||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (January 2013)|
The territories of Shu Han (in red), 262 CE.
|Religion||Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion|
|Historical era||Three Kingdoms|
|-||Conquest of Shu by Wei||263|
|Currency||Chinese coin, Chinese cash|
|Today part of||China|
Shu Han (221–263), commonly known as Shu, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). The state was based in the area around present-day Sichuan and Chongqing, which was historically known as "Shu" after an earlier state of Shu. Its name "Shu Han" therefore was derived from "Shu", the place it was based, and "Han" from the Han Dynasty, because its founder Liu Bei was directly related to the imperial clan of the Han Dynasty and shared the same surname—Liu—as the Han emperors.
Shu Han was the second of four states named "Shu" on the same territiory, after the Shu state (蜀國), nowadays also called "Ancient Shu" (古蜀, Gǔ Shǔ). The third one, nowadays called Former Shu, would change its name to Han, some time.
Beginnings and founding
Towards the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Liu Bei, a warlord and distant relative of the Han imperial clan, rallied the support of many capable followers. Following the counsel of his advisor Zhuge Liang and Zhuge's Longzhong Plan, Liu Bei conquered parts of Jing Province (covering present-day Hubei and Hunan) in 208 and 209. Between 212 and 215, Liu Bei took over Yi Province (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) from the warlord Liu Zhang, and wrestled control of Hanzhong from his rival Cao Cao in 219.
From the territories he gained, Liu Bei established a position for himself in China during the final years of the Han Dynasty. However in 219, the alliance between Liu Bei and his ally, Sun Quan, was broken when Sun sent his general Lü Meng to invade Jing Province. Jing Province came under Sun Quan's control after the surprise attack, and Liu Bei's general Guan Yu was captured and executed by Sun's forces.
In 220, Cao Cao died and was succeeded by his son Cao Pi, who forced the last Han ruler, Emperor Xian, to abdicate the throne in his favour. Cao Pi then established the state of Cao Wei and declared himself emperor. Liu Bei contested Cao Pi's claim to the throne, so, in 221, he proclaimed himself "Emperor of Shu Han". Although Liu Bei is widely seen as the founder of Shu, he never claimed to be the founder of a new dynasty; rather, he viewed Shu as a continuation of the fallen Han Dynasty.
Liu Bei's reign
Liu Bei ruled as emperor for less than three years. In 222, he launched a campaign against Sun Quan to retake Jing Province and avenge Guan Yu, culminating in the Battle of Xiaoting. However, due to grave tactical mistakes, Liu Bei suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Sun Quan's general Lu Xun and lost the bulk of his army. He survived the battle and retreated to Baidicheng, where he died from illness a year later.
Liu Shan's reign
Zhuge Liang was the de facto head of the Shu government throughout Liu Shan's reign, and he was responsible for masterminding most of Shu's policies during his regency. Shu was the weakest of the three major powers in China at that time because it lacked resources and manpower as it controlled only one province (Yi Province) whereas the other two ruled more than one province each. As such, Zhuge Liang made peace with Sun Quan, reaffirmed the alliance between Sun Quan and Shu, and even recognised Sun Quan's legitimacy when the latter declared himself "Emperor of Eastern Wu" in 229. He advocated an aggressive foreign policy towards Cao Wei, because he believed that it was critical to the survival of Shu.
Between 228 and 234, Zhuge Liang launched a series of five military campaigns against Wei with the aim of conquering Chang'an, a strategic city located on the road to the Wei capital Luoyang. Most of the battles were fought around present-day Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. However, Shu failed to achieve any significant success in the five expeditions, and Zhuge Liang eventually died of illness in a stalemate between Shu and Wei forces at the Battle of Wuzhang Plains.
The Shu government was headed by Jiang Wan, Fei Yi and others after Zhuge Liang's death, and Shu temporarily ceased its aggression towards Wei. Wei attempted an invasion on Shu in 244, leading to the Battle of Xingshi, but the invasion failed and Wei forces retreated. Between 247 and 262, the Shu general Jiang Wei continued Zhuge Liang's legacy by leading a series of nine military campaigns against Wei, but also failed to make any significant territorial gains.
Fall of Shu
In 263, armies led by the Wei generals Deng Ai and Zhong Hui attacked Shu and conquered its capital Chengdu without much struggle. The same year Liu Shan surrendered to Deng Ai outside Chengdu, which marked the end of Shu. Jiang Wei, a general attempted to incite conflict between Deng Ai and Zhong Hui, hoping to take advantage of the situation to revive Shu. Zhong Hui captured Deng Ai and openly rebelled against the Wei regent Sima Zhao, but the revolt was suppressed by Wei forces and Jiang Wei, along with Zhong Hui and Deng Ai, were all killed.
Liu Shan was brought to the Wei capital Luoyang and was granted the title of "Duke of Anle". He lived a comfortable and peaceful life in Luoyang until the end of his days. It was claimed that many refugees fled west to Sasanian Persia when Shu fell in 263.
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Shu was not merely a nation at war. During peace time, the Shu state 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 Zipingpu Dam is still present near Chengdu, Sichuan. These works helped improve the economy of southwestern China and can be credited with beginning the history of economic activity in Sichuan. It also promoted trade with southern China, which was then ruled by Eastern Wu.
List of territories
List of sovereigns
|Temple name||Posthumous name||Family name (in bold) and personal name||Reign||Era names and their year ranges||Notes|
||Liu Bei was also referred to as the "Former Lord" (先主) in some historical texts.|
||Liu Shan was posthumously granted the title of "Duke Si of Anle" (安樂思公) by the Jin Dynasty. He was later posthumously honoured as "Emperor Xiaohuai" (孝懷皇帝) by Liu Yuan, the founder of the Han Zhao state of the Sixteen Kingdoms. He was also referred to as the "Later Lord" (後主) in some historical texts.|