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The Western Zhou ( zh, c=, p=Xīzhōu; c. 1045 BC – 771 BC) was the first half of the
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China ( ...
of
ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese h ...
. It began when
King Wu of Zhou King Wu of Zhou () was the first king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of ...

King Wu of Zhou
overthrew the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From ...

Shang dynasty
at the
Battle of Muye The Battle of Muye or Battle of Mu () was a battle fought in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's ...

Battle of Muye
and ended when the
QuanrongThe Quanrong () or Dog Xirong, Rong were an ethnic group, classified by the ancient Chinese as "Qiang (historical people), Qiang", active in the northwestern part of China during and after the Zhou dynasty (1046–221 BCE). Their language or language ...
nomads sacked its capital
Haojing Hao or Haojing (), also called Zongzhou (), was one of the two settlements comprising the capital of the Western Zhou dynasty (1066–770 BCE), the other being Fēng or Fēngjīng (). Together they were known as Fenghao and stood on opposite banks ...
and killed
King You of Zhou King You of Zhou (; 795–771 BC), personal name Ji Gongsheng, was the twelfth king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the ti ...
in 771 BC. The Western Zhou early state was successful for about seventy-five years and then slowly lost power. The former Shang lands were divided into hereditary fiefs which became increasingly independent of the king. In 771 BC, the Zhou were driven out of the
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course w ...
valley; afterwards real power was in the hands of the king's nominal vassals.


Civil war

Few records survive from this early period and accounts from the Western Zhou period cover little beyond a list of kings with uncertain dates. King Wu died two or three years after the conquest. Because his son,
King Cheng of Zhou King Cheng of Zhou (), personal name Ji Song (姬誦), was the second king of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. The dates of his reign are 1042–1021 BCE or 1042/35–1006 BCE. His parents were King Wu of Zhou and Queen Yi Jiang (邑姜). King Cheng was ...

King Cheng of Zhou
was young, his brother, the
Duke of Zhou Dan, Duke Wen of Zhou (), commonly known as the Duke of Zhou (), was a member of the royal family of the early Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ) was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historical ...
Ji Dan assisted the young and inexperienced king as regent. Wu's other brothers (
Shu Du of Cai Cai Shu Du or Shu Du of Cai (Chinese language, Chinese: , given name Du (), was the first ruler of the State of Cai. Du was the fifth son of King King Wen of Zhou, Wen of Zhou (state), Zhou and his wife Taisi (). He had ten brothers and eight half ...
, Guan Shu, and Huo Shu), concerned about the Duke of Zhou's growing power, formed an alliance with
Wu GengWu Geng or Wugeng ( Chinese: ''Wǔgēng'') was an ancient Chinese noble who was the son of Zhou, the last king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintl ...
and other regional rulers and Shang remnants in the
rebellion of the Three Guards The Rebellion of the Three Guards (), or less commonly the Wu Geng Rebellion, was a civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or countr ...

rebellion of the Three Guards
. The Duke of Zhou stamped out this rebellion and conquered more territory to bring other people under Zhou rule. The Duke formulated the
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsAztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of cont ...
doctrine to counter Shang claims to a divine right of rule and founded
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
as an eastern capital. With a feudal ''
fengjian ''Fēngjiàn'' ( zh, c=封建, l=enfeoffment and establishment) was a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is ...
'' system, royal relatives and generals were given fiefs in the east, including Luoyang, Jin, Ying, Lu, Qi and Yan. While this was designed to maintain Zhou authority as it expanded its rule over a larger amount of territory, many of these became major states when the dynasty weakened. When the Duke of Zhou stepped down as regent, the remainder of Cheng's reign and that of his son
King Kang of Zhou King Kang of Zhou, personal name Ji Zhao, was the third sovereign of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty and son of King Cheng of Zhou. The dates of his reign are 1020–996 BC or 1005–978 BC. King Kang followed his father's policy and expanded the Zhou ter ...

King Kang of Zhou
seem to have been peaceful and prosperous.


Further kings

The fourth king,
King Zhao of Zhou King Zhao of Zhou (), personal name Jī Xiá, was the fourth Chinese sovereign#King, king of the Chinese Zhou dynasty. He ruled from 977/75 BC until his death twenty years later. Famous for his disastrous Zhou–Chu War, war against the Chu (state), ...

King Zhao of Zhou
led an army south against
Chu Chu or CHU may refer to: Chinese history * Chu (state) (c. 1030 BC–223 BC), a state during the Zhou dynasty * Western Chu (206 BC–202 BC), a state founded and ruled by Xiang Yu * Chu Kingdom (Han dynasty) (201 BC–70 AD), a kingdom of the Han ...
and was killed along with a large part of the Zhou army. The fifth king,
King Mu of Zhou King Mu of Zhou (), personal name Ji Man, was the fifth king of the Zhou dynasty of China. The dates of his reign are 976–922 BC or 956–918 BC. Life King Mu came to the throne after his father King Zhao of Zhou, King Zhao’s death during his ...
is remembered for his legendary visit to the
Queen Mother of the West The Queen Mother of the West, known by various local names, is a mother goddess A mother goddess is a goddess A goddess is a female deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictio ...
. Territory was lost to the Xu Rong in the southeast. The kingdom seems to have weakened during Mu's long reign, possibly because the familial relationship between Zhou Kings and regional rulers thinned over generations so that fiefs that were originally held by royal brothers were now held by third and fourth cousins; peripheral territories also developed local power and prestige on par with that of the Zhou royal family. The reigns of the next four kings ( King Gong of Zhou, King Yi of Zhou (Ji Jian), King Xiao of Zhou, and King Yi of Zhou (Ji Xie)) are poorly documented. The ninth king is said to have boiled the Duke of Qi in a cauldron, implying that the vassals were no longer obedient. The tenth king,
King Li of Zhou King Li of Zhou (died in 828 BC) (), personal name Ji Hu, was the tenth king of the Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the Lis ...
(877–841 BC) was forced into exile and power was held for fourteen years by the
Gonghe Regency The Gonghe Regency () was an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order. Archetypally, it was the period of time between the reign of one ...
. Li's overthrow may have been accompanied by China's first recorded peasant rebellion. When Li died in exile, Gonghe retired and power passed to Li's son
King Xuan of Zhou __NOTOC__ King Xuan of Zhou, personal name Ji Jing, was the eleventh king of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. Estimated dates of his reign are 827/25–782 BC. He worked to restore royal authority after the Gong He regency, Gong He interregnum. He fou ...

King Xuan of Zhou
(827–782 BC). King Xuan worked to restore royal authority, though regional lords became less obedient later in his reign. The twelfth and last king of the Western Zhou period was
King You of Zhou King You of Zhou (; 795–771 BC), personal name Ji Gongsheng, was the twelfth king of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg">Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the ti ...
(781–771 BC). When You replaced his wife with a concubine, the former queen's powerful father, the
Marquess of Shen The Marquess of Shen ( Chinese: , p ''Shēnhóu''; d. 771 BCE) was a Qiang ruler of Shen during China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and de ...
, joined forces with
QuanrongThe Quanrong () or Dog Xirong, Rong were an ethnic group, classified by the ancient Chinese as "Qiang (historical people), Qiang", active in the northwestern part of China during and after the Zhou dynasty (1046–221 BCE). Their language or language ...
barbarians to sack the western capital of
Haojing Hao or Haojing (), also called Zongzhou (), was one of the two settlements comprising the capital of the Western Zhou dynasty (1066–770 BCE), the other being Fēng or Fēngjīng (). Together they were known as Fenghao and stood on opposite banks ...
and kill King You in 771 BC. His killing resulted to beginning wars between local states which continued until Qin unification of China. Some scholars have surmised that the sack of Haojing might have been connected to a
Scythian The Scythians (from grc, Σκύθης , ) or Scyths, also known as Saka and Sakae ( ; egy, 𓋴𓎝𓎡𓈉 The ancient Egyptian Hill-country or "Foreign land" hieroglyph (𓈉) is a member of the sky, earth, and water hieroglyphs. A ...
raid from the
Altai
Altai
before their westward expansion. Most of the Zhou nobles withdrew from the
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course w ...
valley and the capital was reestablished downriver at the old eastern capital of
Chengzhou Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...
near modern-day
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
. This was the start of the Eastern Zhou period, which is customarily divided into the
Spring and Autumn period #REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dyna ...
and the
Warring States period The Warring States period () was an era in ancient Chinese history characterized by warfare, as well as bureaucratic and military reforms and consolidation. It followed the Spring and Autumn period#REDIRECT Spring and Autumn period The Spri ...
. It is possible that the Zhou kings derived most of their income from royal lands in the Wei valley. This would explain the sudden loss of royal power when the Zhou were driven east, but the matter is hard to prove. In recent decades, archaeologists have found a significant number of treasure hoards that were buried in the Wei valley about the time the Zhou were expelled. This implies that the Zhou nobles were suddenly driven from their homes and hoped to return, but never did.


Kings


Notes


References


Citations


Works cited

* * * * *


Further reading

* * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Zhou Zhou dynasty 8th-century BC disestablishments Dynasties in Chinese history