Li Guangli

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Li Guangli
Traditional Chinese李廣利
Simplified Chinese李广利

Li Guangli (died 88 BC) was a Chinese general of the Han dynasty and a member of the Li family favoured by Emperor Wu of Han. His brother Li Yannian was also close to Emperor Wu. With the suicide of Emperor Wu's crown prince Liu Ju in 91 BC, his nephew Liu Bo was among the candidates for the title of crown prince.

Li was a brother-in-law of Emperor Wu, whose favourite concubine was his sister Lady Li, and was the chosen general in the War of the Heavenly Horses. His supplies for his second sortie are described as being 100,000 cattle, 30,000 horses, and many mules and camels.[1]

Li besieged the city of Osh (in present-day Kyrgyzstan) to obtain certain fine horses of the Ferghana that had been demanded by the Han Empire but refused. He was given the title "General of Osh" (貳師將軍) in expectation of success.[2] He diverted the river that supplied the inner city with water, and "received three thousand horses in tribute."[3]

In 90 BC, when Li was campaigning in the north against the Xiongnu Empire, his wife was imprisoned in the capital after being involved in a political scandal involving their in-law Liu Qumao (one of Liu's sons had married one of the Lis' daughters). Li sought a quick victory, hoping to win his wife's release. He overextended his army and was decisively defeated by a Xiongnu army of 50,000 led by their Chanyu. Li surrendered to the Xiongnu, and the Chanyu gave him his daughter for marriage. However, about a year later, he was executed after having a conflict with Wei Lü (衛律), another Han defector who was favoured by the Chanyu.[4]


  1. ^ Michael Loewe, Dr Michael Loewe (2002). Records of Han Administration. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780700713752.
  2. ^ Michael Loewe (2002). Records of Han Administration. Psychology Press. p. 149. ISBN 9780700713752.
  3. ^ Grousset, Rene (1970). The Empire of the Steppes. Rutgers University Press. pp. 35–36. ISBN 0-8135-1304-9.
  4. ^ Lin Jianming (林剑鸣) (1992). 秦漢史 [History of Qin and Han]. Wunan Publishing. pp. 557–8. ISBN 978-957-11-0574-1.