Zhao She

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Zhao She (趙奢) was a Chinese bureaucrat and general in the third century BC.[1]

Zhao She was one of the sons of Zhao He (趙何), King Huiwen of the State of Zhao. He was employed as a land tax collector. Although he was not holding a high or powerful position, Zhao She carried out his duties according to the law.

At this time there was a very powerful aristocrat by the name of Zhao Sheng, who refused to pay any land tax. In order to avoid punishing Zhao Sheng personally, Zhao She arrested the nine administrators who kept accounts for Zhao Sheng's family. Zhao Sheng became very angry and wanted to kill Zhao She.

However, Zhao She scolded Zhao Sheng for not upholding the law of the State. Zhao She also reminded Zhao Sheng that as an aristocrat he should be an example in abiding by the law and not infringing on it lest the State would perish. Zhao Sheng realised that he was wrong and he not only apologised to Zhao She but also recommended him to the ruler for promotion. Zhao She subsequently was promoted as the land tax collector of the whole State.

In 271 BC the State of Qin sent a large army to attack Han, but would have to attack the Zhao territory in the way. The Zhao army was no match for the Qin, who captured a large part of the Zhao territory. The Qin forces were approaching E Yu (閼與, in present-day Heshun county (和順縣), Shanxi province), which was very far from the Zhao capital of Handan. At that time the commander-in-chief of the Zhao forces, Lian Po recommended abandoning E Yu as it was too far away to reinforce. Also, the road to E Yu was narrow and winding. Zhao She told the ruler and the commander-in-chief that when two armies were fighting in a narrow and winding road it was like two rats fighting in a little hold with not much room to manoeuvre. The braver and stronger one would win.

Zhao He, the ruler of Zhao, then appointed Zhao She to lead a reinforcing army to rescue E Yu. Zhao He equipped his troops with light armour for mobility and reached Qin forces' rear. Qin forces, in fear of being trapped, lifted the siege and turn its full strength against the approaching Zhao forces. Zhao He hid most of his troops on a mountain, which he estimated the Qin troops would approach by dusk. Sure enough, the Qin forces approached, and Zhao He ambushed them in the dark. With determination and bravery Zhao She defeated the Qin forces. The ruler of Zhao rewarded Zhao She by making him the administrator of a district called Ma Fu (馬服 in present-day north of Handan city in Hebei province).

Unfortunately for the state of Zhao, Zhao She died just years after this victory. He was succeeded by his son Zhao Kuo, who was the commander of the catastrophic Battle of Changping.

Eventually in 228 BC the State of Zhao was subjugated by the State of Qin.

The offspring of Zhao She adopted "Ma" (馬), the first word of the district Ma Fu, as their surname.


  1. ^ Loewe, Michael; Shaughnessy, Edward L. (1999). The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC. Cambridge University Press. p. 632. ISBN 9780521470308.