Alternate History

The Shu Han Dynasty

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Longzhong Plan

Shu Han (traditional Chinese: 蜀漢; simplified Chinese: 蜀汉; pinyin: Shǔ Hàn) (221 - 581) was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 221 CE). Founded by Liu Bei, Shu Han one of the three kingdoms that vie for control of China (the other two were Cao Wei 曹魏 and Eastern Wu 東吳), Shu Han become an empire when it conquered Cao Wei in 236. In the year 280, Shu Han annexed Eastern Wu after a major peasant rebellion against the tyrannical Wu emperor Sun Hao.

On the OTL, Shu Han was founded by Liu Bei in 221 CE after capturing Sichuan and Hanzhong from his base at Jingzhuo. Sun Quan, the war lord of Dong (Eastern) Wu and ally of Liu Bei, keeping a greedy eye at Jingzhou, invaded the province and executed the prefect of the region, Guan Yu, which led Liu Bei attack his ally in which the latter was lost and eventually died of sickness at Baidicheng (白帝城). The war between Sun Quan and Liu Bei caused the death of three of the five tiger generals of Shu and the lost of Jingzhuo to Wu, impeding the plans of the Shu prime minister Zhuge Liang to attack Cao Wei in two fronts from Hanzhong and Jingzhou. Zhuge Liang would later launch five northern campaigns against Wei but will never be successful until his death at Wuzhang plains in 234 CE. Shu Han would eventually fall to Cao Wei in 263 CE.


Prelude of the Three Kingdoms

  • 184 CE - The Yellow Turban Rebellion, led by Zhang Jiao against Emperor Ling broke out. Rebels swept across northern China, devastating the Han Empire. Han forces led by He Jin manage to defeat the rebels. However this was just the beginnning of Han Dynasty's fall from power. The following years will witness the decline and eventual fall of imperial powers to usurpers.
  • 189 CE - Emperor Ling died. With no successor experienced enough, a power vacuum ensued. The imperial regent He Jin struggles with the corrupt eunuch faction led by Zhang Rang. He summoned the warlords from the provinces to the capital Luoyang to assist him in the elimination of the eunuchs. However, He Jin was assassinated before the warlords could come to his aid. Following He Jin's death, his chief ally Yuan Shao led a massacre of the eunuch faction at the capital city. Dong Zhuo, a powerful warlord from the frontier, was summoned to Luoyang to aid the fight against the eunuchs. Upon his arrival, Dong Zhuo took advantage of the chaos and seized power, deposing emperor Liu Bian in favor of his brother, Emperor Xian. Dong Zhuo carried out acts of atrocities against those who oppose him.
  • 190 CE - A coalition force led by Yuan Shao attempted to overthrow Dong Zhuo. Dong Zhuo retreated west to Chang'an. In the process, he burned Luoyang to the grounds and looted the imperial tombs. He also massacred an entire village and carried their heads as war trophies pretending that he won over his enemies.
  • 191 CE - Dong Zhuo was assassinated by his bodyguard Lü Bu and Wang Yun and took control of the government. Wang Yun ordered the execution of all generals loyal to Dong Zhuo, including Li Jue, Fan Chou and Zhang Ji.
  • 192 CE - Fearing for their lives, Li Jue and his colleagues asked for an amnesty from Wang Yun but was rejected. Enraged, Li Jue lead an army to attack Chang'an. Lü Bu fought the Li Jue's army but he was outsmarted and the rebels took control of the city, killing Wang Yun in the process. Lü Bu fled to Yuan Shao but being aware of his treacherous nature grew suspicious on him. Lü Bu fled from Yuan Shao and later attacked Cao Cao in his base at Yanzhou.
  • 194 CE - Cao Cao, one of the warlords of China attacked Tao Qian, prefect of Xuzhou. Liu Bei, his subordinate, defended the province from Cao's invasion. However, Cao Cao received a word that Lü Bu seize control of Yanzhou province and he promptly withdrew. He drove Lü Bu out of Yanzhou, who fled and received by Liu Bei.
  • 195 CE - Emperor Xian escaped from Li Jue. Cao Cao received the fleeing emperor who escaped the tyranny of Li Jue. Cao Cao took control of the emperor and grew enormously powerful. In the south, Sun Ce, under the service of Yuan Shu, attacked the warlords of Yangzhou,
  • 197 CE - Yuan Shu declared himself emperor of Cheng Dynasty. This drew the ire of many warlords across China and a coalition force was formed against him. Utterly defeated, Yuan Shu fled to hiding. Lü Bu later rebelled against Liu Bei and seized Xuzhou, allying himself with Yuan Shu's remnant forces.
  • 198 CE - At the battle of Xia Pi, Lü Bu was defeated by Cao Cao and Liu Bei. Lü Bu was captured and executed by Cao Cao.
  • 200 CE - An assassination attempt against Cao Cao was discovered. The conspirators include Liu Bei and Dong Cheng. Dong Cheng was executed and Liu Bei fled to Yuan Shao and eventually to Liu Biao in Jingzhou with his comrades. The Battle of Guandu, Cao Cao defeats the superior forces of Yuan Shao after setting fire to his supplies. This victory allowed Cao Cao to control the North China Plains.
  • 208 CE - After a successful campaign at the north, Cao Cao decides to attack Liu Bei in Jingzhou. Liu Bei recruited Zhuge Liang and for a time being, they were able to repel Cao Cao's invasion force at Bowangpo and Fancheng. The year also witnessed Liu Biao's death. His successor Liu Cong surrendered to Cao Cao. Liu Bei then fled from Fancheng. Cao Cao ordered a pursuit. Liu Bei fled with a number of civilian followers in the battle of Changban. A fleet led by Guan Yu rescued Liu Bei and the civilians to Xiakou, were Liu Qi, Liu Biao's eldest son received them. Zhuge Liang proposed an alliance to Sun Quan, successor of Sun Ce. Sun Quan accepted the proposal and made alliance with Liu Bei, with an objective of opposing Cao Cao's invasion of Southern China. The alliance met the superior forces of Cao Cao at Chi Bi. Sun Quan's forces led by Zhou Yu set fire to Cao Cao's fleet, forcing him to retreat in chaos back north.

The Rise of the Three Kingdoms

  • 211 CE - After his defeat at the Battle of Chibi, Cao Cao decided to extend his influence on the Northwest, at that time controlled by Ma Chao, leader of the Guanxi coalition forces. Guanxi forces met Cao Cao's army at Tong Pass. In the ensuing battle, Han Sui, one of the general's of the coalition, defected to Cao Cao, leading to the defeat of Ma Chao. The battle resulted in the absorption of northwestern provinces to Cao Cao's dominion. Ma Cao sought refuge at Hanzhong. Zhang Lu, the local ruler recruited him.
  • 214 CE - Liu Bei entered Yizhou, which then under the control of Liu Zhang. Ma Chao was sent by Zhang Lu to help Liu Zhang. However, Zhuge Liang was able to sow discord between Ma Chao and Zhang Lu, causing the latter to be suspicious. Zhang Lu ordered Ma Chao to return to Hanzhong but Ma Chao killed the messenger. Liu Bei invited Ma Chao to defect to his army. He accepted the invitation and led his troops to Chengdu. As Ma Chao and Liu Bei's forces approach the capital city Chengdu, Liu Zhang decided to surrendered the city to Liu Bei to avoid civilian casualties.
  • 215 CE - Cao Cao invaded Hanzhong, defeating its ruler Zhang Lu. With Hanzhong in Cao Cao's hand, Zhuge Liang advised Liu Bei that the situation is critical since Cao Cao could launch an invasion against Sichuan. He suggested that an envoy be sent to Sun Quan to persuade him to attack Cao Cao's frontier city of He Fei. Sun Quan agreed, and inflicted losses to the defending force. Cao Cao and his army moved to He Fei to oversee its defense. Sun Quan was eventually defeated and made peace with Cao Cao.
  • 219 CE - Tensions between Liu Bei and Sun Quan over the control of Jingzhou rises. Sima Yi, advisor to Cao Cao, took advantage of the situation by sending emissaries to Wu to take Jingzhou from Liu Bei. However, Zhuge Liang predicted the invasion of Jingzhou by Dongwu and ordered Guan Yu to prepare. Lu Meng led the attack of Jingzhou but Guan Yu was prepared to meet him. Eventually Lu Meng was ambushed by Guan Ping's forces and was captured. Sun Quan, realizing that he lost the battle and the danger of a two - front war with Cao Cao and Liu Bei, renounced his claims in Jingzhou and begged to Guan Yu to spare Lu Meng. Guan Yu was moved and he released Lu Meng. Lu Xun was later sent by Sun Quan to Chengdu to apologize with Liu Bei and renew the alliance. Liu Bei agreed and Dongwu focused instead on the defense against invasion from the north and naval expansion overseas, thus defusing the threat of war between Liu Bei and Sun Quan.
  • That same year, Liu Bei's forces invaded Hanzhong which was under the control of Cao Cao. At Mt. Dingjun, Cao Cao's forces led by Xiahou Yuan vigorously defended the mountain pass against Huang Zhong, one of Liu Bei's generals. The battle was turned into a rout and Xiahou Yuan was slain. The victory against Xiahou Yuan allowed Liu Bei to seize control of the strategic Hanzhong, which would later serve as a base for invading Cao Wei.
  • 220 CE - Cao Cao dies. His son Cao Pi succeeded him. Later, he forced the abdication of Emperor Xian, ending the Han Dynasty. He proclaimed the Cao Wei dynasty which he himself is the new emperor. Liu Bei, upon the recommendation of Zhuge Liang, was declared emperor of Shu Han, continuing the lineage of the Han Dynasty.
  • 222 CE - Sun Quan renounces his allegiance to Cao Pi. The Sun earlier family recognized the authority of the Han emperor, but after the usurpation of the imperial rule Cao Pi, Sun Quan deemed it illegitimate and decides to break off from the empire. Later he would declare himself emperor of Wu.

Consolidation of Shu Han

  • 223 CE - Liu Bei died at Chengdu. He was succeeded by his son Liu Shan with Zhuge Liang as chancellor of Shu. Immediately after his death, the region of Nanzhong south of Sichuan started a rebellion. Their leader, Meng Huo seized several cities in the south, threatening Chengdu. Generals Wei Yan and Zhao Yun were called to defend Sichuan. They defeated the rebels and recovered the cities captured by Meng Huo. Zhuge Liang advised against an offensive since the emperor had just died and the morale of the army low.
  • 225 CE - Zhuge Liang launched the Southern campaign against the rebels of Nanzhong and the intruding Nanman tribes. The Nanman coalition, led by a Nanman chieftain named Meng Huo, earlier launched a massive attack against Shu, but was turned back. Realizing the seriousness of the threat from the south. Zhuge Liang postponed the northern offensive against Cao Wei and ordered preparations to pacify the south. The Shu army then marched into Nanzhong, defeating the rebels and the barbarian Nanman tribes and captured Meng Huo seven times, releasing him afterwards. Finally, after his seventh capture, Meng Huo finally sworn allegiance to Shu. He would later contribute to the Shu's northern offensive against Wei.
  • 226 CE - In preparation for the war against Cao Wei, Zhuge Liang ordered massive irrigation and road building projects to improve the economy of Shu Han. Trade with Eastern Wu also commenced. Zhuge Liang also ordered the fortification of border with Cao Wei at Jingzhou and a chain of castles and fortresses were erected to deter Wei forces from invading the Jing province. That same year, Cao Pi died of illness and his son Cao Rui succeded him in the throne.

Zhuge Liang's Northern Campaign and the Fall of Chang' an

  • 228 CE - With improved agriculture and military, Zhuge Liang set off for the first Northern Campaign. The spring of that year, Shu forces marched off from two fronts. From Hanzhong, the army, led by Zhuge Liang and generals Deng Zhi, Zhang Fei, Zhao Yun, Ma Dai, Zhang Ba, Ma Su and Wei Yan, they aim to take Chang'an and march to Luoyang were they will meet the forces from Jingzhou. From Jingzhou, the army was led by Guan Yu, Guan Ping, Liao Hua, Ma Zhong, Fa Zheng and Yang Feng. They are aimed at Xiangyang were they will divide into two, the first one will rendezvous with Zhuge Liang at Luoyang, the second will take Xuchang. From the first front, Zhuge Liang incited rebellion in the Longyou region that included the cities of Tianshui, Anding, Nan'an and Qishan. Jiang Wei, a general form Xinyang in Cao Wei, defected to Shu upon Zhuge Liang's instigation. Realizing the threat, the Cao Wei emperor moved to Chang'an to oversee the defense of his empire.
  • At Jieting, a strategic outpost crucial to Shu supplies, Zhuge Liang assigned Ma Su to defend the area. He was ordered by Zhuge Liang to block the road to Jieting and not to encamp on the hills. Ma Su, realizing the plan more sound than his, decided to encamp on the main road. His subordinate Wang Ping occupied a nearby hill to keep an eye of Cao Wei's troop movements. ( In the OTL, Ma Su encamped at the nearby hill. Wei forces were able to take Jieting and Shu forces had to retreat back to Hanzhong. )
  • From the Jingzhou front, Guan Yu pressed his army towards Xiangyang, capturing the city. From Xiangyang, Guan Yu divides his forces. Liao Hua led the army to take Xuchang. He was accompanied by Ma Zhong and Yang Feng. The rest marched to Luoyang. The army from Jingzhou was opposed by Cao Zhen, he stationed his forces at Luoyang while sending a subordinate Cao Shuang to Xuchang to defend the city. He was also ordered to protect the crown prince Cao Jiong at the city.
  • Wu forces led by Lu Xun inflicted defeat against the armies of Cao Wei led by Cao Xiu at Shiting. To prevent further Cao Wei incursions, Lu Xun attacked the Cao Wei stronghold at He Fei. The imperial court of Cao Rui went into frantic calls to defend the empire at all fronts. Cao Xiu was recalled to assist in the defense of Chang'an. Meanwhile, Sima Yi was called to assist Cao Shuang in the defense Xuchang and Xiahou Xuan to defend He Fei. After a month long siege in Xuchang, Liao Hua took the city and Cao Jiong, Cao Shuang and Sima Yi made a narrow escape to Guandu. Cao Shuang accompanied the heir - apparent to Jizhou in the North China Plain and Sima Yi and Cao Xiu fortified Guandu.
  • Zhuge Liang army battled Cao Zhen's forces at Jieting with the latter being barely able to contain Shu forces. Zhuge Liang realized that Cao Wei is now severely weakened and in panic, he ordered Wei Yan and Ma Su to advance to the dangerous Ziwu Pass that leads directly to the south of Chang'an. Zhang He was tasked to defend the area and he was killed in the ensuing battle. Following Zhang He's death, Wei Yan advanced to Chang'an and laid siege to the city. Cao Zhen, ordered the troops from Jieting to retreat and lift the siege at Chang'an. Zhuge Liang's army pursued Cao Zhen and the latter was killed in the ensuing battle. Zhuge Liang rendezvous with Wei Yan near Chang'an and the Shu forces were ordered to make a show of force to intimidate the defenders of the city. Cao Rui, in an effort to save the dynasty, abdicated the throne and ordered Xiahou Ba to break through the siege and carry the imperial seal and his abdication manifesto that proclaimed Cao Jiong as emperor of Cao Wei with Cao Shuang as regent to Jizhou were Cao Jiong resides. Xiahou Ba fought his way out but the attendant carrying the imperial seal was captured by Shu forces which was delivered to Chengdu. Xiahou Ba reached Jizhou and proclaimed Cao Fang as successor of Cao Rui.
  • 229 CE - After a long siege, Chang'an surrendered to Zhuge Liang. Cao Rui was killed when a coup led by the city prefect, Liu Cao, stormed his palace. Guan Yu captured Luoyang were he rendezvous with Zhuge Liang. Zhuge Liang went to Xuchang to prepare for an offensive to take Guandu from Cao Wei.
  • That same year, Xiahou Xuan tried to break through the siege at He Fei to rejoined the remnant forces of Cao Wei. However, he was killed by Lu Meng while attempting to escape. He Fei falls to Wu. Zhuge Liang sends Ma Dai, Zhao Yun and Zhang Fei to take Guandu but they were driven back by Sima Yi's forces.

Sima Yi Seizes Power from Cao Shuang

  • 230 CE - Zhuge Liang ordered a memorial be built in Xuchang for those who participated in the attempted assassination of Cao Cao in the year 200. People who were included in the memorial were Dong Cheng, Ma Teng and Liu Bei. That same year, Zhang Fei died of disease.
  • 231 CE - Cao Shuang, suspicious of Sima Yi who grew arrogant after having repelled the Shu forces at Guandu, summoned him to the court and was given the title "Grand Tutor". This effectively removes his command in the army. Having no army on his own, Sima Yi is, for the time being, powerless. Desperate for a victory, Cao Shuang launched an atack against Shu at Xuchang. Zhuge Liang, however, made preparation for the attack. He evacuated civilians and had Jiang Wei and Ma Dai prepare an ambush inside the city. Cao Shuang, believing Shu had retreated, entered the city and was ambushed. Cao Shuang barely escaped the ambush with most of his men killed.
  • While Cao Shuang was fighting the Shu army, Sima Yi gathered his sons, Sima Shi and Sima Zhao, and a group of supporters. They seized the capital and took control of the emperor. Sima Yi forced the emperor to oust Cao Shuang from the position of regent and had him secretly issue arrest warrant against Cao Shuang. Sima Zhao was sent to Guandu to serve his arrest upon his arrival.
  • Cao Shuang retreated to Guandu where he met Sima Zhao. Pretending to console him for his defeat, Sima Zhao handed a letter from the emperor. Upon reading the letter, Sima Zhao had Cao Shuang seized. The letter that came from the emperor was actually a warrant for his arrest. He was taken to Jizhou were he was executed.
  • 232 CE - By this time, Sima Yi ha complete control of the emperor. Meanwhile, back in Xuchang, headquarters of the Shu army participating in the northern offensive, Zhuge Liang saw through the internal conflict in Cao Wei. Wasting no time, he ordered preparations for another offensive to finish Wei for good. After a series of defeats from the Shu forces, the Cao Wei army had retreated to the North China Plain separated by the Yellow River. In order to cross the Yellow River, Zhuge Liang found it necessary to take Guandu. Not only it will provide them with access to the other side of the Yellow River but it will also eliminate the danger of Wei armies marching to Xuchang as Guandu lies at the road leading to the city.

The Second Battle of Guandu

Battle of Guandu (233 CE)

March 233 CE


May 233 CE


Northeast of modern-day Zhongmu, Henan


Decisive Shu Han victory


Shu Han

Cao Wei


Zhuge Liang
Guan Yu
Deng Zhi

Sima Yi
Sima Zhao




Casualties and Losses



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