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Portrait of the general Zhou Yu from a Qing Dynasty block print illustration edition of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Zhou Yu, style name Gongjin, was a military general and strategist serving under the warlord Sun Ce, who is Sun Jian's son, in the late Eastern Han Dynasty. He continued serving under Sun Quan (Sun Ce's younger brother and successor) after Sun Ce died in 200 CE. Around late 208, the northern warlord Cao Cao led his forces south with the intention of conquering the Jiangdong region (where Sun Quan's territories were based), but was defeated by Sun's forces under Zhou Yu's command at the decisive Battle of Red Cliffs. Zhou Yu served as the frontline commander of Sun Quan's forces at the Battle of Jiangling (a follow-up to Red Cliffs) and defeated Cao Cao's forces again. Zhou Yu's victories helped to solidify the survivability of Sun Quan's regime, which would serve as the foundation of the state of Eastern Wu in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). He died in 210 at a relatively young age of 35 while preparing for a conquest of the Bashu region (covering present-day Sichuan and Chongqing).