A Biographical Dictionary of the Qin, Former Han and Xin Periods (221 BC - AD 24) Online

Michael Loewe

Chen Xi 陳豨

A Biographical Dictionary of the Qin, Former Han and Xin Periods (221 BC - AD 24)

Chen Xi 陳豨 There are certain inconsistencies in the accounts that we have of Chen Xi, and there are no details of the way in which he first rose to prominence. When, at the time of Han Wang Xin’s 韓王信 revolt and defection to the Xiongnu 匈奴 (200), Gaodi returned from Pingcheng 平城, he granted Chen Xi a nobility (Yangxia hou 陽夏侯, appointing him to be Chancellor of State (Xiangguo 相國) of Zhao, with control over all forces stationed on that part of the frontier.

However, according to the citation that accompanies the entry for his nobility, Chen Xi joined Liu Bang 劉邦 in 206, at the head of 500 conscripts, made his way to Bashang 霸上, and was appointed Youji General 游擊將軍; he received his nobility after pacifying Dai and defeating Zang Tu 臧荼 (202).

Gaodi was well aware of the strategic importance of the area where Chen Xi had been posted; and when he heard that Chen Xi had been collecting a large number of adherents and might well be planning to revolt, he took steps to limit the extent of any uprising that might occur. He won over some of Chen Xi’s supporters by bribery and when the revolt duly broke out he granted an amnesty to local officials of the area, whom he judged to be innocent of any complicity in Chen Xi’s plans. He also attracted the services of four men of Zhao, who might otherwise have acted as Chen Xi’s generals, by granting them nobilities.

On a plea of illness, Chen Xi refused to obey Gaodi’s summons to attend court at the death of his father (197), and then broke into revolt. Supported by Wang Huang 王黃 he declared himself king of Dai, which would incorporate the territory of both Dai and Zhao. Taking the field himself Gaodi defeated Chen Xi’s forces. A number of Han generals who were loyal to Han were subsequently ennobled for their successes in the field (196), which included the execution of some of Chen Xi’s principal supporters (e.g., Hou Chang 侯敞, Wang Huang and Zhang Chun 張春). Chen Xi was himself put to death by some of the forces who were occupying Dai; and it was at this juncture that Gaodi appointed his son Liu Heng 劉恆, the future Wendi, to be king of Dai, ruling over both Dai and Yanmen.

The revolt staged by Chen Xi was perhaps not so grave a threat to Gaodi as were the attempts of other contenders for power, but in view of the area where he held command it was potentially of great danger. In addition the incident could possibly have involved a number of other dissidents. Han Xin 韓信, Gaodi’s most able general, had promised to raise troops to assist Chen Xi at a time when, according to one account which may be erroneous, the latter held the office of Governor (Shou ) of Julu 鉅鹿, but he was thwarted from so doing and given over for execution. Peng Yue 彭越 incurred Gaodi’s anger by refusing, on a plea of sickness, to accompany the forces that he had sent to assist his emperor in suppressing Chen Xi’s rebellion. Chen Xi had himself at one time sent envoys to negotiate with two of Han Wang Xin’s generals. — SJ 93, p. 2639; 18, p. 902; HS 34, p. 1891; 16, p. 553

Michael Loewe

Chen Xi” in: A Biographical Dictionary of the Qin, Former Han and Xin Periods (221 BC - AD 24), edited by: Michael Loewe. Consulted online on 22 Apr 2021 <> First published online: 10 2017