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In 551 B.C., a man by the name of Kongzi was born to a poor family in the province of Shandong. Kongzi is known in the Western world as Confucius.


Confucius saw many problems in the world in which he lived. He wanted to help make improvements in order to change the world for the better. In order to get into a position of influence, Confucius tried to get himself appointed as an advisor to a number of different government officials. When this failed, Confucius instead set out as a teacher.


The most important things to Confucius were peace and order. He felt that everyone had a proper role in society, and that if people were willing to accept their role and fulfill it, that peace and harmony would abound.

In order to help people accept their roles in society and establish order, Confucius laid out what he called ethics. These ethics outlined how individuals should treat one another. The most important of these ethics outlined the responsibilities of children to respect and listen to their parents and other elders.

He also laid out ethics for how subjects should follow rulers, for how rulers should treat subjects, how husbands and wives should treat one another, and how friends should treat each other.

During his own lifetime, Confucius’ teachings were not widely accepted. However, within a hundred years they were being used by the emperor to help him rule, and eventually became a widely followed religion. Confucianism would remain a powerful force in Chinese history.