The tables of rulers given here are mainly from The Cambridge History of Ancient China [edited by Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy, 1999, p.26-29], supplemented by Ulrich Theobald's Chinaknowledge site. The lists and treatment of states is from these sources and from Burton Watson, the The Tso Chuan, Selections from China's Oldest Narrative History [Columbia U. Press, 1989], and from Joseph Needham, Science & Civilization in China, Volume I [Cambridge U. Press, 1954, 1988, 2005]. While I have altered the reigns of the Chou to Western usage, with a reign ending and then beginning in the same year, I have left the other dates alone. They reflect the Chinese practice of separating reigns by a calendar year. I have also altered all the names into Wade-Giles form, even though Pinyin is now coming to dominate in academic work. The serious student should be familiar with both forms; and the accessibility of older histories, with only Wade-Giles, but without possible tendentious PRC inspired treatments, should not be compromised. Each character, however, has its pronunciation in Pinyin supplied below it. The maps are based on A Short History of the Chinese People by L. Carrington Goodrich [Harper Torchbooks, 1943, 1963], but I have begun altering them to show the smaller states that Goodrich did not show. The map of the Spring and Autumn Period at right reflects boundaries shown on the map at page 548 of the Cambridge History, while the maps of the Warring States Period reflect the boundaries shown on page 594. The states of Cheng, Ts'ai, Ts'ao, Chi, Ch'en, Hsüeh, Hsü, and T'eng do not occur on Goodrich's maps but are now shown, based on the Cambridge History. Some spellings on the maps are Goodrich's, reflecting pre-modern pronuncations of Mandarin (e.g. "Tsin" for "Chin"). The states of Cheng, Lu, Sung, and Wey do not continue onto the Cambridge table of the Warring States Period. I have been able to complete them there with data from Theobald. There is disagreement between the Cambridge History and Theobald for the final dates of the Spring and Autumn Period for Lu, Sung, Cheng, and Wu (with the History suspiciously giving 477 for all of them), so I have given both dates. The Cambridge History does not give the rulers of Ts'ai, Ts'ao, or Yüeh at all, and these have been supplied from Theobald. Further states, Teng, Yü, Yen, Kuo, and Tsou, are listed by Needham. These are discussed below.
At the beginning, only the ruler of Chou possesses the title . Other rulers are generally called [kung in Wade-Giles -- on a light red background below]. However, according to Burton Watson, this was no more than a postumous rank. During their lives, the ranks of these rulers were often substantially lower. Watson then gives a list of twenty Chou feudal states, their families, and their actual rank [p.xxxix]. This includes the Chou royal domain, what we might now call the Île de Chine, on analogy with the small Capetian Île de France. Curiously, the state of Yen [Yan], although the Cambridge History gives the rulers from the beginning of the Eastern Chou, is not listed, or even mentioned, by Watson. Thus, I did not know the ruling family of Yen, until I found it at Ulrich Theobald. Yen, like many other states, was a fief of the Chou royal family of Chi [Ji]. It is not surprising that Chou would enfeoff their relatives with important domains. The postumous nature of the ranks may be revealed by Theobald's entries for the final rulers of Ts'ai and Ts'ao, where the rulers, without postumous promotion, revert to their original rank, marquis and count, respectively.
"Duke" is the first of the feudal "Five Ranks," . All the ranks can be examined under the Chinese elements and Feudal Hierarchy. The first table here consists of the domains listed in the tables of the Cambridge History, with the information on rank and family supplied by Watson (and Theobald for Yen). Since many of these states are ruled by a (on a light orange background), I have allowed that rank to Yen, although this may already be one of the postumous ranks that Watson discusses. The date of the fall of the state, according to Needham, is supplied below. These don't always agree with the final dates given in the Cambridge History tables, but I retain them. The state to which the state falls, according to Needham, is also given.
The following table gives the other territories that Watson also lists, including Yüeh, , which occurs on Goodrich's maps but not in the Cambridge History tables at all. Watson has a map with the general location of some of these places [p.xli], but without any attempt to show boundaries. I have been able to supply the rulers of Yüeh, which overthrew Wu in 473, from Ulrich Theobald, and the boundaries from the Cambridge History.
Watson's book contains no characters whatsoever, even for the Tso Chuan, , itself. I have therefore had a bit of a hunt to round up the characters for all the states. Those for Ch'en, Ts'ai, and Ts'ao were supplied by Theobald, who, however, does not mention Chi, Chu, Chü, Hsü, Hsüeh, or T'eng. Fortunately, Chi, Hsü, Hsüeh, and T'eng are mentioned at some points scattered through the text in the Cambridge History, with the character cited where the name is first used -- and a list is given [p.547, "15 major states" of the Spring and Autumn Period] for Ch'i, Chin, Ch'in, Ch'u, Lu, Ts'ao, Cheng, Sung, Hsü, Ch'en, Wey, Yen, Ts'ai, Wu, and Yüeh. The characters for Chu and Chü finally could only be tracked down in Mathews' Chinese-English Dictionary [Harvard University Press, 1972, characters #1353 & #1569], which helpfully lists the former as, "A feudal state which existed B.C. 700-469," and the latter as, "Name of a State...a petty State in the south-east of what is now Shantung." Chu thus fell around the end of the Spring and Autumn Period, though I have no information to whom. Although Mathews' frequently identifies a character as the name of a feudal state, this is not always the case (e.g. with Hsü), and the character for Hsüeh does not appear to be in the dictionary at all, even though it occurs in modern Pinyin dictionaries (e.g. the ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary, edited by John DeFrancis, University of Hawai'i Press, 2003), usually identified simply as a "Surname" ["Xue," p.1091].
It may be significant that the only full Dukedoms given by Watson are those of Chi and Sung, with the former of the royal family of the legendary Hsia Dynasty, , the house of Ssu [Si], and the latter of the family of the Shang Dynasty, , the house of Tzu [Zi]. It may be that at first only those of previous royal houses rated the full title of Duke. Watson says that there were "around 120 feudal states" [p.xxxi] in existence at the beginning of the Spring and Autumn Period. By 468 BC, there are only 40 left. By the end of the Warring States Period, of course, Ch'in conquers the remaining Six Kingdoms, , which by then had managed to absorb all the rest.
In the table below, I give the ranks shown in the Cambridge History, for these are ranks that the living rulers did eventually assume, finally rising to the rank of for all (except Wey). With no information on just when the transitions occurred (except the final move to King), I can only stick to the Cambridge data. Not all the domains there, indeed, begin with Dukes. Chin and Yen in the Spring and Autumn Period, and Han, Wei, and Chao in the Warring States Period, start with the title of . Cambridge lists the occasional ruler, especially at the beginning of the Chao in the Warring States Period, as no more than a [tzu -- on a white background below, as with other rulers of unspecified title]. However, since this curiously skips the rank of , it may be that has one of its other meanings, which can even be "child," "young," or "sir." According to Watson, Ch'u and Wu actually were regarded as by everyone else but began calling themselves from an early date. I show Ch'u this way when the title begins to occur in their names. The rulers of Yüeh also styled themselves Kings from their beginning, and I have shown them that way.
The Cambridge History uses a peculiar spelling for the Spring and Autumn realm of Wei: "Wey" is not a spelling or a syllable in Wade-Giles or Pinyin for modern Mandarin Chinese. This spelling, apparently, is to indicate that different characters are used for the "Wei" of the Spring and Autumn Period, , and the different "Wei" the arises in the Warring States Period, .
Rulers whose names are in boldface are those who are mentioned or even visited by Confucius. Two of these, the ones before Confucius' own day, Duke Huan of Ch'i (685-643) and Duke Wen of Chin (636-628), were two of the "Five Leaders" or "Five Hegemons," . These were regarded as the greatest leaders of the feudal lords, though itself could also mean "tyrant." The identity of the other Five Hegemons varied, but Duke Mu of Ch'in (659-621) and King Chuang of Ch'u (613-591) were frequently included. The very first is often considered to be have been Duke Huan of Cheng (806-771). Last may have been Fu Ch'ai of Wu (495-473).
There is one ruler in boldface who is not mentioned by Confucius, and that is Ho Lü of Wu (514-496). Instead, he is mentioned by Szu-ma Ch'ien (145-86) in relation to Sun Tzu, author of what is usually entitled in English The Art of War, the classic Chinese book of military strategy. Sun Tzu, from Ch'i, was supposedly invited by Ho Lü for an interview, for a demonstration, and then to command the army of Wu. In the latter capacity he is supposed to have defeated Ch'u and intimidated Ch'i and Chin. With this story and the subsequent ruler of Wu, Fu Ch'ai, as one of the Five Hegemons, one would think Wu a durable military power. But the state did fall to Yüeh at the death of Fu Ch'ai. The prominence of Sun Tzu may go with a noteworthy feature of the Eastern Chou: it was the only time in Chinese history that the exploits of warriors were celebrated as they were in the Greek or Indian epics. Under Confucian influence, warriors would later not even be included under the Four Classes posited for Chinese society. This was not good for the security of China, and at no time were its consequences so dire as in the last days of the Ming Dynasty, which ironically had begun with an attempt to elevate the military to a status equal to the scholars.
|Eastern Chou, , 771-256; Middle Chou, 771-473; Spring and Autumn, , Period, 722-481|
|827/5- 781||Hsiao Kung||796- 769||Chuang Kung||794- 731||Wen Hou||780- 746||Hsiang Kung||777- 766||Juo Ao||790- 764||Tai Kung||799- 766||Wu Kung||812- 758||Huan Kung||806- 771||Ch'ing Hou||790- 767||Hsi Hou||809- 762||Hui Po||795- 760|
|781- 771||Hui Kung||768- 723||Chao Hou||745- 740||Hsiao Ao||763- 758||Wu Kung||765- 748||Chuang Kung||757- 735||Ai Hou||766- 765||Kung Hou||761- 760||Mu Kung||759- 757|
|770- 719||Yin Kung||722- 712||Hsiao Hou||739- 724||Wen Kung||765- 716||Fen Mao||757- 741||Hsüan Kung||747- 729||Huan Kung||734- 719||Wu Kung||770- 744||Cheng Hou||746- 729||Tai Hou||759- 750||Huan Kung||756- 702|
|E Hou||723- 718||Ning Kung||715- 704||Wu Wang||740- 690||Mu Kung||728- 720||Hsüan Kung||718- 700||Chuang Kung||743- 701||Mu Hou||728- 711||Hsüan Kung||749- 715|
|719- 696||Huan Kung||711- 694||Hsi Kung||730- 698||Ai Hou||717- 710||Ch'u Kung||703- 698||Wen Wang||689- 677||Shang Kung||719- 711||Hui Kung||699- 669||Li Kung||700- 697||Hsüan Hou||710- 698||Huan Kung||714- 695||Chuan Kung||701- 671|
|Hsiao- tzu||709- 707||Feng||710- 692||Chao Kung||696- 695||Huan Hou||697- 691||Ai Kung||694- 675||Hsi Kung||670- 661|
|696- 681||Chuang Kung||693- 662||Hsiang Kung||697- 686||Chin Hou Min||706- 679||Wu Kung||697- 678||Tu Ao||676- 675||Min Kung||691- 682||Tzu Wei||694||Chuang Kung||690- 658|
|681- 676||Huan Kung||685- 643||Wu Kung||678- 677||Te Kung||677- 676||Ch'eng Wang||674- 626||Huan Kung||681- 651||I Kung||668- 661||Tzu I||693- 680|
|676- 651||Min Kung||661- 660||Hsiao Kung||642- 633||Hsien Kung||676- 651||Hsüan Kung||675- 664||Li Kung||679- 673||Mu Kung||674- 645||Chao Kung||661- 653|
|651- 618||Hsi Kung||659- 627||Chao Kung||632- 613||Hui Kung||650- 637||Ch'eng Kung||663- 660||Hsiang Kung||650- 637||Tai Kung||660||Wen Kung||672- 628||Hsiang Kung||657- 618||Chuan Kung||645- 612||Kung Kung||652- 618|
|636- 628||Mu Kung||659- 621||Ch'eng Kung||636- 620||Wen Kung||659- 635|
|Wen Kung||626- 609||Hsiang Kung||627- 621||Mu Wang||625- 614||Ch'eng Kung||634- 600||Mu Kung||627- 606|
|618- 612||Ling Kung||620- 607||K'ang Kung||620- 609||Chao Kung||619- 611||Ling Kung||605||Huan Kung||617- 602||Wen Kung||611- 592||Wen Kung||617- 595|
|612- 606||Hsüan Kung||608- 591||I Kung||612- 609||Kung Kung||608- 604||Chuang Wang||613- 591||Wen Kung||610- 589||Hsiang Kung||604- 587||Hsüan Kung||601- 587|
|606- 585||Ch'eng Kung||590- 573||Hui Kung||608- 599||Ch'eng Kung||606- 600||Huan Kung||603- 577||Mu Kung||599- 589||Tao Kung||586- 585||Ching Kung||591- 543||Hsüan Kung||594- 578|
|Ch'ing Kung||598- 582||Ching Kung||599- 581||Kung Wang||590- 560||Kung Kung||588- 576||Ting Kung||588- 577||Ch'eng Kung||584- 571||Chao Kung||586- 574||Wu|
|585- 571||Ling Kung||581- 554||Li Kung||580- 573||Ching Kung||576- 537||Chü falls to Ch'u, 582||P'ing Kung||575- 532||Hsien Kung||576- 559||Hsi Kung||570- 565||Wu Kung||573- 555||Ch'eng Kung||577- 555||Shou Meng||585- 561|
|571- 544||Hsiang Kung||572- 542||Chuang Kung||553- 548||Tao Kung||572- 558||K'ang Wang||559- 545||Shang Kung||558- 547||Chien Kung||564- 530||Wen Kung||554- 549||Wu Kung||554- 528||Chu Fan||560- 548|
|544- 520||Chao Kung||541- 510||Ching Kung||547- 490||P'ing Kung||557- 532||Ai Kung||536- 501||Chia Ao||544- 541||Hsien Kung||546- 544||I Kung||548- 545||P'ing Kung||527- 524||Yü Chi||547- 544|
|520||Chao Kung||531- 526||Ling Wang||540- 529||Yüan Kung||531- 517||Hsiang Kung||543- 535||Hui Kung||544- 536||Ling Kung||542- 531||Tao Kung||523- 515||I Mei||543- 527|
|519- 475||Ting Kung||509- 495||Ch'ing Kung||525- 512||P'ing Wang||528- 516||Ling Kung||534- 493||Ting Kung||529- 514||Tao Kung||535- 529||P'ing Kung||530- 522||Hsien Kung||515- 512||Liao||526- 515|
|Kung Kung||528- 524||Tao Kung||521- 519||Ying Kung||511- 506|
|Ai Kung||494- 477 /467||Yen Ju-tzu||489||Ting Kung||511- 475||Hui Kung||500- 491||Chao Wang||515- 489||Ching Kung||516- 477 /451||Ch'u Kung||492- 481||Hsien Kung||513- 501||P'ing Kung||523- 505||Chao Kung||518- 491||Ching Kung||505- 502||Ho Lü||514- 496|
|Tao Kung||488- 485||Tao Kung||490- 477||Hui Wang||488- 432||Chuang Kung||480- 478||Sheng Kung||500- 477 /463||Chien Kung||504- 493||Ch'eng Kung||490- 472||Yang Po||501- 487||Fu Ch'ai||495- 477 /473|
|Chien Kung||484- 481||Hsien Kung||492- 465||Ts'ao falls to Sung, 487||Wu falls to Yüeh, 473|
The Warring States Period sees the end of the Chou Dynasty and the shake-down of all the realms into just one, Ch'in. In the course of this, many old states disappear (Lu, Cheng, Sung, Chin, Yüeh) and some new ones appear (Han, Wei, Chao -- all derived from Chin). In the end, six states, the Six Kingdoms, (Ch'i, Ch'u, Han, Wei, Chao, & Yen -- plus Wey), fall in very rapid succession (230-221) to Wang Cheng of Ch'in. By then, all surviving rulers (except Wey) had been styling themselves . This is rather like what we see at the beginning of the Hellenistic Period, when each of the Diadochi becomes a "Great King" like Alexander had been, or in modern Germany, where the Mediaeval Kingdom of Germany gives rise to many modern kingdoms, most the creations of Napoleon. Having eliminated all the rival kings, Cheng then formulated a new, supreme title for himself, (on a light purple background below -- just for contrast, since that is the Roman, not the Chinese, Imperial color).
The Cambridge History and Theobald again use a peculiar spelling, this time with "Hann" for the state of Han. As above, this is not a syllable in Wade-Giles or Pinyin. It is used because the character for this Han, , is different from the more familiar character for the Han Dynasty: . I have not used this convention because there is only one Han state in the period, so there is no ambiguity.
The Cambridge History does not give us the rulers of the states of Shu, , or Pa, , whose conquest begins to give Ch'in the resources it will need to unite the country. It was the case that Shu and Pa were not regarded as Chinese -- Watson does not list them among the feudatories of Chou -- but in any case, according to Ulrich Theobald, the rulers are unknown, with Pa, and only poorly known, with Shu. The Cambridge History is also lacking the rulers of Lu, Sung, Wey, Cheng, and Yüeh in the Warring States Period, which I have supplied from Theobald. I have two different dates for the fall of Lu, so I have included them both. My information is that Lu falls to Ch'u, but nevertheless its territory appears to end up in the hands of Ch'i.
|Warring States, , Period, 481-221; Late Chou, 473-256|
|Chou||Lu||Ch'in||Chiang Ch'i||T'ien Ch'i||Chin/Tsin||Ch'u||Chao||Sung||Wey||Cheng||Yen||Ts'ai||Yüeh|
|475- 468||Tao Kung||466- 429||Li-kung Kung||476- 443||P'ing Kung||480- 456||Ting Kung||511- 475||Hui Wang||488- 432||Hsien- tzu||475- 425||Chao Kung||450- 404||Ch'i Chün||477||Ai Kung||462- 424||Hsiao Kung||497- 455||Sheng Kung||471- 457||Kou- chien Wang||496- 465|
|468- 441||Tsao Kung||442- 429||455- 405||Hsüan Kung||455- 410||Ch'u Kung||474- 451||Wei||Ch'u Kung, restored||476- 456||Ch'eng Kung||454- 439||Lu- ying Wang||465- 459|
|440- 425||Yüan Kung||428- 408||Huai Kung||428- 425||Ching Kung||450- 434||Han||Wen Hou||445- 396||Huan- tzu||424||Tao Kung||455- 451||Yu Kung||423||Min Kung||438- 415||Yüan Kung||456- 451||Pu- shou Wang||459- 449|
|425- 401||Ling Kung||424- 415||Tao- tzu||410- 405||Yu Kung||433- 416||Chien Wang||431- 408||Wu Hou||424- 409||Hsien Hou||423- 409||Ching Kung||450- 432||Hsü Kung||422- 396||Ch'i Hou||450- 447||Weng Wang||449- 412|
|Mu Kung||407- 377||Chien Kung||414- 400||Sheng Wang||407- 402||Ching Hou||408- 400||Lieh Hou||408- 387||Chao Kung||431- 429||Chien Kung||414- 370||Ts'ai falls to Ch'u, 447||I Wang||412- 376|
|401- 375||Hui Kung||399- 387||K'ang Kung||404- 379||Ho Hou||404- 384||Lieh Kung||415- 389||Tao Wang||401- 381||Lieh Hou||389- 387||Wu Hou||395- 370||Tao Kung||403- 396||Huai Kung||428- 415||K'ang Kung||395- 375|
|Ch'u- tzu||386- 385||Su Wang||380- 370||Wen Hou||386- 377||Ching Hou||386- 375||Hsiu Kung||395- 373||Shen Kung||414- 373||Chih- hou Wang||376- 375|
|375- 368||Kung Kung||376- 353||Hsien Kung||384- 362||Hou Yen||383- 375||Huan Kung||388- 369||Ai Hou||376- 375||Sheng Kung||372- 362||Ch'u- wu- yü Wang||375- 365|
|368- 320||Hsiao Kung||361- 338||Huan Kung||374- 357||Chin replaced by Han, Chao, & Wei, 369||Hsüan Wang||369- 340||I Hou||374- 363||Hui Hou||369- 345||Ch'eng Hou||374- 350||Pi Kung||372- 370||Ch'eng Hou||361- 333||Cheng falls to Han, 375||Huan Kung||369- 362||Wu- chuan Wang||365- 357|
|K'ang Kung||352- 344||Hui- wen||Kung, 337- 324||Wei Hou||356- 335||Wei Wang||339- 329||Chao Hou||362- 333||Hui Wang||Hou, 344- 334||Su Hou||349- 326||T'i- ch'eng- tzu||369- 329||Wen Kung||361- 337||Wu- ch'iang Wang||357- 333|
|Ching Kung||343- 315||Wang, 324- 311||Wei Wang||334- 320||Huai Wang||328- 299||Hsüan- hui Wang||332- 312||Wang, 334- 319||Wu- ling Wang||325- 299||K'ang Wang||328- 286||P'ing Hou||332- 325||I Wang||332- 321||Yüeh falls to Ch'u, 333|
|320- 314||P'ing Kung||314- 296||Wu Wang||310- 307||Hsüan Wang||319- 301||Ch'ing- hsiang Wang||298- 263||Hsiang Wang||311- 296||Hsiang Wang||318- 296||Hui- wen Wang||298- 266||Wang K'uai||320- 312|
|314- 256||Wen Kung||295- 273||Chao Wang||306- 251||Min Wang||300- 284||Hsi Wang||295- 273||Chao Wang||295- 277||Chung-shan falls to Chao, 296||Ssu Chün||324- 283||Chao Wang||311- 279|
|Ch'ing Kung||272- 255||Hsiang Wang||283- 265||Hsiao- lieh Wang||262- 238||Huan- hui Wang||272- 239||An- hsi Wang||276- 243||Hsiao- ch'eng Wang||265- 245||Sung falls to Ch'i, 286||Hui Wang||278- 272|
|Lu falls to Ch'u, 255||Hsiao- wen Wang||250||Wang Chien||264- 221||Lu falls to Ch'u, 256||Ching- min Wang||242- 228||Tao- hsiang Wang||244- 236||Hua Chün||282- 253||Wu- hsiao Wang||271- 258|
|Chou falls to Ch'in;|
Ch'in Dynasty, 255-207
|Chuang- hsiang Wang||249- 247||Yu Wang||237- 228||Wang An||238- 230||Wang Ch'ien||235- 228||Yüan Chün||252- 230||Hsiao Wang||257- 255|
|Cheng Wang, Shih Huang- ti||Wang, 246- 221||Wang Fu- ch'u||227- 223||Wang Chia||227- 225||Tai- wang Jia||227- 222||Chiao Chün||229- 221||Wang Hsi||254- 222|
|Conquest by Ch'in|
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Philosophy of History