Sun Ce stands out as a heroic figure in the spectrum of Chinese history, a man hailed for his leadership and bravery. He was born in 175 AD as the eldest son of Sun Jian, but his father died when he was still young. In his childhood, he and his mother were seldom in once place for very long since they moved with Sun Jian as he changed from one governmental post to another.
Sun Ce was still very young when his father died. It was when they were fourteen that he met Zhou Yu, another ambitious man who would go on to become one of Sun Ce’s most impressive officers and a historically celebrated strategist. Once Sun Ce turned eighteen, he began serving Yuan Shu, his father’s former patron. However, Yuan Shu did not grant Sun Ce a significant amount of forces or power, even though he owed Sun Jian a considerable debt for his assistance in previous battles. Despite this, Sun Ce went to Yuan Shu seeking for his approval to acquire territory down south.
Sun Ce was incredibly successful and conquered three commandaries; Danyang, Wu, and Kuaiji. Yuan Shu had done many dubious things when he was working with Sun Jian and revealed his true nature when he attempted to proclaim himself as Emperor of the Han Dynasty. This claim was ridiculous and the other warlords turned against him, including Sun Ce, who declared his independence. He called his old friends to him and formed his own army, and thus became a considerable threat in his own right to the surrounding warlords.
Sun Ce and his army roved around the countryside, attracting talented new officers from their enemies’ forces thanks to his charisma and powerful strength of personality. In this manner, heavy hitters such as Zhang Zhao, Zhang Hong, Jiang Qin, Zhou Tai, Taishi Ci, Chen Wu, and Ling Tong joined with him. They seized control of much of the southeastern corner of China, including the key areas of Niuzhu, Qu’e, and Moling, and for this Sun Ce was given the nickname of Little Conqueror. His popularity rose as he ordered the inhabitants of captured territories to be treated well, promoted civic order and improved the towns’ living conditions, refused to loot defeated cities, and took care of surrendered enemy soldiers. Sun Ce quickly became relatively powerful and adored for how he handled it with respect.
When he had gained decisive control of the south, Sun Ce then dealt with Yuan Shu. With the help of an erstwhile alliance with Cao Cao and Liu Bei, they defeated the usurper. This was the foundation of the Wu kingdom, which lasted the longest of the three kingdoms and was host to some of the most brilliant and talented officers of the time.
Sun Ce died at a tragically young age in 200 AD after being ambushed by a rebellion, leaving behind his three daughters, an adoptive son, and his wife who was pregnant with his son. Sun Shao, Sun Ce’s only biological son, was never able to meet his father.
Though he earned many titles and honors through his short life, he never made himself king or emperor of Wu. Sun Quan, his successor, would become the first emperor. Sun Ce was posthumously given the title of King of Changsha by Sun Quan.