Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Pre-Imperial China:
ca. 1122-221 B.C.
Early Chinese historical records, written mostly by a historian in the
second century B.C., tell us that the last years of the Shang were full of
tyranny and misery. The last Shang king in particular was a megaloma-
niac who exploited his subjects in outrageous ways, forcing them to
work and fight in battles to the breaking point. Things got so bad that
eventually a western region of the Shang named Zhou began planning
and launching the unthinkable: armed uprising. In the years leading
up to the uprising, Zhou was led by King Wen (wen means “cultured”
or “lettered”), one of ancient China's major cultural heroes. The people
of Zhou were culturally and linguistically Chinese, although there is
some evidence that they had once allied themselves with a “barbarian”
or nonagricultural, proto-Tibetan people called Qiang (which literally
means “goats”).
King Wen led his people in armed rebellion against tyranny, but he
did not live long enough to see the Shang completely overthrown.
Zhou victory over Shang was achieved by King Wu (wu means
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