Zhuge Liang's forefathers had been eminent servants of the state, but he was orphaned in youth. His ability and knowledge of statecraft were prominent, but he chose to farm his land in obscurity before Liu Bei won over him.
He helped Liu set up the kingdom of Shu in western China, in rivalry with the kingdoms of Wei and Wu after the disintegration of the Han dynasty.
He served both Liu Bei and his son and heir, Liu Chan, devotedly, and died on campaign trying to reconquer the land then occupied by Wei.
Through such works as the Sanguozhi Yanyi and popular operas, Zhuge Liang has become a legendary figure in Chinese culture.