The People's Government of YunCheng City
Lian Po
Issue time:2021-09-04

Lian Po(廉颇) was born in 327 B.C. and died in 243 B.C. when he was 84 years old. He was an outstanding military general of Zhao State during Warring States Period. He lived in the period of King Huiwen (298B.C.-266 B.C.), King Xiaocheng (266B.C.-245 B.C.), and King Daoxiang of Zhao State (245B.C.-236B.C.).

At the beginning of King Huiwen of Zhao State, Qi State and Qin State were the most powerful states in the east and west. In order to expand its power, Qin State invaded Zhao State for many times. Unfortunately, Qin State was defeated by Zhao State. Qin State had to change its strategy and carried out vertical integration tactic. In the 54th year of King Huiwen (258 B.C.), Qin State and Zhao State became reconciled in Zhongyang (now the west of Zhongyang county, Shanxi). Qin State united Han State, Yan State, Wei State and Zhao State to invade Qi State, which was defeated utterly. In the 16th year of King Huiwen (283 B.C.), Lian Po led the army of Zhao State to invade Qi State and captured Yangjin (now the west of Hancheng county, Shandong Province. It was Wei State’s territory originally, later it belonged to Qi State); therefore, Zhao State became the head of six states. When Lian Po returned after victory, he was appointed as Shang Qing (at that time, it was the highest civil official, equivalent to prime minister). Deferred by the power of Lian Po, Qin State was too scared to invade Zhao State. From then on, Lian Po led the army of Zhao State to emerge victorious almost in every battle.

In the 32th year of Emperor Nan of Zhou Dynasty (the 16th year of King Huiwen of Zhao State, 283 B.C.), Zhao State gained He Shi Bi (a priceless jade). Qin State would like to change it with 15 cities. Zhao sent Lin Xiangru, the “hanger-on” of the eunuch Miuxian, to go to Qin State with He Shi Bi as envoy. With tremendous courage and wisdom, Lin Xiangru returned to Zhao State with He Shi Bi intact, winning a diplomatic victory over Qin State.

Later, Qin State invaded Zhao State and captured Shicheng. Several years later, Qin State invaded Zhao State again and killed 20000 soldiers of Zhao. Then, King of Qin would like to meet King of Zhao to make peace in Mianchi (now the west of Mianchi county, Henan Province). The king of Zhao was too scared to head for there. Lian Po and Lin Xiangru held a discussion and believed the King of Zhao should demonstrate his courage and the strength of Zhao State. When Lian Po saw off to the King of Zhao and Lin Xiangru, he said: “this journey may last for 30 days. If you couldn’t come back after 30 days, please make the prince the king, so that Qin State wouldn’t threaten Zhao State”. Lian Po’s careful arrangement gave the King of Zhao more courage. In the meeting of Mianchi, Lin Xiangru negotiated with King of Qin in a way neither humble nor arrogant and responded to all kinds of means used by king of Qin unflinchingly. He not only saved Zhao State’s reputation, but also deterred King of Qin and his ministers. Eventually, King of Zhao returned safely.

After the meeting, King of Zhao appointed Lin Xiangru as Shang Qing, which was higher than Lian Po’s official position. Lian Po was dissatisfied with Lin Xiangru’s appointment as Shang Qing. He thought that as a general of Zhao State, he had made great efforts to attack cities and expand territory. He openly threatened to humiliate Lin Xiangru in public. When Lin Xiangru knew it, he did not want to compete with Lian Po, so he adopted a tolerant attitude. When they attended the king’s court, in order not to make Lian Po rank under himself, he always made excuses of illness. Sometimes, when Lin Xiangru went out by carriage and saw Lian Po coming in the distance, he simply turned around and avoided seeing him. The hangers-on of Lin Xiangru were not satisfied. Lin Xiangru explained: “I dared to reproach the King of Qin and humiliate his ministers at court. Will I be afraid of Lian Po? The reason why powerful Qin State did not dare to invade Zhao State was that Lian Po and I were officials at the same time. If we fought with each other, it would be like two tigers fighting, one of us must be injured. The reason why I avoid him is to put the national crisis above personal grievances.” After hearing this, Lian Po was deeply touched. One day, when there were many hangers-on in Lin Xiangru’ home, Lian Po came with thorns on his back and asked Lin Xiangru to punish him. From then on, they became bosom friends who were willing to die for each other.  

The story of “General and Prime Minister Making Up” was presented in various forms of literature and art by later generations. Its strong patriotic emotions drew people’s tears and inspired them a lot. Lian Po’s honesty and frank character made people feel amiable and lovely. 

In the 20th year of King Huiwen of Zhao State (278 B.C.), Lian Po attacked Qi State eastward and defeated its army. Two years later, Lian Po invaded Qi State again and captured nine cities. The following year, Lian Po attacked Wei State and captured Fangling (now twenty miles south of Anyang, Henan Province) and Anyang City (now forty-three miles southwest of Anyang County in Henan Province). Because of harmonious relationship between Lian Po and Lin Xiangru, all the people of Zhao State united together and were dedicated to serving the state. Zhao State was so powerful that it became a barrier to prevent Qin State to invade eastward. For the next ten years, Qin State dared not to attack Zhao State.

In 266 B.C., King Huiwen of Zhao died, and King Xiaocheng ascended to the throne. During this period, Qin State adopted the strategy of “associating with the distant states and attacking the near ones“. It made good relations with Qi State and Chu State, and attacked neighboring small states at the same time. In 260 B.C., Qin State began to attack Shangdang of Han State. The army of Han State felt isolated and helpless, so prefecture chief Fengting gave away Shangdang to Zhao State. Thereupon, Qin State and Zhao State started a war against each other for Shangdang. At that time, the famous general Zhao She has died and Lie Xiangru was seriously ill, so there was only Lian Po who could be in charge of military affairs. As the commander in chief, Lian Po led the army of 200,000 soldiers to block the troops of Qin State in Changping (now northwest of Gaoping City, Shanxi Province). At that time, the Qin Army had captured Yewang in the South (now Qinyang, Henan Province) and Shangdang in the North (now the central part of Shanxi Province), cutting off the North-South connection of Changping and booming the morale. The army of Zhao State came after a long journey, so the military strength and soldiers’ attitude were in a disadvantageous position. In the face of this situation, Lian Po correctly adopted the policy of building fortifications, exhausting the enemy and attacking them with opportunities. He ordered the army of Zhao State to build strong defense. In spite of several challenges from the army of Qin, Lian Po ordered soldiers to stay put and refused to confront them directly. At the same time, Lian gathered together the people in Shangdang area to engage in battlefield transportation and the work of building fortifications against Qin State. After three years, the soldiers of Qin State gradually lost morale and patience. Qin State decided to adopt the stratagem of “sowing discord among the enemy”. Qin State let the King of Zhao believe that the most worrying and fearful thing of Qin State was to replace Lian Po with Zhao Kuo. The King of Zhao was eager to win, and finally got into the stratagem. He thought Lian Po was rather timid, so Lian Po was deposed forcibly. Although Lin Xiangru pointed out that Zhao Kuo, as an armchair strategist, was not suitable for this task, the King of Zhao refused to listen and appointed Zhao Kuo as the general. After Zhao Kuo replaced Lian Po’s position, he completely changed the strategic plan formulated by Lian Po and dismissed and replaced many officers. Then Qin State secretly appointed Bai Qi to lead the army in attacking Zhao State. They defeated the army of Zhao Kuo in Changping, killing Zhao Kuo and more than 400,000 soldiers of Zhao State. In the battle of Changping, Zhao State lost 450,000 people.

After the battle of Changping, Qin State seized the opportunity to encircle Handan, capital of Zhao State (see Handan War), which lasted for more than a year. Fortunately, Xinling, the Childe of Wei, was able to save Zhao State by stealing commander’s seal, but the national strength of Zhao State had been greatly reduced.

Many young adults had died in the battle of Changping, while their children were still too young to fight in war. Under the circumstance, Yan State appointed Prime Minister Li Fu as general to invade Zhao in the 56th year of King Zhaoxiang of Qin State (251 B.C.). Lian Po, as the general of Zhao, commanded the famous battle of Haodai. He divided the whole army into two groups, one led by Le Cheng to fight against the army of Yan State in the west. He personally led the other group to confront main force of the army of Yan State in Haocheng (now north of Baixiang County, Hebei Province). Lian Po adopted the tactic of concentrating his forces on fighting the enemy in the front. The first battle was successful, dispelling the arrogance of the army of Yan State. Then, he led the army of Zhao State to defeat the main force of Yan State and killed Li Fu. The army of Yan State became panicked and retreated. Lian Po ordered the army of Zhao State to take advantage of the victory and pursue the retreating enemy for 500 miles. They marched into Ji, the capital of Yan State in 250 B.C. (now Beijing). The King of Yan had no choice but to accept all the requirements of Zhao State, including the cession of five cities. Because of his feats, Lian Po was awarded the title of Childe Xinping and was appointed as Xiang Guo. In the next few years, he repeatedly repelled the invading enemy forces and waited for opportunities to attack them. In 245 B.C., he led the army to capture Longyang of Wei State (now northwest of Huang County in Henan Province), which showed that Zhao State’s national strength has been restored.

When Lian Po returned home after dismissal from Changping, all the original hangers-on left. When he was appointed as general for the second time, those hangers-on gathered again. Lian Po signed. He asked them to leave. The hangers-on told him that it was no surprise. “Now we make friends by the way of trading in the market. If you have power, we will follow you. If you lose power, we will leave. What are you complaining about?”

In the second year of First Emperor of Qin Dynasty (245 B.C.), King Xiaocheng of Zhao died, and his son King Daoxiang of Zhao ascended the throne. After listening to the advice of treacherous minister Guo Kai, King Xiaocheng dismissed Lian Po’s military appointment, and replaced Lian Po with Le Cheng. Lian Po was angry at being excluded and attacked Le Cheng. Le Cheng fled. Lian Po then left Zhao State and went to Daliang of Wei State (now Kaifeng City, Henan Province). Lian Po has lived in Daliang for a long time. Although the King of Wei e has taken him in, he didn’t trust and use Lian Po. At this time, Zhao State was besieged by Qin State for many times. The King of Zhao wanted to appoint Lian Po again. So, the King of Zhao dispatched envoy eunuch Tang Jiu to take a pair of valuable armor and four fast horses to console Lian Po and see if Lian Po could still be used. Guo Kai, the enemy of Lian Po, was afraid that Lian Po would gain more power. He secretly gave Tang Jiu a lot of money and told him to speak ill of Lian Po. When Tang Jiu saw Lian Po, Lian Po ate a bucket of rice and ten kilograms of meat in front of him. He also put on his armor and rode the horse, indicating that he could be useful. But the envoy came back and reported to the King of Zhao: “Although general Lian is old, his appetite is still good. He shat three times in a short time.” The King of Zhao thought that Lian Po was rather old, so he did not appoint him. Lian Po was no longer given the opportunity to serve his state.

When Chu State heard of Lian Po’s situation, they secretly sent people to welcome him into Chu State. However, Lian Po did not make much contribution as the general of Chu State. Lian Po said: “I want to be used by Zhao State again” (Historical Records, Lian Po-lin Xiangru’s Biographies), which showed a sentiment of attachment to the motherland. After all, Zhao State didn’t appoint him again. This famous general who had made great contributions to Zhao State, depressed and unhappy, eventually died in Shouchun of Chu State (now Shou County, Anhui Province). More than a decade later, Zhao State was annihilated by Qin State (see the battle of Qin Overthrowing Zhao State).

Lian Po’s tomb is located on the southern slope of the cattle mountain in Bagong Mountain, 7 kilometers north of Shouxian County, Anhui Province. With 300 meters of circumference, it is surrounded by Huai River in the West and by mountains in the north, south and east. As a truly great man, his spirits spread through the ages.