The Academic Corner of Sanguo

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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby CaTigeReptile » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:04 pm

Sun Fin wrote:Huh, I wasn't even aware it existed. Initially I thought the author's name looked familiar but it's a different Fairbanks who was involved in the Cambridge History of China series. Flicking though a few books I have, however, I've seen it referenced a few times so it is considered a valid source.

I've found it on ProQuest now and I'll probably buy it at some point. Have you ordered it or have you found it online somewhere?

It's always exciting to see new 3K sources uncovered! You can download it for free here.
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:23 pm

Amazing! Thanks CaTiRe!
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
Check out my library here for a list of Chinese history resources I have on hand and my tumblr to see if I have reviewed it!
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby Jordan » Sun Jan 19, 2020 2:32 pm

Requesting a pin for this thread. Maybe also the title could add parenthesis like (articles on the 3k).

Also thank you all for your hard work typing this.
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Re: The Academic Corner of Sanguo

Unread postby waywardauthor » Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:00 pm

The Reunification of China in AD 280: Jin's Conquest of Eastern Wu
John W. Killigrew by SUNY ColIege at Brockport


The desultory yet endemic warfare that marked the history of the Three Kingdoms period of early medieval China culminated in the conquest of Eastern Wu by the Jin dynasty in AD 280. The massive military campaign that reunified China in that year is significant in the annals of Chinese military history not only because it ended the division of the tianxia *-"f but is of singular importance for the strategic planning, thorough preparation, mobilization of resources and manpower, and resolute leadership that characterized the event. Indeed, these factors so conspicuously exemplified during the campaign would rarely be seen in the military history of China in the following centuries, and left a historical legacy for later campaigns of unification undertaken by the Sui and Tang dynasties to emulate. The grand scale of the campaign, from the size of the conquering army to the geographic extent of coordinated military operations, while not unprecedented in Chinese military history, deserves recognition as a notable martial accomplishment. Although the flawed post-unification policies of the Jin court would later undermine the unity that was achieved in the spring of 280, the campaign nevertheless serves as a paradigm in Chinese military history, and a narrative of its background and certain unique aspects of the brief but decisive undertaking is merited.

The political and military fragmentation of China in the post-Han period reached its structural apogee during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280), when a tripartite balance of power was achieved. Dominating North China from the Liaodong peninsula to the headwaters of the Yellow River was the Wei state, and after 265 its successor the Jin ~ state. In the lower and middle Yangzi and along the South China coast was the Eastern Wu State and to the southwest lay the Shu-Han state, corresponding approximately to present-day Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. However, as the equilibrium that originally was found in this triangular balance of power became eroded after several decades during the mid-third century, the goal of unifying the tianxia by military force became increasingly feasible.

The most significant factor in the demise of the three kingdoms and unification in 280 was the latent potential of the Wei and Jin states: their geographic, economic, and military superiority posed an inherent threat to the two weaker states, Shu-Han and Eastern Wu, notwithstanding the alliance that the latter two states forged as early as AD 208. Indeed, the alliance, although it was severed for a brief period, served as an effective deterrent and guarantor of stability for several decades. In addition, the Wei and Jin states supplemented these factors by a leadership possessing the strategic vision and political will to accept the challenge of unification.

Wei's Leadership and Military Ambitions

The founder of the Wei state was Cao Cao(155-220), a legendary military and political leader who, prior to his death, succeeded in unifying North China and achieving control over the Han court. Subsequently, his son and heir Cao Pi (186-226) obtained the abdication of the last Han emperor and, disregarding the fact that the tianxia was not united, proclaimed a new mandate, the Wei Dynasty. Behind the facade of the Wei court a brilliant and cunning military officer, Sima Yi (179-251), followed by his sons Sima Shi (208-255) and Sima Zhao (211-265), and grandson Sima Yan (236-290), gained military and political power. By 258, after eliminating potential rivals, the Sima family clique was in a position to dominate a demoralized Wei court at Luoyang. In so doing it followed a parallel path to power that Cao Cao and his family clique had used in ousting the last Han emperor. The political agenda of the Sima clique was twofold: establish a new mandate by usurping the Wei court and unify the tianxia.

After the death of Sima Shi in 255, Sima Zhao inherited his brother's monopoly of military and political power and proceeded to initiate plans for unification. In the year 262 he boldly outlined a two stage strategic plan for unification: the conquest of Shu-Han would be the prerequisite first stage to be followed by a culminating military campaign to absorb Eastern Wu. Proceeding from an overall assessment of the politico-military situation as existed at that time, he then outlined the appropriate deployment of his forces to correspond to the strategic plan for the conquest of Shu-Han. The importance of first conquering Shu-Han, he emphasized, was to gain control of the upper Yangzi so that the Wei state would possess a dominant geographic position from which to launch a riverine campaign downriver to destroy Eastern Wu. Confident and enthusiastic, he concluded that such a campaign to bring about unification could follow within three years of the conquest of Shu-Han. In essence, he envisaged a military campaign that would constitute a huge enveloping or flanking movement against Eastern Wu. While stressing the strategic necessity of controlling the upper Yangzi in order to achieve the goal of unification, he dismissed as impractical a direct assault by the Wei army against its contiguous southern antagonist to reach and cross the Yangzi, seize its capital Jianye (modem Nanjing), and achieve final unification. Indeed, the essential element in the strategic plan for unification was to seize control of the upper Yangzi by the conquest of Shu-Han.

The critical geographical significance of controlling the upper Yangzi in order to unify the tianxia was not lost on Deng Ai (197-264), the commander of the Wei army that conquered Shu-Han in 264. In a memorial soon after he had secured the surrender of Liu Shan (207-271), the ruler of Shu-Han, and the incorporation of his state into the Wei realm, Deng Ai urged that the construction of ships for a riverine campaign be immediately undertaken along with other supplementary preparations for such an endeavor. Seeking to entice Eastern Wu officials to consider surrender an attractive option, Deng Ai followed a lenient and liberal policy toward defeated Shu-Han officials and the ruling family. His initiative in this regard outraged the suspicious Sima Zhao. In any event, the annihilation of the Shu-Han state not only provided Sima Zhao and his successors with the geographic advantage of control over the upper Yangzi, the termination of the triangular balance of power and the diplomatic and military isolation of Eastern Wu. The spectacular military victory in 263 was significant also for enhancing the political prestige of the Sima clique in preparation for its usurpation of the Wei court the following year.

The dismissal of a direct north-south military assault from North China toward the Yangzi River and Eastern Wu by Sima Zhao might well have been based on the disappointing results that such military operations had experienced since the outset of the Three Kingdoms period and earlier. For example, after establishing hegemony over North China early in the third century, Cao Cao called upon Sun Quan (182-252), the political ruler of the lower Yangzi and future emperor of Eastern Wu, to declare subordination and accept enfeoffment. Encouraged by certain advisors, he resisted intimidation. Thereupon, Cao Cao began preparations for an advance into the Yangzi valley via the Han River to the present-day Wuhan cities, followed by a joint land and water advance down the river to intimidate or militarily defeat Sun Quan and terminate his independence. To be precise, this was not a direct north-south assault across the Huai River and an advance to and across the Yangzi, but was an effort to outflank Sun Quan to the west and advance east via the middle Yangzi. In the year 208, at the famous battle of Chibi some 75 kilometers upriver from the present-day Wuhan cities, the joint forces of Liu Bei (161-223) and Sun Quan defeated Cao Cao. This battle laid the foundation for the tripartite balance of power between Liu Bei, the founder of the future Shu-Han state in present-day Sichuan, Sun Quan and his Eastern Wu state in the lower Yangzi, and Cao Cao in North China. It also highlighted the benefit of security that the Yangzi provided as a natural barrier against a direct attack toward the Jiangnan area (the traditional term for the lower Yangzi and its tributaries) by a North China based military force ill-prepared for riverine conditions.

Immediately after the battle of Chibi, both Sun Quan and Cao Cao began a series of border wars in order to spread out and consolidate territory in the lower Yangzi and Huai River basin, while Liu Bei, with the consent of Sun Quan, began to carry out "state building" in the middle and upper Yangzi. The idea was to strengthen Liu Bei and foster a tripartite balance of power in order to deter Cao Cao. After securing control of Yizhou (encompassing Yunnan, and parts of Sichuan, Guizhou, and Burma) in 214, Liu Bei lost his base in the middle Yangzi region to a surprise attack by Sun Quan's army in 219. Nevertheless, after a period of hostilities and the death of Liu Bei in 223, the alliance between Shu-Han and Eastern Wu was restored. For his part, after successfully obtaining control over the area west of Chang' an, Cao Cao returned to the east and between 213 and 217 launched three unsuccessful campaigns to break into the Yangzi basin, cross the river if necessary, and force Sun Quan into submission. The area of contention is known in Chinese military history as the Huainan: the basin of the Huai River and its many tributaries that crisscross the region and extend southwest to take in Hefei, Chao Lake, and the Rushun River. These locations were critical strategic positions because they provided ingress and egress by water and land from the Huai valley to the Yangzi. During late Han and into the Three Kingdoms period, this broad geographical area was divided into Yangzhou which straddled the lower Yangzi, Xuzhou to the north along the coast, and Yuzhou to the west of Xuzhou. With the death of Cao Cao in 220, his son and successor Cao Pi resumed the military effort to break through Sun Quan's perimeter defenses north of the Yangzi, advance to and cross the river and bring about submission of the recalcitrant Sun Quan. The three campaigns of Cao Pi between 222 and 225 were no more successful than those of his illustrious father.

Following Cao Pi's death in 226 and the advent of Cao Rui as Emperor Ming, Cao-Wei strategy underwent a dramatic change. Encouraged by several court officials, the government began to curtail and restrict large-scale military offensives and initiate a defensive strategy toward its two adversaries. The background of this strategy was the realization by court officials that economic development was the prior foundation for the successful use of military force in bringing about the long-range strategic goal of unification. This is the traditional legalist position of fuguo qiangjun ("rich state, powerful anny"), which was to concentrate on building up agricultural productivity, adopt a frugal policy toward frivolous temple and palace building, and then at a later date contemplate military action. Stated in other words, "first develop the economy and later use military force," xianchan houwu.

Another factor in lessening the immediate threat of a Cao-Wei direct assault toward the Yangzi and the defensive perimeter of the Wu state was the internal struggle for power between the powerful Sima family clique and the weakening power of the Cao- Wei imperial family and court loyalists. By the year 257, Sima Zhao, inheriting his brother's military power, had eliminated the last of the Wei loyalists as the prelude to the usurpation of the Wei court, and concomitantly, was in a position to envisage the use of military force to eliminate the "splitist regimes" of Shu-Han and Eastern Wu and achieve unification. As events transpired, the destruction of Shu-Han in 264 not only resulted in the strategic isolation of Eastern Wu, but enhanced the prestige of Sima Zhao and his family clique and facilitated the usurpation of the Wei court and the establishment of the Jin Dynasty the following year.

Wu's Political Organization and Court Advisers

[To be continued later]
Alone I lean under the wispy shade of an aged tree,
Scornfully I raise to parted lips a cup of warm wine,
Longingly I cast an empty vessel aside those exposed roots,
And leave behind forgotten memories and forsaken dreams.
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