Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

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Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby Elitemsh » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:27 pm

I have been thinking about this for a while and I feel a need to create this topic. I know that there have a lot of topics about Jingzhou but I can’t find any the same as this one. If a moderator knows a topic virtually identical to this one then please feel free to lock this topic and give me the link so I can post this message there.

I originally thought that Liu Bei made an understandable decision to place Guan Yu in charge of Jing with the knowledge he had the time. However now I think that Liu Bei should be blamed somewhat. Chen Shou says in his assessment of Bei that he knew how to read and use people’s abilities well but I am not so sure of that. As far as I can tell it is quite clear that Guan Yu was an excellent warrior and had the personality traits to make a superb vanguard general. His performance in slaying Yan Liang was the mark of a true front line general. This was where Guan Yu was skilled and not in any other area. This is how he should have been used. I think that if Guan Yu had stayed with Cao Cao then the latter would have used him in the right way. I think that Liu Bei had a close personal attachment to Guan Yu and this seriously interfered with his judgment. How did Liu Bei get it so wrong? After being with Guan Yu for so many years he should have known where his abilities lied. Guan Yu was terribly politically and therefore he made a poor governor. How could Liu Bei not have known that Guan Yu was so poor in this area. He should have been able to tell having been with him for so many years. I don’t think it was necessary to have hindsight. Warriors like Guan Yu tended to have arrogant type personalities so surely Liu Bei should have seen the warning signs earlier on.

As I’ve said before I think only four men at this time could have been placed in charge of Jingzhou, namely Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun. They were the only ones whose loyalty could be thoroughly depended on at this time and yet were also able enough. Zhuge Liang was needed quite desperately in Yizhou so that takes him out of it. The way I see it, it comes to just those three. I will compare all three of them in the different fields and then say who I think should have been given Jingzhou.

I would say that Guan Yu was the best warrior out of the three. He proved this when he slayed Yan Liang. That being said I wouldn’t say he was leagues above the other two. Zhang Fei was said to be strong and mighty and Zhao Yun was later known as the bravest in Shu. I would therefore say that both Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun were good warriors in their own right but Guan Yu would just edge above them.

The next field would be who was the best general? I firstly have to say with complete confidence that Guan Yu was the worst. Guan Yu had more failures to his name when it came to leading troops than anything else. Zhao Yun, however, demonstrated he could lead troops quite competently. He had success during Yi campaign and led troops through his own separate route. His performance in Hanzhong showed he was skilled with cavalry and able to use both might and strategy calmly under pressure. Here he gained a impressive victory over a more powerful and better equipped enemy army. He also performed well during the northern campaign when he protected his men and supplies ably. His record proves that he was at least a good general and one of the best Shu had to offer. That being said I would have to say that Zhang Fei would probably have been the best general on the battlefield. He had a major victory over Zhang He who was a very competent general in his own right. As good a record as Zhao Yun had, he never got a victory over someone of Zhang He’s calibre. I therefore say that Zhang Fei was the best but certainly not by a long way.

The final field would be abilities as a governor. I think it is quite evident that Guan Yu was dreadful politically (his treatment of Sun Quan would prove this) and therefore he would again be the worst in this field. Zhang Fei also failed as a governor when he was placed in charge of Xia Pi. This was of course thanks to his volatile personality. He was said to have never reformed and therefore I would say that Zhang Fei was poor politically as well. Zhao Yun, however, suggested a number of wise policies and illustrated that he had very sound judgment. He was by far the best politically. Zhao Yun is actually on record for suggesting policies whereas Guan Yu and Zhang Fei are not. This would certainly point towards Zhao Yun being the best politically and having the best judgment off the battlefield. Since being a good governor (especially in regards to guarding a province as crucial as Jingzhou) is directly tied to being skilled in the area of politics then I think it is fair to say that Zhao Yun was the best governor.

I can’t think of any more fields to base the assessment on and therefore in my opinion Zhao Yun would have been the best choice because he was well balanced. He wasn’t quite as good a general as Zhang Fei or quite as good a warrior as Guan Yu but he was much better politically and his personality was for more suitable for this kind of duty. I think the leader of Jingzhou needed to have a well balanced mix of abilities with major exploitable weaknesses and Zhao Yun fitted the bill.

I am very interested to know what others think about this. Who do you think should have been placed in charge Jingzhou? Perhaps there were other contenders I haven’t considered? I would ask you to please explain your opinions.
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Re: Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby ZhouTai50 » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:28 pm

Well, aside from their actual skills, I think you'd have to look at who was crucial to other campaigns and battles, such as Hanzhong, that being in charge of Jingzhou would prevent them from being present at. The two top choices, I believe, are Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei. However, both of them were extremely important to the Hanzhong campaign, and without them, Liu Bei's forces would have had a much harder time with it, and might not have been victorious.

Aside from them, who do you have? Well, Zhuge Liang, for one. He was one of the most gifted administrators of the era and could be counted on to handle the relationship with Wu. However, if attacked anyway, he wouldn't have any really capable generals to combat the enemy. Personally, I'd put a talented general in as Governor and Zhuge Liang as his advisor. As for who I'd pick, I'm going with Wei Yan. He was a talented general that could be counted on to defend the territory well if attacked, the soldiers seemed to respect him, and wouldn't make any stupid in-battle mistakes. With him there leading the army and letting Zhuge Liang handle the diplomacy and economy, I think Jingzhou would end up a lot better off.
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Re: Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby Elitemsh » Mon Mar 09, 2009 10:39 am

ZhouTai50 wrote: Well, aside from their actual skills, I think you'd have to look at who was crucial to other campaigns and battles, such as Hanzhong, that being in charge of Jingzhou would prevent them from being present at. The two top choices, I believe, are Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei. However, both of them were extremely important to the Hanzhong campaign, and without them, Liu Bei's forces would have had a much harder time with it, and might not have been victorious.


That is a very good point you’ve made. Although, with Zhang Fei we know that he played a very crucial role in taking Han Zhong whereas with Zhao Yun it is unknown how important role he may have played in taking Han Zhong though it is clear from his bio that Yun was involved in attacking Han Zhong to a degree. He seemed to play a key role in defending it though.

Some people, however, claim that although Zhao Yun performed well at Hanzhong it was not a decisive battle but rather a minor skirmish. I personally at least partly disagree with this. Cao Cao retreated from Hanzhong due to a loss of morale. Zhao Yun’s encounter with Cao Cao’s troops was evidently the first and the only recorded battle (in any sort of detail at least) that Cao Cao’s forces fought when he came to retake Hanzhong. To suffer a defeat which resulted in severe panic and the drowning of soldiers against such a small army must have resulted in a significant loss of morale, especially since Zhao Yun’s encounter was said to be with Cao Cao’s main force (although it was mostly the vanguard it was still part of the main army).

Was Zhao Yun’s part in defending Hanzhong irreplaceable? Perhaps so. To be honest I am not sure which officers in Shu (other than Zhang Fei) could have achieved this. It is likely there would have been someone good enough. I don’t want to put down Zhao Yun though and his performance was clearly not one of your average general. I guess we have to also consider that is not just about who was able enough to defend Hanzhong and replace Yun here but it was also about whom Liu Bei could trust enough to do it. Zhao Yun had served Liu Bei for a long time and Liu Bei knew he could depend on him. At this point the same could not be said of some of the other generals. Also Yun’s encounter with the enemy happened only because he was concerned about his senior general. Perhaps that is why Yun was chosen to be Huang Zhong’s second because of his compassionate nature as well. So the one to replace Zhao Yun here would have to have been as compassionate, as able and as trustworthy in order to perform as well as Yun did. If the replacement general was not as compassionate then he would not have encountered Cao Cao’s troops when Yun did and he would not have dealt them a decisive defeat as soon as their arrived and blunted their morale.

So perhaps Zhao Yun’s role in defending Hanzhong was irreplaceable. So maybe he wasn’t the right choice for Jingzhou due to this reason.

ZhouTai50 wrote:Aside from them, who do you have? Well, Zhuge Liang, for one. He was one of the most gifted administrators of the era and could be counted on to handle the relationship with Wu. However, if attacked anyway, he wouldn't have any really capable generals to combat the enemy. Personally, I'd put a talented general in as Governor and Zhuge Liang as his advisor. As for who I'd pick, I'm going with Wei Yan. He was a talented general that could be counted on to defend the territory well if attacked, the soldiers seemed to respect him, and wouldn't make any stupid in-battle mistakes. With him there leading the army and letting Zhuge Liang handle the diplomacy and economy, I think Jingzhou would end up a lot better off.


Well I think like with Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun, the same argument should be applied to Zhuge Liang. He did not play a crucial role in attacking or defending Hanzhong but he was desperately needed to handle political and administrative affairs in Yizhou. No one else had the combination of both his talent and loyalty in this field.

However i will put that aside for the moment. If you wanted Zhuge Liang and Wei Yan in charge then Zhuge Liang would have the main figure and Wei Yan his second. It could not have realistically been the other round. According to his biography (which unfortunately I don’t have direct access to at the moment due to 3kingdoms.net being shut down so I have to rely on memory), Wei Yan was said to be arrogant and people avoided him. I think that it would have been dangerous to give Wei Yan full control over the military. He was far too headstrong and his actions after Zhuge Liang’s death would back me up on this I think. Wei Yan would have to have been a subordinate under Zhuge Liang’s overall command during battle then perhaps it could have worked. The fact is however that Wei Yan was a very new officer at this point and hadn’t served for long enough and so his loyalty could not be counted on. I am not sure how loyal Wei Yan’s subordinates would have been to him either. He seemed to have similar personality flaws to Guan Yu. It is not just that his bio directly states that Yan was arrogant but also his actions seem to prove it. I would never trust Wei Yan for such an important duty even though Liu Bei appointed him as Governor of Hanzhong. I think it is clear that Liu Bei did not always have the best judgment.
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Re: Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:32 am

I think Liu Bei had as good a judgement of men as any of the top warlords. Did he make mistakes? Yes, so did everybody but he got a lot of them right as well. Fine, Guan Yu was a poor pick but as the questioned asked here, who else does he have? Zhang Fei is unsuitable, Zhao Yun and Liang are needed for Yi/taking of Hanzhong and Wei Yan, though he had a long service record, was needed to set up Hanzhong defences and had too many flaws for the job of viceroy.
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Re: Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby Hannibal ad portas » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:37 am

While i agree that Zhao Yun would definatly be the best candidate, and he was a skilled leader, a wonderful man and politicaly able, but would he have been upto the job of looking after Jingzhou? He had no experience in this area except at Gui Yang. Guan Yu was known to always be put incharge of places if Liu Bei wasn't present. He out of the whole three, had more political experience(granted it didn't help him in anyway), but you have to remember that Liu Bei left Zhuge Liang with him at the start, which would suggest he didn't fully rely on Guan Yu, but Zhuge Liang aswell. Pang Tong's death was a massive blow, bigger than some people might expect.

If Guan Yu still had Zhuge Liang then i would say it would have been fine. But then again i agree with your assessment of Guan Yu. Did Liu Bei really need Zhuge Liang in Yizhou? He had many talented civil officals that could have done the job just as good imo. Didn't the likes of Liu Ba do far more in the political field in Yizhou than Kongming? I Maybe wrong.

I can only think of three to four candidates for the Jing job and they have been mentioned. I have always considered someone like Wang Ping being perfect for the job, but for obvious reasons (date of birth, time frame etc), he can't be considered.......tut
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Re: Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby Lu Kang » Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:39 pm

I'm not sure I agree with the assesment of why Zhuge Liang could not be placed in Jingzhou. While he helped in taking Yizhou, his role was not nearly as important as Huang Zhong and Liu Bei. While Zhuge Liang helped with supplying the army, I do not think that this was a job that could only be accomplished by him. I think that Zhuge Liang was the only one who could effectively manage both the affairs of the province as well as the politcal relations on his border.

There are quite a few generals who Zhuge Liang could use effectivelyin Jing that were not being used (or used well) in Hanzhong. Ma Chao and Wei Yan could both easily be spared and while not without fault, someone like Zhuge Liang could use them to their full potential.

There are probably several reasons why Liu Bei choose Guan Yu for Jingzhou. The first being his undying loyalty to him. Another possible reason would be Guan Yu's arrogance. Knowing Guan Yu's nature, Liu Beu may have choosen to keep him content in Jing rather than risk any potential problems on campaign with an unruly Guan Yu (or just out of respect for his nature).
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Re: Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby Elitemsh » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:24 pm

Lu Kang wrote: I'm not sure I agree with the assesment of why Zhuge Liang could not be placed in Jingzhou. While he helped in taking Yizhou, his role was not nearly as important as Huang Zhong and Liu Bei. While Zhuge Liang helped with supplying the army, I do not think that this was a job that could only be accomplished by him. I think that Zhuge Liang was the only one who could effectively manage both the affairs of the province as well as the politcal relations on his border.


I agree that Zhuge Liang’s role in taking Yi was not nearly as significant as at least Liu Bei’s (not so sure about Huang Zhong). However, it was really stuff like changing and enforcing a new legal system for instance that he was needed for. Liu Zhang was as we know a poor leader who gave out rewards too frequently and hence the people became undisciplined under his rule. One of the important things Zhuge Liang did while in Yi was to sort out the government issue of rewards and punishments and this was no easy undertaking. Could any other of Liu Bei’s politicians have understood the situation and carried out the solution as competently as Zhuge Liang did. I couldn’t say yes for certain. It was issues such as this one that I think he was crucially needed for in Yizhou.

Lu Kang wrote:There are quite a few generals who Zhuge Liang could use effectivelyin Jing that were not being used (or used well) in Hanzhong. Ma Chao and Wei Yan could both easily be spared and while not without fault, someone like Zhuge Liang could use them to their full potential.


I think that Ma Chao would have done well under Zhuge Liang but it just wasn’t feasible at all for him to be moved to Jingzhou. Let us say hypothetically that Zhuge Liang was chosen to govern Jingzhou and Guan Yu took his place as reinforcements in attacking Yi. Ma Chao would have had to have been moved to Jingzhou after Yizhou was conquered and he likely would have been very reluctant to do this. Ma Chao was probably eager to be involved in attacking Hanzhong and afterwards in taking back Liang. In fact I am certain he was because if I am not mistaken he encouraged Liu Bei to attack Hanzhong. I do not think he would have been at all willing to move to Jingzhou. I explained my personal opinion on Wei Yan earlier and I hold to that. I am not sure Wei Yan was much different to Guan Yu.

Lu Kang wrote:There are probably several reasons why Liu Bei choose Guan Yu for Jingzhou. The first being his undying loyalty to him. Another possible reason would be Guan Yu's arrogance. Knowing Guan Yu's nature, Liu Beu may have choosen to keep him content in Jing rather than risk any potential problems on campaign with an unruly Guan Yu (or just out of respect for his nature).


I think that is quite interesting. I’d say that in all of those possibilities Liu Bei truly did allow his affection towards Guan Yu to cloud his better judgment.
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Re: Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby Fledgling Phoenix » Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:02 pm

In Liu Bei's defense, Cao's natural respect for and fear of Guan Yu could very well have also put weight on Liu Bei's decision. Guan Yu's only major feat had been under Cao's banner, remember.

I wouldn't regard the whole situation as Liu Bei's folly, as I would Guan Yu's. There were plenty of reasons why Yu would make a strong candidate for governing in Liu Bei's eyes and I'd argue that they were fairly effective. As far as Bei could be concerned, he had Sun Quan under his thumb and Guan Yu kept both Sun and Cao in check. He acted the part well enough until his ego swelled (thanks to Lu Su) and he grew his own ambitions.
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Re: Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby Mistelten » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:40 am

What is it that made Zhao Yun a better pick? Was he ever actually the governer of anything?

I think Lu Meng's offensive strategy had more to do with the fall of Jing than Guan Yu's political ability. Guan was fighting on two fronts and had only just returned from a victorious campaign against a tested enemy. He lost to Wu's amphibious campaign and I don't know who the general was who would have succeeded in his place.
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Re: Who should Liu Bei have placed in charge of Jingzhou?

Unread postby Lonely_dragon » Wed Mar 11, 2009 2:26 am

Interesting point of discussion, for me I think the only men who could be entrusted with Jing is Zhao Yun because he is able in leadership and politically (even though there are no valid proof on this). But most importantly I think Zhao Yun is more level headed and he can make a sound judgement for the better of the people (Remember how he opposed Liu Bei when Liu Bei entered Cheng Du and wanted to consficate the land to divide it to his soldiers and officers? Zhao Yun strongly opposed this move). Moreover Zhao Yun will have the aid of Ma Liang in governing so I think he will do just fine politically.

Other than Zhao Yun I can't think of anybody whom Liu Bei trusted... Zhang Fei? necessary for the Yi campaign and of course he is unsuitable as a governor.

Say How 'bout Guan Ping? though he is inexperienced with the help of Ma Liang I think he can govern well... But military speakin Guan Ping is out of question... Suggestion anyone? :?

Mistelten wrote:What is it that made Zhao Yun a better pick? Was he ever actually the governer of anything?

I think Lu Meng's offensive strategy had more to do with the fall of Jing than Guan Yu's political ability. Guan was fighting on two fronts and had only just returned from a victorious campaign against a tested enemy. He lost to Wu's amphibious campaign and I don't know who the general was who would have succeeded in his place.


Though Zhao Yun might not have a solid political records he have some governing experience since he is in charge of Gui Yang. And if Zhao Yun could keep a firm relations with Wu then I think Sun Quan will not decide to attack Jing. :)
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