An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Tian Dan 田單

Nov 24, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Tian Dan 田單 (early 3rd cent. BCE) was a general of the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE) state of Qi 齊. He was a distant relative of the founders of the second dynasty of the state of Qi, the house of Tian 田.

Tian Dan played a very important role in the defense of the state of Qi after it was defeated and invaded by the army from the state of Yan under the command of general Yue Yi 樂毅. He withstood the invaders in the city of Jimo 即墨 in 284 BCE.

With the political change in Yan, i. e. the accession of King Hui 燕惠王 (r. 278-272), who was at odds with Yue Yi, the wind for Qi changed. The cruelties of Yue Yi against submitting soldiers of Qi were propagandistically spread around. Yue Yi was replaced by Qi Jie 騎劫. In 279, Tian Dan was able to defeat the army of Qi after he had disturbed their camp by a herd of cows carrying burning bundles of reed. He expelled the army of Yan from the occupied territory and reveived King Xiang 齊襄王 (r. 283-265), who had resided in Ju 莒, back in the capital Linzi 臨湽.

For his high military merits accumulated over the years, Tian Dan was appointed Counsellor-in-chief (xiang 相) and granted the title of Lord of Anping 安平君, later he was given the territory of Yeyi 夜邑.

Later on, Tian Dan left Qi and served King Xiaocheng of Zhao 趙孝成王 (r. 265-245) as general and as Counsellor-in-chief. Also in this position, he successfully led the armies of Zhao against Yan.

Ge Zhiyi 葛志毅 (1992). "Tian Dan 田單", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1141.