Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bai Qi

Bai Qi was an outstanding military leader in the state of in the Warring States Period. Born in Mei . As a commander of for more than 30 years, Bai Qi slew a total of one million six hundred and fifty thousand soldiers, seized 70 cities of the other 6 States in the Warring States Period. No record has been found to show that he was defeated even once all through his military career.


He was promoted from Zuo Shu Zhang to Da Liang Zao by King Zhaoxiang of Qin. He had commanded wars against the states of , , and , seizing large areas from these states. In 278 BC, he led the army from Qin to capture Ying, capital of the state of Chu. In reward of this, he was titled as Sir Wu An , since he brought peace to Qin by conquering its enemies.

During the Battle of Changping in 260 BC, he succeeded Wang He as the commander of Qin army, and soon defeated army commanded by Zhao Kuo. Zhao army was split into two parts and its supply lines were cut off by Bai Qi. More than 400,000 Zhao soldiers, who surrendered after Zhao Kuo was shot down by Qin archers, was decided to be buried alive by Bai Qi.

In 257 BC, Qin had a defeat in Handan, capital of Zhao, the King of Qin ordered him to take over the army as a commander. Bai Qi, however, believed that it was not the correct time to attack Zhao, so he refused the command of the king with an excuse of his sickness. The Prime Minister of Qin, Fan Ju tried to persuade Bai Qi, but he failed. The king, therefore, had to use , another prominent military general of Qin, instead of Bai Qi, as the commander. Nevertheless, this decision did not help Qin army in the battle at all. After more than 5 months continuous defeat in Handan, the king asked Bai Qi to be the commander again. Bai Qi, who believed Qin cannot gain a victory in this battle, refused the request with the excuse of his sickness, once more. Having been refused several times, the King, who had become angry, removed all titles from Bai Qi and forced him to leave Xianyang, the capital of Qin. In addition, the prime minister of Qin, Fan Ju, feeling he had lost face by Bai Qi's refusals, made the King of Qin believe that Bai Qi would join another state as a general and become a threat to the State of Qin. Convinced by Fan Ju, the King of Qin then forced Bai Qi to commit suicide in Duyou .

Battles commanded

* Battle of Changping
* Battle of Yique

Fan Yuqi

Fan Yuqi , who lived during the Warring States period, was said to be a Qin general who betrayed his state. He escaped to the state of Yan and later committed suicide to aid the famous assassin Jing Ke in succeeding his assassination of Ying Zheng, the king of Qin.

In the TV drama series ''Assassinator Jing Ke'', Fan Yuqi was portrayed as a heroic Qin general who was forced to turn against his own state by Li Si. Also, Fan Yuqi and Jing Ke grew up together from childhood in the Lively Valley, and later went their ways.

Li Mu

Li Mu was arguably the last great general to have come from the during the Warring States period. After the death of Zhao She and the exile of Lian Po, two of Zhao's great generals; he assumed command of Zhao's overall security situation, which by this time was becoming extremely critical with the rapidly expanding to the west and the Xiongnu to the north. In the beginning Li Mu was more concerned with the incessant Hunnish raids on the Zhao border, and led several campaigns against them; later as the threat from Qin increased with the ascension of Qin Shi Huang, he turned his focus more to the western parts of Zhao.

The Zhao Kingdom, by this time, was merely a shadow of its former self. Its army was basically annihilated during the Battle of Changping, a blow which it never recovered from, unlike its victorious opponent Qin, it was diplomatically isolated from the Kingdoms of , and too weak to offer any king of support and and were more willing to see the kingdom extinguished than face the powerful Qin together. Most of its core territories had fallen to Qin earlier in the aftermath of Changping, with only several cities of note.

Li Mu, however, with such limited resources, could still hold out against the enemy forces; though, admittedly, he wasn't facing anyone who had anywhere near the talent of Bai Qi , however, judging from the situation, it was still no mean feat. So while Qin could romp around in Wei and Han, in the Zhao Kingdom, they had a much harder time pillaging.

Getting rid of Li Mu became a necessity if Qin ever hoped to conquer Zhao and unify China. So Qin sent spies to the Zhao court, bribing key courtiers in order to persuade the King of Zhao that Li Mu was planning to revolt and should be gotten rid of immediately. The plan succeeded brilliantly - Li Mu was arrested and soon executed on the king's orders.

With Li Mu's death the annexation of Zhao became inevitable. In about 10 years would fall and the State of Zhao would fade into history.

Lu Buwei

Lü Buwei was a Warring States Period merchant who schemed his way into governing the . He served as Chancellor of China for King Zhuangxiang of Qin, and as regent and Chancellor for the king's young son Zheng, who became Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Lü Buwei committed suicide after being implicated in plotting with the Queen Dowager and her "eunuch" lover. Lü notably sponsored an encyclopedic compendium of Hundred Schools of Thought philosophies, the 239 BCE ''Lüshi Chunqiu'' .


The primary sources of information about Lü Buwei date from the first century BCE: Sima Qian's ''Records of the Grand Historian'' and 's ''Zhan Guo Ce'' and ''Shuoyuan'' . Since these three Han Dynasty texts openly criticize both Lü and the Qin Dynasty, some alleged stories can be discounted. Note: the following English translations come from John Knoblock and Jeffrey Riegel's scholarly study of the ''Lüshi chunqiu''.

The ''Shiji'' biography of Lü Buwei says he was a native of the state of Wei who became a successful travelling merchant and earned "thousands of measures of gold." In 267 BCE, the first son of King Zhaoxiang of Qin died, and he made his second son, the Lord of Anguo , crown prince. Anguo promoted his concubine Lady Huayang , who was childless, as his primary wife. Anguo had more than 20 sons, and Prince Yiren , one of the middle-ranking ones, was sent as a Qin political hostage to the state of . When Lü was trading in the Zhao capital Handan, he met Yiren and said, "This is a rare piece of merchandise that should be saved for later."

The ''Zhanguoce'' has a story about Lü deciding to change careers from commerce to government.
On returning home, he said to his father, "What is the profit on investment that one can expect from plowing fields?"

"Ten times the investment," replied his father.

"And the return on investment in pearls and jades is how much?"

"A hundredfold."

"And the return on investment from establishing a ruler and securing the state would be how much?"

"It would be incalculable."
"Now if I devoted my energies to laboring in the fields, I would hardly get enough to clothe and feed myself; yet if I secure a state and establish its lord, the benefits can be passed on to future generations. I propose to go serve Prince Yiren of Qin who is hostage in Zhao and resides in the city of Jiao."

Using Machiavellian bribes and machinations, Lü arranged for Yiren to return home and be adopted as the son and heir of Lady Huayang. She changed his name to Prince Chu because she was from the southern state of .

The ''Shiji'' says Lü had a beautiful "dancing girl" in his household, with whom Chu became so infatuated that he asked for her. Lü reluctantly presented his courtesan to the prince, and they returned to Handan. In 259 BCE, she had a son named Zheng , who eventually unified China and became the first Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The ''Shiji'' alleges that the biological father was Lü not Chu. After the death of King Zhaoxiang, Anguo was enthroned as King Xiaowen of Qin, but he died after a reign of only three months . His widow Huayang became Queen Dowager, and her adopted son, Prince Chu became King Zhuangxiang of Qin in 250. He appointed Lü Buwei as Prime Minister or Chancellor of China and enfeoffed him with "an income of 100,000 households in Luoyang." Lü consolidated power in Qin and oversaw several military conquests of neighboring states. When King Zhuangxiang died in 247 BCE, the 13-year-old Prince Zheng was enthroned. He reappointed Lü as Chancellor and called him "Uncle".

As chancellor and regent, Lü dominated the Qin government and military. He invited famous scholars from all over China to the Qin capital Xianyang, and they compiled an encyclopedic compendium of early Chinese philosophical systems, the ''Lüshi Chunqiu'' .

The ''Shiji'' says the Queen Dowager pursued many illicit sexual activities, and Lü,
fearing that discovery would cause disaster to befall him, secretly sought a man with a large penis, Lao Ai , whom he made his retainer. Sometimes he would have music performed and order Lao Ai to put his penis through a wheel of paulownia wood and walk about, making certain that the queen dowager would hear about it to entice her. The queen dowager did hear about it and consequently secretly desired to obtain him. Lü Buwei thereupon introduced Lao Ai to her. Deviously ordering someone to accuse Lao Ai of a crime punishable by castration, Lü also privately told the queen dowager, "If we can fake the castration, we can make him a servant in the harem." The queen dowager therewith covertly gave a generous bribe to the officer charged with castrations to falsely sentence him and to pluck out his eyebrows and beard to make him appear a eunuch. As a result, he was made a servant of the queen dowager.

The queen fell in love with Lao and had him appointed Marquis of Shanyang. After she became pregnant, he recklessly took control of the Qin government.

The ''Shuoyuan'' says,
Lao Ai had sole power over the affairs of state and grew increasingly arrogant and extravagant. The high officials and honored ministers of government all drank and gambled with him. Once when he got drunk, he began to speak belligerently. In a provocative fashion, eyes glaring with anger, he bellowed" "I am the stepfather of the emperor. How dare some wretch oppose me!" One of those with whom he had quarreled ran to report this to the emperor, who was outraged.

The emperor learned that Lao Ai was not really a eunuch, and had plotted with the queen to make their illegitimate son become successor. After an attempted 238 BCE revolt failed, the queen was exiled and Lao Ai was executed, along with three generations of his relatives, including their two sons who were put into sacks and beaten to death. Rather than execute the influential Lü, the emperor demoted and banished him to . Lü feared eventual execution and "drank poison" in 235 BCE. As a result of the Lao Ai affair, the emperor removed power from most of Lü Buwei's foreign scholars and restored it to the hereditary Qin aristocracy. After his death, the Lüshi Chunqiu fell out of favor with the Qin Empire, but was resurrected by the Qin's long-lived successor, the Han Dynasty.

Koblock and Riegel describe the Western and Chinese historical perspectives of Lü Buwei.
Lü engineered the succession of a minor prince to the throne of Qin; and when that prince died after a few months on the throne, Lü became regent for his young son, the future First Emperor of Qin. In the West, we would regard Lü as a merchant-prince, a patron of culture and literature, an eminent statesman and wise counselor, a kind of Medici prince who influenced not merely Florence and Italy, but all of European civilization. But in China the facts of Lü's life, together with the fact that he was from the despised merchant class, condemned Lü in the eyes of the Han literati. They considered Qin and its unification of China an unmitigated evil. So Lü was in their eyes a parvenu and a fraud whose schemes had made possible Qin's evil. He was a baleful figure, richly deserving of condemnation and eminently worthy of ridicule and calumny.


*Lü Buwei is a major character in the 1999 movie ''The Emperor and the Assassin'', which focuses on the events just before the unification of China by Qin Shi Huang. The true nature of the relationship between the future Emperor and Lü Buwei is a major plot point in the story.
*Lü Buwei is played by Kwok Fung in the 2001 TVB television series ''A Step into the Past'', which is based on a Wuxia novel by Huang Yi. In the series, Ying Zheng is Lü's biological son, but the revelation is that Zheng had already died in his youth. A young man called Zhao Pan takes the dead man's identity, with the help of Hong Siu Lung and together they defeat the menacing Lü. Zhao Pan reveals his true identity to a shocked Lü in the finale episode and kills him.
*Lü Buwei is a major character in the popular historical fiction series '''' by French author José Frèches.
*The story is retold in graphic form, partly framed as a romance comic, in the second volume of The Cartoon History of the Universe.

Meng Tian

Meng Tian was a general of the Qin Dynasty who distinguished himself against the Xiongnu and in the construction of the Great Wall of China.He descended from a great line of military generals and architects.

By the time the Qin Dynasty conquered the other six states and began its reign over a unified China in 221 B.C., the nomadic ethnic Xiongnu had grown into a powerful invading force in the north and started expanding both east and west.
Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, sent a 300,000-strong army headed by General Meng Tian to drive the Xiongnu northward for 350 km and built the Great Wall to guard against its invasion.

Meng Tian's ingenuity can be seen in the efficient building policy, the consideration of topography, and the utilisation of natural barriers. Meng Tian supervised the construction of a road system linking the former Yan, Qi, Wu and Chu areas, as well as number of roads especially for imperial use. The system eventually formed played an extremely important role in ancient transportation and economic exchanges.

He is also regarded as the inventor of "Ink brush" and is memorized at "Huzhou Pen Festival". When the emperor Qin Shi Huang died, Meng's death was brought about through the plotting of Zhao Gao. He was forced to commit suicide, and his family was killed. Three years after his death, the Qin Dynasty collapsed.

Wang Jian (Qin)

Wang Jian , a military leader of Qin in the Warring States Period. He was born in Guanzhong county, city of Pinyang, Dongxiang village .

Major Achievement

He led the Qin army in seizing Handan, the capital city of the State of Zhao; Defeated Yan , Zhao and Chu . He along with Bai Qi, Lian Po and Li Mu were called the most prestigious 4 generals in the Warring States Period.

Conquest of Chu, 225-223 BCE

In 225 BCE, only two states remained independent, Chu and Qi. The , Ying Zheng, decided to first defeat the strongest state, Chu. However, the first invasion was a disaster when northern style Qin troops were defeated by 500,000 Chu troops in the unfamiliar territory of Huaiyang, modern-day northern Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. The Qin general was Li Xing, who was inexperienced.

In 224 BCE, the older general, Wang Jian, was recalled to lead a second invasion with 600,000 men. Chu's morale was greatly increased after their success in defeating the seemingly invincible army of Qin the year before. The Chu forces were content to sit back and defend and believed it was Qin's intention to besiege Chu. However, Wang Jian tricked the Chu forces by appearing to play around in his fortifications but secretly training his troops to fight in Chu territory. After a year, Chu decided to disband its massive army due to inaction. Wang Jian invaded at the best moment with full force to overrun Huaiyang and the remaining Chu forces. During their peak sizes, both armies of Chu and Qin combined numbered over 1,000,000 troops, more than the massive battle of Changping between Qin and Zhao 35 years before. The excavated personal letters of two Qin regular soldiers, Hei Fu and Jin, tell of a protracted campaign in Huaiyang under general Wang Jian. Both soldiers wrote letters requesting supplies and money from home to sustain the long waiting campaign.

Thus, Qin effectively unified China . Ying Zheng became Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China a few years later.

Zhang Han (general)

Zhang Han was a general of the Qin Dynasty.


Zhang Han defeated the peasant rebellion led by Chen Sheng and Wu Guang in 208 BC. Zhao Xie , the Prince of Zhao, and Zhang Er then led the remnants of the rebel forces to occupy Julu. Zhang Han consequently led a siege of Julu with 200,000 troops. The siege was relieved by Xiang Yu in the famous battle of Julu .

In this battle, Xiang Yu destroyed his own army's cooking pots, scuttled his own army's boats, and gave only three days' of rations to his own army. Due to these actions, the fighting spirits of Xiang Yu's army were at its greatest. Subsequently, Xiang Yu's army defeated Zhang Han in nine battles without loss. Zhang Han then retreated to defend Jiyuan. He sent Sima Xin to seek reinforcements from the Qin dynasty.

After reinforcements from the Qin dynasty failed to arrive due to the machinations of Zhao Gao , Zhang Han surrendered his army of 200,000 Qin troops to Xiang Yu in 207 BC. While Zhang Han was allowed to live, his troops were ordered to be buried alive. Zhang Han was then made Prince of . Together with two other surrendered Qin generals, Sima Xin, Prince of Sai and Dong Yi, Prince of Zhai , they were served as a buffer and guard to Liu Bang in Hanzhong and known as Three Qin in Chinese history. Han Xin defeated Zhang Han's forces with a shrewd tactics in 205 BC and Zhang were asked to surrender. Zhang Han did not want to dishonour himself by surrendering twice to two different factions in his life time, and committed suicide.