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King Huiwen of Qin

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King Huiwen of Qin (Chinese: 秦惠文王; 356–311 BC), also known as Lord Huiwen of Qin (Chinese: 秦惠文君) or King Hui of Qin (Chinese: 秦惠王), given name Si (駟), was the ruler of the Qin state from 338 to 311 BC during the Warring States period of Chinese history and likely an ancestor of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.[1][2] He was the first ruler of Qin to style himself "King" (王) instead of "Duke" (公).

Si (駟)
King Huiwen of Qin (秦惠文王)
Reign338–311 BC
Born356 BC
Died311 BC (aged 44–45)
SpouseQueen Huiwen
Queen Dowager Xuan
IssueTong, Marquis of Shu
King Wu of Qin
King Zhaoxiang of Qin
Yun, Marquis of Shu
Shi, Lord Gaoling
Kui, Lord Jingyang
Queen Yi of Yan
Full name
FatherDuke Xiao of Qin


Early lifeEdit

Prince Si was the son of Duke Xiao, and succeeded his father as ruler after the latter's death.[3] When the adolescent Si was still crown prince, he committed a crime and was severely punished for it. The great minister Shang Yang was just then implementing his authoritarian reforms to the laws of Qin and he insisted that the crown prince should be punished for the crime regardless of his royal status. Duke Xiao approved of the draconian punishment and Si's tutors, Prince Qian (公子虔), Duke Xiao's older brother, and Gongsun Gu (公孫賈), for neglecting their duties in educating the crown prince, with Prince Qian having his nose cut off and Gongsun receiving the punishment of qing (黥; a form of punishment which involved branding a criminal by tattooing his face), while Ying Si was banished from the royal palace.

It was believed that Si harboured a personal grudge against Shang Yang and when he came to the throne as King Huiwen, Si had Shang Yang put to death on charges of treason. However, Huiwen retained the reformed systems in Qin left behind by his father and Shang Yang.


During Huiwen's reign, Qin became very powerful in terms of its military strength, and constantly invaded neighbouring states as part of its expansionism policy. In 316 BC it conquered the states of Shu and Ba to the south in the Sichuan basin. The strategy here was to annex and colonize the semi-civilized lands to the south rather than confront the more advanced states to the east with their large armies. The strategist Su Qin, a student of Guiguzi, managed to persuade the other six major states to form an alliance to deal with Qin. However, Su Qin's fellow student, Zhang Yi, came into the service of Huiwen and he helped Qin break up the alliance by sowing discord among the six states.


King Huiwen ruled Qin for 27 years and died in 311 BC at the age of 46. He was succeeded by his son, King Wu of Qin, born of Queen Huiwen.


  • Parents:
    • Crown Prince Quliang (太子渠梁; 381–338 BC), ruled as Duke Xiao of Qin from 361–338 BC
  • Queens:
    • Queen Huiwen, of Wei (惠文后; d. 305 BC), possibly a daughter of King Hui of Wei; married in 334 BC; the mother of Crown Prince Dang
    • Queen Dowager Xuan, of the Mi clan of Chu (宣太后 羋姓; d. 265 BC), a royal of Chu by birth; the mother of Princes Ji, Shi and Kui
  • Sons:
    • Prince Tong (公子通; d. 311 BC), ruled as the Marquis of Shu from 313–311 BC
    • Crown Prince Dang (太子盪; 329–307 BC), ruled as King Wu of Qin from 310–307 BC
    • Prince Zhuang (公子壯; d. 305 BC)
    • Prince Yong (公子雍; d. 305 BC)
    • Prince Ji (公子稷; 325–251 BC), ruled as King Zhaoxiang of Qin from 306–251 BC
    • Prince Yun (公子惲; d. 301 BC), ruled as the Marquis of Shu from 308–301 BC
    • Prince Shi (公子市)
      • Known by his title, Lord Gaoling (高陵君)
    • Prince Kui (公子悝)
      • Known by his title, Lord Jingyang (涇陽君)
    • Prince Yao (公子繇)
    • Prince Chi (公子池)
  • Daughters:
    • Queen Yi of Yan (燕易後)

In fiction and popular cultureEdit


  1. ^ Sima Qian. 秦本纪 [Annals of Qin]. Records of the Grand Historian (in Chinese). Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  2. ^ Han (2010), 340
  3. ^ [1] Harvard University reference page for a 2006 class called Moral Reasoning; includes a useful map.
King Huiwen of Qin
 Died: 311 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Duke Xiao
as Duke of Qin
King of Qin
338–311 BC
Succeeded by
King Wu