Wushe, a place of historical intrigue

Wushe, which sits in south Songjiang District, has more than 1,700 years of history. But it is rarely known it was named after a military general during the Three Kingdoms Period.

Wushe, which is located in south Songjiang’s Maogang Town, has more than 1,700 years of history. But it is rarely known that the time-honored place was named after the former residence of Wu Yan, a military general of the state of the Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms Period (AD 220-280).

According to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, as the prefecture of Jianpin (a place near today’s Chongqing and Hubei Province), Wu refused to surrender and opened the city’s gate until he heard that Eastern Wu was conquered by Jin Dynasty (AD 265-420). Later he was appointed to several important positions by the emperor of Jin and earned good reputation among residents.

Many scholars in the later dynasties spoke highly of the general, considering him with talents both in pen and sword.

It is said that Wu often called his residence “Wu She,” which can be interpreted as both “Wu’s residence” or “my residence” in Chinese. As time went by, the name was misheard by locals as the “Wushe.” Though with the same pronunciation, the two characters used are different and represent “five villages,” but the name was passed on, according to local historical records, such as “Louxianzhi” compiled in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Wu had both civil and military talents, despite his humble origins. Wu’s skills were noticed and appreciated by Lu Kang, the famous general and last imperial chancellor of Eastern Wu. However, during the Three Kingdoms Period, promotion was largely decided by class and battle achievements, neither of which Wu had.

To promote Wu, without any disagreements from other generals, Lu set up a feast and ordered that no armor was allowed at the event. In the middle of the feast when everyone was drunk, a mad man broke into the tent with a knife. Nobody, including Wu, realized that the man was sent there by Lu. Almost everyone at the feast was terrified, with some running away, but Wu stood out and took down the madman, which earned him respect from the other generals. Lu later promoted Wu and subsequently won several major successes for the state in battles against Jin.

However, Sun Hao, the last emperor of Eastern Wu, was not a good ruler. His cruelty and extravagance triggered oppositions and complaints from the state. Before Lu’s death in AD 274, the imperial chancellor suggested to Sun several times to focus more on domestic matters and give the people a break from war, which were ignored by Sun.

At that time Jin’s general Wang Rui made warships in Shu area. Wu told Sun that Jin was about to invade Eastern Wu with the warships and proposed to increase troops in Jianping to defend the state, which Sun ignored.

Without support from the court, Wu resorted to make iron chains on the Yangtze River to block the waterway and set up traps under the river in the hope of stopping Jin’s warship. But after more preparation years later, Jin stormed Eastern Wu again with larger troops and the traps were broken and the iron chains were melted.

As Jin headed for Eastern Wu, towns and cities of Eastern Wu, along Yangtze River, either surrendered or got conquered by Jin. Only Jianpin, where Wu guarded, held out.

Unable to go through Jianpin, Jin’s army were forced to take a detour to the Stone City where Sun stayed. After Sun surrendered to Jin, Wu had to give up Jianpin and surrender too.

From the middle of Qing Dynasty, the place of Wushe gradually developed into a town, and from 1933 a new Wushe Town was set up by local residents near the old town. In 2001, Wushe Town was merged into Maogang Town.


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