Gongjin's Campaign Memorials
Gongjin's Campaign Memorials

Sun, General Who Exterminates Rebels, is the finest strategist in the world, a military genius.
Yu Fan speaking to Hua Xin.

Sun Ce 孫策 was the eldest son of Sun Jian 孫堅 and the elder brother of later Wu emperor, Sun Quan 孫權. During his early years he began to build the Wu dynasty, but was assassinated by retainers of a local clan leader.


When Sun Jian had initially raised righteous troops, Sun Ce escorted his mother to reside in Shu. He became friends with Zhou Yu 周瑜, and associated with the leading men of the area. The people in the land between the Huai River and the Jiang looked to him. After Sun Jian’s death his body was brought back to Qu’a for burial. After this Sun Ce subsequently crossed the Jiang to live in Jiangdu.[1]

In 189 Dong Zhuo 董卓 seized power in Luoyang and in the first month of 190 a coalition consisting of various warlords was formed to oppose. Among these warlords was Yuan Shu and Sun Jian father of Sun Ce, went to join him. Before he left, he sent his family: Sun Ce, Sun Quan, Lady Wu 吳 and others, from Changsha 長沙 commandery to Shu county in Lujiang commandery.[2][3]

The Sun family was not of distinguished background, however Sun Jian did make a name for himself during the campaigns against the Yellow Turbans, the Liang Province rebels and a rebellion in southern Jing. Sun Ce, like Zhou Yu, showed early promise and ability and had gained notice among his contemporaries and seniors. When Sun Jian left to Yuan Shu in 190, both Zhou Yu and Sun Ce were 15 years of age[n 1] and they developed a close friendship, sharing everything together. The Zhou family treated the Sun family well: they gave them a fine house beside the road to live in and Zhou Yu paid his respects to Sun Ce’s mother, the Lady Wu. There, the pair received numerous scholars and great men from between the Yangzi and Huai 淮 rivers.[3]

About late 191 or early 192 Sun Jian died fighting Huang Zu 黃祖, an officer of Liu Biao 劉表. Sun Ce was 17 years of age at that time. Together with his family he left the Zhous and went back for the burial ceremonies at Qu’a 曲阿 county in Wu 吳 commandery and later moved across the Yangzi river to settle in Jiangdu 江都 county in Guangling 廣陵 commandery, Xu Province 徐州.[4] He maintained his aim of revenge for the death of his father.[n 2]

In 193 Sun Jian's former commander Yuan Shu had lost several successive encounters with Cao Cao 曹操 and was driven back to the county city Shouchun in Jiujiang 九江 commandery, Yang Province.[5] Sun Ce sought appointment under Yuan Shu and some of his father’s former troops took service with him.[6][7] Yuan Shu was impressed with Sun Ce and sent him to Danyang 丹楊 commandery, where his maternal uncle Wu Jing 吳景 was Grand Administrator and his cousin Sun Ben 孫賁 a Chief Commandant. Sun Ce stayed in Danyang for some months, but one time was unexpectedly attacked and almost killed in a skirmish with one Zu Lang 祖郎 of the hills-people in the south of Danyang. He regrouped and went back north to Yuan Shu. He arrived there in 194.[8]

In 195 Sun Ce asked Yuan Shu if he could join up with Wu Jing in Danyang commandery again, who were under the attack of the rising warlord Liu Yao 劉繇.[9] Liu Yao was earlier taken into Qu’a by Wu Jing, but had grown in power and now opposed him. He drove Wu Jing and Sun Ben from Qu’a, who set up a base at Liyang 歷陽 - the county city of Jiujiang commandery, and occupied Danyang commandery. Fighting between these two groups continued but it was Liu Yao who was slowly gaining more control. That’s when Sun Ce asked Yuan Shu if he could go to support his relatives.[10]

Sun Ce was allotted only about a thousand foot-soldiers and some thirty or forty horsemen, but he had a few hundred personal followers who were prepared to go with him, and he had the usual authority to recruit or impress men as he marched.[9] Sun Ce left Shouchun with some fifteen hundred men, and he arrived at Liyang with five or six thousand. There he joined the other commanders, and they made plans to cross the Yangzi river.[9] Though still of young age (20), it appears that Sun Ce had command of the operation even when he arrived at his relatives’ in Liyang. Sun Ce hastily sent a message to Zhou Yu to join him and Zhou Yu brought soldiers to meet Sun Ce and again gave him help with supplies and food. Sun Ce was delighted, saying: "I have found you; we are a pair!"[11] Zhou Yu and Sun Ce defeated Liu Yao, and though Liu Yao survived, he fled and would no longer form a threat to Sun Ce and Zhou Yu.

Zhou Yu then joined Sun Ce in his conquests of the crossing-places Hengjiang 橫江 and Danglikou 當利[n 3] and achieved success. They crossed the Yangtze River and captured Moling 秣陵, defeating Ze Rong 笮融 and Xue Li 薛禮. They also conquered Hushu 湖孰, Jiangcheng 江乘 and Qu'a 曲阿. By this time Sun Ce had accumulated a force reaching the tens of thousands. Sun Ce spoke to Zhou Yu saying: "The forces I have are already sufficient to take Wu and Kuaiji, and pacify the Shanyue therein. You return to guard Danyang." So Zhou Yu returned to Danyang.






  • Sun Shao (not to be confused with the more well-known Sun Shao below)
  • Daughter, married to Gu Shao
  • Daughters, the first one married  to Zhu Ji the second daughter married Lu Xun Respectivly


  • Sun Feng
  • Gu Tan
  • Gu Cheng
  • Lu Kang (not to be confused with his relative, the Prefect of Lujiang that Sun Ce defeated)Lu Xun's son


  • Sun Qiang (father's older twin brother)
  • Sun Jing (father's younger brother)
  • Wu Jing (mother's younger brother)
  • Xu Zhen (father's sister's husband)


  • Sun Ben
  • Sun Fu
  • Sun Gao
  • Sun Yu
  • Sun Jiao
  • Sun Huan (not to be confused with the more well-known Sun Huan below)
  • Xu Kun

Other Relations

  • Sun He (distant cousin, originally surnamed Yu, given the Sun family name by Sun Ce; not to be confused with Sun Quan's son)
  • Sun Huan (Sun He's son)
  • Sun Shao (Sun He's nephew, also given the Sun family name by Sun Ce)

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Fact vs. Fiction[]


  • ...Sun Ce never had the Imperial Seal in his possession.
  • ...Thus, Sun Ce never gave the Imperial Seal to Yuan Shu.
  • ...Sun Ce did not die of a curse by Gan Ji 干吉.
  • ...Sun Ce more most likely did not kill Gan Ji.


  1. Kongmings Archives, Sun Ce (Bofu)
  2. de Crespigny, Generals of the South, page 147.
  3. 3.0 3.1 de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms, biography of Zhou Yu 1152-1152.
  4. de Crespigny, Generals of the South, page 148.
  5. de Crespigny, Generals of the South, page 149.
  6. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Xingping1
  7. de Crespigny, A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms, biography of Sun Ce 764-765.
  8. de Crespigny, Generals of the South, page 153.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 de Crespigny, Generals of the South, page 157.
  10. de Crespigny, Generals of the South, page 156.
  11. de Crespigny, Emperor Huan and Emperor Ling, Xingping 2.


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