Han (state)

Han (Chinese: , Old Chinese: *[g]ˤar) was an ancient Chinese state during the Warring States period of ancient China, located in modern-day Shanxi and Henan.

Its territory directly blocked the passage of the state of Qin into the North China Plain and thus it was a frequent target of Qin's military operations. Although Han had attempted several self-strengthening reforms (notably under the noted legalist Shen Buhai), it never overcame Qin and was instead the first of the warring states to be conquered by it.

The Qin invasion of Han's Shangdang Commandery ushered in the bloodiest battle of the whole period (at Changping) in 260 BC.

403 BC–230 BC
Status Kingdom
Capital Yangzhai (before 375 BC)
Xinzheng (after 375 BC)
Religion Chinese folk religion
ancestor worship
Government Monarchy
Historical era Warring States period
403 BC
• Conquered by Qin
230 BC
Currency spade money
other ancient Chinese coinage
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Jin (Chinese state)
Qin Dynasty
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Standard Mandarin
Hanyu Pinyin Hán
Gwoyeu Romatzyh Harn
Wade–Giles Han2
IPA [xǎn]
Yue: Cantonese
Yale Romanization Hòhn
Jyutping Hon4
Southern Min
Tâi-lô Hân
Old Chinese
Baxter–Sagart (2014) *[g]ˤar
State of Han
(small seal script, 220 BC)



According to the Records of the Grand Historian, the royal family of Han was a cadet branch of the state of Jin. The founder of Han clan was the uncle of Duke Wu of Jin Wuzi of Han.

Members of the family became ministers in the powerful state of Jin and were granted Hanyuan (modern Hancheng in Shaanxi).

Spring and Autumn period

During the Spring and Autumn period, the Han family gradually gained influence and importance within Jin. In 403 BC, Jing of Han, along with Wen of Wei and Lie of Zhao partitioned Jin among themselves. In Chinese history, this Partition of Jin is the event which marks the end of the Spring and Autumn period and the beginning of the Warring States. Subsequently, Han was an independent polity. King Lie eventually recognized the new states and elevated the rulers to (hou, "marquess").

Warring States Period

Han's highest point occurred under the rule of Marquess Xi. Xi appointed Shen Buhai as his chancellor and implemented his Legalist policies. These strengthened the state and the realm became a xiaokang society. Under Xuanhui (332–312 BC), Han declared itself an independent kingdom.

However, Han was disadvantaged in the competition of the Warring States because Jin's partition had left it surrounded on all sides by other strong states – Chu to the south, Qi to the east, Qin to the west, and Wei to the north. It was the smallest of the seven states and, without any easy way to expand its own territory and resources, it was bullied militarily by its more powerful neighbors.


During its steady decline, Han eventually lost the power to defend its territory and had to request military assistance from other states. The contest between Wei and Qi over control of Han resulted in the Battle of Maling, which established Qi as the preëminent state in the east. In 260 BC, Qin's invasion of Han led to Zhao intervention and the Battle of Changping.

During the late years of the era, in an attempt to drain Qin's resources in an expensive public works project, the state of Han sent the civil engineer Zheng Guo to Qin to persuade them to build a canal. The scheme, while expensive, backfired spectacularly when it was eventually completed: the irrigation abilities of the new Zhengguo Canal far outweighed its cost and gave Qin the agricultural and economic means to dominate the other six states. Han was the first to fall, in 230 BC.

In 226 BC, ex-Han nobility launched a failed rebellion in former capital Xinzheng, and An, the last king of Han, was put to death the same year.

Han Xin was created "Prince" or "King of Han" (韩王) by Liu Bang after the establishment of the Han Empire (漢帝國). He was removed to Taiyuan Commandery and the territory of the kingdom of Dai, where he defected to the Xiongnu and led raids against the Han Empire until his death.

Culture and society

Before Qin unified China, each state had its own customs and culture. According to the Yu Gong or Tribute of Yu, composed in the 4th or 5th century BC and included in the Book of Documents, there were nine distinct cultural regions of China, which are described in detail in this book. The work focuses on the travels of the titular sage, Yu the Great, throughout each of the regions. Other texts, predominantly military, also discussed these cultural variations.[1]

One of these texts was The Book of Master Wu, written in response to a query by Marquis Wu of Wei on how to cope with the other states. Wu Qi, the author of the work, declared that the government and nature of the people were reflective of the terrain they live in. Of Han, he said:

The two states of Han and Zhao train their troops rigorously but have difficulty in applying their skills to the battlefield.

— Wuzi, Master Wu

Han and Zhao are states of the Central Plain. Theirs are a gentle people, weary from war and experienced in arms, but have little regard for their generals. The soldiers' salaries are meager and their officers have no strong commitment to their countries. Although their troops are experienced, they cannot be expected to fight to the death. To defeat them, we must concentrate large numbers of troops in our attacks to present them with certain peril. When they counterattack, we must be prepared to defend our positions vigorously and make them pay dearly. When they retreat, we must pursue and give them no rest. This will grind them down.

— Wuzi, Master Wu


Title Name Reign Alternative Title(s)
Pre-State sovereigns
Hán Wàn
Hán Jiǎn
Hán Yú
Hán Jué
Hán Qǐ
Hán Xū
Hán Bùxìn
Hán Gēng
Hán Hǔ
Hán Qǐzhāng
424 BC – 409 BC
State sovereigns
Marquess Jing
Hán Qián
408 BC – 400 BC
Marquess Lie
Hán Qǔ
399 BC – 387 BC Marquess Wu (韓武侯)
Marquess Wen
unknown 386 BC – 377 BC
Marquess Ai
unknown 376 BC – 374 BC
Marquess Gong
Hán Ruòshān
374 BC – 363 BC Marquess Zhuang (韓莊侯)
Marquess Yi (韓懿侯)
Marquess Xi
Hán Wǔ
362 BC – 333 BC Marquess Zhao (韓昭侯)
King Xuanhui
unknown 332 BC – 312 BC King Xuan (韓宣王)
Marquess Wei (韓威侯), before 323 BC
King Xiang
unknown 311 BC – 296 BC King Xiang'ai (韓襄哀王)
King Daoxiang (韓悼襄王)
King Xi
Hán Jiù
295 BC – 273 BC
King Huanhui
unknown 272 BC – 239 BC
King An
Hán Ān
238 BC – 230 BC

Rulers family tree

Han state
Mu of Jin 晉穆侯
Marquis of Jin
812–785 BC
Wen of Jin 晉文侯
Marquis of Jin
780–746 BC
Huan Shu of Quwo
745–731 BC
Zhao of Jin 晉昭侯
Marquis of Jin
745–739 BC
Hán Wàn 韓萬
Wuzi of Han 韩武子
Ruler of Han
Zhuang Bo
of Quwo
731–716 BCE
Qiubo of Han
Ruler of Han
Hán Jiǎn 韓简
Dingbo 韓定伯
Ruler of Han
Hán Yú 韓輿
Ziyu 子舆
Ruler of Han
Hán Jué 韓厥
Xianzi of Han 韩献子
Ruler of Han
Hán Qǐ 韓起
Xuanzi of Han 韓宣子
Ruler of Han
Hán Xū 韓須
Zhenzi of Han 韓貞子
Ruler of Han
Hán Bùxìn 韓不信
Jianzi of Han 韓簡子
Ruler of Han
Hán Gēng 韓庚
Zhuangzi 韓莊子
Ruler of Han
Hán Hǔ 韓虎
Kangzi of Han 韓康子
Ruler of Han
Hán Qǐzhāng 韓啓章
Wuzi of Han 韓武子
Ruler of Han
424–409 BC
Hán Qián 韓虔
Jing of Han 韩景侯
Marquess of Han
Hán Qǔ 韓取
Lie (Wu) of Han
Marquess of Han
399–387 BC
Wen of Han
Marquess of Han
386–377 BC
Ai of Han 韓哀侯
Marquess of Han
376–374 BC
Hán Ruòshān 韓若山
Gong of Han 韓共侯
Marquess of Han
374–363 BC
Hán Wǔ 韓武
Xi of Han 韓厘侯
Marquess of Han
362 BC–333 BC
Xuanhui of Han
King of Han
332–312 BC
Xiang of Han 韓襄王
King of Han
311–296 BC
Hán Jiù 韓咎
Xi of Han 韩釐王
King of Han
295–273 BC
Jǐ shī 虮虱
Huanhui of Han
King of Han
272–239 BC
Xin of Han
King of Han
205–196 BC
Hán Ān 韓安
An of Han 韩王安
King of Han
?–238–230–226 BC

Famous people

Han in astronomy

Han is represented by the star 35 Capricorni[2] in the "Twelve States" asterism, part of the "Girl" lunar mansion in the "Black Turtle" symbol. Han is also represented by the star Zeta Ophiuchi in the "Right Wall" asterism, part of the "Heavenly Market" enclosure.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Lewis 2007, p. 12
  2. ^ Ian Ridpath's Startales - Capricornus the Sea Goat
  3. ^ Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy. "天文教育資訊網". 24 Jun 2006. (in Chinese)

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.