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The Zhou Dynasty

The Zhou Dynasty

The Zhou family was able to defeat and overthrow the last Shang Dynasty king in 1028 B.C. They claimed that the Shang Dynasty had lost the mandate of heaven due to their poor governing. The Zhou Dynasty would become the longest lasting dynasty in Chinese history, lasting over 800 years.

The Zhou set up a new economy, rearranging the affairs of the kingdom. As they did so, the borders of their kingdom swelled, and they were able to maintain control over the people they conquered effectively.

Zhou kings assigned noblemen, who were usually members of the royal family, to serve as regional rulers. These noblemen owned the land and were given absolute authority over it. The peasants could not own land, but instead worked the land for the noblemen.

This form of government worked well for several hundred years. However, overtime the king slowly became less powerful, while the noblemen grew in power.

In 771 B.C., while fighting against a rebellion, the Zhou armies suffered a terrible defeat. As a result, the Zhou Dynasty lost even more power to the noblemen. They managed to hang on to power for another 500 years. Then, in 256 B.C., the Zhou Dynasty was finally overthrown.