Top 10 Greatest Generals of Chinese History

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

1. Sun Wu 孙武

Sun Zi, or Sun Tzu, was a prominent military general during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) who is always regarded as one of the greatest military strategists in China and even the World. Sun Zi wrote the famous war strategy book “The Art of War“, which show people his military philosophy in only 13 chapters with 5,000 words. Today, many political leaders and entrepreneurs in the world use “The Art of War” as a guide for strategy and leadership.

2. Wu Qi 吴起

Wu Qi, a military leader in the Warring States period (475-221 BC), was master of leading an army. When serving in the state of Wei he conducted many great battles. Later, after being estranged by his lord, Wu Qi went to the State of Chu and acted as the Prime Minister. He carried out lots of reforms which turned Chu into a strong state. He was killed after the death of King Dao of Chu by old nobility as his reforms were against nobles’ interests. He left a valuable military work named “Wu Qi Art of War.” He and Sun Wu were often praised as two China’s greatest military strategists.

3. Li Jing  李靖

Li Jing (AD 571-649) was an outstanding military general during the early Tang Dynasty. He  participated in the battles of reunifying the country and resolving border issues. 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. His only remaining books is called “Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong,” which is dialogue discussing matters of military strategy between him and the Emeror Taizhong.

4. Sun Bin 孙膑
Sun Bin was a prominent military strategist during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). Sun, as a military commander, won a decisive victory at the Battle of Guiling and Battle of Maling against the Wei state. Sun wrote the book “Sun Bin’s Art of War,” which was another imporant military book after Sun Wu’s “The Art of War“.

5. Han Xin 韩信

Han Xin (died 196 BC) was  a brilliant military and one of the founders of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD). Han Xin commanded and won many important battles in the process founding the Western Han. He was later given the title of King of Chu for his military accomplishments. However, Liu Bang, the emperor of Western Han, feared Han Xin’s growing influence would reduce his authority and killled Han Xin with the accuse of participating in a rebellion.

6. Li Shimin 李世民

Li Shimin (599-649) was the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty and a prominent military commander. He together with his father Li Yuan rose to fight against Sui Dynasty at Taiyuan in 617 and then defeated several other military groups and finally founded the Tang Dynasty.

7. Yue Fei 岳飞

Yue Fei (1103–1142AD) is a celebrated general during the Southern Song dynasty(1127–1279). Yue Fei accomplished great feats in hundreands of battles against the Jin troops from northern China.

8. Cao Cao 曹操

Cao Cao (155 – 220) was a great general at the end of the Han dynasty. He laid the foundations for the state of Cao Wei. Cao Cao was regarded as a brilliant ruler and military genius who valued the work of promoting talents.He was also skilled at writing and responsible for many poems and war journals.

9. Chen Qingzhi 陈庆之

Chen Qingzhi was a prominent general of the Liang dynasty. In his famous battle in 530, he defeated the Northern Wei with only 7,000 troops, which made him a famous commander in Chinese history.

10. Bai Qi 白起

Bai Qi (died 257 BC) was a very famous general in the Qin state during the Warring States period and his military success laid good foundatins for unification of  China by the later Emperor Qin Shihuang. According to historical record he won more than 70 battles, and never lost a single one. In his life time his troops killed more than one million soldiers.

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