Home / papers / The Zongfa Feudalism and the Significance of Ancestral Ceremony in the Ancient Chinese Political Context

The Zongfa Feudalism and the Significance of Ancestral Ceremony in the Ancient Chinese Political Context

The ancient China was established through the Zhou cultural and political order. The Zhou feudalism system was characterized by the existence of small states headed by the supreme lord (Zou king). The lord was served under the kinship system known as Zongfa (Loewe & Shaughenessy 571). The leadership of the lord was based on a kinship system. Therefore, the king entrusted his relatives as the rulers of the states. These rulers were also served by the ministers and the high officers who also happen to the kinsmen. Even the lowest ranks of the Zhou feudalism systems related to the lord by blood or marriage.

The Zongfa kinship system provided a smooth succession of the Zhou kings are rulers at various levels. In most cases, the eldest son would tool over the leadership from the departed. The political authority of the patriarchal lines depended on the authority along the hierarchy (Loewe & Shaughenessy 573).

The Zhou feudalism system ruled extensive areas of China by delegated authority. The lords supported each other and were also supported by the resources in the Zhou capital system. The rulers in the state participated in the power networks that facilitated smooth leadership of the Zongfa Feudalism. Such a system is credited for sustaining the ruling system for about three centuries.

Eventually, the lordship system collapsed as regional leaders began to annex the neighboring states in their pursuit to expand their territory. The annexation process was led by the four major powers that consumed most of the states (Loewe & Shaughenessy 579). These expansions led to the achievement of the ba status.

After the loss of the Zhou order, the non-Zhou people found the opportunity to be involved in the more inclusive Zhou elements. The various groups began to take part in the interstate community and acted as allies in military actions. The inclusion of the non-Zhou elements was also facilitated by the intermarriage between these communities. On the same note, the matrimonial ties that had bound the Zhou feudal community facilitated the fusion and the inclusion of the non-Zhou members into an inclusive nation that was later named China. In other words, the dissolution of the Zhou feudal states facilitated the emergence of the ancient China.

The Zhou feudal structure changed due to the constant power struggles among the rulers. The changes in the feudal structure also had an impact on the political structures. To prevent possible threats to his authority, Jin Xian Gong eliminated all his cousins. Thereafter, the power of the Jin court was concentrated to one ingle ruler. Eventually, the struggle of power broke up in other states between cousins and brothers. As these rulers acquired more power, the political structures of the Zhou order changed drastically.

The new territories that were acquired needed to be governed, leading to the development of secondary administrative units. Specifically, Jin’s expansion led to the development of secondary feudalism. Unlike the previous regimes that depended on their kinsmen to rule, Jin awarded his loyalists to rule the expanded provinces. Others were also awarded the opportunity to rule based on merit. Secondary feudalization also began to take place in other states. By the last quarter of the 7th century, secondary feudalization had expanded in most parts of the ancient China (Loewe & Shaughenessy 573). From this period, the rulers were mostly overshadowed with ministers who began to dominate the state affairs. Despite the weakening of the noble houses, some of them maintained their kinship system.

The increasing population also changed the state structure. In the fear of losing control of the vast state resources, they had to face the new situations from a different perspective. Restructuring was necessary in order to integrate the resources that were formerly held under the Zhou order. In this regard, the satellite cities were organized together with the boundaries to establish large existing states. On the same note, the military reorganized to include people of the expanded regions. A new system was also adopted that imposed taxes on the subjects. The military duties were also imposed on the residents in the countryside.

At the same time, the southern states never had the same feudal background as the northern states. In the southern states, the political establishment faced less resistance. These southern states, under the leadership of Chu, seemed to have a firm control over his financial and human resources (Loewe & Shaughenessy 577). The core of these states that controlled a number of satellite garrisons were originally fortified in the cities. With time, the territories were gradually incorporated into the state structure and the smaller centers were gradually outweighed by the larger and populous states.

At the end, it was several power struggles that provided the metamorphosis of transformation witnessed in the ancient China. The secondary states were eventually absorbed after the emergence of secondary feudalism and this made their administration to become more complex. The end result was the complete desinegration of the Zhou feudal system and not just the reshuffling of power. This resulted in an overall transformation of the state and the society of the ancient Chinese.

During the eve of the political instability, the economic growth picked momentum. The economic growth was facilitated by the development of private land ownership and the development of new manufacturing methods (Loewe & Shaughenessy 577). The availability of food due to increased commercial activities also culminated into urbanization and commercialization.

Apart from the profound political, social, and economic developments, the spring also witnessed major intellectual breakthroughs. These intellectual breakthroughs later influenced the future courses of the ancient China and the emergence of Confucianism. The intellectual developments led to the weakening of the ancient Chinese traditions. The intellectual developments further weakened the Zongfa kinship system and made it lose its relevance. However, it is evident that improved education system provided more people with relief and enhanced their farming conditions.

Overall, it is evident that the spring and autumn provided various transformations to the Zhou order. The attempts by king to establish the court system in the eastern parts of ancient China were thwarted by the disintegration of the feudal system. The disintegrated states began to operate on their own, which initiated a competition among the neighboring states. With time, the powerful states expanded their territories by conquering the neighboring states. These rulers established a more fair system of governance based on merit and loyalty as opposed to the kinship system. However, their large size complicated the administration of this new order. With time, the power struggles erupted among the branches of the states. Eventually, they were weakened and only few noble houses survived. Later, the ba system was established that helped to establish leadership among the states. This helped to achieve an unprecedented degree of cultural pluralism and order in the ancient Chinese. The political system established a new order that was characterized by the recruitment of qualified ministers and proper governing structures. This supported the intellectual development and the emergence of Confucianism. All these developments took close to three centuries and led to the development of Chinese civilization.


Work Cited

Loewe, Michael & Shaughenessy, Edward. The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origns of Civilization to 221 BC. Cambridge University Press in 1999


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