HOME
        TheInfoList






The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history from approximately 771 to 476 BCE (or according to some authorities until 403 BCE[a])[2] which corresponds roughly to the first half of the Eastern Zhou period. The period's name derives from the Spring and Autumn Annals, a chronicle of the state of Lu between 722 and 479 BCE, which tradition associates with Confucius (551–479 BCE).

During this period, the Zhou royal authority over the various feudal states eroded as more and more dukes and marquesses obtained de facto regional autonomy, defying the king's court in Luoyi and waging wars amongst themselves. The gradual Partition of Jin, one of the most powerful states, marked the end of the Spring and Autumn period and the beginning of the Warring States period.

Background

In 771 BCE, the Quanrong invasion destroyed the Western Zhou and its capital Haojing, forcing the Zhou king to flee to the eastern capital Luoyi (Chinese: 洛邑). The event ushered in the Eastern Zhou dynasty, which is divided into the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods. During the Spring and Autumn period, China's feudal system of fengjian (封建) became largely irrelevant. The Zhou court, having lost its homeland in the Guanzhong region, held nominal power, but had real control over only a small royal demesne centered on Luoyi. During the early part of the Zhou dynasty period, royal relatives and generals had been given control over fiefdoms in an effort to maintain Zhou authority over vast territory.[3] As the power of the Zhou kings waned, these fiefdoms became increasingly independent states.

The most important states (known later as the twelve vassals) came together in regular conferences where they decided important matters, such as military expeditions against foreign groups or against offending nobles. During these conferences one vassal ruler was sometimes declared hegemon (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; later, Chinese: ; pinyin: ).

As the era continued, larger and more powerful states annexed or claimed suzerainty over smaller ones. By the 6th century BCE most small states had disappeared and just a few large and powerful principalities dominated China. Some southern states, such as Chu and Wu, claimed independence from the Zhou, who undertook wars against some of them (Wu and Yue).

Amid the interstate power struggles, internal conflict was also rife: six élite landholding families waged war on each other inside Jin, political enemies set about eliminating the Chen family in Qi, and the legitimacy of the rulers was often challenged in civil wars by various royal family members in Qin and Chu. Once all these powerful rulers had firmly established themselves within their respective dominions, the bloodshed focused more fully on interstate conflict in the Warring States period, which began in 403 BCE when the three remaining élite families in Jin—Zhao, Wei and Han—partitioned the state.

Early Spring and Autumn (771–685 BCE)

Court moves east (771 BCE)

After the Zhou capital was sacked by the Marquess of Shen and the Quanrong barbarians, the Zhou moved the capital east from the now desolated Zongzhou in Haojing near modern Xi'an to Wangcheng in the Yellow River Valley. The Zhou royalty was then closer to its main supporters,[4] particularly Jin, and Zheng;[5][6] the Zhou royal family had much weaker authority and relied on lords from these vassal states for protection, especially during their flight to the eastern capital. In Chengzhou, Prince Yijiu was crowned by his supporters as King Ping.[6] However, with the Zhou domain greatly reduced to Chengzhou and nearby areas, the court could no longer support the six army groups it had in the past; Zhou kings had to request help from powerful vassal states for protection from raids and for resolution of internal power struggles. The Zhou court would never regain its original authority; instead, it was relegated to being merely a figurehead of the feudal states. Though the king de jure retained the Mandate of Heaven, the title held little actual power.

With the decline of Zhou power, the Yellow River drainage basin was divided into hundreds of small, autonomous states, most of them consisting of a single city, though a handful of multi-city states, particularly those on the periphery, had power and opportunity to expand outward.[7] A total of 148 states are mentioned in the chronicles for this period, 128 of which were absorbed by the four largest states by the end of the period.[8]

Shortly after the royal family's move to Chengzhou, a hierarchical alliance system arose where the Zhou king would give the title of hegemon to the leader of the state with the most powerful military; the hegemon was obligated to protect both the weaker Zhou states and the Zhou royalty from the intruding non-Zhou peoples:[9][10] the Northern Di, the Southern Man, the Eastern Yi, and the Western Rong. This political framework retained the fēngjiàn power structure, though interstate and intrastate conflict often led to disregard for feudal customs, respect for the Ji family, and solidarity with other Zhou peoples.[11] The king's prestige legitimized the military leaders of the states, and helped mobilize collective defense of Zhou territory against "barbarians".[12]

Over the next two centuries, the four most powerful states—Qin, Jin, Qi and Chu—struggled for power. These multi-city states often used the pretext of aid and protection to intervene and gain suzerainty over the smaller states. During this rapid expansion,[13] interstate relations alternated between low-level warfare and complex diplomacy.[14]

Zheng falls out with the court (722–685 BCE)

Duke Yin of Lu ascended the throne in 722 BCE.[15] From this year on the state of Lu kept an official chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals, which along with its commentaries is the standard source for the Spring and Autumn period. Corresponding chronicles are known to have existed in other states as well, but all but the Lu chronicle have been lost.

In 717 BCE, Duke Zhuang of Zheng went to the capital for an audience with King Huan. During the encounter the duke felt he was not treated with the respect and etiquette which would have been appropriate, given that Zheng was now the chief protector of the capital.[15] In 715 BCE Zheng also became involved in a border dispute with Lu regarding the Fields of Xu. The fields had been put in the care of Lu by the king for the exclusive purpose of producing royal sacrifices for the sacred Mount Tai.[15] For Zheng to regard the fields as just any other piece of land was an insult to the court.

By 707 BCE, relations had soured enough that the king launched a punitive expedition against Zheng. The duke counterattacked and raided Zhou territory, defeating the royal forces in the Battle of Xuge and injuring the king himself.[8][15][16] Zheng was the first vassal to openly defy the king, kicking off the centuries of warfare without respect for titles which would characterize the period.

The display of Zheng's martial strength was effective until succession problems after Zhuang's death in 701 weakened the state.[5]

In 692 BCE, there was a failed assassination attempt against King Zhuang, orchestrated by elements at court.[15]

The Five Hegemons (685–591 BCE)

Map of the Five Hegemons during the Spring and Autumn period of Zhou Dynasty

Hegemony of Qi (685–643 BCE)

The first hegemon was Duke Huan of Qi (r. 685–643 BCE). With the help of his prime minister, Guan Zhong, Duke Huan reformed Qi to centralize its power structure. The state consisted of 15 "townships" with the duke and two senior ministers each in charge of five; military functions were also united with civil ones. These and related reforms provided the state, already powerful from control of trade crossroads, with a greater ability to mobilize resources than the more loosely organized states.[17]

By 667 BCE, Qi had clearly shown its economic and military predominance, and Duke Huan assembled the leaders of Lu, Song, Chen, and Zheng, who elected him as their leader. Soon after, King Hui of Zhou conferred the title of (hegemon), giving Duke Huan royal authority in military ventures.[18][19] An important basis for justifying Qi's dominance over the other states was presented in the slogan 'supporting the king, and expelling the barbarians' (尊王攘夷 zun wang rang yi); the role of subsequent hegemons would also be framed in this way, as the primary defender and supporter of nominal Zhou authority and the existing order. Using this authority, Duke Huan intervened in a power struggle in Lu; protected Yan from encroaching Western Rong nomads (664 BCE); drove off Northern Di nomads after they'd invaded Wey (660 BCE) and Xing (659 BCE), providing the people with provisions and protective garrison units; and led an alliance of eight states to conquer Cai and thereby block the northward expansion of Chu (656 BCE).[20]

At his death in 643 BCE, five of Duke Huan's sons contended for the throne, badly weakening the state so that it was no longer regarded as the hegemon. For nearly ten years, no ruler held the title.[21]

Urbanization during the Spring and Autumn period.

Hegemony of Song (643–637 BCE)

Duke Xiang of Song attempted to claim the hegemony in the wake of Qi's decline, perhaps driven by a desire to restore the Shang Dynasty from which Song had descended. He hosted peace conferences in the same style as Qi had done, and conducted aggressive military campaigns against his rivals. Duke Xiang however met his end when, against the advice of his staff, he attacked the much larger state of Chu. The Song forces were defeated at the battle of Hong in 638 BCE, and the duke himself died in the following year from an injury sustained in the battle. After Xiang's death his successors adopted a more modest foreign policy, better suited to the country's small size.Luoyi and waging wars amongst themselves. The gradual Partition of Jin, one of the most powerful states, marked the end of the Spring and Autumn period and the beginning of the Warring States period.

In 771 BCE, the Quanrong invasion destroyed the Western Zhou and its capital Haojing, forcing the Zhou king to flee to the eastern capital Luoyi (Chinese: 洛邑). The event ushered in the Eastern Zhou dynasty, which is divided into the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods. During the Spring and Autumn period, China's feudal system of fengjian (封建) became largely irrelevant. The Zhou court, having lost its homeland in the Guanzhong region, held nominal power, but had real control over only a small royal demesne centered on Luoyi. During the early part of the Zhou dynasty period, royal relatives and generals had been given control over fiefdoms in an effort to maintain Zhou authority over vast territory.[3] As the power of the Zhou kings waned, these fiefdoms became increasingly independent states.

The most important states (known later as the twelve vassals) came together in regular conferences where they decided important matters, such as military expeditions against foreign groups or against offending nobles. During these conferences one vassal ruler was sometimes declared hegemon (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; later, Chinese: ; pinyin: ).

As the era continued, larger and more powerful states annexed or claimed suzerainty over smaller ones. By the 6th century BCE most small states had disappeared and just a few large and powerful principalities dominated China. Some southern states, such as Chu and Wu, claimed independence from the Zhou, who undertook wars against some of them (Wu and Yue).

Amid the interstate power struggles, internal conflict was also rife: six élite landholding families waged war on each other inside Jin, political enemies set about eliminating the Chen family in Qi, and the legitimacy of the rulers was often challenged in civil wars by various royal family members in Qin and Chu. Once all these powerful rulers had firmly established themselves within their respective dominions, the bloodshed focused more fully on interstate conflict in the Warring States period, which began in 403 BCE when the three remaining élite families in Jin—Zhao, Wei and Han—partitioned the state.

Early Spring and Autumn (771–685 BCE)

Court moves east (771 BCE)

After the Zhou capital was sacked by the Marquess of Shen and the Quanrong barbarians, the Zhou moved the capital east from the now desolated Zongzhou in Haojing near modern Xi'an to Wangcheng in the Yellow River Valley. The Zhou royalty was then closer to its main supporters,[4] particularly Jin, and Zheng;[5][6] the Zhou royal family had much weaker authority and relied on lords from these vassal states for protection, especially during their flight to the eastern capital. In Chengzhou, Prince Yijiu was crowned by his supporters as King Ping.[6] However, with the Zhou domain greatly reduced to Chengzhou and nearby areas, the court could no longer support the six army groups it had in the past; Zhou kings had to request help from powerful vassal states for protection from raids and for resolution of internal power struggles. The Zhou court would never regain its original authority; instead, it was relegated to being merely a figurehead of the feudal states. Though the king de jure retained the Mandate of Heaven, the title held little actual power.

With the decline of Zhou power, the Yellow River drainage basin was divided into hundreds of small, autonomous states, most of them consisting of a single city, though a handful of multi-city states, particularly those on the periphery, had power and opportunity to expand outward.[7] A total of 148 states are mentioned in the chronicles for this period, 128 of which were absorbed by the four largest states by the end of the period.[8]

Shortly after the royal family's move to Chengzhou, a hierarchical alliance system aro

The most important states (known later as the twelve vassals) came together in regular conferences where they decided important matters, such as military expeditions against foreign groups or against offending nobles. During these conferences one vassal ruler was sometimes declared hegemon (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; later, Chinese: ; pinyin: ).

As the era continued, larger and more powerful states annexed or claimed suzerainty over smaller ones. By the 6th century BCE most small states had disappeared and just a few large and powerful principalities dominated China. Some southern states, such as Chu and Wu, claimed independence from the Zhou, who undertook wars against some of them (Wu and Yue).

Amid the interstate power struggles, internal conflict was also rife: six élite landholding families waged war on each other inside Jin, political enemies set about eliminating the Chen family in Qi, and the legitimacy of the rulers was often challenged in civil wars by various royal family members in Qin and Chu. Once all these powerful rulers had firmly established themselves within their respective dominions, the bloodshed focused more fully on interstate conflict in the Warring States period, which began in 403 BCE when the three remaining élite families in Jin—Zhao, Wei and Han—partitioned the state.

After the Zhou capital was sacked by the Marquess of Shen and the Quanrong barbarians, the Zhou moved the capital east from the now desolated Zongzhou in Haojing near modern Xi'an to Wangcheng in the Yellow River Valley. The Zhou royalty was then closer to its main supporters,[4] particularly Jin, and Zheng;[5][6] the Zhou royal family had much weaker authority and relied on lords from these vassal states for protection, especially during their flight to the eastern capital. In Chengzhou, Prince Yijiu was crowned by his supporters as King Ping.[6] However, with the Zhou domain greatly reduced to Chengzhou and nearby areas, the court could no longer support the six army groups it had in the past; Zhou kings had to request help from powerful vassal states for protection from raids and for resolution of internal power struggles. The Zhou court would never regain its original authority; instead, it was relegated to being merely a figurehead of the feudal states. Though the king de jure retained the Mandate of Heaven, the title held little actual power.

With the decline of Zhou power, the Yellow River drainage basin was divided into hundreds of small, autonomous states, most of them consisting of a single city, though a handful of multi-city states, particularly those on the periphery, had power and opportunity to expand outward.[7] A total of 148 states are mentioned in the chronicles for this period, 128 of which were absorbed by the four largest states by the end of the period.[8]

Shortly after the royal family's move to Chengzhou, a hierarchical alliance system arose where the Zhou king would give the title of hegemon to the leader of the state with the most powerful military; the hegemon was obligated to protect both the weaker Zhou stat

With the decline of Zhou power, the Yellow River drainage basin was divided into hundreds of small, autonomous states, most of them consisting of a single city, though a handful of multi-city states, particularly those on the periphery, had power and opportunity to expand outward.[7] A total of 148 states are mentioned in the chronicles for this period, 128 of which were absorbed by the four largest states by the end of the period.[8]

Shortly after the royal family's move to Chengzhou, a hierarchical alliance system arose where the Zhou king would give the title of hegemon to the leader of the state with the most powerful military; the hegemon was obligated to protect both the weaker Zhou states and the Zhou royalty from the intruding non-Zhou peoples:[9][10] the Northern Di, the Southern Man, the Eastern Yi, and the Western Rong. This political framework retained the fēngjiàn power structure, though interstate and intrastate conflict often led to disregard for feudal customs, respect for the Ji family, and solidarity with other Zhou peoples.[11] The king's prestige legitimized the military leaders of the states, and helped mobilize collective defense of Zhou territory against "barbarians".[12]

Over the next two centuries, the four most powerful states—Qin, Jin, Qi and Chu—struggled for power. These multi-city states often used the pretext of aid and protection to intervene and gain suzerainty over the smaller states. During this rapid expansion,[13] interstate relations alternated between low-level warfare and complex diplomacy.[14]

Duke Yin of Lu ascended the throne in 722 BCE.[15] From this year on the state of Lu kept an official chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals, which along with its commentaries is the standard source for the Spring and Autumn period. Corresponding chronicles are known to have existed in other states as well, but all but the Lu chronicle have been lost.

In 717 BCE, Duke Zhuang of Zheng went to the capital for an audience with King Huan. During the encounter the duke felt he was not treated with the respect and etiquette which would have been appropriate, given that Zheng was now the chief protector of the capital.

In 717 BCE, Duke Zhuang of Zheng went to the capital for an audience with King Huan. During the encounter the duke felt he was not treated with the respect and etiquette which would have been appropriate, given that Zheng was now the chief protector of the capital.[15] In 715 BCE Zheng also became involved in a border dispute with Lu regarding the Fields of Xu. The fields had been put in the care of Lu by the king for the exclusive purpose of producing royal sacrifices for the sacred Mount Tai.[15] For Zheng to regard the fields as just any other piece of land was an insult to the court.

By 707 BCE, relations had soured enough that the king launched a punitive expedition against Zheng. The duke counterattacked and raided Zhou territory, defeating the royal forces in the Battle of Xuge and injuring the king himself.[8][15][16] Zheng was the first vassal to openly defy the king, kicking off the centuries of warfare without respect for titles which would characterize the period.

The display of Zheng's martial strength was effective until succession problems after Zhuang's death in 701 weakened the state.[5]

In 692 BCE, there was a failed assassination attempt against King Zhuang, orchestrated by elements at court.[15]

The first hegemon was Duke Huan of Qi (r. 685–643 BCE). With the help of his prime minister, Guan Zhong, Duke Huan reformed Qi to centralize its power structure. The state consisted of 15 "townships" with the duke and two senior ministers each in charge of five; military functions were also united with civil ones. These and related reforms provided the state, already powerful from control of trade crossroads, with a greater ability to mobilize resources than the more loosely organized states.[17]

By 667 BCE, Qi had clearly shown its economic and military predominance, and Duke Huan assembled the leaders of Lu, Song, Chen, and Zheng, who elected him as their leader. Soon after, King Hui of Zhou conferred the title of (hegemon), giving Duke Huan royal authority in military ventures.[18][19] An important basis for justifying Qi's dominance over the other states was presented in the slogan 'supporting the king, and expelling the barbarians' (尊王攘夷 zun wang rang yi); the role of subsequent hegemons would also be framed in this way, as the primary defender and supporter of nominal Zhou authority and the existing order. Using this authority, Duke Huan intervened in a power struggle in Lu; protected Yan from encroaching Western Rong nomads (664 BCE); drove off Northern Di nomads after they'd invaded Wey (660 BCE) and Xing (659 BCE), providing the people with provisions and protective garrison units; and led an alliance of eight states to conquer Cai and thereby block the northward expansion of Chu (656 BCE).Lu, Song, Chen, and Zheng, who elected him as their leader. Soon after, King Hui of Zhou conferred the title of (hegemon), giving Duke Huan royal authority in military ventures.[18][19] An important basis for justifying Qi's dominance over the other states was presented in the slogan 'supporting the king, and expelling the barbarians' (尊王攘夷 zun wang rang yi); the role of subsequent hegemons would also be framed in this way, as the primary defender and supporter of nominal Zhou authority and the existing order. Using this authority, Duke Huan intervened in a power struggle in Lu; protected Yan from encroaching Western Rong nomads (664 BCE); drove off Northern Di nomads after they'd invaded Wey (660 BCE) and Xing (659 BCE), providing the people with provisions and protective garrison units; and led an alliance of eight states to conquer Cai and thereby block the northward expansion of Chu (656 BCE).[20]

At his death in 643 BCE, five of Duke Huan's sons contended for the throne, badly weakening the state so that it was no longer regarded as the hegemon. For nearly ten years, no ruler held the title.[21]

Duke Xiang of Song attempted to claim the hegemony in the wake of Qi's decline, perhaps driven by a desire to restore the Shang Dynasty from which Song had descended. He hosted peace conferences in the same style as Qi had done, and conducted aggressive military campaigns against his rivals. Duke Xiang however met his end when, against the advice of his staff, he attacked the much larger state of Chu. The Song forces were defeated at the battle of Hong in 638 BCE, and the duke himself died in the following year from an injury sustained in the battle. After Xiang's death his successors adopted a more modest foreign policy, better suited to the country's small size.[22]

As Duke Xiang was never officially recognized as hegemon by the King of Zhou, not all sources list him as one of the Five Hegemons.

Hegemony of Jin (636–628 BCE)

When Duke Wen of Jin came to power in 636 BCE, he capitalized on the reforms of his father, Duke Xian (r. 676–651 BCE), who had centralized the state, killed off relatives who might threaten his authority, conquered sixteen smaller states, and even absorbed some Rong and Di peoples to make Jin much more powerful than it had been previously.Duke Wen of Jin came to power in 636 BCE, he capitalized on the reforms of his father, Duke Xian (r. 676–651 BCE), who had centralized the state, killed off relatives who might threaten his authority, conquered sixteen smaller states, and even absorbed some Rong and Di peoples to make Jin much more powerful than it had been previously.[23] When he assisted King Xiang in a succession struggle in 635 BCE, Xiang awarded Jin with strategically valuable territory near Chengzhou.

Duke Wen of Jin then used his growing power to coordinate a military response with Qi, Qin, and Song against Chu, which had begun encroaching northward after the death of Duke Huán of Qi. With a decisive Chu loss at the Battle of Chengpu (632 BCE), Duke Wen's loyalty to the Zhou king was rewarded at an interstate conference when King Xīang awarded him the title of .[21]

After the death o

Duke Wen of Jin then used his growing power to coordinate a military response with Qi, Qin, and Song against Chu, which had begun encroaching northward after the death of Duke Huán of Qi. With a decisive Chu loss at the Battle of Chengpu (632 BCE), Duke Wen's loyalty to the Zhou king was rewarded at an interstate conference when King Xīang awarded him the title of .[21]

After the death of Duke Wen in 628 BCE, a growing tension manifested in interstate violence that turned smaller states, particularly those at the border between Jin and Chu, into sites of constant warfare; Qi and Qin also engaged in numerous interstate skirmishes with Jin or its allies to boost their own power.[24]

Duke Mu of Qin had ascended the throne in 659 BCE and forged an alliance with Jin by marrying his daughter to Duke Wen. In 624 BCE, he established hegemony over the western Rong barbarians and became the most powerful lord of the time. However he did not chair any alliance with other states nor was he officially recognized as hegemon by the king. Therefore, not all sources accept him as one of the Five Hegemons.

Hegemony of Chu (613–591 BCE)


mysqli_error: