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King Zhuang of Chu

King Zhuang of Chu

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King Zhuāng of Chǔ (died 591 BC) was a monarch of the Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

 State of Chu
Chu (state)
The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

 during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history. Born ancestral name Mi(芈), given name is Lǚ (旅 or 侶), he became one of the Five Hegemons and later attempted to wrest control of China from the Zhou King.

King Zhuang ascended the throne in 613 BC at a time when the Kingdom of Chu was in disarray. For the first three years of his kingship, Zhuang wasted time on excessive hunting and lavish partying. Several courtiers were anxious about the king but none dared speak up as he had given orders that anyone who challenged his authority would be killed. When a particularly senior minister challenged him through a riddle, the king responded that he had been waiting for three years for someone from his court to show some nationalistic pride.

The king made Sunshu Ao
Sunshu Ao
Sun Shu-Ao was an ancient Chinese court minister serving the administration of King Zhuang of Chu during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. During his governmental career, SUN Shu-Ao was given notice by King Zhuang, who had him promoted to the rank of Prime Minister in the State of Chu...

 (孫叔敖) Chancellor
Chancellor of China
The Chancellor , variously translated as Prime Minister, Chancellor of State, Premier or Chief Councillor, was a generic name given to the highest-ranking official in the imperial government in ancient China...

 and began a series of reforms. Chu's agricultural output improved significantly during his reign, aided by Sunshu Ao's comprehensive dam-works and an enormous planned reservoir created in modern-day northern Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

 province. In 611 BC he annexed the State of Yong (庸国), a move which made Chu much stronger.

After some overwhelming victories at the head of his army, King Zhuang attempted to take the place of King Ding of Zhou
King Ding of Zhou
King Ding of Zhou or King Ting of Chou was the twenty-first sovereign of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty and the ninth of Eastern Zhou Dynasty.-Personal information: Family name Ji in Chinese...

. He asked a messenger from Zhou about the weight of the Nine Tripod Cauldrons
Nine Tripod Cauldrons
According to legend the Nine Tripod Cauldrons were created following the foundation of the Xia Dynasty by Yu the Great, using tribute metal presented by the governors of the Nine Provinces of ancient China....

 which Zhou possessed, a euphemism for seeking ultimate power in China at the time but was rebuffed.

In the Battle of Bi, his army defeated the State of Jin(晉國), another strong state at that time. Later he achieved hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 amongst some other states. His progress from lazy regent to a hegemon of his time gave rise to the Chinese Four-character idiom
Four-character idiom
Chengyu are a type of traditional Chinese idiomatic expressions, most of which consist of four characters. Chengyu were widely used in Classical Chinese and are still common in vernacular Chinese writing and in the spoken language today...

of "Yī Mǐng Jīng Rén" (一嗚驚人), literally "Amazing [the others] with one cry", which comes from his promise: "不嗚則已,一嗚驚人;不飛則已,一飛衝天", translated as "[It would be] fine if he does not cry out, [if he does,] one cry is enough to amaze all others; [It would be fine] if he does not fly, [if he does,] he would charge through the sky".