The National People’s Rebellion


The National People’s Rebellion, also known as the Pig Rebellion, was an uprising of the common people in the four suburbs of the capital city of Haojing during the Western Zhou period in China. The name of the people of the country was a generic term for the people living in the capital city during the Western Zhou and Spring and Autumn periods.


King Li of the Zhou Dynasty was greedy for money and profit, and did everything he could to rape the people. A minister called Duke Rong Yi instigated the king to impose a “patent” (state monopoly) on the produce of the mountains, forests, rivers and ponds, which was directly controlled by the emperor, and forbade the commoners (the state people) from entering the mountains, forests and rivers to make a living. The king was so pleased that he ignored the advice of his ministers and the opposition of the commoners and implemented the “patent” policy.

The commoners were cut off from their livelihood, and they cursed and complained. King Li sent a sycophant, Wei Wu, to spy on the people and arrested and killed many of them who were dissatisfied with the “patent” policy. Later, even those who had not complained were also killed. As a result of the king’s oppressive policy, friends and relatives did not dare to greet each other on the road, and could only greet each other with a glance (road by road), making the city dead. But King Li still thought he had it all worked out and said smugly, “I have my own way of making the people not dare to slander me.” His minister, Duke Zhaomu, admonished him, “Blocking the people’s mouths in this way is like blocking a river. If the river breaks, it will cause a catastrophe; if the people’s mouth is blocked, it will cause far more harm than the river (preventing the people’s mouth is better than preventing the river). The water should be regulated by draining the river, and the people should be allowed to speak freely, and then adopt the good advice. In this way, there will be fewer mistakes in the handling of state affairs by the Son of Heaven.” Hearing this, King Li said, “I am the Son of Heaven, and the ignorant and foolish people can only obey my orders, so how can I let them talk freely?” He was still bent on tyranny.


One day in 841 BC, the people of the country assembled in the four suburbs of the capital, armed with wooden sticks and farming tools, and pounced on the royal palace from all sides, demanding to pay their blood debt to King Li of Zhou. Hearing the angry cries from far and near, King Li ordered his troops to suppress them. But surprisingly, no soldiers would obey his orders. The courtiers replied, “Our Zhou dynasty has put soldiers in the peasants, and all the soldiers come from peasant backgrounds, while the peasants feed the Zhou soldiers. Now that even the peasants have rioted, who else could you have marshalled?” The king knew that disaster was coming, so he fled the capital on foot with his family and fled day and night along the Wei River to the north-east, away from the capital, where he built a house. The riot was known as the “Pig Rebellion”.

The result

The people of the capital were persuaded by their ministers, Duke Ding and Duke Zhaomu, to calm down their grievances and leave. The Duke of Zhou and the Duke of Zhaomu were elected by the nobles to temporarily act as the government, and the six ministers were to discuss important matters. This system of government was called a republic (one says that the ruler of the Commonwealth, Gong Bo He, acted as the son of Heaven). It was known as the “Zhou Zhaogui” or “Republican Administration”. It was only when King Xuan of Zhou succeeded to the throne that the chaos of the Zhou Dynasty came to an end.

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