Warring States Yan Chinese II/4e: 480BC-202BC

DBA list:
1x HCh (General): King Zhao of Yan (311-279BC)
1x HCh
1x 3Cv or 2LH or 2Ps
1x 3Bd
4x 4Sp
3x 3Cb
1x 2Ps


The Warring States Period covers the time from 476 BCE to the unification of China by the Qin Dynasty in 221 BCE. The name Warring States Period was derived from " the Record of the Warring States ", a work historically compiled early in the Han Dynasty. Warlords once considered themselves dukes of the Zhou dynasty king, but now the warlords began to call themselves kings, meaning they were equal to the Zhou king. Military tactics also changed. Unlike the earlier Spring and Autumn Period, most armies now made combined use of infantry and cavalry, and the use of chariots gradually fell into disfavor. Thus from this period on, the nobles in China remained a literate rather than warrior class, as the kingdoms competed by throwing masses of soldiers against each other. Arms of soldiers gradually changed from bronze to unified iron arms. Dagger-axes were an extremely popular weapon in various kingdoms, especially for the Qin who produced eighteen-foot long pikes.This was also around the time the legendary military strategist Sun Tzu (Sun Zi) wrote "The Art of War" which is recognized today as the most influential, and oldest known military strategy guide

The Kingdom of Yan occupied the far northern border of the Qin Empire, with its southern border along the Yellow River, which at the time of the Qin and before emptied out into the gulf of Bohai. The Kingdom of Yan equates to the modern day provinces of Beijing Shi, Hebei, Tianjin, and northeast Shanxi.

The city of Beijing was then the capital of the Yan kingdom. It was named Ji because of the marshy conditions of the area. Later in this period the capital was moved to Xiadu.

Around 300 BCE, Qi was almost totally annihilated by a coalition of five states led by Yue Yi of Yan. Although under General Tian Dan Qi managed to recover their lost territories, it would never be a great power again. Yan was also too exhausted afterwards to be of much importance in national affairs after this campaign.Yan's new king, King Zhao of Yan then plotted with the states of Zhao, Qin, Han and Wei for a joint expedition against Qi. Led by the brilliant tactician Yue Yi, it was highly successful and within a year most of Qi's seventy walled cities had fallen, with the exception of Zimu and Lu. However with the death of King Zhao and the expulsion of Yue Yi to Zhao by the new king, King Wei of Yan, General Tian Shan managed to recapture all of the cities from the 5 kingdoms.

Despite the wars, Yan survived through the Warring States period. In 227 BC, with Qin troops on the border after the collapse of Zhao, the Yan Prince Dan sent an assassin named Jing Ke to kill the king of Qin, later First Emperor of Qin, hoping to end the Qin threat. The mission failed, with Jing Ke dying at the hands of the King of Qin in Xianyang.

Surprised and enraged by such a bold act (one that came terribly close to causing his demise), the king of Qin called on Wang Jian to destroy Yan. Crushing the bulk of the Yan army at the frozen Yishui River, Ji fell the following year and the ruler, King Xi, fled to the Liaodong Peninsula. In 222 BC Liaodong fell as well, and Yan was totally conquered by Qin.

King Zhou of YanKing Zhou of Yan

Click here to see the army pictures.