An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Zhou Chengwang 周成王, King Cheng of Zhou

Feb 23, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

King Cheng of Zhou 周成王 (r. 1116-1079 BCE), personal name Ji Song 姬誦, was the second king of the Zhou dynasty 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) and son of King Wu 周武王. He ascended to the throne after the early death of his father.

Because of the new king's young age, his uncle, the Duke of Zhou 周公, took over regency. Some of the Duke's brothers, especially the dukes of Guan 管, Cai 蔡, and Huo 霍 accused the Duke of Zhou of usurpation. Together with Prince Wu Geng 武庚 (courtesy name Lu Fu 禄父), a son of the late king of the overthrown Shang dynasty 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE), and the lords of Xu 徐, Yan 奄, Xiong 熊 and Ying 盈, part of them ruling over non-Chinese tribes in the east, they attacked the Duke of Zhou. Yet the Duke defeated them and had them executed or demoted to commoners.

The Duke further campaigned against 17 states of the eastern barbarians. In order to have an easier access to those regions, the Duke of Zhou had established a secondary capital in the east, at the banks of the Luo River 洛水, called Luoyi 雒邑 (modern Luoyang 洛陽, Henan). As a further consequence, the administration of various territories of the kingdom by regional rulers (zhuhou 諸侯) were partly newly arranged.

In the seventh year of his reign, King Cheng personally took over regency, and the Duke withdrew from the post of regent. The King ordered the Duke of Zhou and Duke of Shao 召公 to built up Luoyang, the Eastern Capital. The Duke of Zhou was further ordered to establish appropriate state rituals with ritual music, and to design administrative rules for the various government affairs.

The Duke later on left the Eastern Capital and went into exile, yet in the face of death, he exerted considerable power as tutor of the crown prince. After the death of King Cheng, his son Zhao 釗 acceeded to the throne. He is known as King Kang 周康王.

Xiong Tieji 熊鐵基, Yang Youli 楊有禮, ed. (1994). Zhongguo diwang zaixiang cidian 中國帝王宰相辭典 (Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu chubanshe), 25.