King Cheng of Chu

King Cheng of Chu (Chinese: 楚成王; pinyin: Chǔ Chéng Wáng, died 626 BC) was from 671 to 626 BC king of the state of Chu during the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. He was born Xiong Yun (Chinese: 熊惲) to King Wen of Chu, and King Cheng was his posthumous title.[1]

Xiong Yun
King of Chu
Zheng Mao.png
Qing Dynasty woodblock print showing King Cheng with Zheng Mao.
Reign671–626 BC
Full name
Posthumous name
King Cheng of Chu

In 672 BC Xiong Yun's older brother king Du'ao tried to kill him, and he escaped to the state of Sui. He then attacked and killed Du'ao with the help of Sui, and succeeded Du'ao as king of Chu.[1]

In the summer of 648 BC, the State of Huang was annexed by the state of Chu.[2]

King Cheng's wife was Zheng Mao.[3] Their son was possibly King Mu of Chu.

The Shiji gives a detailed account of the events surrounding King Cheng's succession and untimely end. In the forty-sixth year of his reign (626 BC), Cheng wanted to make Shangchen (商臣), the future King Mu, his crown prince. Lingyin (title for prime minister of Chu) Zishang (子上) advised against this, fearing that there were many contenders for the position and that, if the king were to change his mind and act to replace the crown prince, a disturbance would ensue. He also warned the king that Shangchen was a cruel and fierce man who was unsuitable for the position. Not heeding the advice, King Cheng made Shangchen his crown prince.

Soon, the king did indeed change his mind, and rumors spread that the crown prince was about to be deposed, and another son Zhi (職) was going to be made the new crown prince. The crown prince was unsure whether to believe the rumors. His tutor advised him to throw a banquet for the king's favorite concubine but to treat her disrespectfully during the banquet. The prince did what was suggested, and the concubine, angered by her poor treatment, told the crown prince, "It is suitable that the king wants to kill you and make Zhi his crown prince!" Now sure of the king's intentions, the prince's tutor asked him, "Are you able to serve under Zhi?" "No," he answered. "Are you able to go into exile?" "No," he answered. Finally, he asked, "Are you able to do something big?" "Yes," the prince replied.

During the tenth month, Shangchen led palace troops to surround King Cheng and force him to commit suicide. King Cheng asked to eat a bear paw before dying, but he was rebuffed. On day dingwei, King Cheng hanged himself, and Shangchen ascended the throne.


  1. ^ a b Sima Qian. 楚世家 [House of Chu]. Records of the Grand Historian (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 1 March 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ 5.僖公 BOOK V. DUKE XI.. The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (in Chinese). Translated by James Legge (with modifications from Andrew Miller). The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. Retrieved 28 March 2018. from Zuo zhuan, twelfth year of Duke Xi of Lu (《左傳·僖公十二年》: "黃人恃諸侯之睦于齊也,不共楚職,曰,自郢及我,九百里,焉能害我。夏,楚滅黃。) 'The people of Huang, relying on the friendship of the States with Qi, did not render the tribute which was due from them to Chu, saying "From Ying [the capital of Chu] to us is 900 li; what harm can Chu do to us?" This summer, Chu extinguished Huang." CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Hong Lee and Stefanowsky (2007). Biographical dictionary of Chinese women: antiquity through Sui, 1600 B.C.E.-618 C.E. M.E. Sharpe, Inc.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
King Cheng of Chu
 Died: 626 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Chu
671–626 BC
Succeeded by
King Mu of Chu