Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Zhao Kuo

Zhao Kuo was a general, son of the more famous Zhao She, during the epic Battle of Changping between the States of and in ancient China.

Zhao Kuo was sent, on the orders of King Xiaowen of Zhao to the battlefield to replace the previous general, the famous commander Lian Po. The King, under the influence of several of his courtiers , and heedless of the advice given by his most important minister, Lin Xiangru, was dissatisfied by Lian's defensive strategy: while Lian Po was in command, he set up camp, built forts, and stayed in them, not responding to any of the enemy's taunts or lures designed to get his army out onto the field. This dragged on for several years, and the King felt that the time for decisive action had come.

As soon as Zhao Kuo's mother heard that he was going off to the front, she immediately went to the King and told him this tale: one day, when the late Zhao She and Zhao Kuo were talking military tactics and playing Chinese chess, she was amazed to see the son beating the more experienced father every single time. However, Zhao She was not impressed. When asked why, Zhao She said, "This boy treats a battle like a game of chess, his men like mere pawns that can be sacrificed at will. He has no idea what real warfare is like! He can never command an army."

However, her tale was ignored by the King. On the other hand, when Bai Qi knew of the replacement, he laughed and told his men that the battle was won. When the Qin king heard of it, he immediately went to the nearby provinces, bestowed one noble rank on all of the citizenry there, and then ordered every single man over the age of 15 to go and assist the Qin cause.

With Zhao Kuo now in control of the largest force Zhao had ever mustered, numbering about 400,000 men, he decided to attack the Qin forts, confident of his strength in numbers. At first the offensive went extremely well: many Qin forts fell and for a moment it seemed as if Bai Qi was going to admit defeat. Seeing this Zhao Kuo became haughty and complacent.

What he didn't know was that Bai Qi had planned all this in order to encircle and annihilate the entire Zhao force. Bai Qi had decided that, in order to defeat the large Zhao army, the best method would be to trap them, and slowly starve them to death. And with the Zhao army in the command of the over aggressive Zhao Kuo, who only sees victory and not defeat, the timing was perfect. Now with the enemy deep inside the trap planned by Bai Qi, Bai Qi sent elite cavalry brigades to take the lightly defended Zhao fortresses back in Changping. Zhao Kuo was trapped, with most of his force, in a tiny area.

With food and water supplies being cut off by the Qin army, Zhao Kuo's force slowly began to thirst and starve. After 30 days of torture, a desperate Zhao Kuo finally ordered a general breakout. It was already too late. Qin forces had by this point totally outnumbered their Zhao foes, and a general massacre ensued as the weakened Zhao soldiers were cut down by the fresh Qin troops. Zhao Kuo himself was shot down by Qin archers.

Thus with Zhao Kuo's death the lives of 400,000 people, and the hopes of a nation, went down with him as well.

Wu Qi

Wu Qi was a military leader and politician in the Warring States period. Born in the State of Wei , he was good at leading an army. He had served in the states of Lu and Wei. In the state of Wei he commanded many great battles and was appointed Xihe Shou . Later he went to the State of Chu, after he was estranged from his lord, and forced into exile, and was appointed Prime Minister by King Dao of Chu . He led the feudal revolution in Chu and made Chu a strong state at that time. The revolution had enraged the old nobility in Chu and he was killed after the death of King Dao of Chu.

Wu's reforms, started in about 389 BC, were generally aimed at changing the atmosphere in the Chu court, with the nobility and officials being terribly corrupt and the huge expenses the government had to pay out to sustain them and a horde of other, minor officials. Wu first lowered the annual pay of the Chu officials, then dismissed officials who were useless, lazy or simply had no meaningful task to do. He used the money to create and train a more professional army.

Another of Wu's deeds was to move all the nobles to the borders, away from the capital: it could reduce their power and at the same time it could populate those areas, making them more useful to the Chu government. He is also credited with thinking up a set of building codes in Ying, in order to make the city look less "barbaric".

Although his reforms soon started to make Chu a powerful country, the nobles and Daoists of Chu hated him. Nobles accused him of trying to change the old ways, and even managed to find fault with the building codes. Daoists accused him of being a "warmonger" and an "admirer of force and weaponry", even going as far as to say that he was "a threat to humanity". He was also known for not returning to mourn when his mother passed away and for murdering his own wife in order to gain trust from the ruler of the state of Lu.

Chu's prowess was quickly seen during that period: in 381 BC, Chu annexed both the and states, defeated the state in the south and the two Weis in the north, dealing with each in quick succession. However, King Diao died that same year. Old nobles plotted to assassinate Wu Qi at King Diao's funeral, where he would be separated from the army. Wu Qi spotted the bowmen assassins, and rushed to the King Diao's dead body. He was killed, but many arrows struck in the dead King's body. The new King Su of the Chu furious at his father's body being mutilated, ordered all nobles involved to be executed, along with their families.

His military work, '''' was included in ''Seven Military Classics''.

Wen Zhong (Spring and Autumn)

Wen Zhong was an advisor in the state of in the Spring and Autumn Period. He was a native of Ying .

After Yue was defeated in 494 BC, he corrupted Bo Pi in order to make peace with the state of . During King Goujian of Yue was in Wu as hostage, he governed Yue. Goujian started a reform after his coming back. After the decisive victory against Wu, he was killed by his King Goujian, who thought it was dangerous to keep politicians after wartime.

Sun Bin

Sun Bin was a military strategist who lived during the Warring States Period in ancient China. Born in , he was a member of a local Sun family famed for producing military strategists. He is considered a descendant of Sun Tzu, and may have helped edit ''The Art of War''. He also wrote his own military treatise, the ''Sun Bin Bing Fa'', that after being lost for almost 2000 years.


Sun Bin was recognized for his military brilliance at an early age which he studied as a student of Master Guiguzi, a hermit who is skilled in military strategies, Sun Bin managed to recite Sun Tzu's Art of War by heart, which made Master Guiguzi remark that he was a learned man which all his other disciples could match up towards. Pang Juan, a fellow student who was jealous of Sun Bin, plotted to bring Sun Bin to ruin. During those days, the kingdom of Wei needed a military commander skilled in military strategies, King Hui appointed Pang as a minister in , Pang Juan enticed Sun Bin to go to Wei, then plotted to ruin Sun Bin. Sun Bin was , having his kneecaps removed; ''bin'' is a reference to the knees or the practice of mutilation by removing one's knees. In ancient China, mutilation was an ignominious event and generally caused a person to be shunned by society for life; after the mutilation, Sun Bin's career should have effectively been over.

Sun Bin later escaped to Qi by help from his friend. His military skills were recognized, and he came to serve under . He formed a strong partnership with the head military commander Tian Ji. Sun Bin could not be the head military commander of the Qi army, even though Tian Ji and the King had begged him to, for his mutilated legs could not allow him to ride on horseback, a practise all commanders had to undertake. So, both Tian Ji and the King decided to make him head advisor of the army. Tian Ji also managed to convince the King to create a rule stating all commands given by Sun Bin had to be obeyed, even though the commands didn't have to be. This was exactly how skilled and respected Sun Bin was, mainly because he memorized the book "The Art of War".

The pair defeated the state of at the Battle of Guiling against forces led by Pang Juan. When Tian Ji was banished from Qi due to court politics, Sun Bin followed him into exile to . After Sun Bin sent letters to the King, he immediately recalled Tian Ji and Sun Bin. Sun Bin and Tian Ji later defeated again at the Battle of Maling. He later resigned from his job and became a hermit preventing himself to succumb to Premier Zou Ji's political persecution.

''Sun Bin Bing Fa''

The ''Sun Bin Bing Fa'' is considered to be a text of military treatise written by Sun Bin. After the Han Dynasty, this text was considered to be lost. Although there were numerous references to the ''Sun Bin Bing Fa'' from post-contemporary texts, some historians later came to believe that the text was never written or simply a forgery. In April of 1972, archaeologists discovered a tomb in Linyi, Shandong Province, that contained buried during the Han Dynasty. Among the scrolls was a copy of the ''Sun Bin Bing Fa''.

Although ancient texts mention that the original ''Sun Bin Bing Fa'' contained 89 chapters, the rediscovered copy contains only sixteen verifiable chapters. Since the tomb also contained fragments of the ''Art of War'', some chapters might actually be lost chapters from the ''Art of War'' instead.

The newly discovered text provides historians with a different perspective on the Battle of Guiling and the Battle of Maling. In addition, the ''Sun Bin Bing Fa'' shows one major strategic divergence from the ''Art of War''; while Sun Tzu advised against siege warfare, the ''Sun Bin Bing Fa'' contains numerous stratagems for assaulting a sieged city. This paralleled a shift in strategic consideration of siege warfare during the later stages of the Warring States Period.

Shi Hui (Duke of Fan)

Shi Hui was the courtesy name of Fan WuZi, a general during the . He became the Duke of Fan and the Duke of Sui. This ministerial family had established prominence by 593 BCE but died out by 490 BCE after 5 generations.

The line of descent is as given in the table below:

Lian Po

Lian Po was a prominent military General of during the Warring States period of China. Bai Qi, Wang Jian, Li Mu and he were commonly known as the Four Greatest Generals in Warring States.

In Lian Po's early years, he had victories in the wars against and . During the Battle of Changping, he became the commander of Zhao. Deciding not to risk his forces by engaging in open battle with the Qin, under their brilliant general Bai Qi, Lian Po instead built a series of forts along the Changping area, successfully stopping the invasion of Qin. However, King Xiaocheng of Zhao , under the persuasion of many courtiers became dissatisfied with Lian Po's strategy, and decided to replace him with Zhao Kuo . Being the son of another famous Zhao general, Zhao She, Zhao Kuo discarded Lian Po's cautious, defensive strategy and attacked with full strength. As a consequence, he was defeated, and Zhao never returned to prominence.

After the Battle of Changping, Lian Po became the commander of Zhao army again to stop the invasion of . He defeated Yan army, but in his late years, he was distrusted by the King of Zhao. Therefore he decided to escape to Wei, and then .

He died in Shouchun, the capital of the Chu state, living long enough to see the gradual demise of the country he once served.

Lin Xiangru, a minister of Zhao, was disliked by Lian Po, because of his rapid rise to power and genius. But Lin Xiangru, in several famous incidents, took great steps to avoid Lian Po; in one case he even turned from Lian Po's carriage rather than block the great general's route. Eventually, all this began to cause shame and embarrassment to Lian Po, and he carried sharp brambles on his shoulder without clothing and asked Lin Xiangru to forgive him. Afterwards, they became good friends.

Jiang Ziya

Jiang Ziya was a Chinese historical and legendary figure who resided next to the about 3,000 years ago. The region was the feudal estate of King Wen of . Jiang Ziya knew King Wen was very ambitious, so he hoped to get the king's attention and gain a position in his court.

He often went angling at the Weishui River, but he would fish in a bizarre way. He hung a straight hook, with no bait, three feet above the water. He over and over again said to himself, "Fish, if you are desperate to live, come and gulp down the hook by yourself."

Word of his outlandish way of fishing spread and it soon reached King Wen, who sent a soldier to bring Jiang to him. Jiang noticed the soldier coming, but paid no attention to him. He just continued with his fishing, and was soliloquising, "Fishing, fishing, no fish has been hooked—but shrimp is up to tomfoolery." The soldier reported this back to King Wen, who became more interested in Jiang.

King Wen then sent a bureaucrat to invite Jiang to appear at court. But again Jiang paid no attention to the invitation. He simply carried on fishing, saying, "Fishing, fishing, the big fish has not been hooked—but a small one is up to mischief."

Then King Wen went by himself and greeted him courteously and then asked:" Do you take pleasure in fishing?"
Jiang said:" Man of true worth takes pleasure in realizing his ambitions; the common man takes pleasure in doing his best for his affairs. My fishing is very much like it."

After conversations King Wen realized Jiang might be a great genius so he went to invite Jiang personally, and brought many magnificent gifts with him. Jiang saw the king's earnest interest in him and agreed to work for him.

Jiang aided King Wen and his son in their overthrow of the Shang Dynasty; they established the Zhou Dynasty in its stead. Jiang was given the title ''hao'' of Taigong so people called him Jiang Taigongwang. This was later shortened to Jiang Taigong.
His treatise on military strategy, Six Secret Strategic Teachings, is considered one of the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China.

As the most notably Prime Minister, he evidentially declared as "the master of strategy"--resulting in the Zhou government growing far stronger than that of Shang Dynasty as the years elapsed.

Jiang Ziya's seventh generation descendant was Jiang Chi . Jiang Chi had a great-grandson named Shi , who was given a piece of land in Shandong province called "Lu" . He took his surname from the land. All Chinese with the last name Lu can trace their ancestry back to Jiang Ziya.

In modern Jiang Ziya is regarded as one of the greatest strategists in both Chinese history, alongside Zhang Liang, and the world.

In popular culture

He is a prominent character in the popular Chinese classic novel ''Creation of the Gods'' .

There are two ''xiehouyu'' about him:
*Grand Duke Jiang fishes - those who are willing jump at the bait , which means "put one's own head in the noose".
*Grand Duke Jiang investiture the gods - omitting himself , which means "leave out oneself".

In the scenario "Chinese Unification" of the Civilization IV: Warlords expansion pack, Jiang Ziya is the leader of the State of Qi.

The protagonist of ''Hoshin Engi'' is based on Jiang Ziya.

Jiang Ziya is also Da Ji's arch-rival .

Jiang Ziya is a playable character in Koei's Warriors Orochi 2. In the game he is called Taigong Wang. Unlike in history he portrays as a young and handsome man. The reason for his design as a young and handsome man may be to make him more of "arch-rival" to Da Ji as she is always portrayed as a young and beautiful woman.