King Wu of Zhou (Chinese: 周武王; pinyin: Zhōu Wǔ Wáng) was the first king of the Zhou dynasty of ancient China. The chronology of his reign is disputed but is generally thought to have begun around 1046 BC and ended three years later in 1043 BC.
|King Wu of Zhou|
|King of China|
|Predecessor||King Zhou of Shang|
|Successor||King Cheng of Zhou|
|Issue||King Cheng of Zhou|
Yu, Marquis of Tang
|Father||King Wen of Zhou|
|King Wu of Zhou|
|Literal meaning||"The Martial King of Zhou"|
|Alternative Chinese name|
|Literal meaning||(personal name)|
King Wu's ancestral name was Ji (姬) and given name Fa (發). He was the second son of King Wen of Zhou and Queen Taisi. In most accounts, his older brother Bo Yikao was said to have predeceased his father, typically at the hands of King Zhou, the last king of the Shang dynasty; in the Book of Rites, however, it is assumed that his inheritance represented an older tradition among the Zhou of passing over the eldest son. (Fa's grandfather Jili had likewise inherited Zhou despite two older brothers.)
Upon his succession, Fa worked with his father-in-law Jiang Ziya to accomplish an unfinished task: overthrowing the Shang dynasty. In 1048 BC, Fa marched down the Yellow River to the Mengjin ford and met with more than 800 dukes. He constructed an ancestral tablet naming his father Chang King Wen and placed it on a chariot in the middle of the host; considering the timing unpropitious, though, he did not yet attack Shang. In 1046 BC, King Wu took advantage of Shang disunity to launch an attack along with many neighboring dukes. The Battle of Muye destroyed Shang's forces and King Zhou of Shang set his palace on fire, dying within.
King Wu – the name means "Martial" – followed his victory by establishing many feudal states under his 16 younger brothers and clans allied by marriage, but his death three years later provoked several rebellions against his young heir King Cheng and the regent Duke of Zhou, even from three of his brothers.
A burial mound in Zhouling town, Xianyang, Shaanxi was once thought to be King Wu's tomb. It was fitted with a headstone bearing Wu's name in the Qing dynasty. Modern archeology has since concluded that the tomb is not old enough to be from the Zhou dynasty, and is more likely to be that of a Han dynasty royal. The true location of King Wu's tomb remains unknown, but is likely to be in the Xianyang-Xi'an area.
- Yi Jiang, of the Lü lineage of the Jiang clan of Qi (邑姜 姜姓 呂氏), the first daughter of the Great Duke of Qi; the mother of Song and Yu
- Prince Song (王子誦; 1060–1020 BC), ruled as King Cheng of Zhou from 1042 to 1021 BC
- Second son, ruled as the Monarch of Yu (邘), the ancestor of the surname Yu (于)
- Third son, Prince Yu (王子虞), ruled as the Marquis of Tang from 1042 BC
- A son who ruled as the Marquis of Ying (應)
- A son who ruled as the Marquis of Han