Han Xin’s death-韩信之死

After Han Xin was enfeoffed and returned to his hometown, he generously gifted a substantial amount of wealth to the elderly woman who had once offered him food by the riverside. Additionally, he appointed the butcher who had previously humiliated him as a captain, praising him as a brave warrior. However, towards the village chief who had provided him lodging, Han Xin only gave a small sum of money and criticized him for his lack of resolve.

One of Xiang Yu’s generals, Zhongli Mei, was a close friend of Han Xin. After Xiang Yu’s defeat and death, Zhongli Mei learned that Han Xin had been enfeoffed as the King of Chu, so he sought refuge with Han Xin to evade pursuit by Liu Bang. However, someone informed Liu Bang of Zhongli Mei’s whereabouts. Upon hearing that one of his trusted commanders was associating with an enemy general, Liu Bang became furious and immediately ordered Zhongli Mei’s capture.

Rumors began circulating that Han Xin was harboring rebellious intentions as he consolidated his military forces in the Chu Kingdom. These rumors reached Liu Bang, who grew increasingly suspicious. Han Xin, aware of the situation, was unsure how to address Liu Bang’s concerns without exacerbating them. Chen Ping suggested a plan: falsely claim that Emperor Gaozu (Liu Bang) was planning a tour of Yunmeng Marsh and summon all officials to attend. Han Xin, whether willing or not, would have to come. This way, he could be detained for questioning.

Realizing that the audience was merely a pretext for his arrest, Han Xin sought advice from Zhongli Mei. Disdainfully, Zhongli Mei remarked that his fate was sealed and warned Han Xin that Liu Bang would eventually kill him. Zhongli Mei then committed suicide by sword. Han Xin severed his head and presented it to Liu Bang as a demonstration of his loyalty. However, upon meeting Liu Bang, Han Xin was immediately bound by guards. Han Xin confronted Liu Bang, acknowledging the saying “Once the clever hare is caught, the hound will be killed; once the eagle is dead, the bow will be put away; when the enemy state falls, the loyal ministers perish.” Han Xin was then taken back to Luoyang and confined as the Marquis of Huaiyin.

During his house arrest, Han Xin collaborated with Zhang Liang to compile and organize military strategies from the Qin Dynasty to their time, totaling 182 volumes. This marked the first large-scale compilation of military texts in Chinese history. They also made some amendments and additions to military regulations. Han Xin authored three treatises on the art of war, which have since been lost to history.

Aware that his strategic prowess posed a threat to Liu Bang, Han Xin withdrew from political affairs. He stopped attending court sessions and refused to accompany Emperor Gaozu on expeditions. Instead, he remained at home, despondent over his demotion to the Marquis of Huaiyin. Despite his dedicated service in defeating Xiang Yu, he found himself sidelined, feeling unjustly treated alongside figures like Zhou Bo and Guan Ying. One day, while visiting Fan Kuai’s residence, Han Xin was greeted with great respect by Fan Kuai. However, instead of appreciating the gesture, Han Xin mocked himself for falling to the point of socializing with Fan Kuai.

Han Xin’s downfall and execution were influenced by Liu Bang’s fear of his achievements and Han Xin’s own arrogance. Before leaving for his post as the governor of Julu County, Marquis Chen Xi visited Han Xin. Han Xin, trusting Chen Xi’s loyalty, confided in him about his plan to rebel against Liu Bang. Chen Xi pledged his allegiance to Han Xin and promised to join his cause once he had built up sufficient power.

In 197 BC, during the tenth year of Emperor Gaozu’s reign, news of Chen Xi’s rebellion reached the Han court. Liu Bang decided to personally suppress the rebellion and intended for Han Xin to accompany him on the campaign. However, Han Xin feigned illness and declined. Once Liu Bang left the capital with his troops, Han Xin conspired with his followers on how to seize control of the palace. Unfortunately, one of his followers betrayed him, and Han Xin was swiftly captured. Han Xin’s conspiracies were revealed to Empress Lü Zhi, who orchestrated his arrest.

Han Xin was brought before Empress Lü Zhi, who ordered his execution in the Bell Tower of Chang’an. She also ordered the extermination of Han Xin’s family, including his paternal and maternal relatives. Thus, Chang’an was filled with the sounds of wailing and lamentation as Han Xin met his tragic end.


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