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Western Zhou Dynasty Background (Year: c.1100 - 771 BC)

Chinese symbol for Zhou DynastyMost scholars think that the Western Zhou Dynasty were much more "Chinese" than the Shang Dynasty. For one, they used a father-to-son succession system. Also, they weren't too keen on human sacrifice. However, they weren't as good at working bronze as the Shang Dynasty. Still, it would be centuries before the West was able to cast bronze as well as the Western Zhou Dynasty. Some, though not all, scholars believe that the Xia Dynasty, the Shang Dynasty, and the Zhou Dynasty actually were three different cultures that emerged more or less at the same time in different areas of the Yellow River valley. And the historical record supports this view -- the Shang Dynasty were conquered from outside by the Zhou, as the Xia Dynasty had been conquered from the outside by the Shang Dynasty.

Western Zhou Dynasty

The Zhou Dynasty actually didn't rule all of what was then China. China was then made up of a number of quasi-independent principalities. However, the Zhou Dynasty were the most powerful principality and played the role of hegemon in the area. They were located in the middle of the principalities, giving rise to what the Chinese call their country -- the Middle Kingdom. The Zhou were able to maintain peace and stability through the hegemon system for a few hundred years; then in 771 BC, the capital was sacked by barbarians from the west.


Zhou dynasty ancestors moved to the Zhou plain near the Wei river in Shaanxi during the Shang Dynasty, of which it was named after. Zhou became very strong during The leader Zhou wen-won's period and started a rebellion against the Shang emperor. His prime minister Jiantaigong who not only initialed a plane how to fight against the Shang's court but also set up the whole governments system as well as the guide line for the relationship between individuals.  In 1100 BC, Zhouwuwon finally defeated the Shang emperor and established the Zhou dynasty.  Zhou's leader was the first to proclaim that he was sent by the heaven and be called the son of the heaven, this proclaim was used by all the rebellion leader later in the history.

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