Analyse the Social Order of Ancient Chinese Society During the Zhou Dynasty.
The Zhou dynasty was the longest lasting dynasty in Chinese history lasting from around 1122 B.C.E until 221 B.C.E. This dynasty was split into two main parts, the Western Zhou (1122 to 771) and Eastern Zhou (771 to 221) dynasties. The Zhou clan had always been present in China but it was around this time that they grew in size and power. In 1046, the newly appointed leader of the Zhou clan overthrew the Shang leaders to begin the new dynasty.
It was a time of territorial expansion, increased education and financial growth. During the Zhou dynasty, agriculture was the main source of sustenance and iron and bronze were being used in regular life. Infrastructure changed to become more urbanised and the development of a bureaucracy led to better commerce and a more stable society.
Social Structure – Overview
During the Zhou dynasty, each territory was appointed a leader, known as an aristocrat, to govern their own affairs. This was the result of poor communication over the massive size of the territory in the control of the Zhou emperors. The society was based on a proto-feudal system, where the noblemen of each state took control of the peasants and slaves.
King / Emperor
The first emperor of the Zhou dynasty was Emperor Wu, who came to power after overthrowing the Shang leaders. Zhou emperors were kings who believed they were descendents of a god called the Millet Ruler, who had given them permission from heaven to rule.
During this dynasty which lasted around 900 years, a total of 37 emperors ruled China. The emperor’s role in society was to be the supreme leader of the Zhou dynasty, make decisions on territorial expansion, trade alliances, developments in infrastructure and keeping the civilisation at peace.
Aristocracy / Significant Figures
During this dynasty, lords, marquises and noblemen were the leaders by birthright of feudal states that coexisted under the rule of the emperor but were able to run the affairs of...