Jing Ke’s Assassination Attempt on the King of Qin-荆轲刺秦王

Prince Dan of Yan was originally the crown prince of Yan, but he was later sent to Qin as a hostage. He suffered humiliation in Qin and secretly escaped back to Yan. Seeing that Qin was about to swallow up the six states and unify the realm, Prince Dan felt extremely anxious and sought help from Prime Minister Ju Wu. However, faced with this situation, Ju Wu was also at a loss.

Not long after, the Qin general Fan Yuqi escaped to Yan. It turned out that Fan Yuqi, under the orders of King Zheng of Qin, attacked Zhao but was defeated by the Zhao general Li Mu. Fearing that King Zheng would blame him, Fan Yuqi dared not return to Qin and fled to Yan, begging Prince Dan for asylum. Ju Wu advised Prince Dan not to agree to his request, to avoid angering King Zheng and inviting trouble. But Prince Dan was determined to let Fan Yuqi stay. Seeing this, Ju Wu had nothing more to say. Afterward, Ju Wu suggested that Prince Dan make good use of a strategist named Tian Guang to plan for the defense of the country.

When Tian Guang visited, Prince Dan treated him with courtesy and asked him how to protect Yan from the threat of Qin. At this time, Tian Guang was already old and felt unable to contribute to the country anymore, so he recommended his friend Jing Ke to Prince Dan. Jing Ke was originally a swordsman from the state of Wei and had a good relationship with Tian Guang. Prince Dan decided to summon Jing Ke and asked Tian Guang to convey his intentions to him. Before leaving, Prince Dan, to prevent the news of their meeting from leaking out and causing unnecessary trouble, specifically instructed Tian Guang not to mention it to anyone else.

After bidding farewell to Prince Dan, Tian Guang went to visit Jing Ke and told him that he had recommended him to Prince Dan, asking him to meet with Prince Dan no matter what. Jing Ke readily agreed to his request. Tian Guang was very pleased, telling Jing Ke that he had promised Prince Dan not to reveal the matter of their meeting to anyone else. Now that Jing Ke had agreed to meet with Prince Dan, his wish was fulfilled, and even if he were to die immediately afterward, he would have no regrets. With that, Tian Guang took his own life in front of Jing Ke. Deeply moved by this, Jing Ke’s subsequent decision to take the risk of assassinating King Zheng of Qin was at least partly influenced by Tian Guang’s death.

Upon meeting Prince Dan, Jing Ke revealed the news and the reason for Tian Guang’s death. Prince Dan, shedding tears, expressed his gratitude for Jing Ke’s arrival. During this meeting, he proposed a plan to assassinate King Zheng of Qin, hoping that Jing Ke would undertake this great task. Jing Ke remained silent for a while before expressing his concern that his abilities might not live up to Prince Dan’s expectations. Despite being politely declined, Prince Dan, the crown prince of Yan, persisted in kneeling to Jing Ke, a commoner, pleading for his acceptance.

Jing Ke did not refuse further. Afterward, he settled down with Prince Dan. In order to ensure Jing Ke’s loyalty, Prince Dan continuously used wealth and beautiful women to win him over. However, Prince Dan never mentioned the matter of assassinating King Zheng during this time.

Later, as they saw Zhao being annexed by Qin and the Qin army approaching the southern regions of Yan, Prince Dan finally became impatient and urged Jing Ke to act quickly. Jing Ke proposed to take the head of Fan Yuqi, a traitor from Qin, with him to meet King Zheng, believing that this would gain King Zheng’s trust and enable him to assassinate the king when he let down his guard.

Although Jing Ke’s plan seemed reasonable, Prince Dan could not bear to betray his good friend Fan Yuqi and had to ask Jing Ke to find another way. However, Jing Ke insisted that this was the best way, and regardless of whether Prince Dan agreed, he would proceed with the plan. He even secretly met with Fan Yuqi without Prince Dan’s knowledge.

Fan Yuqi’s parents and relatives had already been executed by King Zheng. Fan Yuqi harbored deep hatred for King Zheng but struggled to find a way to seek revenge. Jing Ke told him that as long as he could take his head to see King Zheng, he would surely win the king’s favor, and then he could seize the opportunity to kill King Zheng. In this way, he could avenge the Fan family and protect Yan from being destroyed by King Zheng. Touched by Jing Ke’s words, Fan Yuqi immediately committed suicide in front of Jing Ke. Upon hearing the news of his death, Prince Dan couldn’t help but burst into tears, but with things having reached this point, he had to follow Jing Ke’s plan.

However, just having Fan Yuqi’s head was not enough for Jing Ke. Before assassinating King Zheng, he had to make many preparations. First, he needed to prepare a sharp dagger, and to ensure the success of the assassination, the dagger had to be coated with the most poisonous poison in the world. Fortunately, Prince Dan had already prepared all these. Prince Dan bought a dagger claimed to be the sharpest in the world from Xu Madame, a famous swordsmith at the time, for a hundred gold pieces. It is worth noting that Xu Madame was actually a man who went by the name Xu Madame. After buying the dagger, Prince Dan had someone coat it with a certain unknown deadly poison. It was said that just a slight contact with this poison would immediately result in death.

By now, the preparations for the assassination had been completed. Jing Ke, accompanied by Fan Yuqi’s head and the dagger, embarked on the irreversible path of assassinating King Zheng. Prince Dan, dressed in plain white, rushed to the bank of the Yi River to see him off. At the moment of departure, Jing Ke sang, “The wind whistles, and the Yi River is cold; once a hero sets out, he will never return!” This famous “Song of the Yi River” also foreshadowed Jing Ke’s subsequent tragic fate.

Upon arriving in Qin, Jing Ke first went to meet Qin King Zheng’s favorite courtier, Meng Jia, and expressed Yan’s willingness to present Fan Yuqi’s head and part of Yan’s territory to Qin King Zheng as a sincere gesture of submission. After Meng Jia conveyed Jing Ke’s words to King Zheng, King Zheng ordered Jing Ke to be received at the Xianyang Palace.

On the appointed day, Jing Ke and Qin Wuyang arrived at the main hall of the Xianyang Palace with two boxes containing Fan Yuqi’s head and a map of Yan’s territory, respectively. Qin Wuyang, due to excessive nervousness, couldn’t help trembling all over. Jing Ke hurriedly pretended to cover for him, saying that he was just nervous because he had never seen such a grand occasion before, and he lost his composure in front of King Zheng, who was famous throughout the world.

King Zheng did not suspect anything and asked Jing Ke to present the map of Yan. Jing Ke slowly unfolded the scroll in front of King Zheng and finally revealed it.

Then, Jing Ke continued to chase after King Zheng, and the two of them circled around the pillars in the hall. Jing Ke never managed to stab King Zheng, and in the end, he was wounded by King Zheng’s sword. With his left leg injured, Jing Ke fell to the ground and threw the dagger at King Zheng, but the dagger got stuck in the pillar. Jing Ke, failing to assassinate King Zheng, was immediately ordered to be executed by King Zheng.

Jing Ke’s attempted assassination greatly angered King Zheng against Yan. He sent the great general Wang Jian to attack Yan, and soon the capital of Yan fell. Forced into a corner, the King of Yan had no choice but to kill Prince Dan and present him to King Zheng. However, King Zheng remained unmoved and continued to order the attack on Yan. Five years later, Yan was finally destroyed by Qin.