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Wei Ran 魏冉, Marquis Rang 穰侯

Dec 2, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Marquis Rang 穰侯, personal name Wei Ran 魏冄 (also 魏冉), was a high minister of the state of Qin 秦 during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent-221 BCE). He originated in Chu 楚 was was the uncle of King Zhao(xiang)wang 秦昭襄王 (r. 306-251), as half-brother of Queen Dowager Xuan 宣太后, consort of King Huiwen 秦惠文王 (r. 337-311).

In 305, the younger brother of King Wu 秦武王 (r. 310-307), Prince Zhuang 壯, rebelled. Wei Ran was able to put down the rebellion and to eliminate all potential claimants to the throne. From then on Wei Ran dominated the court until his death.

After the death of King Wu there was a succession struggle, which Wei Ran finished by putting on the throne Prince Ji 稷, known as King Zhaoxiang. Wei Ran was appointed general and guards commander of the capital Xianyang 咸陽 (modern Xianyang, Shaanxi), and from 300 on he also acted as Counsellor-in-chief.

In 292, he was granted the title of Marquis of Rang 穰 (modern Dengxian 鄧縣, Henan), and later also of Tao 陶 (modern Dingtao 定陶, Shandong). He personally commanded campaigns against the state of Wei 魏 and crushed the joint army of Wei and Zhao 趙 at Huayang 華陽 (modern Xindeng 新鄧, Henan).

From his territory in Tao he also occupied some territories of the state of Qi 齊. He personally recommended Bai Qi 白起 as a general, one of the fiercest military leaders in Chinese history.

Wei Ran's private retinue was very large, and he was able to amass a fortune larger than that of the royal house. This powerful career was abruptly ended in 266, when he was demoted by the king, to whom Fan Ju 范雎 had opened the eyes about Wei Ran's abuse of power.

A year later the Queen Dowager died, and her brother was banished to his territory in Tao, where he eventually died.

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