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Summary History of the Zhou Dynasty
Summary of History, Rulers, Main Events and Achievements. 1121 BC - 255 AD
This page was last updated on: May 21, 2017
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This page was last updated on: May 21, 2017
The preceding Dynasty : Shang Dynasty  1766 BC to 1121 BC

Capital City: At first located near Shanqui, in the South-East part of modern day Henan Province. Later moved (through several other locations) to Anyang in North Henan Province.
Zhou (Chou) Dynasty  1121 BC to 255 BC

Capital City: First Xi'an in Shaanxi Province , later moved to LuoYang, on the Yellow River in current day Henan Province.

Achievements: In the End the State of Shang was subjected by the neighboring Zhou State, which was a smaller former client state of the Shang on its North-Western Border. According to what archeologists and historians have been able to conclude so far, after his  transgressions against the principles of good governance as dictated by the important philosophy of Li and Yue, the people under the Shang King's loathful rule rose against him, eventually led by the King of Zhou. After a war between Shang and Zhou, and the decisive battle in 1046 B.C., the Last Shang King, according to historical records produced by later Dynasties allegedly a cruel, unjust and wicked Ruler with a favorite concubine to match his character was beheaded at their Capital in current day Shaanxi Province.
The succeeding Dynasty : Ch'in Dynasty  221 BC to 206 BC

Capital City: Xianyang (near Xian, Shaanxi Province).

Achievements: After conquering all other States, the last major opponent being Zhou, which was eliminated in 356 BC, the Warring State of Qin reigned supreme. After 35 years of mopping up around the vast territory and country,the King of Qin was crowned the First Emperor of China in 221 BC.
Ch'in Shi Huangdi (First Emperor of Chin), who's real name was Qin Ying Zheng (嬴政 yíng zhèng) (246 BC–210 BC) became the Legendary Emperor Ch'in, lending his name to the country of Chin-a. A Powerful, and often cruel Authocrat his short Reign, through the unifying script, measures & weights, and encoding Laws and State Doctrine, would solidify the foundations of the Chinese State for Ages to come.

For Full Information on Ch'In Dynasty (221 B.C. - 207 B.C.) - CLICK HERE
Time-line of all Chinese Dynasties: Reign Periods and Achievements.
Western Zhou (Chou) Dynasty  1121 BC to 771 BC

Capital City: Hao (on the western outskirts of current day Xian, Shaanxi Province)

The Zhou Dynasty and Empire were established at the end of the 12Th Century BC by King Wu. According to books and writings, King Wu was pious Man, a strict but just ruler to his Peoples. The region around two rivers, the Wei and the Jing Rivers was at the center of Zhou civilization. The Zhou further had a secondary Capital City located near the LuoYi (now Luo He (He=River), on the western bank near what is today LuoYang in Henan Province. The Jing and Wei River plains are relatively fertile, and along with the Yi-Luo Rivers plain they formed the heartland of Zhou and its agricultural Base.

Achievements: As can be deduced from the rich Literature left from this period the Zhou Empire knows a centrally organized, strictly hierarchicaly organized aristocracy that supports the King. The State of Zhou is highly religious, practicing ancestor worship.
As an agricultural society the far majority of the people still lived on the land and not in cities. Cave dwellings (as still found today in Shaanxi and Shanxi Provinces) were common. It was still an economy based on slavery rather than on Feudalism, which developed gradually during the Reign of the Zhou Dynasty.
The State of Zhou however knew many Cities. From these walled cities, home of the local lord who forms the apex of local aristocracy, the land is reigned. Underneath are large numbers of peasants that do most of the work. A tradition and system that would live on for millenia to come.
Eastern Zhou (Chou) Dynasty  771 BC to 221 BC

Capital City: LuoYang, Henan Province.
Spring and Autumn Period  722 BC to 481 BC

The name Spring and Autumn derives from the Spring and Autumn Annals, a chronicle of the state of Lu between 722 BC and 481 BC. The Annals are supposed to be compiled by none less that K'Ung-Fu Tzi (Confucius) himself.

Because the Zhou dynasties' kings still held nominal power over the Chinese Realm, the Spring and Autumn Period is considered a part of the Eastern Chou Dynasty Period. In reality however the Chou King only held control over a small Territory centered around the Capital of LuoYang in Henan Province. The rest of the Zhou Empire was divided into many small and larger fiefdoms ruled by near independent aristocratic families who, as distant descendants of the Royal Family, derived their ruling legitimacy from the Zhou King. This turned out to be a recipe for disaster, as strive among the States led to annexation of the small, more and more Wars and Political Intrigue. As the Spring and Autumn Period progressed, the smaller fiefdoms were conquered and subdued by more powerful larger ones, leading in the 6Th Century BC to a constelation of larger states, who then turned to war upon eachother.
Warring States Period  476 BC to 221 BC

The Warring States Period is often taken to directly follow upon the Spring and Autumn Period, the Great difference between the two being that in the Warring States Period larger States started annexing the smaller States surrounding them. In and around the 3rd Century BC only 7 States remained, These States were Qi (齊/齐), Chu (楚), Han (韓/韩), Wei (魏), Yan (燕), Zhao (趙/赵) and Ch'In (Qin (秦)). To mark the difference in attitude of the Rulers of these States, the ultimate sovereigns of these States beforehand considered as Dukes and subservient to the Zhou King, changed their Titles and became Kings of their own right.

The Warring States period is the Time of the military strategist Sun Tzu (Sun Zi) who -from his own experiences- wrote the legendary book "The Art of War", which would become one of the main literary classics of this Era.

Military tactics changed considerably in the Time of the Warring States. Unlike the Spring and Autumn Period, most armies in the Warring States Period made combined use of infantry and Cavalry. Meanwhile the use of chariots gradually fell into disfavor. Bronze Weapons quickly disappeared due to the fact that Iron Weapons are considerable stronger and thus by far superior. In response to the large scale use of Cavalry along with the massed infantry armed with bows and cross-bows, the Q'In developped the Pike, a classic anti-cavalry defense weapon necessary to protect infantry from storming hordes of horses and riders.
The Second anti-cavalry weapon of the Time, and most popular, was the Dagger-Axe. The Dagger-Axe is basically a thrusting spear with a slashing blade appended to it and a weapon derived from the Pike..
At long range the Crossbow was the preferred weapon of this period, superior in fire power due to a variety of reasons. First of all the crossbow could be easily mass-produced, secondly using a crossbow effectively was much easier than the use of the long bow and other bows. Mass training of peasants into crossbowmen was thus possible. Furthermore, the crossbow bolt was one of the few weapons sure to penetrate even the new iron armour of the Period.  These qualities made it a powerful weapon against any enemy.
Armies fielded during the Warring States Period ever increased in size. Where in the Spring and Autumn Period 10.000 Men were gathered for a superior military force, in the later Battles massed armies of over 100.000 Men on each side battled eachother. By then, War was equal to wholesale slaughter steared and supplied for by efficient administrative machines.
Achievements: Bronze Age in China, starting around 1500 BC. Invention of script and beginning of first recorded history.
Bronze vessels from this age sometimes carry primitive signs understood as to name ownership of the item.
Near Anyang, the Capital of the Shang in North Henan Province, inscribed sea-shells and bones have been uncovered, further supporting evidence for the invention and development of script in the Shang Age (or earlier). The earliest found oracle bones date from around 1300 BC, forming the earliest evidence of written Chinese language (script). After excavations and archeological research could began in earnest in 1928 AD many Oracle Bones were unearthed, yielding an early Chinese Vocabulary of no less than 2500 words. The 2500 words probably represent the oldest surviving language in the world, being modified and simplified, but still in use today.

In the Shang Era (1766 B.C. - 1121 B.C.) Chinese civilization is concentrated in the fertile lower reaches of the Yellow River and its Basin in what is now Shaanxi Province, South-Shanxi Province and Henan Province. The Shandong Peninsula (Province) has its own population centers and most of North China is in reach of Shang Rule and Culture.
The valley of the Huai He, south of the Yellow River, is densely populated (for the time and age).
In Shang Times religion was still in the form of ancestor worship, to which many oracle bone finds are proof. The King was not an Emperor, although he had his own semi-sacred advisors and small army. The King of Shang too was a divine semi-god like creature who was in contact with nature and the elements.

The first city walls appear in the Yangshao Culture and are further developed by the Shang.

Agriculture is the main source of livelihood. The people working the Land however are not peasants, but in fact slaves tied to the lands by their rulers. The Shang Society is a slave owning society where the slaves are vital to economic production. Irrigation works and damming of the yellow river is undertaken on a small scale.

The Shang were China's first truly cultivated society, to which their many artworks and crafted objects are testament. Artisans of the Shang Dynasty created advanced Bronzes, masterpieces that have become the hallmark of the Shang Dynasty Era. The Shang artisans and metallurgist developed their own unique complicated design, that of the animal head seen from the front, the T'ao-T'ieh. Other finds are shards of exquisitely painted pottery. Arts and Crafts were highly developed during the Shang Era using materials such as Jade, Bronze, Gold, Porcelain, Marble, Limestone, Wood and Silk. The unrivaled beauty and artistic value of the finds surpass any found in the West, where similar skills developed only some 2000 years later.

The Shang had a Centrally organized state in which the Shang Ruler, in power from the Capital of Anyang, distributed power through no less than 6 other Capital Cities, all of whom were the home of subjugate rulers, aristocrats who had a further following of hierarchy of officials who together managed trade as well as warfare. The advanced bronze casting techniques of Shang gave them a military advantage as well, with the first bronze spears and swords created in China.

The Tombs of Shang rulers contain multitudes of human sacrifices, presumed to have been house-hold slaves or prisoners of war, aligned inside the Tombs along with chariots and ritual objects for use in the afterlife. Among these, due to the strict structure of Shang Society in which the ruling class had complete control over the production of the artisans, especially ritual and household bronzes as well as jade objects.

Chinese people, the Yin, reach the Americas floating on rafts from islands in the pacific following the Japan current to Alaska and the North-american west coast. Their ancestry can be traced in the features and DNA make up of native American people of today.

READ THE FULL STORY ON THE SHANG DYNASTY HERE: "History of the Shang Dynasty 1766 B.C. - 1121 B.C.".
Click to Enlarge !
View of a section of the Terracotta Warrior Army found very near the Tomb of China's First Emperor. The Famous 1970's find finally made Chin Shi the immortal he had craved to be.
After the Zhou capital was pillaged by barbarian tribes originating from the West, the Zhou Crown Prince Ji Yijiu fled to the east towards Chengzhou (now LuoYang, Henan Province). During his flight to the east, the king relied on the nearby lords of Qi (齊), Zheng (鄭) and Jin (晉) for protection from barbarians and opportunistic rulers of the Chou Fiefdoms. Ji Yijiu moved the Zhou capital from Zongzhou (Hao) to Chengzhou (Luoyang) in the Yellow River valley. However, due to the resulting loss of Zhou Royal Territory and the bare necessity of calling upon the rulers of nearby subjugate states for protection, the Zhou King(s) lost out significantly in Sovereignty over the States of the Empire. They would not be able to recover their Central Powers, leading to an Era of a constellation of States vying for ultimate power.

Achievements: Internal trade exploded leading for the first time to a rich merchant class.
Iron was found during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty leading to new developments in metallurgy. Iron working was invented, raising first and foremost military strength and power.

The Eastern Zhou Dynasty Period that ended in 221 BC, includes the so called Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC - 421 BC) and the Warring States Period (475 BC - 221 BC). The Eastern Zhou Period started when, although successful, the Empire started to be weighed down
A Schematic Map of the Chou Dynasty Empire around the Year 350 BC of the Warring States Period, when it was already in decline after the Spring and Autumn Period.
by continuous attacks from "Barbarians" on the Zhou Border Cities and fortifications. Furthermore, the newfound commercial success had led to internal strife between the many rich aristocratic families within the walled cities. Unable to administer and
LuoYang, current day Capital of Henan Province
Due to the internal Wars and the Prolonged Period of Social unrest resulting from the Wars and Falling of States (mainly of Coastal Nations) large numbers of Chinese people emigrate by sea between 400 BC and 300 BC after the State of Yue in current day coastal Jiangsu-, Zhejiang Province and Fujian Province is subjugated and conquered by the neighboring State of Hue. These Chinese emigrations spread Chinese culture and knowledge around the eastern pacific basin and Malaysia.
In the End, not much was left of the Supremacy of the Chou Kings. They were left powerless in their Capital with no authority over anyone of their former client States. The Feudal System and Central administration crumbled and the Warring States Period began.
Around 300 BC the first copper coins (money) are created in China and become widely used as currency. However, the rapid spread of Iron Working techniques during the Warring States period would lead Iron to dominate production and Military Affairs.

The name Warring States Period was derived from the Record of the Warring States, a work compiled early in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 221 AD) long after the Warring States Period had ended.
The Chinese Origins and short History

For a complete Summary Review of the 5000 Years of Chinese Civilization and All Chinese Dynasties -
Click Here - Summary Overview 5000 Years !
For a strict timeline of All Dynasties, naming the Capital Cities and their (former) Locations in China (where possible), Dates of Reign Periods as well as main events of the Rule.
Click Here - Time-Line of All Chinese Dynasties !
As mentioned above, the Spring and Autumn Period saw the Rise of some of China's most influential Philosophies. Starting in the 6Th Century BC, first and foremost was the Rise of Daoism. According to Legend the founder of Daoism is the Philosopher Lao-Tzu, who was born at the very beginning of the 6Th Century BC. Lao-Tzu is held to have been a Librarian at the Zhou Dynasty Court. However, as the power of the Zhou King and Court declined, Lao-Tzu supposedly retired from his Position and headed westward on Foot, having had enough of Court Life and turning to an austere way of Life. Again according to Legend, it was on his long journey through the rivaling states that Lao-Tzu developed his Philosophical idea's further. As the story goes, when crossing yet another militarized border, it was a border guard who urged the Master Lao-Tzu to put down his idea's in writing, resulting in the Tao-Te Ching work, the Book of Virtue and The Way.
Although it is unclear if Lao-Tzu really existed at all, the work of "Tao-te Ching" (probably compiled in the 4Th Century BC) is attributed to him.
Basically Tao means The Way, and according to Daoism the way to survival, physically as well as spiritually, is to submit oneself to the Laws and Principles of Nature. By following the idea's set out in the Classic Daoist works, practitioners of this Philosophy can become one with the Universe, being not free from adversity, however dealing with it in the most appropriate and thus successful way. Daoism however is not merely a Philosophy of making the best of things not so glorious. Especially in the context of the chaos of the Spring and Autumn Period it should also be seen as a revolutionary work, a protest against the mentalities and practices of the Time. As can be deduced from the strong teachings, according to Daoism, craving for Power, the pursuit of material riches and the seductions of Fame are all worthless goals held to the weak of body and mind. Instead, Daoism puts an emphasis on Cultural and Social righteousness, and the practice of various exercises in defense against the seductions of Life. Through Fasting of the Mind, forgetting about worldly problems and breathing exercises one could put oneself into self-induced trance and become united with the forces of the Universe.

Roughly from the 6Th Century BC onwards the Chinese Culture saw the birth and Rise of many different Philosophies and the working out of their details and lines of thought. These different philosophies developed into the Hundred Schools of Thought, which include Confucianism (elaborated by Mencius), Taoism (elaborated by Lao Zhu (Lao-Tzi) and to a lesser extent Zhuang Zi), Legalism (formulated by Han Feizi) and Mohism (formulated by Mozi).

Confucianism, the next major Philosophy to develop was the invention and the Life work of K'Ung-Fu Tzi, a Chinese Scholar born around the year 551 BC in what is today Shandong Province. Confucianism, in contrast to the more religious-like Daoism, not merely concerns itself with the Universe and turning away from the Evil's of Society and Life, but is an attempt to reform human society starting from ones own core being. One important basic concept in Confucianism is that Men (and Women) of all strata of society should assign themselves to do their best in their assigned Role in what was no doubt an authoritarian society. In this way Confucianism can be considered more practical and more realistic than Daoism. Confucianism therefor is an Ethical, Moral and philosophical system.

Confucius was a scholar, a well educated Man with his roots in (probably) an aristocratic Family. Confucius had a profound Love of Music and Song, as well as Poetry. His preference for the beauties of country-life and nature are equally obvious. As a well-off person it was easy for him to idealize the life on land and farm. He had a profound fondness of horse-riding, swimming and archery.
In later Years, after the Death of Confucius, his followers and students who were deeply inspired by both the moral caracter and the wisdom of their teacher, compiled the Lung-Yu, or the analects (of Confucius). The Analects is a book created from the answers the Master gave to his Students during his Lifetime. His Philosophy basicly implies that eventhough Men are basically Good of Nature, the Virtue of Citizens must be brought out by just Parents and on the scale of larger Society, by a just and pious Ruler, who must then be obeyed. The teachings of Confucius allow that when Rulers are cruel, unjust and interested in their own benifits rather than the good of society as a whole, they can be overtrown.
Great Philosophies of the Spring and Autumn Period  722 BC to 481 BC
One of the First and Foremost students and followers of Confucius was the Philosopher Meng Ke (Mencius), born in 372 BC during the Warring States Period (2nd half of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty period). Similar to Confucius himself, Meng Ke became a wandering scholar, ever traveling about in search of the administrative job of his wishes and dreams. Equal to Confucius, the High Title sought for was never bestowed upon his person.
Although Meng-Ke was a ardent student and follower of Confucianism, he made his own re-interpretations of the teachings of his Master, resulting together with the original teachings in the laying of the foundations of the later Philosophy of Confucianism, a school of thought that would dominate Chinese Society for ages to come. One idea unique to Meng Ke, was that he found, taking the idea's of Confucius one step further, that a Government should Rule with the complete consent of its Citizens.
Significantly, Legalism was another Line of Thought to develop. The Foundations of this School of Thought, developing into a State Philosophy, were layed by Han Feizi. Han Feizi was not merely a wandering scholar turned Philosopher and Teacher but he was a member of the ruling family of the state of Han. Born around 280 BC he lived during the end phase of the Warring States Period. His Cousin was the King of Han.

Based upon the Works of Xun-Zi first and foremost, and developed by Han Feizi in discussion with Li Si, the Prime Minister of the Militarist State of Ch'In (Qin), Legalism is basically a Code of Laws for ruling the State in a Central, Autocratic and Efficient Way. Legalism was a pragmatic political philosophy that does not address higher questions like the nature and purpose of life. Instead it merely provides a set of Rules, layed down progessively as a Number of Strict Laws.

Through the influence of Li Si at the Court of the Ch'In Dynasty (he was prime minister to the first Qin emperor Ch'In Shi Huang (di)) Legalism developed especially in this State into a full Philosophy, the doctrine called the School of Law, or Legalism.
Its quasi-authoritarian thought was fully tested in practice by the First Ch'In Emperor in the establishment of the unified State of China. In the State of Ch'In, Legalism became to mean the Political Philosophy that supports and upholds the Rule of Law. Essentially the Legalism of the Ch'In constitutes a belief that Legalism IS the Natural State of Law. The only thing the State Institutions of Ch'In were to do was to try and match this natural law.
In Ages to come Legalism would help build the foundations for Normative Jurisprudence in the Chinese Legal System, that is by answering such important questions as of whether one ought to obey the law, on what grounds law-breakers might properly be punished, what is the proper punishment and which crime weighs heavier. It further tried to provide idea's about the proper uses and limits of regulation, how judges ought to decide cases
(Read More in History of the Ch'In Dynasty - CLICK HERE !).

The Last and Fourth of the main Philosophies developed towards the End of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty was the School of Mohism. Mohism is however no longer influential and therefor will not be discussed further here.
The full history of the Warring States Era is an intriguing story of mutual wars, allegiances, spying and deceit. During a rapid succession of changes of fortune at first the State of Jin was most powerful. Jin however was splintered by infighting of 4 major ruling Families in 430 BC. Not much later it appeared the Wei were facing final defeat at the hands of the States of Zhao and Han, however, indecisive on who should gain most, both armies miraculously retreated leaving the Wei to redevelop and in Revenge nearly gain the upper-hand. However, through clever strategies of Zun Bin (a student of Tzun-Zu's Art of War) the Qi intervened and prevented the Rise of Wei over Zhao and Han respectively. Defeated multiple times and thus weakened, the State of Wei then fell prey to the State of Q'In, leaving Wei mortally wounded with a large scale invasion (340 BC) and making Qi and Qin (Ch'In) the dominant states within the Chinese Cultural Sphere.

The Zhou Dynasty was dead in all respects. In the year 334 BC, the rulers of Wei and Qi had agreed to recognize each other as Kings (王). This formalized the independence of the first of the 7 Warring States and lead the other Dukes of Qin, Han, Yan, Song to reconsider their own Statuses. In the period from 325 BC, through 318 BC the Qin (Ch'In), Han, Yang and Song National Leaders declared themselves King rather than Duke or Marquis putting a final end to the slow but steady loss of power of the Zhou throne since the beginning of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. Zhao joined the ranks of the independents last in the year 299 BC
The State of Chu rose to its peak in 334 BC, when after it was attacked by Yue, it counter-attacked and subdued the State of Yue. Yue was consequently annexed and added to the territory of Chu, leaving only 6 remaining States. Chu however would not hold out the last.
Driven from backwardness into s state of sudden modernity by the new Philosophy of Legalism, the State of Qin rapidly developed its strength. Although the 5 States opposing Q'In were alerted by it's militarism and expansionist nature, they failed to align themselves successfully against the mutual threat. The Leaders of Ch'In gained the upper-hand by the strategy of divide and conquer, driving a wedge between allies on multiple occasions.
In the Year 318 BC the State of Shu fell to the Q'In.
Later, around 300 BC the State of Qi was destroyed by an attack from the 5 allied opposing States led by Yan. Next was an all out battle between Yan and Wei (293 BC), in which they mutually destroyed each other leaving them weak and unable to further influence the rapidly developing power situation within the realm. This last event, in fact, would prove to be a victory only for Q'In, which once more saw two opponents removed.
In 287 BC, furthering its ambitions at total dominance Qin invaded the neighboring State of Chu advancing to and taking the Capital of Ying (Anyang). Although the King of Chu managed to flee and establish a smaller Kingdom and Capital elsewhere, the military strength of Chu was broken and Q'In power rose to an even higher level. Chu was to linger on to the end of the Warring States Period being the last State to Fall to Qin, but it would only be a spectator to the conquests of Ch'In.
At Last, in 260 BC, the State of Q'In attacked the still powerful State of Zhao, leading to the epic battle of ChangPing (near GaoPing in Shanxi Province). After the initial battle the war would continue for three long years, leaving both States Militarily and Economically exhausted. However, Zhao was broken and Q'In prevailed. The Zhao State was finally conquered, 30 years after this war, establishing absolute economic and military dominance of Q'In.

In the End, after 50 more years of military struggles and intrigue, the State of Qin is victorious and will unite all. The Qin Dynasty (221 B.C. - 207 B.C.), first to rule all is established by Ch'In
Schematic Map of the Main Ducal States during the Warring States Period. As depicted several States have built defensive walls along borders, the later foundations of the Qin Dynasty Great Wall of China (Wanli Chang Cheng)..
Shi Huangdi.

The Zhou dynasty itself ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the Warring States period and the completion of Q'In's unification of China.

Apart from making War on each other, the area of Chinese Culture expanded Westward, adding the regions of Shu in current day Sichuan Province and Yue in current day Zhejiang Province.
Henan Province Map 2A- Schematic Overview Map of Henan ! - Click to View
Henan Map 02 Schematic
A Schematic Map of Henan Province, showing the location of some of the cities and rivers along which the early Zhou Dynasty was set up.
The Cities were the homes of the rich, prosperous and well to do. City homes, as well as the Imperial Court, were filled with crafted Bronzes, handicrafts and metal implements.
During the Zhou period Elite City Families, the aristocracy, further organized itself and the first law codes of Chinese History were written down.
Due to the success of walled cities, social organization and agricultural invention and reform, the population of cities and territories kept rising in number during the Zhou Dynasty, leading to new expansions of Territory. In the First centuries the Chou Empire expanded to the North and North-East leading to the inclusion of current day Hebei and Shandong Provinces. Later territories in today's Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province and Anhui Province were conquered as well.

In the Beginning of the Zhou Era the Centrally Organized State was administered through subjugate heriditary rulers (The Zhuhou) who were all members of Families closely alligned with and through family ties associated with the Zhou Royal Family. There was a council of the 12 most important Feudal Rulers, who regularly met in conferences to discuss the current affairs and military situation of the Zhou Empire. Important decisions concerning the fate of the Zhou Empire were decided in this council, naturally with endorsements from the Zhou King.
In 771 BC, Hao, the Capital City of the Zhou State was attacked, pillaged and nearly raised to the ground by attacking Tribes, the Di from the West, forcing the Capital City to be moved south and east to safer LuoYang in Henan Province, marking the beginning of the Eastern Zhou (period). In the Eastern Zhou Period the Central Zhou King saw a considerably decreased authority over his subjugate rulers, leading to an Era of Civil War and Nation-wide disaster.
Early Zhou Dynasty Era Ritual Bronze Vessel of the Gui type, on display at the Qian Qing Gong, Inner Court of The Palace Museum, Beijing.
control this "upper class" and drained in strength by military campaigns against rebelious power-cliques in the Provinces the Zhou Empire disintegrated and splintered into many rivaling territories giving Rise to a First Period of Internal War, the so called Spring and Autumn Period. Among the many States involved were the State of Zhou, Cao, Cai, Chu, Chen, Hua, Song, Yin, Yan, Wei (fallen in Spring & Autumn Period), Wu, Qi, Q'in, Lu, Zheng, Hue and Yue.

During the Spring and Autumn Period, a truly great National upheaval, the State of Zhou came under attack from the neighboring State of Qin (of the later Qin Dynasty that first united the Chinese giving its name to the country of China). The militarily strong Qin were victorious on many occasions, leading to the downfall of the Eastern Zhou, destruction of their State and ultimate victory of Qin at the end of the Warring States Period.
The Great upheavals of the times, political and cultural changes that swept a whole civilization, led to new Moral Philosophies and Social thinking. In the 6Th Century BC the teachings of Lao Tzu (Lao Zhi), led to the birth of Daoism (or Taoism), a guideline for moral behavior and social harmony that would later take the shape of a form of religion. In and around the same Time, the frequent wars, technical advances and accompanying rapid
Zhou Dynasty Era Ritual Bronze Armor and Weaponry signifying the office of the King. Relics found inside the burial Tomb of the King of Zhou.
Part of the Collection of The Palace Museum, Beijing.
social changes had a scholar named Kong Fu-Zhi (551 BC - 479 BC) (better known as Confucius) thinking about social organization, the achievement of social harmony and a better life for all. Although failing to achieve much of his ideals in his lifetime , his thoughts, and those of his followers and students were to be handed down through Time as the works of
Confucius (The Analects). Between 372 BC and 289 BC the further work of the Philosopher Mencius continued the spread of Confucianism and Confucianist idea's. They are still a main element of Chinese culture and social conscience today. Both Confucianism and Daoism remain among the main social philosophies of the Chinese Culture.
In roughly the same period, a third Philosophy was born, the Philosophy of Legalism, a strict and authoritarian work-centered view of Life which would mainly become associated with the Militarist State of Q'In.

During the Eastern Zhou period the aristocrats that ruled the growing walled cities became more independent from the central rule. As their importance increased, the local aristocrats and their powerful families came to see themselves as kings of their own. Soon, the resulting power-cliques would plunge the nations into war over the rights to territory and national power.
The Chinese nation would be shattered, but not is common culture.
Details of the late Zhou Dynasty Era (Warring States Period (771 B.C. - 221 B.C.) Ritual Bronze Instrument known as a Bianzhong as found the now legendary Tomb of the Marquis Yi of Zeng, Suizhou, Hubei Province. This ingenious and inventive instrument comprised of a multitude of bronze bells as well as some jade chimes was very advanced for its time. Music played an important and central role in Zhou Dynasty Society serving a role in the creation of social and spiritual harmony.
eating utensils for the elite, bronze ritual battle axes, bronze helmets and armour, the kings ritual drinking vessel and no doubt, many more such items.
The most important related archeological finds so far have been uncovered at Zhouyuan - the "source place of the Zhou" (its early Capital) and the Fenghao site in Xi'An, Shaanxi Province. Another now famous archeological find was done by the Peoples Liberation Army in 1977 in Suizhou (Sui County which confusingly is a city province) of Hubei Province, where a tomb dating to the Warring States Period (771 A.D. - 221 B.C.) was uncovered. Now renowned as the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, the tomb contained many unique finds, such as colorful glass beads, a collection of ink writing on bamboo strips, bronze arrowheads, bronze daggers and  more ritual vessels, as well as its main piece, a gargantuan instrument comprised of
bronze musical bells ( Bianzhong).
Yet another Western Zhou archeological site was found in 2012 by local farmers at Baoji due west of Xi'An in Shaanxi Province, where digs are still ongoing to this day. At Baoji the true and complete identity of the buried person is yet unknown, however already 22 bronze vessels were unearthed, yielding the first inscriptions found on bronze-ware inside a burial tomb.

As can be deduced from the Tomb of the Marquis of Zeng, music was very important within the Zhou Society. Music was not something as we know it today, mostly for entertainment purposes but rather of deep spiritual value, an aid for harmonizing onesself with society and one another. It might be seen as strongly related to social relations as well as to spiritual meditation. The Zhou saw music as a divine means of harmonizing society and the universe. Thus, they created elaborate bronze and other instruments in order to be used in religious rites such as ancestorworship and social ceremonies such as the praising of the King at Court, important meetings and the like.
As did society, musical instruments were divided and used according to the theory of Li and Yue, which shows the magical significance that was attached to the tones produced by instruments. It was in the Zhou
The cultural world, as was all of Zhou society, was heavily ruled by a set of strict and rigid social norms, rules and according rituals, all of which served to clarify each members place in society. Not only were there the "Ding" (Ritual vessels for holding meat - 12 for the King, Nine for a General and so on down the ranks) a tradition that was continued from the Shang Era, but the social status of people was also distinguished by means of clothing, head dress and a number of jade ornaments worn on clothing.
Great importance was attached not to the worship of a "God in Heaven", but to ancestor worship.

Writing was of great importance during the preceeding Dynasty as has been found through the extensive study of so-called oracle bones and some bronzes dated to the Era. Where the only prserved Shang writings have been found on oracle bones, the Zhou Dynasty clearly had other vehicles to carry its writings. Although dating from a late Zhou Period, the finds of ink writing on bamboo strips inside the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, provide the first surviving proof of extensive writing and its use in the administration of the widening Empire.

During the Rule of Chou the first round copper coins, with square holes in the middle for the use of putting
Engraved bronze "Bi", a ritual bronze disc found inside the burial coffins of the Zhou Elite. Their precise meaning is unknown. From the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.
them on a string to carry around, appeared. Iron working was discovered and quickly developed into smelting during the Zhou Dynasty Period, replacing bronze weapons and armour with iron ones.
Although iron quickly replaced many items, it did not replace the ritual bronzes which had been a central symbol of ruling power during the Shang Dynasty, a culture and ritual that remained intact and was further developed during the Zhou Dynasty Era. Many magnificent, mostly ritual bronzes dating from the Zhou Dynasty Era have been uncovered in royal and feudal tombs of all periods of the Zhou Dynasty. Archeological finds include bronze ritual vessels (Gui), cookingware and
The Zhou would go on to expand their state eastwards to include territories in today's Hebei Province and south-ward to reach the Yangtze River Valley (Chang Jiang He). They ruled all of the fast expanding "Chinese Realm" not directly, but indirectly through a system of fiefdoms, led by relatives and close relations of the Zhou King. In this way, using various methods and tools, the culture of all people in this large geographic area was remarkably similar, as proven by extensive archeological finds.
As a nation of what can be seen as early feudal fiefdoms, excellent communications and a harmonized society involving many rituals and objects and relics found across China show a remarkable resemblence. It can be said that Zhou Dynasty bronzes found in the south-west do not differ in any way from those found in central China or at the coast and that the Zhou , building on the work of the Shang, managed to create a unified cultural world. It is in inscriptions on Zhou Dynasty bronzes, usually created to signify the bestowing of an honor or title, that the name "China" (Zhongguo = Middle Kingdom) as a unified nation or culture appears for the first time. It is a concept that appears to have been widely accepted throughout the lands at that time.
YouTube Video: Chinese Civilization (6) Explanations on the life and society of the Zhou Dynasty.
YouTube Video: Chinese Age of Reason - The Birth of Confucianism, Daoism and Legalism.
Meng Ke (Mencius) died at an advanced age in 289 BC. Confucianism, through becoming the official State Religion in the first years of the Han Dynasty, and a revival in the shape of Neo-Confucianism during the Song Dynasty, would remain a cornerstone of State Organization in China at least until well in the years of the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD - 1644 AD).
Engraved inscriptions found on the bottom of a round bronze plate inside the Western Zhou Dynasty Tomb at Baoji in western Shaanxi Province. The three symbols have been identified as "Chen, gui and xian" signs, the exact meaning of which must be guessed and may represent the date of birth and death of the entombed person. The sign "Xi'An" may be a reference to a local tribe.
Dynasty that the basis for what we call traditional Chinese music style was laid. Later generations would stick to the same tones of set ups, keeping a magical reverence for the wise ancestors of the past and their music.
A Schematic Map of the western Zhou Territories.
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