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Encyclopedia > Zhang Liang

Zhang Liang (張良, d. 189 BC) (meaning Zhang who is of good conscience), courtesy name Zifang (子房), was a descendant from a noble family of State of Han during the Warring States Period. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all officials of the State of Han (韩). Zhang Liang had once planned an assassination against Qin Shi Huang but the employed assassin mistakenly destroyed the decoy vehicle. Zhang was then forced to flee. The attempt was the origin of a famous Chinese four-character idiom, 誤中副車. He later joined Liu Bang in 208 BC to rebel against the rule of Qin and helped him to establish Han Dynasty. He soon retired and became a practitioner of Taoism. Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC 200s BC 190s BC - 180s BC - 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC 130s BC Years: 194 BC 193 BC 192 BC 191 BC 190 BC - 189 BC - 188 BC 187 BC... The Han (simplified Chinese: 韩, traditional Chinese: 韓) was a state during the Warring States Period in China. ... Alternative meaning: Warring States Period (Japan) The Warring States Period (Traditional Chinese: 戰國時代; Simplified Chinese: 战国时代; Pinyin: Zhànguó Shídài) covers the period from sometime in the 5th century BC to the unification of China by the Qin in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part... Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇; Hanyu Pinyin: Qín Shǐ Huáng; Wade-Giles: Chin Shih-huang) (November / December 260 BCE – September 10, 210 BCE), personal name Zheng, was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 247 BCE to 221 BCE, and then the first emperor of a unified China... 成语 chéngyÇ” Four-character idioms, or chéngyÇ” (成語/成语, literally to become (part of) the language) are widely used in 文言 Classical Chinese, a literary form used in the Chinese written language from antiquity to until 1919, and are still commonly used in Vernacular writing today. ... Emperor Gao (256 BC or 247 BC–June 1, 195 BC), commonly known inside China as Gaozu, personal name Liu Bang, was the first emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty, ruling over China from 202 BC until 195 BC, and one of only two dynasty founders who emerged from the... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC Years: 213 BC 212 BC 211 BC 210 BC 209 BC - 208 BC - 207 BC 206 BC... The Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 漢朝; Simplified Chinese: 汉朝; Hanyu Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Han Chau; 206 BC–AD 220) followed the Qin Dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China. ...


Legends recounted that Zhang Liang had once helped an old man to put on his shoes and was rewarded a book on military strategy and tactics known as The Grand Duke's Art of War, with which he advised Liu. The same legends indicated that the old man, when he departed, told Zhang that after 13 years, he would see a strange yellow boulder, and that he was the yellow boulder. After 13 years, Zhang did see the unusual yellow boulder; he took it home and built a shrine for it. When he died, he was buried along with the yellow boulder.


Note: to distinguish between the State of Han (pinyin: Hán) and Han Dynasty (pinyin: Hàn), for the rest of this article, the State of Han (and its princes, with the same family name as the state) would be referred to as Hán, while Han Dynasty and its predecessor state, the Principality of Han, would simply be referred to as Han. Pinyin (Simplified Chinese: 汉语拼音; Traditional Chinese: 漢語拼音; Pinyin: HànyÇ” PÄ«nyÄ«n), also known as scheme of the Chinese phonetic alphabet (Simplified Chinese: 汉语拼音方案; Traditional Chinese: 漢語拼音方案; Pinyin: HànyÇ” PÄ«nyÄ«n fāngàn), while pin means spell(ing) and yin means sound(s)), is a system of romanization (phonemic notation...

Contents


The assassination attempt against Qin Shi Huang

As forementioned, Zhang once planned to assassinate Qin Shi Huang -- to avenge the emperor's destruction of Hán in 230 BC -- and in planning so, he spent his entire family fortune hiring assassins. In 217 BC, the plan was carried out, involving an assassin carrying heavy hammers, but it failed. The surprised emperor made orders that the persons responsible be captured, but Zhang eluded the dragnet. It was during this period of flight that Zhang, according to legend, met the old man who taught him military strategies. The Han (simplified Chinese: 韩, traditional Chinese: 韓) was a state during the Warring States Period in China. ... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 280s BC 270s BC 260s BC 250s BC 240s BC - 230s BC - 220s BC 210s BC 200s BC 190s BC 180s BC Years: 235 BC 234 BC 233 BC 232 BC 231 BC - 230 BC - 229 BC 228 BC... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 260s BC 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC - 210s BC - 200s BC 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC Years: 222 BC 221 BC 220 BC 219 BC 218 BC - 217 BC - 216 BC 215 BC...


Meeting Liu Bang and divided loyalties between serving him and reestablishing Hán

Zhang continued to have plans to reesstablish Hán. After Chen Sheng started a rebellion against Qin Dynasty in 209 BC, Zhang gathered about a hundred men and planned to join Chen's temporary successor as Prince of Chu, Jing Ju (景駒), when he met Liu Bang at Liu (劉, in modern Xuzhou, Jiangsu). He was impressed by Liu Bang, and chose to join him. When Zhang discussed military strategies with Liu, Liu often understood and accepted his suggestions, while those strategies were lost on other generals that Zhang talked with, which further impressed Zhang. Chen Sheng Wu Guang Uprising (Chinese: 陳勝吳廣起義, July 209 BC _ December 209 BC) was the first uprising by commoners in Chinese history. ... The Qin Dynasty (Chinese: 秦朝; Hanyu Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Chin Chao) (221 BC - 206 BC) was preceded by the Zhou Dynasty and followed by the Han Dynasty in China. ... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC Years: 214 BC 213 BC 212 BC 211 BC 210 BC - 209 BC - 208 BC 207 BC... Emperor Gao (256 BC or 247 BC–June 1, 195 BC), commonly known inside China as Gaozu, personal name Liu Bang, was the first emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty, ruling over China from 202 BC until 195 BC, and one of only two dynasty founders who emerged from the... Xuzhou (Chinese: 徐州; Hanyu Pinyin: ), known as Pengcheng (Chinese: 彭城; Hanyu Pinyin: ) in ancient times, is a prefecture-level city in northwestern Jiangsu province, Peoples Republic of China. ... Jiangsu (Simplified Chinese: 江苏; Traditional Chinese: 江蘇; Hanyu Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Chiang-su; Postal System Pinyin: Kiangsu) is a province of the Peoples Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. ...


Despite Zhang's good impression of Liu, his priority remained the reestablishment of Hán, and after Xiang Liang overthrew Jing and replaced Jing with a member of the Chu royalty, Mi Xin (羋心) as Prince Huai of Chu in summer 208 BC, Zhang managed to persuade Xiang that it would be advantageous to do the same with Hán. Xiang and Zhang found Hán Cheng (韓成), a descendant of Hán royalty, who previously had the title the Lord of Hengyang, and Xiang created Hán the Prince of Hán. Xiang also named Zhang Hán's prime minister, and Hán, assisted by Zhang, set out to try to recapture former Hán territories, but without much success, so they engaged in guerrilla warfare against Qin forces for a while. State of Chu (small seal script, 220 BC) Chu (楚), originally known as Jing (荆) and then Jingchu (荆楚), was an independent state that existed during Chinas Spring and Autumn period and, subsequently, the Warring States period. ... Emperor Yi of Chu (Traditional Chinese: 楚義帝, sometimes 南楚義帝, literally the Righteous Emperor of Chu), also known as Prince Huai of Chu (楚懷王), personal name Mi Xin (羋心) (d. ... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC Years: 213 BC 212 BC 211 BC 210 BC 209 BC - 208 BC - 207 BC 206 BC... Guerrilla War redirects here. ...


In summer 207 BC, after Xiang Liang's death, Liu, then commissioned by Prince Huai of Chu to command an expeditionary force against Qin proper (modern Shaanxi), temporarily joined forces against with Zhang and his prince, Hán Cheng. Together, they recaptured the old Hán capital Yangzhai (陽翟, in modern Xuchang, Henan) for Hán to stabilize his newly reestablished principality at. With Hán's blessing, Zhang rejoined Liu as his strategist on the expedition against Qin proper. Zhang would contribute many winning strategies on the way into Qin proper during the campaign of 207 BC. For example, when Liu's forces arrived on the heavily fortified Qin stronghold of Yao Gate (嶢關), close to the Qin capital of Xianyang, Zhang provided him the strategy of first promising a ceasefire, and then, as the Qin forces became unprepared, bypassing Yao Gate and attacking Qin forces from the rear, which led to the total collapse of Qin forces and the surrender of its last king Ziying in winter 207 BC. Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC Years: 212 BC 211 BC 210 BC 209 BC 208 BC - 207 BC - 206 BC 205 BC... Shaanxi (Simplified Chinese: 陕西; Traditional Chinese: 陝西; Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Shan-hsi; Postal System Pinyin: Shensi, pronounced like Shahn-shee) is a north-central province of the Peoples Republic of China, and includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River as well as the Qinling... Xuchang (Simplified Chinese: 许昌; Traditional Chinese: 許昌; pinyin: Xǔchāng), with a population of over 4 million people, is a city in Henan Province, China. ... Henan (Chinese: 河南; Hanyu Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Ho-nan), is a province of the Peoples Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. ... Xianyang (Simplified Chinese: 咸阳; Traditional Chinese: 咸陽; pinyin: ) was the capital of the state of Qin during the Warring States Period in Chinese history, and remained to be capital during the short-lived Qin Dynasty. ... Ziying (子嬰 zi5 ying1) ( ? - end of January 206 BC) was the last ruler of the Qin Dynasty of China, ruling as King of Qin (秦王) from mid-October to the beginning of December 207 BC. He was the son of Fusu (扶蘇), who was the eldest son of the First...


When Xiang Yu also arrived and nearly destroyed Liu out of jealousy, Zhang was instrumental in preventing total disaster for Liu at the Feast at Hong Gate, by first saving Liu from military annihilation and then from assassination, by obtaining the assistance of Xiang's uncle Xiang Bo (項伯). Xiang Yu é …ç¾½ Simplified: 项羽 (Wade-Giles: Hsiang Yü; pinyin: Xiàng YÇš; 232 BC - 202 BC) was a prominent general during the fall of the Qin Dynasty. ... The Feast at Hong Gate (Traditional Chinese: 鴻門宴; pinyin: Hóngményàn) was a historical event (206 BC or 205 BC -- it happened around the new year) later often memorialized in Chinese history, novels, and drama, including in Beijing opera. ...


Death of Hán Cheng and Zhang's subsequent permanent allegiance to Liu

Xiang, however, denied Liu the Principality of Qin, which should have been his under the promise by Prince Huai of Chu that whoever entered Qin proper first would be made the Prince of Qin. Instead, Xiang Yu divided the former Qin empire into 19 principalities, giving Liu the then-remote Principality of Han. Zhang's prince, Hán Cheng, was supposed to retain his Principality of Hán under this arrangement. Zhang, as Hán's prime minister, bid goodbye to Liu and returned to the Principality of Hán. As a parting gift, Liu gave him 120 kilograms of gold and two urns of pearls, all of which he gave to Xiang Bo.


Xiang would continue to bear a grudge against Zhang and Prince Hán Cheng, however, for having assisted Liu. Although Xiang's division of the empire involved Hán retaining his principality, Xiang did not actually permit Hán to govern it, but forced him to accompany Xiang back to the capital of Xiang's Principality of Western Chu, Pengcheng (彭城, in modern Xuzhou, Jiangsu). Not long after that, Xiang demoted Hán to Marquess of Rang, but soon, for an unknown reason, had Hán executed. He made one of his associates, Zheng Chang (鄭昌), not related to Hán royalty, the new Prince of Hán. Zhang remained titular prime minister of Hán under this arrangement, but aware of his own precarious position and cognizant how Xiang had effectively destroyed his hopes of a restored Principality of Hán, escaped and joined Liu in his Principality of Han in winter 206 BC. Liu created him the Marquess of Chengxin. State of Chu (small seal script, 220 BC) Chu (楚) was a kingdom in what is now southern China during the Spring and Autumn period (722-481 BCE) and Warring States Period (481-212 BCE). ... Xuzhou (Chinese: 徐州; Hanyu Pinyin: ), known as Pengcheng (Chinese: 彭城; Hanyu Pinyin: ) in ancient times, is a prefecture-level city in northwestern Jiangsu province, Peoples Republic of China. ... Jiangsu (Simplified Chinese: 江苏; Traditional Chinese: 江蘇; Hanyu Pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Chiang-su; Postal System Pinyin: Kiangsu) is a province of the Peoples Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. ... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC Years: 211 BC 210 BC 209 BC 208 BC 207 BC - 206 BC - 205 BC 204 BC...


Contributions to Liu Bang during Chu Han Contention

During the subsequent four-year war between Liu and Xiang, known as Chu Han Contention, Zhang continued to offer Liu many strategies that contributed to the eventual Han victory. One of the most immediate ones involved a (temporary) restoration of the Principality of Hán. Probably advised by Zhang in this, Liu created Hán Xin, also a member of Hán royalty (not to be confused with Liu Bang's general of the exact same name), the new Prince of Hán and sent him to attack Zheng Chang. Hán easily prevailed, and for the rest of the war old Hán territory was in Liu Bang's camp. The Chu-Han contention (楚漢相爭 or 楚漢春秋, 206–202 BC) was a post-Qin Dynasty interregnum period in China. ...


Other key strategic moves that Liu Bang made at Zhang's suggestion during the war include:

  • The persuasion of Ying Bu (英布), the Prince of Jiujiang to join his side, to Xiang Yu's detriment (winter 205 BC)
  • Immediate halt from implementing Li Yiji (酈食其)'s strategy of recreating other former Warring States principalities (spring 204 BC)
  • Forcing himself to, despite injuries, visit soldier camps to show that, in fact, his injuries were not that severe (winter 204 BC)
  • (Along with Chen Ping (陳平)) Agreement to create Han Xin the Prince of Qi, to prevent any possibility of Han declaring independence (spring 203 BC)
  • (Along with Chen Ping) Decision to make final assault against Xiang Yu despite a negotiated peace treaty, leading to Western Chu's destruction (autumn 203 BC)
  • Promise to create Han Xin the Prince of Chu and Peng Yue the Prince of Liang, to persuade them to join the final campaign against Xiang Yu (winter 203 BC)
  • Taught Liu Bang many times how to win supporters' hearts. It was Zhang's advice not to take up the palace residence during the Xianyang campaign, and suggested that Liu Bang leave the citizens in peace.

Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC Years: 210 BC 209 BC 208 BC 207 BC 206 BC - 205 BC - 204 BC 203 BC... Alternative meaning: Warring States Period (Japan) The Warring States Period (traditional Chinese: 戰國時代, simplified Chinese: 战国时代 pinyin Zhànguó Shídài) takes place from sometime in the 5th century BC to the unification of China by Qin in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC Years: 209 BC 208 BC 207 BC 206 BC 205 BC - 204 BC - 203 BC 202 BC... Han Xin (Simplified Chinese:韩信;Traditional Chinese:韓信; pinyin: Hán Xìn) (?-196 BC), aka Marquess of Huaiyin (淮陰侯), was a capable Chinese general under Liu Bang. ... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC Years: 208 BC 207 BC 206 BC 205 BC 204 BC - 203 BC - 202 BC 201 BC...

Contributions after the establishment of Han Dynasty

Liu was finally victorious in winter 203 BC, and he declared himself emperor (later known as Emperor Gao) in 202 BC, establishing Han Dynasty. After Han Dynasty's establishment, Zhang did not take on formal responsibility, but continued to be a key advisor to Emperor Gao. In summer 202 BC, he concurred with Lou Jing (婁敬)'s suggestion for Han to set its capital at Chang'an rather than Luoyang. He also began to follow Taoist disciplines, choosing to disengage himself from most governmental affairs. In winter 201 BC, when Emperor Gao created many contributors to his victory marquesses, Zhang was created the Marquess of Liu -- initially, Emperor Gao wanted to give him a larger march, but Zhang chose Liu to commemorate the fact that the two first met there. At Zhang's suggestion, Emperor Gao finished the creation of the marquesses in an expeditous manner, to prevent generals who were not initially given marches from conspiring against him out of resentment and fear. Emperor Gao (256 BC or 247 BC–June 1, 195 BC), commonly known inside China as Gaozu, personal name Liu Bang, was the first emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty, ruling over China from 202 BC until 195 BC, and one of only two dynasty founders who emerged from the... Centuries: 2nd century BC - 3rd century BC - 4th century BC Decades: 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC Years: 207 BC 206 BC 205 BC 204 BC 203 BC - 202 BC - 201 BC 200 BC 199 BC 198 BC 197 BC Events October... Changan â–¶(?) (Simplified Chinese: 长安; Traditional Chinese: 長安; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Chang-an) is the ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in China. ... Luoyang (Simplified Chinese: 洛阳; Traditional Chinese: 洛陽; Pinyin: Luòyáng) is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province, Peoples Republic of China. ... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 250s BC 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC - 200s BC - 190s BC 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC Years: 206 BC 205 BC 204 BC 203 BC 202 BC - 201 BC - 200 BC 199 BC... Mark or march (or various plural forms of these words) are derived from the Frankish word marka (boundary) and refer to an area along a border, e. ...


Zhang had no involvement in the subsequent deaths of Han Xin and Peng Yue, but when Emperor Gao set out to combat Ying Bu, who rebelled out of fear of suffering the same fate as Han and Peng, at Emperor Gao's request, in winter 196 BC, Zhang temporarily came out of retirement to assist Emperor Gao's son, Crown Prince Ying, in governing home territories. After Emperor Gao's victory over Ying Bu, during which he suffered an injury that would eventually lead to his death, he wanted to replace Crown Prince Ying with his youngest son, Liu Ruyi, the Prince of Zhao. Zhang tried to persuade him otherwise, but was not listened to, so Zhang claimed an illness and re-retired. (Eventually, however, other officials would be able to convince Emperor Gao to keep Prince Ying crown prince, and after Emperor Gao's death in summer 195 BC, Prince Ying ascended the throne as Emperor Hui.) Zhang appeared to have no involvement with the administration of Emperor Hui, and he died in the summer of 189 BC. Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC 200s BC - 190s BC - 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC Years: 201 BC 200 BC 199 BC 198 BC 197 BC - 196 BC - 195 BC 194 BC... Emperor Hui of Han (210 BC–188 BC) was the second emperor of the Han Dynasty in China. ... Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 240s BC 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC 200s BC - 190s BC - 180s BC 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC Years: 200 BC 199 BC 198 BC 197 BC 196 BC - 195 BC - 194 BC 193 BC... Centuries: 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC - 1st century BC Decades: 230s BC 220s BC 210s BC 200s BC 190s BC - 180s BC - 170s BC 160s BC 150s BC 140s BC 130s BC Years: 194 BC 193 BC 192 BC 191 BC 190 BC - 189 BC - 188 BC 187 BC...


Impact on Chinese history

Zhang was regarded as one of the greatest strategists in Chinese history, and the legends regarding how he received his strategies, as well as his later employment of Taoist disciplines, added mysterious and supernatural elements to later views of him. In traditional Chinese historians' view, he is usually applauded for how he managed to disassociate himself with political intrigue after the Han victory that he contributed much to. It should also be noted that Zhang always had the good of the state, not personal agenda, as his highest priority. He was not jealous of Emperor Gao's other strategists, Li Yiji, Chen Ping, and Lou Jing; rather, he evaluated their strategies in an even-handed manner, supported them when their strategies were correct, and was not afraid to oppose them when their strategies were not. In this way, modern managers may also have much to learn from Zhang.


 
 

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