An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Li Ke 里克

Oct 26, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Li Ke 里克 (died 650 BCE), also called Li Ji 里季 or shortly Li 里, was a high minister in the state of Jin 晉 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE). He served the dukes Xian 晉獻公 (r. 678-651) and Hui 晉惠公 (r. 651-637) of Jin.

In 660, Duke Xian ordered the heir apparent Prince Shensheng 申生 to take over command in the campaign against the Di tribes 狄 of Gaoluo 皋落. Li Ke was opposed against this plan, yet the Duke did not consider his remonstrance. Two years later Li Ke and Xun Xi 荀息 bought the support of the lord of Yu 虞 in a campaign against the state of Guo 虢.

In 653, Li Ke took over command in the campaign against the Di tribes again and defeated them at Caishang 采桑 (other sources say, Niesang 齧桑).

When Duke Xian died, Xun Xi enthroned Prince Xiqi 奚齊, but Li Ke instantly killed the Prince. As the highest minister Xun Xi therupon made Prince Daozi 卓子 duke of Jin who was likewise killed by Li Ke. The loyal Xun Xi died during the fight.

Li Ke, now the most powerful person in the dukedom, sent for Prince Chong'er 重耳 (the eventual Duke Wen 晉文公, r. 637-628), who dwelled among the native land of his mother among the Di tribes, but Prince Chong'er refused to accept the throne. Only Prince Yiwu 夷吾, who was in exile in Liang 梁, accepted the ducal honour and was escorted back home. He is known as Duke Hui. Fearing that Li Ke would murder him, too, Duke Hui ordered him to commit suicide. This time Li Ke displayed obedience to the house of Jin, took his sword and killed himself.

Xiong Tieji 熊鐵基, Yang Youli 楊有禮, ed. (1994). Zhongguo diwang zaixiang cidian 中國帝王宰相辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 397.
Zhang Huizhi 張撝之, Shen Qiwei 沈起煒, Liu Dezhong 劉德重, ed. (1999). Zhongguo lidai renming da cidian 中國歷代人名大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe), Vol. 1, 1075.