Warring States Period
Overview
 
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 under the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

, following the Spring and Autumn Period, although the Zhou Dynasty ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the Warring States period.
Encyclopedia
The Warring States Period , also known as the Era of Warring States, or the Warring Kingdoms period, covers the Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 period from about 475 BC to the reunification of China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 under the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

, following the Spring and Autumn Period, although the Zhou Dynasty ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the Warring States period. During these periods, the Chinese sovereign
Chinese sovereign
Chinese sovereign is the ruler of a particular period in ancient China. Several titles and naming schemes have been used throughout history.-Emperor Title:...

 (king of the Zhou Dynasty) was merely a figurehead
Figurehead
A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and 19th century.-History:Although earlier ships had often had some form of bow ornamentation A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and...

.

The name Warring States Period was derived from the Record of the Warring States, a work compiled early in the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

. The date for the beginning of the Warring States Period is disputed. While it is frequently cited as 475 BC (following the Spring and Autumn Period), 403 BC, the date of the tripartite Partition of Jin
Partition of Jin
The Partition of Jin , the watershed between the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, refers to the division of the State of Jin between rival families into the three states of Han, Zhao and Wei....

, is also considered as the beginning of the period.

The Seven Warring States
Seven Warring States
The Seven Warring States or Seven Kingdoms refers to the seven warring states in China during the Warring States period of Chinese history...

 were: Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 in the west, in the lower Wei River
Wei River
The Wei River is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization....

 valley "within the passes"
Guanzhong
Guanzhong , or Guanzhong Plain, is a historical region of China corresponding to the lower valley of the Wei River. It is called Guanzhong or 'within the passes' to distinguish it from 'Guandong' or 'east of the pass', that is, the North China Plain. The North China Plain is bordered on the west by...

; Chu
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

, on the southern frontier around the middle Yangzi River; Qi
Qi (state)
Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

 to the east in Shandong
Shandong
' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

; Yan
Yan (state)
Yān was a state during the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. Its capital was Ji...

, in the far northeast near Beijing; and in the center, from south to north, Han
Han (state)
Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

, Wei
Wei (state)
The State of Wei was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong...

, and Zhao
Zhao (state)
Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

.

Culture

The Warring States Period was an era when regional warlords annexed smaller states around them and consolidated their power. The process began in the Spring and Autumn Period, and by the 3rd century BC, seven major states had emerged as the dominant powers in China. Another indicator for the shift in power was the change in the title used by the rulers of the states. They were initially addressed as "dukes" (公), a sign that they were vassals of the Chinese sovereign (the King of the Zhou Dynasty), but later they called themselves "kings" (王), putting them on par with the Chinese sovereign.

The Warring States Period saw the proliferation of iron working
History of ferrous metallurgy
The history of ferrous metallurgy began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 5th millennium BC in Iran and 2nd millennium BC in China, were made from meteoritic iron-nickel. It is not known when or where the smelting of iron from ores began, but by the end of the...

 in China, replacing bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 as the dominant type of metal used in warfare. Areas such as Shu
Shu (state)
The State of Shu was an ancient state in what is now Sichuan, China. It was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. Shu was based on the Chengdu Plain, in the western Sichuan basin with some extension northeast to the upper Han River valley. To the east was the Ba tribal confederation. Further east down the...

 (present-day Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

) and Yue
Yue (state)
Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

 (present-day Zhejiang
Zhejiang
Zhejiang is an eastern coastal province of the People's Republic of China. The word Zhejiang was the old name of the Qiantang River, which passes through Hangzhou, the provincial capital...

) were also brought into the Chinese cultural sphere during this time. Different philosophies, known as the Hundred Schools of Thought
Hundred Schools of Thought
The Hundred Schools of Thought were philosophers and schools that flourished from 770 to 221 BC during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period , an era of great cultural and intellectual expansion in China...

, developed in this period. The most notable schools of thought include those of Mencius
Mencius
Mencius was a Chinese philosopher who was arguably the most famous Confucian after Confucius himself.-Life:Mencius, also known by his birth name Meng Ke or Ko, was born in the State of Zou, now forming the territory of the county-level city of Zoucheng , Shandong province, only thirty kilometres ...

, Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu
Sun Wu , style name Changqing , better known as Sun Tzu or Sunzi , was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who is traditionally believed, and who is most likely, to have authored The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy...

, Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi, Han Feizi, Xun Zi
Xun Zi
Xun Zi was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who lived during the Warring States Period and contributed to one of the Hundred Schools of Thought. Xun Zi believed man's inborn tendencies need to be curbed through education and ritual, counter to Mencius's view that man is innately good...

 and Mozi
Mozi
Mozi |Lat.]] as Micius, ca. 470 BC – ca. 391 BC), original name Mo Di , was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period . Born in Tengzhou, Shandong Province, China, he founded the school of Mohism, and argued strongly against Confucianism and Daoism...

. Trade
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

 also became important, and some merchants had considerable power in politics.

Warfare in the Warring States Period was also different from the Spring and Autumn Period, as most armies made use of infantry and cavalry in battles, and the use of chariot
Chariot (Ancient China)
The ancient Chinese chariot was used as an attack and pursuit vehicle on the open fields and plains of Ancient China during the Shang The ancient Chinese chariot was used as an attack and pursuit vehicle on the open fields and plains of Ancient China during the Shang The ancient Chinese chariot ...

s became less widespread. The use of massed infantry made warfare more bloody and reduced the importance of the aristocracy which in turn made the kings more despotic. From this period onward, as the various states competed with each other by mobilizing their armies to war, nobles in China belonged to the literate class, rather than to the warrior class as had previously been the case.

This period is most famous for the establishment of complex bureaucracies and centralized governments, as well as a clearly established legal system. The developments in political and military organization were the basis of the power of the Qin state, which conquered the other states and unified them under the Qin Empire
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 in 221 BC.

Background and Outline

When the Zhou Dynasty was founded in 1046 BC, the land was divided into hereditary fiefs. After 771 the Zhou king was reduced to a figurehead and real power was held by 150 or more vassal states. During this Spring and Autumn Period (771-480 BC) the smaller states were gradually absorbed by the larger ones. By about 550 there were only four major powers: Qin (west), Jin (west-center), Qi (east) and Chu (south). Most of the remaining small states were between Jin and Qi.
  • circa 450-350 BC: Affairs are dominated by the three fragments of Jin, especially Wei.
  • circa 350-250 BC: the main period of conflict. The states ruined each other in increasingly violent conflicts, leaving only Qin.
  • circa 250-221 BC: Qin conquers all the other states, founding the Qin Dynasty
    Qin Dynasty
    The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

    .
  • In more detail: 453: Jin (center) splits into Zhao,Wei and Han; 383: Zhao vs. Wei; The states were seriously defeated in the following years: 340: Wei (center); 284: Qi (east); 278: Chu (south); 260: Zhao (north-center). 256: Zhou kingship abolished; 230-221: Qin conquers all the other states.

Military geography

At this time Chinese civilization was based in the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 basin and was slowly expanding south to the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

.
  • Qin (west): The State of Qin
    Qin (state)
    The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

    was in the far west, in the Wei River
    Wei River
    The Wei River is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization....

     valley within its natural fortress
    Guanzhong
    Guanzhong , or Guanzhong Plain, is a historical region of China corresponding to the lower valley of the Wei River. It is called Guanzhong or 'within the passes' to distinguish it from 'Guandong' or 'east of the pass', that is, the North China Plain. The North China Plain is bordered on the west by...

    .
  • The Three Jins (center): Northeast of Qin, on the Shanxi
    Shanxi
    ' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

     plateau, were the three fragments of Jin: Zhao
    Zhao (state)
    Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

    (north), Wei
    Wei (state)
    The State of Wei was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong...

    (center) and Han
    Han (state)
    Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

    (south). Wei was the strongest and Han held the east-west stretch of the Yellow River that was the military gateway into Qin. The three states tended to expand eastward.
  • Qi (east): On the highlands and peninsula of Shandong
    Shandong
    ' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

    , was the wealthy State of Qi.
  • Chu (south): The State of Chu
    Chu (state)
    The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

    was in the south along the Yangtze. It had the largest land area but much of this was undeveloped frontier.
  • Yan (northeast): Near Beijing
    Beijing
    Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

     was the relatively weak State of Yan
    Yan (state)
    Yān was a state during the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. Its capital was Ji...

    . Late in the period Yan pushed northeast and began to occupy the Liaodong Peninsula.

  • Others: On the southeast coast near Shanghai
    Shanghai
    Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

     was the minor State of Yue
    Yue (state)
    Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

    . In the far southwest in Sichuan
    Sichuan
    ' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

     were the States of Ba
    Ba (state)
    Ba was an ancient state in eastern Sichuan, China. Its original capital was Yicheng , Hubei. Ba was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. The modern ethnic minority Tujia people trace some of their origins back to the Ba people....

     and Shu
    Shu (state)
    The State of Shu was an ancient state in what is now Sichuan, China. It was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. Shu was based on the Chengdu Plain, in the western Sichuan basin with some extension northeast to the upper Han River valley. To the east was the Ba tribal confederation. Further east down the...

    . These were non-Zhou states that were conquered by Qin late in the period. Between Shandong and Shanxi (literally 'Mountain-east' and 'Mountain-west'), that is, between Qi and the Three Jins, was the central plain with its dense population and many small states.

Nobles, Bureaucrats and Reformers

As in any feudal system there was a danger that power would become decentralized. The multi-state system itself was created when the Zhou king lost power to his nobles. In Jin the duke killed off many of his kinsmen who held subordinate fiefs and replaced them with appointees. These new men formed clans and began to fight among themselves. By 453 the state was effectively divided between three clans (Zhao, Wei and Han), a fact that was formally recognized by the Zhou king in 403. In Qi the Dian clan gained such power that it overthrew the original ducal family. In the smaller states of Lu and Song, nobles held much of the power. Conversely, if a duke wished to strengthen his state, he would need to weaken the nobles and rule by appointed officials. Since these people were appointed they could, and did, move from one state to another. Perhaps the most important of these reforming bureaucrats was Shang Yang who imposed a highly centralized and authoritarian system on the state of Qin.

The Partition of Jin (453 and 403 BC)

From about 607 BC the Jin dukes began to lose power to their nobles. By 523 the state was controlled by six clans. Two clans were eliminated by 475 and another in 453. In 403 the Zhou king recognized the three remaining clans as independent marquisates: Zhao
Zhao (state)
Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

 in the north, Wei
Wei (state)
The State of Wei was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong...

 in the center and Han
Han (state)
Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

 in the south. This left seven great powers: the three remaining great powers, the three fragments of Jin and Yan in the northeast. Although divided, the "three Jins" remained powerful, especially when they cooperated.

The three Jins: alliance and conflict (453-368 BC)

During the first 50 years the division of Jin allowed the other states to expand, Chu and Yue northward and Qi southward. Qin increased its control of the local tribes and began its expansion southwest to Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

.

From before 405 until 383 the three Jins were united under the leadership of Wei and expanded in all directions. The most important figure was Marquess Wen of Wei
Marquess Wen of Wei
Marquess Wen of Wei was the first Marquess to rule the State of Wei during the Warring States Period of Chinese history . Born Jī Sī , he was the son of Wèi Huán-zǐ . He became ruler of Wei in 445 BCE and in 424 BCE adopted the title of “Marquess”...

 (445-396). In 408-406 he conquered the State of Zhongshan
Zhongshan (state)
Zhongshan was a Di state created by the nomadic Xianyu tribe in China during the later Zhou Dynasty, in the Chinese written sources it is referred to as a state of the Bai Di .)...

 to the northeast on the other side of Zhao. At the same time he pushed west across the Yellow River to the Luo River
Luo River
Luo River may refer to:*Luo River , river in Henan, China*Luo River , river in Shaanxi, China*Lô River, river in Vietnam...

 taking the area of Xihe (literally 'west of the [Yellow] river').

The growing power of Wei caused Zhao to back away from the alliance. In 383 it moved its capital to Handan
Handan
Handan is a prefecture-level city located in the southwestern part of Hebei Province of China.- History :Handan was the capital of the State of Zhao during the Warring States period , after the capital moved from Zhongmu. The city was conquered by the State of Qin after the virtual annexation of...

 and attacked the small state of Wey
Wei (Spring and Autumn Period)
This article is about the State of Wei founded during the Spring and Autumn Period. For the Warring States Period state whose name is pronounced identically, see Wei ....

. Wey appealed to Wei which attacked Zhao on the western side. Being in danger, Zhao called in Chu. As usual, Chu used this as a pretext to annex territory to its north, but the diversion allowed Zhao to occupy a part of Wei. This conflict marked the end of the power of the united Jins and the beginning a period of shifting alliances and wars on several fronts.

In 370 BC, Marquess Wu of Wei
Marquess Wu of Wei
Marquess Wu of WeiChinese NamePinyinWèi JīTraditional Chinese魏擊Simplified Chinese魏击Family nameWèiPosthumous name 魏武侯 CountryState of Wei Lived?–370 BCE Reigned395–370 BCE...

 died without naming a successor, which led to a war of succession. After three years of civil war, Zhao
Zhao (state)
Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

 from the north and Han
Han (state)
Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

 from the south invaded Wei. On the verge of conquering Wei, the leaders of Zhao and Han fell into disagreement about what to do with Wei, and both armies abruptly retreated. As a result, King Hui of Wei
King Hui of Wei
King Hui of Wei , originally called Marquis Hui of Wei, and after 344, King Hui of Liang was the third ruler of the state of Wei during the Warring States Period, ruling from approximately 370 BC–319 BC...

 (still a Marquess at the time) was able to ascend the throne of Wei.

By the end of the period Zhao extended from the Shanxi plateau across the plain to the borders of Qi. Wei reached east to Qi, Lu
Lu (state)
The State of Lu, was a Zhou Dynasty ducal vassal state before and during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Founded in the 10th century BC, its dukes used Ji as their family name. The first duke was Boqin |Qi]] and to the south by the powerful state of Chu...

 and Song
Song (state)
Sòng was a state during the Eastern Zhou Spring and Autumn Period . Its capital was Shangqiu . In 701 BC, a political marriage between Lady Yong of Song and Duke Zhuang of Zheng empowered Song to manipulate the management of Zheng.- Origin :After King Wu of Zhou overthrew King Zhou of Shang,...

. To the south, the weaker state of Han held the east-west part of the Yellow River valley, surrounded the Zhou royal domain at Luoyang
Luoyang
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast.Situated on the central plain of...

 and held an area north of Luoyang called Shangdang
Shangdang
The Shangdang Prefecture or commandery , was an administrative subdivision of ancient China from the time of the Spring and Autumn Period...

.

Wei defeated by Qin (370-340)

King Hui of Wei
King Hui of Wei
King Hui of Wei , originally called Marquis Hui of Wei, and after 344, King Hui of Liang was the third ruler of the state of Wei during the Warring States Period, ruling from approximately 370 BC–319 BC...

 (370-319) set about restoring the state. In 362-359 he exchanged territories with Han and Zhao in order to make the boundaries of the three states more rational. In 344 he assumed the title of king.

In 364 Wei was defeated by Qin at the Battle of Shimen and was only saved by the intervention of Zhao. Qin won another victory in 362. In 361 the capital was moved east to Daliang
Kaifeng
Kaifeng , known previously by several names , is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, Central China. Nearly 5 million people live in the metropolitan area...

 to be out of the reach of Qin.

In 354 BC, King Hui of Wei started a large-scale attack on Zhao. By 353 BC, Zhao was losing badly and its capital, Handan
Handan
Handan is a prefecture-level city located in the southwestern part of Hebei Province of China.- History :Handan was the capital of the State of Zhao during the Warring States period , after the capital moved from Zhongmu. The city was conquered by the State of Qin after the virtual annexation of...

, was under siege. The State of Qi
Qi (state)
Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

 intervened. The famous Qi strategist, Sun Bin
Sun Bin
Sun Bin was a military strategist who lived during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. An alleged descendant of Sun Tzu, Sun Bin was tutored in military strategy by the hermit Guiguzi...

 the great, great, great grandson of Sun Tzu (author of the Art of War), proposed to attack the Wei capital while the Wei army was tied up besieging Zhao. The strategy was a success; the Wei army hastily moved south to protect its capital, was caught on the road and decisively defeated at the Battle of Guiling
Battle of Guiling
The Battle of Guìlíng was fought between the states of Qí and Wèi in the Warring States period of Chinese history. In 354 BC, an army from Wèi was laying siege to Handan, the capital of the State of Zhao. The next year, Zhao turned to Qi for help. Tian Ji and Sun Bin, acting as co-commanders of...

. The battle is remembered in the second of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, "besiege Wei, save Zhao" meaning to attack a vulnerable spot to relieve pressure at another point.

In 341 BC, Wei attacked Han. Qi allowed Han to be nearly defeated and then intervened. The generals from the Battle of Guiling met again (Sun Bin
Sun Bin
Sun Bin was a military strategist who lived during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. An alleged descendant of Sun Tzu, Sun Bin was tutored in military strategy by the hermit Guiguzi...

 and Tian Ji
Tian Ji
Tian Ji , style name Qi , was a military general of the Qi state during the early Warring States Period of Chinese history. Tian Ji met Sun Bin and recommended him to King Wei of Qi as a military strategist...

 versus Pang Juan
Pang Juan
Pang Juan was an ancient Chinese military general of the Wei state during the Warring States Period.-Early life:Pang Juan was a fellow student of Sun Bin and both of them studied military strategy together under the tutelage of the hermit Guiguzi. They developed a close friendship and became sworn...

), by using the same tactic, attacking Wei's capital. Sun Bin feigned a retreat and then turned on the overconfident Wei troops and decisively defeated them at the Battle of Maling
Battle of Maling
The Battle of Maling took place in Maling, currently Dazhangjia Town , Shen County , Henan Province, in 342 BC during the Warring States Period . The combatants were the State of Qi, who fought on behalf of the State of Han, and the State of Wei...

.

In the following year Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 attacked the weakened Wei. Wei was devastatingly defeated and ceded a large part of its territory in return for truce. With Wei severely weakened, Qi and Qin became the dominant states in China.

The Period of Qi (301-284 BC)

This is the most complex part of the Warring States period. It corresponds to the reign of King Min of Qi
King Min of Qi
King Min of Qi was a notoriously unsuccessful king of the northeastern Chinese state of Qi during the Warring States Period...

 and the schemes of Lord Mengchang of Qi
Lord Mengchang of Qi
Lord Mengchang , born Tian Wen, was an aristocrat of the State of Qi during the Warring States Period of China. He was born as Tian Wen, son of Tian Ying and grandson of King Wei of Qi. He succeeded to his father's fief in Xue. Lord Mengchang is well known for the size of his entourage...

 and Su Qin
Su Qin
Su Qin , was an influential political strategist during the Warring States Period of Chinese history . He was born in Chengxuan Village, Luoyang in present day Henan Province. According to legend Su Qin was a disciple of Gui Guzi, the founder of the School of Diplomacy...

.
300 BC: Lord Mengchang of Qi
Lord Mengchang of Qi
Lord Mengchang , born Tian Wen, was an aristocrat of the State of Qi during the Warring States Period of China. He was born as Tian Wen, son of Tian Ying and grandson of King Wei of Qi. He succeeded to his father's fief in Xue. Lord Mengchang is well known for the size of his entourage...

, grandson of the former King Wei of Qi
King Wei of Qi
King Wei of Qi , whose personal name was Tian Yinqi , was the king of the northern Chinese state of Qi during the Warring States Period, when Qi was one of the most powerful states in China. He reigned from 356 to 320 BC. or according to another source from 378 to 343 BC.His successor was King Xuan...

 came to power when King Min acceeded to the throne. He made a westward alliance with the States of Wei
Wei (state)
The State of Wei was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong...

 and Han
Han (state)
Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

. In the far west, Qin, which had been weakened by a succession struggle in 307, yielded to the new coalition and appointed Lord Mengchang its chief minister. This "horizontal" or east-west alliance might have secured peace except that it excluded the State of Zhao
Zhao (state)
Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

.

298 BC: Zhao offered Qin an alliance and Lord Mengchang was driven out of Qin. The remaining three allies, Qi, Wei and Han, attacked Qin, driving up the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 below Shanxi to the Hangu Pass
Hangu Pass
Hangu Pass was a strategic pass in ancient China just south of the great eastern bend of the Yellow River in today's Lingbao, Henan Province...

. After 3 years of fighting they took the pass and forced Qin to return territory to Han and Wei. They next inflicted major defeats on Yan
Yan (state)
Yān was a state during the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. Its capital was Ji...

 and Chu
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

. During the 5-year administration of Lord Menchang, Qi was the major power in China.

294 BC: Lord Mengchang was implicated in a coup d'etat and fled to Wei. His alliance system collapsed.
Qi and Qin made a truce and pursued their own interests. Qi moved south against the State of Song
Song (state)
Sòng was a state during the Eastern Zhou Spring and Autumn Period . Its capital was Shangqiu . In 701 BC, a political marriage between Lady Yong of Song and Duke Zhuang of Zheng empowered Song to manipulate the management of Zheng.- Origin :After King Wu of Zhou overthrew King Zhou of Shang,...

 whilst the Qin General Bai Qi
Bai Qi
Bái Qǐ was an outstanding military leader of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born in Mei , as commander of the Qin army for more than 30 years, Bai Qi was responsible for the deaths of a total over 890,000 enemy soldiers, earning him the nickname Ren Tu...

 pushed back eastward against a Han/Wei alliance, gaining victory at the Battle of Yique
Battle of Yique
Battle of Yique 293 BC, fought by King Zhaoxiang of Qin against the alliance of Wei and Han at Yique . For background see Warring States Period#The period of Qi . The Qin commander was general Bai Qi. With half of the alliance force, Bai Qi's army took the alliance's strongholds one by one...

. In 288 BC the two rulers took the title of "Di", (帝 literally emperor, of the east and west respectively). They swore a covenant and started planning an attack on Zhao.

287 BC: The diplomat Su Qin, possibly an agent of Yan, persuaded King Min that the Zhao war would only benefit Qin. King Min agreed and formed a 'vertical' alliance with the other states against Qin. Qin backed off, abandoned the presumptuous title of "Di", and restored territory to Wei and Zhao. In 286 Qi annexed the state of Song.

285 BC: The success of Qi frightened the other states (some say that this was part of Su Qin's plan). Under the leadership of Lord Mengchang, who was exiled in Wei, Qin, Zhao, Wei and Yan formed an alliance. Yan had normally been a relatively weak ally of Qi and Qi feared little from this quarter. Yan's onslaught under general Yue Yi
Yue Yi
Yue Yi was an officer of the State of Yan during the Warring State period, also known as Lord Guojun. He was the son of the prime minister of the small nation of Zhongshan, but when Zhongshan was destroyed by Zhao's King Wuling, he was forced to wander from country to country...

 came as a devastating surprise. Simultaneously, the other allies attacked from the west. Chu declared itself an ally of Qi but contented itself with annexing some territory to its north. Qi's armies were destroyed and the King Min was slain. Qi was reduced to the two cities of Ji and Jimo
Jimo, Shandong
Jimo is a county-level city in Shandong province, China, located north of Qingdao.-Location:Jimo is located in the southwest of the Shandong Peninsula, bordered by the Yellow Sea on the east and Mount Lao on the south.-Climate:...

.

After 284 BC Tian Dan
Tian Dan (Qi)
Tián Dān , from Linzi, was a general during ancient China's Warring States Period and member of the royal house of Qi who was known for a spectacular military tactic called "Fire Cattle Columns". After the kingdom was nearly destroyed under King Min of Qi in 284 BC, he helped regain its territory...

 was able to restore much of the state's territory, but it never regained the influence it had under King Min.

The period of Zhao (284-260)

After Chu was defeated in 278, the remaining great powers were Qin in the west and Zhao in the north-center. There was little room for diplomatic maneuver and matters were decided by war in 265-260. Zhao had been much strengthened by King Wuling of Zhao
King Wuling of Zhao
King Wuling of Zhao reigned in the State of Zhao during the Warring States Period of Chinese history...

 (325-299). In 307 he enlarged his cavalry by copying the northern nomads. In 306 he took more land in the northern Shanxi plateau. In 305 he defeated the northeastern border state of Zhongshan
Zhongshan (state)
Zhongshan was a Di state created by the nomadic Xianyu tribe in China during the later Zhou Dynasty, in the Chinese written sources it is referred to as a state of the Bai Di .)...

. In 304 he pushed far to the northwest and occupied the east-west section of the Yellow River in the north of the Ordos Loop
Ordos Loop
The Ordos Loop is a region of China west of Beijing. The Yellow River flows north-northeast, then east, and then south forming three sides of an imperfect rectangle. The south side is formed by the Wei River which rises not far from the southwest corner and flows east to the southeast corner...

. King Huiwen of Zhao (298-266) chose able servants and expanded against the weakened Qi and Wei. In 296 his general Lian Po
Lian Po
Lian Po was a prominent military General of Zhao 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....

 defeated two Qin armies.

In 265 King Zhaoxiang of Qin
King Zhaoxiang of Qin
King Zhaoxiang of Qin or King Zhao of Qin was the son of King Huiwen and younger brother of King Wu. After the death of Wu in 306 BC, Zhao contended for the crown of Qin with his younger brother. With the support of King Wuling of Zhao, Zhao finally ascended the throne...

 made the first move by attacking the weak state of Han which held the Yellow River gateway into Qin. He moved northeast across Wei territory to cut off the Han exclave of Shangdang
Shangdang
The Shangdang Prefecture or commandery , was an administrative subdivision of ancient China from the time of the Spring and Autumn Period...

 north of Luoyang and south of Zhao. The Han king agreed to surrender Shangdang, but the local governor refused and presented it to King Xiaocheng of Zhao. Zhao sent out Lian Po
Lian Po
Lian Po was a prominent military General of Zhao 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....

 who based his armies at Changping
Battle of Changping
The Battle of Changping was a military campaign that took place during the Warring States Period in China. It concluded in 260 BC with a decisive victory by the State of Qin over the State of Zhao, and ultimately allowed Qin to conquer and unify China decades later...

 and Qin sent out general Wang He. Lian Po was too wise to risk a decisive battle with the Qin army and remained inside his fortifications. Qin could not break through and the armies were locked in stalemate for three years. The Zhao king decided that Lian Po was not aggressive enough and sent out Zhao Kuo
Zhao Kuo
Zhao Kuo was a general of the States of Zhao in Warring States Period , son of the famous general Zhao She, during the epic Battle of Changping between the States of Zhao and Qin in ancient China. ."...

 who promised a decisive battle. At the same time Qin secretly replaced Wang He with the notoriously violent Bai Qi
Bai Qi
Bái Qǐ was an outstanding military leader of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born in Mei , as commander of the Qin army for more than 30 years, Bai Qi was responsible for the deaths of a total over 890,000 enemy soldiers, earning him the nickname Ren Tu...

. When Zhao Kuo left his fortifications, Bai Qi used a Cannae
Battle of Cannae
The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War, which took place on August 2, 216 BC near the town of Cannae in Apulia in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage under Hannibal decisively defeated a numerically superior army of the Roman Republic under command of the consuls Lucius...

 maneuver, falling back in the center and surrounding the Zhao army from the sides. After being surrounded for 46 days, the starving Zhao troops surrendered (September, 260 BC). It is said that Bai Qi had all the prisoners killed and that Zhao lost 400,000 men.

Qin was too exhausted to follow up its victory. Some time later it sent an army to besiege the Zhao capital but the army was destroyed when it was attacked from the rear. Zhao survived, but there was no longer a state that could resist Qin on its own. The other states could have survived if they remained united against Qin, but they did not.

The history of Chu

The general policy of Chu was to slowly annex the small states to its north. By late in the period it had a common border with Qi and Wei.

389: Early in the Warring States Period, Chu
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

 was one of the strongest states in China. The state rose to a new level of power around 389 BC when King Dao of Chu
King Dao of Chu
King Dao of Chu , Family name : 芈, Clan name , was a ruler of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu from 401 BCE - 381 BCE: son of King Sheng. He made Wu Qi chancellor and reformed the Chu government and army....

 (楚悼王) named the famous reformer Wu Qi
Wu Qi
Wu Qi was a Chinese military leader and politician in the Warring States period.-Biography:Born in the State of Wei , he was skilled in leading armies and military strategy. 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...

 as his chancellor.

334:Chu rose to its peak in 334 BC, when it conquered Yue
Yue (state)
Yue was a state in China which existed during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period , in the modern province of Zhejiang. During the Spring and Autumn Period, its capital was in Guiji , near the modern city of Shaoxing...

 to its east on the Pacific coast. The series of events leading up to this began when Yue prepared to attack Qi
Qi (state)
Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

 to its north. The King of Qi sent an emissary who persuaded the King of Yue to attack Chu instead. Yue initiated a large-scale attack at Chu but was defeated by Chu's counter-attack. Chu then proceeded to conquer Yue.

278: General Bai Qi
Bai Qi
Bái Qǐ was an outstanding military leader of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born in Mei , as commander of the Qin army for more than 30 years, Bai Qi was responsible for the deaths of a total over 890,000 enemy soldiers, earning him the nickname Ren Tu...

 of Qin
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 attacked from Qin's new (from 316) territory in Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 to the west of Chu. The capital of Ying
Ying (Chu)
Yǐng was a capital city of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese History.In the early years of Chu’s development, the state capital was located at Danyang , near modern day Xichuan County in Henan Province...

 was captured and Chu's western lands on the Han River were lost. The effect of 334 and 278 was to shift Chu significantly to the east.

The Royal Title

The title of 'king' (wang,王) was held by figurehead rulers of the Zhou Dynasty, 'duke' (Gong, 公) by those of the larger states, and 'marquess' (hou, 侯) by those of medium sized states, while the rulers of smaller states had lesser titles.

In 703 King Wu of Chu
King Wu of Chu
King Wu of Chu was a ruler of the Zhou Dynasty vassal State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. He was the second son of Xiao'ao , and brother of former ruler Fenmao whom he is rumored to have murdered in 740 BCE in order to usurp the throne.-Biographical sketch:King Wu...

 took the title of king. (Since the chiefs of the local non-Zhou tribes were also called kings, this may not be as presumptuous as it sounds.) In 288-287 the kings of Qin and Qi briefly called themselves 'Di', which means something like sacred.

In 344 King Hui of Wei
King Hui of Wei
King Hui of Wei , originally called Marquis Hui of Wei, and after 344, King Hui of Liang was the third ruler of the state of Wei during the Warring States Period, ruling from approximately 370 BC–319 BC...

 changed his title from Marquess to King. In 334 his victorious enemy, King Wei of Qi
King Wei of Qi
King Wei of Qi , whose personal name was Tian Yinqi , was the king of the northern Chinese state of Qi during the Warring States Period, when Qi was one of the most powerful states in China. He reigned from 356 to 320 BC. or according to another source from 378 to 343 BC.His successor was King Xuan...

 adopted the same title. In 325 the rulers of Qin and Han declared themselves kings, and in 323 those of Zhao, Yan and Zhongshan. In 318 BC, the ruler of Song
Song (state)
Sòng was a state during the Eastern Zhou Spring and Autumn Period . Its capital was Shangqiu . In 701 BC, a political marriage between Lady Yong of Song and Duke Zhuang of Zheng empowered Song to manipulate the management of Zheng.- Origin :After King Wu of Zhou overthrew King Zhou of Shang,...

, a relatively minor state, declared himself a king. The ruler of Zhao
Zhao (state)
Zhao was a significant Chinese state during the Warring States Period, along with six others...

 held out until around 299 BC, and was the last take the royal title.

Horizontal and Vertical Alliances

Towards the end of the Warring States Period, the Qin state
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 became disproportionately powerful compared to the other six states. As a result, the policies of the six states became overwhelmingly oriented towards dealing with the Qin threat, with two opposing schools of thought. One school advocated a 'vertical' or north-south alliance called hezong (合縱/合纵) in which the states would ally with each other to repel Qin. The other advocated a 'horizontal' or east-west alliance called lianheng (連橫/连横) in which a state would ally with Qin to participate in its ascendancy. There were some initial successes in hezong, though it eventually broke down. Qin repeatedly exploited the horizontal alliance strategy to defeat the states one by one. During this period, many philosophers and tacticians travelled around the states, recommending that the rulers put their respective ideas into use. These "lobbyists," such as Su Qin
Su Qin
Su Qin , was an influential political strategist during the Warring States Period of Chinese history . He was born in Chengxuan Village, Luoyang in present day Henan Province. According to legend Su Qin was a disciple of Gui Guzi, the founder of the School of Diplomacy...

, were famous for their tact and intellect, and were collectively known as the School of Diplomacy
School of Diplomacy
The School of Diplomacy , or "School of Vertical and Horizontal" Alliances was a political and diplomatic clique during the Warring States Period of Chinese history...

, which takes its name from the two main schools of thought.

The rise of Qin

After the Zhou were driven out of the Wei River
Wei River
The Wei River is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization....

 valley in 771 BC the house of Qin was given the task of restoring Zhou rule in the valley. This they did by slowly absorbing the local Rong tribes. The valley was bounded on the south by high mountains and on the north by dry country. Its great advantage was its location in the far west "within the passes"
Guanzhong
Guanzhong , or Guanzhong Plain, is a historical region of China corresponding to the lower valley of the Wei River. It is called Guanzhong or 'within the passes' to distinguish it from 'Guandong' or 'east of the pass', that is, the North China Plain. The North China Plain is bordered on the west by...

 which tended to keep Qin out of needless wars with the other states.

We have little information about the early history of Qin during the Spring and Autumn Period. Most of its interactions were with its powerful eastern neighbor, Jin. In 632 Duke Mu of Qin
Duke Mu of Qin
Duke Mu of Qin , born Ying Renhao , was a ruler of the State of Qin from 659 or 660 to 621 BC in China. One of the Five Hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period, he greatly expanded the territory of Qin during the reign of King Xiang of Zhou.He acquired many talented advisors, such as Baili Xi,...

 (660-621) helped Jin win the Battle of Chengpu
Battle of Chengpu
The Battle of Chengpu took place in 632 BC between the State of Jin and the State of Chu and its allies during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. It was the first great battle in the protracted conflict between the states of the Yellow River valley, and the states of the Yangtze...

 against Chu. In 579 Qin, Jin, Chu and Qi held a peace conference and agreed to limit the size of their armies.

During the early Warring States period Qin generally avoided conflicts with the other states. It began to become aggressive after the Shang Yang reforms of about 356 and then played a very active role in the final 180 years (300-221 BC).

Circa 408 Wei pushed Qin back to the Luo River
Luo River
Luo River may refer to:*Luo River , river in Henan, China*Luo River , river in Shaanxi, China*Lô River, river in Vietnam...

 occupying the Xihe area west of the Yellow River. 364: Qin defeated Wèi and Han at the battle of Shimen. Wei was saved by the intervention of Zhao. 356-338: Shang Yang
Shang Yang
Shang Yang was an important statesman of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born Wei Yang in the State of Wei, with the support of Duke Xiao of Qin Yang enacted numerous reforms in Qin...

 made centralizing and authoritarian reforms. 340: Qin took land from Wèi after it had been defeated by Qi. 316: Qin conquered Shu
Shu (state)
The State of Shu was an ancient state in what is now Sichuan, China. It was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. Shu was based on the Chengdu Plain, in the western Sichuan basin with some extension northeast to the upper Han River valley. To the east was the Ba tribal confederation. Further east down the...

 and Ba
Ba (state)
Ba was an ancient state in eastern Sichuan, China. Its original capital was Yicheng , Hubei. Ba was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. The modern ethnic minority Tujia people trace some of their origins back to the Ba people....

 in Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 to the southwest. Development of this area took a long time but slowly added greatly to Qin's wealth and power.325: The Duke of Qin took the title of king. 312: Qin defeated an attack from Chu. 307: Qin was weakened by a disputed succession. 301-284: See Warring States Period#The Period of Qi (301-284) for the complex conflict with Qi. 269: General Lian Po
Lian Po
Lian Po was a prominent military General of Zhao 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....

 of Zhao decisively defeated two Qin armies. After 269: Fan Sui became chief advisor. He advocated authoritarian reforms, irrevocable expansion and an alliance with distant states to attack nearby states (the twenty-third of the Thirty-Six Stratagems). His maxim "attack not only the territory, but also the people" enunciated a policy of mass slaughter that became increasingly frequent. 278: Qin's notoriously bloody general Bai Qi
Bai Qi
Bái Qǐ was an outstanding military leader of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born in Mei , as commander of the Qin army for more than 30 years, Bai Qi was responsible for the deaths of a total over 890,000 enemy soldiers, earning him the nickname Ren Tu...

 captured the Chu capital and pushed the Qin frontier east of Sichuan. 265: Qin started a war with Han, probably to open up the Yellow River corridor south of Shanxi. 260: Zhao aided Han but its power was broken by Bai Qi at the battle of Changping
Changping
Changping may refer to:*Princess Changping , princess of the Ming Dynasty*Battle of Changping , campaign of the Warring States Period of China*Changping District , Beijing*Changping Town , Dongguan, Guangdong...

. Qin was now the strongest state in China.

Qin conquers the other states (230-221)

In 230 BC, the Qin state
Qin (state)
The State of Qin was a Chinese feudal state that existed during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history...

 conquered the Han state
Han (state)
Han was a kingdom during the Warring States Period in China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan. Not to be confused with South Korea which shares the same character....

. Han, the weakest of the Seven Warring States
Seven Warring States
The Seven Warring States or Seven Kingdoms refers to the seven warring states in China during the Warring States period of Chinese history...

, was adjacent to the much stronger Qin, and had suffered continuous assaults by Qin in earlier years of the Warring States Period. This went on until Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

 sent general Wang Jian
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:...

 to attack Zhao. King An of Han, frightened by the thought that Han would be the next target of the Qin state, immediately sent diplomats to surrender the entire kingdom without a fight, saving the Han populace from the terrible potential consequences of an unsuccessful resistance.

In 225 BC, Qin conquered Wei
Wei (state)
The State of Wei was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included parts of modern day Henan, Hebei, Shanxi and Shandong...

. The Qin army led a direct invasion into Wei by besieging its capital Daliang
Daliang
Daliang may refer to the following locations in China:*Kaifeng, formerly known as Daliang , prefecture-level city of Henan*Daliang Subdistrict, Foshan , in Shunde District, Foshan, Guangdong...

 but soon realized that the city walls were too tough to break into. They devised a new strategy in which they utilized the power of a local river that was linked to the Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

. The river was used to flood the city's walls, causing massive devastation to the city. Upon realizing the situation, King Jia of Wei hurriedly came out of the city and surrendered its city to the Qin army in order to avoid further bloodshed of his people.

In 223 BC, Qin invaded the relatively strong Chu state
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

. However, the first invasion was an utter disaster when 200,000 Qin troops, led by the inexperienced general, Li Xin, were defeated by 500,000 Chu troops in the unfamiliar territory of Huaiyang, modern-day northern Jiangsu
Jiangsu
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

 and Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

 provinces. Xiang Yan, the Chu commander, had lured Qin by allowing a few initial victories, but then counterattacked and burnt two large Qin camps.

The following year, Wang Jian was recalled to lead a second invasion with 600,000 men. High in morale after their victory in the previous year, the Chu forces were content to sit back and defend against what they expected to be a siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 of Chu. However, Wang Jian decided to weaken Chu's resolve and tricked the Chu army by appearing to be idle in his fortifications whilst secretly training his troops to fight in Chu territory. After a year, the Chu defenders decided to disband due to apparent lack of action from the Qin. Wang Jian invaded at that point, with full force, and overran Huaiyang and the remaining Chu forces. Chu lost the initiative and could only sustain local guerrilla-style resistance until it too was fully conquered with the destruction of Shouchun
Shou County
Shou County is a county in Anhui Province, People's Republic of China, under the jurisdiction of Lu'an City. It has population is 1,280,000 and its area is 2986 square kilometers...

 and the death of its last leader, Lord Changping of Chu
Lord Changping of Chu
Lord Changping of Chu was the last sovereign of the state of Chu in the last days Warring States Period of Chinese history. Although most state that his brother and predecessor King Fuchu of Chu was the last monarch of Chu, and he never bored the title of king . He was the son of King Kaolie of...

, in 223 BC. At their peak, the combined armies of Chu and Qin are estimated to have ranged from hundreds of thousands to a million soldiers, more than those involved in the campaign of Changping between Qin and Zhao 35 years earlier.

In 222 BC, Qin conquered Yan
Yan (state)
Yān was a state during the Western Zhou, Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of Chinese history. Its capital was Ji...

 and Zhao. After the conquest of Zhao, the Qin army then turned its attention towards Yan. Realizing the danger and gravity of this situation, Crown Prince Dan of Yan
Crown Prince Dan of Yan
Crown Prince Dan of Yan was a crown prince of the state of Yan during the Warring States Period in China. Originally a hostage in the State of Qin, he was sent back to Yan in 232 BC. He sent Jing Ke to assassinate Qin Shi Huang, then Emperor of China, but he failed...

 had sent the assassin Jing Ke
Jing Ke
Jing Ke was a guest residing in the estates of Dan, crown prince of Yan and renowned for his failed assassination attempt of Ying Zheng, King of Qin state, who later became China's first emperor...

 to kill the Qin king, but this failure only helped to fuel the rage and determination of the Qin king, and he increased the number of troops to conquer the Yan state.

In 221 BC, Qin conquered Qi
Qi (state)
Qi was a powerful state during the Spring and Autumn Period and Period of the Warring States in ancient China. Its capital was Linzi, now part of the modern day city of Zibo in Shandong Province....

. Qi was the final unconquered warring state. It had not previously contributed or helped other states when Qin was conquering them. As soon as Qin's intention to invade it became clear, Qi swiftly surrendered all its cities, completing the unification of China and ushering in the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

.

Increasing Scale of Warfare

The chariot
Chariot (Ancient China)
The ancient Chinese chariot was used as an attack and pursuit vehicle on the open fields and plains of Ancient China during the Shang The ancient Chinese chariot was used as an attack and pursuit vehicle on the open fields and plains of Ancient China during the Shang The ancient Chinese chariot ...

 remained a major factor in Chinese warfare long after it went out of fashion in the Middle East. Near the beginning of the Warring States Period we see a shift from chariots to massed infantry, possibly associated with the invention of the crossbow
Crossbow
A crossbow is a weapon consisting of a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles, often called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance.Historically, crossbows played a...

. This had two major effects. First it led the dukes to weaken their chariot-riding nobility so they could get direct access to the peasantry who could be drafted as infantry. This change was associated with the shift from aristocratic to bureaucratic government. Second, it led to a massive increase in the scale of warfare. When the Zhou overthrew the Shang at the Battle of Muye
Battle of Muye
The Battle of Muye was fought in China perhaps 1046 BC. The battle led to the end of the Shang dynasty, and the beginning of the Zhou dynasty.-Background:...

 they used 45,000 troops and 300 chariots. For the Warring States Period the following figures are reported: Qin: 1,000,000 infantry, 1,000 chariots, 10,000 horses; Chu: same numbers; Wei:200-360,000 infantry, 200,000 spearmen, 100,000 servants, 600 chariots, 5,000 cavalry; Han: 300,000 total; Qi: several hundred thousand; Battle of Maling
Battle of Maling
The Battle of Maling took place in Maling, currently Dazhangjia Town , Shen County , Henan Province, in 342 BC during the Warring States Period . The combatants were the State of Qi, who fought on behalf of the State of Han, and the State of Wei...

: 100,000 killed; Battle of Yique
Battle of Yique
Battle of Yique 293 BC, fought by King Zhaoxiang of Qin against the alliance of Wei and Han at Yique . For background see Warring States Period#The period of Qi . The Qin commander was general Bai Qi. With half of the alliance force, Bai Qi's army took the alliance's strongholds one by one...

: 240,000 killed; General Bai Qi
Bai Qi
Bái Qǐ was an outstanding military leader of the State of Qin during the Warring States Period of Chinese history. Born in Mei , as commander of the Qin army for more than 30 years, Bai Qi was responsible for the deaths of a total over 890,000 enemy soldiers, earning him the nickname Ren Tu...

 was responsible for 890,000 enemy deaths. Most scholars think these numbers are exaggerated (they are much larger than those from similar societies, soldiers were paid by the number of enemies they killed and the Han Dynasty had an interest in exaggerating the bloodiness of the age before China was unified). Regardless of exaggeration, it seems clear that warfare had become excessive during this period. The bloodshed and misery of the Warring States Period goes a long way in explaining China's traditional preference for a united monarchy.

Military developments

The Warring States Period saw the introduction of many innovations to the art of warfare in China, such as the use of iron and of cavalry.

The various states fielded massive armies of infantry, cavalry, and chariots. Complex logistical systems maintained by efficient government bureaucracies were needed to supply, train, and control such large forces. The size of the armies ranged from tens of thousands to several hundred thousand men.
Iron became more widespread and began to replace bronze. Most armour and weapons of this period were made from iron.

The first official native Chinese cavalry unit was formed in 307 BC by King Wuling of Zhao
King Wuling of Zhao
King Wuling of Zhao reigned in the State of Zhao during the Warring States Period of Chinese history...

. But the war chariot still retained its prestige and importance, despite the tactical superiority of cavalry.

The crossbow was the preferred long-range weapon of this period, due to several reasons. The crossbow could be mass-produced easily, and mass training of crossbowmen was possible. These qualities made it a powerful weapon against the enemy.

Infantrymen deployed a varieties of weapons, but the most popular was the dagger-axe
Dagger-axe
The dagger-axe is a type of weapon that was in use from Shang dynasty until at least Han dynasty China. It consists of a dagger-shaped blade made of jade , bronze, or later iron, mounted by the tang of the dagger to a perpendicular wooden shaft with a spear point...

. The dagger-axe came in various lengths, from 9 to 18 feet; the weapon consisted of a thrusting spear with a slashing blade appended to it. Dagger-axes were an extremely popular weapon in various kingdoms, especially for the Qin who produced 18-foot-long pikes.

Military thought

The Warring States was a great period for military strategy. The military strategist Sun Tzu
Sun Tzu
Sun Wu , style name Changqing , better known as Sun Tzu or Sunzi , was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher who is traditionally believed, and who is most likely, to have authored The Art of War, an influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy...

 is said to have written The Art of War
The Art of War
The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise that is attributed to Sun Tzu , a high ranking military general and strategist during the late Spring and Autumn period...

, which is recognized today as the most influential and oldest known military strategy guide. Along with this were other military writings that make up the Seven Military Classics
Seven Military Classics
The Seven Military Classics of China were seven important military texts of ancient China which included Sun-tzu's The Art of War. The texts were canonized under this name during the 11th century AD, and from the Song Dynasty onwards were included in most military encyclopedias...

 of ancient China: Jiang Ziya
Jiang Ziya
Jiang Ziya was a Chinese historical and legendary figure who resided next to the Weishui River about 3,000 years ago. A sage and military strategist, Jiang Ziya was called upon by King Wen of Zhou to serve as prime minister...

's Six Secret Teachings
Six Secret Teachings
The Six Secret Teachings , is a treatise on civil and military strategy traditionally attributed to the legendary figure Jiāng Zǐyá, a confederate of King Wen of Zhou, founder of the Zhou Dynasty, at around the eleventh century BC...

, Sima Rangju's The Methods of the Sima, Sun Bin's Art of War, Wu Qi
Wu Qi
Wu Qi was a Chinese military leader and politician in the Warring States period.-Biography:Born in the State of Wei , he was skilled in leading armies and military strategy. 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...

, Wei Liaozi, Three strategies of Huang Shigong, and Questions and Replies between Tang Taizong and Li Weigong (the last being made approximately 800 years after this era ended). Once China was unified, these seven military classics were locked away and access was restricted due to their potential to promote revolution.

In 307 BC, King Wuling of Zhao
King Wuling of Zhao
King Wuling of Zhao reigned in the State of Zhao during the Warring States Period of Chinese history...

 adopted both nomadic attire and the nomads' proficiency in marksmanship while on a galloping horse. Superior horse-riding clothing, in particular split trousers instead of robes, and the use of mounted bowmen to better facilitate superior light cavalry
Light cavalry
Light cavalry refers to lightly armed and lightly armored troops mounted on horses, as opposed to heavy cavalry, where the riders are heavily armored...

 fighting tactics.

External links

  • Warring States Project, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    University of Massachusetts Amherst
    The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a public research and land-grant university in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States and the flagship of the University of Massachusetts system...

  • Rulers of the warring statesChinese Text Project
    Chinese Text Project
    The Chinese Text Project is a digital library project that assembles collections of early Chinese texts. The name of the project in Chinese literally means "The Digitization Project of Chinese Philosophy Books", showing its focus on books related to Chinese philosophy...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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