Seven Warring States

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Map showing the Seven Warring States; there were other states in China at the time, but the Seven Warring States were the most powerful and significant

The Seven Warring States or Seven Kingdoms (simplified Chinese: 战国七雄; traditional Chinese: 戰國七雄; pinyin: zhàn guó qī xióng) refers to the seven leading states during the Warring States period of Zhou dynasty China. They are almost always listed in the following order:

Over the Warring States period, many of the seven states underwent bureaucratic and military reforms in order to mobilise resources on a greater scale. This led to an intensification of warfare over the period, but also led to economic and cultural developments on a large scale.[citation needed]

Of the Seven Warring States, Qin eventually grew to be the strongest and successfully annexed the other six states; Han was the first to fall, in 230 BC, while Qi was the last to surrender in 221 BC. Yingzheng, the King of Qin, took the title Shihuangdi, a new title composed by combining various honorifics previously used individually for various human or divine rulers.


The formation of the Seven Warring States was the culmination of trends during the earlier Spring and Autumn period, as the patchwork of feudal states created by the Western Zhou dynasty were conquered and absorbed by warfare, coalescing into larger units. Qin, Qi, Chu and Yan already existed as states during that period; Qin and Yan, owing to their remote locations, were second-tier powers, while Chu and Qi were among the dominant states of the period, in competition with the State of Jin. Other major states included Wu and Yue; with the latter conquering the former in 473 BC.

In 481 BC, the Tian clan usurped the state of Qi in a coup, replacing the ruling Jiang clan. Meanwhile, the state of Jin, which had been controlled by different noble clans for decades, was finally partitioned between the Han, Zhao and Wei clans in 403 BC, as recognized by King Zhou Weilie.

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