King Zhuangxiang of Qin

King Zhuangxiang of Qin

King Zhuangxiang of Qin (秦庄襄王), personal name Zichu (子楚), was a ruler of the State of Qin, a part of what is now China, during the 3rd century BCE. This article is based on the biography of Lü Buwei which is part of the Records of the Grand Historian written by Sima Qian.


In the 40th year of the reign of King Zhaoxiang (秦昭襄王, Qin Zhaoxiang Wang), the crown prince died, so two years later, King Zhao made his second son An Guo Jun (Xiao Wen Wang (孝文王 King Xiaowen of Qin)) the prince. An Guo Jun had a concubine he loved very much whom he made his official wife. She was given the title of Hua Yang Fu Ren (Madam Hua Yang). Madam Hua Yang had no children. An Guo Jun also had another concubine by the name of Xia Ju. Xia Ju had a son by the name of Zichu. As Xia Ju was not favored by An Guo Jun, her son Zichu was sent to the kingdom of Zhao as a hostage. Due to frequent war done on Zhao by Qin, Zichu was not treated well by the kingdom of Zhao.

In the capital of Zhao - Handan, there lived a man by the name of Lu Buwei. Lü was an important businessman in that city. Seeing the sorry state in which Zichu lived, he felt pity and decided to take a risk in helping him as he felt that Zichu could become someone important in the future.

Lü Buwei became an adviser and helper to Zichu giving him the idea of endearing himself to the childless Madam Hua Yang. He also generously gave money and riches to Zichu.

Lü Buwei also bribed Madam Hua Yang's sister into giving her the idea of cultivating Zichu as her son so that once the king was dead, she could make her adopted son the king and she would have a rosy future. Madam Hua Yang bought the idea and using her influence with the prince (An Guo Jun), made him promised to make Zichu the prince once he became the king and marking the promise down on a jade 'Fu' as evidence.

Lü Buwei had a very beautiful concubine who was also a great dancer. Once while drinking with Zichu, Zichu happened to see the woman and fell deeply in love with her. He asked Lü Buwei to give the concubine to him. Lü Buwei was angry about the request as he knew that she was pregnant with his child but as he was already on the greatest business risk he had ever taken, he decided to throw in everything and presented the concubine to Zichu. (According to legend and rumors, not verifiable.)

Later the concubine who came to be known as Zhao Ju (as she was a citizen of Zhao) give birth to a son whom was named Zheng (later known as Qin Shi Huang) and Zhao Ju was made a wife of Zichu.

In the 50th year of King Zhaoxiang of Qin, he sent an army to besiege Han Dan. The kingdom of Zhao was in grave danger and decided to kill Zichu. Zichu, with the help of Lü Buwei, bribed the officers in charge of guarding the city and managed to escape. The kingdom of Zhao then decide to kill Zichu's wife and son but as the woman was the daughter of a wealthy family, they managed to escape from being killed as well.

Six years later, King Zhaoxiang of Qin died and An Guo Jun became the new king of Qin, Madam Hua Yang became the empress and Zichu became the prince. In order to have a better relationship with Qin, the kingdom of Zhao sent Zichu's wife and son back to Qin.

The new king of Qin only stayed on the throne for a year before dying and was known as King Xiaowen of Qin. Zichu became the new king of Qin and was known as King Zhuangxiang of Qin. Madam Hua Yang became Queen Mother Hua Yang (Hua Yang Tai Hou). Xia Ju became known as Queen Xia. Lü Buwei was made the prime minister and was known as Wen Xing Hou (Marquise of Wen Xing). He was given the lands of Luoyang to rule over.

King Zhuangxiang died after 3 years to the throne, prompting people to wonder if his and the previous king's death were the work of Lu Buwei, in a plot to put his son onto the throne. However, this is only supposition, and there is really no way of knowing if Buwei actually killed the two kings, or was Qin Shi Huang actually Buwei's son.

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