An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Chu Zhuangwang 楚莊王, King Zhuang of Chu

Dec 2, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Chu Zhuangwang 楚莊王 (r. 613-591) was a ruler of the state of Chu 楚 during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE) and was one of the so-called five hegemons (wuba 五霸). His personal name was Mi Xionglü 芈熊侶 (also written 熊呂 or 熊旅). The state of Chu is sometimes called Jing 荊, and Xionglü's posthumous title is also King Yan 嚴王.

He succeeded to the throne as son of King Mu 楚穆王 (r. 625-614). King Zhuang started his reign in a style of laissez-faire politics without much caring for the government. His advisors Wu Ju 伍舉 and Su Cong 蘇從 opened him his eyes, so that he started restructuring the administration and strengthening the royal power with the support of Sunshu Ao 孫叔敖. The state took over the care for hydraulic works, dykes and dams, he built up a strong army and quelled the internal rebellion of a certain Ruo Ao 若敖 (not King Ruo Ao, r. 791-764). His armies marched to the north, defeated the state of Song 宋 and the Rong 戎 barbarians of Luhun 陸渾, and lined up before the domain of the king of Zhou 周.

With the awareness of his power King Zhuang of Chu menaced the King of Zhou and threatened him that Chu would be able to replace the house of Zhou. The armies of Chu then conquered a handfull of smaller states like Yong 庸, Shu 舒 and Chen 陳, and in 602, King Zhuang was able to destroy the army of Jin 晉 at Bi 邲 (modern Yingyang 滎陽, Henan). Chu thus came to replace Jin as the hegemonial power of the Central States.

Cang Xiuliang 倉修良, ed. (1991). Shiji cidian 史記辭典 (Jinan: Shandong jiaoyu chubanshe), 590.