Duke Ding of Zhou

Character profile

Duke Ding of Zhou, a native of Zhoucheng (Fengxiang County, Shaanxi Province), was the ruler of Zhou during the Western Zhou Dynasty. In 841 BC, King Li of Zhou became a tyrant and caused a riot in the country. When King Li fled, Duke Ding of Zhou, together with Duke Zhaomu, presided over the government, which became known as the Zhou Zhaogu Republic. Fourteen years later, King Li died in the land of swine, and Prince Xuan became King of Zhou, bringing an end to the republican administration.


There are many records of the Duke of Zhou during the period when he presided over the dynasty together, but there are very few records of the Duke of Zhou, whose name is Ji Nose.

Successive rulers of the Zhou Dynasty

During the reign of King Wu of the Zhou Dynasty, the Duke of Zhou was appointed as a vassal in the East, but he did not go to the land of Lu. He was called the Duke of Zhou by his own name and by his descendants, as his cemetery was in Zhou.

When Sima Qian wrote his “Records of the Grand Historian”, he wrote a “Family of the Duke of Zhou” for the Duke of Zhou and his descendants. However, the lineage of Duke Ping of Zhou (the second son of Duke Wen of Zhou) is not recorded in detail, but that of Duke Bo Zu (the eldest son of Duke Wen of Zhou).

The Zhou Zhaogu Republic

The republican administration, also known as the Zhouzhao republic, was the result of an uprising by the people of the state, who stormed the palace and fled, leaving the regime in the hands of the ministers Zhou Ding Gong and Zhaomu Gong. The first year of the republic, 841 BC, is the beginning of Chinese history with a precise chronology.

The republican administration is an important event in Chinese history, especially in chronicle history. It was from the beginning of the republican administration that Chinese history was given a precise chronology, which has continued uninterrupted for thousands of years, and which is an important beginning to ensure the continuity 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, or 841 BCE.

In more recent times, and in conjunction with the Bamboo Annals and other documents, the idea that the ‘Republic’ was a man named ‘Gongbohe’ has gradually become the dominant view.


The reign of the Zhou dynasty reached its peak after King Mu of the Zhou Dynasty, and the reign of King Li of the Zhou Dynasty came to an end in 878 BC. During his reign, the people were unhappy, yet the nobles continued to indulge in drinking. In 844 BC, in order to amass more wealth to spend, King Li appointed Duke Guo Changfu and Duke Rong Yi to impose a “patent”: forcing the wealth of the mountains, forests and rivers to be owned by the king, and forbidding the commoners to enter the land for woodcutting, fishing and hunting. This offended the interests of all sectors of society and there were widespread complaints. The king refused to accept Rui Liangfu’s advice and promoted the Duke of Rong Yi to the position of minister and continued to enforce the patent. As a result, the nation was outraged, and there were people in the streets and in the alleys to air their grievances. The king brought in a sorcerer from the state of Wei and asked him to use sorcery to watch over the disgruntled people who spoke “slanderous words” and to tell the king that anyone who spoke privately about the government would be killed without mercy. The sorcerer of Wei pretended to be a god. Many people died as a result of the slander. As a result, people no longer dared to speak in public, and they could only greet each other with their eyes when they met on the road. King Li thought he had removed the slander of the people. Zhaomu was convinced that “preventing the people’s mouths is more important than preventing the river”, and that once the mouths were broken, they would be unmanageable. He argued for a wide range of opinions to be expressed by all kinds of people, from the officials to the peasants. However, King Li turned a deaf ear to this and was bent on having his own way. Within three years, the people of the state could not stand it any longer, and in 841 BC, the people rioted and the king was forced to flee to Pig (Huozhou, Shanxi). The prince hid in the house of Duke Zhaomu, who was surrounded by the people and replaced him with his own son, who was able to escape. The king fled to Pig, which is known as the “Pig Rebellion”.

The process

After King Li’s flight to Pig, the Duke of Wei Wu, a vassal of the eastern part of the Zhou Dynasty, arrived at the capital of Hao with his troops. The lord of the Zhou dynasty, Zhaogong Hu, asked the Duke of Wei Wu to temporarily rule on behalf of King Li’s former ministers, while he and another minister, the Duke of Zhou (a descendant of Zhou Gong Dan), formed a council of slave-owning nobles to assist in the administration. The first year of the republic, 841 B.C., is the beginning of the exact chronology of China’s extant history.

In the 14th year of the republic (828 BC), King Li of the Zhou Dynasty died in a pig, and the following year, Prince Jing reigned as King Xuan of the Zhou Dynasty, bringing the republican era to an end. The Chinese historian Sima Qian began dating the first year of the republican administration, 841 BC, in The Records of the Grand Historian of the Han Dynasty. This gave the history of China an exact chronology. According to the traditional Chinese chronology, the history of China’s Middle Kingdom has had a continuous chronological system since the republican period.


The Zhou dynasty’s central authority was in a state of turmoil after the national uprising, and the throne was left in limbo for fourteen years, during which time the Zhou administration and the vassal kingship existed side by side in the Central Plains. This chaotic state of affairs lasted until the reign of King Xuan of Zhou, who was once again the common master of the world. He was not the eldest son of King Li, and his ascension to the throne was the result of the chaos of the republican period.


King Li of Zhou ran away while the republican administration was in place. The first year of the republic, 841 BC, marks the beginning of the exact chronology of Chinese history. Prior to this date, there is no exact written year, and the year can only be inferred from archaeological artefacts, which are very vague.

The Second Phase Republic

The official history, led by the Records of the Grand Historian, states that the Duke of Zhou and the Duke of Zhaogong ruled together. The Duke of Zhou was posthumous, and his name was Hu, i.e., Zao Hu. As for this Duke of Zhou, the Modern Bamboo Book of Chronicles, which was denounced by Qing scholars as a forgery, says that he was the Duke of Zhou Ding.

Gongbo’s interference with the government

According to other histories such as the Bamboo Book of Chronicles and the Shi Ben, the republican administration was the intervention of Gong Bo He on the throne, regulating the affairs of the Son of Heaven. One says that Gong Bo He was the monarch of the state of Wei, Duke Wei Wu. During the reign of King Li of Zhou, Duke Wei Wu entered the court. One says that Gong Bohe was not the Duke of Wei.

In the Hanshu – Geography – He’nei County, Meng Kang notes that ‘Gong Bo was the one who entered the throne as a third duke’, while the Yi inscriptions suggest that Gong Bo He would have served as a ‘teacher’ first, and then as a ‘third duke’. The inscriptions on the Yi Yi inscriptions suggest that Gong Bo He would have held the position of “teacher” first, and then the position of “three gongs”. The inscriptions on the Yi Tripod of the First Year include the words “Shi He Father was the master of the left and right horses”, and experts believe that this “Shi He Father” was Gong Bo He. The later “Shi Chen Ding”, “Shi Yu Gui”, “Jian Gui” and “Wei Shi Gui” are recorded as “Sima Gong”, which is presumably the same as Gong Bohe after his promotion to the post of secretary. According to the Yi inscriptions, the promotion must have taken place between the third and fifth years of the reign of King Li of Zhou. The inscription on the Gui (詈犬) reads, “But in the first month of the first year, the first month of the first month, Dinghai, Bohe’s father ……”. The date of the first auspiciousness of the first month of the first year of the republican era is the first auspiciousness of the first six days of the first month of the first month of the first year of the republican era.

The problem of chronology

In 2003, when a bronze gui plate was unearthed in Yangjia Village, Meixian County, Shaanxi Province, its inscription indicated that King Li of the Zhou was followed by King Xuan of the Zhou, and that the republican period was not independently dated, thus reigniting the debate on the republic.


The republican administration was a major event in history, and the first year of the republic was the beginning of a precise chronology of Chinese history, which was of great significance as it created an accurate chronology of Chinese history that has been recorded without interruption ever since. It is this event that can be traced back several thousand years without confusion. Prior to this, Chinese history was only legendary and half-believed, with a very vague chronology that could only be traced through archaeological artefacts, which were not accurate enough. This is why the republican administration was such an important milestone in the history of China.

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