Lu Buwei

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  • Died: 235 BCE

Lü Buwei was a prominent merchant and advisor to the king of the State of Qin.

Lü rose to wealth as a merchant operating in trade between the various states of China's Warring States Period, taking advantage of improved roads and communication systems in his time. Eventually, he grew wealthy enough to become a counselor to the king of Qin, and at some point held King Zhuangxiang of Qin, also known as Yiren, prisoner. A boy born to the king's favorite consort during this time later grew up to become king, and then First Emperor of Qin. Accounts differ as to whether Lü or King Zhuangxiang was the boy's (the emperor's) true father, but either way, in 235 BCE, roughly fifteen years after uniting China and naming himself emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, feeling that Lü had grown too powerful, had him killed. This also helped strengthen the emperor's claims that he was the legitimate son and heir of King Zhuangxiang, punishing Lü for having affairs with the king's consort.


  • Conrad Schirokauer, et al, A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations, Fourth Edition, Cengage Learning (2012), 29-30.