Zhongshan (state)

Zhongshan (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhōngshān, c. 6th century BC – c. 296 BC) was a Di state created by the nomadic Xianyu tribe[1] in China during the later Zhou Dynasty. It was located on the plain east of the Shanxi plateau near the modern city of Baoding in Hebei. Its name means "Central Mountains", as opposed to the Western Mountains of Shanxi or the Eastern Mountains of Shandong.

In Chinese sources, it is called a state of the Baidi.[2]

Origins and location

The state was founded in the sixth century BC (or in 414 BC[3]) by descendants of the Baidi (lit. "White Di") who had been driven from Shaanxi into Hebei, where they founded their first city with assistance from the State of Wei.[4] By around 400 BC, it had adopted much of Chinese culture, but it was not considered fully Chinese.

Around 300 BC, Zhongshan's capital was at either Pingshan or Lingshou, both about 75 miles southwest of Baoding and 25 miles northwest of Shijiazhuang. It was surrounded by the State of Zhao to the west and the State of Yan to the east. It had fortified cities and 1,000 war chariots in its army. Archeology shows a material culture similar to the rest of China at that time.

Historical events

In 408 BC, Zhongshan was attacked by Marquis Wen of Wei who first had to get permission to cross the territory of the State of Zhao. It was conquered by Wei in 406 but regained its independence in 377 BC. It reached the peak of its power during the reign of King Cuo of Zhongshan (323-309) who had proclaimed himself king in 323 BC. Zhongshan forces, together with the State of Qi, invaded the State of Yan and captured dozens of its cities. Later, King Cuo invaded the State of Zhao and broke it into two parts. In 307 BC Zhao annexed parts of Zhongshan. After King Cuo died, his descendants proved less capable, leading to the overthrow of Zhongshan by Zhao in (probably[5]) 296 BC.


The area of today's Ding County was part of the Zhongshan Commandery during the Han Dynasty. The commandery capital, Zhongshan, was an economic center from the Eastern Han Dynasty until the Tang Dynasty. It was the capital of Later Yan during the reign of its first emperor, Murong Chui. In the 1970s, the tomb of King Cuo was excavated.

Notes and references

  1. Di Cosmo, Nicola; Michael Loewe; Edward L. Shaughnessy (2007) [1999]. The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. p. 949.
  2. Cambridge History of Ancient China, page 949
  3. Joseph P Yap,'Wars with the Xiongnu: A Translation from Zizhi Tongjian, 2009, page 13
  4. Ebrey, Patricia; Walthall, Ann; Palais, James (2009). East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-547-00534-8.
  5. The Cambridge History of Ancient China has 295 (page 950), 296 (page 689) and 300 (page 638)

See also

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