When the Zhou (Chou) dynasty was established in about the eleventh century B.C., its feudal system consisted of some 172 states under the nominal central authority of a single king, the Son of Heaven. As time went by, probably due to the unwieldy size of the kingdom and primitive form of communication technology, the various states became increasingly independent of the political center. With the gradual decline of the authority of the king, conflicts erupted among the various states with growing intensity (Davidson 465). Since the eighth century B.C. it became more common for stronger states to conquer and annex smaller and weaker states. Then the political order gradually deteriorated into a condition of "international" anarchy, a war of all states against all states. By the end of the Spring and Autumn period there were only some twenty-two states left. During the subsequent Warring States period, incessant wars and annexations were conducted among the remaining states until the unification of China under the domination of the sole surviving Qin state in 221 B.C. (Hulsewe and Loewe 34).
Before arrival of the Qin, the royal Zhou domain never exceeded a thin strip of land bordering the capital. ...Show more