King You of Zhou

King You of Zhou
King of China
Reign 781–771 BC
Predecessor King Xuan of Zhou
Successor King Ping of Zhou
Born 795 BC
Died 771 BC
Spouse Queen Shen (daughter of the Marquess of Shen)
Concubine Bao Si
Issue King Ping of Zhou (by Queen Shen)
Bofu (by Bao Si)
Full name
Ancestral name: (姬)
Given name: Gōngshēng (宮湦) or Gōngniè (宮涅)
House Zhou Dynasty
Father King Xuan of Zhou
Mother Queen Qiang

King You of Zhou (795–771 BC) (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhōu Yōu Wáng) was the twelfth king of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty and the last of Western Zhou Dynasty. He reigned from 781 to 771 BC.

In 780 BC, a major earthquake hit Guanzhong. A soothsayer named Bo Yangfu (伯陽甫) considered this an omen foretelling the destruction of the Zhou Dynasty.

In 779 BC, a concubine named Bao Si entered the palace and came into the King You's favour. She bore him a son named Bofu.[1] King You deposed Queen Shen (申后) and Crown Prince Yijiu. He made Baosi the new queen and Bofu the new crown prince.[2]

It is said that Baosi did not laugh easily. After trying many methods and failing, King You tried to amuse his favorite queen by lighting warning beacons and fooling his nobles into thinking that the Quanrong nomads were about to attack. The nobles arrived at the castle only to find themselves laughed at by Baosi. Even after King You had impressed Baosi, he continued to abuse his use of warning beacons and lost the trust of the nobles.[3]

Queen Shen’s father, the Marquess of Shen, was furious at the deposition of his daughter and grandson Crown Prince Yijiu and mounted an attack on King You's palace with the Quanrong. King You called for his nobles using the previously abused beacons but none came. In the end, King You and Bofu were killed and Baosi was captured.[4]

After King You died, nobles including the Marquess of Shen, the Marquess of Zeng (繒侯) and Duke Wen of Xu (許文公) supported the deposed Prince Yijiu as King Ping of Zhou[5] to continue the Zhou Dynasty. As the national capital Haojing had suffered severe damage, and was located near the potentially dangerous Quanrong, in 771 BC, King Ping of Zhou moved the capital eastward to Luoyang, thus beginning the Eastern Zhou Dynasty and ushering in the Spring and Autumn period which would last for more than 300 years.[6]


  1. Revised Chinese Dictionary, Ministry of Education, Taiwan
  2. Sima Qian. Records of the Grand Historian. 4.
  3. Giles, Herbert A. (1912). The Civilization of China. Tutis Digital Publishing. ISBN 81-320-0448-5. Chapter 1
  4. Cambridge History of Ancient China,1999, pages 546 and 551
  5. Bamboo Annals
  6. Phương Thi Danh (2001), Niên biểu lịch sử Trung Quốc
King You of Zhou
Died: 771 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King Xuan of Zhou
King of China
781–771 BC
Succeeded by
King Ping of Zhou

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