Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Timeline

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Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Timeline

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Mon May 19, 2014 2:16 am

Mods: Please move this thread if it doesn't fit the forum.

Please let me know if I'm off historically, and definitely let me know if I'm WAY off historically. I'm just attempting to lay out a plausible scenario here (not necessarily likely, just plausible)


Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon - A Shu-Han Victory Timeline


Part I: The Conquest of Yizhou and the Partition of Jingzhou

The Shu-Han Dynasty (or Southern Han Dynasty, as the capital remained in Cheng Du even after the capture of the Central Plains ) was the third and longest lasting iteration of what is now called the Greater Han Dynasty, ruling from 223 to 704, The Shu-Han Dynasty emerged from the chaos of the Three Kingdoms period, in which Shu Han, along with two other rival States, Wei and Wu, vied for control of China. While Wei was initially the most militarily powerful of the states, having taken control of the core areas of China, inherited much of the bureaucratic apparatus of the former Han, and had the Emperor under its control until Cao Wei formally declared for the Imperial Throne, the Shu-Wu alliance created in the wake of the Battle of Red Cliffs, coupled with Wei mistakes and excellent leadership by both Shu and Wu, slowly chipped away at Wei's military advantage until Shu was able to win decisive victories over Wei, then proceeding to subjugate Wu, unifying the land in the year 280.

In the wake of the victory over Cao Cao at Red Cliffs, the Shu faction, led by Liu Bei, a somewhat distant relative of the ruling Liu Imperial Family (though anti-Shu revisionists have overstated this distance, anthropologists and historians generally agree that Liu Bei was not significantly more distant from the original ruling line than, say, Liu Xiu of Eastern Han), expanded its rule through Southern Jing, claiming the Gui Yang, Chang Sha, Ling Ling, and Wu Ling commanderies. However, Liu Bei found an opportunity for further expansion when he was invited by Liu Zhang to guard his territory in Yizhou from northern aggression, particuarly that of Zhang Lu of Han Zhong. However, some in Liu Zhang's court felt that Liu Bei would be a more competent ruler (which turned out to be true) and thus wished to push Liu Zhang aside for Liu Bei. Liu Bei, having already planned on taking Yi in accordance with the famous Longzhong Plan outlined by Zhuge Liang, accepted the invitation and consolidated a power base as Jiameng Pass. Outmanuvering Liu Zhang completely and inducing much of Liu Zhang's officer corps to defect, as well as inducing the famous Ma Chao to join his army, Liu Bei forced Liu Zhang to surrender Cheng Du, thus placing Yizhou in the possession of Liu Bei’s faction.

In the immediate aftermath of the victory in Yizhou, Liu Bei found himself with a favorable position – a large chunk of territory stretching from Cheng Du in the West to Jiang Xia in the East, a large army, and a strong core of officers and administrators. However, he had to allocate those resources in a proper manner in order to achieve his goal of reunifying the Han and defeating Tsao Tsao. It was at this point that would set the tone for the struggles in the territory to come – he sent Pang Tong, who showed his services in the battles for Yizhou, back to Jing, and recalled Zhuge Liang to Cheng Du, while stationing Pang Tong at Jing along with Guan Yu and placing him as his adjutant commander. Liu Bei felt that Zhuge Liang was vital to securing the new territory and establishing a strong administrative regime (especially given that the Liu Zhang/Liu Yan regime was very lax administratively), while Jing was under immediate military threat from both Wei and Wu, and thus Pang Tong’s greater proficiency as a military strategist would be more helpful.

This arrangement would quickly be tested. Almost immediately upon the capture of Yizhou, Sun Quan demanded the “return” of parts of Jingzhou which he argued were lent to Liu Bei after the battle of Red Cliffs*. Liu Bei refused, prompting Sun Quan to send an invasion force to take the disputed commanderies. Lu Meng of Wu quickly took Ling Ling, Gui Yang and Chang Sha, sending letters to their administrators to induce them to surrender. However, Shu was poised to respond militarily. The powers seemed poised for war, however, Liu Bei’s hand was forced by the rapid invasion and defeat of Zhang Lu in the north of Yi by Cao Cao – he was forced to cut a hasty deal with Sun Quan, ceding Chang Sha and Gui Yang and recovering Ling Ling. The new Shu/Wu border would be the Xiang River as Jingzhou was split in two.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon May 19, 2014 8:57 am

Sounds fine to me. Only criticism is that you've used the pinyin system for all your names other than Cao Cao where you've used Wade-Giles' T'sao T'sao. I suggest you do one or the other not a mixture of both! :)
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Qu Hui » Mon May 19, 2014 10:33 am

Overall, I'm not seeing a huge difference here, except for Pang Tong being alive (and you could argue that his survival is not a big deal at all from a historical standpoint).

To Establish Peace wrote:was the third and longest lasting iteration of what is now called the Greater Han Dynasty, ruling from 223 to 704,

I really hope you're going to explain why and how this iteration of the Han was able to outlast literally every other Chinese dynasty.

To Establish Peace wrote:led by Liu Bei, a somewhat distant relative of the ruling Liu Imperial Family (though anti-Shu revisionists have overstated this distance, anthropologists and historians generally agree that Liu Bei was not significantly more distant from the original ruling line than, say, Liu Xiu of Eastern Han)

First, using the term "anti-Shu revisionists" is a clear indicator of your bias, regardless of the fact that this is written as a fictional account of an alternate history. Second, Liu Bei's relationship to the imperial family is still very, very distant, depending on which Marquis of Linyi line Liu Bei's actually descended from. If he's descended from Liu Da, his relationship to Ling is something like 8th cousin, far from the 3rd cousin status Liu Xiu held to Emperor Gengshi.

To Establish Peace wrote:Liu Bei felt that Zhuge Liang was vital to securing the new territory and establishing a strong administrative regime (especially given that the Liu Zhang/Liu Yan regime was very lax administratively),

Historically, Zhuge Liang played no part in administrative matters until after Liu Bei was dead. Not to mention that Liu Bei trusted Fa Zheng and Pang Tong more than he did Zhuge Liang.

To Establish Peace wrote:This arrangement would quickly be tested. Almost immediately upon the capture of Yizhou, Sun Quan demanded the “return” of parts of Jingzhou which he argued were lent to Liu Bei after the battle of Red Cliffs*.

The only part of Jingzhou Sun Quan wanted back (initially, at least) was Nanjun, which Wu had a legitimate claim on and Wu did lend to Liu Bei in the aftermath of Chibi.

To Establish Peace wrote:however, Liu Bei’s hand was forced by the rapid invasion and defeat of Zhang Lu in the north of Yi by Cao Cao

Zhang Lu didn't surrender to Cao Cao until after the 215 incident was settled.

To Establish Peace wrote:he was forced to cut a hasty deal with Sun Quan, ceding Chang Sha and Gui Yang and recovering Ling Ling.

Liu Bei also ceded Jiangxia.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Sun Fin » Mon May 19, 2014 10:48 am

Qu Hui wrote:
To Establish Peace wrote:Liu Bei felt that Zhuge Liang was vital to securing the new territory and establishing a strong administrative regime (especially given that the Liu Zhang/Liu Yan regime was very lax administratively),


Historically, Zhuge Liang played no part in administrative matters until after Liu Bei was dead. Not to mention that Liu Bei trusted Fa Zheng and Pang Tong more than he did Zhuge Liang.


Hang on, what?

So Zhuge Liang wasn't involved in military matters, that's an established fact but I've never heard it claimed that he wasn't involved in the administration either? If that is the case what did he do?
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Qu Hui » Mon May 19, 2014 10:59 am

Sun Fin wrote:So Zhuge Liang wasn't involved in military matters, that's an established fact

Zhuge served in nothing but military posts until after Liu Bei died. Director General is a military rank, not a civil one. The closest Zhuge got to being an administrator was his time as General of the Gentlemen of the Household, and that was mostly about collecting taxes for military use and overseeing the military affairs of Changsha, Guiyang and Lingling.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon May 19, 2014 11:32 am

Compiling the laws with others? Being in charge of the area when Liu Bei was at war? Holding ranks of Lieutenant Chancellor and Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing?

Qu Hui wrote:First, using the term "anti-Shu revisionists" is a clear indicator of your bias, regardless of the fact that this is written as a fictional account of an alternate history.


I think it's more a play on how it would be seen if Shu had won and so had the cultural impact of being ruling dynasty.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby To Establish Peace » Mon May 19, 2014 5:55 pm

Thanks for the feedback.

I will revise the reign date a bit. I do intend Southern Han to last quite a bit, though I actually envisioned a Song-style retreat south of the Yangtze to keep things going a bit longer. Also I may have the war end in 250-260 so that China as a whole can resist the barbarians better.

As for the tone:

1: I am a Shuist writing an Aalternate history saying how Shu won a civil war starting off as the weakest power. I'll try not to make the bias too strong.

2: I'm writing as a historian in a time line where Shu won, so nobody is going to seriously challenge Liu Bei"s proximity to the throne for a long while. Such challenges will be highly heterodox in this timeline, even in ATL 2014.

3: A surviving Pang Tong in Jing changes a lot about how the Jing dispute unfolds. Shu and Wu WILL fight for Jing at some point though.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Qu Hui » Mon May 19, 2014 7:26 pm

Dong Zhou wrote:Compiling the laws with others? Holding ranks of Lieutenant Chancellor and Intendant of the Affairs of the Masters of Writing?

This one, I’ll admit, was my sleep-deprived brain deciding last night that Liu Bei died in 221 and me not catching it in editing. I’ll revise my point, then: Zhuge Liang was not involved in civil matters until after Liu Bei became Emperor. If you’ve found solid evidence to the contrary, I’ll concede this point.

Dong Zhou wrote:Being in charge of the area when Liu Bei was at war?

This one I'm a bit more iffy on, simply because the context in which this is being discussed is primarily military i.e. making sure that the flow of troops and supplies to the front lines remained consistent. We might just have to agree to disagree on this one.

To Establish Peace, I'll address your points in a separate post.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Qu Hui » Mon May 19, 2014 7:29 pm

To Establish Peace wrote:Also I may have the war end in 250-260 so that China as a whole can resist the barbarians better.

Why? This is a big problem with what you've written so far, I think. You're not elaborating on why any of these changes are taking place, and what you're saying points to the reason being it suits your point better. Why is Pang Tong alive? What about that situation changed enough that his survival was the outcome? Why does his living affect the outcome of history so radically? Things happen in history for a reason, no matter how illogical they may seem at the time. If you're trying to establish what we call a "for want of a nail" scenario, then there has to be a reason why the changes in timeline occur and why the series of events you're writing about are the logical progression based on those changes. You can't just say they did because it's convenient for the point you're making without leaving massive holes in logic and reasoning.

To Establish Peace wrote:2: I'm writing as a historian in a time line where Shu won, so nobody is going to seriously challenge Liu Bei"s proximity to the throne for a long while.

Most historians with an agenda don't acknowledge opposing viewpoints, because they recognize that by writing about them alone, even to dismiss them, they're lending legitimacy to those viewpoints. This also ignores the fact linage was very important to dynastic China, and the idea that literally no one is questioning Liu Bei's legitimacy is unrealistic at best and has very serious and horrible undertones undertones at worst.

Not to mention that it completely ignores how the Mandate of Heaven of works and how Liu Bei was never seen as the legitimate successor of the Han Dynasty, even in his own time. In fact, that's the entire point of the novel, that while Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang's struggle is valiant and good (no comment), it's pointless because Heaven has decided that the time of the Han is over.

To Establish Peace wrote:Such challenges will be highly heterodox in this timeline, even in ATL 2014.

That's not what heterodox means. Heterodoxy is specifically a term relating to religion, so unless you're arguing that Liu Bei is viewed as the equivalent of a god and his reign is seen as some sort of Kingdom of Heaven in ATL 2014, it doesn't work. Not to mention that heterodoxy generally refers to beliefs that, while differing from the orthodox view, are not deviant enough to be considered heretical and thus generally aren't subject to the same stigma and punishment.

Second, that's a wholly unrealistic situation, and you're ignoring the possible viewpoints of those outside of the culture in question. To keep with the religious aspect, Christianity from its conception has been subject to criticism and differing interpretations, both from within and without the church. Heck, on an individual basis, interpretations of scripture differ from person to person.

To Establish Peace wrote:A surviving Pang Tong in Jing changes a lot about how the Jing dispute unfolds. Shu and Wu WILL fight for Jing at some point though.

That's assuming Pang Tong's talent matches or eclipses Lu Meng's, which is hard to prove from a historical standpoint. Granted, part of that is because Pang Tong's career was so short, but even in that time Pang Tong didn't demonstrate any sort of strategical or political skill-set that would have put him on Lu Meng's level.
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Re: Crouching Phoenix, Hidden Dragon: A Shu-Han Victory Time

Unread postby Jolt » Mon May 19, 2014 8:52 pm

Qu Hui wrote:
To Establish Peace wrote:Also I may have the war end in 250-260 so that China as a whole can resist the barbarians better.

Why? This is a big problem with what you've written so far, I think. You're not elaborating on why any of these changes are taking place, and what you're saying points to the reason being it suits your point better. Why is Pang Tong alive? What about that situation changed enough that his survival was the outcome? Why does his living affect the outcome of history so radically? Things happen in history for a reason, no matter how illogical they may seem at the time. If you're trying to establish what we call a "for want of a nail" scenario, then there has to be a reason why the changes in timeline occur and why the series of events you're writing about are the logical progression based on those changes. You can't just say they did because it's convenient for the point you're making without leaving massive holes in logic and reasoning.

To Establish Peace wrote:2: I'm writing as a historian in a time line where Shu won, so nobody is going to seriously challenge Liu Bei"s proximity to the throne for a long while.

Most historians with an agenda don't acknowledge opposing viewpoints, because they recognize that by writing about them alone, even to dismiss them, they're lending legitimacy to those viewpoints. This also ignores the fact linage was very important to dynastic China, and the idea that literally no one is questioning Liu Bei's legitimacy is unrealistic at best and has very serious and horrible undertones undertones at worst.

Not to mention that it completely ignores how the Mandate of Heaven of works and how Liu Bei was never seen as the legitimate successor of the Han Dynasty, even in his own time. In fact, that's the entire point of the novel, that while Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang's struggle is valiant and good (no comment), it's pointless because Heaven has decided that the time of the Han is over.

To Establish Peace wrote:Such challenges will be highly heterodox in this timeline, even in ATL 2014.

That's not what heterodox means. Heterodoxy is specifically a term relating to religion, so unless you're arguing that Liu Bei is viewed as the equivalent of a god and his reign is seen as some sort of Kingdom of Heaven in ATL 2014, it doesn't work. Not to mention that heterodoxy generally refers to beliefs that, while differing from the orthodox view, are not deviant enough to be considered heretical and thus generally aren't subject to the same stigma and punishment.

Second, that's a wholly unrealistic situation, and you're ignoring the possible viewpoints of those outside of the culture in question. To keep with the religious aspect, Christianity from its conception has been subject to criticism and differing interpretations, both from within and without the church. Heck, on an individual basis, interpretations of scripture differ from person to person.

To Establish Peace wrote:A surviving Pang Tong in Jing changes a lot about how the Jing dispute unfolds. Shu and Wu WILL fight for Jing at some point though.

That's assuming Pang Tong's talent matches or eclipses Lu Meng's, which is hard to prove from a historical standpoint. Granted, part of that is because Pang Tong's career was so short, but even in that time Pang Tong didn't demonstrate any sort of strategical or political skill-set that would have put him on Lu Meng's level.


Qu Hui, I think you are being overly harsh and demanding too much out of a work of fan-fiction. I doubt this is meant to be guided exclusively by historical logic, so obviously to advance the plot of Shu's victory, the changes will happen due to chaos theory and deus ex machina, so important obstacles will be deflected or overlooked by the narrator, while the emphasis will be on Shu's inexorable march to victory. Maybe the wind was blowing differently than historically during the Battle for Luo and so Pang Tong wasn't hit by an arrow, maybe in the days and weeks before the battle, the besieged army got decimated by a disease akin to typhus, so that they were unable to exact Pang Tong's predetermined destiny. That is all ultimately irrelevant for the story.

Now as to my advice on geography: Jing and Yi were, due to geography, like two detached members of the same body that was Shu. Major traffic between both regions was limited through the Yangtze and Han river valleys. The Han river valley lower stream was under control of Wei (And as you can see in the latest map I posted, Xiangyang was strategically a crucial city, since with it under Wei control, it prevented the usage of the Han river as a major pathway between Shu's Hanzhong commandery back to Jing, which would allow Shu to significantly improve its defensibility, as North of the Han river valley was the Qinling mountain range, and could use the Han river as a rapid means of communication between its two frontier areas with Wei - Hanzhong and middle Jing. As long as Wei held middle Jing, it could potentially threaten both Nan commandery to its South and Hanzhong commandery to its West (In fact, it took part of Hanzhong commandery when Meng Da & friends switched sides).

I believe that is the reason that Guan Yu was invading North, to link up Shu's two frontiers against Wei. Without that, kingdom-wide offensives would just be two separate offensives with no practical means of coordination in a timely manner.

The alternative is doing what Jiang Wei attempted to do, but in Jiang Wei's time, Wei military was probably much more entrenched in the North-West than in the period after Liu Bei took Hanzhong commandery and the Han valley.

Shu's original plan was comprised of many futile attempts by Shu to invade, defeat and rout, pursue and annihilate the Wei army to the point where they could effectively occupy most of Liang (With or without Chang'an), and establish enough of a supply and support system to be able to maintain and defend that land against Wei attacks. That plan was not sound as Shu didn't neither have the capacity to outmanuever Wei's armies and remain safe, nor the logistics to support a prolonged campaign if Wei decided to remain on the defensive. Hence Wei mostly remained on the defensive throughout all of Shu's breakout attempts, and Shu was consistently rendered unable to remove the Wei army out of the equation, until the point where the Shu army had to retreat.

Now Jiang Wei, after doing it a handful of times with the same results as his predecessor, recognized the impossibility of Shu to defeat Wei on Wei's land. The only solution was to inveigle the Wei army to invade Shu, establish concentrated points of resistance but not to impede Wei's advance into Shu in any way. After Wei was deep into Shu, and its supply lines were stretched, Shu would counter attack in the rear and in the front, and trap most of Wei's army inside Shu, and then an overwhelming victory could be scored, that would leave Wei without the immediate manpower (And by immediate, we're talking about in the first few years after the invasion), that would then allow the Shu army to wheel about and after restocking (And phreaps pressing the armies of Wei that had surrendered into military duty to fight for Shu) in food, and other army campaign necessities, would march out into Liang with all haste, knowing that resistance would be as light as it was in Jing when Cao Cao was defeated at the Red Cliffs. Unfortunately for Jiang Wei, Shu's army was far too outnumbered and a number of strategic mistakes were made, so that the feigned retreat actually turned into a rout. But with Jing's manpower, and a non-exhausted Yizhou manpower, phreaps a case can be made that such a strategy might have been successful.

Those are the two conceivable plans that, with resounding success, could enable Shu to establish a much better position.

All this is of course, ignoring Wu's designs towards Jing, but you're the author so you'll have to figure that one out.
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