You are here: History > China > Zhou dynasty

Zhou dynasty

King Cheng of Zhou (1042–1021 BC), the second king of the Zhou dynastyThe Shang dynasty was overthrown in about 1100 BC by a people from the valley of the River Wei, a tributary of the Yellow River (Huang He). They founded the Zhou dynasty which lasted for about 850 years—longer than any other dynasty in Chinese historyalthough full political and military control of the region by the Zhou dynasty lasted only until 771 BC. After that, China descended into chaos with wars frequently breaking out between rival states. Zhou times were also a period when Chinese scholars began to study philosophy, the meaning of life. The most important Chinese philosophers of the time were Laozi, the founder of Taoism, and Confucius.



Bu coins (spade money) of the Zhou dynasty. Spade money was an early form of coin.

Western Zhou

Zhou dynasty rulers held power in China until 771 BC. The dynasty, called the Western Zhou, slowly lost control over its fiefdoms, ruled by increasingly powerful nobles. Eventually, it was driven out of the Wei valley. Their capital was moved eastwards to Wangcheng, modern-day Luoyang, marking the beginning of the Eastern Zhou period.
A map of China during the Spring and Autumn period, 5th century BC

Spring and Autumn period

The philosopher Confucius, who lived in China during Zhou times, was the originator of the famous saying: "Do not do to others what you would not have done to yourself"

Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. They are: Living world, Earth, Science, Human body, Prehistoric life, Space, History, Geography and Technology.


Find the answer