Login   Sign Up 


The Hidden Dragon - A Biography of Zhuge Liang

by FenixTaichou 

Posted: 14 December 2008
Word Count: 1303
Summary: This was a piece that I did for my GCSE English retakes. We had to simply write a piece about a particular icon/celebrity/famous person. As always I like to challenge myself so picked someone rather obscure but that I had an interest in. Yes it's GCSE level and was done just over a year ago, but its something I'm proud of. Hope you enjoy.

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

The Hidden Dragon – A Biography of Zhuge Liang

For this essay I chose to write about the ancient Chinese war strategist Zhuge Liang. I found out about Zhuge Liang through playing the series of videos games called Dynasty Warriors. This series of games is based on the book Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which in turn is based on true Chinese history. Romance of the Three Kingdoms “romanticizes” the original history, giving it a much more adventurous feel. Many things are exaggerated and fabricated for the story but all of it is based on true fact.

In Yangdu Country in the Shangdong Province of China, 181AD, one of the worlds greatest military strategists was born. Zhuge Liang was one of the five children, all of which were orphaned at an early age due to the death of both of their parents. Zhuge Liang’s family were soon forced to move after Cao Cao, warlord of Wei, invaded his homeland. With his two brothers, Zhuge Jin and Zhuge Jun, he lived and mixed with the local scholars, learning much from them. He became well renowned amongst them, earning himself the title of Hidden, Crouching or Sleeping Dragon (depending on translation). Being given a title such as this was a great honour and Zhuge Liang was seen as quite wise amongst his peers.

Zhuge Liang’s wife had many titles surrounding her. Her actual name is unknown but is rumoured to have been Huang Yueying. Zhuge Liang pursued her not for her beauty (according to rumours she circulated herself she was plain and unattractive) but for her mind. Yueying was also the only known woman associated with Zhuge Liang. Both of these facts are unusual for those times as rarely did generals and other men of power practise monogamy. These things show Zhuge Liang to be an even greater man as he favoured wisdom and intelligence over superficial things like beauty or status.

Zhuge Liang came to serve under Liu Bei after he visisted Zhuge Liang on three separate occasions. Zhuge Liang saw greatness in Liu Bei and chose to serve under hi mas his strategist. Liu Bei was a man of great virtue who would be one of the three most important people in Zhuge Liang’s Longzhong Plan. The Longzhong Plan involved predictions of three major powers coming together and Liu Bei’;s takeover of these powers to unite the fallen power of the Han Dynasty.

The three powers and their rulers became Cao Cao of Wei, Liu Bei of Shu and Sun Jian of Wu. Following Zhuge Liang’s predictions those three kingdoms woul all fight for power and follow their own ideals in the hope of being the one to restore the Han Dynasty.

The strategist’s first famous battle was that of the Battle of Red Cliffs in 208AD, otherwise known as the Battle of Chibi. Zhuge Liang personally travelled to Wu to form an alliance with it’s current leader, Sun Quan, son of Sun Jian. In the Battle of Chibi the alliance fought off the Wei army led by Cao Cao, despite being heavily outnumbered. In legend, Zhuge Liang helped a Qu general initiate a fire attack that would sweep thorugh Cao Cao’s fleet and pave the way to winning the battle, however inr eality it was the Wu strategist Zhou Yu that planned the fire attack. Zhuge Liang still played a prominent part in the battle.

In 219AD the alliance between Shu and Wu broke down and Liu Bei was defeated at the Battle of Yiling. Before his death Liu Bei requested that should his son, Liu Shan, prove an incapable leader that Zhuge Liang take control of Shu. Zhuge Liang instead chose to serve Liu Shan without question.

Zhuge Liang planned to attack Wei in the north but knew that if he did so the native South would likely rise up and take control of vital Shu land. In 225AD, once more flexing his strategic mind, Zhuge Liang initiated a campaign toward the south in the Nanman region, to pacify the upcoming rebellion. In this Nanman Campaign Zhuge Liang captured and released the Nanman leader, Meng Huo, no less than seven times. On the seventh time Meng Huop was humbled by Zhuge Liang’s genius and pledged allegiance to Shu. Zhuge Liang’s psychological tactics won the campaign. He then let the Nanman people run their own land asking only for tribute. With the supplies gained from the south Zhuge Liang could now fund his next expedition to the north. In the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel the Nanman Campaign is greatly, albeit fictionally, fleshed out including details of each capture of Meng Huo.

228AD through to 234AD would be Zhuge Liang’s most well-known and final campaign. It would be here that he persuaded a Wei general, Jiang Wei, to defect to Shu. Jiang Wei would soon inherit Zhuge Liang’s ideals and continue on in his stead once Zhuge Liang had passed on,. In the first expedition Zhuge Liang’s plan failed due to one of his generals, Ma Su, ignoring the strategist’s advice about a tactically weak point. This caused Ma Su’s forces to be routed due to lack of supply. Zhuge Liang reluctantly had Ma Su executed and then stepped down from his position of Prime Minister.

In the second expedition Zhuge Liang’s campain was again impeded by a lack of supplies. Though Zhuge Liang’s forces harried the Wei city of Chencang for three weeks, relief forces arrived for Wei and Shu were forced to retreat. Wei sent one of their most revered champions after them but in a reminder of Zhuge Liang’s skills he was defeated in an ambush arranged by the strategist.

In the third expedition Zhuge Liang was reinstated as Prime Minister, leading more attacks into Wei territory. In the fourth expedition Zhuge Liang finally struck a victory as he pushed further into the north and as a bonus, he defeated one of the Wei generals, Zhang He, who had impeded Shu’s northern campaign so far.

The fifth and final expedition was that of the battle of Wuzhang Plains. Here the Wei forces twice outnumbered the Shu forces and the battle stayed at a stalemate for many months. Zhuge Liang tried many things to get Sima Yi of Wei to attack, even sending him women’s clothing in an attempt to insult him. Despite this Sima Yi held strong. Zhuge Liang soon fell ill and Liu Shan sent for news of Zhuge Liang’s future plans. He also left plans for how Shu were to withdraw. This plan involved a straw double of Zhuge Liang to trick the enemy into thinking he was still alive. Zhuge Liang passed away, Shu retreated, and the Hidden Dragon’s legacy ended.

His work still goes on to influence people today. The name “Zhuge” is now associated with one of great intelligence and wisdom. His inventions, or improvement upon previous inventions, were a great influence too. The wooden ox was created as a method of transporting supplies. The repeating crossbow, improved upon by Zhuge Liang, was named after him – “Zhuge Nu”, meaning Zhuge Crossbow.

The Empty Fort Strategy is another example of Zhuge Liang’s work. In Xicheng Zhuge Liang’s forces were very few and a march by Wei upon the city was imminent. Zhuge Liang then set up a plot against the Wei army by opening the gates of the city and calmly sitting in plain view of Sima Yi and his invading forces. Knowing Zhuge Liang’s mastery of ambushes and ploys, along with Sima Yi’s own cautious nature, the Wei strategist turned and retreated.

The book Romance of the Three Kingdoms is partly fictional, exaggerating the exploits of various generals. However, it is clear that Zhuge Liang is in fact one of the most important people in the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

No comments at present.

To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .