How able was Sun Liang?

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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:25 am

DL01 wrote:Wei's officer Guowen Zhang wanted to buy time and told Zhuge Ke that, according to Wei's law, they can surrender if they can defend for one hundred days, and Wei will not harm his family. Since it has only a few more days till this 100 days requirement is met, Guowen Zhang asked Zhuge Ke to go easy on them.


I am not familiar with who Guowen Zhang or Wu Jun who is mentioned a few lines later could be, but something about this excerpt rings a bell.

I can't really fault Sun Liang listening to Sun Jun and plans Zhuge Ke's murder. Which is really the biggest thing he did and overall. At least he is capable of critical thinking and understand who is to be trusted and not to be trusted and his plot on murdering Zhuge Ke seems to be reasonable in his position. Therefore, Sun Liang is at the very least, not unable in my opinion.


I'd raise the point that Sun Liang was 10/11 at the time, I'm assuming a lot here, but I'd say it was pretty easy for Sun Jun to reason with such a young emperor.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Taishi Ci 2.0 » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:36 am

Zyzyfer wrote:
DL01 wrote:Wei's officer Guowen Zhang wanted to buy time and told Zhuge Ke that, according to Wei's law, they can surrender if they can defend for one hundred days, and Wei will not harm his family. Since it has only a few more days till this 100 days requirement is met, Guowen Zhang asked Zhuge Ke to go easy on them.


I am not familiar with who Guowen Zhang or Wu Jun who is mentioned a few lines later could be, but something about this excerpt rings a bell.


This is in reference to Zhang Te.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby waywardauthor » Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:54 am

You cannot really ask how able Sun Liang truly was, because he was dethroned before he truly had a chance to manifest his own character. He had some ability, but how much is genuine and how much is to contrast him with what followed is up to debate. He was probably a bright child, educated in court, and had promise to become a great leader. But promise is all he ever had, as the situation he emerged into was toxic. The generals of Wu tended to be warlords and pirates, kept together by the personality of Sun Quan and the strong loyalty he fostered among them. Though most of the court had lined up behind the first of the princes, and some others no doubt had support, Sun Quan chose his youngest in part to avoid rivalries among his retainers. The inherent problem of this was that he promoted a successor without fixed support. Sun Liang was an immature monarch dominated by others, and was removed when his mounting maturity posed a threat to those who ruled. There are a lot of "what-if"s to discuss, but in a way he is like Cao Mao. The primary difference was that Wei was consumed from an outside family because Cao Pi defanged his relatives, while Sun Liang was overtaken by his own family as Sun Quan did not entirely take away the power base of his descendants.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:22 pm

lorindir wrote:About Cao Cao, aside from Wancheng (he was caught complete by surprise, with Zhuge Ke wasn't), I can't remember any situation that he left family behind (to save his own skin, I mean).


I can only recall when he left Cao Ang behind to protect him as he escaped.

Cao Cao's most reprehensible moment in my opinion was the massacre of Xu.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:11 pm

Agree with wayward.

On Sun Liang allowing Zhuge Ke to die, even if I thought he was utterly wrong, he was a kid. His relative was warning him against a very very powerful subject, one who was ignoring orders. If you start ignoring orders of your emperor, you can't complain if it ends badly for you.

lorindir wrote:
The point is that most of his soldiers were falling ill (he knew that, but ignored).


So like most commanders?

Campaigns with sieges and Wei-Wu conflicts were not healthy places to be. The problem is if you have a sick army, a retreat is not good for their health due to the need to move quickly and less then idea living conditions in the few moments they get to rest. The problem for commanders like Zhuge Ke, Cao Cao, Sun Quan and others is there isn't a way to retreat and combine major healthcare to your troops, your army has to get out of the area fast before the opposing army closes in on you. Lots of soldiers will die.

So why does this retreat get a evocative description whereas other deadly retreats are barely commented on? I think the histories are trying to emphasis how heavy the losses were, why a defeat became such an issue within Wu but on Ke's character during the retreat isn't attacked by the records.

As for Cao Cao and Liu Bei's families.....

Liu Bei left his family behind A LOT of times (maybe Mi Fang had a grudge against him because of his sister?), that said, Liu Bei was a kind of monster too.
About Cao Cao, aside from Wancheng (he was caught complete by surprise, with Zhuge Ke wasn't), I can't remember any situation that he left family behind (to save his own skin, I mean).


I think you use the term monster way too freely if Liu Bei, who I don't like, is a monster. If a man with a reputation for kindness and without the darker side of his rivals is a monster, your drawing the net way too widely.

Cao Cao does it once (he also did the sick retreat thing as well)=fine, Zhuge Ke does it once=monster. Not exactly fair is it?
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Zyzyfer » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:01 pm

Taishi Ci 2.0 wrote:This is in reference to Zhang Te.


Ah yes, that's the fellow I was thinking of! Cheers.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby lorindir » Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:13 pm

waywardauthor wrote:You cannot really ask how able Sun Liang truly was, because he was dethroned before he truly had a chance to manifest his own character. He had some ability, but how much is genuine and how much is to contrast him with what followed is up to debate. He was probably a bright child, educated in court, and had promise to become a great leader. But promise is all he ever had, as the situation he emerged into was toxic. The generals of Wu tended to be warlords and pirates, kept together by the personality of Sun Quan and the strong loyalty he fostered among them. Though most of the court had lined up behind the first of the princes, and some others no doubt had support, Sun Quan chose his youngest in part to avoid rivalries among his retainers. The inherent problem of this was that he promoted a successor without fixed support. Sun Liang was an immature monarch dominated by others, and was removed when his mounting maturity posed a threat to those who ruled. There are a lot of "what-if"s to discuss, but in a way he is like Cao Mao. The primary difference was that Wei was consumed from an outside family because Cao Pi defanged his relatives, while Sun Liang was overtaken by his own family as Sun Quan did not entirely take away the power base of his descendants.


Man, I can only clap my hands for you! 8-)

Dong Zhou wrote:
So like most commanders?

Campaigns with sieges and Wei-Wu conflicts were not healthy places to be. The problem is if you have a sick army, a retreat is not good for their health due to the need to move quickly and less then idea living conditions in the few moments they get to rest. The problem for commanders like Zhuge Ke, Cao Cao, Sun Quan and others is there isn't a way to retreat and combine major healthcare to your troops, your army has to get out of the area fast before the opposing army closes in on you. Lots of soldiers will die.

The point here is the timing
Zhuge Ke lost his chance to win the battle when he gave the enemy 10 days, during this time, illness had took most of his soldiers and what he did? order a new attack on the city! and then, when he realized his mistake, he orders the retreat.
If he had retreated earlier, he could have ordered a more "safe" retreat, a gradual one and not just leaving soldiers dying on the road!
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby waywardauthor » Thu Jan 26, 2017 9:41 pm

lorindir wrote:Man, I can only clap my hands for you! 8-)

Dong Zhou wrote:Agree with wayward.

I must be doing something right, because I think this makes two times in a row. :lol:

On the topic of Zhuge Ke, he seems like a self-absorbed man who was convinced of his own superiority as a commander. That he had real talent is hard to question, but I think his own abilities fostered a sense of arrogance and untouchability. He was, after all, the Emperor's most leal subject, entrusted after Sun Quan's death to safeguard him. He no doubt felt like even in his darkest hours, he could salvage the situation through his own efforts. After his defeat, he was casually dismissive of his Emperor's commands in part because he no doubt believed they were the actions of his detractors. He figured he was the indispensable man, and that he would be forgiven once he redeemed himself. His swift downfall and removal no doubt left many people at ease, but they failed to realize they were removing one of their pillars of the state. Without Zhuge Ke, there was no one left who could stop the implosion of the Sun family. There may have been more talented men, more capable scholars, more formidable generals at court and at post - but Zhuge Ke was one of the last people who were of the vein of Zhou Yu, Lu Meng, and Lu Xun. Not necessarily of a caliber in talent, but the same model of near absolute military authority that could act outside of their liege's orders, while playing a pivotal role in maintaining that same sovereign. Zhuge Ke became something of a petty tyrant, but Wu had no shortage of petty tyrants among their admiralty. It is just that without a Sun Quan, forbearance was a commodity in short supply while fears and intrigues were as plentiful as the waters of the Chang Jiang.

After Zhuge Ke, was there really anyone who could command the Sun family relatives and get away with it? Its hard to get a good read on this part of the history of Wu, but it seems like people cultivated power by faction, rather than through personal authority, after Zhuge Ke.
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby Sun Fin » Thu Jan 26, 2017 10:03 pm

I really know little of this era of Wu's history but I wondered if Ding Feng came close to that kind of authority late on in his career?
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Re: How able was Sun Liang?

Unread postby lorindir » Fri Jan 27, 2017 12:17 am

Sun Fin wrote:I really know little of this era of Wu's history but I wondered if Ding Feng came close to that kind of authority late on in his career?


He did have a lot of authority, by the time Zhuge Ke became grand Tutor (the most high ranking civil officer), Ding Feng became Senior General (the most high ranking military officer). In terms of authority (as you know), the civil staff have the last word, so Ding Feng was "the second in command" to Zhuge Ke, but he was concerned only with military matters, so he was out of political struggles. When Zhuge Ke was killed, Sun Jun took over and (while held the state's true power) didn't concern about the military staff, so Ding Feng position remained intact. The point is that Sun Jun (even through was a tyrant), was a longstanding officer who was a close advisor to Sun Quan, so he did have some kind of "legitimacy" to rule in place of a child emperor.
However, Sun Jun died and appointed to his place Sun Chen (who was also a relative to the Sun family, but didn't have the kind of respect that his antecessor had), his career was obscure up to the point of his "sudden ascension" to regent. Lu Ju (a general) and Teng Yin (a minster) rebelled against Sun Chen (who was unfit to such high position), but they lost and Sun Chen became extremely arrogant (from this rebellion we can see that even through Sun Chen had the true power, a lot of people were displeased with him).
When Sun Liang started to think for himself, he did try to have his "regent" removed, but that also failed and Sun Chen deposed the young emperor for his brother Sun Xiu. At this point, Ding Feng come back "from the shadows", as a new coup is planned and this time, the conspirators decided to call the old Ding to action. Even though Ding Feng used to care only about military matters, this time was an order from the emperor himself, so he had no choice but to agree. The plot succeded, Sun Chen (or Gu Chen :mrgreen: ) was killed and Ding Feng was promoted to General in Chief and Left and Right Protectors of the Capital (we could say that in fact he was the highest military officer in the state). By the time Shu was about to fall, Sun Xiu ordered Ding Feng to lead an attack in Shou Chun (as a relief to Shu), but even so, Shu fell and Ding Feng retreated.
As Sun Xiu died, Ding Feng was among the officer who supported the ascencion of the older Sun Hao and as he ascended, had Ding Feng appointed Right Grand Marshal and Left Military Advisor. He and Zhuge Jing led an attack against He fei in 268 and failed. In 269, he led an attack at Guyang and also failed, Sun Hao was furious and executed the guide of Ding Feng's army.
He died in 271 (cause unrecorded), in his later years, he became arrogant of his acomplishments (I would say, with reason, since he likely kept the kingdom together) and some ministers tried to slander his memory and even Sun Hao still recognised Ding Feng for his meritorious service, so he just exiled his family.
For a man, to be recognised even by the monster, the insane, one of the worst emperor in history, Sun Hao, we could say that the old Ding Feng was the man!
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