Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Guan Yu (關羽; style name Changsheng 長生, Yunchang 雲長; 160-219 AD) was a military commander of Han Dynasty China. He fought in the civil wars at the end of the dynasty as one of the leading generals under the warlord Liu Bei. Historical information on Guan Yu, most of which is contained in Sanguo Zhi, have been clouded by popular conceptions of the man. Throughout Chinese history, his deeds and qualities have been successively exaggerated to the point that he has been canonised as the god Guan Gong. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which Guan Yu features prominently, is probably the best known account of his life in China, Japan, Korea and around the world.
The historical Guan Yu
Guan Yu was born in Jie (解) county, near the bend of the Yellow River in what is now eastern Shaanxi province. Little is known about his family background. Possibly as a result of a local vendetta, he fled to the northern frontier town of Zhuo, where he joined Liu Bei, a local notable. He and Zhang Fei became Liu Bei's most trusted lieutenants, often serving in the capacity of bodyguards. According to the legend, Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei became sworn brothers under the blossoming peach garden, where Liu Bei was the eldest, Guan Yu the second and Zhang Fei the youngest.The Sanguo Zhi says that Liu Bei "shared the same bed with the two and they treated one other with the kindness of brothers."
The first serious military action they saw was probably during the Yellow Turban Rebellion in 184. By this time the command structure of Liu Bei's private army was already large enough for Guan to have his own troops (buqu 部曲). After the Yellow Turbans were defeated, Guan Yu accompanied Liu Bei to a number of minor assignments around north China before joining Gongsun Zan in 191. In 194 Liu Bei and his men were sent south to Xu province in aid of Tao Qian. He dominated the province for the rest of the decade, being allied firstly to Tao Qian, and after his death to Lü Bu, and finally to the great warlord Cao Cao. In 199 Liu Bei turned on Cao Cao, and was quickly defeated by him. Guan Yu, then in control of the provincial capital Xiapi, surrendered.
He fought on Cao's side at the Battle of Guandu in 200, killing Yuan Shao's general Yan Liang in a much celebrated encounter. The Sanguo Zhi describes the scene in a few lines: "Guan Yu saw the standard on the chariot of Yan Liang. He urged his mount on, speared Liang in the ranks of the ten-thousand, and brought his head back. None of Yuan Shao's generals were a match for him and thus the siege of Baima was unravelled." Cao Cao was so pleased that he enfeoffed Guan Yu as Marquis of Hanshouting (漢壽亭侯). During this time Guan developed friendships with some of Cao Cao's commanders, including Zhang Liao and Xu Huang.
Nevertheless, he rejoined Liu Bei soon after Guandu, accompanying him to join Liu Biao in Jing province (modern Hubei and Hunan). When Cao Cao caught up with Liu again in 208, Guan Yu was given command of the Han River fleet and its 10,000 marines. Following the Battle of Red Cliffs, in which Cao was decisively defeated, Guan Yu was made Grand Administrator of Xiangyang (襄陽太守), with the title of General Who Purges Criminals (蕩寇將軍). His army was garrisoned north of the Yangtze River, possibly at Jiangling, to defend Liu Bei's northern border.
After Liu Bei left for Yi province (modern Sichuan) in 213, Guan Yu was confirmed as the most important of Liu's commanders by being given governance of Jing province. As governor, he saw Cao Cao in the north as the main enemy and rejected overtures from the neighbouring warlord Sun Quan. According to the Sanguo Zhi: "Sun Quan had sent an emissary to request marriage between his son and Guan Yu’s daughter. Guan Yu refused and cursed the emissary; Sun Quan was greatly angered." The province of Jing, supposedly "borrowed" by Liu Bei from Sun Quan in 210, was the source of much contention. Relations soon deteriorated between the two parties and by 219 commanders of the Sun group were actively hostile.
In that year, Guan Yu launched a major campaign against Cao Cao's positions on the Han River in the north. He completed surrounded Cao Ren at Fan and threatened Cao Cao's defense of the upper Huai River region. Guan then defeated a relief force sent by Cao Cao, capturing the veteran general Yu Jin and beheading Pang De. A rebellion against Cao Cao broke out at Luoyang and parts of northern Jing province. There was even talk at Cao Cao's court of evacuating the capital Xuchang. At this crucial time, Sun Quan intervened against Guan Yu. His commander Lü Meng made a daring raid on Jiangling, cutting Guan's line of supply. Two of Guan Yu's commanders charged to defend his base, Shi Ren and Mi Fang, defected. In the winter, Guan withdrew from Fan and attempted to break out from enemy encirclement to link up with Liu Bei in the west. In the last months of 219 he and his son Guan Ping were captured near Linju (臨沮) by Pan Zhang and executed.
Sun Quan sent Guan Yu’s head to Cao Cao, who buried it with the honours of a noble lord. Liu Bei attempted a campaign to recapture Jingzhou and avenge Guan Yu's death in 223, which culminated in his decisive defeat at the Battle of Yiling. Guan Yu's sons served as commanders in the state of the state of Shu-Han until its conquest by Wei in 263. According to the Record of Shu (蜀記), during the conquest, Guan Yu's entire household was massacred by Pang Hui, as revenge for the beheading of his father Pang De.
Guan Yu in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms
In the Romance of Three Kingdoms, Guan Yu was the most respected man in the ancient Three Kingdoms of China. He was affiliated with the Kingdom of Shu as the leader of the Five Tiger Generals. His is posthumously called Guan Gong (關公 lit. Lord Guan) or Guandi (關帝 lit. Emperor Guan, though he never ruled).
Guan Yu was referred to as "the lord with the magnificent beard" (美髯公) because of his long, flowing beard.
Guan Yu was a farmer and when he heard of Liu Bei's desire to help the Han, and because he was a relative of the Han emperor, Guan Yu, decided to join with Liu Bei and Zhang Fei. they swore the famous oath of brotherhood in a peach garden. Guan Yu and his new brothers recruited a small force and decided to help the Han in their battles with the Yellow Turbans. During the battles Guan Yu made a name for himself and his brothers volunteer forces by quickly killing various Yellow Turban generals in one blow. After the Yellow Turban (or Scarves) rebellion was squashed, and the alliance against Dong Zhuo was formed. Guan Yu and his brothers joined up under Liu Bei's friend Gongsun Zan.
During the allied assault on Si Shui Gate, Sun Jian's attack was repulsed by Hua Xiong and when general after general where sent against him Hua Xiong killed them all. When Yuan Shao enquired if they had no leader whom would fight, Guan Yu spoke up saying that he would kill this Hua Xiong. When Yuan Shao asked who he was, Gongsun Zan replied that he was an archer and at this Yuan Shu spoke out that they should beat him for speaking to them and Cao Cao argued that they should let him try and poured some wine and offered it to Guan who said to pour it and he will return shortly. Guan Yu then rode out and killed Hua Xiong and returned with his head before the wine had cooled.
Later after Cao Caos campaign against Lu Bu where Guan Yu had helped to save Zhang Liao's life. Cao Cao attacked Liu Bei's lands and managed to make Liu Bei flee to Yuan Shao, and Cao Cao captured Guan Yu. Cao sent Guan's friend Zhang Liao out to meet with him and Zhang Liao talked Guan Yu into serving Cao Cao. Cao Cao proceeded to heap gift after gift onto Guan Yu in a bid to get him to be loyal to Cao Cao, although Guan Yu made it clear though that when he found the whereabouts of his brother Liu Bei he would leave the Kingdom of Wei immediately.
When Cao Cao invaded north Yuan Shao's great generals Yan Liang and Wen Chou proved too great for Cao Cao's generals to beat and at this Guan Yu rode forth and cut a path straight to Yan Liang and slew him, due to this effort Cao Cao rewarded Guan Yu with the Red hare and the title of Marquis of Han Shou . Guan Yu showed great emotion upon receiving Red hare, and when Cao Cao grew angry and asked why he was so pleased with this gift but refused the other gifts, Guan Yu replied that with Red Hare he could reach his Brothers in a few days. After this Cao Cao sent Zhang Liao to enquire about Guan Yu's feelings and Zhang Liao told Cao Cao that Guan Yu would not leave until he had rendered a great service for Cao Cao so Cao Cao decided to take Guan Yu out of his van so that he could not render this service, but upon Cao Cao's army meeting with Yuan Shao's army under Wen Chou, Cao Cao was forced to send Guan Yu out once again and he again Slaughtered Yuan Shao's general and troops. Upon rendering this deed Guan Yu (who have found out his blood-brother Liu Bei's whereabouts) prepared to leave taking with him only Red Hare and his Sister's in-laws and after he had left Guan Yu undertook one of the greatest deeds of his life where he defeated six generals through five passes a deed that lasted unmatched for years.
After this Guan Yu found himself in the presence of his brother Zhang Fei, and Zhang Fei did not trust Guan Yu and told him to go and slay the last of Cao Cao's generals that were pursuing him, which Guan Yu did. After this feat Guan Yu participated in many battles including the battle at Bo wan Po where he and others used Zhuge Liang's plots to destroy the Wei army led by Xiahou Dun.
Guan Yu gained fame for his attack on Fan. Thanks to flooding on the campaign he was able to defeat Yue Jin's seven armies and start a strong siege on Fan castle against Cao Ren.
Following this battle Guan Yu had a leading role in Liu Bei's campaign for Jing, where he stayed as the governor until his death. During his time in Jing, Guan Yu was approached by Wu to have his daughter marry into the Wu family as Liu Bei had done, Guan Yu refused and this led to great hostilities between the two states of Wu and Shu which culminated in Lu Yi (Xun)'s and Lu Meng's invasion of Jing in which all of the governors of the cities in Jing gave the cities to Wu and left Guan Yu alone with his son and loyal follower to battle Wu, eventually Guan Yu and his son, Guan Ping were captured and taken to Wu. Sun Quan tried to get Guan Yu to join his kingdom, but he responded with insults which subsequently lead to his execution, dying at the age of fifty eight in the year 219 A.D. Guan Yu's Blue Dragon spear was later given to Zhang Liao, who used this gift until his death
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details