The Zhou Dynasty
The Chinese civilization expanded during the time of the Zhou dynasty. The massive size that the dynasty covered was too much for the Zhou leaders to handle due to the poor means of communication. Because of this, the leaders decided to appoint people to oversee each of the territories. The territories started off as walled off cities. The leader of each of the territories wasthe lords, each receiving the title through inheritance. Next in the hierarchy were the fighting men, followed by the peasants and the domestic slaves. Soon, these territories became more independent, eventually breaking away from the main Zhou dynasty leaders.
The Zhou society was based on agricultural production. During that time, the land of the lords was divided among the peasants to growcrops. They were divided up into three by three squares, with the eight outer squares being worked on by the peasants. The center tract of land was worked on by all eight of the peasants for the lord. The extent of this type of land distribution was unclear, but the later dynasties believed that this was the most equitable way of dealing with land distribution and use.
The religious practice of theZhou empire reflected their hierarchical way of life. The Zhou kings believed that they were given a mandate from heaven to rule. The kings prayed and sacrificed to Shang Ti, the Lord on High, now called T'ien (Heaven), and to their ancestors. The lords of the territories prayed to the local nature gods and to the gods of agriculture in addition to their ancestors. If any sacrifices or prayerswere missed, great ill was predicted to fall on the territory or kingdom of the neglectful leader.
In 770 BCE, the Zhou kings lost control of the territories they had delegated to their lords. These territories, along with non-Chinese forces, rebelled and defeated the original Zhou capital. The Zhou then formed a new capital farther East. From this new capital, the Zhou forfeitedtheir political and military control over their territories.
The territories now were larger and more powerful than the original Zhou kingdom. Even though the Zhou were not in control, they still thought they were appointed by the heavans and continued to be the ceremonial lords of the kingdoms. During this time, there was great economic growth, even among the constant warfare between theterritories. It was also during this time that China entered its Iron Age.
The Iron Age brought iron-tipped oxdrawn plows and improved irrigation techniques which increased the agricultural yield which in turn increased the population. With the increase in population came greater wealth, and people started to become merchants and traders. With the explosion of the merchant and trader class, theimprovement of communication was inevitable. The improvement came in the form of expanding the horseback communication system. This increase in the economic situation allowed the rulers to control more and more territories. Communication was far better than before, and a ruler could have a larger empire and still be kept up to date on situations that may arise.
The territories that were located atthe edges of the Zhou empire expanded into non-Chinese countries. Upon expanding, the kingdoms of the Zhou became more diversified and these kingdoms selectively chose the aspects of the newly acquired culture to assimilate into their own. One such aspect was the mounted cavalry. Before, all the Chinese fighting was by foot soldiers. By the 6th century, seven powerful states arose from the formerZhou territories. With the Zhou dynasty's decline and the rise of power of the former territories, the situation in China became unstable. Then, by the late 5th century, the Zhou dynasty fell into a state of interstate anarchy, this period was known as the Period of the Warring States.
The Golden Age of Chinese Philosophy
403 BCE - 221 BCE
Due to the instability of China, an intellectual...
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