Warring States Period

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Eastern Han
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    Japan's Sengoku period is sometimes referred to as the Warring States Period.

    The Warring States Period (Traditional Chinese: 戰國時代; Simplified Chinese: 战国时代; pinyin: Zhànguó Shídài) covers the period from sometime in the 5th century BC to the unification of China by the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. It is nominally considered to be the second part of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, following the Spring and Autumn Period, although the Zhou dynasty itself ended in 256 BC, 35 years earlier than the end of the Warring States period. Like the Spring and Autumn Period, the king of Zhou acted merely as a figurehead. The name Warring States Period was derived from the Record of the Warring States compiled in early Han Dynasty. The date for the beginning of the Warring States Period is somewhat in dispute. While it is frequently cited as 475 BC (following the Spring and Autumn Period), 403 BC - the date of the tripartition of the Jin (state) - is also sometimes considered as the beginning of the period.

    Image:China 2c.jpg
    Warring States period.
    The Warring States Period, in contrast to the Spring and Autumn Period, was a period when regional warlords annexed smaller states around them and consolidated their rule. The process began in the Spring and Autumn Period, and by the 3rd century BC, seven major states had risen to prominence. These Seven Warring States (戰國七雄/战国七雄 Zhànguó Qīxióng, literally "Seven Hegemonial among the Warring States"), were the Qi (齊), the Chu (楚), the Yan (燕), the Han (韓), the Zhao (趙), the Wei (魏) and the Qin (秦). Another sign of this shift in power was a change in title: warlords still considered themselves dukes (公 pinyin: gōng) of the Zhou Dynasty king; but now the warlords began to call themselves kings (王 pinyin: wáng), meaning they were equal to the Zhou king.

    The Warring States Period saw the proliferation of iron working in China, replacing bronze as the dominant metal used in warfare. Areas such as Shu (modern Sichuan) and Yue (modern Zhejiang) were also brought into the Chinese cultural sphere during this time. Walls built by the states to keep out northern nomadic tribes and each other were the precursors of the Great Wall of China. Different philosophies developed into the Hundred Schools of Thought, including Confucianism (elaborated by Mencius), Taoism (elaborated by Zhuang Zi), Legalism (formulated by Han Feizi) and Mohism (formulated by Mozi). Trade also became important, and some merchants had considerable power in politics. Military tactics also changed. Unlike the Spring and Autumn Period, most armies in the Warring States Period made combined use of infantry and cavalry, and the use of chariots gradually fell into disfavor. Thus from this period on, the nobles in China remained a literate rather than warrior class, as the kingdoms competed by throwing masses of soldiers against each other. Arms of soldiers gradually changed from bronze to unified iron arms. The popular dagger-axes were extremely popular among various kingdoms, especially Qin who produced 18 ft long pikes.

    This was also around the time the legendary military strategist Sun Tzu (Sun Zi) wrote The Art of War which is recognized today as the most influential, and oldest known military strategy guide. Along with this are other military writings that make up the Seven Military Classics of ancient China: T'ai Kung's Six Secret Teachings, The Methods of the Sima, Sun Bin's Art of War, Wu Qi, Wei Liaozi, Three strategies of Huang Shigong, and The Questions and Replies of Tang Taizong and Li Weigong (the last being made ±800 years after this era ended). Once China was unified, these seven military classics were locked away and access was restricted due to their tendency to promote revolution.

    Contents

    [edit] Partition of Jin

    In the Spring and Autumn Period, the State of Jin (晉) was arguably the most powerful state in China. However, near the end of the Spring and Autumn Period, the power of the ruling family weakened, and Jin gradually came under the control of six large families (六卿). By the beginning of the Warring States Period, after numerous power struggles, there were four families left: the Zhi (智) family, the Wei (魏) family, the Zhao (趙) family, and the Han (韓) family, with the Zhi family being the dominant power in Jin. Zhi Yao (智瑶), the last head of the Zhi family, attempted a coalition with the Wei family and the Han family to destroy the Zhao family. However, because of Zhi Yao's arrogance and disrespect towards the other families, the Wei family and Han family secretly allied with the Zhao family, and the three families launched a surprise attack that annihilated the Zhi family.

    In 403 BC, the three major families of Jin, with the approval of the Zhou king, partitioned Jin into three states, which was historically known as 'The Partition of Jin of the Three Families' (三家分晉). The new states were: the State of Han, the State of Zhao, and the State of Wei. The three family heads were given the title of Marquis (侯), and because the three states were originally part of Jin, they are also referred to as the Three Jins (三晉). The State of Jin continued to exist with a tiny piece of territory until 376 BC when the rest of the territory was partitioned by the Three Jins.

    [edit] Change of Government in Qi

    In 389 BC, the Tian (田) family seized control of the State of Qi and was given the title of Duke. The old Jiang (姜) family's State of Qi continued to exist with a small piece of territory until 379 BC, when it was finally absorbed into Tian family's State of Qi.

    [edit] Early strife in the Three Jins, Qi, and Qin

    In 371 BC, Marquess Wu of Wei died without specifying a successor, causing Wei to fall into an internal war of succession. After three years of civil war, Zhao and Han, sensing an opportunity, invaded Wei. On the verge of conquering Wei, the leaders of Zhao and Han fell into disagreement on what to do with Wei and both armies mysteriously retreated. As a result, King Hui of Wei (still a Marquess at the time) was able to ascend onto the throne of Wei.

    In 354 BC, King Hui of Wei initiated a large scale attack at Zhao, which some historians believe was to avenge the earlier near destruction of Wei. By 353 BC, Zhao was losing the war badly, and one of their major cities — Handan (邯鄲), a city that would eventually become Zhao's capital — was being besieged. As a result, the neighbouring State of Qi decided to help Zhao. The strategy Qi used, suggested by the famous tactician Sun Bin (孫臏), a descendant of Sun Tzu, who at the time was the Qi army advisor, was to attack Wei's territory while the main Wei army is busy sieging Zhao, forcing Wei to retreat. The strategy was a success; the Wei army hastily retreated, and encountered the Qi midway, culminating into the Battle of Guiling (Pinyin: guì líng) (桂陵之戰) where Wei was decisively defeated. The event spawned the idiom "圍魏救趙", meaning "Surrounding Wei to save Zhao", which is still used in modern Chinese to refer to attacking an enemy's vulnerable spots in order to relieve pressure being applied by that enemy upon an ally.

    In 341 BC, Wei attacked Han, and Qi interfered again. The two generals from the previous Battle of Guiling met again, and due to the brilliant strategy of Sun Bin, Wei was again decisively defeated at the Battle of Maling (馬陵之戰).

    The situation for Wei took an even worse turn when Qin, taking advantage of Wei series of defeats by Qi, attacked Wei in 340 BC under the advice of famous Qin reformer Shang Yang (商鞅). Wei was devastatingly defeated and was forced to cede a large portion of its territory to achieve a truce. This left their capital Anyi vulnerable, so Wei was also forced to move their capital to Daliang.

    After these series of events, Wei became severely weakened, and the Qi and Qin states became the two dominant states in China.

    [edit] Shang Yang's reforms in Qin

    Main article: Shang Yang

    Around 359 BC, Shang Yang (商鞅), a minister of the State of Qin, initiated a series of reforms that transformed Qin from a backward state into one that surpasses the other six states. It is generally regarded that this is the point where Qin started to become the most dominant state in China.

    [edit] Ascension of the Kingdoms

    In 334 BC, the rulers of Wei and Qi agreed to recognize each other as Kings (王), formalizing the independence of the states and the powerlessness of the Zhou throne since the beginning of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. The King of Wei and the King of Qi joined the ranks of the King of Chu, whose predecessors had been Kings since the Spring and Autumn Period. From this point on, all the other states eventually declare their Kingship, signifying the beginning of the end of the Zhou Dynasty.

    In 325 BC, the ruler of Qin declared himself as King.

    In 323 BC, the rulers of Han and Yan declared themselves as King.

    In 318 BC, the ruler of Song, a relatively minor state, declared himself as King.

    The ruler of Zhao held out until around 299 BC, and was the last to declare himself as King.

    [edit] Chu expansion and defeats

    Early in the Warring States Period, Chu was one of the strongest states in China. The state rose to a new level around 389 BC when the King of Chu named the famous reformer Wu Qi (吳起) to be his prime minister.

    Chu rose to its peak in 334 BC when it gained vast amounts of territory. The series of events leading up to this began when Yue (越) prepared to attack Qi. The King of Qi sent an emissary who persuaded the King of Yue to attack Chu instead. Yue initiated a large scale attack at Chu, but was devastatingly defeated by Chu's counter-attack. Chu then proceeded to conquer the State of Yue.

    (in progress)

    [edit] The Domination of Qin and the resulting Grand Strategies

    Towards the end of the Warring States Period, the State of Qin became disproportionately powerful compared to the other six states. As a result, the policies of the six states became overwhelmingly oriented towards dealing with the Qin threat, with two opposing schools of thought: Hezong (合縱/合纵 pinyin: hézòng, "vertically linked"), or alliance with each other to repel Qin expansionism; and Lianheng (連橫/连横 pinyin: liánhéng, "horizontally linked"), or alliance with Qin to participate in its ascendancy. There were some initial successes in Hezong, though it eventually broke down. Qin repeatedly exploited the Lianheng strategy to defeat the states one by one. During this period, many philosophers and tacticians travelled around the states recommending the rulers to put their respective ideas into use. These "lobbyists" were famous for their tact and intellect, and were collectively known as Zonghengjia (縱橫家), taking its name from the two main schools of thought.

    In 316 BC, Qin conquered the Shu area.

    [edit] Zhao's military reforms

    307 BC. Adoption of superior non-Chinese clothing and cavalry (胡服騎射) under the reign of King Wuling of Zhao

    [edit] Qin's conquest of China

    In 230 BC, Qin conquers Han.

    In 225 BC, Qin conquers Wei.

    In 223 BC, Qin conquers Chu.

    In 222 BC, Qin conquers Yan and Zhao.

    In 221 BC, Qin conquers Qi, completing the unification of China, and ushering in the Qin Dynasty.

    [edit] External links

    cs:Období válčících států

    de:Zeit der Streitenden Reiche es:Reinos Combatientes pl:Okres Walczących Królestw pt:Período dos Reinos Combatentes fr:Période des royaumes combattants he:תקופת מלחמת המדינות ko:전국시대 id:Zaman Negara-Negara Berperang ja:戦国時代 (中国) nb:De stridende staters tid fi:Taistelevat läänitysvaltiot vi:Chiến Quốc zh:战国 (中国) sv:De krigande staterna

    Warring States Period

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