King Helü of Wu

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Helü (Chinese: 闔閭) was from 514 BC to 496 BC king of the state of Wu[1] toward the end of the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. Some sources use the name Helu (Chinese: 闔廬). His family and given names were Ji Guang (Chinese: 姬光); he was initially known as Prince Guang.


Prince Guang is variously described as the son[4] or cousin[citation needed] of King Liao. He welcomed the Chu exile Wu Zixu into his entourage and, when he sought to usurp the throne of Wu, was introduced by him to Zhuan Zhu. Zhuan assassinated King Liao in 515 BC and the prince became King Helü. The king assigned Wu Zixu to lead the design and building of his "great city," which forms the basis of Suzhou's present old town.[5]

In 506 BC Helü with the help of Wu Zixu and Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War, launched major offensives against the state of Chu. They prevailed in five battles, one of which was the Battle of Boju, and conquered the capital Ying. However, Chu managed to ask the state of Qin for help, and after he was defeated by Qin, the vanguard general of Wu troops, Fugai, a younger brother of Helü, led a rebellion. After beating Fugai, Helü was forced to leave Chu. Fugai later retired to Chu and settled there.

His son, King Fuchai of Wu, succeeded him in 495 BC. Helü had two other sons named Bo and Shan. Bo was initially his heir but died before him.

Literary sources[edit]


  1. ^ 吳王 闔閭 (in Chinese). Retrieved 25 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Sima Qian, Records of the Grand Historian, Ch. 66, Biography 6 . (Chinese)
  3. ^ Nienhauser, William H., Junior (2001), "Early Biography", The Columbia History of Chinese Literature, New York: Columbia University Press, p. 514 .
  4. ^ Records of the Grand Historian,[2] cited in Nienhauser.[3]
  5. ^ "Legend for Wu Zixu", eBeijing, Beijing: Beijing Foreign Affairs Information Center, retrieved 15 December 2016 . (Chinese) & (English)
  6. ^ Olivia Milburn, The Glory of Yue, 2010:57.
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King Liao of Wu
King of Wu
514 BC – 496 BC
Succeeded by
King Fuchai of Wu