Chen Sheng 陈胜

An anti-violence hero who dare to advocate justice for the world


Chinese Name: 陈胜

English Name: Chen Sheng

Other Names: Cheng Wang 陈王, Chen She 陈涉

Died: 208 BC


Become the pioneer of the anti-Qin rebellion 成为反秦义军先驱

Establish Zhang Chu regime 建立张楚政权

Chen Sheng 陈胜
Chen Sheng 陈胜

Brief Biography of Chen Sheng

Chen Sheng launched the first large-scale peasant uprising in Chinese history, became the pioneer of the anti-Qin rebellion, and was the first peasant uprising in China. After he led the army to occupy Chen Commandery 陈郡, he officially proclaimed the king and named the country “Zhang Chu 张楚”. This is the first political power established by peasants in Chinese history.

Chen Sheng (? – 208 BC), the courtesy name she 涉, was born in Yangcheng. In the first year of the second Qin Dynasty (209 BC), Chen Sheng and Wu Guang 吴广 launched an uprising in daze township 大泽乡 (now Suzhou City 宿州市, Anhui Province 安徽省), becoming the pioneer of the uprising against the violent Qin Dynasty. Chen Commandery was occupied and the Zhang Chu 张楚 regime was established.

Chen Sheng 陈胜
Daze township uprising 大泽乡起义

In the following year, Chen Sheng was defeated by Zhang Han 章邯, a general of the Qin Dynasty. He was killed by the coachman Zhuang Jia 庄贾 and buried in Mangdang Mountain 芒砀山. It took six months from becoming king to being defeated. After his death, he was posthumously named “hidden king 隐王” and was called “hidden king of Chu 楚隐王”.

Personal Life and Major Contributions

The uprising against the Qin Dynasty

In July of the first year of the second Qin Dynasty (209 BC), the imperial court drafted a large number of troops to guard Yuyang 渔阳 (now the southwest of Miyun 密云, Beijing 北京). Chen Sheng was also among the recruits and was appointed as the commander of the team.

He and 900 other poor farmers, escorted by two Qin officials, rushed to Yuyang day and night. When they went to Daze township 大泽乡 of Qi county 蕲县 (now Xisipo township 西寺坡乡 of Suzhou 宿州, Anhui Province 安徽省), they encountered continuous heavy rain, and the road was blocked by the flood and was unable to pass. Seeing that the deadline for arriving at Yuyang is approaching, everyone is as anxious as an ant on a hot pot. They don’t know what to do.

According to the cool law of the Qin Dynasty, all soldiers recruited to guard the border who fail to arrive at the designated place on time will be executed. At the critical juncture of life and death, Chen Sheng resolutely decided to plan an uprising. That night, Chen Sheng secretly consulted with another village chief Wu Guang 吴广. Wu Guang, a native of Yangxia 阳夏, also came from a poor family. Although they had known each other for a short time, they were friends who talked about everything.

Chen Sheng 陈胜
Chen Sheng and Wu Guang’s uprising 陈胜吴广起义

Chen Sheng said to Wu Guang: “our present situation is to go to die. Rather than die, we should choose to die for national affairs and do a great cause. ” Under the leadership of Chen Sheng and Wu Guang, they exposed the right arm as a sign, built an altar, and made an oath. According to the previous plan, they declare an uprising. Chen Sheng made himself a general and took Wu Guang as the lieutenant. They captured daze township at one stroke, and then quickly captured Qi County. The first large-scale peasant uprising war in Chinese history broke out in this way.

Establish political power

Chen Sheng and Wu Guang’s heroic deeds of “making great plans 举大计” received positive responses from the people who suffered from the Qin Dynasty in the vicinity, and they joined the uprising team by “chopping the wood as a weapon and raising the pole as the flag 斩木为兵,揭竿为旗”.

Under the leadership of Chen Sheng and Wu Guang, after seizing Qi County, less than a month later, they seized five counties, including Yi county 铚县 (now Suixi County 濉溪县, Anhui Province 安徽省), Yi county 酂县 (now west of Yongcheng 永城), Ku county 苦县 (now Luyi County 鹿邑县), Zhe county 柘县 (now Zhecheng county 柘城县), and Qiao County 谯县 (now Qiaocheng District 谯城区, Bozhou City 亳州市, Anhui Province 安徽省), and soon brought the fire of the uprising to the Central Plains.

Chen Sheng then established the first peasant revolutionary regime in Chinese history by taking Chen County 陈县 as the capital, “Zhang Chu” as the name 号, and “Zhang Chu” as the name of the country 国号(that is, the meaning of Zhang Da Chu state 张大楚国, or Zhang Da Chu state as the slogan).

The western expedition failed

Xingyang 荥阳 is an important channel to Guanzhong 关中. Taking Xingyang will open the door to Guanzhong and then taking Aocang 敖仓 can not only cut off the supply of grain and grass for the Qin army but also solve the military supply problem of the uprising army. Chen Sheng’s strategic intention of sending troops to capture Xingyang is very clear.

When the news of the loss of Wu Guang’s capture of Xingyang was sent back to Chen County, Chen Sheng was distraught. In order to ensure the realization of his strategic intention, he decided to send another general Zhou Wen 周文 to lead his troops to attack Qin in the west, and use the conditions of Wu Guang’s army to contain the main force of the Qin army to bypass Xingyang and directly reach Hangu pass 函谷关.

Chen Sheng 陈胜
Hangu pass 函谷关

Zhou Wen’s army cut through the pass and was only a hundred miles away from Xianyang 咸阳, the capital of Qin. According to Zhang Han 章邯’s plan, the King of Qin had to pardon hundreds of thousands of prisoners who served in the Lishan mausoleum 骊山陵, and seal Zhang Han as a general, and temporarily organize an army to stop the uprising. The peasant uprising army that was resting was caught unprepared by the unexpected hundreds of thousands of Qin troops and was forced to withdraw from Guanzhong.

Chen Sheng 陈胜
Lishan mausoleum 骊山陵

After several decades of defending and resisting the Qin army in Caoyang Pavilion 曹阳亭 (now the northeast of Lingbao 灵宝), the uprising army was defeated and retreated to Mianchi 渑池. Zhou Wen led his troops to fight with the enemy for more than ten days without food and assistance. Finally, he pulled his sword and committed suicide. After the defeat of Zhou Wen’s army, Zhang Han led the troops to continue eastward.

The peasant army besieging Xingyang 荥阳 was in danger of being attacked from both sides. Tian Zang 田臧, the general of the uprising army, disagreed with Wu Guang, the fake king, and killed Wu Guang in the name of Chen Sheng. As a result, the uprising army was completely destroyed.

Video: Chen Sheng

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