King Xin of Han

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Note: In this article, to differentiate between the Han state of the Warring States period and the Han Dynasty, "Hàn" will be used when referring to the latter while "Han" will be reserved for the former.
Note: In all other articles where both King Xin of Han and Han Xin are mentioned, the former will be referred to as "Hán Xin".
Han Xin
Traditional Chinese 韓信
Simplified Chinese 韩信
Han Wang Xin
Traditional Chinese 韓王信
Simplified Chinese 韩王信
Literal meaning King Xin of Han

Han Xin (died 196 BC), also referred to as Han Wang Xin in Chinese historical texts to differentiate him from the contemporary general Han Xin, was a descendant of the royal family of the Han state of the Warring States period. After the establishment of the Hàn Dynasty, Emperor Gaozu granted Han Xin the title of "King of Han" (韓王); in 201 BC, Han Xin was suspected of conspiring with the Xiongnu to attack the Hàn Empire and decided to defect to the Xiongnu. He was killed in action during a battle against the Hàn army in 196 BC.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Han Xin was a grandson of King Xiang of the Han state from the Warring States period, around 207 BC, Han 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 "King of Hàn" (漢王) and relocated Liu to the remote Bashu region (in present-day Sichuan).

Chu–Hàn 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–Hàn Contention. At that time, the Han kingdom was ruled by Zheng Chang, who was appointed "King of Han" (韓王) by Xiang Yu. Liu Bang promised to help Han Xin gain back his kingdom, and appointed him as a marshal before sending him to attack Zheng Chang. By the following year, Han Xin conquered more than ten cities in the Han kingdom and forced Zheng Chang to surrender. Liu Bang granted Han Xin the title of "King of Han" (韓王); in 204 BC, Liu Bang was defeated by Xiang Yu at the Battle of Xingyang and Han Xin was captured by Xiang Yu in battle and temporarily surrendered. Han Xin managed to escape and return to Liu Bang's side later.

Han Xin was reinstated as "King of Han" (韓王) and became a vassal of the Hàn 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).

Death[edit]

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

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

In 196 BC, Han Xin allied with the Xiongnu again to attack the Hàn Empire, the Hàn general Chai Wu (柴武) wrote a letter to Han, asking him to surrender, but Han Xin refused. Han Xin was later killed in action during the battle against Hàn forces.

Descendants[edit]

Han Xin had two sons, a crown prince (韩太子) and Han Tuidang (韩颓当).

References[edit]

Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Zheng Chang
King of Han
205 BC – 196 BC
Succeeded by
Unknown