Ri En/Li Yuan

RI EN/LI YUAN

Picture:

ri en.png

1.Name

Japanese/Chinese: 李园

Japanese Pronunciation: Ri En

Chinese Pronunciation: Li Yuan

He has the same family name as Li Mu and was also from Zhao, which probably makes them distant relatives in some way. However, there were no records of their relationship as far as i know.

2.Activities in History

Li Yuan is most famous for his assassination of Lord ChunShen(Shunshinkun) after the death of King KaoLie of Chu, and later becoming a prominent figure in the Chu court as his biological nephew becomes the new king.

1)According to the Shiji: Biography of Lord ChunShen:

楚考烈王无子,春申君患之,求妇人宜子者进之,甚众,卒无子。赵人李园持其女弟,欲进之楚王,闻其不宜子,恐久毋 宠。李园求事春申君为舍人,已而谒归,故失期。还谒,春申君问之状,对曰:“齐王使使求臣之女弟,与其使者饮,故失期。”春申君曰:“娉入乎?”对曰: “未也。”春申君曰:“可得见乎?”曰:“可。”于是李园乃进其女弟,即幸于春申君。知其有身,李园乃与其女弟谋。园女弟承间以说春申君曰:“楚王之贵幸 君,虽兄弟不如也。今君相楚二十馀年,而王无子,即百岁後将更立兄弟,则楚更立君後,亦各贵其故所亲,君又安得长有宠乎?非徒然也,君贵用事久,多失礼于 王兄弟,兄弟诚立,祸且及身,何以保相印江东之封乎?今妾自知有身矣,而人莫知。妾幸君未久,诚以君之重而进妾于楚王,王必幸妾;妾赖天有子男,则是君之 子为王也,楚国尽可得,孰与身临不测之罪乎?”春申君大然之,乃出李园女弟,谨舍而言之楚王。楚王召入幸之,遂生子男,立为太子,以李园女弟为王后。楚王 贵李园,园用事。
李园既入其女弟,立为王后,子为太子,恐春申君语泄而益骄,阴养死士,欲杀春申君以灭口,而国人颇有知之者。
春申君相二十五年,楚考烈王病。朱英谓春申君曰:“世有毋望之福,又有毋望之祸。今君处毋望之世,事毋望之主,安可 以无毋望之人乎?”春申君曰:“何谓毋望之福?”曰:“君相楚二十馀年矣,虽名相国,实楚王也。今楚王病,旦暮且卒,而君相少主,因而代立当国,如伊尹、 周公,王长而反政,不即遂南面称孤而有楚国?此所谓毋望之福也。”春申君曰:“何谓毋望之祸?”曰:“李园不治国而君之仇也,不为兵而养死士之日久矣,楚 王卒,李园必先入据权而杀君以灭口。此所谓毋望之祸也。”春申君曰:“何谓毋望之人?”对曰:“君置臣郎中,楚王卒,李园必先入,臣为君杀李园。此所谓毋 望之人也。”春申君曰:“足下置之,李园,弱人也,仆又善之,且又何至此!”朱英知言不用,恐祸及身,乃亡去。
后十七日,楚考烈王卒,李园果先入,伏死士于棘门之内。春申君入棘门,园死士侠刺春申君,斩其头,投之棘门外。于是遂使吏尽灭春申君之家。而李园女弟初幸春申君有身而入之王所生子者遂立,是为楚幽王。

Translation:
Lord ChunShen was worried about the heir of the Chu throne as King KaoLie did not have any sons. He summoned many women into the palace in hope of conceiving a son for the king but to no avail. Hearing the news, Li Yuan knew that even if his sister had a son with the king of Chu, there will not be enough time for him to get the attention of the king, and therefore he had a plan. Instead of directly bringing his sister to see the king of Chu, he instead became a servant of Lord ChunShen. One day, he took time off from his work to return home and returned to Chu later than the expected date on purpose. When asked by Lord ChunShen about the delay of his return, he mentioned that an envoy from Qi came to visit and said that the king of Qi is interested to marry his sister. Hearing this, Lord ChunShen asked if the Qi people sent any betrothal and Li Yuan said no. He then wants Li Yuan to show him his sister, which he took on a liking swiftly. Soon, Li Yuan’s sister was pregnant and Li Yuan discussed the next stage of plans with her. One day, Li Yuan’s sister told Lord ChunShen: “Our king treats you better than his own brothers. Today, after 20+ years as his prime minister, our king still does not have a son and after his death, the crown will go to his brothers and naturally, their own trusted subjects will rise in power when that day comes. Over the years, you might have offended them in court in some way and this is their chance to take revenge on you. When that happens, what do you think will happen to your position as prime minster and your land? Now that I’m pregnant, which is something that no one else knows, and since I wasn’s by your side for long, you can take the chance to present me to the king. With your current status, I will definitely be a favorite of the king very soon. If I am lucky and conceive a son, your son will be the crown prince and I will be the Queen. Later, Li Yuan was given a post in court and became one of the king’s favorite subject.

Soon after, Li Yuan’s sister became the Queen after bearing a son for the king of Chu. Li Yuan was worried that Lord ChunShen might reveal their secret and started hiring and training assassins to one day assassinate him. During the 25th year of King KaoLie’s reign, the king was gravely ill. One of Lord ChunShen’s vassal, Zhu Ying, told him that: “In this world, there are unpredictable fortunes and unpredictable disasters. Today, in this unpredictable world of yours, serving an unpredictable king, how can there not be any unpredictable people?” Confused, Lord ChunShen asked:” What do you mean my fortunes that come in time?” Zhu Ying replied:” As a prime minister of Chu for 20+ years, while you hold the post of prime minister, you power is actually as great as the king of Chu. Now that the king of Chu is on the brink of death, when the young king ascend the throne, you will be his adviser and control the entire state. Similar to YiYin and Duke Zhou of the past, when you hand over your power to him when he grows up, you will control the entire state of Chu. This is the unpredictable fortune.” Lord ChunShen then asked about the unpredictable diasaster, which Zhu Ying replied: “Li Yuan currently has no power over the state affairs and thus he is your enemy. Instead of building an army, he trains assassins and when the king of Chu passes away, he will definitely enter the palace and kill and silence you.” “How about unpredictable people?” asked Lord ChunShen. Zhu Ying replied: “You can smuggle me into the palace as a doctor, and when the king passes away, Li Yuan will definitely enter the palace first. When that happens, I will kill Li Yuan. This is what i mean by unpredictable people.” After listening to Zhu Ying, Lord ChunShen wants him to give up on that idea as he thinks Li Yuan is a soft person and a good friend of his. Killing him is just too much. Knowing his failure to convince Lord ChunShen, fearing his life might be in danger, he fled the country.

17 days later, the king of Chu died. Li Yuan entered the palace and ambushed his assassins at Jing gates, killing Lord ChunShen and taking his head and tossing it out of the gates. His family were also executed. Li Yuan’s sister, who was pregnant before entering the palace, bore a son who then became the new king of Chu, King You of Chu.

 

2)However according to Biographies of Heroic Women《烈女传》, Li Yuan did not have a happy end.
后有考烈王遗腹子犹立,是为哀王。考烈王弟楚王负刍之徒闻知幽王非考烈王子,疑哀王,乃袭杀哀王及太后,尽灭李园之家,而立负刍为王
Later, a son born after the death of King KaoLie became the king, known as King Ai after King You died. A vassal of FuZhou, the younger brother of King KaoLie, found out the secret that King You wasn’t in fact the son of King KaoLie, and thus also suspected the legitimacy of King Ai. He then killed King Ai and the Queen Dowager, executed the family of Li Yuan and made FuZhou the new king.

Sources:
Shiji: Aristocratic Family of Chu
Shiji: Biography of Lord ChunShen
Li Yuan’s baidu entry

 

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