Zhang He: Underrated by Yuan Shao?

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Zhang He: Underrated by Yuan Shao?

Unread postby Sleeping-Dragon81 » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:09 pm

Throughout SGYY Yuan Shao constantly makes comments like "If only my generals Yan Liang and Wen Chou were here." Yet within his army is a hidden tiger, due to be a future dragon of the Wei Dynasty, Zhang He. Yet he ignores him and always dotes on Yan Liang/Wen Chou. In my opinion Zhang He is the equal of Yan Liang and Wen Chou in martial skills, is a much better leader, a much more diligent strategist and not nearly as reckless. But why does Yuan Shao address him as a lieutenant?
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Unread postby huaxiong » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:44 pm

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Unread postby Tarrot » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:44 pm

A couple things. One, Zhang He was relatively early into his military career at the time. Additionally, he joined coming from Han Fu, so Yuan Shao would've had more experience with long-time generals like Yan Liang and Wen Chou. Plus, and this is a personal opinion, I didn't find Zhang He to be that good. He had numerous instances of showing he was good, but I wouldn't put him as a top tier general, novel or history, as he had numerous losses in both.
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Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Jan 18, 2008 7:38 am

What had Zhang He done in the novel though? Whereas when Yan Liang and Wen Chou are mentioned in wars with Gongsun Zan, they perform well so I can see why they are used in the novel
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Unread postby Elitemsh » Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:32 pm

Historically, Zhang He played a significant part in the defeat of Gongsun Zan and achieved much in this war. Yuan Shao was quite simply a very poor judge of talent. Just like Ju Shou and Tian Feng who were very competent, Zhang He was ignored by the inept Yuan Shao. Zhang He was historically a very capable general and learned in war tactics. Liu Bei, who was indeed a good judge of talent, respected/feared Zhang He's abilities. That says it all.
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Unread postby Tan_Binrui » Sat Jan 19, 2008 3:46 am

elitemsh wrote:Historically, Zhang He played a significant part in the defeat of Gongsun Zan and achieved much in this war. Yuan Shao was quite simply a very poor judge of talent. Just like Ju Shou and Tian Feng who were very competent, Zhang He was ignored by the inept Yuan Shao. Zhang He was historically a very capable general and learned in war tactics. Liu Bei, who was indeed a good judge of talent, respected/feared Zhang He's abilities. That says it all.


Where are you getting your information? Yuan Shao didn't ignore him, he continuously promoted him for his deeds. He consistently promoted and used very talented men. His only failings come after Gongsun Zan's death, just before the battle of Guan Du. However, this cannot mark Yuan Shao as completely inept. He has a lifetime of leadership and courage, wise judgments, and clever strategies. A year or two of senility can't possibly mark him as inept.

I only wished to speak in defense of you blatant downplaying of Yuan Shao. Outside of that, I don't disagree. Zhang He was very skilled.

As for the Topic Creator, I'd have to disagree. If he had underestimated him, he wouldn't have promoted him beyond his post in Han Fu's army. He wouldn't have placed Zhang He in the trusting position of defending against a rival lord. He wouldn't have used him as the head of the charge into Cao Cao's camp. Although he didn't listen to Zhang He, it wasn't a case of underestimating him.
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Unread postby Elitemsh » Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:29 am

Tan_Binrui wrote:Where are you getting your information? Yuan Shao didn't ignore him, he continuously promoted him for his deeds. He consistently promoted and used very talented men. His only failings come after Gongsun Zan's death, just before the battle of Guan Du. However, this cannot mark Yuan Shao as completely inept. He has a lifetime of leadership and courage, wise judgments, and clever strategies. A year or two of senility can't possibly mark him as inept.

I only wished to speak in defense of you blatant downplaying of Yuan Shao. Outside of that, I don't disagree. Zhang He was very skilled.

As for the Topic Creator, I'd have to disagree. If he had underestimated him, he wouldn't have promoted him beyond his post in Han Fu's army. He wouldn't have placed Zhang He in the trusting position of defending against a rival lord. He wouldn't have used him as the head of the charge into Cao Cao's camp. Although he didn't listen to Zhang He, it wasn't a case of underestimating him.


I am getting all my info from the SGZ and ZZTJ. Yuan Shao ignored Zhang He when the latter suggested to him to reinforce Chunyu Qiong. Yuan Shao did not listen to this good advice. It is just like when he ignored Ju Shou and Tian Feng's excellent advice on many occassions. I have every right to say that Yuan Shao was inept because he had plenty of good advisors but he couldn't distinguish good advice and bad advice. He was able to gather a lot talent like the three above due to his lineage but he couldn't use them effectively. Therefore he was inept. You tell me where are his wise judgments and clever strategies? Where are you getting your information?
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Unread postby Tan_Binrui » Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:48 pm

elitemsh wrote:I am getting all my info from the SGZ and ZZTJ. Yuan Shao ignored Zhang He when the latter suggested to him to reinforce Chunyu Qiong. Yuan Shao did not listen to this good advice. It is just like when he ignored Ju Shou and Tian Feng's excellent advice on many occassions. I have every right to say that Yuan Shao was inept because he had plenty of good advisors but he couldn't distinguish good advice and bad advice. He was able to gather a lot talent like the three above due to his lineage but he couldn't use them effectively. Therefore he was inept. You tell me where are his wise judgments and clever strategies? Where are you getting your information?


Same as you, but I'm looking at more than the last two paragraphs. Yuan Shao was the mind behind He Jin, and it was because of him that He Jin even started plotting to get rid of the eunuchs. It was He Jin's ignorance and naivety that kept the eunuchs alive as long as they were, for Yuan Shao advised him to dispose of them when they had the chance. This chance, to continue, was not a singular instance, and He Jin always hesitated long enough to miss the opportunity, something that Yuan Shao tried not to allow him to do.

When faced with the issue of power in the north, Qu Yi's rebellion against Han Fu inspired Yuan Shao to ally with him. He was later made an important part of the army. Is this not utilizing talented men? Yuan Shao listened to Feng Ji's advice, and utilized capable men like Gao Gan and Xun Chen, Xin Ping, and Guo Tu to win him Han Fu's land without a single fight. These men, mind you, where sent and requested specifically by Yuan Shao, without any mention of advice as to who to send. This was Yuan Shao's doing, and shows he can utilize talented men as well and understand complex ploys.

When Ju Shou, then very recently employed by Yuan Shao, gave him a plan to make him the singular power in China, Yuan Shao was overjoyed with the plan, promoting Ju Shou to a high position and taking it as his model. Surely enough, this plan was enacted except for the last part.

When an officer of his, Zhu Han, went and assaulted Han Fu in his home, Yuan Shao immediately put him to death. He would not allow men to break his rules.

In hindsight, Yuan Shao's refusal of Ju Shou's advice to welcome the Emperor into his lands was a bad one. However, Guo Tu makes a good point. When Cao Cao took the Emperor in, he held a large amount of the Central Plains. Yuan Shao held Ye and Bohai, and various commanderies that surrendered to him. He still had Liu Yu, Zhang Yan, and many others in opposition to him in the north. Cao Cao had only the east to sorry about until Yuan Shao finally attacked him from the north. Perhaps this would have curbed Yuan Shao's ability to conquer what he did, as final authority would be placed with the Emperor, and not Yuan Shao, if he were accepted into Ye. Ju Shou was thinking of the Emperor, but Guo Tu was thinking about Yuan Shao. I think it is firmly in the air which one was the better advice.

Ju Shou's advice against each of Yuan Shao's sons commanding a province was ill placed, and Yuan Shao decided not to accept it. He viewed his idea as the superior one, and he was right. Yuan Tan defeated Tian Kai in the north, ending a year-long stalemate with the Gongsun Zan officer. He also brought stability to a region that required a leader.

Let's not forget his appointment of Zhang He against Gongsun Zan, his use of Qu Yi, and his appointments of Tian Feng and Ju Shou. He enabled talented men, and the only time we see the opposite is in the end of his life, around 198-200.

Of course, the Year 200 roles around, and this is where we see him make mistake after mistake. One year of tragic faults, and you call him inept for his lifetime of achievement? I would understand if he were like Han Fu. Every campaign lost, all advice squandered, all officers so willing to jump ship. But he wasn't. Only in that last three years did things go astray, only falling completely apart in the final year. Do not be so quick to judge a man's talents based purely on his mistakes.
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Unread postby Kong Wen » Sat Jan 19, 2008 7:30 pm

Holy smokes, is this thread about Zhang He or Yuan Shao? :)

Do we have evidence that Yuan Shao was personally responsible for putting the kibosh on Zhang He's plan to reinforce the supply train? Rafe only says that Zhang He was "over-ruled" and the SGZ bio on KMA makes explicit mention of Guo Tu, which could simply mean that Yuan Shao's military advisory staff (Guo Tu and others) convinced Yuan Shao of another course of action. Yuan Shao had a team of strategists, and Zhang He was just another general who had been serving him for under ten years.

All things considered, Zhang He was hired from Han Fu, treated with respect, and promoted multiple times. One of his plans was ignored, and it just so happens that this occurred during Yuan Shao's greatest defeat. I don't think we can reasonably conclude that Yuan Shao didn't rate Zhang He highly. We can conclude that Yuan Shao made the wrong mistake at the wrong time, though. :)
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Unread postby takeshiniro » Sun Jan 20, 2008 4:31 am

Well, Zhang He became in many ways, Wei's greatest general, and Yuan Shao was in many ways very very dumb. He underrated many of his servants, and he lost possibly the largest war in the story.

Zhang He lived a long time according to sgyy, and he did so many things for Cao Cao and then Sima Yi. Apart from Zhang Liao, I think he was Wei's finest leader. I certainly would have wanted him around.

Just a pity KOEI treated him like they did, making him out to be so gay :evil:
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