Top 10 greatest generals of Chinese history

In Chinese long history, there are countless prominent military generals and strategists, even today heir glorious deeds are still talked about. Here is a list of the 10 most famous chinese generals in history.

1. Sun Wu 孙武

Sun Zi, also known as Sun Wu or Sun Tzu, was a high-ranking military general in Chinese history who is known for being one of the greatest military strategists of all time. Sun Zi wrote the The Art of War, a valuable Chinese military treatise. The book in only 13 chapters and 5,000 words fully reflected his military philosophy. Today, leaders from all walks of life use “The Art of War” as a guide for strategy and leadership.

2. Wu Qi 吴起

Wu Qi was a Chinese military leader and politician in the Warring States period. He was good at leading an army. He had served in the states of Lu and Wei. In the state of Wei he commanded many great battles. Later, after he was estranged from his lord, Wu Qi went to the State of Chu where he was appointed Prime Minister by King Dao of Chu. His reforms made Chu a strong state at that time. The reforms he instituted enraged the old nobility in Chu, and he was killed following the death of King Dao of Chu. His military work, “Wu Qi Art of War” was included in the collection “Seven Military Classics.” He and Sun Wu are often mentioned equally as China’s greatest military strategists.

3. Li Jing  李靖

Li Jing (AD 571-649) was an outstanding military general, military theorist, and national hero of the early Tang Dynasty.  As a commander, he participated in the battles of reunifying the country under Tang regime and of resolving border disputes. Li Jing composed a number of books on the art of war, such as Li Jing Liu Jun Jing. However, most of his books have been lost. Later Li Weigong (Li Jing) Answering the Questions of Emperor Taizong was compiled. In the Northern Song Dynasty, it was incorporated into Seven Books on the Art of War, a representative of ancient strategics.

4. Sun Bing 孙膑
Sun Bin was a military strategist who lived during the Warring States Period. By serving as a military strategist and commander, he led Qi to victory against the Wei state at the Battle of Guiling and Battle of Maling. Sun authored the military treatise Sun Bin’s Art of War, which was rediscovered in a 1972 archaeological excavation after being lost for almost 2000 years.

5. Han Xin 韩信

Han Xin, living in the end of Qin and beginning of Han, was one of the founding fathers of Western Han and a famous militarist in ancient China. Han Xin is best remembered as a brilliant military leader for the strategies and tactics he employed in warfare, some of which became the origins of certain Chinese idioms. He was then conferred the title of King of Chu. Han Xin was also famed as one of the “Three Standouts”, together with Xiao He and Zhang Liang. However, Liu Bang feared Han Xin’s growing influence and gradually reduced his authority. In 196 BC, Han Xin was accused of participating in a rebellion and lured into a trap and executed on Empress Lü Zhi’s orders.

6. Li Shimin 李世民

Li Shimin was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty of China as well as a prominent military commonder. He encouraged his father, Li Yuan (later Emperor Gaozu) to rise against Sui Dynasty rule at Taiyuan in 617 and subsequently defeated several of his most important rivals, he was ceremonially regarded as a co-founder of the dynasty along with Emperor Gaozu.

7. Yue Fei 岳飞

Yue Fei is one of China’s most celebrated generals. Yue Fei (1103–1142AD) was known not only for his military successes, but also for his high ethical standards, in Chinese lore Yue Fei is an enduring symbol of loyalty. Throughout his military career, Yue Fei fought tirelessly on the battlefield, faced many enemies, and accomplished great feats.

8. Cao Cao 曹操

Cao Cao was one of the greatest of the generals at the end of the Han dynasty of China.  As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the state of Cao Wei. Cao Cao has also been praised as a brilliant ruler and military genius who treated his subordinates like his family. He was also skilled in poetry and martial arts and wrote many war journals.

9. Chen Qingzhi 陈庆之

Chen Qingzhi was a prominent general of the Liang dynasty. He is best known for his campaign in 530 to crush Northern Wei. With only 7,000 troops, he invaded Northern Wei and conquered the regions of Henan and Shandong. However, he lost them again after being counterattacked by a Wei force ten times larger. Despite this, his success in conquering Northern China, albeit briefly, with only 7,000 troops made him a famous commander in Chinese history.

10. Bai Qi 白起

General Bai Qi was a very famous General in the history of China. He served the King of Qin during the period known as the Warring States. Without his military contributions, the State of Qin would never unify China, and the first Emperor in China would not be Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Bai Qi set a record in his cruelty. He earned the nicknames of the Slaughterer, War Devil, and God of War. The historical record showed that he won more than 70 battles, and never lost a single battle. He killed more than one million six hundred and fifty thousands soldiers.

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