The Western Zhou was the first half of the Zhou dynasty of ancient China. It began when King Wu of Zhou overthrew the Shang dynasty at the Battle of Muye and ended when the Quanrong nomads sacked its capital Haojing and killed King You of Zhou in 771 BC; the Western Zhou early state was successful for about seventy-five years and slowly lost power. The former Shang lands were divided into hereditary fiefs which became independent of the king. In 771 BC, the Zhou were driven out of the Wei River valley. Few records survive from this early period and accounts from the Western Zhou period cover little beyond a list of kings with uncertain dates. King Wu died three years after the conquest; because his son, King Cheng of Zhou was young, his brother, the Duke of Zhou assisted the young and inexperienced king as regent. Wu's other brothers, concerned about the Duke of Zhou's growing power, formed an alliance with other regional rulers and Shang remnants in a rebellion; the Duke of Zhou stamped out this rebellion and conquered more territory to bring other people under Zhou rule.
The Duke formulated the Mandate of Heaven doctrine to counter Shang claims to a divine right of rule and founded Luoyang as an eastern capital. With a feudal fengjian system, royal relatives and generals were given fiefs in the east, including Luoyang, Ying, Lu, Qi and Yan. While this was designed to maintain Zhou authority as it expanded its rule over a larger amount of territory, many of these became major states when the dynasty weakened; when the Duke of Zhou stepped down as regent, the remainder of Cheng's reign and that of his son King Kang of Zhou seem to have been peaceful and prosperous. The fourth king, King Zhao of Zhou led an army south against Chu and was killed along with a large part of the Zhou army; the fifth king, King Mu of Zhou is remembered for his legendary visit to the Queen Mother of the West. Territory was lost to the Xu Rong in the southeast; the kingdom seems to have weakened during Mu's long reign because the familial relationship between Zhou Kings and regional rulers thinned over generations so that fiefs that were held by royal brothers were now held by third and fourth cousins.
The reigns of the next four kings are poorly documented. The ninth king is said to have boiled the Duke of Qi in a cauldron, implying that the vassals were no longer obedient; the tenth king, King Li of Zhou was forced into exile and power was held for fourteen years by the Gonghe Regency. Li's overthrow may have been accompanied by China's first recorded peasant rebellion; when Li died in exile, Gonghe retired and power passed to Li's son King Xuan of Zhou. King Xuan worked to restore royal authority, though regional lords became less obedient in his reign; the twelfth and last king of the Western Zhou period was King You of Zhou. When You replaced his wife with a concubine, the former queen's powerful father, the Marquess of Shen, joined forces with Quanrong barbarians to sack the western capital of Haojing and kill King You in 771 BC, his killing resulted to beginning wars between local states which continued until Qin unification of China. Some scholars have surmised that the sack of Haojing might have been connected to a Scythian raid from the Altai before their westward expansion.
Most of the Zhou nobles withdrew from the Wei River valley and the capital was reestablished downriver at the old eastern capital of Chengzhou near modern-day Luoyang. This was the start of the Eastern Zhou period, customarily divided into the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period, it is possible. This would explain the sudden loss of royal power when the Zhou were driven east, but the matter is hard to prove. In recent decades, archaeologists have found a significant number of treasure hoards that were buried in the Wei valley about the time the Zhou were expelled; this implies that the Zhou nobles were driven from their homes and hoped to return, but never did. Shaughnessy, Edward L. "Western Zhou history", in Michael. The Cambridge History of Ancient China, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 292–351, ISBN 978-0-521-47030-8. Li, Feng, "'Feudalism' and Western Zhou China: a criticism", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 63: 115–144, JSTOR 25066693. ——, Landscape and Power in Early China: The Crisis and Fall of the Western Zhou 1045–771 BC, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-85272-2
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers from the same family in the context of a feudal or monarchical system, but sometimes appearing in elective republics. Alternative terms for "dynasty" may include "family" and "clan", among others; the longest-surviving dynasty in the world is the Imperial House of Japan, otherwise known as the Yamato dynasty, whose reign is traditionally dated to 660 BC. The dynastic family or lineage may be known as a "noble house", which may be styled as "royal", "princely", "ducal", "comital" etc. depending upon the chief or present title borne by its members. Historians periodize the histories of numerous nations and civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt and Imperial China, using a framework of successive dynasties; as such, the term "dynasty" may be used to delimit the era during which a family reigned, to describe events and artifacts of that period. The word "dynasty" itself is dropped from such adjectival references; until the 19th century, it was taken for granted that a legitimate function of a monarch was to aggrandize his dynasty: that is, to expand the wealth and power of his family members.
Prior to the 20th century, dynasties throughout the world have traditionally been reckoned patrilineally, such as under the Frankish Salic law. In nations where it was permitted, succession through a daughter established a new dynasty in her husband's ruling house; this has changed in some places in Europe, where succession law and convention have maintained dynasties de jure through a female. For instance, the House of Windsor will be maintained through the children of Queen Elizabeth II, as it did with the monarchy of the Netherlands, whose dynasty remained the House of Orange-Nassau through three successive queens regnant; the earliest such example among major European monarchies was in the Russian Empire in the 18th century, where the name of the House of Romanov was maintained through Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna. In Limpopo Province of South Africa, Balobedu determined descent matrilineally, while rulers have at other times adopted the name of their mother's dynasty when coming into her inheritance.
Less a monarchy has alternated or been rotated, in a multi-dynastic system – that is, the most senior living members of parallel dynasties, at any point in time, constitute the line of succession. Not all feudal states or monarchies were/are ruled by dynasties. Throughout history, there were monarchs. Dynasties ruling subnational monarchies do not possess sovereign rights; the word "dynasty" is sometimes used informally for people who are not rulers but are, for example, members of a family with influence and power in other areas, such as a series of successive owners of a major company. It is extended to unrelated people, such as major poets of the same school or various rosters of a single sports team; the word "dynasty" derives from Latin dynastia, which comes from Greek dynastéia, where it referred to "power", "dominion", "rule" itself. It was the abstract noun of dynástēs, the agent noun of dynamis, "power" or "ability", from dýnamai, "to be able". A ruler from a dynasty is sometimes referred to as a "dynast", but this term is used to describe any member of a reigning family who retains a right to succeed to a throne.
For example, King Edward VIII ceased to be a dynast of the House of Windsor following his abdication. In historical and monarchist references to reigning families, a "dynast" is a family member who would have had succession rights, were the monarchy's rules still in force. For example, after the 1914 assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his morganatic wife Duchess Sophie von Hohenberg, their son Duke Maximilian was bypassed for the Austro-Hungarian throne because he was not a Habsburg dynast. Since the abolition of the Austrian monarchy, Duke Maximilian and his descendants have not been considered the rightful pretenders by Austrian monarchists, nor have they claimed that position; the term "dynast" is sometimes used only to refer to agnatic descendants of a realm's monarchs, sometimes to include those who hold succession rights through cognatic royal descent. The term can therefore describe distinct sets of people. For example, David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon, a nephew of Queen Elizabeth II through her sister Princess Margaret, is in the line of succession to the British crown.
On the other hand, the German aristocrat Prince Ernst August of Hanover, a male-line descendant of King George III of the United Kingdom, possesses no legal British name, titles or styles. He was born in the line of succession to the British throne and was bound by Britain's Royal Marriages Act 1772 until it was repealed when the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 took effect on 26 March 2015. Thus, he requested and obtained formal permission from Queen Elizabeth II to marry the Roman Catholic Princess Caroline of Monaco in 1999. Yet, a clause of the English Act of Settlement 1701 remained in effect at that time, stipulating that dynasts who
King Mu of Zhou
King Mu of Zhou was the fifth king of the Zhou dynasty of China. The dates of his reign are 976–922 BC or 956–918 BC. King Mu came to the throne after his father King Zhao’s death during his tour to the South. King Mu was the most pivotal king of the Zhou dynasty, reigning nearly 55 years, from ca. 976 BC to ca. 922 BC. Mu was more ambitious than wise, yet he was able to introduce reforms that changed the nature of the Zhou government, transforming it from a hereditary system to one, based on merit and knowledge of administrative skills. During Mu’s reign, the Zhou Dynasty was at its peak, Mu tried to stamp out invaders in the western part of China and expand Zhou’s influence to the east. In the height of his passion for conquests, he led an immense army against the Quanrong, who inhabited the western part of China, his travels allowed him to contact many tribes and swayed them to either join under the Zhou banner or be conquered in war with his army. This expedition may have been more of a failure than a success, judging by the fact that he brought back only four white wolves and four white deer.
Unintentionally and inadvertently, he thus sowed the seeds of hatred which culminated in an invasion of China by the same tribes in 771 BC. In his thirteenth year the Xu Rong the state of Xu in the southeast, raided near the eastern capital of Fenghao; the war seems to have ended in a truce in which the state of Xu gained land and power in return for nominal submission. However, despite his success, traditional historiography viewed him with controversy. While some praise his victories against the Qun Rong, others criticized him for from his time, the fourth border state no longer entered into a relationship with the Zhou Dynasty. Still, the Shang Shu credited him with establishing the first systematic legal code in China. Mu was reputed in narratives to have lived until the age of 105 and to have traveled to the mythical mountain known as Kunlun - a popular work is the Tale of King Mu, Son of Heaven, his successor was his son King Gong of Zhou. One Chinese myth tells a story about Mu, he was determined to taste the Peaches of Immortality.
A brave charioteer named. The Tale of King Mu, Son of Heaven, a fourth-century BC romance, describes Mu’s visit to the Queen Mother of the West. In the 3rd century BC text of the Liezi, there is a curious account on automata involving a much earlier encounter between Mu of Zhou and a mechanical engineer known as Yan Shi, an'artificer'; the latter proudly presented the king with a life-size, human-shaped figure of his mechanical'handiwork': "The king stared at the figure in astonishment. It walked with rapid strides, moving its head up and down, so that anyone would have taken it for a live human being; the artificer touched its chin, it began singing in tune. He touched its hand, it began posturing, keeping perfect time... As the performance was drawing to an end, the robot winked its eye and made advances to the ladies in attendance, whereupon the king became incensed and would have had Yen Shih executed on the spot had not the latter, in mortal fear taken the robot to pieces to let him see what it was.
And, indeed, it turned out to be only a construction of leather, wood and lacquer, variously coloured white, black and blue. Examining it the king found all the internal organs complete—liver, heart, spleen, kidneys and intestines; the king tried the effect of taking away the heart, found that the mouth could no longer speak. The king was delighted." Family tree of ancient Chinese emperors Joseph. Science and Civilization in China: Volume 2. Taipei: Caves Books Ltd
King Li of Zhou
King Li of Zhou was the tenth king of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. Estimated dates of his reign are 877–841 BC or 857–842 BC. King Li was a decadent king. To pay for his pleasures and vices, King Li caused misery among his subjects, it is said that he barred the commoners from profiting from the communal lakes. He enstated a new law, by death, who dared to speak against him. King Li's bad rule soon forced many peasants and soldiers into revolt, Li was sent into exile at a place called Zhi near Linfen, his son was hidden. When Li died in exile in 828 BC, power was passed to his son. Family tree of ancient Chinese emperors
King Wu of Zhou
King Wu of Zhou was the first king of the Zhou dynasty of ancient China. The chronology of his reign is disputed but is thought to have begun around 1046 BC and ended three years in 1043 BC. King Wu's ancestral name was given name Fa, he was the second son of King Wen of Queen Taisi. In most accounts, his older brother Bo Yikao was said to have predeceased his father at the hands of King Zhou, the last king of the Shang dynasty. Upon his succession, Fa worked with his father-in-law Jiang Ziya to accomplish an unfinished task: overthrowing the Shang dynasty. In 1048 BC, Fa met with more than 800 dukes, he constructed an ancestral tablet naming his father Chang King Wen and placed it on a chariot in the middle of the host. In 1046 BC, King Wu took advantage of Shang disunity to launch an attack along with many neighboring dukes; the Battle of Muye destroyed Shang's forces and King Zhou of Shang set his palace on fire, dying within. King Wu – the name means "Martial" – followed his victory by establishing many feudal states under his 16 younger brothers and clans allied by marriage, but his death three years provoked several rebellions against his young heir King Cheng and the regent Duke of Zhou from three of his brothers.
A burial mound in Zhouling town, Shaanxi was once thought to be King Wu's tomb. It was fitted with a headstone bearing Wu's name in the Qing dynasty. Modern archeology has since concluded that the tomb is not old enough to be from the Zhou dynasty, is more to be that of a Han dynasty royal; the true location of King Wu's tomb remains unknown, but is to be in the Xianyang-Xi'an area. Wu is considered one of the great heroes of China, together with Yu the Great. Family tree of ancient Chinese emperors
King Wen of Zhou
King Wen of Zhou was count of Zhou during the late Shang dynasty in ancient China. Although it was his son Wu who conquered the Shang following the Battle of Muye, Count Wen was posthumously honored as the founder of the Zhou dynasty and titled King. A large number of the hymns of the Classic of Poetry are praises to the legacy of King Wen; some consider him the first epic hero of Chinese history. Born Ji Chang, Wen was the son of Tairen and Ji Jili, the count of a small state along the Wei River in present-day Shaanxi. Jili was betrayed and executed by the Shang king Wen Ding in the late 12th century BC, leaving the young Chang as the count of Zhou. Wen married Taisi and fathered ten sons and one daughter by her, plus at least another eight sons with concubines. At one point, King Zhou of Shang, fearing Wen's growing power, imprisoned him in Youli after he was slandered by the Marquis of Chong, his eldest son, Bo Yikao, went to King Zhou to plead for his freedom, but was executed in a rage by lingchi and made into meat cakes which were fed to his father in Youli.
However, many officials - namely and notably San Yisheng and Hong Yao - respected Wen for his honorable governance and gave King Zhou so many gifts – including gold and women – that he released Wen, bestowed him his personal weapons and invested him with the special rank of Count of the West. In retribution, Wen offered a piece of his land in Western Luo to King Zhou, who in turn allowed Wen to make one last request, he requested that the Burning Pillar punishment be abolished, so it was. Subsequently, upon returning home Wen secretly began to plot to overthrow King Zhou. In his first year as Count of the West, he settled a land dispute between the states of Yu and Rui, earning greater recognition among the nobles, it is by this point that some nobles began calling him "king". The following year, Wen found Jiang Ziya fishing in the Pan River and hired him as a military counsellor, he repelled an invasion of the Quanrong barbarians and occupied a portion of their land. The following year, he campaigned against Mixu, a state whose chief had been harassing the smaller states of Ruan and Gong, thus annexing the three of them.
The following year, he attacked Li, a puppet of Shang, the year latter he attacked E, a rebel state opposed to Shang, conquering both. The following year he attacked Chong, home of Hu, Marquis of Chong, his arch-enemy, defeated it, gaining access to the Ford of Meng through which he could cross his army to attack Shang. By he had obtained about two thirds of the whole kingdom either as direct possessions or sworn allies; that same year he moved his capital city one hundred kilometers east from Mount Qi to Feng, placing the Shang under imminent threat. The following year, the Count of the West died before he could cross the Ford to accomplish his end. Four years from this, his second son, known as King Wu, followed his footsteps and crushed the Shang at Muye, founding the Zhou dynasty; the name "Wen" means "the Cultured" or "the Civilizing" and was made into an official royal name by King Wu in honor of his father. Many of the older odes from the Classic of Poetry are hymns in praise of King Wen.
King Wen is credited with having stacked the eight trigrams in their various permutations to create the sixty-four hexagrams of the I Ching. He is said to have written the judgments which are appended to each hexagram; the most used sequence of the 64 hexagrams is attributed to him and is referred to as the King Wen sequence. In 196 BC, Han Gaozu gave King Wen the title "Greatest of All Kings". Family tree of ancient Chinese emperors Ci Hai Bian Ji Wei Yuan Hui. Shanghai Ci Shu Chu Ban She, 1979 Wu, K. C; the Chinese Heritage. Crown Publishers, 1982. ISBN 0-517-54475-X
King Zhao of Zhou
King Zhao of Zhou, personal name Jī Xiá, was the fourth king of the Chinese Zhou dynasty. He ruled from 977/75 BC until his death twenty years later. Famous for his disastrous war against the Chu confederation, his death in battle ended the Western Zhou’s early expansion and marked the beginning of his dynasty’s decline. By the time of King Zhao's coronation, his father King Kang and grandfather King Cheng had conquered and colonized the Central Plains of China, forcing most of the northern and eastern tribal peoples into vassalage. Only the Dongyi of eastern Shandong continued their resistance, but they were no longer a threat to Zhou rule; as result, King Zhao inherited a prospering kingdom, could afford to build a new ancestral temple for his father. This temple, known as “Kang gong”, was built in line with ritual reforms of the time and would grow into “one of the two central temples of dynastic worship”, the other being the much older “jinggong” temple. With the north and east pacified and a large military force under his control, King Zhao turned his attention to the Yangtze basin.
This region of great mineral wealth was under the control of the confederation of Chu, with whom the Zhou kingdom had been on good terms for two centuries. Under King Zhao, the relationship between Zhou and Chu deteriorated, however, as Chu continued its aggressive expansion and Zhou's demand for gold and tin grew; as hostilities grew, border clashes ensued that escalated into open war. No longer tolerating Chu's perceived defiance, Zhao invaded the Chu confederation in 961 BC, he conquered the region to the north of the Yangtze, defeated and subdued the 26 states of the Han River valley, including Chu. Most unable to permanently occupy the latter region, Zhao retreated with much loot. In 957 BC, Zhao launched another major military campaign into the middle Yangtze region. Employing half of the royal forces, organized into the "Six Armies of the West", he aimed to permanently bring the Yangtze basin under his control; this campaign, ended in disaster as the Zhou forces were defeated and entirely wiped out.
King Zhao and his remaining troops drowned while retreating across the Han River. Zhao's death and defeat damaged the Zhou dynasty's reputation and ended its early expansion, resulting in several foreign invasions of the kingdom, his successor and son King Mu of Zhou was able to restabilise the kingdom, but the Yangtze basin became the permanent southern limit of Western Zhou's direct control. Despite his “humiliating end”, King Zhao was still commemorated for his southern campaigns during the Western Zhou dynasty, as he had at least established political dominance over the region to the north of the Yangtze and east of the Han River. After his death, he was given a sacrificial site at the “Kang gong” temple he had himself built; as the first Zhou ruler to be enshrined this way, he became a key figure for ancestor veneration of the middle Zhou dynasty. One major reason for the positive appraisal of his reign was that Zhou rulers did not want their ancestor being remembered for a defeat that cast shame upon the dynasty.
Moralistic renditions of King Zhao's life were much more unfavorable, as they portrayed him as a ruler who loved pleasure and disregarded politics, dying on a hunting trip to the south. Chu poets wrote about King Zhao in the Classical Chinese poetry collection "Heavenly Questions", mocking him for his perceived arrogance. An bizarre incident relating to King Zhao happened in the seventh century BC: When a coalition of Zhou states attacked the state of Chu, the latter sent a delegation to ask what reasons they could have for invading; the northern lords gave the feeble pretext that “King Zhao had failed to return from his southward expedition and they had ‘come to investigate’." Family tree of ancient Chinese emperors Shaughnessy, Edward L.. "Calendar and Chronology". In Michael Loewe; the Cambridge History of ancient China - From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B. C. Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, et al.: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 19–29. ISBN 9780521470308. Shaughnessy, Edward L.. "Western Zhou History".
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ISBN 978-0-14-044375-2. Blakeley, Barry B.. "The Geography of Chu". In Constance A. Cook. Defining Chu: Image And Reality In Ancient China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. Pp. 9–20. ISBN 0824829050. Higham, Charles. Encyclopedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations. New York City: Infobase Publishing. ISBN 0-8160-4640-9