Tracing his family line back to a prince of the Early Han Dynasty. Liu Bei was a descendant of the Imperial Family.
It is said he resembled the founder of Early Han, Liu Hung. He was strong-willed and treated soldiers with great
respect. Cao Cao once said to him, "Liu Bei, you and I are the only heroes in this land. Yuan Shao and his score stand
no chance against us." He read auspicious meaning into these words, Cao Cao was the only rival between
him and the empire.
In a famous scene beneath blossoming peach
trees, Liu Bei established a brotherhood with Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.
With their help, he raised an army to suppress the Yellow Turban Rebellion,
joining in league with Dong Zhuo and his followers. Still he lacked
two essentials to broaden his influence : a home base and a tactician.
Therefore he spent his early years in the service of great military
leaders such as Gongsun Zan, Tao Qian, Cao Cao, Yuan Shao, and Liu Biao.
When he met Xu Shu, it was a turning point for his career. Following
Xu Shu's advice, Liu Bei managed to fend off Cao Ren. Astonished by
Xu Shu's talent, Cao Cao agreed to follow Cheng Yu's scheme to bring
Xu Shu over to him and succeeded. Before Xu Shu left, he told Liu Bei
about Zhuge Liang and Pang Tong.
Destiny finally swung to its true path when Liu Bei received Zhuge Liang in his service. On one of the three
visits he made to the scholar's residence, he heard, "A bird chooses a tree in which to dwell, a wise man
selects a lord to serve well." In other words, a man of great talent (a tree) waits for a man of great wisdom
(a bird) to dignify him with his presence. In contrast, Liu Bei took the initiative by visiting Zhuge Liang's door,
as if the tree had chosen the bird.
Liu Bei was badly defeated by Cao Cao
at Changban bridge, but his troops recovered quickly. Allying with Sun
Quan, he borrowed reinforcements to crush Cao Cao when they met again
in the Battle at Red Wall. The Jing district was his most important
war spoil. In the aftermath he led his army through Yizhou, and chased
Cao Cao clear out of Hanzhong. As he grew more influential he declared
himself Prince of Hanzhong. Yet, when Cao Pi usurped the throne in Wei,
Liu Bei declared himself Emperor of Shu, hoping to salvage the Han line
of rule. His title defined the emergence of three distinct kingdoms,
as Zhuge Liang had foreseen when he spoke of the Three Kingdoms Design.
Later, in an attempt to avenge his brother Guan Yu's death, Liu Bei challenged Sun Quan to battle at Yiling.
Yet, Lu Xun overcame his poor tactics and defeated him. The loss overwhelmed Liu Bei, and he fell ill.
Sensing his life was over, he entrusted Zhuge Liang with the burden of his quest, to restore the Han Empire.
He passed away at the Palace of Eternal Peace.