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State of Yue

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State of Yue

State of Yue


?–222 BC

Capital Kuaiji, later Wu
Religion Chinese folk religion, ancestor worship
Government Monarchy
 -  496–465 BC King Goujian
Historical era Spring and Autumn period
Warring States period
 -  Established  ?
 -  Conquered by Chu 334 BC
 -  Conquered by Qin 222 BC
Currency Chinese coin
Not to be confused with the Yue peoples, sometimes thought to have been a kingdom, or with the later kingdom of Minyue in Fujian.

Yue (Chinese: , pinyin Yuè), formerly romanized as Yüeh, also known as Yuyue, was a state in ancient China which existed during the first millennium BC the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods of China's Zhou dynasty in the modern provinces of Zhejiang, Shanghai, and Jiangsu. Its original capital was Kuaiji (near modern Shaoxing); after its conquest of Wu, the kings of Yue moved their court north to the city of Wu (modern Suzhou).

According to Sima Qian, Yue's rulers claimed to be descended from the Xia emperor Yu. The annotation to the Guoyu mentions that their surname was Mi (), making them related to the royal house of Chu.


The name "Yue" was applied indiscriminately to many southern Chinese peoples, including the inhabitants of Chu and Wu, throughout classical Chinese sources. A specific kingdom under their name in modern Zhejiang is not mentioned until it began a series of wars against its northern neighbor Wu in the late 6th century BC.

With help from Wu's enemy Chu, Yue was able to be victorious after several decades of conflict. King Goujian destroyed and annexed Wu in 473 BC. Competing against the fewer, more powerful Warring States, Yue did not fare as well. During the reign of Wujiang (無彊), six generations after Goujian, Yue was destroyed and annexed by Chu in 334 BC.

During its existence, Yue was famous for the quality of its metalworking, particularly its swords. Examples include the extremely well-preserved Swords of Guojian and Zhougou.


Main article: Minyue

After the fall of Yue, the ruling family moved south to what is now northern Fujian and set up the Minyue kingdom. This successor state lasted until around 150 BC, when it miscalculated an alliance with the Han Dynasty.

Mingdi, Wujiang's second son, was appointed minister of Wucheng (present-day Huzhou's Wuxing District) by the king of Chu. He was titled Marquis of Ouyang Ting, from a pavilion on the south side of Ouyu Mountain. Shi Huangdi abolished the title after his conquest of Chu in 223 BC, but descendants and subjects of its former rulers took up the surnames Ou (), Ouyang (歐陽), and Ouhou (歐侯) in remembrance.


In Chinese astronomy, there are two stars named for Yue:

People from Yue

  • Yuenü, swordswoman & author of the earliest-known exposition on swordplay[4]
  • Xi Shi, a famous Chinese beauty

See also


Further reading

  • Zhengzhang Shangfang [郑张尚芳]. 1990. "Some Kam-Tai Words in Place Names of the Ancient Wu and Yue States" [古吴越地名中的侗台语成份]. In Minzu Yuwen 6.

External links

  • Eric Henry: PDF)
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