Battle of Chengpu
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 River valley. The Jin victory confirmed the
hegemony of Duke Wen and checked Chu ambitions in the north for at
least a generation.
Following the death of
Duke Huan of Qi
Duke Huan of Qi in 643 BC, the state of Chu
steadily extended its influence northward, absorbing half a dozen
smaller states as its satellites. In 636 BC, Chong'er, a ducal prince
of Jin, after spending fifteen years in exile traveling throughout
numerous states, came to power as
Duke Wen of Jin
Duke Wen of Jin with the help of
Duke Mu of Qin. Duke Wen assumed a position of leadership among the
states and instituted numerous domestic reforms.
In the years leading up to 632 BC, conflict between Jin and Chu became
increasingly public and was characterised by frequent shifts in
alliances between the various small states that lay in a narrow band
of land between the two larger states.
King Cheng of Chu struck at the State of Song, the ally of Jin most
accessible from the south, in the winter of 633 BCE. In retaliation,
an expeditionary force under Duke Wen marched south in the spring of
the following year and occupied the States of Wei and Cao, both
satellites of Chu. The two sides sought out alliances in the following
months. The States of Shen, Xi, Chen and Cai, all immediately
contiguous to Chu, sided with King Cheng, as well as the more distant
State of Lu.
As promised by Duke Wen to King Cheng during his exile in Chu, the Jin
army retired "three days march" (退避三舍) (45 km) before
camping on the plain of Chengpu on the border of Wei and Cao, awaiting
a decisive battle The retirement also linked the Jin forces up with Qi
and Qin reinforcements.
Only the central force of the Chu under Prime Minister Ziyu (子玉)
was made up entirely of Chu troops. The left wing under Zixi
incorporated soldiers from Chu's close satellites Shen and Xi. The
right wing under Zishang comprised completely a separate detachment
from the armies of Chen and Cai, perhaps numbering around a third (?)
of the entire force.
The Jin force was expanded before the expedition from two armies into
three: the upper, the central and the lower; these three were then
regrouped into wings before the battle: the upper army at the right
wing under commander Hu Mao and vice-commander Hu Yan, lower at left
under Luan Zhi and vice Xu Chen, central remained at centre under Xian
Zhen and vice Xi Zhen. Duke Wen did not direct or engage in the
On the fourth day of the fourth month of 632 BC, the rival forces met.
The battle commenced with the advance of both wings of the Jin army.
The Chu right wing was reckoned to be the weakest and Xu Chen,
commander of the Jin left wing, attacked. Xu armoured his chariot
horses with tiger skins and launched an urgent, vigorous assault on
the Chu right wing. The attack was rapidly successful, scattering and
demolishing the enemy wing completely.
The Jin left then became a holding force, fixing the Chu center and
preventing it from attacking the Jin centre or aiding the Chu left
wing, since in either case the Jin left would have taken it in the
flank and rear. Meanwhile, Hu Mao's Jin right wing had skirmished with
the enemy, faked a retreat and carried with them the two great banners
of the Jin commander-in-chief himself. The Chu left, made up of levies
from the states of Shen and Xi, thought that the Jin right wing had
lost and Ziyu ordered a pursuit. A contingent of chariots under Luan
Zhi swept in front and dragged tree branches to raise a dust cloud and
thereby obscure the movements of Hu Mao's men who were circling and
The Jin left aided by the Jin center continued to maintain their
positions against the Chu center. Though the Jin centre was
temporarily disordered by an intense whirlwind, it was effective in
preventing the Chu center from supporting its left wing. As the Chu
left advanced, it was caught in the flank by Duke Wen's bodyguards,
composed of the sons of noble clansmen and sons of his close followers
and thus flanked by the Jin central army. Meanwhile, the entire force
of the Jin right wing completed its recircling and was supported on
its right by Luan Zhi's chariots to join the assault. The Chu left was
completely destroyed. Seeing both his wings enveloped, Ziyu ordered a
Battle of Chengpu
Battle of Chengpu is one of the biggest battles of the Spring and
Autumn period and the most detailed in the Zuo Zhuan. Nevertheless,
the location of the battle remains obscure: two inconclusive
possibilities are the vicinity of Chenliu,
Henan and the southwest
area of Juancheng County, Shandong. After returning to the north, Duke
Wen was recognised by the King of Zhou as first among the feudal
lords. A multi-state conference at Jiantu in 631 BC headed by Duke Wen
confirmed their support for the Zhou royal family and swore a covenant
of alliance. The battle, however, was not effective in the long term
in restricting the power of Chu.
^ "Battle of Chengpu". 2007. Archived from the original on 26 February
2010. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
^ a b c d e f "
Battle of Chengpu
Battle of Chengpu ( 城濮之战 )". 2005. Archived
from the original on 7 May 2006. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
Coordinates: 34°40′16″N 114°31′44″E / 34.6711°N