Encyclopedia: Shensheng

Shensheng [Prince Shensheng of Jin]; Shênshêng; 申生

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Shensheng [Prince Shensheng of Jin] 申生

Lived: ?–656 BC

None Available

Served: Spring and Autumn Period, Historical

Spring and Autumn Period. Half-brother to Chong’er, eldest son of Duke Xian of Jin.

Officer Details

Wade-Giles: Shênshêng [Prince Shênshêng of Chin]
Simplified Chinese: 申生
Pronunciation: Shen1sheng1

Other Names: Shen Sheng, Er Shensheng

Name Notes: ‘Shen Sheng’ in the online Brewitt-Taylor translation. ‘Er Shensheng’ in the Moss Roberts translation.

Rank and Titles

Prince Shensheng of Jin

Family and Relationships

Duke Xian (Father); Qi Jiang (Mother); Chong’er [Duke Wen of Jin], Xiqi (Half-brothers)

Literary Appearances

Romance of the Three Kingdoms: 39, 79


Historic (Confirmed)

Chong’er, Yi Wu, and Shen Sheng were all sons of Duke Xian of the ancient state of Jin during the Spring/Autumn period. Chong’er was the eldest among the three, his mother’s name was Hu Ji, a daughter of a barbarian king. Yi Wu as the second eldest, his mother was Hu Ji’s younger sister named Xiao Yung. Shen Sheng was a lot younger than both Chong’er and Yi Wu. However, his mother was Qi Jiang (of the Qi state), one of the most beautiful women of this time, and for this reason Shen Sheng was made Crown Prince of the Jin state.

However after the Qi Jiang passed away, Duke Xian gained two new consorts as spoils of wars over the Li family. The eldest Li daughter, named Li Ji, gave birth to a son named He Qi, and the younger daughter named Shao Ji had a son name Zhuo Zi.

After having Li Ji, Duke Xian began to forget Qi Jiang and start ignoring Shen Sheng. With the persuasion of Li Ji, Duke Xian wanted to make He Qi his heir but since Shen Sheng had contributed a lot to the defence of Jin, Duke Xian had no reason to change his heir.

One day, Duke Xian ordered Shen Sheng home from the front, as a good son, Shen Sheng wanted to present some wine and meat to his father. Unluckily, when Shen Sheng returned, Duke Xian was not in his palace so Shen Sheng left the wine and meat a table. Li Ji knew this and ask one of her closest attendant to spike the wine and meat.

When Duke Xian arrived back to the palace, seeing the tray of meat and a jug of wine on the table, he asked one of his attendances who brought these items. The attendance said it was from Shen Sheng, so Duke Xian poured a cup of wine and about to drink it. Suddenly, Li Ji quickly appeared and hit the cup of wine from Duke Xian’s hand. Seeing that the wine dissolved the floor, Duke Xian suspected poison. He cut a piece of meat and gave it to his hunting dog and the dog died.

Duke Xian quickly ordered the arrest of Shen Sheng, and forced Shen Sheng to commit suicide. Even after the death of Shen Sheng, Li Ji was still not that confident of making her son become heir of Jin, so she also told Duke Xian that Chong’er, Yi Wu, and Shen Sheng in the same party so Duke Xian ordered the arrest of both of them as well.

Yi Wu fled to state of Liang to seek refuge. After the death of Li Ji, He Qi, and Zhou Zi, Duke Mu of Qin wanted to make Chong’er the new ruler of Jin, but Chong’er refused out of suspicion of Qin’s motive. Duke Mu of Qin was force to support Yi Wu to become new ruler of Jin (Duke Hui of Jin). However, Duke Hui was a treacherous person and soon earned the wrath of Qin.

Chong’er initially fled to the state of Di. However, after Yi Wu came to power in Jin, he sent many assassins to kill Chong’er, forcing him to flee from Di. Chong’er was a fugitive hiding in Di for ten years, force to wander through out the Empire at the age of 40, arriving at Qin when he was about 60 years old. With the help of Qin he gained the throne of Jin and within ten years become an overlord of the Central plain.



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April 10, 2023