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Zhou Dynasty

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Alternative meaning: Zhou Dynasty (690 CE - 705 CE)
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The Zhou Dynasty (周朝; Wade-Giles: Chou Dynasty) (late 10th century BC to late 9th century BC - 256 BC) followed the Shang (Yin) Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty in China. The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other in Chinese history.

In the Chinese historical tradition, the rulers of the Zhou displaced the Yin and legitimized their rule by invoking the Mandate of Heaven, the notion that the ruler (the "son of heaven") governed by divine right but that his dethronement would prove that he had lost the mandate. The Mandate of Heaven established the Zhou's assumed divine ancestor, the Tian-Huang-Shangdi, above the Shang's divine ancestor, the Shangdi. The doctrine explained and justified the demise of the Xia and Shang and at the same time supported the legitimacy of present and future rulers. The Zhou dynasty was founded by the Ji family and had its capital at Hao (near the present-day city of Xi'an). Sharing the language and culture of the Shang (Yin), the early Zhou rulers, through conquest and colonization, gradually sinicized, that is, extended Shang (Yin) culture through much of China Proper north of the Yangtze River.

Missing image
China_2a.jpg
Western Zhou civilization.

In Western historiography, feudal has often been applied to the Zhou period because the Zhou's early decentralized rule invites comparison with medieval rule in Europe. However, historians debate the meaning of the term feudal; the more appropriate term for the Zhou Dynasty's political arrangement would be from the Chinese language itself: the Fengjian system. The Zhou amalgam of city-states became progressively centralized and established increasingly impersonal political and economic institutions. These developments, which probably occurred in the latter Zhou period, were manifested in greater central control over local governments and a more routinized agrarian taxation. In Chinese Marxist historiography, the Zhou dynasty marks the beginning of the feudal phase of Chinese history, a period which is said to extend to the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911.

Initially the Ji family was able to control the country firmly. In 771 BC, after King You had replaced his queen with a concubine Baosi, the capital was then sacked by the joint force of the queen's father, who was the powerful Marquess of Shen, and the barbarians. The queen's son Ji Yijiu was proclaimed the new king by the nobles from the states of Zheng, Lu, Qin and the Marquess of Shen. The capital was moved eastward in 722 BC to Luoyang in present-day Henan Province.

Because of this shift, historians divide the Zhou era into Western Zhou (西周, pinyin Xī Zhōu) from late 10th century BC to late 9th century up until 771 BC and Eastern Zhou (Traditional Chinese: 東周 Simplified Chinese: 东周, pinyin: Dōng Zhōu) from 770 up to 221 BC. The beginning year of Western Zhou has been disputed - 1122 BC, 1027 BC and other years within the hundred years from late 12th century BC to late 11th century BC have been proposed. Chinese historiographers take 841 BC as the first year of consecutive annual dating of the history of China, based on the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian. Eastern Zhou divides into two subperiods. The first, from 722 to 481 BC, is called the Spring and Autumn Period, after a famous historical chronicle of the time; the second is known as the Warring States Period.

With the royal line broken, the power of the Zhou court gradually diminished; the fragmentation of the kingdom accelerated. From Ping Wang onwards, the Zhou kings ruled in name only, with true power lying in the hands of powerful nobles. Towards the end of the Zhou Dynasty, the nobles did not even bother to acknowledge the Ji family symbolically and declared themselves to be kings. They wanted to be the king of the kings. Finally, the dynasty was obliterated by Qin Shi Huang's unification of China in 221 BC.

Agriculture in Zhou Dynasty was very intensive and in many cases directed by the government. All farming lands were owned by nobles, who then gave their land to their serfs, similar to European feudalism. For example, a piece of land was divided into nine squares in the shape of the character jing (井), with the grain from the middle square taken by the government and that of surrounding squares kept by individual farmers. This way, the government was able to store surplus food and distribute them in times of famine or bad harvest. Some important manufacturing sectors during this period include bronze making, which was integral in making weapons and farming tools. Again, these industries were dominated by the nobility who direct the production of such materials.

Zhou dynasty kings

Personal name Posthumous name Reign years1 Name by which
most commonly known
Ji Chang
姬昌
Wenwang
文王
?-1043 BC1 Zhou Wenwang
(King Wen of Zhou)
Ji Fa
姬發
Wuwang
武王
1046 BC-1043 BC1 Zhou Wuwang
(King Wu of Zhou)
Ji Song
姬誦
Chengwang
成王
1042 BC-1021 BC1 Zhou Chengwang
(King Cheng of Zhou)
Ji Zhao
姬釗
Kangwang
康王
1020 BC-996 BC1 Zhou Kangwang
(King Kang of Zhou)
Ji Xia
姬瑕
Zhaowang
昭王
995 BC-977 BC1 Zhou Zhaowang
(King Zhao of Zhou)
Ji Man
姬滿
Muwang
穆王
976 BC-922 BC1 Zhou Muwang
(King Mu of Zhou)
Ji Yihu
姬繄扈
Gongwang
共王
922 BC-900 BC1 Zhou Gongwang
(King Gong of Zhou)
Ji Jian
姬囏
Yiwang
懿王
899 BC-892 BC1 Zhou Yiwang
(King Yi of Zhou)
Ji Pifang
姬辟方
Xiaowang
孝王
891 BC-886 BC1 Zhou Xiaowang
(King Xiao of Zhou)
Ji Xie
姬燮
Yiwang
夷王
885 BC-878 BC1 Zhou Yiwang
(King Yi of Zhou)
Ji Hu
姬胡
Liwang
厲王
877 BC-841 BC1 Zhou Liwang
(King Li of Zhou)
  Gonghe (regency)
共和
841 BC-828 BC Gonghe
Ji Jing
姬靜
Xuanwang
宣王
827 BC-782 BC Zhou Xuanwang
(King Xuan of Zhou)
Ji Gongsheng
姬宮湦
Youwang
幽王
781 BC-771 BC Zhou Youwang
(King You of Zhou)
End of Western Zhou / Beginning of Eastern Zhou
Ji Yijiu
姬宜臼
Pingwang
平王
770 BC-720 BC Zhou Pingwang
(King Ping of Zhou)
Ji Lin
姬林
Huanwang
桓王
719 BC-697 BC Zhou Huanwang
(King Huan of Zhou)
Ji Tuo
姬佗
Zhuangwang
莊王
696 BC-682 BC Zhou Zhuangwang
(King Zhuang of Zhou)
Ji Huqi
姬胡齊
Xiwang
釐王
681 BC-677 BC Zhou Xiwang
(King Xi of Zhou)
Ji Lang
姬閬
Huiwang
惠王
676 BC-652 BC Zhou Huiwang
(King Hui of Zhou)
Ji Zheng
姬鄭
Xiangwang
襄王
651 BC-619 BC Zhou Xiangwang
(King Xiang of Zhou)
Ji Renchen
姬壬臣
Qingwang
頃王
618 BC-613 BC Zhou Qingwang
(King Qing of Zhou)
Ji Ban
姬班
Kuangwang
匡王
612 BC-607 BC Zhou Kuangwang
(King Kuang of Zhou)
Ji Yu
姬瑜
Dingwang
定王
606 BC-586 BC Zhou Dingwang
(King Ding of Zhou)
Ji Yi
姬夷
Jianwang
簡王
585 BC-572 BC Zhou Jianwang
(King Jian of Zhou)
Ji Xiexin
姬泄心
Lingwang
靈王
571 BC-545 BC Zhou Lingwang
(King Ling of Zhou)
Ji Gui
姬貴
Jingwang
景王
544 BC-521 BC Zhou Jingwang
(King Jing of Zhou)
Ji Meng
姬猛
Daowang
悼王
520 BC Zhou Daowang
(King Dao of Zhou)
Ji Gai
姬丐
Jingwang
敬王
519 BC-476 BC Zhou Jingwang
(King Jing of Zhou)
Ji Ren
姬仁
Yuanwang
元王
475 BC-469 BC Zhou Yuanwang
(King Yuan of Zhou)
Ji Jie
姬介
Zhendingwang
貞定王
468 BC-442 BC Zhou Zhendingwang
(King Zhending of Zhou)
Ji Quji
姬去疾
Aiwang
哀王
441 BC Zhou Aiwang
(King Ai of Zhou)
Ji Shu
姬叔
Siwang
思王
441 BC Zhou Siwang
(King Si of Zhou)
Ji Wei
姬嵬
Kaowang
考王
440 BC-426 BC Zhou Kaowang
(King Kao of Zhou)
Ji Wu
姬午
Weiliewang
威烈王
425 BC-402 BC Zhou Weiliewang
(King Weilie of Zhou)
Ji Jiao
姬驕
Anwang
安王
401 BC-376 BC Zhou Anwang
(King An of Zhou)
Ji Xi
姬喜
Liewang
烈王
375 BC-369 BC Zhou Liewang
(King Lie of Zhou)
Ji Bian
姬扁
Xianwang
顯王
368 BC-321 BC Zhou Xianwang
(King Xian of Zhou)
Ji Ding
姬定
Shenjingwang
慎靚王
320 BC-315 BC Zhou Shenjingwang
(King Shenjing of Zhou)
Ji Yan
姬延
Nanwang
赧王
314 BC-256 BC Zhou Nanwang
(King Nan of Zhou)
  Huiwang
惠王
255 BC-249 BC Zhou Huiwang2
(King Hui of Zhou)
1 The first generally accepted date in Chinese history is 841 BC, the beginning of the Gonghe
regency. All dates prior to this are the subject of often vigorous dispute. The dates provided here
are those put forward by The Xia-Shang-Zhou Chronology Project, the work of scholars
sponsored by the Chinese government which reported in 2000. They are given only as a guide.
2 Nobles of the Ji family proclaimed King Hui as King Nan's successor after their capital, Luoyang,
fell to Qin forces in 256 BC. However Zhou resistance did not last long in the face of the Qin
advance and so King Nan is widely considered to have been the last emperor of the Zhou dynasty.

See also

External link

fr:Dynastie Zhou ja:周 nl:Zhou-dynastie no:Zhou-dynastiet fi:Zhou-dynastia zh:周朝

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