An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Liu Zhang 劉璋

Feb 2, 2020 © Ulrich Theobald

Liu Zhang 劉璋 (d. 219), courtesy name Jiyu 季玉, was a warlord of the very late Eastern Han period 東漢 (25-220 CE), and a son of Liu Yan 劉焉 (d. 194), regional governor (mu 牧) of the province of Yizhou 益州 (approx. modern Sichuan). When Liu Yan died, the late governor's retainers like Zhao Wei 趙韙 (d. 201) voted for the takeover of the region by Liu Zhang.

The Daoist leader (see Five-Pecks-of-Grain School 五斗米道) Zhang Lu 張魯 (d. 216), who had established an "empire" in the Hanzhong region 漢中 and whose mother and brothers had been killed by Lu Yan, desired to take revenge, and sent out Zhang Song 張松 (d. 213) to the powerful warlord Cao Cao 曹操 (155-220) to ask for military support for the conquest of the province of Yizhou, but Cao refused. Zhang Song thereupon went to the camp of the warlord Liu Bei 劉備 (161-222), who was in control of central China, with the province of Jingzhou 荊州. With the promise to give him the region of Xichuan 西川, Zhang found the support of Liu Bei.

Liu Zhang, not knowing of Liu Bei's secret plans, continued to believe that Liu Bei still fought against Zhang Lu. Liu even ignored the warnings of Huang Quan 黃權 (d. 240) and Wang Lei 王累 (d. 211). Instead, Liu Zhang personally travelled to Fucheng 涪城 (present-day Mianyang 綿陽, Sichuan) to welcome Liu Bei for joint action against Zhang Lu and Cao Cao.

Liu Bei was planned to directly fight against Zhang Lu, and marched to Jiameng Pass 葭萌關, but then stopped because Liu Zhang had not sent sufficient supplies to Liu Bei. Advised by Pang Tong 龐統, Liu Bei returned to Fuxian, where he captured and killed two of Liu Zhang's generals, Yang Huai 楊懷 (d. 212), and Gao Pei 高沛 (d. 212). This was a clear sign to Liu Zhang that Liu Bei was his veritable enemy, but it was too late. When Liu Bei conquered Luoxian 雒縣 (today's Guanghan 廣漢, Sichuan), Liu Zhang finally understood that his time was over, and he surrendered to Liu Bei. The latter made him governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Nanjun 南郡.

When Sun Quan 孫權 (182-252), who was in control of southeast China, conquered the central province of Jingzhou, he made Liu Zhang regional governor of that province. Liu died not long thereafter.

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