Liu Bei (161– 21 June 223) , styled Xuándé (玄德), was a general, warlord, and later the founding emperor of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. Despite having a later start than his rivals and lacking both the material resources and social status they commanded, Liu overcame his many defeats to carve out his own realm, which at its peak spanned modern day Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan, part of Hubei and part of Gansu.
Culturally, due to the tremendous popularity of the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, Liu is widely known as the ideal benevolent, humane ruler who cared for his people and selected good advisors for his government. His character was a salutary example of a ruler who adhered to the Confucian set of moral values, such as loyalty and compassion.
According to the Records of Three Kingdoms, Liu was born in Zhuo Commandery (涿, present day Zhuozhou, Baoding, Hebei), and was a descendant of Liu Zhen, the son of Liu Sheng, a son of Emperor Jing. However, Pei Songzhi's commentary, based on Dian Lue (典略), said that Liu was a descendant of the Marquess of Linyi (臨邑侯）, also descended from Emperor Jing. His grandfather Liu Xiong (劉雄) and father Liu Hong (劉弘) were both employed as local clerks.
Liu grew up in a poor family, having lost his father when he was still a child. To support themselves, Liu and his mother sold shoes and straw-woven mats. At the age of 14, Liu, sponsored by a more affluent relative who recognised his potential in leadership, went to study under the tutelage of Lu Zhi (a prominent scholar and, at the time, former Administrator of Jiujiang). There he met and befriended Gongsun Zan, a prominent northern warlord in future.
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