King You of Zhou

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

King You of Zhou
King of China
Reign781–771 BC
PredecessorKing Xuan of Zhou
SuccessorKing Ping of Zhou
BornJi Gongsheng
795 BC
Died771 BC
SpouseConsort Shen
Bao Si
IssueKing Ping of Zhou
Crown Prince Bofu
Ancestral name: (姬)
Given name: Gōngshēng (宮湦) or Gōngniè (宮涅)
HouseZhou dynasty
FatherKing Xuan of Zhou
MotherQueen Jiang


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]

In literatureEdit

In the traditional Mao Commentary to the Shijing, the minor court hymn "Cai Shu" (采菽) is said to be a criticism of King You for squandering feudal lords' respect and humiliating them, although this interpretation is disputed.[7]



  • Queen Shen, of the Jiang clan of Shen (申後 姜姓), a daughter of the Marquis of Shen; the mother of Crown Prince Yijiu
  • Bao Si, of the Du lineage of the Qi clan of Bao (褒姒 祁姓 杜氏; 791–771 BC), a daughter of Du Bo; married in 779 BC; the mother of Crown Prince Bofu


  • Crown Prince Yijiu (太子宜臼; d. 720 BC), ruled as King Ping of Zhou from 770–720 BC
  • Crown Prince Bofu (太子伯服; 779–771 BC)


King Yih of Zhou (899–892 BC)
King Yi of Zhou (d. 878 BC)
Wang Bo Jiang
King Li of Zhou (890–828 BC)
Wang Ji of E
King Xuan of Zhou (d. 782 BC)
Shen Jiang of Shen
King You of Zhou (d. 771 BC)
Duke Gui of Qi (d. 902 BC)
Duke Xian of Qi (d. 850 BC)
Duke Wu of Qi
Queen Jiang of Qi

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Revised Chinese Dictionary, Ministry of Education, Taiwan
  2. ^ Sima Qian. Records of the Grand Historian. Vol. 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
  7. ^ Shih-Ching, Minor court hymns, Yuzao Zhi Shi, Cai Shu
King You of Zhou
 Died: 771 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by King of China
781–771 BC
Succeeded by