Mandate of Heaven

(ca. 475–221 BCE)

Document Text

I. In the third month, at the commencement of the government of the duke of Chow in the new city of Luo, he announced the royal will to the officers of the Shang dynasty, saying, “The king speaks to this effect:—‘Ye numerous officers who remain from the dynasty of Yin, great ruin came down on Yin from the want of pity in compassionate Heaven, and we, the princes of Chow, received its favouring decree. We accordingly felt charged with its bright terrors; carried out the punishments which kings inflict; rightly disposed of the appointment of Yin; and finished the work of God. Now, ye numerous officers, it was not that our small country dared to aim at the appointment of Yin. But Heaven was not with Yin, for indeed it would not strengthen its misrule. It therefore helped us;—did we dare to seek the throne of ourselves? God was not for Yin, as appeared from the conduct of our inferior people, in which there is the brilliant dreadfulness of Heaven.

II. ‘I have heard the...