Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gonghe of Zhou

The Gonghe regency ruled China from 841 BC to 828 BC.

According to the Han Dynasty historian Sima Qian , during the Gonghe regency, the Zhou Dynasty was ruled jointly by two dukes -- the Duke of Zhou and the Duke of Zhao after King Li of Zhou was exiled by his nobles for his tyranny. According to the ''Bamboo Annals'', the Gonghe regency was ruled on by a single person -- the Count of Gong , whose name was He .

Note that "Gonghe" corresponds to "republic" in the modern context. The Gonghe period during the Zhou Dynasty does not confer any republican connotations, but 19th century Japanese officials translating Western concepts harked back to the ancient Gonghe period when coining the modern term for "republic" ''kyowakoku'', which is then back-translated through corresponding Han characters to ''gongheguo'' in Chinese and ''gonghwaguk'' in Korean.

The first year of the Gonghe regency, 841 BC, is highly significant in ancient Chinese history, in that the dates for the rulers prior to the Gonghe regency are not and have never been clearly dated, ever since Sima Qian's time -- as Sima himself found the dates for the rulers prior to the Gongehe regency to be so unreliable that he chose not to adopt them in his work. Only after 841 BC could events in Chinese history be reliably dated. Currently, the government of the People's Republic of China is sponsoring the Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project, a multidisciplinary project that seeks to give better estimates for dates prior to 841 BC, but the project's draft report, published in 2000, has been criticized by various sources.

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