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Sun Shao (general)

Sun Shao (general)

Eastern Wu general
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Eastern Wu general
Gender male
Children: Sun YiSun Kai
The details

Sun Shao (188–241), born Yu Shao, courtesy name Gongli, was a military general of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period. Sun Ce, a warlord who lived in the late Eastern Han Dynasty, granted the family name "Sun" to Sun Shao but never adopted him as a son. Sun Shao's uncle was Sun He (孫河) né Yu He (俞河), who had been brought into the Sun clan by Sun Jian.


In 204, Grand Administrator of Danyang, Sun Jian's son Sun Yi was assassinated in Wanling by rebels still loyal to their former master Sheng Xian. Sun He discovered the culprits, but as one of the assassins, Gai Lan (媯覽), held a high military post in the city, Sun He was unable to control the military and was killed as well. After the deaths of the assassins at the hands of Sun Yi's former generals Sun Gao (孫高) and Fu Ying (傅嬰), Sun Shao assumed control of Danyang commandery's military forces. The ruler of Eastern Wu, Sun Quan, tested Sun Shao's ability by feigning a night attack on his encampment, but found Sun Shao's men ready and his defences sound. The next day, Sun Quan rewarded the sixteen-year-old Sun Shao with the rank of colonel and control over the resources of Dantu (丹徒) and Qu'a (曲阿) counties, as well as formal control of the troops that had been under Sun He's command.

Prior to 220, Sun Shao was promoted to Deputy General and conferred the title of Grand Administrator of Guangling (廣陵) Commandery (roughly, the parts of modern Jiangsu and extreme eastern Anhui provinces which lie south of the Huai River and north of the Yangtze). In 220, when Sun Quan proclaimed himself king, he promoted Sun Shao to General Who Raises Might (揚威將軍), and granted the marquessate of Jiande, in present-day Hangzhou.

In late 225, Cao Wei's emperor Cao Pi, in a continuing effort to make Sun Quan's crown prince Sun Deng a hostage at his court, advanced a huge army of over 100,000 troops through Sun Shao's territory in Guangling, with the intention of crossing the Yangtze and marching to Wu's capital at Jianye. Unfortunately for him, the winter weather had made the Yangtze impassable with ice. Unable to get his boats safely into the river, Cao Pi withdrew in force. According to Zhang Bo (張勃)'s Record of Wu (吳錄), during the withdrawal, Sun Shao ordered his subordinate officer Gao Shou (高壽) and others to take some 500 of their most valiant warriors and make a night raid on the Wei lines in an attempt to capture Cao Pi alive. Gao Shou and his troops managed to capture several carriages in Cao Pi's escort, but the man himself eluded them.

In 229, when Sun Quan proclaimed himself emperor, Sun Shao was given the title "General who Fortifies the North" (鎮北將軍). Sometime after 230, he was granted the empty Governorship of You Province. You Province comprises present-day Beijing, Tianjin, parts of northeast Hebei and western Liaoning. Far from Wu's northern frontier, the area never fell under their control; granting the title was merely a political statement of Sun Quan's assumed imperial power. In 234, during the fourth battle of Hefei, Sun Shao and another general, Zhang Cheng, were tasked with leading a Wu army to attack Guangling and Huaiyin (淮陰). The episode ended in failure for Wu when Sun Quan's siege of Hefei was broken.

Sun Shao died of natural causes in 241.


Sun Shao's son Sun Kai served as Militant General-in-Chief for Eastern Wu, one of the highest military appointments in the palace, sharing with two others the command of the imperial guard. He also served as Junior Overseer of the Capital and was appointed Marquess of Lincheng, in modern-day Xingtai, Hebei. In 276 Sun Kai was given the position of Cavalry General Garrisoning the Palace, but when bandits sneak-attacked the capital and killed emperor Sun Hao's younger brother Sun Qian (孫謙), Sun Kai came under heavy suspicion from Sun Hao of collaborating with the bandits. Terrified, he took his household and a hundred or so of his personal guard and defected to Jin. Emperor Wu of Jin appointed him Chariot and Horse General, a position similar to his appointment in Eastern Wu: one of three generals sharing command of the imperial guard. Sun Kai was additionally enfeoffed as Marquess of Danyang, a position which began to pay benefits following the conquest of Wu by Jin in 280.

Appointments and titles held

  • Deputy General (偏將軍)
  • Grand Administrator of Guangling (廣陵太守)
  • General Who Raises Might (揚威將軍)
  • Marquess of Jiande (建德侯)
  • General Who Fortifies the North (鎮北將軍)
  • Governor of You Province (幽州牧)

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