Song (state)

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11th century BC–286 BC
Capital Shangqiu (商丘)
Religion Chinese folk religion, ancestor worship, Taoism
Government Monarchy
 •  Established 11th century BC
 •  Conquered by Qi 286 BC
Currency Chinese coin
Chinese states in the 5th century BC

Sòng (Chinese: ; Old Chinese: *[s]ˤuŋ-s) was a state during the Zhou dynasty of ancient China, with its capital at Shangqiu. The state was founded soon after King Wu of Zhou conquered the Shang dynasty to establish the Zhou dynasty in 1046/46 BC. It was conquered by the State of Qi in 286 BC, during the Warring States period. Confucius was a descendant of a Song nobleman who moved to the State of Lu.


After King Wu overthrew the last ruler of Shang, marking the transition to the Zhou Dynasty, the victor was honor-bound by feudal etiquette to allow the defeated house (Shang) to continue offering sacrifices to their ancestors. As a result, for a time Shang became a vassal state of Zhou, with the Shang heir Wu Geng allowed to continue ancestor worship at Yin (殷).

However, after King Wu’s death, Wu Geng fomented a rebellion and was killed by the Duke of Zhou. Another Shang royal family descendant, Weizi (微子), was granted land at Shangqiu (商邱 ‘the hill of Shang’), where the capital of the new State of Song was built.

A sign of its descent from the Shang is that the Song in its early period followed the succession principle of agnatic seniority, rather than agnatic primogeniture like the Zhou.


In 701 BC, a political marriage between Lady Yong of Song (宋雍氏) and Duke Zhuang of Zheng (as well as the capture of Zhai Zhong (祭仲), a leading warrior) empowered Song to manipulate the administration of Zheng.

In 651 BC, Duke Huan of Song (宋桓公) died, leaving the district to be ruled by Duke Xiang, who reigned from 651 to 637 BC. He was considered a Hegemon by some, but was unable to maintain that role. He eventually fell to the troops of Chu.

In 355 BC, Dai Ticheng (戴剔成), a distant relative of the ruling royal line and once a minister of Duke Huan II, managed to usurp the throne. In 328 BC, Dai Yan, a younger brother of Ticheng, took the throne and declared himself to be King Kang of Song, with Ticheng murdered or exiled. The king was ambitious and had succeeded in beating troops from Chu, Wei and Qi and annexing Teng. However, the kingdom was finally annexed by Qi in 286 BC, with troops from Chu and Wei serving on behalf of Qi. Qin, which had been an ally of Song, refused to intervene for strategic and diplomatic reasons after being convinced by Su Dai from Wei. Su's predictions were proven correct and Qin benefited from the downfall of its former ally.

The philosopher Mozi references this state in the chapter "Obvious Existence of Ghosts", in which he mentions a number of Spring and Autumn Annals, including those of the Zhou, Yan, and Qi. The Spring and Autumn Annals of Song has not survived.

Rulers of the state[edit]

Unless otherwise indicated, the ruler is the son of his predecessor.

  1. Weizi 微子 (Qi 啟), brother of the last Emperor of Shang, Di Xin
  2. Weizhong 微仲 (Yan 衍), younger brother of the above
  3. Ji, Duke of Song 宋公稽
  4. Duke Ding 宋丁公 (Shen 申)
  5. Duke Min I 宋湣公 (Gong 共), ancestor of Confucius
  6. Duke Yang 宋煬公 (Xi 熙), younger brother of the above
  7. Duke Li 宋厲公 (Fusi 鮒祀), son of Duke Min I
  8. Duke Xi 宋僖公 (Ju 舉), 859-831
  9. Duke Hui 宋惠公 (Jian 覵), 830-800
  10. Duke Ai 宋哀公, 799
  11. Duke Dai 宋戴公, 799-766
  12. Duke Wu 宋武公 (Sikong 司空), 765-748
  13. Duke Xuan 宋宣公 (Li 力), 747-729
  14. Duke Mu 宋穆公 (He 和), 728-720, younger brother of the above
  15. Duke Shang 宋殤公 (Yuyi 與夷), 719-711
  16. Duke Zhuang 宋莊公 (Feng 馮), 710-692
  17. Duke Min II 宋閔公 (Jie 捷), 691-682
  18. You, Duke of Song 宋公游, assassinated less than 3 months after accession.
  19. Duke Huan I 宋桓公 (Yuyue 御說), 681-651, younger brother of Duke Min II
  20. Duke Xiang 宋襄公 (Zifu 茲父), 650-637
  21. Duke Cheng 宋成公 (Wangchen 王臣), 636-620
  22. Yu, Duke of Song 宋公禦, younger brother of the above, assassinated less than one month after accession.
  23. Duke Zhao I 宋昭公 (Chujiu 杵臼), 619-611, son of Duke Cheng
  24. Duke Wen 宋文公 (Bao 鮑), 610-589, younger brother of the above
  25. Duke Gong 宋共公 (Xia 瑕), 588-576
  26. Duke Ping 宋平公 (Cheng 成), 575-532
  27. Duke Yuan 宋元公 (Zuo 佐), 531-517
  28. Duke Jing 宋景公 (Touman 頭曼), 516-451
  29. Duke Zhao II 宋昭公 (De 得), 450-404, great-grandson of Duke Yuan; possibly 468-404, making him one of the longest-reigning monarchs.
  30. Duke Dao 宋悼公 (Gouyou 購由), 403-396
  31. Duke Xiu 宋休公 (Tian 田), 395-373
  32. Duke Huan II 宋桓公 (Bibing 辟兵), 372-370
  33. Ticheng, Lord of Song 宋剔成君, 369-329, descendant of the 11th duke, Dai
  34. Yan, Lord of Song 宋君偃, King Kang 宋康王, 328-286, younger brother of the above


Confucius was a descendant of the Dukes of Song, as are his descendants, the Dukes of Yansheng.

Song in astronomy[edit]

Song is represented by the star Eta Ophiuchi in the asterism Left Wall, Heavenly Market enclosure (see Chinese constellation).[1]

See also[edit]