The Battle of Gan

Introduction to the War

The Battle of Gan was a battle between the Xia Dynasty of China, which took place around the 21st century BC, between the Xia king Qi and the western lords Youhu (in recent times, various experts and scholars believe that the war took place in the area of Yuanyang and Yuanwu, north of present-day Zhengzhou, Henan Province).


After King Qi killed Bo Yi, he held a general meeting of the chiefs at Diaotai (present-day Yuzhou, Henan Province). The Youhu clan in the west resented the seizure of power by Xia Qi and rose up in rebellion. Before the battle, Qi made the “Gan Oath”, claiming that the Youhu clan had committed the treacherous crime of “insulting the five elements and abandoning the three righteousnesses”, and that “if you use your life, you will be rewarded by your ancestors, but if you do not have a life, you will be killed by the community”. The battle resulted in the defeat of the Youhu clan at Gan (Huxian, Shaanxi Province, another saying is near Luoyang), and the Xia army fought straight to the land of the Youhu clan, which was badly defeated, with numerous deaths and injuries, and the surviving Youhu clan was reduced to a “herd”. This battle established Kai’s position as the Son of Heaven. It was also the peak of the Xia Dynasty.

In the end, the Xia Hou clan was victorious and Qi was able to establish the first Chinese dynasty, the Xia Dynasty. The battle also unified the tribal strife in the Central Plains and consolidated the autocratic regime of the Xia Dynasty.

The Battle of Gan (Hou Zhen’s work)
Background of the Battle

In the Yao-Shun era or even earlier, the leaders of the Chinese tribal alliance had often been produced in successive generations from the same clan or even the same family, which is the fundamental reason why the legendary Huangdi, Shaohao, Zhuanxu, Yao and Shun were all more than 100 years old. But this succession law and the later “Xia pass son, family world” there is a fundamental difference, that is, the son of the leader does not have the “legal” right of succession, the successor to the Council of discussion and approval, although the son of the incumbent leader is often nominated first, but the decision This was because the struggle for survival was still very difficult and required extraordinary experience in struggle and organizational skills from the leaders. However, with the accumulation of social wealth, the intensification of social differentiation and the emergence of kingship, the positions of leaders at the top of the pyramid, large and small, became the object of pursuit along with the praised wealth, and the struggle for power began. For example, at the time of Yao and Shun, it is said that Jiu Jiu, father of Yu, was strongly opposed to giving the world to Shun and “wanted the three princes for himself. He was so angry with the beast that he wanted to be in chaos” (Lv’s Spring and Autumn Period: Bullying the King’s Guide).

Father Jiu was killed at Mount Yu, and Yu’s attack on the three Miao was also related to the fact that the “king of the three Miao” had been involved in this power struggle. After Shun, the king’s power was further strengthened, and legend has it that when Yu Tu Mountain met with the alliance, “those who held the jade and silk were ten thousand countries”, and “the king of the lords and princes arrived at the top of Huiji, after the king of the wind, and Yu beheaded them” (Spring and Autumn Zuo Zhuan – Ai Gong).

This Tu Mountain is the San Tu Mountain in Song County, Henan Province, which is also known as Huiji Mountain, and is near the center of the Xia people’s activities. It can be seen by Jiuji, Yu two generations of management, after the Xia clan has formed a strong force, for the establishment of the Xia dynasty laid the foundation. With the emergence of kingship, the organs of the clan system has been partly transformed, partly abandoned, only the successor leader of the candidate to be approved by the Council of the form still exists. From Shun to Yu was a time of great social development, and various talents emerged, and the first person to be appointed as Yu’s successor was Gaotao, who had been in charge of the five punishments and the prison lawsuit. Gaotao died before Yu, and the tribal council elected Yi, or Bo Yi. He was a descendant of Zhuanxu and Shaodian, also known as Dafei, and was related to Gaotao in some way.

In the Records of the Five Emperors, it is written that “Yi was the master of Yu and the leader of mountains and rivers”.

Some scholars believe that he is credited with pioneering animal husbandry. Therefore, according to the traditional custom, as the son of the leader, although he was given priority in the discussion of the successor candidates in the council, his merits and prestige could not compete with Yi, and Bo Yi naturally became the legal successor approved by the council. After taking over the leadership position, Xia Houqi held an alliance meeting in present-day Yuxian County, Henan Province, to inform the tribes within the confederation and nearby chiefdoms and to gain supporters in order to establish his rule, and this is what is documented as Xiaqi having the enjoyment of Juntai. But Kai’s usurpation of traditional customs caused dissatisfaction among some tribes, especially those strong tribal leaders who also coveted the highest position of power in the alliance, represented by the Youhu clan, and openly expressed disobedience to Kai as the new leader, which led to the battle of Gan in which Kai fought the Youhu clan. The Youhu clan was a powerful tribe or chiefdom at the time. Legend has it that there was a war when Yu “attacked Youhu” to “practice his religion”. Before the war, Yu said in his oath speech, “In the middle of the day, now I am fighting with the Youhu clan for a day’s command, and you are not the one who wants to be a minister, but the one who wants to do the punishment of heaven.” He declared his intention to fight with the Youhu clan to the death, boasting that he did not want to covet the land, people, and goods of the Youhu clan, but to execute punishment on behalf of heaven. It is also said that, “In the past, Yu fought with the Youhu clan, but three battles were fought without submission, so Yu taught for one year, and the Youhu clan asked for submission.” These legends all reflect that the battle between Yu and the Youhu clan was a power struggle. The Youhu clan was so powerful that they wanted to usurp the kingship of the union and started an army, so Yu attacked the Youhu clan “to carry out his teaching” and “to carry out the punishment of heaven”, and combined the means of war with the means of strengthening the government and education to finally defeat the Youhu clan. In a certain sense, Qi’s conquest of Youhu was a continuation of Yu’s conquest of Youhu.

The course of the war

The Battle of Gan, in which Qi conquered the Youhu Clan, was a fierce battle between the two powers, but there are not many written historical records left, mainly a battle rallying order from Qi, namely the “Shang Shu – Gan Oath”.

Shang Shu – Gan Oath”: “The battle was fought in Gan, and the six ministers were summoned. The king said: contempt! I swear to tell you, people of the six ministries: the domineering clan has insulted the five elements and abandoned the three righteousnesses, and the heaven used to exterminate their lives. Now I only respectfully perform the punishment of heaven. The left does not attack the left, you do not respect the order; the right does not attack the right, you do not respect the order; not the right of the horse, you do not respect the order. If you use your orders, you will be rewarded by your ancestors; if you do not use your orders, you will be killed by the community.”

The first paragraph of the text introduces the background of the “Gan Oath”, which is the oath that Qi took before the war in Gan, gathering senior officials from the left and right to affirm discipline and precautions. “In fact, both the term “six ministers” and the term “six armies” appeared after the Zhou Dynasty and were borrowed from future generations when the book was written. In fact, “six ministers” and “six armies” both appeared after the Zhou dynasty, and were words borrowed from later generations when the book was written. In the ancient script, “事” and “史” are the same word, and the Shang oracle bone inscriptions of the Shang dynasty called “我史”, “我史”, “东史”, “西史”, “西史”, etc. were often involved in conquests. “Therefore, it is easy to understand that after Xia, Qi summoned the “six affairs of the people” to convey the war precautions. The second paragraph is the full text of the oath of office, firstly announcing that the crime of the Youhu clan was “insulting the five elements and abandoning the three corrects”, meaning that the enemy was accused of disrespecting the heavenly signs and the ministers, which caused the anger of the heaven and the discontent of the people, so the expedition of Youhu was a punishment on behalf of the heaven. Secondly, he announced the military discipline and ordered his subordinates to follow the orders, be faithful to their duties and fight hard, and also ordered that those who followed the orders would be rewarded in the ancestral temple, while those who disobeyed the orders would be executed in front of the altar of the society. Compared with the “Oath of Yu”, which was used for the destruction of the three Miao, it is clear that the authority of the supreme administrator at the time of Qi was incomparable to that of the previous historical era.

According to the “Lü Shi Chun Qiu – Ji Chun Ji”, at the beginning of Qi’s reign, he “fought against the You Hu clan at Gan Ze and did not win”, and concluded that “my land is not shallow and my people are not few, but I did not win because my virtue is thin and my teaching is not good”. He then encouraged the government, “kissed the relatives, respected the virtues and made them capable, and served the domineering clan for a period of years”.

This shows that it was not easy for Kai to win the battle of Gan and to “destroy the Youhu clan and make the world a dynasty”.

Impact of the war

There are ancient comments about this war, such as “the Youhu clan died for the sake of righteousness”, and “the party of Youxia also rose, but the Hu clan was weak and disrespectful, and their bodies died and the country died”. The recent commentary is that “this was a struggle for dominance, a continuation of the constant struggle for leadership since Yao, Shun and Yu”. However, whether the Youhu clan was fighting for power to maintain traditional customs or to use them as a pretext, in the case of Qi it was to break the old order and establish hereditary kingship. In the end, he was victorious, and the king and the “six men of affairs” appointed to him completely replaced the council and established the slave-holding Xia Dynasty.

The victory of the Xia Dynasty unified the tribal strife in the Central Plains and consolidated the Xia Dynasty’s autocratic power. The Battle of Gan, an extremely important war in Chinese history, was the result of a long struggle between the restoration of the democratic chantian system of the tribal alliances of primitive society and the counter-restoration of slavery, showing that the emerging, advanced social system would eventually replace the remnants of primitive society. After this war, the Xia Dynasty, representing the emerging slave society, was consolidated and developed, laying the foundation for the subsequent establishment of the capital at Pixin, and making a positive contribution to the entry of Chinese society into a new stage of civilization.

Old war sites

Youhu’s hometown used to be said to be in present-day Huxian County, Shaanxi Province, but the recent use of multidisciplinary research results, its hometown in present-day Zhengzhou, Henan Province, north of the Yuan Yang, Yuanwu area, should be more in line with historical reality, many scholars agree. And this area is and Xia Hou’s activities adjacent to the region, the literature records, “from the Luo-bend Yan in the Yi-bend, the residence of the summer, and said “the rise of the past Xia also, rong descended in the Chongshan”, Chongshan is the present-day Mount Songshan, “Yu capital Yangcheng “, its place when in the present-day Henan Dengfeng area. Archaeology of the birthplace of the Xia culture is in the Song Mountains as the center of the Yiluo-Yingru area, especially in the “summer residence” of the Yiluo area, there are many legends about Yu, such as the Spring and Autumn period, people once “see the river and Luo and think about Yu’s work”, praise For example, during the Spring and Autumn period, people used to “think of Yu’s achievements when they saw the river and the river” and exclaimed, “Wei Yu, I am a fish. In some documents, it is clearly recorded that the son of Qi, Taikang, was located in the area of Yanshui, Henan Province. Yi Luo between Gong County slightly Chai, Yan Shi Erlitou have a large range of Xia culture remains, Erlitou even found palace sites, it is likely that from Qi, has gradually moved the political center to the Yi Luo plain. And whether Yangcheng or pu xin, from the original Yang Youhu’s hometown are about 100 kilometers up and down, and are south of the ancient Yellow River, so Youhu’s rebellious service to the reign of the Queen Xia’s influence to the deep, which is the Queen Xia’s learned that Youhu’s disobedience and launched Gan’s war a major reason.

Gan land hope there are Shaanxi Hu County territory, southwest of Luoyang, Henan Province and Zhengzhou west of the ancient Gan water coast and other statements. According to today’s knowledge, there is Hu’s homeland is not in Shaanxi, so Hu County said can be ruled out. The possibility of Luoyang is also unlikely, because according to the “Water Classic” here, although there is Gan water and the old Gan city, but there is no connection with the ancient battlefield of the battle of Gan, as mentioned earlier, the Iroquois plain is the hinterland of the Xia culture, Qi attacked Youhu, the battlefield can not be placed in the rear of their own. Gan is the summer king qi crusade against the rebellion of an important battlefield, its geographic location must be in both sides of the sphere of influence adjacent, and according to the summer dynasty in the offensive, in the defense of the combat situation, the former people about the Gan in the southern suburbs of the Hu’s said worthy of attention. The area of Xingyang today had Panshui and Xingyanze in ancient times, before the Zhou dynasty was called Ganshui and Xingyanze, the area near Ganshui and Xingyanze is Gandi, it is only a few dozen miles north from the former place of Yuanwu Youhu, west of Yinshan Ridge, east of Pu Tianze, is the southern gateway of Youhu, and is also the ancient battlefield of Qi and Youhu’s battle, this statement is reasonable. Xingyang is not only a strategic location for the Hu’s, but also a necessary road to the west of Xingyang, namely Gongxian and Yanshui, which is a way to enter the “residence of the Xia”, where the Xia dynasty faced the threat of the Hu’s, to defend his hinterland, and also to keep the enemy out of the Gandi, i.e., outside the ancient Xingyang River northwest of present-day Zhengzhou.

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