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Persons in Chinese History - Xiang Yan 項燕 and Xiang Liang 項梁

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Xiang Yan 項燕 (died 223 BCE) was a general of the state of Chu 楚 during the very late Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221). In 224 the king and eventual First Emperor of Qin 秦始皇 (r. 246-210) dispatched general Li Xin 李信 to invade Chu. Xiang Yan on his side avoided battle but instead attacked the Qin commandery Nanyang 南陽 (modern Jiangling 江陵, Hubei). He then enthroned the Lord of Changping 昌平君 as king of Jing 荊 (i.e. Chu; about the Lord, virtually nothing is known). A year later, he lost the battle of Shouchun 壽春 (modern Shouxian 壽縣, Anhui) against the Qin general Wang Jian 王翦 and withdrew to Qinan 蘄南 (modern Suzhou 宿州, Anhui), where he was killed in battle.

Xiang Liang 項梁 (d. 208) was a rebel leader against the Qin dynasty 秦 (221-206). He came from Xiaxiang 下相 (modern Suqian 宿遷, Jiangsu ) and was the son of general Xiang Yan 項燕, a military leader of the Warring States period kingdom of Chu. He was also the uncle of Xiang Yu 項羽, the hegemonial king and competitor with Liu Bang 劉邦 for imperial power. The family name is derived of a fief that their ancestors once held. Xiang Liang had killed an official of the Qin dynasty and fled to the lower Yangtze region. In 209, when Chen Sheng 陳勝 rose weapons against the Qin dynasty, Xiang Liang immediately declared his sympathy and joined the rebellion, together with his nephew. Xiang Liang adopted the title of governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Guiji 會稽. Chen Sheng entrusted the southern region of China to him, so that Xiang Liang willingly led his troops against the Qin, and several times defeated them in battle. After Chen Sheng's death, Xiang Liang became the eminent person among the rebels and enthroned Mi Xiongxin 芈熊心, a descedant of the house of Chu, as king of Chu. Xiang himself adopted the title of Lord Wuxin 武信君 "the martial-trustful". Endowed with this impressive title he crushed the governor of Sanchuan 三川, that was the gateway to the metropolitan area. This victory made him arrogant and over-confident so that he was defeated in killed near Dingtao 定陶 (modern Dingtao, Shangong), by the Qin general Zhang Han 章邯.


Source: Cang Xiuliang 倉修良 (ed. 1996), Hanshu cidian 漢書辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), p. 706.

March 8, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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