The Shang Dynasty
The Shang emperor! (above)
Rulers from the Shang Dynasty became powerful because they controlled land and had very strong armies.
Shang government was controlled by a very powerful king, and to extend his power he set up smaller kingdoms, which were led by his younger brothers and nephews. When a king died his power would usually be past on to a younger brother, or a son. Shang kings need a strong army to to keep ruling and defend their kingdom, Shang centered on ancestor worship. The treasures buried in in kings tombs show that the Shang believed in afterlife. They also believed that their dead ancestors had the power to help or harm the living. Shang excelled in war, enabling the ruling classes to build up great wealth but in time, these very strengths helped to bring about the end of the Dynasty. Constant warfare eventually weakend the military power of the Shang. A later king would say that the final blow was the corruption of the last Shang king. But a clan named the Zhou rose up against the Shang around 1045 B.C.E. Zhou armies were under King Wu caught the Shang unaware, defending and overthrowing them. One story says that as Zhou rebels stormed his capital city, the last Shang king ran from the battlefield, put on all his jewelry, and threw himself into the flames of a fire.