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The Western Zhou
Western Zhou
(/dʒoʊ/;[1] Chinese: 西周; c. 1046 – 771 BC) was the first half of the Zhou dynasty
Zhou dynasty
of ancient China. It began when King Wu of Zhou
King Wu of Zhou
overthrew the Shang dynasty
Shang dynasty
at the Battle of Muye
Battle of Muye
and ended when the Quanrong nomads sacked its capital Haojing and killed King You of Zhou in 771 BC. The dynasty 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, the Zhou were driven out of the Wei River
Wei River
valley; afterwards real power was in the hands of the king's nominal vassals.

Contents

1 Civil war 2 Further kings 3 Kings 4 References

4.1 Citations 4.2 Works cited

5 Further reading

Civil war[edit] Few records survive from this early period and accounts from the Western Zhou
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
was young, his brother, the Duke of Zhou assisted the young and inexperienced king as regent. Wu's other brothers (Shu Du of Cai, Guan Shu, and Huo Shu), concerned about the Duke of Zhou's growing power, formed an alliance with other regional rulers and Shang remnants in a rebellion. The Duke of Zhou
Duke of Zhou
stamped out this rebellion and conquered more territory to bring other people under Zhou rule.[2][3] The Duke formulated the Mandate of Heaven
Mandate of Heaven
doctrine to counter Shang claims to a divine right of rule and founded Luoyang
Luoyang
as an eastern capital.[4] With a feudal fengjian system, royal relatives and generals were given fiefs in the east,[2] 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
Duke of Zhou
stepped down as regent, the remainder of Cheng's reign (1042–1021 BC) and that of his son King Kang of Zhou
King Kang of Zhou
(1021–996 BC) seem to have been peaceful and prosperous. Further kings[edit]

States of the Western Zhou
Western Zhou
dynasty

The fourth king, King Zhao of Zhou
King Zhao of Zhou
(996–977 BC) led an army south against Chu and was killed along with a large part of the Zhou army. The fifth king, King Mu of Zhou
King Mu of Zhou
(977–922 BC) is remembered for his legendary visit to the Queen Mother of the West. 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.[5] 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)) (922-878 BC) 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
(877–841 BC) was forced into exile and power was held for fourteen years by the Gonghe Regency. 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
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 (781–771 BC). When You replaced his wife with a concubine, the former queen's powerful father, the Marquess of Shen, joined forces with Quanrong barbarians to sack the western capital of Haojing and kill King You in 771 BC. Some scholars have surmised that the sack of Haojing might have been connected to a Scythian raid from the Altai before their westward expansion.[6] Most of the Zhou nobles withdrew from the Wei River
Wei River
valley and the capital was reestablished downriver at the old eastern capital of Chengzhou near modern-day Luoyang. This was the start of the Eastern Zhou period, which is customarily divided into the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. 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.[citation needed] This implies that the Zhou nobles were suddenly driven from their homes and hoped to return, but never did. Kings[edit]

Posthumous name Personal name Time on the throne (BC)

King Wen of Zhou Chang (昌)

King Wu of Zhou Fa (發) c. 1046 – 1043

King Cheng of Zhou Song (誦) 1055–1021

King Kang of Zhou Zhao (釗) 1020–996

King Zhao of Zhou Xia (瑕) 995–977

King Mu of Zhou Man (滿) 976–922

King Gong of Zhou Yihu (繄扈) 922–900

King Yi of Zhou (Jian) Jian (囏) 899–892

King Xiao of Zhou Pifang (辟方) 892–886

King Yi of Zhou (Xie) Xie (燮) 885–878

King Li of Zhou Hu (胡) 877–841

Gonghe Regency

841–828

King Xuan of Zhou Jing (靜) 828–782

King You of Zhou Gongsheng (宮涅) 782–771

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ "Zhou". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. ^ a b Chinn (2007), p. 43. ^ Hucker (1978), p. 32. ^ Hucker (1978), p. 33. ^ Hucker (1978), p. 37. ^ "The Steppe: Scythian successes". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 

Works cited[edit]

Chinn, Ann-ping (2007), The Authentic Confucius, Scribner, ISBN 0-7432-4618-7.  Hucker, Charles O. (1978), China to 1850: A short history, Stanford University Press, ISBN 0-8047-0958-0. 

Further reading[edit]

Shaughnessy, Edward L. (1999), " Western Zhou
Western Zhou
history", in Loewe, Michael; Shaughnessy, Edward L., The Cambridge History of Ancient China, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 292–351, ISBN 978-0-521-47030-8.  Li, Feng (2003), "'Feudalism' and Western Zhou
Western Zhou
China: a criticism", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 63 (1): 115–144, JSTOR 25066693.  —— (2006), Landscape and Power in Early China: The Crisis and Fall of the Western Zhou
Western Zhou
1045–771 BC, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-

.