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The Zhou Kingdom was the longest Ancient Chinese dynasty. It lasted for eight centuries, from 1046 BCE to 256 BCE, and 37 emperors reigned. Philosophers such as Laozi and Confucius were some of the great minds who lived during the Zhou Dynasty. They influence Chinese civilization to this day.
See the fact file below for more information on the Zhou Kingdom or alternatively, you can download our 31-page Zhou Kingdom worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
SON OF HEAVEN: ZHOU KINGDOM’S FIRST RULERS
- 1021 BC. Before the Zhou Empire was established, Zhou and Shang coexisted in a state of war and peace.
- “Mandate of Heaven” was the title given to the Kings of Zhou and followed by the later dynasties. It is used to emphasize that a new leader must have strong moral values.
- In 1099, as the Zhou clan became increasingly powerful, King Wen of Zhou initiated a plan to destabilize the Shang Dynasty.
- His second son King Wu succeeded in conquering the Shang Dynasty in 1046 and declared the start of the Zhou Dynasty.
- King Wu’s son, King Cheng, was very young to be a king after his father died. The Duke of Zhou was his regent.
- He took over his brother’s plan to conquer the Shang Dynasty completely and succeeded in having control over the Eastern Plain. He also defeated the rebellion his brothers started against the new King.
- King Cheng assumed the throne and ruled effectively until 1021 BC.
HISTORY OF THE ZHOU KINGDOM
- The Zhou Empire was divided into two parts, the Western Zhou Period (1046-771 BCE) and the Eastern Zhou Period (770-256). The Eastern Zhou was split into two further periods, the Autumn and Spring Period and the Warring States Period.
- WESTERN ZHOU PERIOD
- King Wu, the first king to rule the Zhou Dynasty, established a feudal empire and distributed the lands to his relatives.
- King Chen assumed the throne and ordered the Dukes of Zhou and Shao to establish Luoyang as the Eastern capital.
- Western Zhou was generally peaceful and prosperous until King You assumed the throne. The deposition of his Queen and prince to accommodate his concubine and their son caused conflict with the Queen’s father. He later attacked the palace with the aid of the Quanrong tribe and killed King You, ending the Western Zhou Dynasty.
- EASTERN ZHOU PERIOD
- Autumn and Spring Period
- The legitimate heir to the throne, the deposed prince King Ping and son of King You, was the first ruler of the Eastern Zhou period. He relocated the capital of the Zhou Empire to Eastern Capital Louyang.
- The King’s decision to move to Louyang further hurt his already diminishing power. The neighboring regional leaders had been controlling their territory on their own terms.
- As time passed, more regional leaders started to rebel, sought autonomy and tried to seize other states: Qin, Jin, Chu, and Qin Jin had a number of civil wars dividing the state into three, Han, Wei, and Zhao, giving birth to the Seven Warring States.
- Warring State Period
- This began after the vassal states declared independence against the Zhou Empire.
- The seven Warring States were Han, Wei, Zhao, Yan, Qin, Chu, and Qi.
- Walls were built at the border of each state to protect their land against invaders.
- The wars in this period involved hundreds of thousands of men and iron-powered tools.
- The period ended with Qin Shi Huangdi winning against the other six states.
ZHOU KINGDOM SOCIAL STRUCTURE
- Zhou Kingdom practiced feudalism. The King distributed land to the nobles in exchange for military protection and loyalty. They were called dukes, and became regional leaders. The Kingdom’s society had four occupation categories:
- The “Shi” were the knights and scholars. They were low-level aristocrats who gained education and training to achieve a higher rank and be respected due to their knowledge.
- The “Nong” were peasant farmers next to the “Shing”. They cultivated the land that provided food to sustain society. They also paid land taxes that brought income to the government.
- The “Gong” were the artisans and craftsmen. Like the farmers, they also produced necessary objects for society. They were valuable members of Zhou society because they created everyday objects.
- The “Shang” were the merchants. They were the least respected of the four social classes because they became wealthy by trading things that were produced by others. They were also considered immoral and greedy.
GOLDEN AGE OF CHINESE PHILOSOPHY
- Zhou Dynasty was considered the Golden Age of Chinese Philosophy. Most modern philosophies originate from this period. The most popular are Confucianism and Daoism and are still practiced today, but the contribution of other philosophies in China cannot be underestimated.
- Introduced by Confucius (551–479 BC). The golden rule, “Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you”, was uttered by Confucius before Christianity was born.
- He emphasized the importance of kindness and virtue in daily life instead of relying on things that no one can see and communicate. He believed this was the only way a society can flourish.
- It was also thought that higher nobility status equated to higher moral values. Confucius preached that moral values are innate within all people, no matter the social situation.
- A religion attributed to Lao Zi (c. 500 BCE).
- It comes from the word “Dao” which means “the right way”. The philosophy teaches people to be in harmony with the right way and let nature take its course. It believes that doing nothing is better than interfering.
- Like Confucianism, it does not believe in a higher being.
- It advocates believing in the natural flow of life and being patient.
- The philosophy also teaches that there is a simple path that we should follow, and problems arise when people resist and insist on taking the other way.
- Founded by Shang Yang (ca. 390-338 BC), a Chinese statesman and political philosopher.
- It was first used in the Kingdom of Qin, one of the states in the Warring State Period.
- It advocates order above anything else. Legalism believes that people will always act on their selfish nature once given an opportunity. The only way to control this is to devise a system that rewards loyalty and punishes lawbreakers.
- Originates from the teachings of Mo Zi (470-391 BC).
- It rebuffed Confucius’ “ren” and advocated practicality over rituals and music.
- It promoted universal love and claimed that partiality is wrong and the source of disorder in society and family.
- It promoted utilitarianism and pacifism.
- Some other lesser-known philosophies sprang up during this period.
- Created by Zou Yan (305-240 BC), a Chinese philosopher and representative of the Yin Yang School.
- Based on the theory of Yin Yang and the five elements.
- It emphasized that Yin and Yang are two opposites that cannot exist without the other. Its evolution was also supported by the five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, and earth).
- Hui Shi (380-305 BCE) and Gongsun Long (380 BCE) were the most well-known members of the school.
- Its members were also called dialecticians and the school was “The School of Names”.
- Logicians addressed the problem of correlation between name and actuality.
- Xu Xing, a Chinese philosopher, was one of the most prominent supporters of Agriculturalism.
- The political philosophy promoted peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism.
- It believed that agricultural development was crucial for a stable and prosperous society.
Zhou Kingdom Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Zhou Kingdom across 31 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Zhou Kingdom worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Zhou Kingdom which was the longest Ancient Chinese dynasty. It lasted for eight centuries, from 1046 BCE to 256 BCE, and 37 emperors reigned. Philosophers such as Laozi and Confucius were some of the great minds who lived during the Zhou Dynasty. They influence Chinese civilization to this day.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Facts Template
- First King of Zhou
- Pieces of Zhou
- Peace and War
- East and West
- Zhou Stratification
- Confucianism vs Taoism
- Philosophical Approach
- Jobs in Zhou
- Zhou at a Glance
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Link will appear as Zhou Kingdom Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 18, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.