The following account is based from Lou Guan Zhong's epic, Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Jiang Wei was the son of a minor official ruling a small city near the major city of Tianshui (T'ienshui) in northwestern China. He did not first show up in the novel until the later years of the history.

Originally Jiang Wei served the land of Wei under Cao Cao. He was made prefect of Chihsien, another small city near Tianshui, after the death of his father in battle. During one of Zhuge Liang's northern invasions, the Shu forces under Liang pushed north almost to Tianshui. Jiang Wei became pivotal in preventing the capture of Tianshui. He fought the great Shu general Zhao Yun (Chao Yun) to a standstill and saw through several of Zhuge Liang's plans, even tricking Liang himself.

Liang was determined to gain the services of Jiang Wei after this and he set a plan into motion. Zhuge Liang sent out three armies:

  1. Wei Yan was sent to Chihsien to pretend to attempt the capture of Jiang Wei's mother.
    1. Wei Yan was ordered to make a show of fighting Jiang Wei outside Chihsien, but was to actually let Jiang Wei into the city.
  2. Zhao Yun was sent to Shangkuei to take the supplies for Tianshui.
  3. Zhuge Liang himself camped slightly south of Tianshui.

Upon hearing of these movements, Jiang Wei begged to be given leave to return to his city. He met the forces of Wei Yan outside Chihsien, and attacked. Yan, after a short show of force pretended to retreat, and Jiang Wei quickly made his way into the city. Zhuge Liang upon hearing this, told a captured Wei general that Jiang Wei had defected to Shu; the prisoner was then released and sent on his way. On the way to Tianshui, he met "refugees" from Chihsien, who told him of the pillaging done by Shu after Jiang Wei's betrayal.

The released prisoner warned the prefect of Tianshui of the “betrayal”, though they both expressed disbelief, the fact of the refugees could not be discounted. Later that night Zhuge Liang, using a soldier disguised to look like Jiang Wei in the lead of the troops, ordered an attack Tianshui. The Prefect, seeing what he believed was Jiang Wei in the lead of the forces was forced to agree that the young strategist had indeed betrayed Wei.

Jiang Wei himself was still defending Chihsien from the Shu forces, but his food stores were too low to support his troops. When he spotted supplies being sent to the Shu forces under Wei Yan, Jiang Wei decided to risk a strike to gain them. His forces charged from the city, at which point the supply convoy fled, abandoning the food. Jiang Wei began to ferry the supplies back to the city. On the way he was surrounded by two Shu forces. His troops were decimated, and Jiang Wei was forced to flee back to the city. Unfortunately it was all a ploy; Wei Yan had used this time to seize Chihsien. Jiang Wei fought his way through the Shu forces, losing his last follower in the battle. Utterly alone, he fled for Tianshui.

Upon reaching the gates, Jiang Wei hailed the city but the prefect, having seen the fake Jiang Wei attacking Tianshui but days earlier ordered the archers to fire upon the lone horseman. Jiang Wei, crying tears of frustration was forced to flee the city.

As he fled into a nearby forest, Jiang Wei met up with Shu forces under Guan Xing and was forced to flee in a new direction. Very shortly a small group of soldiers appeared in front of him leading a chariot, carrying Zhuge Liang himself. Liang was dressed simply in his normal Taoist garb. He addressed Jiang Wei, asking if the other recognized that it was the time to surrender. Jiang Wei tired of running and with no place to go, accepted and offered his services to Shu.

Zhuge Liang now had his successor, a man worthy of the learnings of the master strategist himself. Jiang Wei had joined Shu.

Associated Writeups:

  1. Zhuge Liang
  2. Wei
  3. Shu

Note :: All names in parentheses () are alternate spellings, or in some cases familiar names that are used very often in the novel.

A quick note that won't be here forever. There are several biographies from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel that are MUCH too long. I have thus embarked on a new stage in compiling these at E2. Greatly important events will be split into new nodes to shorten some of the w/u's, also to begin in an undertaking aimed at elimating redundacy. At this point though Jiang Wei's biography does not eixst. Look for it soon.