The Zhou Dynasty

WHAT WAS THE MANDATE OF HEAVEN AND WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT?

Zhou leaders claimed that the Shang king wasn't that great of a ruler, so the gods had taken away his power, and given it to them.  They believed that they had been given the Mandate of Heaven, which is a right to rule China granted from god or the heavens.  According to this belief, Heaven was a power that controlled human destiny.  As long as the king ruled his kingdom well, Heaven gave him the right to rule.                                                                                                                                                               

WHAT WAS THE ZHOU GOVERNMENT LIKE?

The Zhou dynasty ruled for more than 800 years.  It was ruled longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history.  The Zhou government copied the Shang system of dividing the kingdom into smaller territories.  The Zhou kings also ruled much like Shang rulers.

WHAT THINGS DID THE ZHOU DYNASTY ACHIEVE?  WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?

  • Developed irrigation and flood-control systems RESULT: Farmers could grow more crops than before, and because more food can support more people, the population increased.
  • Learned to use iron, which was cheaper and stronger than bronze RESULT: Helped strengthen the army
  • The catapult RESULT: Helped strengthen the army
  • China's first military on horseback RESULT: Helped strengthen the army
  • Chopsticks
  • Coins

WHY DID THE ZHOU EMPIRE FALL?

During it's later years, different leaders started fighting for control in China.  Many of the aristocrats that ruled Zhou property became powerful, and stopped obeying the Zhou kings, and started competing for control as well.  The whole country was thrown into disorder and chaos.  Historians called this time the "Period of the Warring States."  This disorder weakened the Zhou dynasty and allowed them to be overthrown by Qin Shihuangdi, and the Qin dynasty began.

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