The Three Kingdoms Wiki
Liu Biao
Character information
Force(s): Han Dynasty
Liu Biao's Forces
Significant Battle(s):
Battle of Xiang Yang
Battle of Wan Castle
Historical information
Real name: Liu Biao
Chinese name: 劉表/刘表
Style name:
Chinese name:
Born: 142
Died: 208

Liu Biao was the Governor of Jing Province, the center of the Han Dynasty. Hotly contested, he faced Cao Cao and Sun Jian, killing the latter but conquered by the former.


Liu Biao was first appointed as one of the followers of the General-in-Chief (Da Jiang Jun) and given the rank of Bei Jun Zhong Hou (Captain of the Centre of the Northern Army, overall supervisors of the 5 colonels who commanded the 5 regiments of the Northern Army in the Capital). When Emperor Ling passed away, Liu Biao was appointed as the Inspector of Jing province, taking over the post from Wang Rui. During then, armies from various prefectures in the Guan Dong region were raised and punitive expeditions were sent against Dong Zhuo. Liu Biao too, led his Jing Zhou troops and stationed them at Xiang Yang. At that time, the Grand Administrator of Nan Yang prefecture, Yuan Shu, plotted together with the Grand Administrator of Chang Sha prefecture, Sun Jian, to capture Jing province. Sun Jian was tasked to lead the offensive against Liu Biao. However, during the offensive, Sun Jian was killed by some strayed arrows and his troops scattered. As a result, Yuan Shu was unable to secure a victory over Liu Biao. After Li Jue, Guo Si and some of the former officers of Dong Zhuo captured Chang An, they tried to ally with Liu Biao so that he could act as their reinforcement. In order to do that, they proclaimed Liu Biao as Zhen Nan Jiang Jun (General who Suppressed the South), Governor of Jing province (Jing Zhou Mu), and the Marquis of Cheng Wu. In addition, they issued Liu Biao an Imperial Court Order (Fu Jie). Not long after, Cao Cao received Emperor Xian at Xu Chang. Liu Biao sent messengers to Xu Chang to pay tributes (to the Han court) but at the same time, he secretly engaged and set up ties with Yuan Shao in the north. Deng Yi, the Zhi Zhong (one of the deputy provincial administrator whose rank is of similar level as Bie Jia) of Jing province, advised Liu Biao against that but Liu Biao did not heed his advice. As such, Deng Yi resigned from his post, left Liu Biao and did not return even until Liu Biao had passed away. Zhang Ji, a former officer under Dong Zhuo, led his troops into the territory of Jing province and launched an attack at the city of Rang. However, Zhang Ji did not manage to capture the city and instead he was killed by some arrows. On hearing that news, the officials in Jing province were overjoyed and they congratulated one another. However, Liu Biao said, “The reason why Zhang Ji came to Jing province was because he had no other alternatives elsewhere. As the hosts of Jing province, we did not treat him with due courtesy by following the customary rites and the clash of arms resulted. This is certainly not the outcome, which I, the Governor of Jing province, would like to see in the first place. Hence, I would only accept your words of condolences for Zhang Ji and I would not accept any congratulation for the victory.” With that, Liu Biao sent his men to assemble the soldiers of Zhang Ji’s army and assimilate them into his own army. The troops of Zhang Ji were happy to join Liu Biao given that they had heard of his earlier remark. The Grand Administrator of Chang Sha, Zhang Xian, rebelled against Liu Biao and Liu Biao personally led his troops to suppress the rebels. However, after surrounding the city (where Zhang Xian was based) for several years, Liu Biao was unable to capture it. Later, Zhang Xian passed away and his supporters decided to let his son, Zhang Yi, take over as the Grand Administrator of Chang Sha. Seeing that as an opportunity, Liu Biao launched an attack and managed to defeat Zhang Yi. Liu Biao thus captured Chang Sha. On the crest of the victory, Liu Biao drove his army south and captured Ling Ling and Gui Yang. In the north, Liu Biao seized the land around the Han river. Now, Liu Biao’s territory extended to several thousands li and he had an army of some 100,000 troops, including some cavalries. Soon after, Cao Cao and Yuan Shao had a major confrontation at Guan Du. Yuan Shao dispatched messengers to Liu Biao asking for help in the form of reinforcements. Liu Biao agreed to aid Yuan Shao verbally but he did not send any reinforcement. In addition, Liu Biao did not assist Cao Cao either because he had intentions to sit back and defend Jing province while observing the change in circumstances. However, the Gentlemen of the General Staff (Cong Shi Zhong Lang), Han Song, and Bie Jia (deputy administrator of a province who rode on separate carriage while out on inspection tour with the provincial Governor), Liu Xian, tried to persuade Liu Biao and they said that, “Right now, heroes all over had risen to compete for territories. Cao Cao and Yuan Shao were confronting each other. As such, the main focus in the land now falls on you General. If you, General, wishes to accomplish great things, this is the right time to do so with Yuan Shao and Cao Cao weakened considerably from their conflicts. If not, you can choose the more virtuous and capable one out of the two rivals and swear your allegiance to him. With 100,000 troops under your control, how can you, General, just sit back and watch the outcome of the conflict without doing anything? Furthermore, since you are not prepared to aid the virtuous when he is weak, and neither are you prepared to keep your promise, it is likely that sometime later, either Yuan Shao or Cao Cao would vent their frustrations and hatred on you. It is not really possible for you to adopt a neutral stand. Cao Cao, being an undoubtedly capable person, attracted a lot of talents from all over to serve under him. He will definitely defeat Yuan Shao and after which, he is likely to sent his army south to the land around the Han River (meaning Jing province region). When that happens, it’s likely that you, General, will not be powerful enough to face him anymore. Hence, after taking into consideration of your current position, we suggest that you, General, concede the entire Jing province to Cao Cao and he will certainly be grateful for your sincerity. With that, you can secure much wealth and lead a peaceful life for many years to come. Later, your decedents can also take over your nobility titles. We feel that this is the most appropriate plan that you can adopt General!” Besides Han Song and Liu Xian, one of Liu Biao’s most capable general, Kuai Yue also gave him similar advices. However, Liu Biao could not make up his mind and he sent Han Song on a diplomatic mission to Cao Cao in order to observe the situation better. On returning to Jing province, Han Song heaped praises on Cao Cao and persuaded Liu Biao to send his son, Liu Zong, to Xu Chang as hostage in order to show his sincerity. On hearing that, Liu Biao thought that Han Song was in collusion with Cao Cao and he was very furious. He wanted to execute Han Song and those who followed Han Song on the diplomatic mission were subjected to severe interrogations till they died. It was only then, that Liu Biao was convinced of Han Song’s innocence and let the matter rest. On his exterior, Liu Biao appeared to be a scholarly, elegant, humble and easy-going person. However, deep within, Liu Biao was actually narrow-minded as well as suspicious and he had dealt with many previous issues in similar manner. When Liu Bei came to seek shelter under Liu Biao, Liu Biao received him with great formalities. However, Liu Biao did not trust Liu Bei and thus, he did not entrust Liu Bei with important matters. In the 13th year of Jian An, Cao Cao led a southern expedition against Liu Biao. Before the Cao Cao’s forces arrived at Jing province, Liu Biao had already passed away.