How did the Mandate of Heaven develop?

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How did the Mandate of Heaven develop?

How did geography impact conflicts between kings and nobles under the Zhou dynasty?

How did Confucianism and Daoism create order in ancient China?

Mandate of Heaven, Warring States Period, centralization, Zhou, Confucianism, Daoism

When the Zhou tribe overthrew the last Shang king, they had to convince the people, especially the nobles, that they had the right to rule. The Zhou told people that the gods in heaven had told them that they were to rule. This was called "The Mandate of Heaven", heaven's orders. 

The Chou added that the gods had warned them that they would only rule as long as they were good rulers. If they became selfish, and thought of themselves first, before the people, that heaven would appoint another ruling family.

No one knows if the nobles in ancient China believed this fairy tale, but they most probably thought that the Mandate of Heaven sounded like a good idea. The nobles were tired of war between the Shang and the Zhou. Most of the nobles would have the same life under Shang or Chou rule, and they knew it. As for the peasants, it did not matter to them which family ruled. 

The Mandate of Heaven is based on four principles:

  1. The right to rule is granted by Heaven.

  2. There is only one Heaven therefore there can be only one ruler.

  3. The right to rule is based on the virtue of the ruler.

  4. The right to rule is not limited to one dynasty.

Here are some of the ways these principles converted into action and justification:  

  1. It gives the ruler prestige and religious importance.

  2. It gives the ruler supreme power.

  3. It allows a new ruler to gain power quickly if the people believe he has the 'Mandate of Heaven'.

  4. A ruler's power must be kept in check by virtue.

The Mandate of Heaven justifies rebellion as long as the rebellion is successful. Simply because it was successful, obviously then, the new ruler had to have had a Mandate from Heaven.
Robert Oxnam :: The Chinese emperor was understood to be the "Son of Heaven" responsible for maintaining harmony between the human sphere and heaven. He ruled society with the "Mandate of Heaven."

Myron Cohen :: The emperor as the Son of Heaven had received the Mandate of Heaven to rule society. The emperor, therefore, played a key role in linking the human social order to other domains of the cosmic order. Therefore, the emperor could be held fully responsible for disturbances in that order.

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