Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

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Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Dec 24, 2008 9:07 am

Might change topic title at later date if someone gives me a more suitable title to give it

Now you all know Liu Bei is my favouritist person of the period :P Whatever my feelings about his record, I admire him as a warlord, very charismatic, skilled in battle, political genius, he was awesome so somewhat surprised at two of his policies when entering Yi. Both were to encourage his soldiers and officers yet both seem somewhat suicidal for the kingdom's long term future.

1) Let the troops have Liu Zhang's treasury. This is going to delight the troops but the fall out afterwards is going to be huge, where is the money to pay for supplies in an emergency? Where are the wages going to come from or the money to build whatever he wants to glorify himself? Money makes the world go round and if not for Liu Ba, Liu Bei's kingdom would have gone bankrupt. He was either really relying on getting Liu Ba or did he imagine he could get away with having no money?

2) Taking land from gentry to give to his followers. Ok he didn't follow through with it in the end but was he trying to upset the local populace? Local officers would have hated him and does he not think the gentry would not fight back, leaving gaps open for Wei and Wu to exploit?

Liu Bei was a brilliant man but is there something I miss, was he desperately trying to cling onto the Jing followers or is my thinking too dark and he could have gotten away with it?
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Re: Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby ZhouTai50 » Wed Dec 24, 2008 2:14 pm

Both of them do seem a bit...off. I can somewhat see his line of thinking in the first one, trying to maintain the loyalty of his soldiers, who had just fought a long and hard campaign, along with any soldiers that may have defected from Liu Zhang's side to his, who probably aren't the most devout followers yet. However, it is a bit reckless to do so, with him banking on finding a way to get more money in the future. And considering the problems later Shu had with their economy, it is a bit ironic.

The second one is far worse, I believe. The same line of thinking as in the first one is what I would guess drove this as well, though this is far more risky. It's never a good idea to antagonize the locals, especially of an area you just conquered from a relatively popular ruler. It's a good thing he did not actually put this into effect, or else I think there probably would have been a fairly large rebellion, perhaps during a critical moment for Shu, such as Hanzhong or the retreat from Yiling.
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Re: Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby Elitemsh » Wed Dec 24, 2008 2:32 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:Might change topic title at later date if someone gives me a more suitable title to give it

Now you all know Liu Bei is my favouritist person of the period :P Whatever my feelings about his record, I admire him as a warlord, very charismatic, skilled in battle, political genius, he was awesome so somewhat surprised at two of his policies when entering Yi. Both were to encourage his soldiers and officers yet both seem somewhat suicidal for the kingdom's long term future.

1) Let the troops have Liu Zhang's treasury. This is going to delight the troops but the fall out afterwards is going to be huge, where is the money to pay for supplies in an emergency? Where are the wages going to come from or the money to build whatever he wants to glorify himself? Money makes the world go round and if not for Liu Ba, Liu Bei's kingdom would have gone bankrupt. He was either really relying on getting Liu Ba or did he imagine he could get away with having no money?

2) Taking land from gentry to give to his followers. Ok he didn't follow through with it in the end but was he trying to upset the local populace? Local officers would have hated him and does he not think the gentry would not fight back, leaving gaps open for Wei and Wu to exploit?

Liu Bei was a brilliant man but is there something I miss, was he desperately trying to cling onto the Jing followers or is my thinking too dark and he could have gotten away with it?


I am not a huge fan of Liu Bei but i do appreciate that he was born into a very poor family and therefore some of his plundering is understandable.

Response to (1); I would say that Liu Bei started off very poor. Initially, he had very little to reward his troops with and so early on in his career he plundered regularly from the people of various territories. This was the only way to reward his troops and keep their loyalty. I am certain that Cao Cao and other ambitious leaders would have done the same thing if they were as poor as Bei. Liu Bei was used to stealing on a regular basis early on so it may have become somewhat a habit. Even when he took part of Jing, i imagine that Liu Bei was still quite poor. He didn't have much to gift his men with so he allowed them to plunder the treasury otherwise they may have deserted. I am not sure what other choice he had. Perhaps it was either permit them to plunder the treasury or risk mass desertion. Liu Bei's troops had deserted him before so perhaps he saw the warning signs and this was a desperate move.

Response to (2): This policy was not actually suggested by Liu Bei but rather a number of his advisers. There is also no proof that Liu Bei was even going to take their advice if Yun had not given his own. This was the folly of some of Liu Bei’s advisers not Bei himself.
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Re: Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:38 pm

Elitemsh wrote:I am not a huge fan of Liu Bei but i do appreciate that he was born into a very poor family and therefore some of his plundering is understandable.

The "plundering" you mention seems to be a pattern with Liu Bei. In the ZZTJ, Liu Bei, while associated with Yuan Shao, pillages around a certain region during the greater Guandu campaign, and the common people complain to and seek protection from Cao Cao. (I do not have my volumes with me at present, but I can edit this post later with the specific location.) Liu Bei's behavior during this time does not invite criticism, though, and throughout the ZZTJ, his virtues are listed and reinforced.

Although this post really just offers an ancillary detail for the conversation, the detail may offer a sort of precedent for Liu Bei's later policies and habits. :)
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Re: Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby Zhilong » Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:48 am

At first i was horrified but from the perspective of a warlord i think they are both great policies after i think about it.

1) Lets face it, on a meagre wage what is gonna motivate his rank and file the most? Money! Most ppl i conjecture did not give a rat's ass about who was emperor but wanted to improve their own lives. He was desperate to conquer Yi and if this is what it took to motivate his soldiers then it is a small price.

If he allowed the plundering of the populace then he was screwing himself over but lets face it he was screwing over Liu Zhang... you might as well rob him while you're at it. When you have control of a territory, how can you be worried you cannot get money?

2) With hindsight i would have completely decimated the gentry's holdings once Hanzhong was secure and redistributed the land to the poor like the founding emperor of Ming. We saw how unhelpful the gentry was to their cause and if they were not going to give them positions of power they should have completely neutered them.
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Re: Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby Jordan » Sat Dec 27, 2008 11:10 am

1) Let the troops have Liu Zhang's treasury. This is going to delight the troops but the fall out afterwards is going to be huge, where is the money to pay for supplies in an emergency? Where are the wages going to come from or the money to build whatever he wants to glorify himself? Money makes the world go round and if not for Liu Ba, Liu Bei's kingdom would have gone bankrupt. He was either really relying on getting Liu Ba or did he imagine he could get away with having no money?

2) Taking land from gentry to give to his followers. Ok he didn't follow through with it in the end but was he trying to upset the local populace? Local officers would have hated him and does he not think the gentry would not fight back, leaving gaps open for Wei and Wu to exploit?


About the first thing

I just read about that a little bit on Dr. Rafe de Crespigny's site a couple days ago. My understanding at the time was that he gave silver and other fine metals to his commanders, not to the troops. I looked it up to find the exact passage.

"[Ja 19: 214]
I When Liu Bei entered Chengdu he held a banquet for his troops. He took
the gold and silver of the cities of SHU and distributed it among his officers
as rewards, but he returned the grain and the cloth to their owners.26
Then Liu Bei took over as Governor of Yi province. He appointed Zhuge
Liang, hitherto General of the Gentlemen of the Household Master of the
Army, as General Master of the Army. The Grand Administrator of Yizhou,
Dong He of Nan commandery, became General of the Gentlemen of the
Household Manager of the Army, and shared responsibility for the office of
the General of the Left.27

The Lieutenant-General Ma Chao became General Who Pacifies the West
and the Colonel Consultant of the Army Fa Zheng became Grand
Administrator of Shu commandery and General Who Manifests Firmness.
The Major-General Huang Zhong of Nanyang became General Who
Exterminates Caitiffs, and the Gentleman of the General Staff Mi Zhu
became General Who Gives Tranquillity to Han.28

2129 Jian Yong became General Who Shines in Virtue, Sun Qian of Beihai
became General Who Supports Loyalty, and Huang Quan, Chief of
Guanghan, became a Lieutenant-General.29 Xu Jing of Runan became Chief
Clerk to the General of the Left.30 Pang Xi became a Major, Li Yan became
Grand Administrator of Jianwei and Fei Guan Grand Administrator of Ba
commandery.31 Yi Ji of Shanyang became Gentleman of the General
Staff,32 Liu Ba of Lingling became Senior Clerk in the Department of the
West and Peng Yang of Guanghan was Attendant Official at Headquarters
for Yi province.33

J Before this, when Dong He held office in commanderies, he was honest and
temperate, honourable and upright, loved and trusted by Chinese and
barbarians.34 He was respected throughout SHU as an upright official, so
Liu Bei chose him."

[...]

"When Chengdu was under siege, Liu Bei promised his troops, "If we are
successful, I have no plans for anything there may be in the treasury." When
they captured the city, all his men discarded their weapons to go to the
storehouses, and they fought one another for plunder. Money was short for
the army and Liu Bei was extremely anxious about it.41
"This is easy," said Liu Ba. "All you have to do is coin Zhibo money, hold
down prices, and order your officers to set up official monopolies." Liu Bei
did so, and in a few months the treasury was full.42
P At this time advisers wanted to share the famous estates about Chengdu"

http://www.anu.edu.au/asianstudies/decr ... _part5.pdf

My guess is that he said "I have no plans for the treasury" just as a sort of morale speech. I don't think he was literally telling his troops that all the money in the treasury was their's. Also, he wanted to encourage all the officers to work for him by rewarding the ones that had. By doing so, the officers of Liu Zhang would be more encouraged to fight for him due to the large material rewards he bestowed. He probably cared about appeasing the population as well, and did so by not stealing grain. He didn't seem to purposefully reward the troops. Rather, they just went wild on their own in pursuit of wealth. I don't think that is Liu Bei's fault.

In the end it all worked out nicely anyways.
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Re: Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:03 pm

Perhaps it was either permit them to plunder the treasury or risk mass desertion. Liu Bei's troops had deserted him before so perhaps he saw the warning signs and this was a desperate move.


Plundering is going to happen, I get that but during the conquest of Yi? He has Jing as a base, he has victory after victory, granted he taken a long time so why of all the times is this the moment he is going to be desperate in?

2) Who were the advisor's?

If he allowed the plundering of the populace then he was screwing himself over but lets face it he was screwing over Liu Zhang... you might as well rob him while you're at it. When you have control of a territory, how can you be worried you cannot get money?


Only it was Liu Bei's treasury when he won and if he wasn't worried over cash, Liu Ba wouldn't have had to work so hard to restore the treasury.

2) With hindsight i would have completely decimated the gentry's holdings once Hanzhong was secure and redistributed the land to the poor like the founding emperor of Ming. We saw how unhelpful the gentry was to their cause and if they were not going to give them positions of power they should have completely neutered them.


Interesting policy but he did neither promote nor neuter

Slick, only "worked" because Liu Ba was a finical whiz
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Re: Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby Zhilong » Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:08 am

Dong Zhou wrote:
If he allowed the plundering of the populace then he was screwing himself over but lets face it he was screwing over Liu Zhang... you might as well rob him while you're at it. When you have control of a territory, how can you be worried you cannot get money?


Only it was Liu Bei's treasury when he won and if he wasn't worried over cash, Liu Ba wouldn't have had to work so hard to restore the treasury.

To gain something, often you have to spend a little. It's no use being stingy about a treasury which is not yet yours, that would be rather short-sighted. Even without Liu Ba, i refuse to believe that someone would not have come up with something similar. When you own a territory, everything within it is yours, you just need to look where the money is /or is generated and take it. Governments taxing private businesses or taking over certain sectors i'd imagine was not new. The state taking over certain industries/assets or simply everything in the state had occurred prior to the Three Kingdoms so there was precedent for this.

Interesting policy but he did neither promote nor neuter


The regime did make some attempts at getting the locals to serve but were not that successful. Naturally, they wanted to retain power amongst their own loyal followers, especially after seeing how Liu Zhang got screwed by some outsiders. On the other hand my proposal may not have been palatable due to the fear it would cause amongst the gentry in the rest of China. Just depends how authoritarian you are and what you feel is more important at the time in point.
"You weaver of mats! You plaiter of straw shoes! You have been smart enough to get possession of a large region and elbow your way into the ranks of the nobles. I was just going to attack you, and now you dare to scheme against me! How I detest you!"
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Re: Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:07 am

Not sure having so little cash you can't pay for the needs of the army is spending a little, more like putting yourself in such a bad situation and hoping you have a finical wizard who can create a new currency and performing a strict balancing act to combat inflation in the markets. Wei was never fully able to sort out currency issues (from what I can see anyway) yet this man introduced a new one and countered the negative effects, seems to be quite a hard trick to pull off and not too sure how many in Shu could have done that.
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Re: Liu Bei and Early Policy in Yi

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:36 am

One other thing puzzles me, Liu Zhang had an adviser called Zheng Du who proposed a scorched earth tactic that he believed would defeat Bei in three months. Liu Bei heard of it and was worried it would be carried out but Liu Zhang sacked the guy instead as Fa Zheng predicted. Why then does Liu Bei not use the guy once he has Yi? Or do you think Du died at some point in the next three years?
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