Mandate of Heaven

(ca. 475–221 BCE)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

During the first phase of the reign of King Cheng (ca. 1043–1021 BCE), a set of gao (announcements) was put forth about the role of heaven in political affairs, the principle of succession, the function of divination, the relationship between king and ministries, and the establishment of a capital. Duo shi is the name in Chinese of the chapter concerning the Mandate of Heaven. The “numerous officers” referred to are the officers of the Shang Dynasty who had been removed, along with the people, to the new city of Luo when the city of Chengzhou (Ching-chow, the eastern capital) was established by the Zhou.

At the time when King Cheng was the nominal ruler, while the duke of Zhou (called the “duke of Chow” in the document) was the effective ruler, the announcement by the duke of Zhou, which is the content of “Mandate of Heaven: The Numerous Officers,” aimed to reconcile the minds of the people of Yin (an alternate name for the Shang...