An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Lin Xiangru 藺相如

Dec 2, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Lin Xiangru 藺相如 was a general of the state of Zhao 趙 during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent-221 BCE).

When he was a retainer of Miao Xian 繆賢, a palace eunuch (huanzhe ling 宦者令) of the king, the powerful king of Qin 秦 demanded the jade ring of He (Heshi bi 和氏璧), which as in possession of the king of Zhao. Miao Xian selected Lin Xiangru as a envoy to Qin to hand over the jade ring. Lin Xiangru was able to fool the king of Qin by presenting him territory in exchange and by threatening to destroy the ring. He then slipped away and returned to Zhao, with the ring. For this bravura he was granted the title of senior grand master (shang dafu 上大夫).

In 279, he came with King Huiwen 趙惠文王 (r. 298-266 BCE) to meet the king of Qin at Mianchi 澠池. A second time he ashamed the king of Qin and was rewarded with the rank of senior minister (shangqing 上卿). This quick success instigated the envy of general Lian Po 廉頗. But Lin Xiangru's broadminded and upright character moved Lian Po so that they made their peace with each other.

Lin Xiangru later commanded the troops defeating the army of Qi 齊. Under King Xiaocheng 趙孝成王 (r. 265-245) he had the nominal command of the troops of Zhao during the year-long siege of Changping 長平 (modern Gaoping 高平, Shanxi). Lin was already very sick at that time. He nevertheless criticised the king's plan to demote Lian Po and having him replaced by the far less able Zhao Kuo 趙括. Shortly after the ensuing defeat of Zhao, Lin Xiangru died.

Cang Xiuliang 倉修良, ed. (1991). Shiji cidian 史記辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 807.