Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Wei Qing -- Slave Born Great Marshal Who Defeated the Huns

Difficult Early Years As A Slave

Wei Qing (? -- 106 B. C.), a bastard child of an affair, was never treated well in his childhood. Together with his sister Wei Zifu, they were all slaves in a princess’ palace; his sister was a singer and he looked after the horses for the princess. 


One day, Liu Che, also the Emperor Wudi of Han, paid a visit to this princess’ palace, and decided to take Zifu back to the royal palace with him. Wei Qing was taken along with his sister and started to work as an imperial guard, because of his height and good appearance.


One year later, his sister got pregnant with the emperor’s first child, which made the current queen very jealous.


This queen had Qing kidnapped and beaten almost to death, until one of Qing’s friends rescued him.


The emperor then promoted Wei Qing as his personal bodyguard after hearing about this. 

Exceptional Success of Wei Qing's First Time as A General

Years later, the emperor decided to fight back against the Huns (Xiongnu).


Four same-scale troops were sent to the northern borders of the Han Dynasty independently, and Wei Qing was the commander of one of them.


The Commanders of other three armies were well established, highly respected generals, while Qing was the only one with no battle experiences. In many people's eyes, he has been just the brother of the emperor’s favorite concubine. 


In the end, two troops encountered big failure and one returned without accomplishing anything. 


Wei Qing, however, achieved big success; his led his army occupied the Huns’ sacred city where they worshiped their god. 


This was the first time in the Han Dynasty, when the army of Han achieved military success in fighting the Huns. The Huns were no longer invincible since that time on.


The Emperor Wudi was quite happy and further promoted Qing as the commander of Han’s entire army. Wei Qing, for the first time, proved himself to be a capable general.

Establishment of Strong Cavalry Troop of the Han Dynasty

Then Wei Qing built the first cavalry troop of the Han Empire, which was quite aggressive and advanced at that time; he also implemented many military tactics that were especially efficient in wars with the Huns.

Afterwards, Wei Qing led Han’s army successfully defeated the Huns for several times, and kept winning and expanding. Large numbers of territories were occupied by the Han Empire, while many of Huns’ people and livestocks were captured.


Another Remarkable, Invincible General Huo Qubing

Soon, Wei Qing’s nephew, another genius commander named Huo Qubing, started to achieve great military success.


Huo Qubing, another bastard born boy, was raised up in the royal palace as the nephew of Wei Qing. Huo's first military experience was at the age of 16, when Wei Qing took him in Han's army to just show him how wars look like.


But Huo led his 800 guards, without informing his uncle Wei Qing, captured over 3000 Huns’ warriors and one of their lords.


Then Huo was trusted with more armies and powers; this genius, as expected, had won all of the wars he had ever participated.


Unprecedented Victory in Defeating the Huns

Wei Qing and Huo Qubing were both great cavalry commanders who were excellent at marching deep into the enemy's territory and effectively perish the Huns, and they had never failed at war.


Many aristocrats of the Huns and their population were captured or surrendered; the rest of them escaped to desert in deep north, who, however, still would harass the Han Empire  whenever they had the chance.


After Wei Qing achieved so many successes, his three toddler sons were all rewarded with honorable titles; the princess he and his sister had served before, married to Wei Qing.


The emperor set a new position for Qing, as the most powerful and honorable commander, and frequently told Qing that his nephew, the crown prince, would be taken good care of and supported as heir of the country.


At that time, his sister was already the queen, and their clan was now the most powerful aristocrat.

The Large-scale, Final War Against the Huns

Years later, the emperor commanded Qing and his nephew Huo to lead 50,000 cavalrymen each, march across the huge desert on the Mongolian Plateau to defeat the rest forces of the Huns. 


This was one of the most important and influential wars in the history of China. 

At that time, Huo was young, ambitious, and was more appreciated by the emperor; so he got the best soldiers, horses and weapons, and was assigned the task of perishing the mainforce of the King of the Huns.


Some people also believed that the emperor needed to restrain Qing’s clan, which involved the queen, crown prince and a powerful princess; so Huo was given an opportunity to accomplish more. 


At last, Wei Qing encountered the well prepared, most powerful main force of the King of the Huns, unexpectedly. 


At that time, two generals who were supposed to lead their armies to join and support Wei Qing, got lost.

Facing the strong enemy, as well as missing two generals and so many soldiers that lost with them, Wei Qing immediately changed his former plan.

He quickly built a solid military base in the desert using chariots, and then sent his cavalry troop to fight with the huns. Soon, when a fresh gale stormed, he commanded his army to besiege the King of the Huns from two wings.

The King of the Huns escaped away, after seeing huge loss of his main force. 

In the end, Wei Qing led his second class soldiers won this battle, after long and intense fights.

Huo Qubing perished other lords and armies of the Huns and held a big worship ceremony on Huns’s origin holy mountain.


Together, they perished over 90,000 of the Huns’ soldiers and captured a great deal of livestocks; those border issues were completely solved by these two great commanders.


From that time on, people in the frontier cities could live in peace and stability; the Huns could no longer rob and kill Han people.


Assassination and Forgiveness 

Those two generals, who were supposed to lead their troops to support Wei Qing, got lost in the desert and did not meet Qing as they planned.

This made Wei Qing had to use much less numbers of the second class soldiers to fight with the Huns’ best cavalry troop, in the final battle in the severe desert. This made the King of the Huns successfully fleed.


So, Wei Qing sent people to inquiry those two generals, and reported this incident to the emperor.


But one of the general was old and proud, who didn’t want to go through with all the interrogations, so he committed suicide.


Later, this general’s son ambushed and injured Wei Qing, blaming Qing’s biased command made his father lost in the desert. 


Though Qing did nothing wrong, and got such insulting, he still tried to hide this assassination and never wanted to revenge that general’s son. 


Later, Huo Qubing heard about this incident that happened to his uncle. Then he killed that general’s son, who had subordinated to him as a general in the wars with the Huns for a long time; but the emperor did not blame Huo.


A Kind Person with Paramount Power

Wei Qing was a brilliant hero who protected his country and people, and also a great person. 


According to historical documents, everyone in the government, both civil and military officers, all highly respected Wei Qing. 


He was always polite and kind to his colleagues, no matter how powerful he was or how much he had accomplished. He frequently shared his rewards with other people, and forgave people who offended or hurt him. 


Throughout the history of China, there were no negative comments about him. 

Even Huo Qubing was as powerful as Wei Qing, and even more appreciated by the emperor, their uncle-nephew relationship was always very close.


Huo also tried his best to consolidate and assist Qing's nephew, the crown prince. 

Departure of Great Marshal Huo Qubing and Wei Qing

Huo Qubing departed when he was only 23 years old. His life was glorious, short and simple; after having accomplished a series of remarkable military achievements, he departed very sudden. 

The Emperor Wudi was quite grieved, and rewarded Huo’s only son with a great deal of honors; when the emperor was holding the biggest worship ceremony on Mount Tai, he only took Huo’s son with him. 


Before Emperor Wudi departed, he nominated Huo's half brother as the most powerful regent, to whom he entrusted his empire and his toddler crown prince.  


Wei Qing passed away 11 years after Huo's departure.


The emperor commanded to bury them on each side of his future mausoleum, which was the highest honor for officials of a feudal empire in Chinese culture.


Wei Qing’s wife, the princess he had served before, buried with him after she departed. 


After Wei Qing passed away, the emperor immediately published another announcement to recruit talented people, and nominated his another favorite concubine’s brother as the commander of Han’s army; but these people ended up with series of military failures and betrayal.


In addition, more people began to cast greedy eyes on the crown prince. 


A few years later, the crown prince was framed up; Wei Qing’s sister, the Queen Wei Zifu, also committed suicide. Wei Qing’s first son was implicated and sentenced to death as well.


His two other sons and grandsons lived in low profile afterwards, until decades later, his nephew crown prince’s grandson Liu Xun ascended to the throne and rewarded Wei Qing’s clan.


From that time on, Wei Qing's descendants, though honored and rewarded for several times, gradually disappeared in historical documents.