Duke Mu of Qin

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Duke Mu of Qin
Ruler of Qin
Reign 659–621 BC
Predecessor Duke Cheng of Qin
Successor Duke Kang of Qin
Died 621 BC
House House of Ying
Father Duke De of Qin

Duke Mu of Qin (Chinese: 秦穆公; pinyin: Qín Mù Gōng, died 621 BC) was from 659 to 621 BC the fourteenth ruler of the Zhou Dynasty State of Qin. His ancestral name was Ying (), given name Renhao (任好), and Duke Mu was his posthumous title.[1] Sometimes considered one of the Five Hegemons of the Spring and Autumn period, he greatly expanded the territory of Qin during the reign of King Xiang of Zhou.

He acquired many talented advisors, such as Baili Xi, Jian Shu (蹇叔), Pi Bao (丕豹), and Gong Sun (公孫).

He was the son of Duke De of Qin and the younger brother of Duke Cheng. He married Mu Ji (), the daughter of Duke Xian of Jin, and married his daughter Huai Ying (懷嬴) to two of Duke Xian's sons. He helped his son-in-law win the Battle of Chengpu against Chu; these two marriages led to the saying "the Friendship of Qin and Jin" (秦晉之好) to denote political marriages and alliances based on marital bonds.

He had at least two sons: Ying and Hong. Ying succeeded him as Duke Kang of Qin. He also had several known daughters: Huai Ying (wife of Dukes Huai and Wen of Jin), Wen Ying (wife of Duke Wen of Jin), Qin Ying (wife of King Gong of Chu), Jianbi, and Nongyu (wife of Xiao Shi). There are doubts as to whether Huai Ying and Wen Ying were different names for the same daughter; likewise, some argue for the conflation of Jianbi and Nongyu.

At this time Qin and Jin were the most powerful states in China. Duke Wen of Jin expelled the Di barbarians and drove them into the region west of the Yellow River between the Yun and Luo rivers; there they were known as the Red Di and the White Di. Shortly afterwards, Duke Mu of Qin, having obtained the services of You Yu, succeeded in getting the eight barbarian tribes of the west to submit to their authority.

Thus at this time there lived in the region west of Long the Mianzhu, the Hunrong, and the Diyuan tribes. North of Mts. Qi and Liang and the Jing and Qi rivers lived the Yiqu, Dali, Wuzhi, and Quyuan tribes. North of Jin were the Forest Barbarians and the Loufan, while north of Yan lived the Eastern Barbarians and Mountain Barbarians. All of them were scattered about in their own little valleys, each with its own chieftain. From time to time they would have gatherings of a hundred or so men, but no one tribe was capable of unifying the others under a single rule.[2]

He is also noted as the retainer of Bole, the horse expert.

During the early reign of Duke Mu of Qin, the Jin state was a formidable power under the leadership of Duke Xian of Jin. However, after the death of Duke Xian, Jin plunged into a state of internal conflict as Duke Xian's sons fought over the succession. One of them won the contention and became Duke Hui of Jin, but Jin was struck by a famine not long later and Duke Hui requested aid from Qin. Duke Mu of Qin sent relief food supplies and agricultural equipment to Jin. However, Qin was struck by famine later and by then, Jin had recovered and it turned to attack Qin. Qin and Jin engaged in several battles over the next few years.

During the battles with Jin, Duke Mu heard that one of Duke Xian's sons, Chong'er, was in exile in the Chu state. After consulting his subjects, Duke Mu sent an emissary to Chu to invite Chong'er to Jin, and Qin helped Chong'er defeat Duke Hui and Chong'er became the new ruler of Jin, with his title as "Duke Wen". Duke Wen was grateful to Duke Mu and relations between Qin and Jin improved. Qin used the opportunity when its eastern front was stable, to launch military campaigns against the minority tribes in the west.

In 627 BC, Duke Mu of Qin planned a secret attack on the State of Zheng, but the Qin army retreated after being tricked into believing that Zheng was prepared for Qin's invasion. Duke Wen had died and his successor, Duke Xiang of Jin, ordered his troops to lay an ambush for the retreating Qin army. The Qin forces were defeated in an ambush by Jin at the Battle of Yao (zh) near present-day Luoning County, Henan Province and suffered heavy casualties. Three years later, Qin attacked Jin for revenge and scored a major victory. Duke Mu refused to advance east further after holding a funeral service for those killed in action at the Battle of Yao, and focused on the traditional policy of expanding Qin's borders in the west. Duke Mu's achievements in the western campaigns and his handling of foreign relations with Jin earned him a position among the Five Hegemons of the Spring and Autumn period.



  1. ^ Sima Qian. 秦本纪 [Annals of Qin]. Records of the Grand Historian (in Chinese). guoxue.com. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Watson (1993), p. 132.


Duke Mu of Qin
 Died: 621 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Duke Cheng of Qin
Duke of Qin
659–621 BC
Succeeded by
Duke Kang of Qin