The conflict between Sun Quan and Zhang Zhao

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The conflict between Sun Quan and Zhang Zhao

Unread postby Sun Gongli » Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:42 pm

Reading Liang Shuo's latest contribution to the Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms thread got me thinking a lot about Sun Quan and Zhang Zhao's personal and working relationship. It really seemed like, beyond all of his other loyal vassals, Sun Quan was particularly harsh on Zhang Zhao.

Take, for instance, his coronation as emperor. He praised the talents of Zhou Yu, and as Zhang Zhao was about to nod in agreement, added, "but had I listened to the words of Zhang Zhao, I would be in a ditch right now." It seems a bit needless ot make a comment such as that at a celebratory event, especially when Zhang Zhao was hardly the only one suggesting that Sun Quan side with Cao Cao at the time.

Then, Zhang Zhao gave honest advice to Sun Quan against allying with Gongsun Yuan, and Sun Quan grew needlessly vexed at him and threatened him. Then, when Zhang Zhao left the court, Sun Quan's treatment of him only grew more bizarre: piling dirt outside his door.

It's evident that there was a great deal of conflict between the two, though Zhang Zhao's loyalty cannot even be questioned. Certain sources mention that, when Sun Ce was on his deathbed, Zhang Zhao strongly urged him to appoint Sun Yi as his heir rather than Sun Quan, but some historians, including Dr. Rafe de Crespigny, have discounted this. Regardless, I think this event did actually occur and may have been the start of the conflict between the two - Sun Quan held a grudge against Zhang Zhao for favoring the talents of Sun Yi over his own, and though Zhang Zhao gave his all in service to the state, Sun Quan never forgave him.
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Unread postby Shadowlink » Fri Dec 15, 2006 1:10 am

yeah I alway hated zhang zhao though. Telling sun quan to surrender and I don't remember any good advice. Sun Quan probably didnt use him alot although he was a good civil officer
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Unread postby Lexus Fiend » Fri Dec 15, 2006 1:24 am

I'm glad that you brought that up, Gongli. I remember reading a lot of things in the novel about Zhang Zhao, not many of them particularly good. I'm not sure how historically that fits in with anything though. It seems that he flat out didn't get along with Sun Quan, I think a lot of the loyalty that Quan showed Zhang Zhao had to do with the fact that Zhao was a loyal servant for quite some time for his brother and father, at least novel-speaking. Someone help me out here, I forget who it was, perhaps Lady Wu that told Sun Quan, that for internal affairs to look to Zhang Zhao and for external affairs, use Zhou Yu.
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Unread postby Chris the King » Fri Dec 15, 2006 1:37 am

Sun Ce said that on his deathbed.
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Unread postby Xu Yuan » Fri Dec 15, 2006 3:20 am

Zhang Zhao was always one of my favorite characters. It wasn't just him who was attempting to surrender, Chi Bi was a gambit, if it had failed then so would the State of Wu. Zhang Zhao was only doing what a civil officer would do, which was to keep his people safe. An incredible administrator, but a poor man of personality only showing respect to his superior's and rude to pretty much everyone else. His loyalty cannot be questioned and he was an excellent judge of character. Sun Quan does go blatantly out of his way to embarass the poor man though, I wonder iff he did things like this when Zhang Hong were still alive?
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Unread postby Sun Gongli » Fri Dec 15, 2006 3:54 am

Here's the thing: surrender wouldn't really have put a nail in the coffin of Wu. Sun Quan made surrenders to Cao Cao on numerous occasions (they weren't "surrenders," they were simply acknowledgements of Cao Cao's superiority - and they were usually temporary). It wasn't Cao Cao saying, "give me your army." He was saying, "swear allegiance to me and go about your business."

Zhang Zhao was, along with the other ministers, suggesting the road that would secure Wu's safety in the short term. It was Zhou Yu and Lu Su who were thinking in the long term. I can't fault Zhang Zhao for that, even though Zhou Yu's plan ultimately was the one that worked the best.
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Unread postby Elitemsh » Fri Dec 15, 2006 7:30 am

I have just read Zhang Zhao's SGZ bio. On numerous occassions he expresses displeasure and criticises Sun Quan's actions on a number of occassions. Though in my view, these criticisms seem fair and just as Sun Quan was young at the time, and hence doing many foolish things. Perhaps Sun Quan, being in such a position of power, was not used to being told how to act. Also, Zhang Zhao seemed to be a very serious person, perhaps his personality coflicted with Sun Quan's. Generally you tend to dislike people who critisise you, even if it is for your own benefit. You may naturally end up bearing them a grudge. Perhaps this was the case between Sun Quan and Zhang Zhao.
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Unread postby Zhilong » Fri Dec 15, 2006 8:37 am

In the novel he was the best source of advice on military affairs. You merely consult him and do the exact opposite to ensure success. :lol:

Historically i think Sun Quan deeply respects Zhang Zhao and his talent. It is just Zhang Zhao is proud and perhaps rather petty at times. We can see numerous examples of these in his bio. His talent was unanimously recognised by the Wu court but Sun Quan realised that a Prime Minister needs to be broad minded to manage everyone so did not appoint Zhang Zhao. They are like an old bickering couple and after they feud Sun Quan always goes to kiss and make up. :P

When all 3 rulers reached hegemonic status we can see they are no longer so humble but become quite arrogant as is natural when you are above everyone else.

Zhang Zhao was in a unique position as he was entrusted to look after Sun Quan and even told to take over the regime if Sun Quan was not able. Whether we interpret it as sincere or not it shows that Zhang Zhao has a relationship with Sun Quan that few others did. It was a bit like Zhuge Liang holding power in trust over Liu Shan.

Immediately following ZL's death Liu Shan abolished the post of Prime Minister. After the death of Dong Yun, Liu Shan began to despise Dong Yun because the latter would not allow him to indulge as he pleased. Thus it shows an emperor is only human and at times get vexed when his subjects go against their will.

I agree that Zhang Zhao's Chibi surrender advice was reasonable. Sun Quan understood that as well since he himself only gave Zhou Yu a portion of his troops and kept at least half of his troops in reserve under his own command. But in a coronation event i guess Sun Quan wanted to drum up some patriotism now that his dynasty was secured and reaffirm his ambition. Of course it was rather mean to Zhang Zhao.
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Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Dec 15, 2006 12:48 pm

Shadowlink wrote:yeah I alway hated zhang zhao though. Telling sun quan to surrender and I don't remember any good advice. Sun Quan probably didnt use him alot although he was a good civil officer

the surrender was good advice but how about Gongsun Yuan advice mentioned in the first post? Go here for other advice that was good

I think it may have been a simple personality clash, Zhang Zhao was unweilding and a bit of a kill joy whereas Sun Quan was arrogant and fun loving.
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Re: The conflict between Sun Quan and Zhang Zhao

Unread postby Jordan » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:54 pm

This is an interesting topic to me. Zhang Zhao, in my opinion, was a loyal servant and a good adviser. In his entire career, I can only think of one bad piece of advice he gave. Unfortunately, it was one of the worst pieces of advice he could have ever given at one of the most critical times. Everybody knows what I'm talking about, so I scarcely need to say it.

Because of that single instance, Sun Quan tended to doubt his counsel on literally everything else. He was in fact staunchly loyal to Sun Quan, serious and wise. He actually gave great advice on a number of occasions, especially when Sun Quan was dealing with Gongsun Yuan, but also on how a ruler should conduct themselves. That one "mistaken advice" he gave though marred his whole career as well as the way people interpret him even today.
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