Zhao Yong 赵雍

King Wuling of Zhao, who founded a new military system by riding and shooting


Chinese Name: 赵雍

English Name: Zhao Yong

Other Names: King Wuling of Zhao 赵武灵王

Born: 340 B.C.

Died: 295 B.C.


Pursue the policy of “riding and shooting in a Hu suit” 推行“胡服骑射”

Destroy the Zhongshan State 灭亡中山国

Zhao Yong 赵雍
Zhao Yong 赵雍

Brief Biography of Zhao Yong

Zhao Yong was a famous politician, strategist, and reformer in the pre-Qin Dynasty 秦朝.

Zhao Yong 赵雍 (about 340 B.C. – 295 B.C.), whose surname is Ying 嬴, was born in Handan, the state of Zhao (today’s Handan City 邯郸市, Hebei Province 河北省). During the Warring States Period 战国时期, he was the sixth generation monarch of the State of Zhao and the son of Marquis Zhao Su 赵肃侯.

During the reign of Zhao Yong, he carried out the military policy of “riding and shooting in a Hu suit 胡服骑射”, constantly promoting the military strength of Zhao to become a powerful country in the middle and late Warring States Period, and even competing with Qin 秦. Later, it swallowed up Zhongshan State 中山国, defeated Linhu 林胡 and Loufan 楼烦, opened up Yunzhong 云中, Yanmen 雁门, and Daijun 代郡, and built the “Zhao Great Wall 赵长城”.

In the 27th year of King Wuling of Zhao (299 BC), in order to focus on military and state affairs, Zhao Yong abdicated the throne to his son, King Huiwen of Zhao 赵惠文王, and was honored as the “master father 主父”.

Zhao Yong 赵雍
The statue of Zhao Yong 赵雍塑像

In the fourth year of King Huiwen of Zhao (295 BC), Zhao Yong was surrounded by sand dunes for three months. He could not get food and drink in the palace and finally starved to death in the sand dune palace at the age of 45. After his death, the minister gave him the posthumous title of “Wuling 武灵”, and later generations honored him as King Wuling of Zhao. Since he established the strong and prosperous state of Zhao, the leader of Zhao officially became king

Zhao Yong was called by Liang Qichao 梁启超 “the first great man after the Yellow Emperor 黄帝“.

Personal Life and Major Contributions

Destroy the Zhongshan State

In the third year of King Wuling of Zhao (323 B.C.), the State of Zhao oppressed the State of Zhongshan and built a city near the border of Zhongshan (now north of Baixiang 柏乡, Hebei 河北).

The State of Zhongshan is just wedged in the central area of the State of Zhao. Only a small area in the northeast corner borders the State of Yan 燕国 and the rest is owned by the State of Zhao. Zhongshan split the territory of Zhao. Daijun 代郡, Handan 邯郸, Shangdangjun 上党郡 and the old capital Jinyang 旧都晋阳 (now the southwest of Taiyuan 太原, Shanxi Province 山西省) are the four important towns of Zhao State, and the traffic is challenging due to the barrier of Zhongshan.

Zhao is a country with nomadic civilization in the north and agricultural civilization in the south. There has been a serious trend of division. The state of Zhongshan, which is located in the middle of Zhao, made it difficult for Zhao to control the whole country. Moreover, Zhongshan is a country established by nomadic people. It is inserted between Handan, an important agricultural civilization town, and Daijun, an important nomadic civilization town, which makes the Daijun’s centrifugal force from Handan, the center of Zhao, stronger.

Zhao Yong 赵雍
Riding and shooting in a Hu suit 胡服骑射

Although Zhongshan is not a powerful country, it is in the heart of Zhao and has brought great threats to Zhao’s national security and unity. The neighboring Qi 齐 and Yan 燕 countries colluded with Zhongshan to deal with Zhao. Qi and Yan regarded Zhongshan as the best partner to contain Zhao, and they supported Zhongshan a lot. Due to the obstruction of Qi and Yan, Zhao has never been able to solve this serious problem.

Although several generations of Zhao’s monarchs wanted to do something, due to the restriction of Zhongshan, Zhao’s great cause was greatly limited. Although the heroic and promising Zhao Suhou repeatedly defeated powerful countries such as Qi, Wei, and Yan, he did not make substantial progress in solving the problem of Zhongshan. After Zhao Yong ascended the throne, he carried out the attack on Zhongshan with the help of Feiyi 肥义, following the will of his predecessor.

Abdication in the prime of life

The first wife of Zhao Yong was the daughter of King Han 韩王, who gave birth to Prince Zhang 公子章. Young Master Zhang was originally the crown prince. Later, Mrs. Han died, and Zhao Yong made Wu Wa his new wife. Wu Wa’s son is Zhao Huiwen Wang 赵惠文王. Wu Wa has brought infinite happiness to Zhao Yong in her short life, but she has never asked Zhao Yong for anything, which makes him feel guilty about Wu Wa.

Wu Wa loved Zhao Wang He 赵王何 best. Before she died, she begged Zhao Yong to make He 何 the crown prince. Therefore, Zhao Yong abolished Zhang 公子章 and made He 何 Prince. Although he is young, he is clever and resourceful and has his mother’s wisdom. Zhao Yong also loves him.

Zhao Yong 赵雍
Riding and shooting in a Hu suit of Zhao Yong 赵雍胡服骑射

In the 27th year of King Wuling of Zhao (299 BC), Zhao Yong abdicated the throne to Zhao He. When Zhao He was the new king and he abdicated, King Wuling of Zhao hoped that his son and himself would be responsible for domestic politics and military affairs respectively, so that he could concentrate on the fierce foreign military struggle against Zhao.

Learn from others’ s merits

During the Warring States Period 战国, Zhao was often attacked by cavalry from nomadic tribes. In 302 BC, King Wuling of Zhao decided to “defeat Hu with Hu 以胡制胡”, put forward the idea of “wearing Hu clothes 胡服” and “learning to ride and shoot 习骑射” in Handan City, and ordered the people of the whole country to abandon their long gowns and wide sleeves and change into Hu clothes; Eliminate chariots, learn to ride horses and shoot arrows, and take the advantages of the Hu people to make up for the shortcomings of the Central Plains people.

Zhao Yong 赵雍
Handan 邯郸

Through the reform of “Hu Fu riding and shooting 胡服骑射”, Zhao established a powerful army with cavalry as the main body. Since then, the country has become prosperous and the only power that can compete with Qin in the late Warring States Period.

Video: King Wuling of Zhao became the first cavalry soldier in China through the reform of “riding and shooting in a Hu suit”

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