Sun Quan, Sun Ce’s younger brother, is often portrayed in a more antagonistic light by modern media. He was born in 182 AD to Sun Jian and Lady Wu, and was the second oldest brother of the Sun family.
After Sun Ce’s death, there was not a great deal of questioning about who would take over for him. Sun Shao was so young that he was not a serious rival to Sun Quan. Zhou Yu might have posed a threat, if he were not devoted to Sun Ce and uninterested in becoming king. Sun Ce’s legacy left him with considerable land and a powerful army, filled with strategists and officers already in place in help him. During his reign, Sun Quan managed several important accomplishments, such as the defeat of Huang Zu (Sun Jian’s killer), forming and breaking alliances with Liu Bei, defeating Cao Cao at the watershed Battle of Chi Bi, overseeing the defeat of the powerful Shu general Guan Yu, and fending off several attempts at invasion from both Shu and Cao Cao as well as other less prolific warlords. He was eventually officially given the title of the Duke of Wu by Cao Cao’s son, Cao Pi, who by then had crowned himself Emperor of the new kingdom of Wei.
Some accounts portray Sun Quan’s reign as somewhat controversial, as not everything he did was wholly admirable. One such notable example is how he castigated and demoted the venerated general and strategist Lu Xun due to a disagreement over Sun Quan’s succession. Lu Xun, who had long served Sun Quan with extraordinary faith and skill as Chancellor and one of his right-hand men, is said to have died soon after because of it. Divisive actions of short temper such as this, including some unfortunate blunders of trusting eventual traitors, soured his administration.
However, he was far from being someone characterized by cruelty. Many instances are recorded of his kindness and generosity, such as when one of his strategists, Lu Meng, was on his death bed. Sun Quan is said to have insured that he received the best possible care and often made visits in person. He would show great repentance for his less honorable actions, for he felt terrible after Lu Xun’s death and restored all his former honors. Sun Quan led his officers with remarkable shrewdness, knowing exactly who to appoint for what task, and this ability served him well. He was the longest lived emperor of all the kingdoms, and his administration a successful one.
Sun Quan died in 252 AD, at the age of seventy.