An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Fan Ju 范雎

Nov 13, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Fan Ju 范雎 (d. 255 BCE; sometimes erroneouly called Fan Sui 范睢), courtesy name Shu 叔, was a high minister of the state of Qin 秦 during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent-221 BCE). His name is also written Fan Qie 范且.

Fan Ju hailed from the state of Wei 魏. He was good at diputation and tried to gain access to the king of Wei, but because he did not have the necessary monetary sources he had to take over a job as advisor of Grandee Xu Jia 須賈. He accompanied Xu Jia on a diplomatic mission to the state of Qi 齊. There, Fan Ju was accused of treachery, and on his return was almost flogged to death. With the help of Zheng Anping 鄭安平 he managed to escape under the feigned name of Zhang Lu 張祿.

Fan alias Zhang joined a diplomatic mission of the state of Qin under Wang Ji 王稽 that was returning to Qin. According to another story he came to Qin as an emissary of Lord Mengchang 孟嘗君. In Qin he managed to gain access to King Zhaoxiang 秦昭襄王 (r. 306-251), to whom he suggested a strategy to conquer the important core region of ancient China which was controlled by the states of Wei and Han 韓.

With a personal revenge in his heart, he proposed to create an alliance (meng 盟) with the state of Qi in the far east to corner Wei and Han from two sides. He was thus able to overshadow the mighty Counsellor-in-chief, Wei Ran 魏冉, Marquis Rang 穰侯. Fan Ju even went a step further and attacked Queen Dowager Xuan 宣太后, who had joined with Wei Ran to dominate the court and even the young king. He convinced King Zhaoxiang to take over the helm, and in 266 the queen dowager was deposed, and her brothers banished: Wei Ran (Marquis Rang), Lord Gaoling 高陵君 (Mi Xian 羋顯), Lord Huayang 華陽君 (Mi Rong 羋戎), and Lord Jingyang 涇陽君 (Mi Kui 羋悝).

The king awarded Fan Ju with the position of Counsellor-in-chief (xiang 相) and the title of Marquis Ying 應侯. In this position Fan Ju systematically took revenge of the state of Wei, terrified diplomats and other states. During the battle of Changping 長平, he managed to have the chief general of the state of Zhao 趙, Lian Po 廉頗, replaced by the less able Zhao Kuo 趙括. The armies of Zhao and Wei were thereupon utterly defeated by the Qin general Bai Qi 白起.

Envious of Bai Qi's success, Fan Ju persuaded the king to order Bai Qi committing suicide. Later on, Zheng Anping, whom Fan Sui had recommended to the king as a general, was defeated by the army of Zhao. Wang Ji, likewise recommended by Fan, was executed because of a legal offense. These two circumstances contributed to the downfall of Fan Ju who had lost the confidence of the king. He was replaced by Cai Ze 蔡澤 and died soonly afterwards.

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