Zhao Hu was a native of Qizhou (now Qishan in Shaanxi) with the surname Ji. His posthumous name was Mu, hence the name Zhao Mu Gong. He was a descendant of the second son of Zhao Gong Shi, a politician and military man during the Western Zhou Dynasty.
At that time, King Li of Zhou was tyrannical and tyrannical. Zhao Hu advised him many times not to impose heavy taxes, not to ignore the people’s grievances and not to block the people’s speech, but he did not comply. In the end, the people of the country rioted. Zhao Hu hid the prince and sacrificed his son, who was then able to escape.
After King Li’s flight, Duke Zhaomu ruled with Duke Ding of Zhou, and the history of the Zhou Zhaogu Republic began, starting the chronicle of Chinese history. Later, he installed King Xuan of Zhou on the throne and assisted him with all his might. He conquered the Huaiyis and opened up the territory, which led to the poem “The Shade of the River and Han”, in which the king ordered Zhaogu to open up the four directions and to explore my territory.
Zhaohu and Fang Shu were both pillars of the renaissance of King Xuan, and they were often referred to together as “Fang Zhaoh” as representatives of important and famous generals.
Opposition to harsh taxes
King Li of Zhou was a tyrannical and lavish king. In order to maintain his lavish lifestyle, the king decided to increase taxes. He ordered that a “patent” tax be levied on many products. Both the king and the common people had to pay taxes if they collected medicine, mined, smelted, cut wood, grazed, caught fish and shrimps, or shot birds and animals. Even drinking water from the well or crossing the city gates was taxable.
Zhaohu opposed the harsh taxation policy of King Li of Zhou. So Zhao Hu wrote a poem called “Da Ya – People’s Labour”: “The people are really suffering too much, but they want a little peace and prosperity. I love the people of the capital, and pacify the vassals and settle the four directions. Do not indulge in deceit and trickery; beware of villainy. Stop plundering and brutality, fear no evil. Love the people from far and near, protect our country and protect our king. The people have suffered too much, but they want a little rest. Love the people of the capital, so that they may gather together. Don’t let them cheat or deceive, but beware of evil men. Stop the plundering and atrocities, so that the people do not suffer. Do not forsake your previous achievements, but work harder so that the king may be blessed. The people are suffering too much, but they want to be able to breathe. Love the people of the capital and pacify the four corners of the earth. Don’t tolerate deceit and deception, but be wary of the villain. Stop plunder and violence, let no evil rise. Be cautious in your manners, and keep yourself close to the virtuous. The people are suffering too much, but they need a break. Love the people of the capital, and give vent to their sorrows. Do not indulge in deceitfulness, but guard against evil. Stop the plundering and atrocities, and do not let the state change for the worse. Although you are young and have little experience, your role is very special. The people are suffering too much, but they want to be comfortable. Love the people of the capital, and the country will be stable and free from cruelty. Don’t let deceit and deception go unchecked, and don’t be negligent in your attempts to curry favour with villains. Stop the plundering and atrocities and don’t let the regime be overthrown. I love your king with all my heart and advise him to help.” But King Li of Zhou did not listen, and continued to carry out his duties.
A lesson to be learnt
After King Li imposed the patent tax, the people’s lives were made even worse and their discontent was so great that there was a song that went around at the time: “The rats and mice do not eat my millet. The three years of age of the rat, no one is willing to take care of it. I will leave thee for a happy land.” The situation was becoming increasingly critical.
Seeing that the situation was critical, Zhao Hu advised King Li of Zhou, “Your Majesty, the people can’t stand it any longer, and if the ‘patent’ law is not abolished, there will rarely be any unrest!” So Zhao Hu wrote Danya – Dang, a work in which he advised King Li of Zhou under the guise of the words of King Wen of Zhou lamenting the impiety of King Zhou of Yin. The work reads, “God is arrogant and debauched; he is the king of the lower people. God is greedy and tyrannical, and his government is too perverse. God is greedy and tyrannical, and his decrees are so perverse. All things well said at the beginning rarely end well. King Wen opened his mouth and sighed longingly at the last king of Yin Shang! How many fierce and powerful thieves, who sucked the marrow from the bones and embezzled the spoils, who stole high positions and enjoyed great riches, and who were too powerful to be ruthless. These unscrupulous officials have been sent down from heaven to help the king to be strong and powerful. King Wen opened his mouth and sighed longingly at you, the last king of Yin Shang! You have made a good man of your position, but you are a fierce and treacherous man. You have slandered and slandered, and you have stolen from the court. You have cursed the virtuous and the loyal, and you have caused no end of misfortune. King Wen speaks with a long sigh, sighing at you, the last king of Yin Shang! You are too arrogant to dominate the world, but you treat the wicked as if they were loyal. You do not have the knowledge of others, but you do not know that traitors form cliques. You do not have the knowledge of others, but you do not know who can be a public official. King Wen opened his mouth and sighed long and hard, sighing that you were the last king of the Shang! God has not let you drink. Nor have you been allowed to use bandits. You have no regard for manners, and you have been pouring yellow soup day and night. You are shouting and shouting like a madman, and your government is in disarray day and night. King Wen opened his mouth with a long sigh, sighing at you, the last king of Yin Shang! The people lamented like cicadas, as if they had fallen into boiling water. You are still the same, even though all things have gone wrong. The people are angry, and their anger spreads far and wide. King Wen opened his mouth and sighed long and loud, sighing at you, the last king of Yin Shang! It is not that God’s heart is not good, but that you do not keep the old rules. Although there are no old ministers around, there are still established laws to follow. If you do not listen to the advice of others, your fate will change and your country will die. King Wen speaks with a long sigh, sighing at you, the last king of Yin Shang! There is a saying from the ancients that must not be forgotten. The roots of a great tree may not be harmed for a while, but the roots of the tree are broken and will not last long. The lessons of the Yin Shang are not far away, and you should know what happened to the Xia Jie.” When King Li heard Zhao Hu’s advice, he was furious.
In the thirty-fourth year of King Li’s reign (845 B.C.), King Li found a sorcerer from the state of Wei and sent him to spy secretly on anyone who dared to accuse him. Once the sorcerer had denounced him, he was killed across the board. No one in the state dared to speak freely anymore, and when they met each other on the road, they showed them with their eyes.
Opposition to stopping slander
King Li of Zhou was so pleased with himself that he told Zhao Hu, “I have been able to stop the slander, and the people no longer dare to say anything.” Zhao Hu said, “You can only stop the people’s mouths by doing this. But blocking the people’s mouths is worse than blocking the river. If a river is blocked and causes a breach, it will hurt many people. If you block the mouths of the people, the consequences will be the same. Therefore, he who governs the water can only unblock the river and make it flow freely, and he who governs the people can only enlighten them and let them speak freely. Therefore, when the Son of Heaven was dealing with affairs of state, he had the three princes and nine ministers and officials at all levels offer satirical poems, the musicians offer folk music, the historians offer historical texts of reference, the young masters recite aphorisms, the blind without eyes recite poems, the blind with eyes recite sarcastic advice, the workers in charge of construction matters offer advice, the commoners convey their opinions to the king, the ministers in close attendance do their best to advise, and the king’s fellow clerics make amends and monitor the king’s mistakes. The musicians and historians gave the king advice in the form of musical songs and historical texts, and the old and respected masters further admonished him. In this way, the government of the country was carried out without going against common sense. The people have a mouth, just as the land has mountains and waters, by which the material wealth of society is produced; and just as the highlands and lowlands have flat and fertile fields, by which the food and clothing of mankind are produced. When the people speak out, the successes and failures of government are revealed. This is the way to increase the wealth of food and clothing: to do what people think is good, and to prevent what they think is wrong. How can we stop the people from expressing their innermost thoughts? How many people would agree with the people if they were forced to gag them?”
King Li of Zhou did not listen to Zhao Hu’s advice, so the people no longer dared to speak.
Hiding the Prince
In the thirty-seventh year of King Li’s reign (842 B.C.), the people of the kingdom were dissatisfied with the tyranny of King Li, and the people of the kingdom in Haojing (present-day Xi’an, Shaanxi) gathered together and besieged the palace with weapons to kill him. King Li fled from his palace and fled along the Wei River to Pig (modern Huozhou, Shanxi).
When the people entered the palace, they failed to find King Li and turned to Prince Jing. When Zhao Hu hid the prince, the people surrounded Zhao Hu’s house and demanded that he hand over the prince. Zhaohu said, “Earlier I advised the king many times, but the king did not listen to me, so that he suffered such a disaster. If the crown prince is killed now, the king will think that I killed him out of anger, right? As a minister, one should not be resentful even when in danger; even if one is resentful, one should not be angry, let alone when serving the Son of Heaven.” Zhao Hu summoned his own son to take the place of Prince Jing to deal with the crowd, and Prince Jing was able to escape from the danger.
The Republican Administration
In the first year of the Republic (841 B.C.), after the riots in the country had subsided, Duke Zhaomu and Zhou Dingpu took charge of the state together and called it the “Republic”. This is often referred to as the “Republican Administration” or the “Zhou Zhaogu Republic” in later history books.
The Duke of Zhou and Duke Zhaomu ordered the chronology of historical events. The first year of the republic (841 BC) was the beginning of a precise chronology of Chinese history.
According to The Records of the Grand Historian, Volume 14, The Second Chronology of the Twelve Vassals, the first year of the Republic was the year Geng Shen, 841 BC.
Establishment of King Xuan
In the 14th year of the Republic (828 BC), King Li of Zhou died in the state of Swine, and Prince Jing had already grown up in the household of Duke Zhaomu. The Duke of Zhaomu and the Duke of Zhou then jointly installed Prince Jing as the successor to King Xuan of Zhou.
The Southern Song dynasty book of historical evidence, The Chronicle of a Troubled Learning, mentions: “The task of the cataract archaeologist is also, in my humble opinion, to keep secret from the ruler the changes of calamities and the events of danger and death. The Great Historian was to be informed by a book to the ruler, summoning the Duke of Mu to offer a book to the so-called Shi.”
The Conquest of Huaiyi
In the fifth year of King Xuan of Zhou (824 BC), Fang Shu invaded Chu and eventually, he defeated the state and forced it to submit.
In the sixth year of King Xuan’s reign (823 BC), in the month of Yihai (no earlier than 8 November and no later than 8 December), Duke Zhaomu led an expedition to conquer Huaiyi. The Yangtze River and the Han River were rolling with waves, and the soldiers were in high spirits. Not for comfort, not for pleasure, but to conquer the Huaiyi. Chariots of soldiers are already out on the road ahead, and colourful banners are raised to meet the wind like pictures. Not for ease, not for comfort, the town is caressing the Huai-yi and running to the frontier. The Yangtze River and the Han River were in full swing as King Xuanhu of Zhou issued an order to Zhaohu: “Open up the four directions and expand the territory of my Great Zhou!” Zhaohu led his army to conquer, without disturbing the people or making haste, and managed the frontiers and took care of the world in accordance with the government and religion of the dynasty. The Huai Yi were pacified and many countries submitted to the Western Zhou, and their territories reached the shores of the South China Sea.
King Xuan of Zhou ordered Zhao Hu to conduct a tour of the territory and to preach and teach! Civil servants and military generals were all subject to his orders. Zhao Hu became an important minister in the defence of his country.
Zhao Hu returned to the court to thank and praise the Emperor’s wishes. A commemorative “Zhaomu Gong Gui” was made to commemorate his achievements in conquering the Huaiyi. Zhaogu pays tribute to the Son of Heaven for his longevity!