King You of Zhou


King You of Zhou

King You of Zhou (reigned 781 BC - 771 BC) (ch. 周幽王 zhōu yōu wáng) was the twelfth sovereign of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty and the last of Western Zhou Dynasty.

In 780 BC, an earthquake hit Guanzhong. A person named Bo Yangfu (伯陽甫) considered that the Zhou Dynasty would be doomed. In 779 BC, Baosi () entered the palace, became loved by King You, and had a son Bofu (伯服) born. King You deposed Queen Shen (申后) and Prince Yijiu. He made Baosi the new queen and Bofu the new prince.

Baosi did not like to laugh. After failing many methods, King You tried to impress his favorite queen Baosi by fooling the nobles with the beacon into thinking that there was danger of enemies attacking. They came to the castle only to find themselves being laughed at by Baosi while there were no enemies. Once King You impressed Baosi, he kept abusing the beacon, but he would then lose the trust from the nobles so they would disregard his lightened beacon.

Deposing Queen Shen and Prince Yijiu upset Queen Shen's father who would get outside force to attack King You. Eventually, when danger did come, King You called for the nobles with the already abused beacon but none came, thinking that the king was fooling them again. In the end, King You and Bofu were killed and Baosi was captured. King You's death marks the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

After King You died, the nobles supported deposed Prince Yijiu as King Ping to continue the Zhou Dynasty. As the national capital was severely damaged, King Ping of Zhou moved the capital eastward and began the Eastern Zhou Dynasty.

King You's folly predates Aesop's classical tale of the The Boy Who Cried Wolf by more than a hundred years.

The rhyming nature of the King's name is also the inspiration of a Dr. Seuss children's book.

Personal information

Family name Ji (姬 jī) in Chinese
Given name Gongsheng (宮湦 gōng shēng) or Gongnie (宮涅 gōng niè) in Chinese
Era name none
Father King Xuan of Zhou
Mother unknown
Wives 1) Queen Shen, daughter of Marquess of Shen
2) Concubine Baosi
Children King Ping of Zhou from Queen Shen and prince Bofu from Baosi
duration of reign 781 BC-771 BC
Tomb unknown
Temple name unknown
Courtesy name unknown
Posthumous name You 幽 (pinyin yōu), literary meaning: "serene"

References

Sima Qian, "Records of the Grand Historian", Volume 4


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