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Premier Lü 1 Gave an Ultimatum to the King of Qin 2 (578 BCE)

Zuo's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals

   King Li-gong of the State of Jin sent his premier, Lü , to the State of Qin to give an ultimatum to its king. It said, "When King Xian-gong of Jin formed an alliance with King Mu-gong of Qin they worked together with one heart. They swore their alliance with an oath. In addition, King Xian-gong married his daughter to King Mu-gong 3. Later, the Creator brought a disaster to the State of Jin 4. Prince Wen-gong fled to the State of Qi 5 and Prince Hui-gong fled to Qin 6. Unfortunately, King Xian-gong of Jin passed away soon thereafter. King Mu-gong bore the debt of gratitude and sent Prince Hui-gong back to Jin to inherit the throne. However, King Mu-gong failed to continue to assist King Hui-gong and sent an army to attack Jin's troops at Han-yuan City 7.Later, King Mu-gong regretted what he had done to Jin 8 and helped Prince Wen-gong return to Jin and become its king 9. King Wen-gong, wearing a suit of armor himself, conquered the kings of the eastern states by climbing mountains, wading across rivers, and surmounting dangerous and difficult obstacles. The descendents of the Yu, Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties 10 all came to pay homage to Qin. It can be said that King Wen-gong had returned King Mu-gong's favor.

   "The troops of the State of Zheng violated Qin's border. In 624 BCE, King Wen-gong of Jin led troops of the eastern states and Qin to besiege Zheng 11. However, Qin's generals secretly negotiated peace with Zheng without King Wen-gong's authorization. All the kings of the eastern states were angry and about to deal a deadly blow to Qin. King Wen-gong worried that this disaster might befall Qin, so he pacified the eastern kings. King Wen-gong provided a great favor to Qin by assuring the safe return of its troops.

   "Unfortunately, King Wen-gong died two years later 12. King Mu-gong's failure to attend his funeral showed that he despised our deceased king. Furthermore, King Mu-gong thought he could take advantage of King Xiang-gong 13 who had newly inherited the throne. Consequently, King Mu-gong besieged Yao City 14, an act which violated his country's alliance with us, and attacked our fortresses. Qin destroyed the State of Hua 15 and scattered the people of this brother state of ours 16. Qin not only attacked the states of our allies (Zheng and Hua), but also tried to topple our government. Our king, Xiang-gong, did not forget King Mu-gong's old contribution 17. However, when Qin attacked Yao City, King Xiang-gong had to order our troops to defend the city 18. After defeating Qin's troops, King Xiang-gong still tried to negotiate peace with Qin 19. However, King Mu-gong ignored the friendly gesture and colluded with the State of Chu to destroy us. Fortunately, the Creator blessed us by exposing their conspiracy. In addition, King Cheng-wang of Chu was assassinated 20, further hampering King Mu-gong's plan to destroy us.

   "Both King Mu-gong of Qin and King Xiang-gong of Jin passed away in 615 BCE 21. King Ling-gong of Jin and King Kang-gong of Qin successively inherited the thrones. Even though King Kang-gong 22 of Qin was a nephew of King Wen-gong of Jin, he still wanted to overthrown our government and destroy our country by colluding with 'our vermin' 23 to destabilize our border. Consequently, we had a war against Qin at Ling-hu City 24. Even this defeat did not cause King Kang-gong to repent. He successively invaded He-qu District 25, the Su River 26, Wang-guan City 27, and Ji-ma City 28. Therefore, we had a war against Qin at He-qu City 29. The blockade of Qin’s roads to the east resulted from King Kang-gong's decision to sever the friendship between Qin and Jin.

   "When you 30 inherited the throne, our king, Jing-gong 31, craned his neck to look west and said, 'Perhaps Qin will befriend us.' However, you did not offer friendship to us. When the Chi-di Tribe 32 caused us internal disorder, you took advantage of this opportunity to invade our cities east of the Yellow River. Your troops burned Ji City and Gao City 33, destroyed our crops, and plundered our border cities. Consequently, we concentrated our armed forces at Fu-shi City to fight against your army 34. You regretted having spread the war and wanted to ask for blessings from the late kings, Xian-gong and Mu-gong, so you sent Bo-ju 35 to meet with our king, Jing-gong. Bo-ju said, 'Let us pursue peace and discard previous hostility. We will repair our friendship to commemorate the legacy of our late kings.' Before any agreement between Qin and Jin could be reached, King Jing-gong passed away 36. Consequently, you and I 37 met at Ling-hu City 38 and made a pledge of peace. However, you harbored ill-will and deliberately ate your words. The Bai-di Tribe live in the same province as you do 39. Although they are your enemy, they are our relatives 40. Your messenger came and delivered the order, 'Let us attack the Bai-di Tribe!' Being awed by your authority, I did not dare to care about my relatives and accepted your order. Then you tried to sow discord between the Bai-di Tribe and us by telling them, 'The State of Jin will attack you.' Even though the Bai-di Tribe compliantly listened to your words, they hated your duplicity. Therefore, they told us about all your tricks. The King of Chu disliked your caprice and also told us, 'The King of Qin violates the oath that he pledged at Ling-hu City by asking for an alliance with us. He declared publicly, during the ceremony of worshipping the Creator, the three late kings of Qin 41, and three late kings of Chu 42, "I associate with the State of Jin only to advance Qin's interests."' I am disgusted with your lack of virtue, so I expose your scandal. After the kings of other states heard my words, they hated you so much that they all allied with us and now stand by my side.

   "I lead the troops of the Eastern Alliance to wait for your reply. All I want is peace. If you can care about eastern states and condescend to grant me an alliance, that would match my wish. Then I would follow your order and ask the kings of other states to withdraw their troops. How could I dare seek a war against you? However, if you do not want to do this, then I would be unable to pacify the kings of the other states and ask them to retreat. Now I take the liberty to tell you all I know. I hope your decision will benefit your country."


1 Premier Lü , a.k.a. Xuan-zi Lü , was a son of Yi Wei. He was given feudal land at Lü City, so he used the city's name as his family name. Later, when he became the premier of the State of Jin, people called him Premier Lü . In the 3rd year of King Li-gong's reign, the King of Jin sent Lü to the State of Qin as his envoy.

2 This essay is extracted from Zuo's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals, in the section titled "the 13th year of Keng Cheng-gong's reign". The essay was written in the diplomatic style by Jin's premier, Xuan-zi Lü. It is a classic example of this type of essay. Qin and Jin were neighboring countries in terms of geography. Frequently, the kings of these two states married their daughters to the king of the other state. However, these two countries pursued their separate goals and competed for leadership of China. Consequently, they often warred with each other. Therefore, the kings of these two countries always had mixed feelings of gratitude and resentment toward each other.
   Qin and Jin engaged each other with power and tricks, so there was no absolute right and wrong in their dealings. However, this essay recounts several facts that Qin had continuously violated its oath and had thought only of profit since the reign of King Mu-gong. Every sentence presses hard and permits no argument. This deep and meandering essay moves freely in all directions without challenge. It can be said that it is a typical essay with captious and farfetched arguments. The goal of Jin was to use propaganda to isolate Qin in China and incite anger in people of Jin toward Qin. Jin won half the battle by starting this diplomatic war before responded with force. As expected, in May of that year Jin united with other states to attack and defeat Qin at Man-sui City (present day Jing-yang City of Shaaxi Province). Jin's troops captured General Cheng-chai and General Lü -fu of Qin and advanced up to the Jing-shui River. Only after Qin withdrew its troops and retreated to its strongholds did Jin's troops return home.

3 In 656 BCE, King Xian-gong of Jin married his daughter to King Mu-gong of Qin.

4 In 656 BCE, King Xian-gong of Jin believed the slander from his favorite concubine, Li-ji, so he killed his crown prince, Shen-sheng. King Xian-gong also wanted to establish Li-ji's son as crown prince by killing all his other sons. Consequently, both Prince Wen-gong (Chong-er) and Prince Hui-gong (Yi-wu) fled to other countries.

5 Chong-er was Prince Wen-gong's other first name. He fled to the State of Di in 655 BCE and stayed there for twelve years. Then he moved to the State of Qi. History books from later centuries said that Prince Wen-gong fled to Qi instead of Di because they ignored small countries.

6 Yi-wu was Prince Hui-gong's other first name. He was the younger brother of Prince Wen-gong. In 654 BCE, Prince Hui-gong fled to the State of Liang. In 651 BCE, he moved to the State of Qin.

7 Han-yuan City was located northeast of present day Rong-he-xian County in Shanxi Province. In order to acquire assistance from Qin, Prince Hui-gong (Yi-wu) promised that he would give Qin five cities west of the Yellow River as a gift after he returned to Jin. After he became the King of Jin, he ate his words. A few years later, Qin suffered famine. Qin asked Jin to send food. Jin refused. In September of 645 BCE, Qin attacked Jin at Han-yuan City and captured King Hui-gong.

8 After Qin's troops captured King Hui-gong of Jin, King Mu-gong of Qin wanted to kill King Hui-gong. The Emperor of the Zhou dynasty begged for his life. The wife of King Mu-gong, an elder sister of King Hui-gong, offered her life for her brother's. Then King Mu-gong released King Hui-gong back to Jin, occupied the area east of the Yellow River, and detained Jin’s crown prince, Yu, as a hostage.

9 In 637 BCE, King Hui-gong of Jin died. King Huai-gong inherited the throne. He did not get along with Qin. The next year Qin conspired with the generals of Jin to send Prince Wen-gong back to Jin and establish him as its king. King Huai-gong was assassinated.

10 The States of Chen, Qi, Song, Wei and Cao were located east of Qin. The founding king of Chen, Gong-man Hu, was a descendant of Emperor Shun of the Yu dynasty. The founding king of Qi, King Dong-lou-gong, was a descendant of Emperor Yu of the Xia dynasty. The founding king of Song, King Wei-zi, was the eldest son of Emperor Yi-shu of the Shang dynasty (in 634 BCE, Jin conquered Song). The founding king of Cao, King Zhen-duo, and the founding king of Wei, King Kang-shu, were the younger brothers of Emperor Wu-wang of the Zhou dynasty.

11 The people of Zheng mistreated Chong-er (Prince Wen-gong) while he went into exile and passed through Zheng. Furthermore, Zheng secretly established an alliance with the State of Chu. Therefore, in 624 BCE, the troops of Jin besieged Zheng along with the troops of Qin. Yu Du's comments on Zuo's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals say, "Zheng did not actually violate Qin’s border. King Li-gong of Jin merely said that Zheng had because he wanted an excuse to attack Qin."

12 King Wen-gong died in 622 BCE.

13 King Xiang-gong, Huan, was a son of King Wen-gong of Jin.

14 Yao City was located north of present day Lo-ning City in Henan Province. Its topography is dangerously steep.

15 The surname of the King of Hua was Ji. Hua was located west of the State of Zheng. Hua's location was in present day Hou-shi (the Hou family)-cheng City, south of Yan-shi County in Henan Province. The capital of Hua was Fei City. In 621 BCE, Qin's troops attacked Zheng to no avail. On their return to Qin, they destroyed Hua.

16 The King of Jin and the King of Hua had the same surname, Ji. Therefore, they were brother states.

17 The contribution refers to King Mu-gong's having helped Prince Wen-gong return to Jin and become its king.

18 In April of 621 BCE, King Xiang-gong led troops to ambush Qin's army. He annihilated it and captured Qin’s generals: Ming (Shi) Meng, etc.

19 Jin captured Qin's generals: Ming (Shi) Meng, Qi (Shu) Xi, Yi (Bing) Bai, etc. The wife of King Wen-gong, a daughter of King Mu-gong of Qin, begged that they be released and allowed to return to Qin. The release showed that Jin still wanted to negotiate peace with Qin.

20 In 620 BCE, King Cheng-wang of Chu was assassinated by his crown prince, Shang-chen.

21 King Xiang-gong of Jin died in August and King Mu-gong of Qin died in November.

22 Ying was King Kang-gong's other first name. He was a son of King Mu-gong and Bo-ji, a daughter of King Xian-gong of Jin and an elder sister of King Hui-gong and King Wen-gong.

23 "Our vermin" refers to Yong, a younger brother of King Xiang-gong of Jin. His father was King Wen-gong and his mother was a daughter of King Mu-gong of Qin. King Kang-gong of Qin colluded with officials of Jin in order to establish Yong as the King of Jin.

24 Ling-hu City was located west of present day Yi-shi-xian County in Shanxi Province. When King Xiang-gong of Jin died, the crown prince, Yi-gao, was too young to rule. The officials in the king's court hesitated to establish him as king. All the court official in Jin tried to receive the credit of establishing a new king. They had already sent Shi-hui to Qin to bring Yong back to Jin. Qin's army escorted Yong to Li-hu City. Suddenly, the king's court of Jin changed its decision and established Yi-gao (King Ling-gong) as their king. They sent troops to Ling-hu City and defeated Qin's army.

25 He-qu District belonged to Jin. Today the district is in Yong-ji-xian County in Shanxi Province. The Yellow River turns east from Yong-ji-xian County on and enters Rui-cheng-xian County. This section of the Yellow River is called He-qu (river bend).

26 The Su-chuan River originates from Chen-cun-yu Valley of Jiang-xian City in Shanxi Province, flows west, passing south of Wen-xi-xian City, and turns southwest, passing through Yi-shi-xian County, then Yong-ji-xian County. It then enters Lake Wu-xing-hu and continues flowing southwest into the Yellow River.

27 Wang-guan City belonged to Jin. The city was located five miles west of present day Wen-xi-xian County in Shanxi Province. In 624 BCE, King Mu-gong of Qin attacked Jin. Qin's troops burned ships on the Ji-he River and captured Wang-guan City and its suburbs.

28 Ji-ma City belonged to Jin. The city was located south of present day Yong-ji-xian County in Shanxi province. In 615 BCE, Qin's troops captured Ji-ma City.

29 In 615 BCE, Qin and Jin declared war at He-qu District.

30 Here "you" refers to King Huan-gong of Qin. He was a son of King Gong-gong and a grandson of King Kang-gong. King Huan-gong inherited the throne in 604 BCE.

31 Ju was King Jing-gong’s other first name. He was a son of King Cheng-gong, a younger brother of King Xiang-gong.

32 The State of Lu was built by the Chi-di, a tribe of Mongolians. Its capital was located northeast of present day Lu-cheng-xian County in Shanxi Province. In 594 BCE, General Lin-fu Xun of Jin destroyed the State of Lu. The following year General Hui Shi of Jin destroyed the State of Jia which had also been built by the Chi-di Tribe. Thus, the territory of the Chi-di Tribe within Hebei Province was annexed to the State of Jin.

33 Both Ji City and Gao City belonged to Jin. Ji City was located northeast of present day Pu-xian County in Shanxi province. Gao City was located within present day Qi-xian County in Shanxi Province.

34 Fu-shi City was located northwest of present day Zhao-yi-xian County in Shanxi province. In 594 BCE, Jin defeated Qin at Fu-shi City.

35 Bo-ju was a son of King Huan-gong of Qin.

36 King Jing-gong of Jin died in 581 BCE.

37 "I" refers to King Li-gong, a son of King Jing-gong. Shou-man was King Li-gong's other first name.

38 In 580 BCE, King Li-gong of Jin arranged a meeting with King Huan-gong of Qin at Ling-hu City. King Li-gong arrived first. However, King Huan-gong refused to cross the Yellow River, so he stayed at Wang-cheng City. He sent Ke Shi to meet with King Li-gong and sign the pledge of peace from a location east of the Yellow River. Jin's envoy, Chou Qu, met with King Huan-gong and signed the pledge of peace from a location west of the Yellow River. After returning to Qin, King Huan-gong broke his oath. This event was recorded in Zuo's Extended Version of the Spring and Autumn Annals, in the section titled "The 11th year of King Cheng-gong's reign".

39 Emperor Yao of the Xia dynasty divided China into nine provinces. The Bai-di Tribe lived in present day Fu-shi-xian County of Shaanxi Province and the area west of Fen-yang-xian County in Shanxi Province. The Bai-di Tribe and the State of Qin occupied in the same province, Yong, which includes present day Shaanxi Province, Gansu Province and the E-ji-na Region of Qinghi Province.

40 The Bai-di Tribe attacked Qiang-ju-ru of the Chi-di Tribe, captured two woman, Ji-wei and Shu-wei, and sent them to Jin's court as articles of tribute. Ji-wei married King Wen-gong of Jin and gave birth to Bo-shu and Shu-liu. Shu-wei married Shuai Zhao and gave birth to Dun Zhao. Dun Zhao was a famous official of Jin.

41 "The three late kings of Qin" refers to King Mu-gong, King Kang-gong, and King Gong-gong.

42 "The three late kings of Chu" refers to King Cheng-wang, King Mu-wang, and King Zhuang-wang.