The Battle of Chengpu between Jin and Chu-晋楚城濮之战

During the Spring and Autumn Period, the once dominant Qi state in the Central Plains declined following the death of Duke Huan of Qi, paving the way for its fall. Seizing the opportunity, the southern Chu state expanded its influence into the Yellow River basin. King Cheng of Chu thwarted Duke Xiang of Song’s attempt to dominate the region in the Battle of Hongshui, greatly enhancing Chu’s military prestige. Subsequently, Chu extended its control over many smaller states, including Zheng, Xu, Chen, Cai, Lu, Wei, Cao, and Song, expanding its influence to the areas between the Yangtze, Huai, Yellow, and Han rivers. Chu became a powerful and influential force.

As Chu’s influence rapidly expanded, the state of Jin also experienced a period of prosperity. In 636 BCE, after years of exile, Duke Wen of Jin finally returned to assume the throne. Under his rule, capable individuals like Zhao Shuai and Hu Yan were appointed, stabilizing Jin’s political situation, fostering economic development, strengthening the military, and increasing the national power. While consolidating internal politics, Duke Wen also advocated the banner of “honoring the king.” Amid internal turmoil within the Zhou royal family, King Xiang of Zhou fled to the state of Zheng, issuing a call to the feudal lords for assistance. However, none of the feudal lords were willing to send troops. By this time, Jin had gradually acquired formidable strength to contend for dominance in the Central Plains, and Duke Wen saw an opportunity to test his might. Consequently, Duke Wen of Jin quickly dispatched troops to quell the rebellion, aiding King Xiang in suppressing the revolt and escorting him back to the Zhou court. This action significantly elevated Jin’s prestige among the Central Plains feudal lords.

Jin’s rise caused anxiety in Chu. King Cheng of Chu occupied the valleys of Qi (modern-day Dong’e, Shandong), installed Prince Yong as a puppet ruler, and threatened the security of Qi. Jin, on the other hand, formed alliances with Qi and Qin, adopting a confrontational stance against Chu. Tensions escalated between the two states, and the conflict erupted into full-scale warfare after the defection of Song to Jin.

In the Battle of Hongshui, Duke Xiang of Song was defeated, fatally wounded by an arrow, and subsequently passed away. Song was forced to submit to Chu. Duke Xiang’s son succeeded him, becoming Duke Cheng of Song. When Duke Wen of Jin was in exile in Song, Duke Xiang had assisted him, creating a historical connection between Jin and Song. Observing Duke Wen’s ascent to power and the growing strength of Jin, Duke Cheng of Song decided to align with Jin.

To maintain its advantageous position in the Central Plains, Chu launched a military campaign against Song, aiming to curb Jin’s expanding influence. In the winter of 633 BCE, Chu, along with allied forces from Chen, Cai, Zheng, and Xu, besieged the Song capital of Shangqiu. In a dire situation, Duke Cheng of Song sent Grand Marshal Gongsun Gu to Jin, seeking assistance.

Duke Wen of Jin consulted with his ministers. General Xian Zhi believed that this was a golden opportunity for “repaying kindness, establishing prestige, and securing hegemony.” He argued that Jin should take advantage of the situation and support Song. Duke Wen, with ambitions to dominate the Central Plains, saw an opportunity to achieve his goals. However, he had received kindness from the King of Chu during his exile. Attacking Chu under the pretext of saving Song seemed morally questionable. At this point, Hu Yan suggested a clever strategy. Since Chu had recently formed alliances with Cao and Wei, and Cao and Wei had both shown disrespect to Jin, attacking Cao and Wei would be justifiable. Moreover, Chu would likely send troops to aid these two states. This plan would divert Chu’s forces northward, relieve the siege on Song, avoid direct confrontation, and exploit the situation to Jin’s advantage.

With this strategic plan in place, Duke Wen of Jin decided to commit to military action. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed competent officials as military commanders.

In early 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In early 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In early 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In early 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In early 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.

Originally, Jin’s strategy in attacking Cao and Wei was to lure Chu northwards to aid them and thus relieve the siege on Song. However, Cao and Wei were in urgent need, yet the Chu army remained unresponsive. Instead, Chu intensified the siege of Shangqiu. Song, once again, urgently sought help from Jin.

Faced with this situation, Duke Wen of Jin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. If he did not march south to save Song, Song’s strength would crumble, and it would inevitably fall to Chu, putting Jin in a passive position and harming its plans to dominate the Central Plains. On the other hand, marching south to save Song would deviate from the original strategy of luring Chu northward to engage in a decisive battle on Cao and Wei’s territory. Moreover, Jin’s military power was limited, being far from its homeland, and facing the formidable Chu army offered no guarantee of victory. Thus, Duke Wen convened his ministers again, and General Xian Zhi proposed a plan. He suggested that Song, on the surface, should distance itself from Jin and send envoys to bribe Qi and Qin, urging them to persuade Chu to withdraw its forces. Meanwhile, Jin should give part of the land of Cao and Wei to the people of Song, solidifying Song’s determination to resist Chu. Since Cao and Wei were originally allies of Chu, this move would likely anger the people of Chu and result in them rejecting Qi and Qin’s mediation. Seeing that Chu, with alliances with Cao and Wei, had recently formed a new marriage alliance with Wei, and both Cao and Wei had shown disrespect to Duke Wen, launching an attack on them would be justified. Moreover, Chu would certainly send troops to aid these two states. This plan aimed to lure the Chu army northward, lift the siege on Song, avoid accusations of aggression, and, at the same time, exhaust the Chu army. With this strategic direction, Duke Wen of Jin resolved to send troops. Subsequently, Jin’s ruler and ministers actively began preparations. Duke Wen inspected the army, expanded the forces, and appointed a group of capable officials as commanders of each army.

In the winter of 632 BCE, Jin was ready for action. Duke Wen led three armies, with 700 war chariots, across the Yellow River. They attacked Wei, captured the city of Wulu, and then advanced eastward, seizing Lianyu (modern-day Puyang, Henan). Simultaneously, Jin established friendly relations with Qi, successfully forming an alliance with Duke Xiao of Qi. With Jin’s army at the gates of Wei’s capital, the ruler of Wei sought peace, but Duke Wen refused. The ruler of Wei then contemplated defecting to Chu, but his subjects opposed it. Faced with this opposition, he expelled the Wei ruler, surrendering to Jin without a fight. In March, Jin marched south to attack Cao, capturing the capital city of Taoqiu (modern-day Dingtao, Shandong) and capturing the ruler, Duke Gong of Cao.