Battle of Changping
Battle of Changping (長平之戰) was a military campaign that
took place during the
Warring States period
Warring States period in ancient China. It
concluded in 260 BC with a decisive victory by the State of Qin over
the State of Zhao, greatly weakening Zhao.
1 Qin invasion of Shangdang
2 A new strategy
3 Zhao defeated
5 In popular culture
8 External links
Qin invasion of Shangdang
Qin attacked the town of Qinyang of State of Han in 265 BC which made
Shangdang (in modern-day southeastern
Shanxi province) an exclave
land. Qin continued to invade Han in order to occupy Shangdang.
Shangdang was strategically placed west of Zhao and its capture would
open an invasion route into Zhao. Within four years, the Qin army
Shangdang from the rest of Han by capturing the main roads
and fortresses across the Taihang Mountains.
Shangdang was poised to
Rather than see Qin take Shangdang, Han offered the commandery to
King Xiaocheng of Zhao (趙孝成王) accepted and dispatched
Lian Po and an army to secure the strategic territory from the
encroaching Qin. The Zhao army met the Qin army, led by Wang He, in
262 BC at Changping, south of Shangdang. The Zhao suffered several
minor defeats during initial confrontation with the Qin forces. Having
assessed the enemy,
Lian Po decided the only way to defeat the Qin was
to wait them out, as Changping was much farther away from Qin
territory than Zhao and thus keeping the army supplied would be much
more taxing to the Qin.
The Zhao built several fortresses in the summer of 260 BC and then
waited for the Qin to go away. The Qin managed to breach the defences
once but did not have the strength or equipment to exploit it;
nonetheless, the Qin refused to leave. A three-year stalemate ensued.
A new strategy
The Qin sent agents into Zhao and Han to spread rumours/accusations
Lian Po was too cowardly to fight.
King Xiaocheng of Zhao was
already dissatisfied with Lian Po's strategy.
Lian Po was replaced by
Zhao Kuo, son of the famous, deceased Zhao general Zhao She. At the
same time, the Qin secretly replaced Wang He with the renowned general
According to legend, the famous General
Zhao She on his deathbed had
told his wife never to let his son
Zhao Kuo command an army. When Zhao
Kuo was appointed general, Lady Zhao and minister
Lin Xiangru could
not persuade King Xiaocheng to rescind the appointment. However, Lady
Zhao extracted a promise from the king that the Zhao clan would not be
Zhao Kuo failed.
Zhao Kuo assumed command in July 260 BC of an army reinforced to
approximately 400,000 men.
Zhao Kuo took part of his
army and attacked the Qin camp.
Bai Qi responded with a Cannae-like
manoeuvre. Part of the Qin army withdrew toward the Qin fortress,
Zhao Kuo after them. A body of 25,000 cavalry, and 5,000 light
cavalry with bows and crossbows, remained behind to spring the trap.
When the Zhao attack reached the Qin fortress, the Qin cavalry
ambushed the Zhao Kuo's rear while the Qin light cavalry surrounded
the Zhao fortress. With the enemy trapped,
Bai Qi launched a
counterattack. The Zhao army was split in two and its supply lines
Zhao Kuo was unable to continue his attack or return to the Zhao
fortress; his army dug in on a hill and awaited relief.
Since 295 BC, Zhao foreign policy had been dominated by opportunism
and had frequently shifted between hezong (合縱) (anti-Qin
alliances) and lianheng (連橫) (pro-Qin alliances). Thus, as the
battle in Changping unfolded, Zhao was unable to secure support from
either the State of Chu or the State of Qi.
King Zhaoxiang of Qin used
this opportunity to mobilize additional forces against Zhao from
Henei, in modern-day
Henan province; he bestowed one grade of noble
rank on the population and ordered all men over the age of 15 to
Changping to bolster the encirclement.
Zhao Kuo's hill fortification was besieged for 46 days. In September,
having run out of food and water, his desperate army made several
unsuccessful attempts to break out. The general was killed by Qin
archers while leading his best troops. The Zhao army finally
Bai Qi ordered the captured soldiers to be executed, presumably by
being buried alive; the local population was hostile to Qin rule,
and he was afraid the captured soldiers would revolt. 240 of the
youngest soldiers were released to spread terror in Zhao. Sima Qian
claimed over 450,000 Zhao soldiers were killed during and after the
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang
Emperor Xuanzong of Tang (685-762) later built a temple over a
collection of some of the human remains, and bones continue to be
discovered on the site.
Prior to the campaign, Zhao had been one of the most powerful of the
Warring States. The campaign addressed the immediate Qin threat, as
three years of war financially and domestically exhausted both states.
However, Zhao never recovered from the defeat, which allowed Qin to
gain military dominance over the other states. In 221 BC, Qin would
use this dominance to unify China.
In popular culture
The 2004 Chinese television series
Changping of the War
Changping of the War is based on
the battle. The battle also features as background to the events
taking place in the manga Kingdom with the events having a direct and
indirect impact on the character development of several major
characters on many sides, most notably Mangoku of Zhao, who led an
army of other survivors and families of those killed in bloody and
gory revenge upon Qin citizens.
^ 长平古战场 Archived 2009-10-26 at the Wayback Machine.
Sima Qian. Records of the Grand Historian.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian (in Chinese)
The Original Text in its Entirety (Chinese)
A comparative reading on the texts in both modern and classical
CHINAKNOWLEDGE Shiji ?? "Records of the Grand Scribe.