The Kingdom of Shu (蜀 shǔ) (221 – 263) was one of the Three Kingdoms competing for control of China after the fall of the Han Dynasty. The other two kingdoms were the Kingdom of Wei in Northern China and the Kingdom of Wu in South and Southeast China.
During the decline of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bei, a distant relative of the Emperor, gathered together many capable men and conquered Jingzhou, Yizhou and Hanzhong and from these territories, established his place in the China of the Three Kingdoms period. After Cao Pi of the Wei seized the imperial throne in 220 from Emperor Xian and proclaimed the Wei Dynasty, Liu Bei proclaimed himself to be the next Han emperor and the real ruler of China. Therefore the Kingdom of Shu is also known as the Kingdom of Shu-Han. Although Liu Bei is said to be the founder of the Shu-Han dynasty, he himself never claimed to be the founder of a new dynasty; rather, he claimed to continue the heritage of the earlier Han Emperors.
In 222, the second largest conflict during the Three Kingdoms Period began. Liu Bei initiated an attack of 750,000 men upon the Kingdom of Wu in the Battle of Yiling, in order to avenge his two brothers Lord Guan and Zhang Fei, who were killed by subordinates of Wu. However, because of a tactical mistake, his line of camps were burned to the ground and his numerically superior troops were decimated. He survived the attack and fled to Baidi (which means White Emperor), but one year later he became ill and died there. He was succeeded by his incompetent son, Liu Shan, who did not really care for government and left his kingdom in the hands of his government officials and eunuchs.
The prime minister of Shu, Zhuge Liang or Kongming, whose name is synonymous with wisdom in China, made peace with Wu instead of taking revenge. He decided that it was more important to conquer the Kingdom of Wei and not only gain the fertile lands of the North but also to topple the Wei pretenders to the throne and restore legitimacy to the Shu-Han Dynasty. He invaded many times but failed each time in spite of his incredible strategic genius. He died of disease during his seventh attempt to conquer Wei. Jiang Wei, his successor, also tried many times but was pushed back each time. These efforts to conquer Wei exhausted the resources and military talents of the Kingdom of Shu.
In 263, Wei took advantage of Shu weakness and attacked. The brilliant strategies of the Wei generals, Zhong Hui and Deng Ai led to the quick conquest of Hanzhong and the subsequent conquest of Chengdu. The Shu general, Jiang Wei, surrendered to Wei and tried to incite Zhong Hui to rebel, then revive the Shu-Han by killing him and bringing back the Emperor Liu Shan, but his plan failed and he was killed along with Zhong Hui. Afterwards, the Emperor Liu Chan was captured and taken to the capital of Wei, Luoyang. The Wei emperor gave him the title Duke of Comfort and allowed him to retire in peace.
However, the Kingdom of Shu was not just a nation of war. During the rare times of peace, the Kingdom began many irrigation and road-building projects designed to improve the economy of Shu. Many of these public works still exist and are widely used. For example, the Nine-Mile Dam 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.
- Jiang Wei (姜維, 姜维)
- Liao Hua (廖化, 廖化)
- Liu Bei (劉備, 刘备)
- Liu Shan (劉禪, 刘禅)
- Ma Su (馬謖, 马谡)
- Pang Tong (龐統, 庞统)
- Wei Yan (魏延, 魏延)
- Xu Shu (徐庶, 徐庶)
- Zhang Yi (張嶷, 张嶷)
- Zhuge Liang (諸葛亮, 诸葛亮)
- Five Tiger Generals:
Rulers of the Kingdom of Shu or the Shu-Han Dynasty 221 - 263