Zhuge Liang's Administration of Shu

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Zhuge Liang's Administration of Shu

Unread postby Pang Shiyuan » Sun Aug 04, 2002 10:47 pm

Zhuge Liang's Administration of Shu (General History of China - vol 4. Wei-Jin and Northern & Southern Dynasties)

Liu Bei proclaimed himself Emperor in April 221. He led an eastern expedition against Sun Quan the following July to avenge the killing of Guan Yu. But he was defeated in a fire attack by Sun's General Lu Xun in the Battle of Xiao Ting. He then retreated to Bai Di Cheng (now Fengjie, Si Chuan)

He fell critically ill in Marth 223, summoned Zhuge Liang and said to him: "Mr Prime Minister, your talent is 10 times that of Cao Pi's. If my son is incapable, you can take over the throne." Bursting into tears, Zhuge knelt down and promised: "I will remain loyal to my country until my last days."

Crown Prince Liu Shan(4) (or Chan(2)) succeeded the throne after Liu Bei's death. As he was only 17 years old, government matters were handled by Zhuge Liang. The first thing Zhuge did was to assign Shang Shu Deng Zhi to Jian Ye on a diplomatic mission, which resulted in the reconciliation with the Wu regime and the restoration of the Sun-Liu alliance.

At that time, Yang Kai of the local forces of Nan Zhong (today's southern Si Chuan, Yun Nan and Gui Zhou) rebelled against Shu and allied with Wu.
Chieftains Gao Ding and Meng Huo of the Yi tribe responded in succssion. Having made preparations for 2 years, Zhuge Liang mounted a punitive expedition against Yang in the spring of 225. The expeditionary forces crossed River Lu (today's River Long in Si Chuan) in May and marched on til they reached Dian Chi, from where they put down the rebellion in the prefectures in Nan Zhong.

Zhuge Liang obtained a large amount of resources from this successful expedition, which also allayed the fear of disturbance in the rear and united and appeased the local minority nationalities.

Zhuge Liang enforced strict rule by law at the beginning of his administration of Shu. Prefect Fa Zheng of Shu advised him to be more lenient. However, Zhuge elaborated: "Liu Zhang is a weak and incompetent man. If punishments are not harsh enough, benelovent rule will not work. If rule by law is not enforced, I am afraid social moral will deteriorate and the programmes of the Imperial Court will be ineffective."

Zhuge was also very demanding towards his officials and was strict and impartial in meting out rewards and punishments. Frequently, in casual attire, he inspected official's work. It is said that He Qi, a prefectural official, indulged in merry-making and ignored government matters. When Zhuge Liang came to know about this, he went to carry out an inspection. On learning of his impending visit, He Qi went through all the records in one night.

The next morning, Zhuge came to He's office to enquire about government matters. He Qi answered his questions correctly without hesitation. Filled with satisfaction, Zhuge Liang recommended him to be a magistrate of Cheng Du.

In the spring of 228, Zhuge mounted an expedition against Wei, with Ma Su as the vanguard. As Ma violated Zhuge's deployment, the expeditionary forces were defeated by General Zhang He at Jieting (now Zhuang Lang, Gan Su), which affected the entire war situation. Zhuge was forced to retreat from Xi County and was very nearly taken prisoner.

He retreated to Han Zhong where he reluctantly had Ma Su executed. This is the well-known story of "Zhuge Liang Tearfully Executed Ma Su" in history. Zhuge's strict enforcement of law made all his high-ranking army officers conduct themselves with dignity and carry out their duties diligently.

Zhuge's impartial enforcement of law evoked no complaing, not even from those who had been punished. Captain Liao Li who had an unduly high opinion of himself, thought he had not been given an important post, and often complained and spread rumours to sow discord amongst the ministers. This cost him his job, and he was subsequently sacked by Zhuge and exiled to a village. When he heard of Zhuge's death later, however, Liao Li wept and said with a sigh: "We will now become slaves of a foreign power."

Zhuge made great efforst to promote the development of Shu's economy. To protect the River Du weir and irrigation works, he dispatched 2000 soldiers there to take charge of protection and maintenence. Attaching importance to irrigation works enabled Shu to open up farmlands, to have an ample supply of grains and other foodstuffs and to be financially sound.

Under Zhuge's administration, Shu, which was weak, became a rich kingdom. He did not amass wealth for himself. He told Liu Shan: "I have 800 mulberry trees and 15 qing of farmland. These are more than sufficient to feed and clothe my children. Other than these, I have no other property." (1 qing = 0.6667 ha)

During his 12 year administration of Shu, Zhuge Liang enjoyed the ardent support of the people. He died in the year 234. The common folk requested in succession that a temple be built in his honour. Complying with the people's popular feelings, the Shu Government erected a temple at Zhuge Liang's graveyard in Mian Yang in memory of his achievements.


*That certainly killed my fingers*

Anyway, the point is, this exerpt clearly shows that Zhuge Liang was a political genius, who can be credited for Shu's economic development, not to mention the improvement of farmland and irrigation.

Some people may interpret that he was a control-freak, who was overly harsh in enforcing discipline. However, remember that he did actually subdue the southern tribes. The hard evidence for this is the fact that for the rest of Shu-Han's existence there was not a single incident involving the Southern Tribes invading the River Lands.
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Unread postby Pang Shiyuan » Mon Aug 05, 2002 4:33 am

I've heard that Chen Shou wrote a separate Zhuge Liang Biography in one book (not SGZ)...has anyone read it before?
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Unread postby Iznoach, Legendary Dragon » Mon Aug 05, 2002 6:27 am

Thanks for that, Pang Shiyuan. If that was taken from official recognized history, that means that people can stop saying that Zhuge Liang's control of Shu ruined it financially. In fact this shows he benefited Shu and the people by taking charge. If he hadn't, let me ask everyone this: Would Liu Shan have been competent enough to re-ally with Wu? Probably not...
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Unread postby Pang Shiyuan » Mon Aug 05, 2002 6:31 am

Iznoach, Legendary Dragon wrote:Thanks for that, Pang Shiyuan.


You're welcome.


Iznoach, Legendary Dragon wrote:If that was taken from official recognized history, that means that people can stop saying that Zhuge Liang's control of Shu ruined it financially. In fact this shows he benefited Shu and the people by taking charge.


Well...there are some major flaws in this exerpt which can be pounced upon by an Anti-Zhuge Liang member...eg. His promotion of He Qi (who clearly was a lazy official)

Also, people could be critical about his modesty since he told (or boasted) his master personally that he didn't keep any material gains for himself.

Iznoach, Legendary Dragon wrote:If he hadn't, let me ask everyone this: Would Liu Shan have been competent enough to re-ally with Wu? Probably not...


Liu Shan, however weak, wasn't as dumb as we think, particularly since he removed the Prime Ministers officer once Zhuge Liang died, to consolidate power for himself, and not to the ministers...
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Unread postby Iznoach, Legendary Dragon » Mon Aug 05, 2002 6:43 am

Pang Shiyuan wrote:Liu Shan, however weak, wasn't as dumb as we think, particularly since he removed the Prime Ministers officer once Zhuge Liang died, to consolidate power for himself, and not to the ministers...


I tend to disagree with the now popular argument that Liu Shan was intelligent. He made most of his moves after Zhuge's death with the advice of the corrupt Huang Hao, who was just looking out for himself. Basically, he advised Shan to remove the office of PM to consolidate power, but if you look closely Huang Hao was the one receiving all the power, and not Liu Shan. With Huang Hao and a drunken Liu Shan running the government, it's no wonder Shu didn't last too long. I'm sure after Zhuge's death Liao Li wasn't the only one who thought "We will now become slaves of a foreign power." Let's not kid ourselves, people: Zhuge Liang held Shu together, and when he died it was only a matter of time before Shu fell. I'm just surprised they lasted as long as they did.
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Unread postby Zhou Gongjin » Mon Aug 05, 2002 10:16 am

Pang Shiyuan wrote:I've heard that Chen Shou wrote a separate Zhuge Liang Biography in one book (not SGZ)...has anyone read it before?


I think I know what you are talking about Ron..
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Unread postby Han Xin » Mon Aug 05, 2002 10:49 am

Pang Shiyuan wrote:I've heard that Chen Shou wrote a separate Zhuge Liang Biography in one book (not SGZ)...has anyone read it before?


Yup the bio called KongMing Zhuan written by Chen Shou (and who said that Chen Shou hate ZL because ZL throw CS daddy in jail?)

Anyway nice and informative post. However, there one thing I need to point out from your post was that Liu Bei never asked ZL to take over as ruler of Shu. It is more correct to say that Liu Bei allowed ZL the authority to replace Liu Shan with one of his other sons if Liu Shan deemed lamed.

First of all, I would like dispute that whoever said that Zhuge Liang brought prosperities to YiZhou. YiZhou was a region of rich soil and up until 600AD had never had any disaster like famine or drought. Liu Zhang was a pacifist, but he was no way a useless ruler of YiZhou. YiZhou was already rich and properous under Liu Zhang, the people of YiZhou rather die with Liu Zhang than surrender to Liu Bei showed that Liu Zhang do have the love of the people. So IMO saying that YiZhou was properous thanks to Zhuge Liang is wrong.

Zhuge Liang know how to get the best out of people, but like most people he also had prejudice as well. He only appointed mainly JingZhou originate officers to high post (with the exception of Wei Yan), and overly rely on unproven and unskill generals like Zhao Yun and Ma Su while completely ignoring Liu Bei most trusted general in Wei Yan. Although Zhuge Liang was not that corrupt, however, he do let his personal prejudice to harm the interest of Shu. Hence that would make him a traitor.

Zhuge Liang's land policy was a copy of Cao Cao. The idea of the policy is to create more farming land from clearing forest and made peasants and soldiers to work on the land, and the government end up getting half of what the land produce. This policy seem far on paper, but with the small population size of Shu, it is doubtful if the soldiers did their fair share of the workload.
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Unread postby Pang Shiyuan » Mon Aug 05, 2002 10:03 pm

Han Xin wrote:
Pang Shiyuan wrote:I've heard that Chen Shou wrote a separate Zhuge Liang Biography in one book (not SGZ)...has anyone read it before?


Yup the bio called KongMing Zhuan written by Chen Shou (and who said that Chen Shou hate ZL because ZL throw CS daddy in jail?)


Thanks for the info...it's interesting to note that Chen Shou was anti-Zhuge after all...

Han Xin wrote:Anyway nice and informative post. However, there one thing I need to point out from your post was that Liu Bei never asked ZL to take over as ruler of Shu. It is more correct to say that Liu Bei allowed ZL the authority to replace Liu Shan with one of his other sons if Liu Shan deemed lamed.


Yup. I'd read your interpretation of that passage before...but I couldn't really find an appropriate translation which could properly convey it's real meaning...

That's the problem with translations...just a slight difference in wording can lead to major arguments. Like the "Ma Chao retreated when he saw Xu Zhu with Cao" incident...

Han Xin wrote:First of all, I would like dispute that whoever said that Zhuge Liang brought prosperities to YiZhou. YiZhou was a region of rich soil and up until 600AD had never had any disaster like famine or drought. Liu Zhang was a pacifist, but he was no way a useless ruler of YiZhou. YiZhou was already rich and properous under Liu Zhang, the people of YiZhou rather die with Liu Zhang than surrender to Liu Bei showed that Liu Zhang do have the love of the people. So IMO saying that YiZhou was properous thanks to Zhuge Liang is wrong.


Well, Zhuge Liang didn't make Yi Zhou prosperous, I'll give you that...but he certainly made Yi Zhou improve economically.

Han Xin wrote:Zhuge Liang know how to get the best out of people, but like most people he also had prejudice as well. He only appointed mainly JingZhou originate officers to high post (with the exception of Wei Yan), and overly rely on unproven and unskill generals like Zhao Yun and Ma Su while completely ignoring Liu Bei most trusted general in Wei Yan. Although Zhuge Liang was not that corrupt, however, he do let his personal prejudice to harm the interest of Shu. Hence that would make him a traitor.


Unproven skill? Zhao Yun had scored some merits during his career under Liu Bei (captured Xiahou Lan at Bowang, who ended up as a minister for Law under Shu-Han). Also, Zhao Yun was appointed not by Zhuge Liang, but by Liu Bei.

As for Ma Su and Wei Yan's case, I agree with you. He was only known for his potential, but nearly every officer had their own hidden potential. It is strange that out of so many talented officers, Zhuge Liang could only pick Ma Su as his best choice to guard Jieting.

Zhuge Liang's personal prejudice can be compared to Lian Po despising Lin Xiang Ru...that may have inadvertantly harmed the state, but in no way does that make Zhuge a traitor. However, unlike Lian Po, Zhuge Liang never did admit his own mistakes, which is his personal loss anyway.

Han Xin wrote:Zhuge Liang's land policy was a copy of Cao Cao. The idea of the policy is to create more farming land from clearing forest and made peasants and soldiers to work on the land, and the government end up getting half of what the land produce.


Yup. Cao Cao was the pioneer of that land policy when he ordered for the cutting down of forests outside Xu Chang to pave way for further farming outside the city, and also ordering his soldiers to work together with the civillians..

However, I would have thought Zhuge Liang would have been better off following Guan Zhong's ancient policy:

Common farmers and civillians (men only) will toil on the land during the Summer and Spring seasons, but after harvesting their grain, they will train as soldiers to pass the time. Therefore, should any millitary emergency crop up in the state, the common people can be used as soldiers, thus allowing the immediate recruitment for soldiers in the frontline.

Furthermore, since the soldiers already know each other by name, they can fight with one heart, and in the midst of battle, differentiate between their friends and foes.

This would have created an unstoppable army in Shu-Han. The hard proof that this works? Qi Huan Gong became the hegemon of China during the Spring/Autumn period.

Han Xin wrote:This policy seem far on paper, but with the small population size of Shu, it is doubtful if the soldiers did their fair share of the workload.


I'm not sure about that. Lu Xun was able to order his soldiers to work with the commoners when he used that as a ruse to trick the Wei soldiers into a state of relaxation, therefore allowing him to escape...
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Unread postby Mega Zarak » Tue Aug 06, 2002 7:39 am

Han Xin wrote:First of all, I would like dispute that whoever said that Zhuge Liang brought prosperities to YiZhou. YiZhou was a region of rich soil and up until 600AD had never had any disaster like famine or drought.


I think you're wrong in this. It was mentioned in Fa Zheng's bio (if I remembered correctly) that he joined Liu Zhang because he wanted to help the people in Yi Zhou during a famine. :D

Han Xin wrote:Zhuge Liang know how to get the best out of people, but like most people he also had prejudice as well. He only appointed mainly JingZhou originate officers to high post (with the exception of Wei Yan), and overly rely on unproven and unskill generals like Zhao Yun and Ma Su while completely ignoring Liu Bei most trusted general in Wei Yan. Although Zhuge Liang was not that corrupt, however, he do let his personal prejudice to harm the interest of Shu. Hence that would make him a traitor.


IMO, it would only be fair to say that Zhuge Liang was incompetent in certain issues and not label him as a "traitor". :D His primary objective was never to usurp the throne of Shu.
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Unread postby Han Xin » Tue Aug 06, 2002 10:32 am

Great Deer wrote:I think you're wrong in this. It was mentioned in Fa Zheng's bio (if I remembered correctly) that he joined Liu Zhang because he wanted to help the people in Yi Zhou during a famine. :D .


I got a book written in English saying that the first RECORDED incident of famine in YiZhou (SiChuan) was during the reign of Yang Jian of the Sui Dynasty.

Han Xin wrote:Zhuge Liang know how to get the best out of people, but like most people he also had prejudice as well. He only appointed mainly JingZhou originate officers to high post (with the exception of Wei Yan), and overly rely on unproven and unskill generals like Zhao Yun and Ma Su while completely ignoring Liu Bei most trusted general in Wei Yan. Although Zhuge Liang was not that corrupt, however, he do let his personal prejudice to harm the interest of Shu. Hence that would make him a traitor.


I'll come to that subject in reply to Pang ShiYuan...
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