Zhang Yi (before 329 BC – 309 BC
) was born in the Wei state
during the Warring States period
of Chinese history
. He was an important strategist in helping Qin
to dissolve the unity of the other states, and hence pave the way for Qin to unify China. He was an advocate of horizontal alliance, unlike Su Qin
; both were adherents of the School of Diplomacy
A native of the State of Wei
Zhang Yi studied under Guiguzi
and learnt politics and foreign relations.
After Su Qin died,
Zhang left Guiguzi, and arrived at the state of Chu
He received a severe beating at a banquet in the house of a minister of Chu when he was wrongly accused of stealing a gem. It is said that on his return home, he said to his wife, "Look and see if they have left me my tongue." And when his wife declared that it was safe and sound, he cried out, "If I still have my tongue, that is all I want."
He then went to the state of Qin
in 329 BC, and saw King Hui of Qin
, who had earlier rejected Su.
King Hui accepted him as a high minister, and in 328 BC he led a successful campaign against his native state, by which Qin acquired a large part of Wei.
At that time, Su Qin's vertical alliance tactic still influenced China, and formed a sort of unity between the states of Han
, Wei, Chu, Yan
. Zhang offered ideas to King Hui about ways to befriend Wei and Yan in order to break the alliance, which Hui graciously accepted. Hui decided to make him the prime minister.
In 314 BC, civil war broke out in Yan. King Xuan of Qi
attacked Yan and murdered the King of Yan. King Huai of Chu
, who was the head of the vertical alliance, allied with Qi. Qi-Chu alliance would provoke a great threat to Qin's unification. Hui sent Zhang to weaken the alliance.
Zhang first drew the attention of the king by bestowing expensive gifts to his favoured official, Jin Shang. He then struck a deal with Huai. They agreed that Huai would end his alliance with Qi if Qin gave back 600 ''li
'' of land that Qin had previously captured to Huai.
Huai immediately accepted despite his official Chen Zhen's scepticism regarding the trustworthiness of Zhang. When Huai sent a messenger to Xianyang
to retrieve the land, Zhang gave Chu six ''li'' of his own land, and claimed he had said 'six ''li of his own land instead of the six hundred of Qin he had promised.
Chu went to war with Qin. Qin defeated Chu and demanded a further six hundred ''li'' of land.
Zhang repeatedly negotiated with Han, Zhao, Wei, Chu, Yan and Qi, thereby destroying their relationships with horizontal alliances, and paving the way for Qin's unification of China.
In the 14th year of (311 B.C.), King Hui of Qin State died and his son King Wu of Qin State ascended the throne. Zhang Yi was not satisfied with King Wu of Qin State, so he left Qin State for Wei State. Later, he died in Wei State.
Category:330s BC births
Category:309 BC deaths
Category:Zhou dynasty people
Category:Year of birth unknown
Category:4th-century BC Chinese people