The Seven Days in the Baideng Mountain

In the last days of the Warring-States Period, the Huns (匈奴) harried the north borders of the north states of the Huaxia people. So the several states built long walls for resisting the Hun. Later, the Qin (秦) Empire linked the original long walls of the states and built new walls, and then all the walls were called “The Great Wall”.

When the Western Han Dynasty was just built, the Huns invaded the north borders on a large scale. Han Gao-Zu (汉高祖), the first emperor of Han Dynasty, was very angry. In 200 BC, he commanded more than three hundred thousand troops who were mainly infantries to resist the Huns. In the beginning, the army of Han defeated Hun and advanced. Modu (冒顿) Chanyu (单于), the great chief of the Huns, let some weak and old warriors tempt the army of Han. Han Gao-Zu thought his army was able to annihilate the enemy at one fling. So he led a part of army to pursue the enemy rapidly. However, when they arrived at Pingcheng (平城) (Modern-days Datong [大同] of Shanxi Province), they were besieged by the strong army of the Huns. The army of Han Gao-Zu had to break a desperate way and ran away to the Baideng Mountain (白登山). Modu Chanyu led four hundred thousand cavalrymen to besiege the Baideng Mountain.

At that time, the army of the Huns was preponderant. Fan Kuai (樊哙), a general of Han, led two hundred thousand and five ten thousand troops, but they were not able to rescue Han Gao-Zu. In the Baideng Mountain, the army of Han Gao-Zu was surrounded in seven days. The army lacked victuals and the weather was very bad.

Chen Ping (陈平), a wise minister, advised the emperor to send a messenger to bribe the Yanzhi (阏氏) who was the title of the wife of the Huns’ chief. Then Han Gao-Zu let a messenger take many treasures to visit the Yanzhi secretly. The Yanzhi was very satisfied, and she told Modu, “The two masters of two nations can't persecute each other. Now our army has captured so many places of Han, but you, the great Chanyu, don’t want to live here forever. The emperor of Han has his patron god, too. Please the great Chanyu be circumspect.” At that time, two betrayed generals of Han didn't go to support Modu, so Modu was worried that the two men colluded with the army of Han. Then Modu Chanyu decided to accept his wife’s advice and open a way.

Han Gao-Zu heard the good news, but he was worried whether the insidious Huns would break the promise. He ordered his troops to draw their bows entirely with arrows towards the outside and keep on the alert. The troops of Han scrupulously passed through the opening. When they were away from the enemy, they relaxed and met the other part of Han’s army and the reinforcements. Modu thought the army of Han had united as one, so he led his army to return his country. Han Gao-Zu also led his army to return the capital, with unforgotten trepidation.

Since then, Hao Gao-Zu didn't dare to attack the Huns rashly. He presented the Chanyu of the Huns many treasures. He started a policy which was called “amicability by marriage” (和亲). He didn't want to give his daughter to the Chanyu, so he regarded a daughter of a court servant woman as a princess and gave her to the Chanyu. The emperors of the Han Dynasty had never given their own daughters to the chiefs of the Huns, and they regarded the daughters of court servant women or royal nobles as princesses and gave them to the Hun. The policy of “amicability by marriage” was a humiliation. In the times of Han Wu-Emperor (汉武帝), the Han Empire gave the Huns not women but violent wars and heavy suffering.

Oriental Style
Since February 6th, 2006
Copyright © Yike Jiang