chapter  7
The Spring and Autumn Period
Pages 21

The Spring and Autumn Period takes its name from the Springs and Autumns (a poetic reference to the passage of time), a chronicle kept for the lords of the state of Lu. Its fi rst entry dates to the equivalent of 722 BCE and the fi nal entry corresponds to 481 BCE. The chronicle records, in brief and formulaic language, signifi cant events in Lu and events in other states that aff ected Lu in some way. In practice, the Spring and Autumn Period is usually taken to include a slightly larger span of time, from the end of the Western Zhou Period in 771 BCE to the death of Confucius in 479. The choice of an ending date for the Spring and Autumn Period is somewhat arbitrary; the Spring and Autumn Period elides into the succeeding Warring States Period through a series of signifi cant events in the mid-fi fth century BCE. Often given short shrift in histories of China, perhaps in part because of the brief and seemingly uninformative nature of the Springs and Autumns records themselves, the Spring and Autumn Period, on closer examination, proves to be an era of great interest and historical importance (see Focus: A year in the Springs and Autumns ).