King Zhao of Chu

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Xiong Zhen
Ancestral name (姓): Mǐ (羋)
Clan name (氏): Xióng (熊)
Given name (名): Zhēn (珍)
King of Chu
Dates of reign: 515–489 BC
Posthumous name: King Zhao of Chu
Dates are in the proleptic Julian calendar

King Zhao of Chu (Chinese: 楚昭王; pinyin: Chŭ Zhāo Wáng, died 489 BC) was from 515 to 489 BC the king of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn period of ancient China. He was born Xiong Zhen (熊珍) and King Zhao was his posthumous title.[1] Documents unearthed in the former state also show his title as King Shao. (卲王)[2] King Zhao was the son of King Ping of Chu.[1]


In 506 BCE, King Helü of the State of Wu led an army to invade Chu. His army was commanded by the military strategist Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, as well as Wu Zixu, a Chu exile whose father and brother were killed by King Ping of Chu. The Wu army routed the Chu army at the historic Battle of Boju, and the Chu commander Nang Wa fled to the state of Zheng.[3]

The Wu army pursued the remaining Chu troops, won several more battles, and captured Ying, the capital of Chu. Chu general Shen Yin Shu defeated the Wu army but was severely wounded, and was killed by a Chu officer at his own request.[3] King Zhao was forced to flee. During the escape he was wounded by a Chu arrow at Yunmeng from where he made his way through Yun to the State of Sui in northern Hubei. Chu Minister of State Shen Baoxu (申包胥) meanwhile headed for the State of Qin to plead for assistance from their army. At first, the Qin ruler Duke Ai was non-committal in his response but after Shen spent seven days kneeling and wailing in the Qin palace courtyard, Duke Ai was moved by his devotion and agreed to send troops to assist Chu. Thereafter the Wu army retreated and King Zhao returned to the Chu capital at Ying.[3]

In 489 BCE, King Zhao witnessed the inauspicious meteorological phenomenon known as “Clouds like numerous red birds pressing the day to fly” (雲如眾赤鳥,夾日以飛). Not long afterwards, King Fuchai of Wu attacked the State of Chen and Chen requested assistance from King Zhao. The king led his troops personally and was killed during a subsequent battle.


King Zhao was married to Zhen Jiang (貞姜), daughter of the Marquess of Qi (齊侯) whilst his mother was Bo Ying (伯嬴). He also had one sister and at least three elder brothers born by concubines, namely Shen (王子申), Jie (王子结) and Qi (王子啟), sometimes known as their courtesy names as Zixi (子西), Ziqi (子期) and Zilü (子闾).


  1. ^ a b Sima Qian. "楚世家 (House of Chu)". Records of the Grand Historian (in Chinese). Retrieved 1 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Dong Shan (董珊) Excavated document: Posthumous names of the Chu kings –appendix to the Zuo Zhuan, Archaeological Records Research Journal, Volume 2, Shanghai Fudan University Publishing, August 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Zuo Qiuming. "BOOK XI. DUKE DING". Zuo Zhuan (in Chinese and English). Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
King Zhao of Chu
Died: 489 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King Ping of Chu
King of Chu
515–489 BC
Succeeded by
King Hui of Chu