Guan Zhong

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is about the chancellor of the State of Qi. For the geographic region, see Guanzhong. For Republic of China politician, see John Kuan.

Guǎn Zhòng (Chinese: 管仲; Wade–Giles: Kuan Chung) (c. 720-645 BC) was a Legalist chancellor and reformer of the State of Qi during the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history.[1] His given name was Yíwú (夷吾). Zhong was his courtesy name. Recommended by Bao Shuya, he was appointed Prime Minister by Duke Huan of Qi in 685 BC.


Guan Zhong started multiple reforms in the State of Qi. Politically, he centralized power and divided the state into different villages, each carrying out a specific trade. Instead of relying on the traditional aristocracy for manpower, he applied levies to the village units directly. He also developed a better method for choosing talent to be governors. Under Guan Zhong, Qi shifted administrative responsibility from hereditary aristocrats to professional bureaucrats. He is also credited for creating the first official government sponsored brothel known as "女市" which funded the government treasury.

Under Guan's guidance several important economic reforms were introduced . He created a uniform tax code and also used state power to encourage the production of Salt and Iron. Historians usually credit Guan Zhong for introducing state monopolies controlling salt and iron.

During his term of office, the state of Qi became much stronger. The Zuo Zhuan records that in 660 BC, Guan Zhong urged Duke Huan of Qi to attack the small neighboring State of Xing which was under attack from Quan Rong nomads. Later, in 652 BC he advised the duke not to ally with a vassal ruler's son who wished to depose his father. Duke Huan often listened to Guan Zhong's sound advice such that his status amongst other Zhou vassal states rose. As a result the duke came to be recognized as the first Hegemon or leader of the vassal alliance.[1]

He is listed as the author of the Guanzi encyclopedia, actually a much later (of the late Warring States period) compilation of works from the scholars of the Jixia Academy.

Guan Zhong advised the Duke of Qi to aid the small neighbouring state of Xing, which was under attack by non-Chinese Rong tribes.[2]

In recognition of Guan Zhong's service, Duke Huan gave him the honorary title of "Uncle" 仲父. Same title was later given to Lü Buwei by Prince Zheng, the future Qin Shi Huang.

In popular culture[edit]

Guan Zhong is one of 32 historical personages featured in the Koei game Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI, where he is referred to as Guan Yiwu.


  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ Ebrey, Patricia, Anne Walthall, and James Palais. Pre-Modern East Asia To 1800. A Cultural, Social and Political History, Second Edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009.

External links[edit]