Chapter 6 Record of Grand Historian (Shi Ji – 史記 第六卷 ) that was written by Mr Sima Qian (司馬遷) who lived 145BC to 86BC, during Han Emperor Wu Ti’s period!
The account of the origin of First Emperor is truly amazing, and no wonder the Chinese are very much addicted to their history.
Background of Qin Shi Huang
It was during the period of Warring States (戰國時代 453BC to 221BC) of
the Zhou Dynasty (周朝 1134BC to 256BC), in 294BC, that Qin Zhao Wang Ying
Ji (秦昭王嬴稷 306BC to 251BC), 34th ruler of the State of Qin (秦國), dispatched
an army of 100,000 strong to attack the State of Zhao (趙國). The ruler
of the State of Zhao was Zhao Hui Wang (趙惠王) who had ruled Zhao for five
years already. The Qin army was under the command of General Wang He (王
齕), General Wang Jian (王翦) and Yi Ren (異人) who was the grandson of
Qin Zhao Wang. After a long march the Qin army camped in a place near the
border of the State of Zhao.
Li Jishu (李繼叔), the commander of the Zhao’s frontier town of Zhanghe
(漳河), sent messengers to Handan (邯鄲), the capital of Zhao, to report
to Zhao Hui Wang that the Qin forces were going to invade Zhao. On hearing
of the news Zhao Hui Wang was terrified, but one of his officials named
Lin Xiangru (藺相如) said that he had plans to defeat the Qin army. Lin
Xiang Ru told Zhao Hui Wang to send forth 20,000 troops to ambush quietly
near the Qin camps. These troops were under the command of General Zhao
Qian (趙乾) and General Yi He (醫和). Zhao Hui Wang then ordered General
Lian Po (廉頗) to lead an army of 50,000 to join forces with the troops
of General Li Ji Shu in Zhanghe.
Having settled his troops in Zhanghe, the following day, General Lian Po
marched his troops out of Zhanghe to do battle with the Qin army. The Qin
army came out in force to encounter the Zhao troops. There were only a few
Qin soldiers left behind to guide their camps. Seeing the opportunity had
arrived the Zhao troops, who had been laying ambushed near the Qin camps,
sprang up and destroyed the Qin camps. They captured many heavy equipments.
Yi Ren, the grandson of the ruler of Qin, was in his camp reading the maps
when the Zhao soldiers entered his camp. Yi Ren was captured by the Zhao
soldiers and became the prison of war.
Meanwhile, in the battlefield, the Zhao forces put the Qin army to rout.
The Qin soldiers fled for their lives. The two generals of the Qin army
General Wang He and General Wang Jian escaped unharmed.
The Zhao army returned in triumph to the capital, Handan. They displaced
the war booties and the Qin prisoners of war with Yi Ren in the lead. Zhao
Hui Wang wanted to execute Yi Ren, but he was advised by Lin Xiangru not
to do so on the ground that Qin was a very powerful State and Qin Zhao Wang
might attack Zhao again if his grandson was executed. It was better to use
Yi Ren as a hostage to prevent further incursion by Qin.
A few days later, an official from Qin brought the message that Qin would
live in peace with Zhao provided that no harm was being done unto Yi Ren.
Zhao Hui Wang accepted the peaceful proposal and ordered General Zhao Qian
to be the custodian of Yi Ren. The Zhao ruler also told the General to be
kind, lenient and not to harm Yi Ren.
There was a big crowd in the street watching General Zhao Qian taking the
royal prison of war, Yi Ren, to his house. Among the crowd there was a man
by the name of Lu Buwei (呂不韋) who was a smart and very talented businessman.
Lu Buwei sighed as soon as he saw Yi Ren whom he regarded as a strange
Lu Buwei (呂不韋) was the most political minded businessman in the land.
When he was young he was a student of Gui Guzi (鬼谷子) who was a very learned
master. Lu Buwei learned from him the art of fortune telling. He was not
a resident of the State of Zhao (趙國) and was doing business in Handan
(邯鄲), the capital of Zhao, at that time.
As soon as he saw the face of Yi Ren (異人) he exclaimed and said to himself
that Yi Ren was a strange commodity. He intended to invest heavily on Yi
Ren who was, at that time, following General Zhao Qian (趙乾) through the
streets of Han Dan on the way to the General’s resident.
Lu Buwei went home and asked his father:
"How much was the return if he were to invest in the farm?"
His father replied:
"The return will be about ten times."
Lu Bu Wei asked:
"To invest on jewellery?"
His father replied:
" More than a hundred times."
Lu Buwei asked again:
" If I were to invest on someone who could become a King, later?"
His father replied:
"The returns will be unlimited!."
Lu Buwei told his father what he had in mind on Yi Ren. He had a plan of
arranging Yi Ren to return to Qin. If his plan were successful he could
be very rich and become a noble man in the near future. He told his father
that Yi Ren was the grandson of the ruler of Qin and was presently being
held as a hostage in Zhao. He cautioned his father to be very careful lest
they could become bankrupt.
Lu Buwei wanted to be a friend of General Zhao Qian, the custodian of Yi
Ren. He heard that there was a man named Ji Mo (季默), who lived in the
east of the city, was the best friend of General Zhao Qian. With a few presents
Lu Buwei went to see Ji Mo. Lu Buwei introduced himself to Ji Mo that he
was a businessman he would like to know a few officials especially General
Zhao Qian. Ji Mo was willing to introduce him to General Zhao Qian and a
meeting was arranged.
On the meeting day Lu Buwei gave General Zhao Qian ten gold bullions and
a pair of fine jade as a token of friendship. General Zhao was glad to be
a friend of such a generous businessman like Lu. From then on General Zhao
and Lu became good friends.
On the festival day of Duanyang (端陽 the 5the day of the fifth month) General
Zhao Qian invited Lu Buwei and Ji Mo for dinner. General Zhao Qian also
asked Yi Ren to come and join them. Pretending not to recognize Yi Ren,
Lu asked General Zhao who was that strange man. General Zhao told Lu the
resume of Yi Ren and introduced him to Lu who eventually siting next to
this noble man from Qin during the dinner.
The next day Lu Buwei went to see Yi Ren. General Qian Qian was not at home
because he was having important discussions with Zhao Hui Wang(趙惠王),
the ruler of Zhao, in the palace.
Yi Ren told Lu that he was an unwanted man from Qin and asked Lu not to
bother about him. However, since there was no one around, Lu told Yi Ren
that he intended to use his fortune to help him escape and return to Qin.
Lu Buwei said:
"Qin Zhao Wang (秦昭王), your grandfather, is very old. Your father, An
Guo Jun (安國君), the crown prince, although he has many wives he loves
only Madam Hua Yang (華陽) who has no son. You have more than twenty brothers
and you are not the eldest. The longer you stay in Zhao the least chance
you have for returning to Qin. When Qin Zhao Wang dies and your father becomes
the ruler of Qin you will be forgotten and sure will die of old aged in
After hearing this Yi Ren was very sad and asked Lu what to do. Lu told
him that he had a plan and was willing to spend his fortune to help him
returning to Qin. He told Yi Ren that he would go to Qin to see his father
and Madam Hua Yang and to tell them that he was a very filial piety and
a patriotic son. He would ask Madam Hua Yang to adopt him as her son. He
presumed that Madam Hua Yang would be very happy since she had no son. Lu
also told Yi Ren that If he ever return to Qin for sure Madam Hua Yang would
ask his father to make him the crown prince if his father became the ruler
of Qin after the death of his grandfather.
Yi Ren was very happy to hear that. He told Lu that if he could help him
to return to Qin he would share his wealth and nobility with Lu. Finally,
Lu gave Yi Ren five hundred pieces of gold for his daily expenses and advised
him to make new friends. Yi Ren was very grateful to Lu.
Several days later Lu went to see General Zhao Qian and told him that he
was going away for a business trip for two months. General Zhao Qian gave
him a farewell dinner and said bon voyage.
With two of his house servants Lu Buwei left Han Dan, and was on his way
to Xianyang (咸陽), the capital of the State of Qin (秦國). After a long
journey, master and servants arrived in the Qin capital. Having settled
themselves in a hotel, the next day, Lu went to enquire about the address
of Madam Hua Yang (華陽夫人). People said that Madam Hua Yang had no relatives
except an older sister who was known in the city as Huang Yi (皇姨). The
husband of Huang Yi was known as Huang Yi Zhang (黃姨丈). This couple had
many real estates. Lu went to see Huang Yi Zhang pretending that he wanted
to rent a house. To reveal his real intention, Lu introduced himself as
the friend and messenger of Yi Ren (異人), the grandson of the ruler of
Qin, who was presently being held as a hostage in the state of Zhao (趙國
). He told Huang Yi Zhang that he had fifty pieces of gold for Huang Yi.
Huang Yi Zhang was amazed and quickly sent a servant to call his wife back
to meet Lu.
After introducing himself, Lu gave Huang Yi the fifty pieces of gold and
told her that he wanted to see her sister Madam Hua Yang. Lu also told Huang
Yi that Yi Ren was a very wise, sincere, honest and learned man who had
a birthday present for Madam Hua Yang. He heard that since Madam Hua Yang
had no son and Yi Ren had no mother and it was a good idea for Madam Hua
Yang to adopt Yi Ren as her son. After An Guo Jun (安國君) had become the
ruler of Qin and Madam Hua Yang had grown old and lost her beauty, Madam
Hua Yang might not become his favourite wife. In that case Madam Hua Yang
at least had a son to care for her old age. If Madam Hua Yang adopted Yi
Ren as her son and asked An Guo Jun to induct Yi Ren as the heir apparent
to him her position as the official wife of An Guo Jun was secured. Madam
Hua Yang would also become the mother of a crown prince, the future ruler
of Qin. Huang Yi told Lu to stay in one of her houses and would take him
to see her sister the next day.
The next day morning Huang Yi took Lu to see Madam Hua Yang. Huang Yi told
Lu to wait in the waiting room and she went in to see her sister. Huang
Yi told her sister that although Yi Ren was a hostage in Zhao yet he was
always thinking of her and his father. She also told her sister that Yi
Ren had a present for her birthday. Madam Hua Yang was overjoyed to hear
that there was a son of her husband who had the affection of her. She summoned
Lu to come in to see her. With due respect Lu presented Madam Hua Yang the
present and a letter from Yi Ren. The presents were four fine pearls and
a pair of jade earrings. Madam Hua Yang was overwhelmed by the presents
and the affection of Yi Ren. Lu told her the plight of Yi Ren and wanted
her to help Yi Ren to return home. Madam Hua Yang did not open Yi Ren’s
letter because it was addressed to his father and she told Lu to go back
to the rented house and she would contact him later.
When they were alone Huang Yi told her sister what Lu had told her. Madam
Hua Yang was in tears when she heard about her being without a son. So she
decided to adopt Yi Ren as her son and she would ask her husband to induct
Yi Ren as the heir apparent to him.
While the two sisters were chatting a maid announced that the crown prince,
An Guo Jun, had returned home. Madam Hua Yang told her husband about the
plight of his son, Yi Ren, in Zhao. She gave her husband the letter from
Yi Ren. It was a letter from a filial piety son wishing his parents of good
health. In the letter Yi Ren asked his parents to help him to return home.
An Guo Jun was in tears after reading the letter. Knowing how he felt for
his son, immediately, Madam Hua Yang knelt down in front of her husband
and asked for his permission to adopt Yi Ren as her son. She also begged
him to make Yi Ren his heir apparent. Seeing his beautiful wife kneeing
there he felt a bit soft and allowed her to adopt Yi Ren and agreed to make
him his heir apparent even though he had more than twenty sons.
However, An Guo Jun said that it would be very hard for him to appoint Yi
Ren as his successor because he was still being held as a hostage in Zhao
and there was no one who could bring him back to Qin. Madam Hua Yang told
him that there was a businessman named Lu Buwei who could help Yi Ren to
return home. On hearing this An Guo Jun told a servant to fetch Lu. The
crown prince asked Lu how he could help Yi Ren to return to Qin. Lu told
him that he had a plan, but on condition that Yi Ren would become his successor.
The crown prince agreed. Lu asked the agreement to be curved in a pair
of jade. Lu also requested the crown prince, An Guo Jun, to send a large
force to receive them near the border between Qin and Zhao when the time
had arrived for them to escape from Zhao. The troops could be used to protect
them when they crossed the border. The crown agreed with all the suggestions
by Lu as long as Lu could get his son back to Qin.
The next day Lu Buwei said farewell to the crown prince, his wife, Huang
Yi and Huang Yi Zhang. Lu with his house servants began his journey back
After several days on the road Lu Buwei with his house servants arrived
back at his business residence in Handan. Lu Buwei told his father, what
he had been doing in Xian Yang. Lu Buwei noticed his mistress, Zhu Ji (朱
姬), looked pale and tired. He asked her:
"What have you done to yourself? I was away for only two months and now
you look exhausted and tired."
"Last month I found out that I was pregnant. It is more than a month now.
That is why I am so tired."
Several years ago, Lu bought Zhu Ji in a market when she was only a little
girl. In the beginning Lu used her as a house servant, but she became very
beautiful when she grew older. So Lu took her as his mistress. He was delighted
with the news and thought that it was an opportunity to become a kingmaker.
He told Zhu Ji that Yi Ren was the grandson of the ruler of Qin. He was
currently being held as a hostage in Zhao. He also told her that when Yi
Ren returned to Qin he would be the successor to his father and later would
become the crown prince and the ruler of Qin. Zhu Ji said:
"What has it got to do with me?"
"I have a plan and I want you to have an affair with him. Later I would
force him to marry you. When Yi Ren becomes the ruler of Qin and you will
become the official wife of the ruler of Qin. Our son would become the ruler
of Qin. The future ruler of Qin will be from the Lu (呂) family and not
the Ying (嬴) family, ha ha ha."
The next morning, Lu Buwei brought a few gifts and presents and went to
see General Zhao Qian and Yi Ren. Lu stayed for lunch with them. After lunch
General Zhao went to the bathroom to wash his hands. Quietly, Lu told Yi
Ren about his trip and the meeting with Madam Hua Yang who was willing to
adopt him as her son. His father was willing to appoint him as his successor.
Yi Ren was very happy with the good news. Before he left Lu invited General
Zhao and Yi Ren to his house for dinner the next evening.
The next evening General Zhao and Yi Ren came to Lu’s house for dinner.
After the dinner Lu invited them to the garden at the backyard for a drink.
While they were having a good time Lu asked a servant to call Zhu Ji out
to join them. Zhu Ji was a very beautiful woman. To Yi Ren, who had not
been in contact with any female since he became a hostage, Zhu Ji was a
fairly just came down from the Jade Emperor’s palace in heaven. Yi Ren told
Lu that he had never seen such a beautiful woman like Zhu Ji.
After many cups of wine General Zhao was drunk. Two servants assisted him
to a room to sleep. The moment he hit the deck General Zhao was fast asleep,
snoring away. Lu was pretending to be drunk and slept on a long bench. Zhu
Ji told all the servants to go away. Yi Ren and Zhu Ji continued their conversation
but not drinking. Yi Ren was a green horn without any experience with women.
In no time Zhu Ji seduced him to have sex with her. In the middle of the
act Lu woke up and caught them red-handed. Lu was pretending to be very
angry and scolded Yi Ren for being ungrateful. Zhu Ji was crying and said
that she had been sexually molested. She was pretending to look for a sword
to commit suicide by cutting her own throat. However, Lu calmed her down
and asked Yi Ren if he was in love with Zhu Ji. Yi Ren answered positively.
Zhu Ji told Lu that she was also in love with Yi Ren. Finally, Lu told them
that since they were in love they should get marry.
General Zhao was awakened by the noisy commotion and he asked what was going
on. After telling General Zhao what had happened between Yi Ren and Zhu
Ji while he was sleeping in the bedroom, Lu asked him what to do with them.
General Zhao said that they should get marry and he would be their match
maker. Yi Ren and Zhu Ji were married on the ninth month in 252BC. A baby
boy was born to Zhu Ji on the sixth month the following year. A messenger
was sent to inform Lu on the arrival of the baby. Lu went to congratulate
Yi Ren. General Zhao became the Godfather of the baby. Yi Ren named his
son Zheng (政 who was later to become the first Emperor in China 始皇帝).
One day, Lu went home and told his father that it was time to take Yi Ren
and his family to escape from Zhao. He told his father to go to General
Zhao’s residence to invite Yi Ren and his family for dinner the next evening.
Without any suspicion General Zhao allowed them to go because it was customary
for the new mother to visit her parental home with the new born.
That evening, after dinner Lu sent a messenger to Xianyang to inform An
Guo Jun that they were on their way to Qin. Lu told Yi Ren to help him to
pack some clothing. Assisted by a few house servants Lu put Yi Ren’s family
to a horse cart and his father and a few of his trusted servants to another
cart. As soon as the sky had darkened they were on their way heading towards
Lu Buwei (呂不韋) and Yi Ren (異人) did not escape that night as they had
to stay back lest General Zhao Qian (趙乾) might go after them. Zhu Ji (朱
姬) with her baby son, Zheng (政), Lu Buwei’s father and two house servants
went off in a horse cart heading for Xianyang (咸陽). That night Yi Ren
returned to the General Zhao’s residence as if nothing had happened. He
told the General Zhao that his wife and the baby wanted to stay for a few
days in Lu’s house.
The next day Lu heard that General Zhao Qian (趙乾) was too busy supervising
the drilling of Zhao troops and he would not be free for a few days.
Several days later, Lu went to see General Zhao Qian and Yi Ren. General
Zhao Qian invited him to play chess in the garden pavilion at the back of
his residence. Yi Ren came out to watch them playing. General Qian Zhao
said that whoever had lost three sets should treat for a dinner. Lu consecutively
lost three sets. Yi Ren also joined in to play and he too consecutively
lost three sets to General Zhao Qian who was very happy. Actually, it was
a plan set up by Lu. After the chess game Lu invited General Zhao Qian and
Yi Ren for a picnic in a beautiful park about ten lis (one li = 1/3 of one
English mile) away from the capital. They agreed to meet each other in the
park the next day afternoon. That night Lu prepared himself for the escape
with Yi Ren. He told his servants to choose the best four horses for a long
The next day afternoon, they met in the park. Lu took with him a dancer
from the local bar. In the park pavilion they drank the best wine and ate
the food prepared by Lu’s servants. By evening General Zhao Qian was drunk.
All the body guards of General Zhao Qian were also drunk because Lu’s servants
had provided them with plenty of free wine. Lu told his servants to go home
to prepare for dinner. The servants went back to the city with the female
Lu and Yi Ren mounted the horses and rode away towards Xianyang. Within
one night they had covered about two hundred lis.
It was already passed midnight when General Zhao Qian sobered up. He looked
for Lu and Yi Ren but they were nowhere to be found. He saw all his body
guards were fast asleep. He realized that he had been tricked and Lu and
Yi Ren had escaped. He woke up his body guards and hurried back to the city,
but the city gates were closed. He had no alternative but to stay outside
the city wall and waited for the day break.
As soon as the city gates were opened the next morning General Zhao Qian
rushed into the city heading for Lu’s house as he wanted to arrest his father
and the family of Yi Ren. However, Lu house was locked and no body answered
the bell. The neighbours told the General Zhao that Lu Buwei’s father and
the family of Yi Ren had left for a long journey about four or five days
In desperation General Zhao Qian went to see Zhao Hui Wang (趙惠王), the
ruler of the state of Zhao. Zhao Hui Wang ordered General Zhao Qian to chase
after Lu and Yi Ren.
Immediately, Zhao Hui Wang dispatched a messenger to Li Jishu (李繼叔),
the commander of the frontier town of Zhanghe (漳河), ordering him to arrest
Lu and Yi Ren. Before the messenger reached the frontier town Lu and Yi
Ren had already passed through the custom office of Zhanghe and were heading
towards Xianyang. Half a day later, the warrant of arresting Lu and Yi Ren
finally arrived at Zhanghe, but it was too late. Without hesitation General
Li Jishu dispatched a cavalry to go after the fugitives.
When Lu and Yi Ren arrived on the bank of the Yellow River they saw the
Zhao troops galloping from behind towards them. Yi Ren sighted:
"We are between the devil and the big river.
This is the end of my life."
Lu Buwei shouted:
" Look! There, on the east bank, are the Qin soldiers
who are coming to receive us."
Indeed, there were the Qin cavalry riding towards the Zhao cavalrymen. In
no time both sides were engaged in battle. The Qin cavalry defeated the
Zhao cavalrymen who fled back to Zhanghe. General Zhang Han (章邯) the commander
of the Qin cavalry greeted Yi Ren with respect and escorted them to Xianyang.
… continue in Part 2