Chinese Tales of Legendia: The story of King Wu’s attack on Zhou


Sibo Jichang had been in power for fifty years and died before he could finish the plan to destroy the business. Although Ji Chang could not really attack Shang Dynasty until his death, with the help of Jiang Shang, he laid a solid foundation for future generations to overthrow the rule of Shang Dynasty. After Ji Chang died, his posthumous title was King Wen. His son Ji Fa ascended the throne, which was King Wu of Zhou. King Wu inherited his father’s will and actively prepared for the attack on the Shang Dynasty. In order to facilitate the attack on the dynasty song of the Shang capital, he also moved the capital from Feng to ho.

In the Shang Dynasty, under the rule of the tyrant King Zhou, politics was very corrupt. In order to test the strength of the Shang Dynasty and the world’s response to the attack on the Shang Dynasty, in the second year of his succession, King Wu led his army to the tomb of King Wen in Biyuan (now Chang’an, Shaanxi), and then turned eastward to Chaoge, reaching Mengjin on the south bank of the Yellow River (now the northeast of Mengjin). King Wu claimed to be prince FA and put up a big wooden plaque with the name of his father xibochang in the army, in order to make King Wen still the commander of the army. On hearing the news, more than 800 princes came to participate in the league. At the League meeting, King Wu held an oath ceremony and issued an oath. The princes urged King Wu to attack the dynasty song immediately. However, King Wu and Jiang Taigong believe that the military strength of the Shang Dynasty can not be underestimated, and it is not the time to attack the Shang Dynasty. Therefore, he warned everyone to wait until the time was ripe with “you don’t know your destiny”, and ordered the whole army to cross the Yellow River and return to the western land to wait for the time. This is the famous “Mengjin military observation” in history. Through this large-scale military review, King Wu saw that the people of Zhou Dynasty and King Zhou of Shang Dynasty had been rebellious.

The story of King Wu's attack on Zhou

As soon as the crisis in the west of the Shang Dynasty was relieved, Dongyi took the opportunity to attack merchants on a large scale. King Zhou assembled heavy troops and launched an attack on Dongyi. In the battle against Dongyi, the two sides fought fiercely. The Dongyi people are brave and good at shooting, but the Shang army is well equipped. The weapons are made of bronze, exquisite and sharp, and have great lethality. Not only that, in the battle, the merchant army even organized elephant teams to participate in the war. There is a record in ancient books that “businessmen used elephants to abuse the Dongyi”. The Shang army had an advantage in the battle. The Dongyi army fell down one by one, and many Yi people became prisoners and slaves.

King Zhou commanded the Shang army to march on the victory, which was unstoppable. He rushed all the way to the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, subdued most Dongyi tribes and captured thousands of Dongyi people. In order to avoid future troubles, King Zhou even opened a road to Dongyi, so that when Dongyi had an accident, he could quickly dispatch troops to suppress it. Since then, the Central Plains and the southeast have been interconnected, strengthening the connection between the central and Southeast, so that the culture of the Shang Dynasty can be widely spread in the Yangtze River Basin in the southeast. The Yangtze River Basin has superior natural and geographical conditions, and the local people have absorbed advanced agricultural civilization and developed very rapidly.

However, the war lasted for a long time, and the continuous deployment of troops increased the burden on the people. The national strength of the Shang Dynasty was greatly damaged and accelerated its demise. Therefore, there is a saying in Zuo Zhuan that “Zhou conquered the East and killed him”.

According to the records of Zuo Zhuan, King Zhou probably passed by the Su tribe and captured Daji during the war of conquering Dongyi. After having Daji, King Zhou doted on her. Although years of war made the national strength empty, he didn’t want to make progress, but became more extravagant and licentious. He built deer platforms and made the punishment of artillery. Good officials than dry, Jizi loyal advice, one was killed, one was imprisoned. Seeing that King Zhou was hopeless, the grand master and the young master fled the dynasty song with the sacrificial utensils of the ancestral temple of the Shang Dynasty, which intensified the internal contradictions of the Shang Dynasty.

King Wu and Jiang Shang thought the time had come and it was time to send troops. Therefore, King Wu informed all the vassal states and decisively decided to march towards Chaoge for the final battle to destroy Yin.

About 1046 BC, King Wu of Zhou led 300 chariots, 3000 guards and 45000 soldiers to cross the Yellow River in Mengjin, reach the pasture 70 miles away from Chaoge (now the south of Weihui, Henan), and meet with 4000 chariots of Yong, Shu, Qiang, Wei, Lu, Peng, PU and other countries of the Zhou alliance.

Before the war, King Wu held an oath meeting and made an oath to the whole army, that is, Shangshu pastoral oath. The oath lists the crimes that King Zhou only listened to the words of Daji women and betrayed his ancestors, which shows that the attack on Zhou was a respectful act of “Heaven’s intention”. At the same time, the soldiers are required to be strict in discipline and kill the enemy bravely.

King Wu of Zhou’s army had already arrived at the outskirts of Chaoge. King Zhou of Shang woke up, stopped singing, dancing and banqueting, and convened ministers to discuss countermeasures. At this time, the main force of King Zhou’s army was in the field, and the strength in the city was empty. As a last resort, King Zhou armed prisoners, slaves and prisoners of war, and gathered 170000 people to rush to the pastoral field.

The two sides launched a decisive battle in the pastoral area, and Zhou’s army was in high morale and fought bravely; The Shang army was distracted and had no fighting spirit. Taking advantage of people’s resentment and dissatisfaction with Shang and Zhou, King Wu encouraged soldiers to revolt. As a result, the army temporarily organized by the Shang army defected, turned its spearhead, opened the way for King Wu’s army and entered the Chaoge. This is the famous “battle of Makino”.

Seeing that the situation was gone, King Zhou returned to the Chaoge all night, boarded the deer platform, burned himself and died. King Wu of Zhou completely occupied the Shang capital, and the Shang Dynasty perished. Later, King Wu established the Zhou Dynasty, known as the “Western Zhou Dynasty” in history.

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