States of the Eastern Chou,

The tables of states given here and of their rulers in two popups 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, in 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, above left and below, reflects boundaries shown on the map at page 548 of the Cambridge History, while the maps of the Warring States Period, below, 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], the highest of the "five ranks," , of the Chou feudal system. 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. Also, can just mean an "official" and so is a courtesy rank for many kinds of officials, as we see used with Judge Dee, , who was a District Magistrate. 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, , 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.

Chou Lu Ch'i Chin/Tsin Ch'in Ch'u Sung Wey/Wei
Ch'inCh'uCh'inHan, Chao,
& Wei

Cheng Yen Wu

The table below 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].

Ch'en Chi Chu Chü Hsü Hsüeh T'eng Ts'ai

Ts'ao Yüeh
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.

Teng T'an/Yen Kuo Tsou
Joseph Needham lists [p.94] some states not given by Watson, the Cambridge History, or Ulrich Theobald. He also happily gives characters for all the states he lists, 25 in all. Needham also gives a map [p.92], which shows the states. From the map, it looks very much like Teng is the same state as T'eng, even though different characters are used. If they are not the same, they are certainly adjacent. Needham's small state of Yen, on the coast just south of Shantung, is read "T'an" in Mathews'. Tsou is cited by Mathews' as "the place where Mencius was born." Mathews' actually lists Tsou under "Chou" but glosses it "Pron. tsou1." Needham gives no information about the rank or family of these states -- I show them as "barons" just because this is the lowest rank. Needham employs the extraordinary practice, which I have never seen in any other history book, of giving BC dates as negative numbers. This device recommends itself to serious consideration, but I think Needham may have made a mistake in its application. The absolute value of a negative AD date will be one unit less than the corresponding BC date. For instance, the Warring States period ends in 221 BC. This would be -220 AD. This is because BC dates begins with year 1 in what would be 0 AD. Traditional BC and AD dating does not use the number zero. Between all positive and negative numbers, however, is the number zero. I don't gather that Needham has taken this into account. I thus use Needham's dates without the negative sign and without correcting for the unit difference. (See more about problems with zero in dating here.)

Ch'i [Qy]
I originally provided the character for the state of Chi, , out of Mathews' dictionary (character #430, "Ancient feudal Shantung"). There was another minor state identified by Mathews', that of Ch'i, , (character #547, "A small feudal state"). Watson does not list this state, but Joseph Needham and Ulrich Theobald do (the latter giving an alternative spelling, "Qy", to distinguish it from the Pinyin spelling of the major state of Ch'i, , i.e. "Qi"). However, neither Needham nor Theobald mention Chi. Theobald uses a different character for Ch'i, , while Needham uses . Both states are supposed to be from the house of Ssu [Si], which is suspicious. I had thought that Theobald's character might be a modern, simplified version, but it is the one that actually occurs in the
Analects [III:9], even though it apparently is not given in Mathews' at all. It does look, however, like and are simply variants of the same character; for Mathews' gives a saying with the former, about the "man of Ch'i" who fears that the sky will fall, that is given with the latter character in the ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary, as qirényoutian, "Ch'i man fears sky" [p.742]. The character is pronounced "Chi" in James Legge's translation of the Analects [1893], but "Ch'i" in Arthur Waley's translation [1938] and D.C. Lau's [1979]. The more recent translation by David H. Li [Premier Publishing, Bethesda, Maryland, 1999], actually gives the name as "Gi," which is not even a syllable in the Pinyin writing of Mandarin otherwise used in the translation -- but the modern Mandarin ji would be from an archaic gi. This conflicting information about the pronunciation of , and its similarities in form to , makes me wonder if there has been some confusion. Either two different states really are involved, or it may be that there was originally one state that had been mistakenly separated with different but similar characters (and pronunciations). I thought that perhaps the meaning for as a feudal state in Mathews' was a mistake, but the same character, for the state of "Ji," is used in the Cambridge History [p.409] -- though without enough information to decide if Chi [Ji] and Ch'i [Qy] (which is not mentioned in the History) are identical. I have not yet found any discussion of the issue. I suspect they are indeed the same; but with 120 states in the Spring and Autumn Period, they could easily be entirely different. Both Needham and Theobald say that Ch'i fell to Ch'u in 445.

Chung Shan
Needham, Theobald, and the Cambridge History [p.594] list another minor state, that of Chung Shan, , which lay in the mountains between Chao and Yen. This had some earlier non-Chinese antecedents but then in 414 was granted as a fief to Duke Wu, a grandson of the Chou King Ting Wang (606-585) -- though more than a century and a half seems a bit long for only two generations. Theobald gives no other rulers for Chung Shan and says that it falls to Chao in 295. However, Needham show Chung Shan already falling to Wei () in 408 -- which could make Duke Wu the only independent ruler. Whatever the dates, Chung Shan would seem to be adjacent to Chao, not to Wei, though Needham shows this on his map and still marks it "to Wei." The maps here use the later date and annexation by Chao.

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, .
It is not apparent, for instance, from Goodrich's maps that these are not simply the same state. This convention also occurs in Theobald, and I have retained it here to avoid ambiguity, especially since Wey continues into the Warring States Period (which one would not know from the Cambridge History tables, or Goodrich's maps), and the two exist concurrently until the Ch'in conquest. Despite that continuation, Wey, small and inconsequential, is not counted as one of the "Six Kingdoms." It is the only state here whose ranks declines over time, from Duke to Marquis and finally just to "Prince," a title that otherwise is generic and not one of the "five ranks."

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.

Popup of Rulers of the Spring and Autumn Period

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.

Popup of Rulers of the Warring States Period

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