(simplified Chinese: 韩信; traditional Chinese: 韓信; pinyin: Hán Xìn
; Wade–Giles: Han Hsin; died 196 BC), was a military general who served Liu Bang (Emperor Gaozu of Han) during the Chu–Han contention period and contributed greatly to the founding of the Han Dynasty. Han was named as one of the "Three Heroes of the early Han Dynasty" (漢初三傑), along with Zhang Liang and Xiao He.
Han is best remembered as a brilliant military leader for the strategies and tactics he employed in warfare, some of which became the origins of certain Chinese idioms. In recognition of Han's contributions, Liu conferred the titles of "King of Qi" on him in 203 BC and "King of Chu" in the following year. However, Liu was afraid of Han's abilities and gradually reduced Han's military power, demoting him to "Marquis of Huaiyin" in late 202 BC. In 196 BC, Han was accused of participating in a rebellion and lured into a trap and executed on Empress Lü Zhi's orders.
Han lived a childhood in destitution as his father died early. He was despised by those around him as he often relied on others for his meals. He had a keen interest in military strategy and spent his time studying military treatises and practicing sword techniques.
Once, when he was suffering from hunger, he met a woman who provided him with food. He promised to repay her for her kindness after he had made great achievements in life, but was scorned by her. On another occasion, a hooligan saw Han carrying a sword and challenged him to either kill him or crawl through between his legs. Han knew that he was at a disadvantage because his opponent was much stronger and bigger than him, hence instead of responding to the taunts, he meekly crawled through between the hooligan's legs and was laughed at.
Several years later, after becoming the King of Chu, Han returned to his hometown and found the woman who fed him and rewarded her with 1,000 taels of gold. Han also found the hooligan and instead of taking revenge, he appointed the hooligan as a zhongwei
(中尉; equivalent of a present-day lieutenant). He said, "This man is a hero. Do you think I could not have killed him when he humiliated me? I would not become famous even if I killed him then. Hence, I endured the humiliation to preserve my life for making great achievements in future."