King Fuchai of Wu
King Fuchai of Wu (simplified Chinese: 吴王夫差; traditional Chinese: 吳王夫差; pinyin: Wú Wáng Fūchāi) (reigned 495–473 BC) was the last king of Wu, a state in ancient China; he reigned towards the end of the Spring and Autumn Period.
Son of King Helü of Wu, he became king in 495 BC. At the beginning of his reign, he defeated the troops of Yue in Fujiao (now Wu County, Jiangsu) and captured the capital city of Yue. Instead of annexing his enemy state thoroughly, as suggested by his advisor Bo Pi, he made peace with King Goujian of Yue.
After this battle, he built the Han Canal (邗溝) and pushed his army northward. In Ailing, his army defeated the state of Qi. In 482 BC Fuchai successfully challenged the state of Jin for the status of hegemon in the regional lords' meeting in Huangchi. However, during the later part of his reign, his extravagance and obsession with a Yue beauty, Xi Shi, lead to the weakening of his state. King Goujian of Yue took advantage of this situation to invade Wu. Following his victory, Wu was destroyed in 473. King Fuchai was forced to commit suicide.
Fuchai had at least four sons, among them You, Hong and Hui. You was his heir but was killed in the battles of revenge against Goujian, so Hong became the new heir. After the abolition of the state, the other three sons of Fuchai were exiled. They and their descendants took Wu as their clan. Wu Rui, Prince of Changsha created by Emperor Gaozu of Han, was a descendant of the House of Wu. He was also said to be descended from Fuchai.
The battle of Fujiao
In 494 BC, King Goujian of Yue heard that Fuchai was planning to attack Yue to avenge the death of his father. Fan Li, minster of Yue, advised Goujian to keep calm but he decided to strike first. Fuchai got the intelligence and sent his crack divisions for a counterattack. The battle occurred in Fujiao, and Yue’s troops suffered defeat with only five thousand surviving. Yue’s troops fell back to Guiji Shan (now south Shaoxing, Zhejiang). Fuchai occupied the Guiji town (now Shaoxing) and surrounded the Guiji Shan. Goujian had to adopt Fan Li’s suggestion and sent Wen Zhong to bribe the Wu’s Prime Minister Bo Pi to make peace. Bo Pi accepted the gifts and promised to help Goujian. On the other hand, Fuchai was anxious to go north and contend with the state of Qi. For these two reasons, Fuchai made peace with Goujian and retreated home.
Comment: In the battle of Fujiao, although King Fuchai of Wu was victorious, he made peace with King Goujian of Yue. It allowed an opportunity for Yue to develop and then extinguish Wu.
Wo Xin Chang Dan
After Fuchai withdrew troops from Yue, Goujian took his wife and Fan Li to Wu to serve Fuchai. Goujian did his utmost to serve Fuchai and then got Fuchai’s favor and trust. After three years, Goujian was permitted to go back home.
After returning home, Goujian determined to work hard and prepare for the revenge. For not immersing into the comforts of life and wearing down the aspiration, Goujian slept on the straw with his head on the sword. He also hung a gall bladder in his house and tasted it every morning. He sent Wen Zhong to administer the government affairs and sent Fan Li to manage his army. He worked with farmers in the field and his wife was weaving and doubling thread. Yue’s people were moved by Goujian’s action, Yue transformed from weak to strong after ten year’s hard-working.
King Fuchai of Wu lived an extravagant and dissipated life after defeating Yue. He was full of conceit and started war with his neighborhoods frequently. He also fell for Bo Pi’s words and executed Wu Zixu, who was Wu’s faithful minister. At that time, Wu went into a nose dive although it was powerful apparently.
In 482 BC, Fuchai led his troops north to contest the overlord with the state of Jin. Goujian heard the news and made a swoop to Wu. Wu’s troops were defeated and Fuchai’s heir, named You was killed. Fuchai hastily withdrew his troops and sent an emissary to make peace with Goujian. Goujian reckoned that it was impossible to extirpate Wu on a single expedition, so he agreed to Fuchai’s offer. In 473 BC, Goujian began to attack Wu again and Wu’s troops had suffered repeated defeats. Fuchai had to ask Goujian for peace again but failed by Fan Li’s opposition. Fuchai finally committed suicide and Wu was subjugated.
- Cho-Yun Hsu, "The Spring and Autumn Period" in The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization t0 221 B. C., edited by Edward L. Shaughnessy and Michael Loewe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 564
- The King of Yue's Revenge.(n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2013, from shanghai guide, culture and legend website, The King of Yue's Revenge
- King of Wu-Fu Chai.(n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2013, from culture China,Historical Figures website, King of Wu-Fu Chai
King Fuchai of WuDied: 473 BC
|King of Wu
|Conquered by Yue|