Western Zhou (1046 BC ~ 771 BC), a dynasty in Chinese history. In the 11th century B.C., King Wu of the Zhou Dynasty destroyed the Shang Dynasty, established the state name Zhou, and set the capital at Hao (east of Fenghe River in Chang’an, Shaanxi Province). After the reign of King Cheng of the Zhou Dynasty, he created the new capital of Cheng Zhou (Luoyang, Henan Province), built a residence in China, feuded the lords, and ordered the Duke of Zhou to go on an expedition to the east, made rites and music, and strengthened the rule of the Western Zhou Dynasty.
In addition to the name of the dynasty, “Western Zhou” was also the name of the state during the Eastern Zhou period, namely the Western Zhou Marquisate (367 – 256 BC), which was the product of the split of the Zhou royal family at the end of the Warring States period. In the “Warring States Strategy”, there are records such as “East Zhou and West Zhou fought” and “Chang he destroyed West Zhou”, so obviously the “West Zhou” that appeared in the Warring States period was not the one that died in 771 B.C. Western Zhou Dynasty. Rather, it was the Western Zhou state.
In 367 B.C., the Zhou royal family was in turmoil, and the capital was divided into two states, the Eastern Zhou and the Western Zhou. The two states were bounded by the confluence of the Yiluo River, with the Western Zhou capital of Wangcheng in the west and the Eastern Zhou capital of Gong in the east. In 256 B.C., Qin broke the royal city of Zhou, Luoyang, and destroyed the Western Zhou state. King Hu and the Western Zhou ruler were abolished as commoners and moved out of Cheng Zhou city and the royal city. Since then, the Zhou dynasty was declared extinct and historians began to chronicle it with the Qin dynasty.
Origin of the Zhou people
The Zhou people were a latecomer tribe with the surname Ji, who emerged in the area of present-day Shaanxi and Gansu, and attached great importance to agriculture. The totem of the Zhou people is symbolized by the bear (the Lord), and the father and mother of Houji were descendants of the Ji surname Youxiong clan (the Youxiong clan was only a square state during the Yao-Shun period and had lost the honorary name of the Yellow Emperor hundreds of years ago) and the Jiang surname Youtai clan, who had been intermarried for a long time. They believe that Houji (Ji abandoned) is their ancestor and respect him as the god of agriculture, and the chief of agricultural officials in the Western Zhou Dynasty was named “Houji”. From Houji to King Wen, there were several kings. In the “Records of the Grand Historian of the Zhou Dynasty” and “Shi Ben”, there were fifteen generations, namely Houji (named Abandoned), Bu Ji, Ju, Gong Liu, Qing Jie, Huang Servant, Cha Fei, Jumping over, Gong Fei, Gao Nian, Yian Nian, Gong Shu Zu class, Gu Gong Dan Father, Ji Li, and Chang, and in the “Book of Han”, there were eighteen generations. However, it is impossible that only a dozen generations have passed since Houji to King Wen for more than a thousand years, and many later generations have expressed doubts about this.
At the time of the Buhun era, the Zhou people migrated to the area between the Rongdi and the Di, and at the time of Gong Liu, they moved to Bin, a place with excellent natural environment, in order to develop agriculture and escape from the Western Rong. After arriving at Bin, the Zhou people reclaimed fields, built houses, and established a set of rituals for holding sacrifices and banquets. The names “Jing” and “Jing Shi” originated from the name of the capital of the state during the Gong Liu period. During the reign of King Wu Ding of Shang, Zhou became a feudal state of Shang. In the time of Gu Gong Dan Fu (later posthumously honored as King Tai of Zhou), in order to avoid the nuisance of the Rong Di tribes in the northwest, the Zhou people again moved their capital to Zhou Yuan in Qiyang. At this time, the political facilities had developed considerably, and the royal palace was set up with Gaomen and Yingmen, and the capital was set up with the temple of the clan and the community, that is, from this time.
After the death of King Taibo, the younger son Ji Li succeeded to the throne. Due to the friendship with Wu and Ren lords built by Taibo, and the decline of the Shang Dynasty, the power of Zhou continued to grow. During the reign of King Wu Yi of Shang Dynasty, Zhou began to expand its territory by force, first spending three years to conquer Gifang. After that, Ji Li continued to attack the Rong Di in the Shanxi region and suffered a setback in attacking Yan Jing Rong, however, he then conquered Yu Wu Rong. After defeating Yu Wu Rong, Ji Li was appointed as a priest (a position equivalent to Fang Bo) by King Wen Ding of Shang. As Ji Li expanded the territory of the Zhou Dynasty to the northwest, he came under the suspicion of Wen Ding and was eventually killed by him.
After Ji Li’s death, his eldest son Chang succeeded to the throne as King Wen of Zhou, who had been appointed by the King of Shang as the Western Bo. Chong Houhu reported to King Zhou that Xi Bo was dissatisfied with the execution of the nine lords, so Xi Bo was imprisoned in Yili and was not pardoned until Xi Bo’s subordinates paid tribute of beauty and wealth. King Wen of Zhou served King Zhou of Shang diligently while he explored the territory on the pretext of conquering the rebellious kingdom, and Zhou’s power was greatly expanded. King Wen united the vassals, settled the disputes between Yu and Rui, and conquered Injun and Mi (Mishou). Later, he destroyed Li in Shanxi and conquered Yu (also known as Yu and Gan). Chonghouhu, a powerful Eastern state at that time, was also captured by Zhou after a fierce siege. After conquering Chong, King Wen moved his capital to Feng (Fengxi New City, Xi’an New District, Shaanxi Province), where he ruled with benevolence and love for the people, and established a set of official system headed by the Secretary of State to improve the political institutions and accumulate a large number of talented nobles, laying the foundation for the establishment of the Zhou Dynasty.
King Wu conquers Zhou
The Zhou tribe had a long history and was active in the area of Shaanxi and Gansu for a long time, and later took Zhou Yuan, south of Mount Qishan, as its main base. By the beginning of the 11th century B.C., the Zhou tribe grew stronger and stronger. On the one hand, it conquered small states nearby to expand its strength; on the other hand, it moved its capital from Zhou Yuan to the west bank of Feng Shui in present-day Chang’an District and built Fengjing. Its constant advance to the east intensified the conflict with the Shang Dynasty. At one time, Emperor Xin (King Zhou of Shang) imprisoned Xibo Chang in the Pile. It was only after Zhou ministers offered the Shang king beautiful women and treasures that Di Xin released Xibo Chang. After Xibo Chang returned to China, he further intensified his preparations to invade Shang.
At this time, the Shang dynasty was politically corrupt and the internal and external conflicts were more acute than ever. The eldest son of King Wen (Chang) of Zhou, Bo Yi Kao, died before King Wen (the cause of his death is not recorded; the “Gods of Fulfillment” says he was killed by Zhou) and installed Ji Fa as the crown prince. King Wen thought that the conditions were ripe to conquer Shang, and before he died, he asked Prince Fa to actively prepare to conquer Shang.
After King Wu’s reign, while the main force of the Shang Dynasty was away on the war, King Wu of Zhou led his army to the east. At the conference, King Wu of Zhou held an oath ceremony, which is known in history as the “Oath of Mengjin”. It was an important alliance in which “the lords were ordered to use”. With 300 chariots, 45,000 soldiers and 3,000 Huben, he marched to the east in great numbers, and many small states such as Yong, Shu, Qiang, Mane, Wei, Lu, Peng and Pu also led their troops.
On the fifth day of the second month, King Wu’s allied forces set up a duel with King Zhou’s army at Muye, a suburb of Yin. King Zhou gathered more than 100,000 men to fight against King Wu, but because the people’s hearts were in the right place, King Zhou’s army had no desire to fight and instead turned against King Wu. King Zhou saw that the situation was over, so he climbed onto the Deer Terrace, which he had built for himself at great expense, and burned himself to death, thus declaring the destruction of the Shang Dynasty.
The first establishment of the Zhou Dynasty
After King Wu conquered Shang, he basically controlled the original ruling area of Shang Dynasty and conquered many small countries around. But how to firmly control the large territory in the East became a serious problem for King Wu. So, he adopted the policy of “building up relatives and pacifying the Zhou with vassals”, dividing his clansmen and advisors of the same surname into vassal states. Each vassal state became a stronghold to rule over one side of the land, and they also played an arching role for the Zhou royal family.
King Wu made Wu Geng, the son of Zhou of Shang Dynasty, a vassal state in Shang Dynasty to control the merchants; he made his brothers Guan Shu, Cai Shu and Huo Shu vassals to supervise Wu Geng; he also made Duke of Zhou a vassal state in Lu, Jiang Shang a vassal state in Qi and Duke of Zhaogong a vassal state in Yan. After the death of King Wu of Zhou, his son succeeded to the throne. As King Cheng was young, the Duke of Zhou was the regent. Uncle Guan and Uncle Cai were dissatisfied with the Duke of Zhou and spread rumors that the Duke of Zhou intended to seek the throne. Soon, Wu Geng conspired with Guan and Cai and united with Xu, Am and Bo Gu in the east to start a rebellion. The Duke of Zhou sent his army to the east and spent three years to put an end to the rebellion of Wu Geng and Guan and Cai, killing Wu Geng and Guan Shu and exiling Cai Shu. The Eastern Expedition was a comprehensive victory that consolidated the rule of the Zhou Dynasty.
After the destruction of the Shang Dynasty, King Wu returned to the capital of the Zhou Dynasty and felt that it was too far away from the newly conquered areas. He wanted to establish a new capital in the Ilo River area, the center of the Xia people’s activities. Before he could realize this idea, he died suddenly.
From the inscription of He Zun unearthed in Baoji, we can see that after his reign, King Cheng decided to build a new capital near Luoyang to “house China”, following the legacy of King Wu. From here, he could rule over the newly conquered area and shorten the distance considerably. For this reason, King Cheng sent Duke Zhaogong to “build a residence” near Luoyang. Soon, Luoyi became the political, military and cultural center of the Western Zhou period. In order to eradicate the dreams of the Yin legacy, King Cheng also relocated the Yin recalcitrant people to Cheng Zhou.
The Reign of Chengkang
After the rebellion was put down, the Duke of Zhou practiced benevolence and filial piety from a young age and was versatile. During the reign of King Wen, he was distinguished from his sons by his filial piety and benevolence; during the reign of King Wu, he assisted him with his loyalty. “The Duke of Zhou then took himself as a hostage, set up three altars, the Duke of Zhou stood in the north, wearing the jade and holding the kyu, and told King Tai, King Ji and King Wen.” Willing to replace King Wu’s body with himself, and said, “Dan Qiao can, multi-talented and versatile, able to serve the ghosts and gods.” The Duke of Zhou composed “Duo Duo” and “Duo Shi” to admonish the Yin people and adopted an ideological, economic and political policy of pacification for the Yin nobles in all aspects.
After five years of regency, the Duke of Zhou began to build the eastern capital of Cheng Zhou in Luo Yi in order to rule the eastern region more effectively, and King Cheng arrived at Cheng Zhou to begin his own administration. Zhaogong Shi gathered all the chiefs and taught King Cheng to rule with virtue and reuse the old adults. After the completion of Chengzou, King Cheng returned to Hojing to assume the throne, while the Duke of Zhou stayed behind to rule the eastern capital.
The reign of King Cheng and the later reigning King Zhaoge of Kang was called the Reign of Cheng and Kang, which was the beginning of the era of stability in the Western Zhou. Although the division of the Zhou people into vassals began earlier than King Wu, a large number of feudal states appeared only in the reign of Chengkang.
According to “Zuo Zhuan – Zhao Gong 28”, there were 71 states in the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty, among which there were 40 states with the same surname as the king of Zhou and 15 states with the surname of brothers. According to Xunzi – Confucian Effect, there were 53 states with the surname of Ji. It can be seen that the feudal division at the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty was mainly based on the surname of Ji, while taking into account the different surnames.
The descendants of Tai Bo and Zhong Yong, the brothers of Ji Li, were feuded in Wu (present-day Suzhou, Jiangsu); the second brothers of King Wen, Guo Zhong and Guo Shu, were feuded in Xi Guo (present-day Baoji, Shaanxi) and Dong Guo (present-day Xingyang); the sons of King Wen were feuded in Guan (present-day Zhengzhou, destroyed long ago), Cai (present-day Shangcai, southwest), Huo (present-day Huo, southwest of Shanxi), Wei (present-day Qixian), Mao, Dan (present-day Fuyang, Anhui), Gao (present-day Chengwu, southeast of Shandong), Yong (present-day Xiuwu, west of Shandong), Cao (now Dingtao West, Shandong), Teng (now Tengzhou Southwest, Shandong), Bi (now Xianyang Northwest, Shaanxi), Yuan (now Jiyuan Northwest), Feng (now Xi’an Chang’an District Northwest, Shaanxi), and Jun (now Linyi Southwest, Shanxi); the sons of King Wu were feuded in Jin (first feuded in Yicheng West, Shanxi), Ying (now Pingdingshan), and Han (now Hejin Northeast, Shanxi); the sons of the Duke of Zhou were feuded in Lu (now Qufu, Shandong), Fan (now Hui County Southwest), Jiang ( (now northwest of Gushi), Xing (now Xingtai, Hebei), Mao (now northwest of Jinxiang, Shandong), blessing (now north of Yanjin), sacrifice (now northeast of Zhengzhou); the sons of Duke Zhaogong were sealed in Yan (now Beijing). The main lords with different surnames were: Wei Zi Qi and Wei Zhong Yan, nobles of Shang, were feuded in Song (near Shangqiu today), Jiang in Qi and Lu, Si in Qi (Qixian today), Ying in Ge (northwest of Ningxian today), Gui in Chen (Huaiyang today), Mi in Chu and so on.
The initial fiefs were mainly concentrated in the Central Plains as part of the state building work, and did not continue to spread afterwards. These feudal states were dominated by crowds of people, often moving hundreds or even thousands of miles. They migrated from Henan to the east and south, forming a new barrier to the Zhou royal family.
In the era of Chengkang, the king of Zhou implemented the policy of providing relief to the poor people, granting fields to the people, and being clear about virtue and punishment. As a result, agricultural production improved, people’s lives relatively improved, foreigners came from all directions, the political situation was stable, and people were harmonious. However, in the late period, King Kang was fond of conquering, and according to the inscriptions of the Xiaoyu Tripod, he beheaded more than 4,800 people and took more than 13,000 captives in the war with the ghosts alone, and had frequent conflicts with the Huaiyi and Jingchu in the south.
From prosperity to decline
After the Zhaomu period, the Zhou dynasty weakened. During this period, the power of the Inu Rong gradually became stronger, which prevented the Zhou dynasty from communicating with other countries in the northwest. King Mu conquered the Injuns and “captured five of their kings”, and moved a group of Injun tribes to Taiyuan, opening up the road between Zhou and the northwestern countries. In the future, the Injuns still repeatedly invaded the Zhou territory. At the time of King Yi of Zhou, there was a situation that the warriors and tribes invaded and tyrannized China, and the people of Zhou were deeply distressed.
During the period of King Li of Zhou, the domestic conflicts became more and more acute. King Li imposed excessive taxes and abused the people, and did not allow the people to talk about the state affairs. Years of war brought deep hardships to the people. At the same time, King Li appointed Lord Rong Yi as a minister and monopolized the wealth and resources of the society. In order to suppress the discontent of the people, King Li ordered Wei Wu to monitor and kill anyone who slandered the king. As a result, everyone was in danger, which led to a riot in the country. In 841 BC, the king was forced to run away to Pig. The court was administered by two ministers, Duke Zhaogong and Duke Zhou (Duke Ding of Zhou), and was called the republic (one said that the vassals were co-opted and took charge of the administration).
In the 14th year of the republic (828 BC), King Li died and Prince Jing reigned as King Xuan of Zhou, who reigned for 46 years. After succeeding to the throne, King Xuan of Zhou learned a lesson and changed his policy; he also launched a defensive war against the Rong Di and won a victory in order to relieve the threat of the Rong Di. He also won some victories in the wars against Jingchu and Huaiyi, and thus was called “Zhongxing”. However, various conflicts still existed in society, and the whole society was still in turmoil. The development of history is always uneven. During the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the Central Plains had entered the prosperous period of the Bronze Age, while some neighboring regions were still relatively backward. Therefore, driven by wealth and profit, the Zhou people were in almost constant war with other nationalities. The river and Han valley was the base of the barbarians. In the late years of King Xuan, the Zhou dynasty reappeared in decline. King Xuan interfered with the succession of the throne of Lu and forcibly installed Duke Xiao of Lu by force, causing discord among the lords. In the 36th year, he conquered Jorong and Penrong, but failed miserably. In the 39th year, he fought against Jiang’s clan of Xirong and lost a battle at Qianmu.
In 781 BC, King Xuan of Zhou died and his son, King You of Zhou, succeeded to the throne, appointing the lucrative Guo Shifu to rule. King Yu, favoring Bao Si, King Yu abolished the daughter of Hou Shen and Prince Yisu, and established the favorite beauty Bao Si as the queen, and his son Bo Fu (one as Bo Pan) as the crown prince. Yishu fled to the state of Shen, whose mother was the daughter of the Marquis of Shen. The Marquis of Shen united with the western state of Inu Rong to attack King Zeng. In 771 B.C., the Injuns killed King You under Mount Li and took the opportunity to plunder a large amount of treasures. The Western Zhou Dynasty fell. With the help of the lords, Yisu ascended to the throne as King Ping and moved the capital to Luoyi in the following year, from then on, history entered the Eastern Zhou period.
After the death of King You, the Marquis of Shen, the Marquis of Lu and the Duke of Xu established the original prince Yishu in Shen, while the Duke of Guo Han established another prince, Yuchen, in Carry, forming two kings side by side. Yishu moved the capital to Luoyi to avoid the Injun, and became King Ping of Zhou. The Eastern Zhou was established. In the eleventh year of King Ping, Yu Chen was killed by the Marquis of Jin in the twenty-first year of his reign (760 BC).