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Royal Hospitality and Geopolitical Constitution of the Western Zhou Polity

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The present article examines how political communication and administration were effected in the Western Zhou polity (1046/5-771 BC) and investigates the significance of the royal residences as political and administrative centers. Bronze inscriptions referring to royal receptions that were offered to Zhou regional rulers, rulers of non-Zhou polities, royal officers and other subjects provide the basis for this study. It is argued that the form of "royal hospitality" described in these inscriptions was a political and, partially, administrative institution of the Zhou kings, and that its territorial localization both reflected and defined the geopolitical constitution of the polity. The article concludes by arguing that in the "larger Zhou polity" embracing the regional states of the zhuhou, political communication was decentralized, and that none of the royal residences held the status as political "capital" throughout the entire period. It is further found that a process of territorial centralization was underway in the territories under the direct control of the king, and that the oldest royal residence Zhou-under-Qi was gradually established as political and administrative capital. Cet article s'intéresse à la façon dont opéraient la communication politique et l'administration dans le régime des Zhou Occidentaux (1046/5-771 av. J.-C.) et cherche à évaluer l'importance des résidences royales et des centres administratifs. Il se fonde sur les inscriptions sur bronze se référant aux réceptions offertes par le roi aux souverains régionaux Zhou, à ceux des régimes extérieurs aux Zhou, aux officiers royaux des Zhou et à d'autres de leurs sujets. L'argument est que la forme d'"hospitalité royale" décrite dans ces inscriptions constituait une des institutions politiques et, pour partie, administratives des rois Zhou, et que leur localisation territoriale reflétait et en même temps définissait la constitution géopolitique du régime. L'article conclut que dans l'"entité politique étendue des Zhou", incluant les États régionaux des zhuhou, la communication politique fonctionnait de façon décentralisée et qu'aucune des résidences royales n'a conservé le statut de "capitale" politique pendant la totalité de la période. On constate en outre qu'un processus de centralisation territoriale était à l'œuvre dans les territoires directement contrôlés par le roi, et que la résidence royale la plus ancienne, "Zhou au pied du mont Qi", est progressivement devenue la capitale politique et administrative.

Affiliations: 1: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München


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