The conspiracy was discovered and Cao Fang was forced to abdicate his throne to Cao Pi’s grandson Cao Mao. The Sima Family controlled the Imperial Court. Sima Shi died of illness at young age. The new Grand General Sima Zhao fought Zhuge Liang’s cousin Zhuge Dan in a rebellion. Emperor Cao Mao raised an army to combat the Sima Family and was assassinated by Sima Zhao’s men. Sima Yi named Cao Huan the fifth Emperor of Wei. Sima Zhao finished off the remains of the Shu Kingdom. Deng Ai took Cheng Du capital and Zhong Hui successfully occupied Han Zhong. After the fall of Shu, Sima Zhao was given the title ‘King of Jin’. The next year he succumbed to illness and named his eldest son Sima Yan his successor. Sima Yan pressured Emperor Cao Huan into abdication and usurped the Imperial Mandate. In 265AD the Wei Dynasty gave way to the Jin Dynasty. 45 years after Wei received the Mandate from the Han Dynasty.

• The Fall of Wu
Of the three Kingdoms Wu would be the one that presevered the longest. After Sun Quan’s death the eldest son Sun Deng passed away, and then the second son Sun He was disinherited soon after being named Crown Prince. In 252AD, the succession of the Imperial Mandate fell on Sun Quan’s youngest son Sun Liang. Still only a child he was placed under guardianship of Zhuge Luo, the son of Zhuge Jin. Zhuge Luo was removed from power and killed, where Sun Jun seized power over the court as Emperor’s Chief Advisor. Sun Jun succumbed to illness and his son Sun Chen took over. Sun Liang was forced into abdication and the Mandate passed to Sun Quan’s sixth son Sun Xiu. Sun Xiu grew tired of Sun Chen and placed suspicion of treason upon him and executed him. Soon after hearing the news of Shu surrendering to Wei and Sima Yan usurping Wei’s Mandate Sun Xiu fell ill. Wu’s Mandate passed to one of Sun Quan’s grandchildren Sun Hao, who began a rule of tyranny. Meanwhile in Jin, Sima Yan heard about Sun Hao’s atrocities. Sima Yan placed Du Yin in charge of the Jin army and ordered an invasion. The Jin army reached the Wu capital of Jian Ge. Sun Hao, just like Liu Chan, surrendered his territory. In 280AD the Wu Dynasty crumbled and the land was at last unified under the Jin Dynasty.

The Era of the Three Kingdoms has come to an end.

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