An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Zhao She 趙奢

Mar 2, 2019 © Ulrich Theobald

Zhao She 趙奢 was a military leader of the state of Zhao 趙 during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE). He was originally an official in the ministry of revenue (tianbu 田部) and was because of his impartiality recommended for higher service by the Lord of Pingyuan 平原君 (d. 251).

After having served some time as Minister of Revenue, he decided to engage in military affairs. In 282, he conquered the town of Maiqiu 麥丘(Shanghe 商河, Shandong ), belonging to the state of Qi 齊. In 270, when the state of Qin 秦 had defeated the state of Han 韓, he was made commander of a relief army and took over the defence of Eyu 閼與 (today's Heshun 和順, Shanxi), where he build large fortifications. His strategy was to present an image of defence, while secretly making ready his army for offensive. The army of Qin was surprised by Zhao She's attack and defeated. The victor was rewarded with the title of Lord Mafu 馬服君.

Zhao She was known as a honest and impartial person who treated persons high and low with respect, and was willing to adopt reasonal suggestions from his officers. In his military tactics, he likewise displayed flexibility. Historiographical books report of a discourse between Zhao She and Tian Dan 田單, a general of Qi. Both concluded that times had changed and armies were constantly growing.

Zhao She's son Zhao Kuo 趙括 was a pure theoretician, and his father therefore believed that the son would not be a good general. History proved this assessment as correct.

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