State of Zhao

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Missing image
State of Zhao
(small seal script, 220 BC)

Zhao (pinyin: zhao4, simplified Chinese: 赵, traditional Chinese: 趙) was a Chinese state during the Warring States Period. Its territory included areas in modern Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces. The state of Zhao bordered the Xiongnu (Huns), the states of Qin, Wei and Yan. Its capital was Handan (邯郸), suburb of modern-day Handan City in Hebei.

At the beginning of the Warring States Period, the state of Zhao was one of the weakest states. Zhao gained strength during the reign of King Wuling of Zhao. The state of Zhao adopted horseback riding from their Xiongnu neighbors; eventually, cavalry accounted for a significant portion of the troops of Zhao.

Several brillant military commanders of the whole period appeared concurrently, including Lian Po, Zhao She and Li Mu. Lian Po was instrumental in defending against the Qin. Zhao She was most active in the east; he lead the invasion of Yan state. Li Mu was responsible for defending against the Huns.

Zhao demonstrated its enhanced military prowess by conquering the ethnic State of Zhongshan in 295 BC after a prolonged war, and annexing territory from its neighbors Wei, Yan and Qin. The cavalry of Zhao occasionally intruded into the state of Qi in campaigns against the state of Chu.

By the end of the Warring States Period, Zhao was the only state strong enough to oppose the mighty Qin. An alliance with Wei begun in 287 BC against Qin ended in defeat at Huayang in 273 BC. The struggle then culminated in the bloodiest battle of the whole period, the Battle of Changping in 260 BC. The troops of Zhao were completely defeated by Qin. Although the forces of Wei saved Handan from a follow-up siege by the victorous Qin, Zhao would never recover from the huge loss of men in the battle.

In 229 BC, invasions led by the Qin general Wang Jian were opposed by Li Mu and his subordinate officer Sima Xiang until 228 BC. According to some accounts, King Qian of Zhao ordered the execution of Li Mu and relieved Sima Xiang from his duties, due to disloyal advice from court officials and Qin infiltrators.

In 228 BC, Qin captured King Qian and conquered Zhao. Prince Jia, the step-brother of Qian, was proclaimed king at Dai Commandry and led the last Zhao forces against the Qin. The regime lasted until 222 BC when the Qin army captured him and squashed his forces at Dai.

Missing image
State of Zhao
(bronzeware script, ca. 800 BC)

List of Zhao rulers

Marquess Xian of Zhao
Marquess Lie of Zhao - noted for several reforms
Duke Wu of Zhao
Marquess Jing of Zhao
Marquess Cheng of Zhao
Marquess Su of Zhao
King Wuling of Zhao
King Huiwen of Zhao
King Xiaocheng of Zhao
King Daoxiang of Zhao
King Qian of Zhao
King Jia of Dai

See also

The kingdoms of Former Zhao and Later Zhao of the Sixteen Kingdoms

ja:趙 (戦国) no:Zhao (stat) zh-cn:赵国


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