Talk:Battle of Changping

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Army Size Figures[edit]

Updating the earlier conversations, historian Mark Edward Lewis noted that 100,000 men could be maintained in the field, and that the overall cited numbers included all military personnel. Considering that peak Han China and the Roman Empire had roughly the same population and the Roman Empire fielded roughly 250,000 field soldiers, it is very doubtful that one million Chinese walked onto the same battlefield and fought each other.

However, Warring States China and especially Qin were extremely militarized, with the Qin engaging in mass peasant levies. The Roman Empire fielded 250,000 PROFESSIONAL soldiers, so the Roman Empire numbers are not comparable to Qin China. A better comparison of general numbers would be to consider how many sailors the Romans could employ for naval battles - for example, the small Roman state when it only controlled Italy was easily able to put 150,000 sailors on its own into the Battle of Ecnomus, and both Rome and Carthage fielded over 450,000 throughout the First Punic War. This means that the state of Qin could very well have had 450,000 soldiers in operation, if not on the same field. Considering that the battle of Changping occurred over 3 years and acted more as a war than a battle, the troop numbers are reasonable. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lonewolf371 (talkcontribs) 17:59, 6 June 2017 (UTC)

Absurd Figures--Modern Estimates?[edit]

The figures for armies and casaulties given here are clearly absurd. Could modern estimates of army size be given alongside exaggerated ancient claims, as per western battles of the same period? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 62.56.112.231 (talk) 15:09, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

§§These figures are not absurd; While major western battles of the same period often envolves only thousands to tens of thousands of soldiers, major campaigns in China in warring states and afterwards routinely see Generals commanding 10 times the western size, up to hundreds of thousands of men, with many branches. The details are well documented in Confucious history sources. —Preceding unsigned comment added by HuhuFufu (talkcontribs) 19:38, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. These were hardly medieval armies fighting with gathered feudal levies. Qin was a ruthlessly centralized state, with a massive and organized population resulting from decades of public works projects dedicated to irrigation projects to increase agricultural productivity. The high degree of government control and administrative efficiency also allowed the government to effectively organize such a large mass of labor, and to efficiently collect grain taxes as to be able to stockpile them for massive armies. Not coincidentally, the administrative structure dedicated to organizing such masses of men to labor also prove to be effective in organizing these same masses into regiments for war.
As for the casualties involved, Zhao's losses were such that the country was permanently crippled, having lost the fruit of an entire generation of young men in the war against Qin. The victory also allowed Qin to conquer all the other states in less than a generation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.101.223.152 (talk) 14:26, 9 December 2009 (UTC)


Its not about wht size of armies chines use to concentrate in those times (as mentioned in historical sources, they are all exaggerated arent they ?) and wht the size of western armies use to be in those days (again as per primary sources), its about a scientific fact that logistically gathering such a large concentration of fighting men, moving them, maneuvering them, feeding them, paying them etc was an impossible task. try calculating how much state had to spend on paying, feeding and maintaining this 500,000-600,000 troops on battle field, and then compair it with annual income and expenditure of the state. You will definitely declared that state/empire/kingdom to be bankrupt.
Citation needed. Sounds like original research. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 15.243.169.69 (talk) 05:36, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Come up with citations for your ridiculous claims, don't make ridiculous claims and then request citations for rebuttals. There are ridiculous figures for armies given in many western ancient sources as well, they have no more credibility than this does. Armies of hundreds of thousands in the ancient world were not possible.98.95.222.82 (talk) 12:53, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
until medieval era concentrating an army larger then 100,000 men is considered an extreme case by modern military historians, armies became larger once technology improved that eased the logistic problems Railways for instance.

الله أكبرMohammad Adil 23:35, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

european medieval era is notorious for smaller engagements compared to other eras. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.108.65.221 (talk) 00:11, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

The numbers in these battles are utterly absurd.

500,000 soldiers. Do you know what that means?

A single human being needs, at a minimum, 3 pounds of supplies a day to survive. 500,000 people would require, 750 tons of supplies per day! This does not even include the tents and other essentials of war making. At force march, an army can make no better than 10 miles a day on foot. Assuming these armies of 500,000 people took three months to form up (an absurdly short time) and another month to reach the field of battle, they would require 75,000 tons of supplies. How did the ancient Chinese achieve this feat?

And in credible recorded history, the BIGGEST battles of the civil war didn't come close these numbers. How do you propose china managed it in 260 BC?

Did you know that the CITY of LONDON (the largest in Europe) had a population under 250,000 as recently as 1600?

These Chinese numbers are insultingly ridiculous. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 192.35.35.34 (talk) 20:56, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Since you'll speculate, I can speculate too.

Let's look at their near contemporaries, the Romans.

The Romans maintained an army of 250,000. Half of which were auxiliaries, half of which were Legionnaires. The Roman Empire was not only more or less splintered during most of its latter history, but always fighting each other. Yet they still managed to maintain such a large force. In China, you had seven centralized, War Machine states, and somehow the strongest can't?

The state in question, Qin, is also known for its engineering feats. Zhengguoqu, Lingqu Canal, Dujiangyan. The Qin Dynasty built Roads all over China, like Roman roads, many survive today.

Roman Legionnaires can travel 30 miles a day on their roads, while carrying their own supplies. Note, carrying their own supplies. No matter how large of an army it is, if it carries its own supplies and has a road to travel on, there's no reason to consider it an impossibility.

Now consider this. China's historical population, despite many massacres, were always larger and more dense than Europe's. London is tiny city within a tiny isle within Europe, which is like 1/8th the size of Asia.

And you think the strongest and most centralized of the seven states, with a territory of over a quarter million square kilometers can't field an army the size the Romans of the Crisis of the Third Century can field?

Please, before you bring your injured pride and faux statistics in here, try to find a reliable Western Study that refutes these numbers. It's not like there's a shortage of western professors that wants to "debunk" China's history anyway. Why isn't there any? Maybe the mounds and mounds of skeletons still being dug up today in Changping is evidence?

Godforbid China is better than the West at something. Stop the presses! AKFrost (talk) 05:27, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

The Romans maintained an army of a hundred thousand or so across an entire huge empire - they were not combined into a single force. You are saying that a couple of states in a divided China managed to cobble together a million or so troops in one area and had battle with each other. That's simply absurd, especially considering the fact that later, more advanced Chinese dynasties weren't able to do so until millenia afterward. Historical citations of army sizes are always way off - look at the bible. These are no different. Anyway, if these figures are at all widely accepted as fact (they are not), why is this battle not placed at the no. 3 spot, in between the Siege of Leningrad and Siege of Budapest, in wikipedia's list of battles by casualty (it would, in fact, be the deadliest Chinese battle in history, ever, far deadlier than any battle that occurred in more advanced Chinese times when the population was orders of magnitude larger). 98.95.222.82 (talk) 12:58, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Because the Chinese demilitarized after that Era. During the Han Dynasty China had the Xiongnu to fight, afterwards it was all internal. During later Dynasties (especially the Song), the government actively suppressed military buildup since it was viewed as a threat to imperial power. Though, if you want examples of higher casualty count, here's a few: Sui-Goguryeo_War, Anshi_Rebellion.
btw, just because this operation is called a battle, doesn't mean it's necessarily a "battle". There was a period of three years worth of military buildup and skirmishes before it finally went into one showdown, which really means it can be considered a full warAKFrost (talk) 00:17, 18 October 2011 (UTC)


This discussion is probably old, but the SUI dynasty in 6century is capable of massing 1.3 million men for its invasion of Korea, an the population of China around that time is 55 millions (this is done by Chinese census) its 100% possible that the Zhao can massed 500,000 men. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 138.217.78.182 (talk) 11:41, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Secondary Sources[edit]

Well guys, if these numbers are true this is the biggest battle till WW1. And there should be be heaps of secondary (critical) historical literature. Both Chinese and Western. Does anybody care to do some research? BM 24.147.153.81 (talk) 02:33, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Good suggestion but get concensus first before unilaterally imposing your view on the article. See WP:NPOV. ► Philg88 ◄ talk 06:29, Saturday March 5, 2011 (UTC)
Keep in mind the current situation. We have a historical record by Sima Qian. There's other Chinese research papers that isn't readily available for citation, so let's pretend those don't exist. There's (to my knowledge) no Western interest in this battle and no documents that I've found that disputes this number. We already have an "according to Sima Qian" disclaimer in the info box. What more is there to do? Unless one of us actually go and do a credible research on this battle, which, keep in mind, aside from Sima Qian's account, is all really just theorycraft. Can China field an army over hundreds of thousands men? The answer is most likely yes, because their contemporaries, the Romans, also did. And unlike Rome's Multinational Empire, the Chinese Kingdoms are usually a few large clans, each can usually mobilize the entire male population if needed. In fact, right after this battle, Zhao mobilized the rest of their people to defend their capital to defeat the incoming Qin Invasion. This mechanism has many instances proving its existance. So until a credible research casts doubt on these numbers, they stand, injured Western Pride or not. AKFrost (talk) 21:08, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
Is this seriously the only horn you idiots have to blow? Cite scientifically impossible figures, then scream "westerners westerners oh noez!?" over and over again when called to account for them? Fucking ridiculous. Make your claims plausible, explain them, then we can talk. Your argument of "racism, therefore, the impossible" cannot stand on its own two legs. Also, China was likely every bit as much of a "multi-national" state as the Romans during this period. Nationalities are things people made up in the 19th century; do you honestly think that if China had never reunited and had stayed split into multiple kingdoms, those wouldn't consider each other different nationalities at this point in time?98.95.222.82 (talk) 13:01, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Scientifically impossible? What "science" has been done? Can you cite one scientific article that refutes these numbers? If you go to Changping today, you can still see bones from that era being dug up.
Since there's no research, let's just for fun do some OR. Let's look at the conditions needed to maintain a standing force:
Population and Stability. You need a large population to field a large army, and things counterproductive to population are internal wars, insurrections, and lack of food. The Romans were in constant warfare amongst themselves, and frequently legions fought each other for the throne ever since Nero's death. The Romans conquered a collection of civilizations distinct from themselves and systematically oppressed them with their slave system, which meant that many of them over time will rebel. The Hebrew resistance and Spartacus Rebellions are just a few instances of it. Lastly, food. Roman farming was limited to a few areas. Gaul, Hispania, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and Egypt, meaning that in order to keep their population fed, they need to transport them across vast distances. After the Romans lost Asia Minor to the Turks, they were never able to recover because of the loss of food supply. The Chinese, on the other hand, were only in warfare across state lines. There were seven of them, and you can really just consider each one a separate country. Within those states, there were practically no source of instability, especially on the side of the Qin, which was noted to have only had one coup for over 400 years. The Chinese were also able to complete three canals by 210 BC, making most of China very arable, and transporting is much, much less problematic than the Romans, because there's no sea to navigate through.
Need. Romans did not need a large force, because they didn't have an enemy that can muster an equally large force that they cared to conquer. Their military are much better utilized in smaller garrisons to keep order, and the Roman war machine was known for its mobility because they kept a smaller, though decidedly more elite, fighting force that was needed to both quickly meet and to terrorize populations into not rebelling again. The Chinese were the opposite. Their enemies were the other states, each of which was capable of levying an army that can meet them. This demand for bigger armies drove army sizes up. The United States regulars never exceeded 40,000 during the 1800's to the 1900's, but whenever a war came up, the American force was almost always 6-8 times the size. Who did the Romans fight that necessitated the Romans to levy a large force? Yet the Romans still had a force in the 300k range just to maintain order (and fight each other). And you say that the two biggest and most military states of China can't maintain a force that size?
Organization. The two sides in question here both belonged to the Clan of Ying, which was a nomadic tribe that established themselves amongst other nomads of the time. Nomadic people were basically one huge army. After the Warring States reforms, such things were codified into law. The Chinese are able to mobilize more men because their culture was built for this purpose. You will not find many non-military related artifacts from the Warring States Era, even the great thinkers of the day were focused on how to make the state strong so it can gain supremacy and hegemony. The Romans, however, were much, much more accomplished in the arts. They built public baths, and indulged in philosophy. This is not the kind of population that can be summoned to war in an instant, and indeed, the Roman Empire went out with a whimper, because by the end of its life, it no longer had the capability of mobilizing its own force.
As an aside, in order to supply said army, not only were the regular logistics personnel used, but the Qin King also mobilized an entire commandery's people just to cook and transport food for the army in the front. A commandery is the size of half a province of today in land area.
Lastly, keep in mind one thing, Sima Qian didn't write this account to show off Chinese might to westerners. He wrote it to keep record of what has happened from the way he heard it, and he is certainly a very intelligent person that would not write down such a number unless he had compelling evidence that such a number is probable, because he's writing about his government's enemies. The Han Dynasty supplanted the Qin Dynasty, it gains Sima Qian no brownie points by making the Qin look more mighty.
So really, unless you find a credible study that refutes these numbers, stop trying to hide behind your theorycraft.AKFrost (talk) 00:08, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

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