Xin, King of Han

Han Xin
Traditional Chinese 韓信
Simplified Chinese 韩信
Xin, King of Han
Traditional Chinese 韓王信
Simplified Chinese 韩王信
Literal meaning Xin, King of Han

Xin, King of Hán (died 196 BC), also known as Hán Xin and as Hán Wang Xin, was a descendant of the royal family of the state of Hán during the Warring States Period of ancient Chinese history. After the establishment of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Gaozu granted Hán Xin the title "Prince" or "King of Hán" (韓王). In 201 BC, King Xin was suspected of conspiring with the Xiongnu to attack the Han Empire and decided to defect to the Xiongnu. He was killed in action during a battle against the Han army in 196 BC.

Biography [ edit ]

Early life [ edit ]

Hán Xin was a grandson of King Xiang of the Hán state from the Warring States period. Around 207 BC, Hán Xin joined Liu Bang's rebel army in Henan and followed Liu to overthrow the Qin Dynasty. After the fall of Qin in 206 BC, Xiang Yu divided the former Qin Empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms and granted Liu Bang the title of "Prince" or "King of Han" (漢王) and relocated Liu to the remote Ba and Shu regions (both in present-day Sichuan, although Ba might include some territories presently in Chongqing as well).

Chu–Han contention [ edit ]

In late 206 BC, Liu Bang led his army out of Bashu to attack the Three Qins. This marked the beginning of a four-year-long power struggle for supremacy over China between Liu and Xiang Yu, which became known as the Chu–Han Contention. At that time, the Hán kingdom was ruled by Zheng Chang, who was appointed "King of Hán" (韓王) by Xiang Yu. Liu Bang promised to help Hán Xin gain back his kingdom, and appointed him as a marshal before sending him to attack Zheng Chang. By the following year, Hán Xin conquered more than ten cities in the Han kingdom and forced Zheng Chang to surrender. Liu Bang granted Hán Xin the title of "Prince" or "King of Hán" (韓王). In 204 BC, Liu Bang was defeated by Xiang Yu at the Battle of Xingyang and Hán Xin was captured by Xiang Yu in battle and temporarily surrendered. Hán Xin managed to escape and return to Liu Bang's side later.

Hán Xin was reinstated as "Prince" or "King of Hán" (韓王) and became a vassal of the Han Dynasty after Liu Bang defeated Xiang Yu in 202 BC and became Emperor of China. He was granted the lands around Yingchuan (穎川; in present-day Henan) as his fief and built his capital at Yangzhai (陽翟; present-day Yuzhou City, Henan).

Flight to Xiongnu [ edit ]

In 201 BC, Emperor Gaozu felt that Hán Xin's fief was in a strategic location and was worried that Hán might pose a threat to him. Hence, under the pretext of sending him to defend the northern border, Gaozu had Hán Xin relocated to Taiyuan Commandery, with Jinyang (晉陽; present-day Taiyuan, Shanxi) as Han's capital. Hán Xin requested to have his capital at Mayi (present-day Shuozhou, Shanxi) instead and Gaozu approved.

Not long later, the Xiongnu attacked Mayi and Gaozu suspected Hán Xin of secretly conspiring with the Xiongnu against him. Gaozu sent an imperial edict to Hán Xin, reprimanding him. Hán Xin was afraid of being exterminated and formed an alliance with the Xiongnu against the Han Empire. In late 200 BC, Gaozu personally led an army to attack Hán Xin and forced him to retreat to Xiongnu territory. However, Gaozu lost to the Xiongnu at the Battle of Baideng and retreated. Hán Xin and the Xiongnu constantly raided the northern border in the following years.

Death [ edit ]

In 196 BC, Xin allied with the Xiongnu again to attack the Han Empire, and occupied the town of Canhe (參合; possibly the place where a decisive battle occurred 600 years later). Chai Wu (柴武), the Han general assigned to fend off the invasion, wrote a letter to Xin, asking him to surrender and return to Han, claiming that Emperor Gaozu was forgiving while Hán's betrayal was not serious. The former king refused, claiming he had committed three treasonous acts against Gaozu (including the invasion he's conducting at that moment), while making reference of Fan Li, Wen Zhong and Wu Zixu to imply that Emperor Gaozu would not be as forgiving as Chai claimed.[1]

In the ensuing battle, Chai massacred the population of Canhe and killed Xin.[1]

Descendants [ edit ]

Xin, King of Hán had at least two sons:

  • Crown Prince of Hán (denoted as 韩太子), who followed his father to Xiongnu and fathered Hán Ying (韩婴).
  • Hán Tuidang (韩颓当), a younger son who was born in the city of Tuidang (颓当) in Xiongnu.

Both Hán Tuidang and Hán Ying returned to Han during the reign of Emperor Wen.[1][2]

There were other more distant descendants of the King as follows:

  • Hán Lin (韩棱), an official in early Eastern Han, was recorded as a descendant through Hán Tuidang.
  • Hán Ji, an official in late Eastern Han and Cao Wei, was said to be a descendant.
    • Hán Mi (韩谧), a great-great-grandson of Han Ji, was designated as heir of Western Jin official Jia Chong, his maternal grandfather. Drawn into the turmoil of War of the Eight Princes, he was executed in 301 along with his immediate and extended family – both Hán and Jia clan members.
  • Hán Yu, the Tang Dynasty literary figure recognized for his role in Classical Prose Movement, also claimed his ancestry to Hán Tuidang and, hence, King Xin.

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ a b c Sima Qian. Records of the Grand Historian, Volume 93.
  2. ^ Ban Gu et al. Book of Han, Volume 33.
Chinese royalty
Preceded by

Zheng Chang
King of Hán

205 BC – 196 BC
Succeeded by

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