King Min of Qi

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King Min of Qi
King of Qi
Reign 300–284 BC
Predecessor King Xuan of Qi
Successor King Xiang of Qi
Full name
Ancestral name: Gui (媯)
Clan name: Tian (田)
Given name: Di (地)
House House of Tian
Father King Xuan of Qi
Born c. 323 BC
Died 284 BC

King Min of Qi (Chinese: 齊湣王; pinyin: Qí Mǐn Wáng; Wade–Giles: Ch'i Min Wang) (323–284 BC, ruled 300–284 BC) was a notoriously unsuccessful king of the northeastern Chinese state of Qi during the Warring States period. "Famous for his paranoia and megalomania, the king was the archetype of the unworthy and unaware ruler."[1] A generation later, the philosopher Xunzi wrote of King Min: "The king of Qi perished and his state was destroyed, punished by all under Heaven. When later generations speak of bad men, they are sure to mention him."[2]

Qi was one of the most powerful countries in China at his accession, if not the most powerful.

In 288 BC. King Min took the title of Di of the East (東帝),[3] and his ally King Zhaoxiang of Qin called himself Di of the West (Di was originally the name of the high god of the Shang. It also (or later) had a weaker sense of sacred or divine; the same character was used to mean Emperor in later times.) But so many people objected[4] that both kings were forced to return to the title of "king" (wáng 王) and there was no Di in China until Qin Shi Huang unified China in 221 BC and gave himself the title of Huang Di, which we translate as Emperor.

King Min, like his predecessors, supported scholars in the Jixia Academy and inviting prominent visitors to talk with him. Su Qin was one of his advisors; Lord Mengchang was for a while his chancellor. But "all of King Min's assessments were like this [i.e. foolish], which is why his state was destroyed and his person placed in harm's way."[1] King Min had his critics executed, sometimes in cruel ways such as being boiled alive or cut in two at the waist;[1][5] he gradually alienated the commoners, his own royal clan, and the great ministers.[4]

In 286 BC, King Min attacked and destroyed Song. King Min attacked Chu and defeated its army. But his own army became exhausted, and Qi was promptly attacked in its turn and lost all the territory it had gained. "All blamed the king, saying, 'Who made this plan?' The king said, 'Tian Wen [Lord Mengchang] made it!' and the great ministers thereupon... drove Tian Wen from the state." [3]

At the end of his reign, after King Min had angered even his own generals who were defending Qi, his capital city of Linzi was invaded and sacked in 284 BC. by General Yue Yi of Yan, partly at the instigation of King Min's advisor Su Qin. "The army of Yan entered the capital...fighting with each other over the great quantity of bronze stored in the treasury."[1] The king fled to Ju, which along with Jimo was one of the only two Qi cities that remained unoccupied.[6] All but two cities of Qi were conquered. Even after his defeat, King Min never blamed himself; he agreed with an obsequious advisor who said, "Your majesty had the title of Sovereign of the East and in fact controlled the world. You left your state to live in Wey with a manner that expressed complete satisfaction."[1] But the king was then captured, and his former minister, Nao Chi (淖齒), of Chu, confronted the king: " 'For hundreds of miles about your districts... garments have been wet with blood.... Did the king know this?' 'I did not.'... 'Can such a person remain unpunished?' cried Nao Chi and executed King Min in the drum-square at Ju." [4] Another account says Nao Chi "bound King Min by his joints and suspended him from a beam in the ancestral temple. There the king hung all night and died the next day."[3][4] He is often cited in literature as a warning example of a ruler who would not listen to good advisors but believed bad ones.[1] "This is the reason Qi was defeated on the banks of the Ji River[7] and the country of Qi became a wasteland....King Min died as a result of his arrogance over the greatness of Qi."[1]

Nao Chi was killed by one of King Min's followers, Wangsun Jia, who with Tian Dan then reconquered the seventy cities of Qi,[8] found Tian Fazhang 田法章, King Min's son, who had "cast off his robes of royalty and fled to the house of the king's astrologer where he worked as a gardener",[4] and set him on the throne (King Xiang of Qi). Qi never regained its power.[5] However, it survived as a kingdom and was the last independent land to succumb to the unification of China under Qin Shi Huang in 221 BC.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Lü, Buwei (2000). The Annals of Lü Buwei. Edited and translated by John Knoblock and Jeffrey Riegel. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. pp. Glossary, 782. ISBN 9780804733540. 
  2. ^ Hutton, Eric L. (2014). Xunzi: The Complete Text. Princeton University Press. p. 101. 
  3. ^ a b c Sima, Qian (1993). "Fan Ju and Cai Ze". Records of the Grand Historian. Burton Watson. Hong Kong: The Research Centre for Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Columbia University Press. p. 134. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Crump, J.I. (1996) [1970]. Chan-kuo Ts'e. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan. p. 207/159. 
  5. ^ a b Wu, Hung; Michael Loewe; Edward L. Shaughnessy (2007) [1999]. The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 830. 
  6. ^ Cambridge History of Ancient China, page 628
  7. ^ [1] The Ji River
  8. ^ Xunzi (1988). "Fan Ju and Cai Ze". Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Works. John Knoblock. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 11. 
King Min of Qi
Born: c. 323 BC Died: 284 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King Xuan of Qi
King of Qi
300–284 BC
Succeeded by
King Xiang of Qi