Eastern Wu

Last updated


222–280 [1]
Three Kingdoms.png
The territories of Wu (in light greenish grey), as of 262 A.D.
Capital Wuchang
(222–229, 265–266)
(229–265, 266–280)
Common languages Chinese
Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion
King (222–229)
Emperor (229–280)
Sun Quan
Sun Liang
Sun Xiu
Sun Hao
Historical era Three Kingdoms
 Independence from Cao Wei
 Sun Quan declaring himself Emperor
31 May 280 [1]
 238 [2]
2,567,000 (disputed)
 280 [2]
2,535,000 (disputed)
Currency Chinese coin, Chinese cash
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Blank.png Cao Wei
Western Jin dynasty Blank.png
Today part of China
Tanner (2009) estimates the Wu population to be about one-sixth of the Han population. [3] This would be much more than the numbers given in 238 and 280, and could be because of census methods used in ancient China. [4]
Eastern Wu
Traditional Chinese 東吳
Simplified Chinese 东吴
Hanyu Pinyin Dōng Wú
Sun Wu
Traditional Chinese 孫吳
Simplified Chinese 孙吴
Hanyu Pinyin Sūn Wú

Wu (222–280), commonly known as Dong Wu (Eastern Wu) or Sun Wu, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). It previously existed from 220–222 as a vassal kingdom nominally under Cao Wei, its rival state, but declared independence from Wei and became a sovereign state in 222. It became an empire in 229 after its founding ruler, Sun Quan, declared himself emperor. Its name was derived from the place it was based in — the Jiangnan (Yangtze River Delta) region, which was also historically known as "Wu". It was referred to as "Dong Wu" ("Eastern Wu") or "Sun Wu" by historians to distinguish it from other Chinese historical states with similar names which were also located in that region, such as the Wu state in the Spring and Autumn period and the Wuyue kingdom in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. It was called "Eastern Wu" because it occupied most of eastern China in the Three Kingdoms period, and "Sun Wu" because the family name of its rulers was "Sun". During its existence, Wu's capital was at Jianye (present-day Nanjing, Jiangsu), but at times it was also at Wuchang (武昌; present-day Ezhou, Hubei). [5]

China Country in East Asia

China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion in 2017. Covering approximately 9,600,000 square kilometers (3,700,000 sq mi), it is the third or fourth largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history (220–280 CE), where much of China was divided into the Wei, Shu-Han, and Wu kingdoms

The Three Kingdoms from 220–280 AD was the tripartite division of China among the states of Wei, Shu, and Wu. It started with the end of the Han dynasty and was followed by the Jin dynasty. The term "Three Kingdoms" is something of a misnomer, since each state was eventually headed not by a king, but by an emperor who claimed suzerainty over all China. Nevertheless, the term "Three Kingdoms" has become standard among English-speaking sinologists. To distinguish the three states from other historical Chinese states of the same names, historians have added a relevant character to the state's original name: the state that called itself Wei (魏) is also known as Cao Wei (曹魏), the state that called itself Han (漢) is also known as Shu Han (蜀漢) or just Shu (蜀), and the state that called itself Wu (吳) is also known as Eastern Wu or Sun Wu (孫吳).

Vassal person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe

A vassal is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch, in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support by knights in exchange for certain privileges, usually including land held as a tenant or fief. The term is also applied to similar arrangements in other feudal societies.



A jar made in Eastern Wu dating to the Three Kingdoms period. WuJar.jpg
A jar made in Eastern Wu dating to the Three Kingdoms period.

Beginnings and founding

Before the dynasty of Eastern Wu was established, the territory was defended by the Sun clan in the Battle of Red Cliffs. Chibi.jpg
Before the dynasty of Eastern Wu was established, the territory was defended by the Sun clan in the Battle of Red Cliffs.

Towards the end of the Han dynasty, Sun Ce, the eldest son of the warlord Sun Jian, and his followers borrowed troops from the warlord Yuan Shu and embarked on a series of military conquests in the Jiangdong and Wu regions between 194 and 199, seizing several territories previously occupied by warlords such as Liu Yao, Yan Baihu and Wang Lang. Sun Ce broke off relations with Yuan Shu around 196-197 after the latter declared himself emperor — an act deemed as treason against Emperor Xian, the figurehead ruler of the Han dynasty. The warlord Cao Cao, who was the de facto head of government in the Han imperial court, asked Emperor Xian to grant Sun Ce the title of "Marquis of Wu" (吳侯).

End of the Han dynasty Historical era of China

The end of the Han dynasty refers to the period of Chinese history from 189 to 220 AD, which roughly coincides with the tumultuous reign of the Han dynasty's last ruler, Emperor Xian. During this period, the country was thrown into turmoil by the Yellow Turban Rebellion (184–205). Meanwhile, the Han Empire's institutions were destroyed by the warlord Dong Zhuo, and fractured into regional regimes ruled by various warlords, some of whom were nobles and officials of the Han imperial court. Eventually, one of those warlords, Cao Cao, was able to gradually reunify the empire, ostensibly under Emperor Xian's rule, but the empire was actually controlled by Cao Cao himself.

Sun Ce Han dynasty warlord

Sun Ce (175–200), courtesy name Bofu, was a military general and warlord who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He was the eldest child of Sun Jian, who was killed during the Battle of Xiangyang when Sun Ce was only 16. Sun Ce then broke away from his father's overlord, Yuan Shu, and headed to the Jiangdong region in southern China to establish his own power base there. With the help of several people, such as Zhang Zhao and Zhou Yu, Sun Ce managed to lay down the foundation of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period.

Sun Jian Han dynasty warlord

Sun Jian (155–191), courtesy name Wentai, was a military general and warlord who lived during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He allied himself with Yuan Shu in 190 when warlords from eastern China formed a coalition to oust Dong Zhuo, a tyrannical warlord who held the puppet Emperor Xian in his power. Although he controlled neither many troops nor much land, Sun Jian's personal bravery and resourcefulness were feared by Dong Zhuo, who placed him among Yuan Shao, Yuan Shu and Liu Biao as the most influential men at that time. After the coalition disbanded in the next year, China fell into massive civil war. In 191, Sun Jian was killed in battle during an offensive campaign against Liu Biao.

Sun Ce was assassinated in the summer of 200 and was succeeded by his younger brother, Sun Quan. Sun Quan, like his elder brother, also paid nominal allegiance to Emperor Xian while maintaining autonomous rule over the Wu territories. In 208, Sun Quan allied with the warlord Liu Bei and they combined forces to defeat Cao Cao at the Battle of Red Cliffs. Sun Quan and Liu Bei maintained their alliance against Cao Cao after the battle for the next ten years or so, despite having some territorial disputes over Jing Province. In 219, Sun Quan severed ties with Liu Bei when he sent his general Lü Meng to invade Liu's territories in Jing Province. Guan Yu, who was defending Liu Bei's assets in Jing Province, was captured and executed by Sun Quan's forces. After that, the boundaries of Sun Quan's domain extended from beyond the Jiangdong region to include the southern part of Jing Province, which covered roughly present-day Hunan and parts of Hubei.

Sun Quan Eastern Wu emperor

Sun Quan, courtesy name Zhongmou, formally known as Emperor Da of Wu, was the founder of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period. He inherited control of the warlord regime established by his elder brother, Sun Ce, in 200. He declared formal independence and ruled from 222 to 229 as the King of Wu and from 229 to 252 as the Emperor of Wu. Unlike his rivals Cao Cao and Liu Bei, Sun Quan was much younger than they were and governed his state mostly separate of politics and ideology. He is sometimes portrayed as neutral considering he adopted a flexible foreign policy between his two rivals with the goal of pursuing the greatest interests for the country.

Liu Bei Shu Han emperor

Liu Bei, courtesy name Xuande, was a warlord in the late Eastern Han dynasty who founded the state of Shu Han in the Three Kingdoms period and became its first ruler. Despite early failings compared to his rivals and lacking both the material resources and social status they commanded, he gathered support among disheartened Han loyalists who opposed Cao Cao, the warlord who controlled the Han central government and the figurehead Emperor Xian, and led a popular movement to restore the Han dynasty through this support. Liu Bei overcame his many defeats to carve out his own realm, which at its peak spanned present-day Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, Hunan, and parts of Hubei and Gansu.

Battle of Red Cliffs Sun Quan and Liu Bei decisively defeat Cao Cao in 208

The Battle of Red Cliffs, otherwise known as the Battle of Chibi, was a decisive battle fought at the end of the Han dynasty, about twelve years prior to the beginning of the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history. It was fought in the winter of AD 208/9 between the allied forces of the southern warlords Sun Quan and Liu Bei and the numerically superior forces of the northern warlord Cao Cao. Liu Bei and Sun Quan successfully frustrated Cao Cao's effort to conquer the land south of the Yangtze River and reunite the territory of the Eastern Han dynasty. The allied victory at Red Cliffs ensured the survival of Liu Bei and Sun Quan, gave them control of the Yangtze, and provided a line of defence that was the basis for the later creation of the two southern states of Shu Han and Eastern Wu. The battle has been called the largest naval battle in history in terms of numbers involved.

In 220, Cao Cao's son and successor, Cao Pi, ended the Han dynasty by forcing Emperor Xian to abdicate in his favour and established the state of Cao Wei. Sun Quan agreed to submit to Wei and was granted the title of a vassal king, "King of Wu" (吳王), by Cao Pi. A year later, Liu Bei declared himself emperor and founded the state of Shu Han. In 222, Liu Bei launched a military campaign against Sun Quan to take back Jing Province and avenge Guan Yu, leading to the Battle of Xiaoting. However, Liu Bei suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Sun Quan's general Lu Xun and was forced to retreat to Baidicheng, where he died a year later.

Cao Pi Cao Wei emperor

Cao Pi, courtesy name Zihuan, was the first emperor of the state of Cao Wei in the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was the second son of Cao Cao, a warlord who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty, but the eldest son among all the children born to Cao Cao by his concubine, Lady Bian. According to some historical records, he was often in the presence of court officials in order to gain their support. He was mostly in charge of defence at the start of his career. After the defeat of Cao Cao's rival Yuan Shao at the Battle of Guandu, he took Yuan Xi's widow, Lady Zhen, as a concubine, but in 221 Lady Zhen died and Guo Nüwang became empress.

Cao Wei ancient Chinese state (220–265); one of the three major states in the Three Kingdoms period, with capital at Luoyang

Wei (220–266), also known as Cao Wei, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). With its capital initially located at Xuchang, and thereafter Luoyang, the state was established by Cao Pi in 220, based upon the foundations laid by his father, Cao Cao, towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty. The name "Wei" first became associated with Cao Cao when he was named the Duke of Wei by the Eastern Han government in 213, and became the name of the state when Cao Pi proclaimed himself emperor in 220. Historians often add the prefix "Cao" to distinguish it from other Chinese states known as "Wei", such as Wei of the Warring States period and Northern Wei of the Northern and Southern dynasties. The authority of the ruling Cao family dramatically weakened in the aftermath of the deposal and execution of Cao Shuang and his siblings, the former being one of the regents for the third Wei emperor, Cao Fang, with state authority gradually falling into the hands of Sima Yi, another Wei regent, and his family, from 249 onwards. The last Wei emperors would remain largely as puppet rulers under the control of the Simas until Sima Yi's grandson, Sima Yan, forced the last Wei ruler, Cao Huan, to abdicate the throne and established the Jin dynasty.

Shu Han former country during Three kingdoms of China era

Shu or Shu Han 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 in Sichuan named Shu. Shu Han's founder Liu Bei had named his state "Han" as he considered it the legitimate successor to the Han dynasty, while "Shu" is added to the name as a geographical prefix to differentiate it from the many "Han" states throughout Chinese history.

Liu Bei's successor, Liu Shan, and his regent, Zhuge Liang, made peace with Sun Quan later and reaffirmed their previous alliance. Sun Quan declared independence from Wei in 222, but continued to rule as "King of Wu" until 229, when he declared himself "Emperor of Wu". His legitimacy was recognised by Shu.

Liu Shan Chinese emperor

Liu Shan (207–271), courtesy name Gongsi, was the second and last emperor of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period. As he ascended the throne at the age of 16, Liu Shan was entrusted to the care of the Chancellor Zhuge Liang and Imperial Secretariat Li Yan. His reign of 40 years was the longest of all in the Three Kingdoms era. During Liu Shan's reign, many campaigns were led against the rival state of Cao Wei, primarily by Zhuge Liang and his successor Jiang Wei, but to little avail. Liu Shan eventually surrendered to Wei in 263 after Deng Ai led a surprise attack on the Shu capital Chengdu. He was quickly relocated to Luoyang, capital of Wei, and enfeoffed as "Duke Anle". There he enjoyed his last years peacefully before dying, most probably of natural causes, in 271.

Zhuge Liang Shu Han chancellor, military strategist

Zhuge Liang, courtesy name Kongming, was a Chinese politician, military strategist, writer, engineer and inventor. He served as the chancellor and regent of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period. He is recognised as the most accomplished strategist of his era, and has been compared to Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War. His reputation as an intelligent and learned scholar grew even while he was living in relative seclusion, earning him the nickname "Wolong" or "Fulong", meaning "Crouching Dragon" or "Sleeping Dragon". Zhuge Liang is often depicted wearing a Taoist robe and holding a hand fan made of crane feathers.

Sun Quan's reign

Sun Quan ruled for over 30 years and his long reign resulted in stability in southern China. During his reign, Wu engaged Wei in numerous wars, including the battles of Ruxu (222–223), Shiting (228), and Hefei (234). However, Wu never managed to gain any territory north of the Yangtze River while Wei also never succeeded in conquering the lands south of the Yangtze.

The Battle of Ruxu, also known as the Battle of Ruxukou, took place in 222-223 between the forces of Cao Wei and Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period. The battle was the third battle taking place between the Cao and Sun clan at Ruxu, but this particular conflict was the only of the three to take place actually during the Three Kingdoms period, as the other two took place in 213 and 217.

Battle of Shiting battle

The Battle of Shiting was fought between the states of Cao Wei and Eastern Wu in 228 during the Three Kingdoms period of China. The battle concluded with a Wu victory.

The Battle of Hefei, also known as the Battle of Hefei Xincheng, was fought between the contending states of Cao Wei and Eastern Wu from roughly June to September 234 during the Three Kingdoms period of China.

A succession struggle broke out between Sun Quan's sons in the later part of his reign — Sun Quan instated Sun He as the crown prince in 242 after his former heir apparent, Sun Deng, died in 241, but Sun He soon became involved in a rivalry with his younger brother, Sun Ba. The conflict resulted in the emergence of two rivalling factions, each supporting either Sun He or Sun Ba, in Sun Quan's imperial court. Sun Quan eventually deposed Sun He and forced Sun Ba to commit suicide, while Lu Xun and many other ministers who took either Sun He's or Sun Ba's side in the struggle met with unhappy ends. Sun Quan appointed his youngest son, Sun Liang, as the crown prince after the incident.

Reigns of Sun Liang and Sun Xiu

Sun Quan died in 252 and was succeeded by Sun Liang, with Zhuge Ke and Sun Jun serving as regents. In 253, Zhuge Ke was assassinated in a coup launched by Sun Jun, and the state power of Wu fell into Sun Jun's hands and was passed on to his cousin, Sun Chen, after his death. During Sun Liang's reign, two rebellions broke out in the Wei garrison at Shouchun (around present-day Shou County, Anhui) in 255 and 257–258. Sun Jun and Sun Chen led Wu forces to support the rebels in the first and second rebellions respectively in the hope of making some territorial gains in Wei, but both revolts were suppressed and the Wu forces retreated after suffering many losses.

Sun Liang was deposed in 258 by Sun Chen, who installed Sun Xiu, another son of Sun Quan, on the throne. Sun Xiu killed Sun Chen later in a coup with the help of Zhang Bu and Ding Feng.

Fall of Wu

Sun Xiu died of illness in 264, a year after Shu was conquered by Wei. At the time, Wu was experiencing internal turmoil because rebellions had broken out in Jiaozhi (交趾) in the south. The ministers Puyang Xing, Wan Yu and Zhang Bu decided to install Sun He's son, Sun Hao, on the throne.

In the beginning of Sun Hao's reign, the emperor reduced taxes, gave relief to the poor, and granted freedom to a large number of palace maids. However, Sun Hao gradually became more cruel and superstitious and started indulging in wine and women instead of finding ways to revive his declining state. Sun Hao's tyranny caused widespread anger and hatred towards him in Wu, but it was due to the efforts of officials such as Lu Kai and Lu Kang that Wu was able to remain relatively stable and peaceful.

In February 266, Sima Yan ended the state of Cao Wei by forcing its last ruler, Cao Huan, to abdicate in his favour, and then established the Jin dynasty. In 279, Jin forces led by Du Yu, Wang Jun and others attacked Wu from six directions. Sun Hao attempted to put up resistance by sending his armies to fight the Jin invaders, but the Wu forces suffered several consecutive defeats and even the Wu chancellor, Zhang Ti, was killed in action. Seeing that Wu was doomed to fall, Sun Hao surrendered to the Jin dynasty on 31 May 280, [1] marking the end of Wu and the end of the Three Kingdoms period.

Government and military

Despite Wu and its court becoming imperial in 229, Sun Quan had kept Wu in a warlordism reflected state. When Wu was initially founded its military was dominated by famed generals who had gained their positions through prowess and pluck. These generals were celebrated for their individualism. [6]

Politics within the court were often influenced by conflicts between powerful families and individuals. Positions within the court were inherited from one generation to the next unlike the Han dynasty's bureaucracy. However, over time, the influence ultimately would move away from the central government. [7] Outside of the court, families displayed their own independent authority. Wu, at times, was to a certain extent run for the protection of particular families. [8]

The Eastern Wu era was a formative period in Vietnamese history. The ruler of Jiaozhou (modern Vietnam and Guangzhou), Shi Xie, is primarily remembered today in Vietnam as Sĩ Nhiếp. According to Stephen O'Harrow, Shi Xie was essentially "the first Vietnamese." [9] Originally satisfied with Eastern Wu's rule, the Vietnamese opposed Shi Hui's rebellion against Eastern Wu and attacked him for it. However, when the Wu general Lü Dai betrayed Shi Hui and executed the entire Shi family, the Vietnamese became greatly upset. In 248, the people of Jiaozhi and Jiuzhen commanderies rebelled. Eastern Wu sent Lu Yin to deal with the rebels. He managed to pacify the rebels with a combination of threats and persuasion. However the rebels regrouped under the leadership of Lady Triệu in Jiuzhen and renewed the rebellion with a march on Jiaozhi. According to the Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư (Complete Annals of Đại Việt), Lady Triệu had long breasts that reached her shoulders and rode into battle on an elephant. After several months of warfare she was defeated and committed suicide. [10]

Culture and economy

Shu Han exported cotton into Eastern Wu. CottonPlant.JPG
Shu Han exported cotton into Eastern Wu.
Celadon Storehouse and Courtyard. Wu Kingdom. Celadon Storehouse and Courtyard, Ezhou.jpg
Celadon Storehouse and Courtyard. Wu Kingdom.
Pottery Bullock-cart. Wu Kingdom. Bullock-cart, Echeng.jpg
Pottery Bullock-cart. Wu Kingdom.

The culture of Wu was most solidified under the reign of Sun Quan from 229 to 252. Migrations from the north and the needed settlement from the Shanyue barbarians made it possible for the increase in manpower, agriculture, and settling the lower most parts of Wu. Along with that, river transportation became a huge factor and flourished as the Jiangnan and Zhedong canals were finished with construction. After the Battle of Xiaoting and during the invasions of Wu by Wei in the 220s, Shu was able to reestablish their trade and relationships with Wu. Shu's cotton was a great influx for Wu, and the development of shipbuilding, salt, [11] and metal industries was greatly increased.

The fact of inflation and economic problems still were in existence since the Han dynasty. [12] Sun Quan tried to start a currency of large coins manufactured by copper. He also tried to prohibit private minting. This policy was terminated in 246 due to ineffectiveness. [12] [lower-alpha 1]

Eastern Wu was able to make close overseas trade with countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia. [13] Wu also traded with India and the Middle East. [14]

Civil matters

Personages with clerical or scholarly abilities had roles to play within the state, but the policies were more determined by those of military command. [15] Nevertheless, every Wu army was in need of administrative support and, according to Rafe de Crespigny, certain scholars were "recognised as practical counsellors, regardless of their fighting prowess or their ability to command troops in the field." [15]

Under the reign of Sun Quan, he needed a strong role of advisors and secretaries in order to keep his link of power in a maintained level. Sun Quan's prestige in dealing with hostiles and friendly relations called for the establishment of a controlled form of an imperial government for the empire of Wu. Sun Quan also created the opportunity for people residing within Wu to gain prestige and influence throughout the empire and the surrounding establishments with the duty of being an envoy. [15]

Following the death of Cao Pi in 226, Sun Quan strongly promoted his kingdom to focus on agriculture because the threat from Wei was lifted. [16] However, Lu Xun suggested to Sun Quan that military commanders should become involved in the colonization of land. Sun Quan quickly accepted and he, along with his sons would execute the memorial presented by Lu Xun. [17] However, in 240, Sun Quan restrained Lu Xun's idea and refocused on agricultural works, because Wu came to suffer a severe famine. [18] In 234, when Zhuge Ke was in control of affairs in the south, he strongly ignored the colonisation order and viciously ordered the agriculture factor, often starving enemies into submission. [19]


An Eastern Wu green-glaze ceramic jar with human figures, birds, and architecture on display in the Nanjing Museum. Eastern Wu green glaze pottery jar (top).JPG
An Eastern Wu green-glaze ceramic jar with human figures, birds, and architecture on display in the Nanjing Museum.
Painted lacquerware table from the tomb of Zhu Ran (182-249) in Anhui province, Eastern Wu period, showing figures wearing silk Hanfu attire Painted Iacquer narrow table unearthed from the tomb of Zhuran 2012-05.JPG
Painted lacquerware table from the tomb of Zhu Ran (182-249) in Anhui province, Eastern Wu period, showing figures wearing silk Hanfu attire
Entrance to the tomb of Zhu Ran (182-249) in Anhui province, Eastern Wu period Tomb of Zhuran 04 2012-05.JPG
Entrance to the tomb of Zhu Ran (182-249) in Anhui province, Eastern Wu period
Painted Iacquer dish unearthed from the tomb of Zhuran 01 2012-05.JPG
Painted Iacquer dish unearthed from the tomb of Zhuran 02 2012-05.JPG
Painted lacquerware dishes from the tomb of Zhu Ran (182-249) in Anhui province, Eastern Wu period, showing figures wearing silk Hanfu attire

Under the rule of Wu, the Yangtze River Delta region, regarded in early history as a barbaric "jungle", developed into one of the commercial, cultural, and political centres of China. The achievements of Wu in the south marked the coming of Chinese civilization to the farthest southern reaches of the empire. [20]

In 230, the island of Taiwan was reached by the Chinese during the Three Kingdoms period under the reign of Sun Quan. [21] Contact with the native population and the dispatch of officials to an island named "Yizhou" (夷州) by the Wu navy might have been to Taiwan, but the location of Yizhou is open to dispute; some historians believe it was Taiwan, while others believe it was the Ryukyu Islands. Wu merchants also may have reached Southern Vietnam and Cambodia. Failed protection of Gongsun Yuan also was in existence when the latter rebelled against Wei. This was because of the waterway's difficulties. Such things cost Wu, and the achievements supposedly gained within Taiwan did not cover this problem and Sun Quan lost his vassal. [22]

Later on in the existence of Wu, the once great military was turned to an unimpressive one. It was most likely an easy task to take Hefei from Wei, but Wu could not do so. Since the 230s, this task was made harder due to the "New City", a heavily fortified castle built at Hefei by Wei. [22] One of the greatest failures to accomplish something later on in Wu's reign was during 255 and during the last few years of the 250s. When Guanqiu Jian and Wen Qin rebelled against Wei, Wu promised to help the two in Shouchun (around present-day Shou County, Anhui). However, the Wu forces never made it in time before the rebellion was quashed by Sima Shi and the Wei forces. When Zhuge Dan launched a massive full-scale rebellion, the Wu forces suffered a great defeat as they lent a great quantity of manpower to Zhuge Dan's cause. Shouchun was quickly regained by Wei under Sima Zhao's command. [22]

During the conquest of Shu by Wei in 263, Wu could not fully lend support to their allies due to a revolt in Vietnam. [23]

The decline of Wu was long in existence since the death of Lu Xun in 245 and the death of Sun Quan in 252. Sun Quan's successors could do little for the empire. Zhuge Ke was assassinated by Sun Jun in 253 after a failed invasion of Hefei following the Wu victory over an invading Wei force at Dongxing. [24] Ding Feng also ended up killing Sun Chen under orders from Sun Xiu. Corruption plagued Wu, which led to an easy conquest of Wu by the Jin dynasty in 280.

List of territories

Territories of Eastern Wu
Province Provincial capital Commandery Commandery capitalNo. of counties
(now Nanjing)
Wu County
Shanyin County
Wan County
Gaochang County
Poyang County
Shixin County
Nancheng County
Zhang'an County
Jian'an County
Wucheng County
Changshan County
Piling County
South Luling
Yudu County
(now Jingzhou)
Linyuan County
Quanling County
Chen County
Linxiang County
Wuchang [lower-alpha 2]
Wuchang County
Ancheng County
Pengze County
Yidao County
Linhe County
Xiangnan County
Ling County
Wu County
Lüzhong County
Zhaoling County
Shi'an County
Qujiang County
(now Guangzhou)
Panyu County
Guangxin County
Bushan County
Siping County
Guanghua County
Wu'an County
North Hepu
Anguang County
Hepu County
Xuwen County

List of sovereigns

Eastern Wu rulers
Temple name Posthumous name Family name (in bold) and personal name Reign Era names and their year rangesNotes
Emperor Wulie
Sun Jian
(N/A)(N/A)Sun Jian's temple and posthumous names were granted posthumously by Sun Quan.
(N/A)Prince Huan of Changsha
Sun Ce
(N/A)(N/A)Sun Ce's posthumous name was granted posthumously by Sun Quan.
Emperor Da
Sun Quan
  • Huangwu
  • Huanglong
  • Jiahe
  • Chiwu
  • Taiyuan
  • Shenfeng
Sun Quan adopted the era name "Huangwu" in 222 after declaring independence from Wei. However, he continued ruling under the title "King of Wu" and did not proclaim himself emperor until 229.
(N/A)(N/A) Sun Liang
  • Jianxing
  • Wufeng
  • Taiping
Sun Liang became "Prince of Kuaiji" (會稽王) after he was dethroned by Sun Chen in 258. In 260, his successor Sun Xiu further demoted him to "Marquis of Houguan" (侯官侯).
(N/A)Emperor Jing
Sun Xiu
  • Yong'an
(N/A)Emperor Wen
Sun He
(N/A)(N/A)Sun He's posthumous name was granted posthumously by Sun Hao.
(N/A)Emperor Mo
Sun Hao
  • Yuanxing
  • Ganlu
  • Baoding
  • Jianheng
  • Fenghuang
  • Tiance
  • Tianxi
  • Tianji
Sun Hao held the title of "Marquis of Wucheng" (烏程侯) before he became emperor in 264. In 280, after surrendering to the Jin dynasty, he was granted the title of "Marquis of Guiming" (歸命侯) by Sima Yan. He is also sometimes referred to as "Emperor Mo of Wu" (吳末帝), which literally means "last emperor of Wu".

Emperors' family tree

See also


  1. The coinage policies of this period are described in CS 26, 794-5; Yang, "Economic history," 191-2. See also the article of Ho Tzu-ch'üan, "Manorial economy," summarised in Sun and DeFrancis, Chinese social history, at 140. On the large coins of Wu, and the attempt to enforce a monopoly of minting, see SGZ 47/Wu 2, 1140, 1142 and 1146 PC quoting Jiangbiao zhuan.
  2. Divided from the original Jiangxia Commandery. When Eastern Wu took control of the commandery, it was unknown whether it still existed. The commandery capital was unknown.

Related Research Articles

<i>Romance of the Three Kingdoms</i> one of Chinas Four Great Classical Novels

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a 14th-century historical novel attributed to Luo Guanzhong. It is set in the turbulent years towards the end of the Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history, starting in 169 AD and ending with the reunification of the land in 280.

Zhuge Jin Eastern Wu official

Zhuge Jin, courtesy name Ziyu, was a military general of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period of China. Born in the late Eastern Han dynasty, Zhuge Jin started his career in the 200s as an official under the warlord Sun Quan, who later became the founding emperor of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period. In 215, he served as Sun Quan's representative in a territorial dispute over southern Jing Province between Sun Quan and his ally, Liu Bei. In 219, he joined Sun Quan's general Lü Meng in an invasion of Liu Bei's territories in Jing Province after Sun Quan broke the Sun–Liu alliance. He was subsequently appointed as a general and commandery administrator. Before the Battle of Xiaoting of 221–222, Zhuge Jin attempted to dissuade Liu Bei from going to war with Sun Quan but was unsuccessful. The battle ultimately concluded with victory for Sun Quan's side; both sides made peace later and reestablished an alliance between the Eastern Wu and Shu Han states against their rival state, Cao Wei. From 222 until his death in 241, despite being rather incompetent in military affairs, Zhuge Jin served as one of Eastern Wu's top generals and participated in some battles against Cao Wei forces.

Yuan Shu Han Dynasty warlord

Yuan Shu, courtesy name Gonglu, was a warlord who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He rose to prominence following the collapse of the Han central government in 189.

Military history of the Three Kingdoms

The military history of the Three Kingdoms period encompasses roughly a century's worth of prolonged warfare and disorder. After the assassination of General-in-chief He Jin in September 189, the administrative structures of the Han government became increasingly irrelevant. By the death of Cao Cao, the most successful warlord of North China, in 220, the Han empire was divided between the three rival states of Cao Wei, Shu Han and Eastern Wu. Due to the ensuing turmoil, the competing powers of the Three Kingdoms era found no shortage of willing recruits for their armies, although press-ganging as well as forcible enlistment of prisoners from defeated armies still occurred. Following four centuries of rule under the Han dynasty, the Three Kingdoms brought about a new era of conflict in China that shifted institutions in favor of a more permanent and selective system of military recruitment. This ultimately included the creation of a hereditary military class as well as increasing reliance on non-Chinese cavalry forces and the end of universal conscription.

Lü Fan, courtesy name Ziheng, was a military general serving under the warlord Sun Quan during the late Eastern Han dynasty of China. He continued serving in the state of Eastern Wu during the early Three Kingdoms period.

Huang Quan, courtesy name Gongheng, was a military general of the state of Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He previously served under the warlords Liu Zhang and Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han dynasty and in the state of Shu during the early Three Kingdoms period before defecting to Wei. Liu Bei relied heavily on Huang Quan for counsel in both domestic and foreign policy. Under the Wei government, however, Huang Quan was restricted to only internal affairs because even though the Wei emperor Cao Pi appreciated him for his talent, he doubted Huang Quan's allegiance and believed he was still secretly loyal to Liu Bei.

Zhu Ran Eastern Wu general

Zhu Ran, born Shi Ran, courtesy name Yifeng, was a military general of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period of China. Despite being a childhood friend of Wu's founding emperor, Sun Quan, he was never tasked with important position nor assignment before Lü Meng's invasion of southern Jing Province in 219, wherein he assisted in capturing the enemy commander Guan Yu. Following the Battle of Xiaoting, Wu's rival state, Cao Wei, launched a three-pronged strike on Wu's northwestern, middle, and eastern borders. Zhu Ran was sent to the northwestern border, where he defended the city of Jiangling with only 5,000 troops against an enemy force about ten times greater. He rose to fame and became feared throughout Wei. He then participated in a series of military operations against Wei, during which he defeated several enemy units, but the overall objectives were never met. Before his death, Zhu Ran was granted authority to oversee matters within the army.

The campaign against Yuan Shu was a punitive expedition that took place between 197 and 199 in the late Eastern Han dynasty. The campaign was initiated by the Han government against the warlord Yuan Shu, after Yuan declared himself "Son of Heaven", an act perceived as treason against Emperor Xian, the nominal Han ruler. The campaign concluded with the defeat of Yuan Shu and collapse of his self-established Zhong dynasty.

Jingzhou or Jing Province was one of the Nine Provinces of ancient China referenced in Chinese historical texts such as the Tribute of Yu, Erya and Rites of Zhou. It became an administrative division during the reign of Emperor Wu in the Western Han dynasty.


  1. 1 2 3 Dardess, John W (10 September 2010). "The Three Kingdoms, 221-264". Governing China, 150-1850. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co. p. 7. ISBN   1603844473. Weakened by internal strife, horrific palace murders, and major defections to the enemy, the last Wu emperor surrendered on 31 May 280, and his realm was annexed to the Jin.
  2. 1 2 Zou Jiwan (Chinese:鄒紀萬), Zhongguo Tongshi - Weijin Nanbeichao Shi中國通史·魏晉南北朝史, (1992).
  3. Tanner, Harold M. (13 March 2009). "Chapter 5: The Age of Warriors and Buddhists". China: A History. Hackett Publishing. p. 142. When it was established, Wu had only one-sixth of the population of the Eastern Han Empire (Cao Wei held over two-thirds of the Han population).
  4. Bertrand Russell (1922). Problem of China. London: George Allen & Unwin.
  5. de Crespigny 1990 , 3.
  6. Rafe de Crespigny (1990). "Chapter 8 Empire in the South". Generals of the south : the foundation and early history of the Three Kingdoms state of Wu (PDF). Cambera: Australian National University, Faculty of Asian Studies. ISBN   0731509013 . Retrieved 2 January 2015. Though Sun Quan had claimed the imperial title in 229, and made some pretence of establishing the forms of an imperial court, the government of Wu continued to reflect the structure of a warlord state. In human terms, the time of the foundation of Wu was dominated by military commanders who held authority through their personal courage and energy, and were celebrated for their individualism, and it was no small achievement that Sun Quan was able to keep such a group under control.
  7. Rafe de Crespigny (1990). "Chapter 8 Empire in the South". Generals of the south : the foundation and early history of the Three Kingdoms state of Wu (PDF). Cambera: Australian National University, Faculty of Asian Studies. ISBN   0731509013 . Retrieved 2 January 2015. Politics at court were largely dominated by the intrigues and conflicts of powerful individuals and families. In particular, unlike the bureaucracy of Han, substantial official positions, and particularly those involving the command of troops, were regularly transferred by inheritance from one generation to the next. In the course of time, however, there was a shift of influence in the central government from the first generation of men who had risen to power in the early years of the state, many of them from the north and all chosen for their personal ability and loyalty, to men from south of the Yangzi, whose families had prospered under the Sun regime.
  8. Rafe de Crespigny (1990). "Chapter 8 Empire in the South". Generals of the south : the foundation and early history of the Three Kingdoms state of Wu (PDF). Cambera: Australian National University, Faculty of Asian Studies. ISBN   0731509013 . Retrieved 2 January 2015. Outside the court and the capital, moreover, great independent authority was held by these local families, which consolidated their power through the acquisition of tenants and other dependents who sought protection from the uncertainty of the times and the demands of government. This development, already begun in the time of Han, meant that the power of the central government was limited, and its capacity to exploit the resources of the state was heavily restricted. To a degree, the state of Wu was run for the protection and the benefit of the great families who were its nominal subjects.
  9. de Crespigny 2007, p. 739.
  10. Taylor 1983, p. 70.
  11. "Travel China Guide" . Retrieved 29 November 2014. Due to the convenient river transportation in the east of Yangtze River, the shipbuilding industry and salt industry of Wu were prosperous. During that period, the ships were improved to hold about 1,000 people.
  12. 1 2 de Crespigny 1990 , 24.
  13. "Travel China Guide" . Retrieved 29 November 2014. Depending on the advantage of navigation, Kingdom of Wu established close trade routes with some overseas countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia.
  14. Eberhard, Wolfram (1987). A History of China (4th ed., corr. in the 3rd print. ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN   0520032683.
  15. 1 2 3 de Crespigny 1990 , 4.
  16. de Crespigny 1990 , 6.
  17. de Crespigny 1990 , 6–7.
  18. de Crespigny 1990 , 7.
  19. de Crespigny 1990 , 8.
  20. de Crespigny 1990 , 1.
  21. de Crespigny 1990 , 9–10.
  22. 1 2 3 de Crespigny 1990 , 10.
  23. de Crespigny 1990 , 10–11
  24. de Crespigny 1990 , 11.