Story of General Zhao Zilong (Zhao Yun) in Romance of Three Kingdom

Story of General Zhao Zilong (Zhao Yun) in Romance of Three Kingdom
ZhaoYun is General of Shu Han Dynasty
Born (Unknown)
Died 229[1]
Traditional Chinese 趙雲
Simplified Chinese 赵云
Pinyin Zhào Yún
Wade–Giles Chao Yun
Courtesy name Zilong (simplified Chinese: 子龙; traditional Chinese: 子龍; pinyin: Zǐlóng; Wade–Giles: Tzu-lung)
Posthumous name Marquis Shunping (simplified Chinese: 顺平侯; traditional Chinese: 順平侯; pinyin: Shùnpíng Hóu)
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhao.
Zhao Yun (died 229[1]), courtesy name Zilong, was a military general who lived in the late Eastern Han dynasty and early Three Kingdoms period. Originally a subordinate of the northern warlord Gongsun Zan, Zhao Yun later came to serve another warlord, Liu Bei, and had since accompanied him on most of his military exploits, from the Battle of Changban (208) to the Hanzhong Campaign (217–219). He continued serving in the state of Shu Han – founded by Liu Bei in 221 – in the Three Kingdoms period and participated in the first of the Northern Expeditions until his death in 229. While many facts about Zhao Yun's life remain unclear due to limited information in historical sources, some aspects and activities in his life had been dramatised or exaggerated in folklore and fiction, most notably in Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which he was lauded as a member of the Five Tiger Generals under Liu Bei.
Historical sources on Zhao Yun's life
Zhao Yun's original biography in the Records of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi), written by Chen Shou in the third century CE, is only 346 Chinese characters long. In the fifth century, Pei Songzhi added annotations from the Zhao Yun Biezhuan (趙雲別傳; Unofficial Biography of Zhao Yun) to Zhao Yun's biography in the Sanguozhi, providing a relatively clearer, though still incomplete picture of Zhao's life.
Early career under Gongsun Zan
Zhao Yun displays valour in front of Gongsun Zan, an illustration from a Qing dynasty edition of the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Zhao Yun was from Zhending County (真定縣), Changshan Commandery (常山郡), which is located south of present-day Zhengding County, Hebei.[2] The Zhao Yun Biezhuan described his physical appearance as such: eight chi tall (approximately 1.85 metres), with majestic and impressive looks.[3]
The chief administrative officer in Changshan recommended Zhao Yun to serve in the government. Zhao Yun then led a small group of volunteers to join Gongsun Zan, a warlord in You Province who was nominally a General of the Household (中郎將) under the Han central government. Around the time, another warlord Yuan Shao was recently appointed as the Governor (牧) of Ji Province and his fame was steadily rising, so Gongsun Zan was worried that many people in You Province would choose to serve under Yuan instead of him. When Zhao Yun came to join him, he mocked Zhao, "I heard that all those in your home province[a] wanted to serve the Yuans. Why did you have a change of heart, and decide to correct your mistake?" Zhao Yun replied, "The Empire is in a state of chaos and it's unclear who is right and who is wrong. The people are in danger. Those in my home province, after careful deliberation, decided to follow a lord who practises benevolent governance. Therefore, I chose to join you, General, instead of Lord Yuan." He participated in some of Gongsun Zan's battles against rival forces.[4]
Around the early 190s, Liu Bei was taking shelter under Gongsun Zan and he met Zhao Yun during that time. Zhao Yun became very close to Liu Bei and desired to switch his allegiance to Liu. When Gongsun Zan sent Liu Bei to assist his ally, Tian Kai, in a battle against Yuan Shao, Zhao Yun followed Liu Bei and served as a cavalry commander under Liu.[5] Later, when Zhao Yun received news of his elder brother's death, he asked for a temporary leave of absence from Gongsun Zan to attend his brother's funeral. Liu Bei knew that Zhao Yun would not return to Gongsun Zan after leaving, so he held Zhao's hand when he bidding him farewell. Before departing, Zhao Yun said, "I'll not forsake morality."[6]
Service under Liu Bei
Around 199, after Liu Bei lost Xu Province to his rival Cao Cao, he fled north and sought refuge under Yuan Shao, Cao Cao's rival. At the same time, Zhao Yun also came to Ye, the administrative centre of Yuan Shao's territories, where he met Liu Bei again. Zhao Yun and Liu Bei shared the same room during their stay in Ye. Liu Bei secretly ordered Zhao Yun to help him recruit hundreds of men who were willing to follow him, and they claimed to be soldiers serving under the General of the Left (左將軍).[b] Yuan Shao was not aware of this. Liu Bei later left Yuan Shao and travelled south to Jing Province to join Liu Biao, the provincial governor. Zhao Yun accompanied him.[7]
Battle of Bowang
Main article: Battle of Bowang
In 202, when Cao Cao was away on campaigns in northern China against Yuan Shao's sons and their allies, Liu Bei took advantage of Cao's absence to launch an attack on Cao's territories in central China. Cao Cao sent his general Xiahou Dun and others to lead an army to resist Liu Bei, leading to the Battle of Bowang. Xiahou Dun lost the battle after falling into Liu Bei's ambush, but Liu also withdrew his forces upon seeing the arrival of Xiahou's reinforcements. During the battle, Zhao Yun captured an enemy officer, Xiahou Lan (夏侯蘭), an old acquaintance who was also from the same hometown as him. Zhao Yun requested that Liu Bei spare Xiahou Lan's life and recommended Xiahou to serve as a military judge because he knew that Xiahou was proficient in law. However, he never maintained any close relationship with Xiahou Lan. Chen Shou commented that this incident showed that Zhao Yun was conscientious and careful.[8]
Battle of Changban
Main article: Battle of Changban
A mural depicting Zhao Yun at the Battle of Changban inside the Long Corridor at the Summer Palace in Beijing. The rider in white is Zhao Yun.
After Liu Biao died in 208, his younger son, Liu Cong, succeeded him as the Governor of Jing Province. When Cao Cao launched a campaign later that year to eliminate opposing forces in southern China, Liu Cong voluntarily surrendered and yielded Jing Province to Cao Cao. Liu Bei and his followers headed further south towards Xiakou (夏口; present-day Hankou, Hubei), which was guarded by Liu Biao's elder son Liu Qi and was independent of Cao Cao's control.
Cao Cao sent 5,000 riders to pursue Liu Bei and they caught up with him at Changban (長阪) near Dangyang, resulting in the Battle of Changban. Liu Bei abandoned his family and fled.[9] Zhao Yun carried Liu Bei's young son Liu Shan and protected Liu Bei's wife Lady Gan (Liu Shan's mother) during the battle and eventually delivered them to safety. He was promoted to a General of the Standard (牙門將軍) for his efforts.[10]
Earlier on, after his defeat at the Battle of Changban, Liu Bei heard rumours that Zhao Yun had betrayed him and headed north to join Cao Cao. He refused to believe the rumours, threw a short ji to the ground, and said, "Zilong will never desert me." He was right as Zhao Yun returned to him a short while later.[11]
Guarding Jing Province
Between late 208 and 209, Liu Bei formed an alliance with the southern warlord Sun Quan and they defeated Cao Cao at the decisive Battle of Red Cliffs and the subsequent Battle of Jiangling. Cao Cao retreated north after his defeats and southern Jing Province came under Liu Bei's control.
Zhao Yun assisted Liu Bei in the pacification of the territories in southern Jing Province and was promoted to Lieutenant-General (偏將軍) for his efforts. He was also appointed as the Administrator (太守) of Guiyang Commandery (桂陽郡; around present-day Chenzhou, Hunan), replacing Zhao Fan. Zhao Fan had a widowed elder sister-in-law who was known for her beauty, and he wanted to arrange for a marriage between her and Zhao Yun. However, Zhao Yun declined, "I share the same family name as you. Your elder brother is also like an elder brother to me." There were some people who urged Zhao Yun to accept the marriage, but he said, "Zhao Fan was forced to surrender, so his intentions are unclear. There're so many other women in this world." Not long later, Zhao Fan escaped, and Zhao Yun was able to avoid any association with him because he did not agree to the marriage.[12]
Around 212, Liu Bei led an army west into Yi Province (益州; covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) to assist the provincial governor Liu Zhang in countering a rival warlord, Zhang Lu of Hanzhong Commandery. Zhao Yun was appointed as a Major (司馬) of the reserve camp and he remained behind to guard Jing Province.[13] Sometime in 209, Liu Bei married Sun Quan's younger sister, Lady Sun, to strengthen the alliance between him and Sun. Lady Sun also remained in Jing Province when Liu Bei left. Because of her brother's strong influence, Lady Sun was arrogant and she often allowed her close aides to behave lawlessly too. Liu Bei knew that Zhao Yun was a serious and orderly person, so he put Zhao in charge of internal affairs in Jing Province when he was away. When Sun Quan heard that Liu Bei had left for Yi Province, he sent a vessel to fetch his sister back to Jiangdong. Lady Sun attempted to bring Liu Bei's son Liu Shan along with her, but Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei led their men to stop her and retrieved Liu Shan.[14]
Conquest of Yi Province
Main article: Liu Bei's takeover of Yi Province
Liu Bei and Liu Zhang were friendly towards each other in the beginning, but tensions between them gradually increased until the point of armed conflict in 213. Liu Bei was initially stationed at Jiameng Pass (葭萌關), where he was helping Liu Zhang defend the area from Zhang Lu. However, he turned against Liu Zhang later and attacked him. He ordered Zhuge Liang, Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun and others to lead reinforcements from Jing Province into Yi Province to help him, while Guan Yu remained behind to defend Jing Province.[15]
The reinforcements marched along the Yangtze River and pacified the commanderies and counties in the surrounding areas. When they reached Jiangzhou (江州; present-day Chongqing), Zhuge Liang ordered Zhao Yun to lead a separate force to attack Jiangyang Commandery (江陽郡; around present-day Neijiang, Sichuan) and take an alternate route, and later rendezvous with Liu Bei and the other armies outside Yi Province's capital, Chengdu. In 215, Liu Zhang gave up resistance and surrendered, concluding Liu Bei's successful takeover of Yi Province. Zhao Yun was appointed as General of the Assisting Army (翊軍將軍).[16]
After taking over Yi Province, Liu Bei held a discussion on how to distribute the households in Chengdu and the fields outside the city among his followers because he wanted to reward them for their efforts in the campaign. Zhao Yun objected, "In the past, Huo Qubing said that there was no home until the Xiongnu had been eliminated. The enemies of the state in our time include not only the Xiongnu, so we shouldn't be complacent. Only when the Empire has been completely pacified and the people have reverted to their peaceful lives, can we truly enjoy ourselves. The war in Yi Province has just ended, so the people in the province should have their lands and homes returned to them. As of now, the people should be allowed to continue their livelihoods in peace, and later we can impose taxes and conscription on them. In this way, we will earn their favour and support." Liu Bei heeded Zhao Yun's advice.[17]
Battle of Han River Edit
Main article: Battle of Han River
In 217, Liu Bei launched the Hanzhong Campaign to seize control of Hanzhong Commandery from Cao Cao because Hanzhong was the northern gateway into Yi Province. Liu Bei's general Huang Zhong killed Cao Cao's general Xiahou Yuan at the Battle of Mount Dingjun in 218-219.
Later, Huang Zhong heard that Cao Cao's forces were transporting food supplies to Beishan (北山), so he led a group of soldiers, including some of Zhao Yun's men, to seize the supplies. Huang Zhong did not return after a long time so Zhao Yun led tens of horsemen in search of Huang. Zhao Yun encountered Cao Cao's forces and engaged them in battle but was outnumbered and was forced to retreat back to his camp, with Cao Cao's men in pursuit. Zhang Yi, one of Zhao Yun's subordinates, wanted to close the gates to prevent the enemy from entering. However, Zhao Yun ordered the gates to be opened, all flags and banners to be hidden, and the war drums silenced. Cao Cao's forces thought that there was an ambush inside Zhao Yun's camp so they withdrew. Just then, Zhao Yun launched a counter-attack and his men beat the war drums loudly and fired arrows at the enemy. Cao Cao's soldiers were shocked and thrown into disarray. Some of them trampled on each other while fleeing in panic, and many of them fell into the Han River and drowned.[18]
The following day, Liu Bei came to inspect Zhao Yun's camp and survey the battlefield. He remarked, "Zilong is full of courage." He then threw a feast to celebrate Zhao Yun's victory and they made merry until nightfall. Zhao Yun was called "General of Tiger's Might" (虎威將軍) in Liu Bei's army.[19]
Battle of Xiaoting Edit
Further information: Battle of Xiaoting
In late 219, Sun Quan broke the alliance with Liu Bei when he sent his general Lü Meng to invade and seize Jing Province, resulting in the capture and execution of Guan Yu. Cao Cao died in early 220 and was succeeded by his son Cao Pi, who forced Emperor Xian to abdicate the throne in his favour later that year. Cao Pi ended the Han dynasty and established the state of Cao Wei, marking the start of the Three Kingdoms period. In 221, Liu Bei declared himself emperor and founded the state of Shu Han, which was intended to be a continuation of the fallen Han dynasty. Sun Quan pledged allegiance to Cao Pi and became a nominal vassal of Wei, ruling under the Wei-granted title "King of Wu".[20]
Liu Bei bore a grudge against Sun Quan for the seizure of Jing Province and wanted to attack Sun. Zhao Yun attempted to dissuade him and said, "Cao Cao is the enemy of the state, not Sun Quan. We should eliminate Wei first, after which Wu will surrender by itself. Cao Cao is already dead but his son Cao Pi has usurped the throne. You should follow the wishes of the masses by conquering Guanzhong and then attack the treacherous enemy via the Wei River. People of righteousness situated east of Hangu Pass will certainly welcome your army with grain and horses. You shouldn't ignore Wei for the moment and wage war against Wu first. Once the war has started, it can't be stopped."[21]
Liu Bei refused to accept Zhao Yun's advice and proceeded with the campaign and left Zhao Yun behind to guard Jiangzhou (江州; present-day Chongqing). He was defeated by the Wu forces at Zigui (秭歸; present-day Zigui County, Hubei) at the Battle of Xiaoting and was forced to retreat back to Shu. Zhao Yun led troops from Jiangzhou to Yong'an (永安; present-day Fengjie County, Chongqing) to help his lord, after which the Wu forces gave up on pursuing Liu Bei.[22]
Service under Liu Shan

Appraisal Edit
Chen Shou, who wrote Zhao Yun's biography in the Sanguozhi, commented on Zhao as follows: "Huang Zhong and Zhao Yun were fierce and mighty warriors, just like claws and teeth. Were they the successors to Guan Ying (灌嬰) and the Duke of Teng?"[32]
In Romance of the Three Kingdoms
In popular culture
Mask of Zhao Yun used in folk opera
Zhao Yun has been featured prominently in Chinese popular culture, literature, art and anecdotes. Zhao Yun was already a relatively well-known hero from the Three Kingdoms period, as folktales about his exploits have been passed down through centuries. He became a household name due to the popularity of the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
Zhao Yun sometimes appears as a door god in Chinese and Taoist temples in Henan, usually in partnership with Ma Chao.
There is a Chinese folktale about Zhao Yun's death which is not mentioned in the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In this story, Zhao Yun had never been wounded in battle before so there were no scars on his body. One day, while he was taking a bath, his wife pricked him with a sewing needle out of mischief. Zhao Yun began to bleed profusely and eventually died of shock.[33]
Film and television Edit
The 2008 Hong Kong film Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon is loosely based on stories related to Zhao Yun in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It was directed by Daniel Lee and starred Hong Kong actor Andy Lau as "Zhao Zilong". Mainland Chinese actor Hu Jun portrayed Zhao Yun in John Woo's Red Cliff, a two-part epic war film based on the Battle of Red Cliffs.
Notable actors who have portrayed Zhao Yun in television series include: Zhang Shan, in Romance of the Three Kingdoms (1994); Nie Yuan, in Three Kingdoms (2010), Benji Wang in K.O.3an Guo (2010), and Lin Gengxin in God of War, Zhao Yun (2016).
趙雲 中護軍
赵云 鎮東將軍、永昌亭侯
國家 東漢→蜀漢
時代 三國
主君 公孫瓚→劉備→劉禪
姓 趙 名 雲 字 子龍
封爵 永昌亭侯
封地 永昌亭
出身地 常山真定
其他名號 虎威將軍
出生 東漢 常山郡真定(今河北省石家庄正定)
逝世 蜀漢建興七年(229年)
諡號 順平侯
祠廟 子龍廟
趙雲(168 -229年),字子龍,是中國三國時期的蜀漢名將,常山真定(今河北省正定县)人,身高八尺,姿顏雄偉,陈寿在撰写《三国志》的时候,将赵云与关羽、张飞、马超、黄忠的事迹合记成《三国志·蜀书·关张马黄赵传》,罗贯中的長篇小說《三国演义》中又将該五人并称“五虎上将”,广为世人所知。
人生经历 - 欲求仁主
汉水之战 参见:漢中之战
當蜀軍退兵時,諸葛亮曾驚訝地說:「街亭退兵時,我軍編制皆混亂成一團,箕谷退兵,編制整齊一如出軍之時,這是何故? 」鄧芝回答說:「趙將軍親自斷後,因此軍需沒有遺失,人員無亂,編制整齊。」

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