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Liu Shan (in Chinese: 劉禪), also known as Adou (in Chinese: 阿斗), is one of the major protagonists in the 14th-century Chinese classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by the late Luo Guanzhong, and its multiple adaptations. He is Liu Bei's eldest son and successor and Empress Zhang's husband.

History

Cao Cao, a rival and archenemy of Liu Bei who is dominates almost all of northern China, sets out to conquer the Jing province. As he retreats to the south, Liu Bei is overtaken by Cao Cao, at the head of his elite riders. During the Battle of Changban, Liu Bei is separated from his wife Lady Gan and son. Seeing this, Zhao Yun, one of the loyal generals of Liu Bei, stays behind to protect his lord's family, then after taking Liu Shan in her arms, brings the mother and the son back to Liu Bei. Ironically, Liu Shan loses her mother when he is very young, because even though the exact date of Lady Gan's death is unknown.

Indeed, when Lady Sun, the wife of Liu Bei, divorce of her husband, the latter was then the only legal guardian of Liu Shan. When Liu Bei leaves Chengdu, the capital of Shu, to go to war against Sun Quan. While the latter sent one of Wu generals, Lu Meng to invade the Jing Province, but he did while capturing and executing one of Liu Bei's sworn brothers, Guan Yu and his son Guan Ping. After Liu Bei become the emperor of Shu, Liu Bei suffered a stinging defeat at the Battle of Yiling and retreat to Baidi Castle with his army. Before his dying, Liu Bei entrusts the young Liu Shan to the good care of his Prime Minister Zhuge Liang, even advising the latter to ascend the throne, if ever Liu Shan reveals to be unable to assume his role.

After Liu Bei's death, Liu Shan has seems to become a good emperor and new leader of Shu. As well as Zhuge Liang is still alive, Liu Shan respects him and regards him as a father figure, letting the prime minister handle all affairs of the kingdom. Zhuge Liang took the opportunity to place in key positions men he trusts, such as Fei Yi, Dong Yun, Guo Youzhi, and Xiang Chong. Following Zhuge Liang's advice, Liu Shan was taking control the alliance between the Shu and the Wu Kingdom, which allows the two kingdoms to survive in the face of their much more powerful enemy, Wei kingdom. During this regency, the government is efficient and corruption virtually non-existent, allowing the relatively small Shu state to arm itself for military campaigns. In the later, Liu Shan was married Empress Zhang, one of the daughters of the late general Zhang Fei, her father's other sworn brother. The Nanman tribes revolt to free themselves from the domination of Shu. Zhuge Liang went south to lead an army and managed to quell the rebellion, thanks in part to military victories and partly through persuasion. However, he managed to bring this region of the South back into the fold of the Shu, to whom the Nanmans would provide support without which Zhuge Liang would never have been able to launch his expeditions against the Wei.

Zhuge Liang launched his five Northern Campaigns against Wei. Except for one of them, all these expeditions end with military failures, without turning into disaster. Each time, the Shu armies fall short of supply and are forced to retreat without inflicting significant damage to the Wei. It was during one of these campaigns that Zhuge Liang faced the only real political crisis of his regency. Li Yan fabricated a false edict of Liu Shan ordering Zhuge Liang to withdraw, in order to conceal the fact that he was unable to provide the necessary supplies to the troops in time. When the prime minister discovers the pot-aux-roses, he recommends that Li Yan be removed from his post and put under arrest, which Liu Shan immediately accepts. Zhuge Liang fell seriously ill during his ultimate northern expedition. On being made aware of the health of his prime minister, Liu Shan was sent Li Fu, his personal secretary, to the dying man, so that the latter could leave his final instructions on how to run the affairs of the kingdom. Among other things, Zhuge Liang recommends that Jiang Wan succeed him, and Fei Yi succeed Jiang Wan when the time comes. When Li Fu asks who should succeed Fei Yi, Zhuge Liang refuses to answer. Zhuge Liang dies soon after and Liu Shan executes his last wishes by making Jiang Wan the new regent.

Jiang Wan was a capable administrator, and he continued Zhuge Liang's authoritarian policies, so that the government administration remained efficient. He was also known for his tolerance of other opinions and his modesty. Nevertheless, he lacked military talent, so that he quickly gave up Zhuge Liang's campaign against Wei and even withdrew most of the troops from the border town of Hanzhong and stationed Li Fu. From then on, Shu Han was in a defensive position, no longer a threat to Wei. For many Wu generals, this was a falsely sign of the Alliance's demise and the beginning of a reference to Wei, but Sun Quan saw it as correct Sign of weakness Shu Han. Jiang Wan fell ill and transferred most of his authority to Fei Yi and his assistant Dong Yun. Fei Yi also led the army to Hanzhong, when Wei chancellor Cao Shuang is trying to attacked there, inflicting a significant defeat on Wei. Jiang Wan retained his influence until his death. Shortly thereafter, Dong Yun also died, so that the eunuch Huang Hao (a favorite of the emperor, whose power Dong Yun had always restrained) could expand his power. Huang was considered corrupt and manipulative, and the efficient government of Zhuge Liang and Jiang Wan began to disintegrate.

After Jiang Wan and Dong Yun's death, the emperor is quite appointed the able general Jiang Wei as his assistant, but both were busy with military plans, while the emperor became more and more concerned with personal matters. At this time he also began his travels through the empire and increased the luxury at court, which burdens the state budget intensely. Jiang Wei wanted to resume Zhuge Liang's attacks on Wei, in which Fei Yi partially agreed. Therefore, he allowed him to hold raids on the borders with Wei, but never gave him enough troops to seriously threaten Wei. Fei Yi was murdered by General Guo Xun, who had previously defected from Wei to Shu. Now, Jiang Wei took command of the forces of Shu Han, but a power vacuum on internal affairs arose as Jiang Wei stayed at the border to conduct campaigns against Wei. At the court Huang Hao gained more and more influence. Despite his ambitions and powers, Jiang Wei could not really threaten his great neighbor, Wei, because of poor supplies. His campaigns were more damaging to the Shu Han, as the government was no longer as tight as it was in the days of Zhuge Liang and Jiang Wan, and supplies to the border troops faltered. Jiang Wei was launched a joint attack against Wu regent Zhuge Ke, Shu Han's oldest ally, against the Wei kingdom. However, he had to give up again because of poor supply and thus added to the Wu dynasty a devastating defeat. The Wei forces concentrated on Zhuge Ke's forces falling in battle. This was the second and final joint attack by Shu and Wu on Wei empire.

Jiang Wei was able to inflict a significant defeat on the Wei army, nearly taking over the important border town of Didao, but was so devastated a year later by his second attack by Wei General Deng Ai that Jiang Wei's reputation suffered considerably. Many officials now questioned Jiang Wei's strategy, but the Emperor did nothing to stop him. He even allowed Jiang Wei to carry out a daring plan, Jiang Wei withdrew the troops from all border towns to coax the Wei into an attack. This plan was to do Shu doom. Huang Hao's power had reached its peak. Of the officers, only Dong Jue and Zhuge Zhan, Zhuge Liang's son, could keep their posts without flattery. Huang Hao even tried to replace Jiang Wei with his friend Yan Yu. When Jiang Wei heard about it, he ordered the Emperor to execute Huang Hao, but he refused. Fearing retaliation, Jiang Wei retreated to Tazhong. Wei's Regent, Sima Zhao devised a plan to finally destroy Shu Han. When Jiang Wei heard rumors about it, he warned the emperor at the border before the Wei troops were trodden under Generals Zhong Hui and Deng Ai. Huang Hao, however, relied on the fortune-tellers who declared an attack on Wei unlikely and persuaded the emperor not to do anything.

Sima Zhao started the attack led by Zhong Hui and Deng Ai. Liu Shan followed Jiang Wei's old plan, pulled the troops off the border and let them prepare the trap for Wei. But instead of besieging the border towns, Deng Ai and Zhong Hui ignored them and took the Yang'an Pass. In the beginning, Jiang Wei was able to join his troops and call them back, but Deng Ai led his forces deep into Shu territory through the almost impassable mountains, launching a surprise attack on Jiangyou. After defeating Zhuge Zhan there were no more troops between Deng Ai and the capital Chengdu. In view of the hopeless situation, the emperor accepted the advice of his secretary Qiao Zhou and surrendered. While many criticized this move, Weng Yin described it in his notes of Shu as an act of charity towards the people. Zhong Hui made an attempt to break the power of the Sima family in the Wei kingdom and rose with the support of Jiang Wei, who once again wanted to proclaim Liu Shan Emperor of Shu. After the miserable end of Zhong and Jiang, Liu Shan was remained uninjured, only his son, Crown Prince Liu Xuan, was killed in the turmoil.

After Zhong Hui and Jiang Wei's death, Liu Shan and his clan were ordered to the capital, Luoyang. He was appointed Prince of Anle, and his sons and grandsons were appointed Marquises. After the spring and autumn annals of Han and Jin, Sima Zhao one day invited Liu Shan to a festival where he played traditional dances and music from Shu. When all this left Liu Shan unmoved among his wistful officials, Sima asked him if he did not miss his kingdom. This saying became a Chinese proverb meaning "too cheerful to think of the homeland", usually with a negative implication. Sima Zhao regarded Liu Shan as an incompetent fool. Later historians see it as a sign of Liu Shan's wisdom not to appear as a threat to Sima Zhao. Liu Shan also died in later years, it was given the posthumous name "Duke Si of Anle" and "Emperor Xiaohuai".

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Trivia

  • He is one of the playable characters in the Dynasty Warriors series.

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