AP World History
18 September 2011
Comparative Essay: Zhou and Shang’s Political Development
The Zhou and the Shang differed and compared in many intricate ways through the division of power and social classes throughout their states, the division of labor, as well as the technological advancements. The Shang Dynasty had many remarkable advancements in bronze metallurgy while the Zhou mastered more intricate designs and founded iron metallurgy. The two dynasties had different rivers their society’s depended on, and similar geographical locations.
The Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 B.C.E.) had a prosperous state in China that evolved from their Xia predecessors. The Shang had a single ruler, or monarch, that controlled the land. The kings claimed large portions of the agricultural production and used it to support military forces, political allies, and anyone that could help them maintain their rule. However, the Zhou Dynasty (1122-256 B.C.E.) had much larger state than the Shang. The state was so large, that Zhou rulers had to use decentralized administration: giving power and authority to a subordinate in return for allegiance, tribute, and military support.
The Shang had a very simple social structure. It consisted of two basic people, Nobility and the Commoners. Nobility were the nobles, or upper class to the society (wealthy individuals) while the commoners were the farmers, craftsmen, and common workers. The Zhou has a much more developed social structure. Their social structure consisted of the Nobles, the warriors, the craftsmen and merchants, and the peasants. Nobles would provide warriors with food, shelter, and weapons in return for a promise to fight for them. The nobles would also give peasants small plots of land to work and live on in return for a percentage of the food they produced each year. There were also independent craftsmen and merchants producing and selling their products.