The Battle of An, between Jin and Qi for Hegemony

In 589 BC, in the battle of An (鞌), the Qi (齐) State was defeated by the Jin (晋) State. The Zuo’s Explanation (左传) records the cause of this battle. Three years prior, Jin’s monarch sent Xi Ke (郤克) to visit the Qi State. Qi Qing-Gong (齐顷公) who was the monarch of the Qi State let women watch behind a screen. For some reason, these women couldn’t refrain from laughing. Xi Ke thought he felt humiliated and became very angry, so he made an oath to retaliate. In 589 BC, Qi Qing-Gong led his army to invade the Lu (鲁) State. The Wei (卫) State supported the Lu State through invading Qi. Unfortunately, the army of the Wei State met the Qi’s army which returned in triumph. Shi Ji (石稷), one of the generals of the Wei’s army, wanted to withdraw. Another general Sun Liangfu (孙良夫) said, “No. Now that we are attacking the Qi State, but if we withdraw because of meeting Qi’s army, what can we say to our monarch? If we know we aren’t able to attack Qi, we would rather not send out our army. But now we have met up with them, we’d rather fight.” So the army of Wei had to fight against Qi’s army, and they were defeated utterly by the powerful army of Qi. Shi Ji said to other generals, “Our army was defeated, what will you say to the monarch?” No one answered. Sun Liangfu went to Jin State and asked for military aid. At the same time, Lu State asked Jin State for military aid, too. So the monarch ordered Xi Ke to lead eight hundred chariots to aid the two states. The allied armies of three states Jin, Lu and Wei entered Qi State. There was then a battle in An (modern-day Jinan of Shandong Province).

The Guliang’s Explanation (穀梁传) has a divergent record about the cause of this battle. During the same time, Jisun Xingfu (季孙行父) who was a minister of the Lu State in power, Gongzi Shou (公子手) who was the son of the Cao (曹) State’s monarch, Sun Liangfu and Xi Ke visited the Qi State. Jisun Xingfu was bald, Xi Ke had a blind eye, Sun Liangfu was lame and Gongzi Shou was crooked. Then Qi Qing-Gong let a bald person serve Jisun Xingfu, a person who had a blind eye serve Xi Ke, a lame person serve Sun Linfu, and a crooked person serve Gongzi Shou. All of the four men thought they were being humiliated, so they decided to retaliate. The four men led the allied forces of four states Jin, Lu, Wei and Cao to attack the Qi State. However, this record of Guliang’s Explanation seems to be a joke, but the record of the Zuo’s Explanation seems more authentic.

Qi Qing-Gong believed his army was able to defeat the allied armies of three states. He challenged them to fight. The commander of Jin said they really had to come here, and Qi Qing-Gong said, “If you agree, so is my idea. If you don’t agree, we still must meet.”

Gao Gu (高固), a strong general of Qi, ran into the army of Jin, and knocked the soldiers of a Jin’s chariot down by a stone. He captured them and their chariot. With the acclamations of Qi’s warriors, Gao Gu shouted excitedly to them, “If you want bravery, you can buy my surplus bravery!”

At last, there was a decisive battle between the allied armies of three states and the army of Qi State. Qi Qing-Gong said, “I must wipe them out before breakfast.” He actually didn’t put armor over his horses and his chariot sped to Jin’s army.

Xi Ke was wounded seriously by an arrow, yet he still kept beating the march drum with the encouragement of his driver. The troops of Jin State fought vigorously.

Because of underestimating their enemies, Qi’s army was defeated. They ran around Huabuzhu (华不注) Mountain three times, but the allied armies still ran after them. Han Jue (韩厥), a general of Jin State, drove his chariot by himself and followed the chariot of Qi Qing-Gong. Bing Xia (邴夏), the driver of Qi Qing-Gong, knew Han Jue, and said to Qing-Gong, “Shoot at that driver. He is a gentleman.” Qing-Gong said, “Since you say he is a gentleman, it is not etiquette to shoot at him.” He then shot the warriors who stood at Han Jue’s sides. A friend of Han Jue lost his chariot, and asked Han Jue for riding, and Han Jue let his friend stand behind him. They were in hot pursuit.

Pang Choufu (逢丑父), the minister of Qi who stood at the right side of Qi Qing-Gong found the situation to be urgent, so he changed positions with Qi Qing-Gong. During that time, monarchs and ministers wore the same military uniforms on the battlefield, and they were recognized by their positions and banners.

The chariot of Qi Qing-Gong got hung up by shrubs, and Han Jue arrived. Because Qi Qing-Gong was a monarch, Han Jue was supposed to salute him as a minister, but he didn’t know what Qi’s monarch looked like. So he wrongly regarded Pang Choufu as Qi’s monarch. Pang Choufu took the opportunity to request Qi Qing-Gong to go to a fountain to get water. Qi Qing-Gong understood him and left. He met a chariot of his state and got rescued.

Xi Ke found the captive wasn’t Qi’s monarch. He was angry and wanted to kill Pang Choufu. Pang Choufu cried, “Since now, there won’t be persons who substitute for their monarch and suffer. Because there is such a man, but he will be killed.” Xi Ke sighed and said, “He thinks it isn’t difficult to make his monarch escape by his death. So if I kill him, this is not propitious. Remit him, for encouraging people who serve their monarch.” So Pang Choufu was remitted.

Qi Qing-Gong sent Guo Zuo (国佐) to negotiate peace with Jin State. Guo Zuo presented treasures to Xi Ke and told him that Qi’s monarch was ready to return captured places. But Xi Ke refused to accept, and he actually requested Qi State to let Xiaotongshuzi (萧同叔子) who was the mother of Qi Qing-Gong be a hostage and change the trends of the Qi State’s ways from south-north to east-west. If the trend of ways was changed to east-west, Jin’s army would easily attack every place of the Qi State. Guo Zuo said composedly, “Xiaotongshuzi is not an ordinary person, because she is my monarch’s mother. Our monarch’s mother is as your monarch’s mother. You can give orders to the monarches of other states, but you actually want to cause the mother of the monarch of another state to be a hostage. How do you treat the authorization of the King? You give an unfilial order to other states. Do you have virtue? Our territory was conferred by the former King, and the trends of ways were established by the King. If you want to change, you disobeyed the royal family, and you are unrighteous, so how do you become a leader of states’ alliance? Our monarch is ready to return captured places and build friendly relationship, but you refuse, so we have to assemble a remnant army and wage a life-or-death battle.” The ministers of Lu and Wei heard these words, and counseled Xi Ke, “Qi’s men hate us, because the dead people are their relatives and friends. If you don’t promise them, they will hate us to the extreme. What do you want to get on earth? You get treasures, and we get land, and our trouble is eliminated. These are our honor. Both of Qi and Jin are conferred by the Heaven, why must only Jin exist?” Then Xi Ke abandoned the unreasonable requests and made peace with the Qi State.

In the end of the next year, Qi Qing-Gong visited the Jin State. Jin’s monarch banqueted Qi Qing-Gong. Qi Qing-Gong saw Han Jue and smiled. Jin’s monarch asked Qi Qing-Gong, “Do you know Jue?” Qing-Gong said, “Yes, but the way he dresses has changed.” Han Jue saluted him, raised his drinking cup and said, “I didn’t dare to treat death sparingly, in order that today two monarchs meet in this hall.”

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