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The Three Qins (Chinese: 三秦; pinyin: Sān Qín) refer to three of the Eighteen Kingdoms, formed from the division of the Qin dynasty after the collapse of the empire in 206 BC. The three kingdoms are located in Guanzhong Plain (in present-day central Shaanxi), the heartland of the Qin Empire.
Originally, according to a promise by King Huai II of Chu, whoever invaded Guanzhong first would own the region. Liu Bang was the first anti-Qin rebel to enter the Guanzhong region, capture Xianyang and end the Qin dynasty, and thus earned the right to rule it as his fief. He won the support of the people by abolishing the harsh Qin laws and forbidding his troops from killing and looting the locals. However, Xiang Yu, the most powerful warlord at the time and a deeply jealous rival of Liu, ignored this promise and forced Liu to relocate to another fief located in present-day Sichuan, then an underdeveloped and desolate region used to exile prisoners. The Guanzhong region was given to three former Qin generals who had surrendered to Xiang Yu after the Battle of Julu. These three kingdoms are collectively known as the Three Qins, because they occupied the heartland of the former Qin state.
The Three Qins are listed as follows:
- Yong (雍), ruled by Zhang Han, occupying present-day central Shaanxi
- Sai (塞), ruled by Sima Xin, occupying present-day northeastern Shaanxi
- Zhai (翟), ruled by Dong Yi, occupying present-day northern Shaanxi
In the autumn of 206 BC, Liu Bang's newly appointed general Han Xin made a surprise attack on the Kingdom of Yong and defeated Zhang Han. Following that, Sima Xin and Dong Yi surrendered to Liu, and by 205 BC the Three Qins became part of Liu's Kingdom of Han. After Liu's victory in the Chu-Han contention, the Guanzhong region became the crown land of the newly established Han dynasty, with Chang'an being the imperial capital, located merely miles away from the former Qin capital of Xianyang on the opposite side of the Wei River.