King Ping’s eastern migration-平王东迁

In order to win a smile from his favored concubine Bao Si, King You of Zhou recklessly lit the beacon fires without reason, breaking his trust with the feudal lords. Later, he sought to depose Queen Shen and Crown Prince Yijiu, replacing them with Bao Si as queen and her son Bo Fu as crown prince. This angered Shen’s father, Marquis Shen, who, along with the Qiang Rong, raised an army and attacked Haojing. King You, panicked, quickly lit the beacon fires for help. Although the feudal lords saw the beacon fires, they, resentful of being deceived by King You before, refused to come to his aid. As a result, the Qiang Rong breached Haojing, and King You was killed, marking the downfall of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

Upon learning that the Qiang Rong had indeed invaded Haojing, the feudal lords mobilized their forces to defend the capital. After looting the treasures of the Zhou royal family, the Qiang Rong set fire to Haojing and withdrew. The feudal lords entered Haojing, collectively enthroning the deposed Crown Prince Yijiu as the new king, known as King Ping of Zhou.

When King Ping ascended the throne, Haojing was in shambles: pillaged by the Qiang Rong, it lay in ruins. King You’s tyrannical rule, coupled with natural disasters, had left the Guanzhong region desolate, with a significant decline in population. Historical records indicate that drought had plagued the northwest Guanzhong region since the late reign of King Xuan, and by the time of King Ping, the Luo, Jing, and Wei River valleys had all dried up, severely affecting agricultural production. Additionally, earthquakes and landslides occurred in the Qishan region, disrupting the normal lives of the people. Haojing, bordering nomadic tribes to the northwest, faced a formidable threat from the powerful Qiang Rong, and with the Zhou military forces rendered powerless, it was incapable of resisting.

Faced with the precarious situation, King Ping decided to move the capital to Luoyi, further east, away from the Qiang Rong. In the early years of the Western Zhou Dynasty, after Duke of Zhou quelled the Rebellion of the Three Guards, Luoyi was constructed as an auxiliary capital to govern the central plains. Under the rule of King Cheng, Duke of Zhou continued the construction of Luoyi, and after more than ten years, it had already taken on the scale of a secondary capital. Although more than two hundred years had passed since then, Luoyi’s palaces remained majestic and splendid. King Ping believed that Luoyi met the conditions to become the capital: centrally located in the Central Plains, facilitating communication with various states, economically developed, and with the support of neighboring states such as Jin, Zheng, and Wei, which had backed the Zhou royal family. With the country undergoing changes and Haojing ravaged by war, now in ruins, Luoyi seemed suitable as the new capital.

Thus, in the first year of King Ping’s reign, around 770 BCE, he, accompanied by his ministers and Queen Shen, departed from Haojing, intending to relocate the capital to Luoyi. Along the way, they encountered resistance from the Western Rong tribes, leading to a conflict where King Ping’s soldiers gradually diminished. Worried about the situation, King Ping witnessed the arrival of the Qin ruler with his army. The Qin forces, known for their valor and combat prowess, quickly defeated the Western Rong, forcing them to retreat.

Considering the long journey to Luoyi and the potential encounters with Western Rong and other barbarian tribes, the Qin ruler pledged to escort King Ping to Luoyi. Delighted, King Ping granted him the title of Duke, specifically Duke Xiang of Qin.

Under the protection of the states of Zheng, Qin, Jin, and others, King Ping continued his journey eastward. The formidable soldiers led by Duke Xiang repelled potential threats from the Western Rong, ensuring the safe relocation of the Zhou royal family. With the assistance of Zheng and Jin, King Ping reestablished the Zhou dynasty, marking the historical event known as the “Eastern Relocation of King Ping.” This relocation initiated the Eastern Zhou period.

During King Ping’s rule, which lasted for over fifty years until his death in 720 BCE, the Zhou dynasty continued to endure for more than five centuries in Luoyi. While the Eastern Zhou era started with the wise decision of the Eastern Relocation, the Zhou dynasty, facing internal strife and external threats, gradually lost control over the feudal lords and witnessed a decline in its status.

Simultaneously, the territorial possessions of the Zhou royal family diminished. Initially, after the Eastern Relocation, the Zhou royal family controlled the territories radiating from Chengzhou. Qin expelled the Rong tribes east of Mount Qi, offering those lands to the Zhou royal family. Therefore, in theory, the area east of Mount Qi still belonged to the royal family. However, the eastern territories became increasingly challenging for King Ping’s descendants to retain, gradually shrinking in size.

During the reign of King Hui, the lands east of Hu Lao (modern Sishui, Henan) were granted to the state of Zheng, and Jiuquan was given to the state of Guo. The Zhou family’s eastern territories were confined within the vicinity of Hu Lao Pass. Later, Duke Wen of Jin used a route through the state of Yu to conquer the state of Guo. As Guo controlled a strategic passage to Guanzhong, the location of Peach Tree Barrier, Hangu Pass, and Tong Pass in ancient times, Jin’s occupation of Guo led to the Zhou royal family’s loss of significant territories. Consequently, they were limited to an area of just a few hundred miles in the east, becoming a second-tier vassal state.

In the reign of King Xiang, Qin and Jin further bestowed the regions of Yang Fan, Wen, Yuan, and Quan Mao (locations north of the Yellow River) to Jin. Subsequently, King Xiang, in recognition of Jin’s suppression of internal turmoil, granted them additional territories. As a result, Jin’s borders extended to Nanyang. The Zhou royal family had lost vast territories, and its controlled area was reduced to less than two hundred miles around Luoyi. The Zhou family’s status plummeted further.

The Eastern Zhou era can be broadly divided into two stages: the first stage is known as the “Spring and Autumn Period,” and the second stage is referred to as the “Warring States Period.” It was not until the end of the Warring States Period, around 221 BCE, that the state of Qin conquered the six other states, unifying China and bringing the era to a close.