Duke Xiang of Song

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Duke Xiang of Song (宋襄公) (died 637 BC) was the leader in the state of Song in the Spring and Autumn period. His name was Zifu (子茲甫) and he took his throne in 650 BC.[1]

After the death of Duke Huan of Qi (齊桓公), he wanted to become the next hegemon. After his installment of Duke Xiao of Qi, he made war with Chu. In 638 BC he attacked the state of Zheng and met the troops from Chu, who were running to save Zheng. Instead of giving the enemy a surprise attack, he waited for the enemy to go across the river in order to be a real Ren () gentleman. In the Battle of Hongshui (泓水之戰) against the much stronger and fully prepared enemy, Duke Xiang’s troops were defeated thoroughly and he himself was badly hurt. He died in the following year and was succeeded by his son Wangchen known as Duke Cheng of Song.

Despite his failure in expansion, he is considered one of the Five Hegemons by some historians.

Mao Zedong once said about Duke Xiang's humanity in war: "We are not Duke Xiang of Song and have no use for his idiotic virtue and morality".[2]


  1. ^ Schaberg, David (2001). A Patterned Past: Form and Thought in Early Chinese Historiography. Volume 205 of Harvard East Asian monographs (Illustrated ed.). Harvard University Asia Center. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-674-00861-8. 
  2. ^ Schram, Stuart R. (1997). Mao's Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-1949. 1 (Illustrated ed.). M.E. Sharpe. p. 369. ISBN 978-1-56324-457-5. 

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