King Cheng of Zhou

King Cheng of Zhou, Ji Chant (? -He was the second ruler of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

When King Cheng succeeded to the throne, he was still young and was ruled by his uncle Zhou Gongdan, who pacified the rebellion of the Three Supervisors. After the reign of King Cheng, he built the new capital of Cheng Zhou, built a new residence in China, and feuded with lords. He also 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 1021 B.C., he died due to illness and reigned for 22 years. During the reign of King Cheng and his son, King Kang, there was social stability and harmony among the people, and “the punishment was not used for more than 40 years”.


The Duke of Zhou

When King Wu of Zhou died two years after conquering Yin and Shang, Ji Zhan was appointed as the Lord of Cheng. Since King Cheng was young and the world had just been settled, his uncle, the Duke of Zhou, was afraid that the vassals would rebel against Zhou, so he took charge of the world himself.

When the Duke of Zhou was in the position of the Son of Heaven, he aroused the suspicion of his brothers, including Guan Shu and Cai Shu, so Guan and Cai joined hands with Wu Geng to start a rebellion and betrayed the Zhou dynasty. On the order of King Cheng, the Duke of Zhou put down the rebellion, killed Wu Geng and Guan Shu, and exiled Cai Shu. Wei Zi Kai inherited the heir of the Yin dynasty and established a state in the land of Song. He also collected all the remnants of the Yin dynasty and gave them to King Wu’s youngest brother Feng, making him Wei Kang Shu. Jin Tang Shu got a kind of grain with two seedlings with the same ears and offered it to King Cheng. King Cheng in turn presented it to the Duke of Zhou who was far away in the military camp. The Duke of Zhou accepted the rice grain in the east and extolled the holy command of the Son of Heaven to give the grain.

In the sixth year of his regency, the Duke of Zhou made rites and music, issued measurements, and the world was greatly convinced. In the seventh year of the Duke of Zhou’s regency, King Cheng was old enough to take charge of the government, so the Duke of Zhou returned the government to King Cheng and took the position of minister in the north.

King Cheng, in recognition of the Duke of Zhou’s merits in ruling the world, assigned the Duke of Zhou to Qufu, a place with a circle of 700 miles and a thousand carriages. He also ordered the later Duke of Lu to worship the Duke of Zhou with the rituals of the Son of Heaven.

The Duke of Zhou’s administration

King Cheng trampled on Am

In the middle of Shang Dynasty, Shang kings Nanggeng and Yangjia had their capitals in Am, and moved their capitals to other places only when Pangeng was in the middle of Shang Dynasty, and Am retained a large number of Shang Dynasty people and gradually developed into a powerful state in the East, and was called “Shang Am” by many historical sources because of its close relationship with Shang.

After the outbreak of the “Three Supervisors’ Rebellion”, Guan Shu, Cai Shu and Wu Geng Lu father, the son of Yin Zhou, who were originally feuded in the old land of Yin Shang, rebelled and were supported by small eastern states such as Xu, Am and Bo Gu. According to historical records, the king of Am, Bo Gu, advised Lu Fu at that time, “King Wu has just died, King Cheng is young, the Duke of Zhou is suspected by the world, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, please take up the cause!” The rebellion was so influential that King Cheng ordered the Duke of Zhou to transfer his army to the east, and “rescued the rebellion in one year, defeated Yin in two years, and trampled on Am in three years” before he was able to put down the rebellion. The main protagonist of the rebellion, Wu Geng, was killed, Guan Shu committed suicide, Cai Shu was captured, and the state of Am was destroyed and its ruler was moved to Pugu (near Qingzhou, Shandong Province).

Construction of Luoyi

After the rebellion against the “Three Supervisors”, King Cheng of Zhou started to follow King Wu’s wish to build a new capital city in “Tuzhong”, where “there is a summer residence”, to manage the vast territory in the east. King Cheng first sent his eunuch Zhaogong to Luoyi to inspect the terrain and plan the location of the capital. He traveled for half a month and arrived at Luoyi on the fifth day of the third month. On the seventh day of the first month, Duke Zhaogong instructed the Yin people to plan the location of the city, the palace, the suburbs, the temples and the market on the north bank of the Luo River.

On the next day, the Duke of Zhou arrived at Luo Yi, inspected the new town, and made a divination that the new town was to be built between the east of Jianshui and west of Chanshui, and on the shore of Luo water east of Chanshui. Then the Duke of Zhou presented the map of Luoyi and the signs of divination to King Cheng, who approved of them, and on the 14th and 15th day, he killed cows, sheep, pigs and other sacrifices and built a temple in Xinyi to worship the earth. After another seven days, the Duke of Zhou issued an order to all the vassals and the people of Yin, and then ordered the people of Yin to start building the city in a big way.

Soon afterwards, King Cheng of Zhou came to Luo Yi, and Duke Zhaogong ordered all the lords to come and congratulate him, and offered gifts such as jade jangles and big bows to the Duke of Zhou and King Cheng. The Duke of Zhaogong offered a speech to King Cheng and admonished him to live up to the trust of heaven and not to ruin the achievements of his predecessor, who, though young, was the head of the state and hoped to make peace with the people. Now that King Cheng has moved his residence to Tuzhong (Luoyi) and is personally in charge of the imperial government, he should be more respectful, honor virtue, and practice virtue and teaching. Lord Zhaogong said, “Heaven will give wisdom, good fortune, and the duration of the kingdom according to the virtues of the emperor. Since my king has just taken over the new capital, it is all the more important for him to honor virtue and pray to heaven for a permanent mission to govern the world. I am leading the rulers of all the states to congratulate the king, not to console him, but to offer gifts and sacrifices to heaven, so that the throne may be passed on from generation to generation for an indefinite period of time.”

King Cheng of Zhou said to Duke Zhaoge, “I am still young and need your assistance. I hope that you will carry forward your great and glorious virtues, so that I will succeed the cause of King Wen and King Wu, answer the teachings of God, make the people of the four directions happy, set the capital at Luo Shi, hold grand ceremonies, and conduct the grand sacrifices, all in an orderly manner. Your virtue shines brightly in heaven and earth, and your diligence is applied in all directions, and your good government is carried out universally, and you are not confused in spite of the rebellious events. The civil and military officials are working hard to carry out your teachings, and I, a young man, will carry out the rituals carefully in the morning and at night.”

Building of Luo Yi

The Residence of China

In the fourth month of the fifth year of King Cheng’s reign, King Cheng of the Zhou Dynasty made a sacrifice to King Wu in the great chamber of the capital palace, and gave a lecture to the clan boy He, saying, “He’s forefather, the Gong, followed King Wen, who ruled the world by the great order of heaven. After King Wu had destroyed Shang, he told Heaven that he would use Luo Yi as the center of the world and rule the people. You descendants should remember the shade and blessings of your ancestors.” King Cheng of Zhou then rewarded He Bei with thirty peons.

In the second month of the seventh year of King Cheng, King Cheng of Zhou sent his tai-po Zhaogong to visit Luoyi and in the third month he sent the Duke of Zhou to Cheng Zhou to divine an auspicious day to move his house.

When the ceremony was held in Luoyi, the Duke of Zhou said, “The new capital of Luoyi has been established, and it will be the place where you will be the first ruler of all the people. There, for the first time, you will perform solemn ceremonies and hold sacrificial ceremonies in Luoyi, and all this has been arranged in an orderly manner.” King Cheng said, “You have diligently assisted me as a young man, instructed me to carry forward the merits of King Wen and King Wu, to answer the command of Heaven, to make peace with all the people, to live in Luoyi, and to hold a great ceremony. I have obeyed your teachings without fail.”

After the congratulatory ceremony, King Cheng led all the court officials and the rulers of all the states to hold a winter festival in Luoyi on the 12th day of the 12th month in the seventh year of the reign of the Duke of Zhou. On the first day of the first month of the following year, King Cheng took office and offered sacrifices at the temples of King Wen and King Wu with the rituals of the imperial court to report the important events of the succession. A red bull was offered at each of the temples of King Wen and King Wu. King Cheng entered the Imperial Temple and offered wine to the spirits of the previous kings. At this point, King Cheng completed the great ceremony of moving the capital and taking over the throne.

In the 1960s, the “He Zun inscription” unearthed in Shaanxi Province clearly recorded that King Cheng had moved his residence to Luoyi, with the phrases “moved his residence to Cheng Zhou” and “built his residence in China, since it was a place for the people”. The phrase “moved his residence to Chengzou” and “from the residence to China, to mow down the people” is a record of the history of King Cheng’s moving his residence to Chengzou (Luoyi). The ancient people called Luoyang as China, meaning the middle of the world, where the Zhou dynasty established its new capital to facilitate the rule of the people.

After King Cheng took power, the Duke of Zhou wrote a word of caution, “Shang Shu – Wu Yi”, which was a warning to King Cheng not to pursue enjoyment excessively, and that unrestrained play, frolic, alcoholism and field hunting would be detrimental to both the state and his body.

The Meeting of Cheng and Zhou

In the seventh year of King Cheng of the Zhou Dynasty, the painstaking construction of Luo Yi was announced to be completed, and immediately afterwards, on the ground that “the tributes from all directions were evenly distributed in the road”, it was decided to make Luo Yi the new capital, which was called “Xin Yi” in history, and promulgated the “Zhaogu” and “Luogu”, and held a grand assembly of vassals for this purpose. This was the first time in the history of the Zhou dynasty that all the lords and vassals were allied together after the reign of King Cheng of Zhou, and it was also the first time in the history of the Zhou dynasty that all the lords and vassals presented their artifacts to the royal family. History says that this event to review the lords was on a grand scale. The altar was hung with a red tent and decorated with black feathers. King Cheng, the son of Heaven, was facing south, with no pendant beads on his crown, eight colored court dresses, and a large kyu at his waist. Tang Shu and Xian Shu were on the left, and Duke of Zhou and Taigongwang were on the right. They all had crowns without pendants and seven-colored uniforms, and all had wattles at their waists, standing on the altar near the Son of Heaven.

The Reign of Chengkang

When King Cheng was dying, he was worried that Prince Ji Zhao would not be able to handle the affairs of state, so he ordered Duke Zhaogong and Duke Bi to lead the vassals to assist the Prince to ascend to the throne. After the death of King Cheng, Duke Zhaogong and Duke Bi led the lords to take Prince Zhao to visit the ancestral temple of the previous king, and warned the prince repeatedly about the hardships of King Wen and King Wu in starting the Zhou dynasty, telling him to be frugal, to abstain from greed, and to concentrate on the affairs of state. Prince Zhao then ascended to the throne, and this was King Kang. When King Kang assumed the throne, he informed all the lords of the world and announced to them the achievements of King Wen and King Wu, and repeatedly explained them and wrote down the “Kangzhao” (King Kang’s enjoining). Therefore, during the reign of King Cheng and King Kang, the world was peaceful and all the punishments were set aside and were not used for forty years, which is called “the reign of Cheng and Kang”.

Character Evaluation

General Comments

King Cheng of Zhou was the second ruler of Zhou after the establishment of the unified feudal regime. During his reign, he completed a series of conquests against the eastern kingdoms and consolidated the rule of Zhou in the East. In addition, he inherited the legacy of King Wu and made an outstanding contribution to the consolidation of the early Zhou regime with the assistance of the Duke of Zhou.

In the historical wall plates and lei plates of the Western Zhou Dynasty, King Cheng is considered to be a “constitutional and saintly” ruler who was capable of ruling over the four directions and was able to combine rigidity and flexibility.

Historical Evaluation

Cao Zhi: “King Cheng succeeded Wu and was a sage and a protector. Although he was naive, he had a good sense of weight. At first he was suspicious of the Duke of Zhou, but eventually he was able to wake up. Dan and Suk ruled, but they made mistakes in punishment.”

Fan Ye, “Book of the Later Han Dynasty”: “Gao Zong and Cheng Wang had the change of pheasant pheasant and swift wind, but did not have the merit of prosperity and peace.”

Fang Xuanling, “Book of Jin”: “and King Cheng is the prince, it is Zhou Zhaofu, history anonymous Zhao article, so can hear the way early prepared, to the Chong great career, the penal measures do not need, the flow of sound overflowing.”

Political initiatives

During the reign of King Cheng of Zhou, he feuded vassals and strengthened the power of patriarchal rule. Internally, he implemented the idea of “virtue and prudence in punishment” of the Duke of Zhou, and was frugal in order to alleviate class conflicts; externally, he constantly attacked the Huaiyi and controlled the minority areas in the East by force, and achieved great victories. In addition, he ordered the Duke of Zhou to make rites and music and to plan various rules and regulations, laying the foundation of the Western Zhou Dynasty. During the reign of King Cheng, there was social stability and harmony among the people, and there were many songs praising the peaceful and prosperous world.

When King Cheng fell ill, he was worried that his son Ji Zhao was not capable of handling the affairs of state, so he ordered Duke Zhaogong and Bi Gong to assist him. Soon after, Ji Chant died and Ji Zhao succeeded to the throne as King Kang of Zhou. Zhaogong and Bi Gong led the lords to accompany Ji Zhao to the ancestral temple and told King Kang about the hardships of King Wen and King Wu, admonishing him to be frugal and diligent in government and the foundation of the first. During his reign, Ji Zhao constantly attacked the minority groups in various parts of the southeast, plundered slaves and land, and distributed rewards to vassals and dafu.

The reign of King Cheng and his son King Kang was known as the reign of Chengkang, which was the prosperous period of the Zhou Dynasty. Later generations evaluated the achievements of King Cheng and his son, King Kang, by the term “the reign of Cheng Kang”, which was described as a period of peace and tranquility, with no punishment for more than 40 years. Therefore, during the 22 years of his reign and the 25 years of his son King Kang’s reign, the Zhou Dynasty was peaceful and the people lived and worked in peace and contentment, making it a prosperous period of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

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