Chen Sheng and Wu Kuang, Uprising of
Ch’en Sheng and Wu Kuang, Uprising of
a peasant uprising in China in 209 and 208 B.C. The uprising was initiated in August 209 in northern Anhwei Province by a detachment of some 900 peasant recruits under the command of Wu Kuang and Ch’en Sheng, a farmhand called up for military service. The rebel force soon numbered in the tens of thousands and continued to increase steadily. Although peasants constituted the principal driving force of the rebellion, soldiers, artisans, and, according to some sources, slaves also took part.
In early 208 B.C. the insurgent army approached the Ch’in capital of Hsienyang, in Shensi Province. It captured northern and central Anhwei, all of Honan, southern Shansi, and eastern Shensi. Members of ruling-class opposition groups, chiefly from the hereditary aristocracy in the kingdoms destroyed by the Ch’in Dynasty, gradually assumed leadership of the uprising. They hoped to use the popular movement as a means of overthrowing the Ch’in Dynasty and restoring their own rights and possessions. The new leaders pushed aside those close associates of Ch’en Sheng from the peasantry whom they could not use; some, including Wu Kuang, were physically removed. In the winter of 208 B.C., Ch’en Sheng himself was treacherously murdered. In February 208 a Ch’in army crushed the rebellion.
The uprising of Ch’en Sheng and Wu Kuang was the first major popular rebellion in China. Although it met defeat, the uprising dealt the Ch’in Empire a blow from which it never recovered.
REFERENCEPerelomov, L. S. Imperiia Tsin’—pervoe tsentralizovannoe gosudarstvo v Kitae (221–202 gg. do n. e.). Moscow, 1962.
G. IA. SMOLIN