Shang Tang Overthrows Xia-商汤灭夏

In the 21st century BC, Yu Qi established the first slave state in China, the Xia Dynasty, which lasted for over four hundred years with seventeen kings. The last king, Jie of Xia, was tyrannical and indulgent, exploiting and oppressing the people, resulting in barren fields and widespread suffering. The people harbored deep hatred towards him, wishing for his demise. Jie gradually lost the support of the people, facing both internal and external challenges.

During this time, a tribe called Shang was growing stronger. The founder of the Shang tribe was Qi. During Yu the Great’s flood control efforts, Qi assisted and achieved great success. Emperor Shun rewarded him with the land of Shang to govern. Over four hundred years of development led to Tang becoming the fourteenth leader of the Shang tribe. Tang was a wise and capable ruler who cared for his people, prioritizing agriculture, improving water conservation, ensuring abundant food supplies, and promoting trade, which significantly increased the tribe’s wealth. While the Xia Dynasty was declining, the Shang tribe, under Tang’s leadership, became a powerful force.

Jie’s tyranny and mismanagement led to internal decay and external threats, causing the people’s discontent. Tang, concerned about the state of the country, recommended the talented and virtuous Yi Yin to Jie.

Yi Yin, once abandoned in a mulberry forest during childhood and adopted by the Shennong clan, later earned his position as the chef for the Shennong leader due to his culinary skills. Observing the situation, Yi Yin realized that Shennong was a descendant of Emperor Yu of Xia and recognized the difficulty of overthrowing the Xia Dynasty. When Tang married Shennong’s daughter, Yi Yin willingly became a slave and accompanied Tang to Shang. With his extensive knowledge and insights, Yi Yin incorporated governance principles into culinary processes, analyzing the state of the world. He understood that the time for the downfall of the Xia Dynasty had come, awaiting a righteous ruler to replace it.

After Yi Yin returned, Tang officially appointed him as the Prime Minister. With Yi Yin’s assistance, Tang focused on developing agriculture, forging weapons, and training the army. Soon, Shang became more prosperous and powerful.

Later, Jie, to please his favorite concubine Meixi, constructed extravagant palaces, causing immense suffering to the people. Minister Guan Longxiang was executed for advising against such actions. Tang, already growing powerful, drew Jie’s attention, who framed Tang for ignoring royal authority, ordering his capture and imprisonment at Xiasi in present-day Yuzhou, Henan.

The prosperity of Shang had alarmed Jie, and seizing the opportunity, he falsely accused Tang. However, through Yi Yin’s manipulation, Tang was released, returning to Shang. Tang now realized the corruption of the Xia Dynasty and was determined to overthrow it.

With Yi Yin’s help, Tang accelerated preparations to overthrow Xia. When Tang stopped sending tributes to Xia, Jie, infuriated, ordered the Nine Yi tribes to attack Shang. Yi Yin advised Tang to await the right moment and stop tributes to test Jie’s reaction before deciding to launch an attack.

After a year, Tang again ceased tributes, and as expected, many tribes, discontented with Jie’s oppression, rebelled against Xia. Yi Yin declared that it was time to overthrow Jie. Tang summoned his generals for a war council, expressing that Jie’s cruelty and oppression had led to widespread suffering, and it was their destiny to replace the corrupt Xia Dynasty.

Tang led his forces, initially conquering the Ge State and absorbing over a dozen small vassal states and tribes loyal to Xia. Subsequently, they defeated Jie’s vassal states, Wei and Gu, and triumphed over Kunwu. With Shang as the center, Tang expanded its territory to several hundred miles.

When Tang advanced towards Xia’s capital, the people of Xia, already eager for change, enthusiastically welcomed Shang’s army. Jie, realizing the dire situation, hastily gathered his troops for battle at Mingtiao (present-day Qiu Dong, Henan). However, Xia’s soldiers were demoralized, and many deserted. Jie, fleeing with Meixi and treasures, was pursued by Shang’s forces. Crossing the river to Nanchao (present-day Chaozhou, Anhui), Jie met his demise there.

Tang achieved a decisive victory, unified the country, and ascended the throne. He implemented a series of benevolent policies, and the vassal states willingly submitted. The Xia Dynasty, ruling for over four centuries, came to an end.