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definition - Zhu_Ran

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Zhu Ran

Zhu Ran
General of Eastern Wu
Born 182
Died 249 (aged 66–67)
Simplified Chinese 朱然
Traditional Chinese 朱然
Pinyin Zhū Rán
Wade-Giles Chu Jan
Style name Yifeng (義封)
Other names
Original name
  • Shi Ran (施然)

Zhu Ran (182 – 249[1]) was a military general of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. Despite being a childhood friend of the first emperor of Eastern Wu, Sun Quan, he was never tasked with important position nor assignment before Lü Meng's invasion of southern Jing Province in 219, wherein he assisted in capturing the enemy commander Guan Yu. Following the Battle of Xiaoting, the Cao Wei state launched a three-pronged strike on Eastern Wu's northwestern, middle, and eastern borders. Zhu was sent to the northwestern border, where he defended the city of Jiangling with only 5,000 troops against an enemy force about ten times greater. He rose to fame and became feared throughout Cao Wei. He then participated in a series of military operations against Cao Wei, during which he defeated several enemy units, but the overall objectives had never been met. Before his death, Zhu was granted authority to oversee matters within the army.



  Early life

Originally from Guzhang (故鄣), Danyang (present-dau Anji County, Huzhou), Shi Ran was a nephew of Sun Ce's veteran general, Zhu Zhi, who had a liking to the 13-year-old Shi Ran and asked Sun to grant him permission to adopt the child. Since Zhu had contributed considerably to Sun's pacification of Jiangdong and had not bore a son, Sun specifically ordered the Governor of Danyang to bring presents to the family of Shi for the ceremony and celebration. Thus, Shi Ran became an adopted son of Zhu Zhi and had his last name changed into Zhu. In addition, he studied together with Sun Ce's younger brother, Sun Quan as a young boy, and the two became very intimate. Because of this, after Sun Ce died and was succeeded by Sun Quan, Zhu Ran was made a Prefect of Yuyao (余姚) at the mere age of 19. Zhu was later appointed as chief of Shanyin (山陰), acting on authority of a captain, to oversee five local counties around the area. Pleased with his abilities, Sun further promoted him to be the Administrator of Linchuan (臨川), and gave him command over 2,000 soldiers.

  Capture of Guan Yu

During his tenure as an administrator, he had the merit of subjugating the Shanyue ethnic group within his jurisdiction, and was able to do so in less than a month. However, when the hegemonic warlord, Cao Cao led his massive army to invade the Wu area, Zhu stayed in the back just as most other officials at the time did; and was not assigned significant tasks for some time until the Battle of Ruxukou, where Zhu proved his loyalty in personally going to the frontline to help resist Cao's 400,000 strong army. Although Zhu didn't engage the enemy in this battle, he was promoted by Sun to be a Major General, as a way to reaffirm his trust in Zhu. In 219, Zhu Ran participated in Lü Meng's Jing Province campaign as Lu's aide. When the enemy commander, Guan Yu, was abandoned by his troops and trapped in Maicheng, Zhu was ordered by Lu to lay the first line of blockades to Guan's escape. However, for reason unknown, Zhu let Guan slip by, and Pan Zhang, who was responsible for the second layer, succeeded in capturing Guan Yu alive. Regardless, Sun credited both Pan and Zhu for Guan's capture. When Lü Meng laid on his death bed shortly after the Jing Province campaign, Sun asked his input on who could succeed him as the new commander for the army, wherein Lü highly praised the abilities of Zhu Ran and recommended the latter be the replacement. Heeding Lü's dying words, Sun gave the staff of authority to Zhu, and tasked him with the defense of Jiangling, capital city of Nan Commendary and a vital strategic stronghold on the front-line.

Two years later, the emperor of Shu Han, Liu Bei, led a grand force of more than 100,000 troops to invade Wu, and Zhu led his 5,000 troops to join the Wu commander, Lu Xun, for the tactical defense of Xiaoting. When the next summer came, Zhu led a separate force against Shu. After breaking Liu Bei's vanguard, Zhu Ran's forces took up a position at the rear of Shu army, blocking their escape as they attempted to flee from a fire attack executed by Lu Xun. Together, Lu Xun and Zhu Ran chased the Shu emperor into the deep hills, pushing him back to Baidecheng, where he would admit defeat and die shortly afterwards.

  Defense of Jiangling

Throughout the whole course of the Wu-Shu conflict, the Wei military had assembled troops but never mobilized. However, immediately following the success of Lu Xun's battles against Shu, the Wei Emperor, Cao Pi suddenly launched a three-pronged campaign against Wu after Sun Quan refused to send his eldest son, Sun Deng, as hostage. Even though Cao Pi's plan was detected by Lu Xun, who ordered Xu Sheng to perform a double-back to return to Jianye and informed Sun to prepare for war, the Wu forces still faced a dire situation. Their troops were stretched thinly across at least four fronts; on the western front facing Baidecheng, where Liu Bei's declaration of war was still in effect; the Nan Commandery, which was pressed by the Wei generals Zhang He, Xu Huang, Cao Zheng, and Xiahou Shang; at Ruxukou, where Wei Grand General Cao Ren was leading his team to land on the Middle Island; and at the eastern battlefield on the Yangtze River, Dongkou, where Zhang Liao and Cao Xiu defeated Lü Fan's navy. At the time, there was an extreme shortage of military personnel. Furthermore, an outbreak of disease greatly reduced the morale and number of soldiers in Zhu Ran's army, leaving him with only 5,000 men capable to do battles, who were intimidated by the news that the Wu reinforcements led by Sun Sheng (孫盛) were eliminated by Zhang He. At Jiangling, Xiahou Shang had also built numerous pontoon bridges for his soldiers to cross the shallow waters and attack the castle. With each passing day, the number of Wei troops besieging the castle increased by the thousands. Not knowing how and where the Wei forces were crossing the shallows of the river, the Wu reinforcements under Pan Zhang and Zhuge Jin had no effective way to lift the siege.

Surrounded in his castle, Zhu was heavily outnumbered by Cao Zheng, who encircled the fortress with several layers and deployed a variety of siege weapons. Yet Zhu showed no signs of fear, and encouraged his comrades and subordinates to counter the enemy. When Cao relaxed his guard, Zhu's forces were able to destroy two of the Wei encampments. Six months had passed; however, the Wei army still continued the siege, and Cao Pi had arrived at Wan city to bolster their morale. One of Zhu's officers, seeing that the Wei troops were numerous and that the food supply within Jiangling castle was running out, planned to defect to Wei. He secretly contacted the Wei troops outside of the castle walls and promised to open the gate to permit their forces entry. When the betrayer was about to open the castle gate, he was noticed by Zhu and executed. At the time, Pan Zhang had gone upstream and collected one million bundles of reeds. He fitted these to rafts and set them on fire, sending them downstream so that they would burn the pontoon bridges being used by Wei. Knowing what Pan had done, the Wei forces returned north before the retreat route could be destroyed. Because of his extraordinary performance in this battle, Zhu Ran's name became known throughout the Kingdom of Wei as a powerful enemy general.

  Late life

In 241 he led an assault on Fancheng and surrounded it. However, the army of Wei under the command of Sima Yi defeated him, and he retreated. In 246 he again invaded Wei and attacked Zhazhong (柤中), and when his escape route was cut off by Li Xing (李興) of Wei, he defeated Li Xing's forces and withdrew.

In 245, Lu Xun died and Zhu Ran was given command over the armies of Wu by Sun Quan. He died four years later in 249, and received the third largest funeral after Lu Meng and Ling Tong. At his funeral service, Sun Quan is said to have wept greatly for him. His son, Zhu Ji, succeeded him and continued to serve Eastern Wu.

  Tomb of Zhu Ran

In June 1984[2], during the construction of a factory, Zhu Ran's burial site was discovered in Ma'anshan, Anhui. Many historically important decorative items of clothing and some of the world's oldest discovered lacquer were unearthed after being discovered within. The tomb had been underground for nearly 1,700 years.[3] Though the tomb was raided, it was still home to 140+ of many valuable items. Most of the remaining buried items included mainly lacquered items made of wood, such as wooden plates, wooden clogs, and some wooden tables with educational stories and images drawn on them.[4] The road on which the site was discovered was renamed to "Zhuran Road" in his honour.


  • Zhu Zhi, uncle
  • Zhu Ji (朱績), son

  In fiction

In Luo Guanzhong's historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhu Ran was killed by Zhao Yun while pursuing Liu Bei's defeated force in Battle of Xiaoting in 222.

  Modern references

In Koei's Dynasty Warriors video game series, he is instrumental in the fire attack on Liu Bei's army in the Battle of Yiling, which is the turning point of the battle, causing Liu Bei to lose most of his army and morale and being forced to retreat.

  See also


  1. ^ de Crespigny, Rafe (2007). A biographical dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms (23–220 AD). Brill. p. 1165. ISBN 978-90-04-15605-0. 
  2. ^ (Name: Lacquer Plate with Noble Life Painting from Zhu Ran Tomb 中文名: 朱然墓彩绘贵族生活图漆盘 Dated to: Three Kingdoms Period, 220 – 280 A.D. | Culture: Eastern Wu Unearthed: 06/1986, at Tomb of Zhu Ran, Ma’Anshan, Anhui | Current location: Ma’Anshan Museum Dimensions: Diameter: 24.8cm; Height: 3.5cm)http://chinablog.cc/2010/07/lacquer-plate-from-zhu-ran-tomb-a-painting-of-noble-life/
  3. ^ (Tomb of Zhu Ran was discovered in June, 1984. It has been hidden underground for more than 1,700 years) http://chinablog.cc/2010/07/lacquer-plate-from-zhu-ran-tomb-a-painting-of-noble-life/
  4. ^ (Although this tomb has been raided before, there are still 140+ pieces of burial objects left, most of which are lacquered wood objects. Lots of them are rare lacquer treasures, such as a lacquer table with a painting of palace life, lacquer plates with traditional educational stories, etc.) http://chinablog.cc/2010/07/lacquer-plate-from-zhu-ran-tomb-a-painting-of-noble-life/


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