Liu Bei (161 – 21 June 223) was a warlord, military general and later the founding emperor of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. Despite having a later start than his rivals and lacking both the material resources and social status they commanded, Liu Bei overcame his many defeats to carve out his own realm, which at its peak spanned modern day Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan, part of Hubei and part of Gansu.
Culturally, due to the popularity of the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong, Liu Bei is widely known as the ideal benevolent, humane ruler who cared for his people and selected good advisors for his government. His fictional character was a salutary example of a ruler who adhered to the Confucian set of moral values, such as loyalty and compassion. Historically, Liu Bei was a brilliant politician and leader whose skill was a remarkable demonstration of a Legalist. His political philosophy can best be described by the Chinese idiom "Confucian in appearance but Legalist in substance (Chinese: 儒表法裡; pinyin: rú biǎo fǎ lǐ)," a style of governing which had become the norm after the founding of the Han Dynasty.