Uncover a strange “regicide case” caused by a joke

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In the spring and Autumn period when rites fell and music fell, there was a strange case of regicide. According to the spring and Autumn Annals of Gongyang, there was a great general named Nangong changwan under Duke min of song, who was a world-famous Hercules at that time. As a joke by Duke min of song deeply hurt Nangong changwan, he said, “if you are ever angry, fight Duke min and never let it go.” As a result, Duke min of song was killed by Nangong changwan.

The story goes like this:

In the spring of 684 BC, the Qi army attacked the state of Lu. The two sides fought a decisive battle in changdun (now the north of Qufu, Shandong). The king of the state of Lu obeyed Cao GUI’s plan, worked hard and defeated the Qi army. Duke Huan of Qi wanted to use this battle to gain power among the princes, but he was defeated. He was very angry at that time.

Baoshuya offered advice and said, “both qi and Lu are big countries with equal military strength. If they attack each other, they will not be enough. There are more than enough rules. In this long ladle war, Lu is the main one. I would like to ask my master to go to the Song Dynasty. Qi and song join forces to send troops, but I will lose the shame of Lu.”

Duke Huan of Qi sent Bao Shuya to contact the state of song and attack Lu together to avenge Chang Shao’s disastrous defeat.

The state of song was the fief of Weiziqi, the brother of King Zhou of Shang Dynasty. It was originally built in the Shang Dynasty. At that time, it was called “Shangqiu”, that is, today’s Shangqiu. It is located in the east of Henan Province, on the border with Shandong Province. It has always had a bad relationship with the state of Lu in the East because of border disputes.

In 688 BC, Duke Zhuang of song died, and his son Zijie ascended the throne, which was Duke min of song. At this time, it has been more than 300 years since the founding of the Western Zhou Dynasty, and the prestige of the emperor of Zhou is declining day by day, while the first overlord of the spring and Autumn period has not yet dominated. Among the princes of the Central Plains, Zheng, Qi, Lu and song are among the more powerful. Duke min of song was very smart and capable. He had a great master of literature, a governor of Hua, a doctor, Qiu mu, and a great master of martial arts, Nangong, Chang Wan and Meng Huo. The country was booming.

People from the state of Qi proposed to jointly send troops to attack the state of Lu, and Duke min of song readily agreed. Despite the strong opposition of Qiu Mu and others, he sent Hercules Nangong Chang Wan as the main general, and was fiercely won as the deputy general. He took a hundred and ten chariots, 350 miles to the northeast, entered Shandong and killed the state of Lu.

The state of Qi sent baoshuya as the chief General and Zhongsun Shushu as the Deputy Jiang. The Qi and song armies gathered in Langcheng. Qi troops were stationed in the northeast of Langcheng, while song troops were stationed in the southeast of Langcheng.

The Qi song allied forces attacked together, and the enemy was in front of them. All the people in the state of Lu were very nervous. In order to know himself and the enemy, Yan Cheng, a doctor of the state of Lu, carefully observed the camps of Qi and song at night, and came back to report that Bao Shuya, the state of Qi, was leading the army. His military appearance was neat and should not be underestimated. The southern Palace of the state of song was afraid of not being brave enough. We fought the song camp first. As long as we defeated the song army, the Qi army would retreat. Prince Lu Zhuang was worried that his son Yan was not Nangong changwan’s opponent, so he went out in person.

Childe Yan asked his soldiers to cover themselves with tiger skins. When it was dark, he approached the song camp. The song soldiers saw the tiger coming. The camp was in chaos and ran away. Commander Nangong changwan is fearless in the face of danger. He is very brave. He holds a halberd in his hand, stabs left and kills right. He is invincible.

The army of the state of Lu was awed by Nangong changwan’s courage. In a hurry, Lord Lu Zhuang asked for his national treasure weapon, the world-famous powerful bow – jinpugu. Duke Zhuang of Lu took up the golden maid, bent his bow and shot at Nangong changwan, who rushed from left to right. Nangong changwan didn’t know what was going on, so he fell to the ground. The people of Lu captured him alive and returned home. Nangong changwan became a prisoner of the state of Lu.

Luzhuang won two wars, but he knew that the two neighbors should not be offended, so he showed his kindness to Qi and song respectively. In the second year, the two countries’ relations were improved through the connection between Shandong and song. The state of song requested that Nangong changwan be released and returned home. After returning home, Duke min of song joked with him that in the past I respected you, but now you are a prisoner of the state of Lu, so I don’t respect you anymore. The doctor Qiu Mu quietly advised Songmin Gong: “as a monarch, how can you joke with your ministers?! so he will have a big trouble…” Songmin Gong smiled and waved his hand: “I’m used to Nangong. It’s OK.” Historians have recorded that Nangong changwan did not say anything at that time. He became ill. That is to say, Nangong changwan henceforth harboured hatred for Songmin.

Song Min Gong never dreamed that his joke had buried a curse for himself.

In the next few years, there were no wars in several countries for the time being, and time passed quickly. Six years later, one day, Duke min of song gave a feast to all the ministers in the garden. He was happy. He let all the ministers show their unique skills, some singing, some dancing, and some practicing swords… It was Nangong changwan’s turn. He took his own halberd and played the halberd throwing skill: a big iron halberd nearly three meters long was thrown into the sky with one hand, then caught it, then threw it again and again, dozens of times in a row, and the people cheered.

Seeing that people applauded Nangong too much, Duke min of song was not happy. He wanted to play chess with Nangong changwan and said who lost a big cup of wine.

Nangong had no choice but to follow him. However, playing chess was the skill of Duke min of song. After a short time, Nangong lost five sets and drank five cups of wine. People were dizzy and had to continue playing chess. Song mingong grinned again: “you are a prisoner. No matter how hard you try, you will still lose!” Nangong was so angry that he almost jumped up, and they hurriedly pulled away. Originally, the matter was over. Coincidentally, Zhou Tianzi’s obituary came at this time.

When the emperor died, all the princes had to send officers to mourn. Nangong changwan petitioned: “I have never been to the capital. I will go.”

Duke min of Song said his last words in the world: “no one in the state of song can send a prisoner to the capital of the son of heaven…”

Nangong changwan couldn’t help it any longer. He shouted: “it’s too much to deceive! Do you know that prisoners can kill people?” When the chessboard was turned up, it smashed the head of Duke min of song, and he fell to the ground and died.

After killing the monarch, Nangong Chang Wan simply did nothing and decided to take advantage of the murderous spirit to make decisions in the state of song. He met the doctor Qiu Mu at the gate of the city. He slapped him and killed him. In the west of the East Palace, he ran into Hua Du, the ruling Minister of the state of song, and killed him. After killing these people, Chang Wan made you the prince of the state of song. At that time, people were in a panic. The princes of the state of song fled to Xiaoyi (Xiaoxian County, Jiangsu Province), and the princes said that they fled to bodi (north of Shangqiu County, Henan Province). When Chang Wan saw that these people were not satisfied with him, he sent Nangong Niu, a trusted follower, and Meng Huo led his army to encircle bodi.

Nangong changwan’s evil of regicide offended the entire upper class of the aristocracy at that time and overturned the patriarchal tradition of three generations. Therefore, his behavior was against the entire feudal international community and the aristocracy. In winter and October of that year, uncle Daxin Xiao, a senior official of the state of song, and the clansmen of Dai Gong, Wu Gong, Xuan Gong, Mu Gong and Zhuang Gong of song seconded the troops of the state of Cao to fight against Nangong Niuhe Menghuo. He killed Nangong Niu before the battle and Ziyou in the capital of the state of song. He established Prince Yu as the emperor, namely Duke Huan of song. Meng Huo fled to the state of Wei, and Nangong changwan fled to the state of Chen.

Nangong changwan showed his courage and filial piety on the way to flee. He drove with his mother from the song state to the Chen state (it is said that there were 260 Li), and he ran there in one day.

The people of the Song Dynasty came to the state of Wei to ask for extradition, but the people of the state of Wei didn’t want to give them. Shi Qizi, a doctor of the state of Wei, said, “how can this be done? All evils in the world are equally abhorrent. What is the benefit of protecting them when they do evil in the state of song? It is not a good way to get a person and lose a country, or to make friends with evil people and lose a friendly country.”

Shi Qizi’s words were very reasonable, so the people of Wei returned Meng Huo to the state of song. The state of song went to the state of Chen to request the extradition of Nangong changwan and offered bribes. Chen Guoren asked a woman to persuade Nangong changwan to drink. When he got drunk, he wrapped him in rhinoceros skin. Nangong changwan was thus escorted back to the state of song. However, when he arrived in the state of song, Nangong changwan’s hands and feet had been exposed outside. His strength was too strong, but it was too late. The people of the Song Dynasty chopped Meng Huo and Nangong changwan into meat sauce.

Duke Huan of the Song Dynasty (that is, the prince Yu said) ordered people to tie Nangong changwan and Meng Huo together to Shicao, chop them into meat paste (punishment), and make people rule them into cheese (meat cake). He gave it to all his ministers all over the place and said, “if there are any ministers who can’t serve the monarch, they should regard this cheese!” Nangong changwan’s 80 year old mother was also killed.

Fengmenglong, the author of the annals of the kingdoms of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, once wrote a poem: “it’s a pity that he is so valiant and powerful, but he knows that his mother and son are ignorant of monarchs and ministers. In the end, it’s hard to regret the arrogant killing, so he can tell those who will rebel in the future.”

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