Wednesday, September 12

Reading Assignment: The Warring States Period, pp. 1-21

On Wednesday, we resume the "master narrative" of Classical China that we interrupted in order to make our bows to Confucius.  The "story" picks up as the state of Jin splits into three smaller states, led by former warlord clans of Jin -- this marks the close of the Spring & Autumn period (771-453) and the transition to the Warring States era (453-221).

The transition is not a sudden one.  Changes in society that had been underway since the break-up of the Western Zhou empire continue during this latter part of the Classical period.  But these changes do show a marked acceleration after about 400 B.C., and the Warring States era raises the stress level of society several fold.

On Wednesday, we will focus on the greatest progressive social leap of the entire Classical period:  the reforms initiated in the state of Qin during the mid-fourth century by a man known as Shang Yang, or Lord Shang.  Shang Yang's reforms in Qin are the most direct reason why the state of Qin was ultimately able to prevail over all its competitors and reunify China under its rule.

The career of Shang Yang is narrated in your reading, followed by an account of structural changes in inter-state politics which resulted from the changed status of Qin after Shang Yang's reforms.