King Jia of Dai

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Zhao Jia
Reign 227-223 BCE
Predecessor King Youmiu of Zhao
Successor none: Zhao annexed by Qin
Born c. 250 BCE
Died unknown
Spouse unknown
Full name
Clan name: Zhao 趙
Given name: Jia 嘉
Posthumous name
King of Dai 代王
Father King Daoxiang of Zhao

King Jia of Dai, or perhaps more accurately Prince of Dai [1] (Traditional Chinese: 代王, Simplified Chinese: 代王) (reigned 227–223 BCE) was the last ruler of the state of Zhao during the waning days of the Warring Kingdoms period of China. His realm was merely a rump state that covered a fraction of the former Zhao territories.

Zhao Jia was the eldest son of King Daoxiang of Zhao, but because the concubine Chang Hou had found favour with King Daoxiang, upon succession the throne was passed on to Zhao Jia's younger brother, who became King Youmiu of Zhao.

Qin forces captured the Zhao capital of Handan in 228 BCE and captured King Youmiu. It is likely that Zhao Jia was not in Handan at the time, for shortly afterwards he led several hundred clan members towards Dai province (southwestern Yu County, Hebei), then at the northeastern extreme of the Zhao kingdom. There, having been proclaimed King by his courtiers, King Jia allied himself with King Xi of Yan against Qin forces, which were poised to invade Yan after Jing Ke's failed assassination attempt on King Zheng of Qin.

At the Battle of Yi River in 226 BCE, the combined forces of Yan and Zhao were defeated by Qin forces, with King Xi of Yan fleeing to Liaodong province. Seeing this, King Jia urged King Xi to kill Jing Ke's patron, Prince Dan of Yan, in an attempt to appease the King of Qin. This, combined with the commencement of Qin wars against Wei and Chu, delayed the conquest of Dai for some years.

Ultimately, in 223 BCE Qin forces under Wang Ben conquered the rump Yan state in Liaodong. On their way back to Central China, they conquered Dai as well. King Jia of Dai was taken prisoner, thus extinguishing the last remnant of the Zhao state.

It is unlikely that King Jia was treated too harshly, as his son was sent by the Qin court as an emissary to the Xirong. The descendants of Zhao settled in Tianshui in modern-day Gansu.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Unlike "standard" posthumous names for Chinese leaders, "Dai" refers to a specific place in China, and as such, calling Zhao Jia "King of Dai" carries connotations in Chinese historiography (e.g. Zhao Jia was the leader of a minor state, rather than of Zhao proper) that are better represented by translating the term as "Prince". Evidence for this can be seen in the fact that the Records of the Grand Historian names Zhao Jia as 代王嘉 (King Jia of Dai) and not 趙王嘉 (King Jia of Zhao). (Records of the Grand Historian, Table 15, comparing years 235 BCE (First year of King Youmiu) and 227 BCE (First year of "King" Dai))
  • Zhao Guo Shi Gao (Draft History of the Zhao State), Shen Changyun, Zhonghua Book Company, China.