Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:08 pm

Thank you Han and Daolun
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Qin Feng » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:32 am

What is it that Wen Chou and Yan Liang did that was so badass that killing them was a big deal? Were they simply very good in combat or something?
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:13 pm

Ju Shou calls Yan Liang brave, but careless and impatient. They were celebrated and ranking commanders in Yuan Shao's army but there isn't much recorded on them.

Cao Cao's advisers said
Yan Liang and Wen Chou are brave generals in command of his troops.

But Xun Yu countered with
Yan Liang and Wen Chou have the bravery of common fellows. One battle will be enough to deal with them."


To Establish Peace records the killing of Wen Chou as such,

As Yuan Shao's army came south from the Yan Crossing, Cao Cao had his soldiers in camp under the southern slope.15 He sent men to look out, and they reported, "Some five or six hundred horsemen." After a short time they reported again, "Horsemen gradually increasing; too many foot-soldiers to count." "No more reports," ordered Cao Cao. He had his cavalry get down from their saddles and let the horses go. The baggage from Boma was still on the road, and the officers thought that since there were so many enemy horsemen it would be better to go back and guard the camp. Xun You said, "This is a trap for the enemy, how can we leave?" Cao Cao looked at him and smiled. Wen Chou and Liu Bei, commanders of Yuan Shao's cavalry, came up together with five or six thousand horsemen. The officers said again, "Now we can mount." "Not yet," said Cao Cao. There was a pause, the enemy approached in greater numbers, and some split off to go for the baggage. "Now!" said Cao Cao, and they jumped on their horses.16 They were fewer than six hundred, but they charged at speed, they completely defeated the enemy, and they took Wen Chou's head.


A smaller force ambushes and destroys a larger one and kills the enemy commander, one of Yuan Shao's 'celebrated' commanders no less.

Guan Yu killing Yan Liang is recorded as such in Guan Yu's SGZ

[Yuán] Shào sent his chief General Yán Liáng to attack Administrator of Dōng-jùn Liú Yán at Báimǎ, and Lord Cáo sent Zhāng Liáo and Yǔ as the vanguard to attack him. Yǔ saw [Yán] Liáng’s banner and chariot canopy, urged his horse onward and stabbed Liáng in the midst of the army, chopped off the head and returned, and among all of Shào’s officers none could stop him, and so the siege of Báimǎ was relieved. Lord Cáo at once memorialized to give Yǔ fief as Marquis of Hànshòu precinct.


So Guan Yu is recorded as personally charging through Yan Liang's rank and killing him, then taking his head. It's a feat of personal bravery and a great blow to Yuan Shao.

Now since there isn't much recorded in terms of their feats, we can either trust Xun Yu that they weren't much and were simply promoted based on some other reason, Yuan Shao had shown his ineptitude at using talent properly at times, or we can say that there is simply information we do not have that may have been lost/wasn't written down, and both Liang and Chou were mighty generals. The second half seems more likely given how these two slayings are considered important, and that Xun Yu's words were perhaps merely there to soothe Cao Cao and the army.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:29 pm

Qin Feng wrote:What is it that Wen Chou and Yan Liang did that was so badass that killing them was a big deal? Were they simply very good in combat or something?


To add to what Daolun said, of their careers we have promoted after fall of Gongsun Zan/pre Guan Du, the negative comments of certain others, their deaths then "oh by the way, they were two most famed officers and Yuan forces lost morale."

It isn't much. A lot of Yuan officers suffer from knowing little till it comes to facing Cao Cao's forces (and getting cuaght up in a "compare and contrast" issue with Yuan Shao vs Cao Cao). They were clearly noted within their own time so presumably did very good jobs at lower levels, they were noted for bravery and may well have been very good fighters that perhaps got promoted a level too far (or killed while learning about such a level). The Yuan hit to moral may also have been that Yuan offensive (after early defensive defeats to Yu Jin) had started with two generals being killed very quickly.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:58 pm

According to RdC's Tome of Kickass Wen Chou was a Noted Cavalry Commander, but that's about it. They had to have done something in Yuan Shao's wars with Gongsun Zan, or even against bandits, Wuhuan, etc. We just sadly don't have anything recorded.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Qin Feng » Tue Dec 11, 2018 3:15 pm

Thank you both for your answers. We'll have to trust they were rather strong then. Impressive how Guan Yu crossed enemy lines to slay an enemy General and still have time to decapitate him and go back to where he was.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Han » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:14 pm

Credit to Dong Zhou

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=23637

With Guan Yu, it is hardly going to be a fair account when one goes "all the stuff I know he achieved? Doesn't count." That isn't a fair way of considering any man. Was killing Yan Liang a big deal? Yes. There were only six other officer on officer kills in the entire era so Guan Yu did something unexpected and rare. Who was Yan Liang? One of Yuan Shao's most celebrated officers at time. His death and that of Wen Chou would have a noted affect on morale.
Liu Bei did nothing wrong.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Qin Feng » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:43 pm

I have seen a lot of negative opinions on Guan Yu. I prefer Zhang Fei, and even though I'm only halfway through the novel and know little of history, what Guan Yu did was pretty awesome. I read somewhere (it could have been this forum actually) that armies were much more rudimentary than we might think, and thus, the unorganized soldiers would rally behind a commander whose bravery would inspire others to do their best, so I assume that killing Yan Liang had an even bigger impact on morale.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby Han » Tue Dec 11, 2018 9:01 pm

For Guan Yu, you may be interested in this:

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=24423

As for the latter, both r/askhistorians and Rafe De Crespigny did went more into depth into the army composition and the military maneuvers.
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Re: Three Kingdoms Questions (You Ask, We Answer)

Unread postby DaoLunOfShiji » Wed Dec 12, 2018 3:24 pm

Does anyone have any speculation as to why Liu Bei only gave Fa Zheng a posthumous title? The SGZ records,

Previously in the time of Xiān-zhǔ only Fǎ Zhèng received posthumous title. In the time of Hòu-zhǔ, Zhūgě Liàng’s achievements and virtue were unrivaled, Jiǎng Wǎn and Fèi Yī bore the responsibilities for the state, and so also received posthumous title. Chén Zhī was a favored attendant and received many special rewards and honors, and Xiàhóu Bà came from afar to join the state, so they also obtained posthumous names. As a result Guān Yǔ, Zhāng Fēi, Mǎ Chāo, Páng Tǒng, Huáng Zhōng, and Yún were therefore given posthumous title, and at the time this was said to be an honor.


Yu, Fei, Tong and Zhong were instrumental in the foundation of the state just as Fa Zheng was, and they all passed before Bei.
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