Chong'er Ascends the Throne after 50 Years of Exile
In the rivalry for domination during the Spring and Autumn Period, Duke Wengong of the Jin State was the true successor of Duke Huangong of Qi as an overlord. Wengong, named Chong'er, was a son of Duke Xiangong of Jin.
When the queen died, Xiangong made his favorite concubine Liji the new queen. In a bid to crown her son Xiqi, Liji managed to kill the crown prince Shensheng and also attempted to murder Chong'er and Yiwu. The two princes were forced into exile. After Xiangong died, Yiwu returned and assumed power in 650 BC, calling himself Duke Huigong. Fearing that Chong'er would challenge his dukedom, Huigong sent his men to slay him.
Chong'er had been in exile in the Di State for some twelve years after leaving Jin. He had with him many of the top intellects of Jin, such as Hu Mao, Hu Yan, Zhao Cui and Jie Zitui. On hearing that Chong'er was being pursued by murderers, the father of Hu Mao and Hu Yan immediately warned him. Chong'er fled to Qi as soon as he received this report.
As soon as he arrived, Duke Huangong sent envoys to greet him. The duke treated him generously. He even married a beautiful girl named Qijiang to him. The grateful Chong'er stayed in Qi for seven years. He did not leave the state until 643 BC, when Qi started to decline with the death of Huangong. Chong'er then sought refuge in the Cao State and later found himselfin the Song State.
Unfortunately, Song, which had yet to recover from a defeat by the Chu State not long before, was unable to help him. He continued his journey seeking refuge, arriving in Chu, where King Chengwang received him as a head of state.
When Duke Mugong of the Qin State sent for him in Chu, Chong'er decided to go to Qin, since he believed that the powerful state might help him return to Jin. Mugong was so kind to him that he remarried his daughter Huaiying to him. In 636 BC a formidable force from Qin escorted Chong'er to the Yellow River, which served as the boundary between Qin and Jin. Dwarfed by their enemies, the Jin soldiers surrendered quickly. Duke Huaigong was killed shortly after he fled from the capital city. Chong'er became the duke of Jin with the support of all top civil and military officers.
Chong'er, who started his exile at the age of 13, did not ascend the throne until he was 62. During the long period of exile, he and his followers had wrought strong character while broadening their vision and political wisdom. As a duke, he underscored the importance of improving domestic governance, developing the economy and restoring public confidence. As Jin rose to prosperity, Chong'er turned himselfinto another overlord in the Spring and Autumn Period.