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The Eastern Zhou Dynasty and Its Culturally Significant Contributions to Society

At around 770 BCE, the capital of the Zhou Kingdom was moved from Haojing to Luoyi, marking the start of the Eastern Zhou dynasty. This lasted for 515 years with 25 kings ruling.

The Eastern Zhou dynasty was again split into two periods. The Spring and Autumn period went on from 771 to 476 BCE and marked the first half of the Eastern Zhou dynasty. The Warring States period was from 475 to 221 BCE.

The beginning of the decline

As mentioned in the last Zhou Dynasty article, the move to the east caused a state of decline for the Zhou dynasty. Rumors of King Ping of Zhou killing his father caused a significant decrease in his popularity as well.

The Spring and Autumn period saw more noblemen obtain regional autonomy and waging wars against themselves. Vassals gained power through defeating rival states, which also increased invasions from other countries. The King of Zhou was losing control over the country, so he would have to turn to those same vassals for help.

The Warring States period turned the King of Zhou into a figurehead as his power was no longer recognized by the people. At the time of King Nan of Zhou, circa 314 BCE, the kings of Zhou had lost almost all of their military power, too. Even the remaining crown land was split into two states led by the feudal lords: East Zhou and West Zhou.

King Nan was able to preserve his weakened dynasty through diplomacy and conspiracies for almost sixty years until his deposition and death by Qin in 256 BCE. Seven years later, the West Zhou state was conquered by Qin.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


Landmark contributions to society

The Zhou Dynasty, both Western and Eastern, was one of the most culturally significant in any of China’s history. They developed the Shang concept of the Mandate of Heaven, the belief that the monarch and ruling houses were divinely appointed.

The foundation for many significant developments in the Zhou dynasty was laid by the previous dynasty, the Shang Dynasty. From there, agriculture, education, military organization, Chinese literature, music, philosophical schools of thought (Confucian, Taoist, Mohist, and Legalist), and social stratification, as well as political and religious innovations, were among the things the Zhou Dynasty is credited with developing.

Moreover, the world renowned book, The Art of War by Sun-Tzu, was written during the Warring States Period. Even the use of cavalry and chariots in Chinese warfare were developed during this dynastic rule.

Truly significant indeed!

In case you missed it, you can read about the first Chinese dynasty here, as well as what came before the first dynasty here.

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