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The following details the state of Wei of the Warring States Period. Refer to Kingdom of Wei for the state founded by Cao Cao during the Three Kingdoms Period. Refer to Ran Min for his state of Wei during the Sixteen Kingdoms. Refer to Wei (Spring and Autumn Period) for the State of Wei (卫), of identical pronunciation.
This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
State of Wei
(small seal script, 220 BC)

The Wei (Chinese: pinyin: Wèi) was a state during the Warring States Period in China. Its territory lay between the states of Qin and Qi and included modern areas in Henan, Hebei and Shanxi and Shandong. After its capital was moved from Anyi to Daliang (today Kaifeng) during the reign of King Hui of Wei, Wei was also called the state of Liang.

The state reached its height during the reigns of its first two rulers, Marquess Wen of Wei and Marquess Wu of Wei. King Hui of Wei, the third ruler, concentrated in economic developments including irrigation projects at the Yellow River. Nevertheless its slow decline began with King Hui. King Hui felt that Qin in the west was a nonthreatening weak state and their land was just wasteland, and hence he focused on conquering the resourceful land in the east. However Wei's advancement in the east was checked several times in series of battles including the Battle of Maling in 341 BC. On the other hand Qin's reformation at the same period boosted Qin's economy and military might to unprecedented levels. Eventually Wei lost the western Hexi region (a pastoral and strategic area on the west bank of the Yellow River at the border of today Shanxi and Shaanxi province) to Qin, and remained continuously under invasions from Qin until the end. This eventually forced Wei to move its capital from Anyi to Daliang.

Military prowess of Qin broke the coalition forces of the states of Wei and Han at the Battle of Yique in 293 BC.

The Wei surrendered to the Qin in 225 BC, after the Qin general Wang Fen flooded Daliang with water from the Yellow River.

Wei produced some fine generals and politicians, including Li Kui (李悝), a reformer and Prime Minister of Wei, Yue Yang, ancestor of Yue Yi and conqueror of the State of Zhongshan, and Pang Juan, who conquered many places but lost to Tian Ji and Sun Bin at Maling.

List of Wei rulers

  1. Marquess Wen (文侯), personal name Si (斯) or Du (都), ruled 445 BC396 BC
  2. Marquess Wu (武侯), personal name Ji (擊), son of previous, ruled 396 BC370 BC
  3. King Hui (惠王), personal name Ying (罃), son of previous, ruled 370 BC319 BC
  4. King Xiang (襄王), personal name Si (嗣) or He (赫), son of previous, ruled 319 BC296 BC
  5. King Zhao (昭王), personal name Chi (遫), son of previous, ruled 296 BC277 BC
  6. King Anxi (安釐王),personal name Yu (圉), son of previous, ruled 277 BC243 BC
  7. King Jingmin (景湣王), personal name Zeng (增) or Wu (午), son of previous, ruled 243 BC228 BC
  8. King Jia, (王假), personal name Jia (假), son of previous, ruled 228 BC225 BC

According to the Records of the Grand Historian (史記) written by Sima Qian in the 1st century BC, the list of rulers is slightly different: King Hui died in 335 BC and was succeeded by his son King Xiang in 334 BC. King Xiang died in 319 BC and was succeeded by his son King Ai (哀王), who died in 296 BC and was succeeded by his son King Zhao. However, the majority of scholars and commentators think that King Ai, whose personal name is not recorded, never existed. It seems that Sima Qian assigned the second part of the reign of King Hui (starting in 334 BC, on which date the hitherto Marquess Hui probably proclaimed himself King) to his son King Xiang, and added King Ai to fill in the gap between 319 BC and 296 BC. On the other hand, a minority of scholars believe King Ai indeed existed.


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