The Battle of Ailing, a Tragically Heroic Battle

In the summer of 484 BC, the allied armies of the Wu and Lu States invaded Qi State. At this time, Qi State was in a state of decline because of the rampant disorder after the death of Qi Jing-Gong, the last eminent monarch of Jiang Clan. During the civil strife, the rightful heir of Qi Jing-Gong was killed and another son of Jing-Gong ascended to the throne. The influence of Jiang Clan, the ruling clan of Qi State which included the Jiang Family and other branch families such as the Guo, Gao, Lvqiu and Dongguo Families, was weakened by the Chen Family (later known as the Tian Family). Facing the allied armies of Wu and Lu, the ruling clan decided to resist and sent the members of Jiang Clan to lead the army. Guo Shu led the central part of the army and became the commander. Gao Wupi led the upper part and Zong Lou led the lower part. Chen Shu, a member of the Chen Family, was a military officer. Chen Qi, the chief of the Chen Family, told to his younger brother Chen Shu, “If you die, I will achieve my ambition.”

The allied armies of Wu and Lu had captured two cities of Qi State. In the allied armies of Wu and Lu, Fu Chai, the king of Wu State, led the central part. Xumen Chao led the upper part. Wangzi Gucao led the lower part and Zhan Ru led the right part.

The generals of Qi State knew their enemies were strong and especially the Wu State’s soldiers were very ferocious. It was clear to them that they were in an extremely dangerous state. Zong Lou and Lvqiu Ming encouraged each other, and they wished that they could see their wives and children again. When Gongsun Xia watched that Sang Yanxu was driving the chariot for Guo Shu, he sighed, “These two men will die.” He ordered his soldiers to sing “Yu Dirge” which was a lament from far remote times. These soldiers knew the dirge was sung for themselves. Chen Shu ordered his soldiers to keep a jade in their mouth and said, “In this battle, I can hear the drumbeats, but I won’t hear the sound of beating gongs.” (Drumbeats meant attack, and beating gongs meant withdrawal) According to funeral rites, a dead person must keep a jade in mouth. The actions of Chen Shu and his soldiers showed they decided to fight to the death. Gongsun Hui told to his soldiers with a smile, “We must find enough ropes, because the hair of Wu’s men is short.” The people of Wu State were accustomed to cutting their hair, so their hair was kept short. If Wu’s warriors were killed, their heads would be fastened with ropes. Gongsun Hui said so in order to encourage his troops. Dongguo Shu said, “I will die in the third battle, and now the battle is in the third.” He sent a follower to present a musical instrument to his friend Xian Duo, and gave a message to him, “I won’t be seeing you ever again.”

Then there was a very violent battle in Ailing (Modern-day Laiwu of Shandong Province). The right part of the army of Lu State defeated the upper part of the army of Qi State, but the central part of the army of Qi State defeated the upper part of the army of Wu State. Suddenly, the central troops which were commanded directly by the king of Wu State went into battle and attacked fiercely the army of Qi State. The weakened army of Qi couldn’t resist the army of Wu’s king, and they were completely defeated. Because the army of Qi was beleaguered by the armies of Lu and Wu, most of the generals and soldiers died in battle. Guo Shu (the commander of Qi’s army), Gongsun Xia, Lvqiu Ming, Chen Shu and Dongguo Shu all died. Gao Wupi and Zong Lou led a part of the army to break through the enemies and survived.

Three thousand troops of Qi State died in battle. Eight hundred chariots were captured by the allied armies of Wu and Lu. Many excellent generals of the ruling clan of Qi State and their loyal warriors died that day. Jiang Clan was seriously weakened. The influence of the Chen Family got stronger and stronger. After three years, the monarch of Qi State was killed by Chen Heng. Since that time, the monarchs of Qi State had been the puppets of the Chen Family. In order to face the new future, the Chen Family adopted the character “Tian” as their family name. Since then, the Chen Family became known as the Tian Family. In 386 BC, Tian He, the chief of the Tian Family, was admitted to be the monarch of Qi State by the king of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, and Qi Kang-Gong who was the last monarch of Jiang Clan’s Qi State was forced to move to an island. In 379 BC, Qi Kang-Gong died in solitude. Jiang Clan, which had ruled Qi State for 700 years, descended to be the common people. The times of Tian Family’s Qi State started.

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