King Wu Yi — Challenger of Theocracy

King Wu Yi (? — 1113 BC), named Zi Qu, was a controversial monarch of the Shang Dynasty that strongly challenged the theocracy, and with a controversial end. 

He might be an ignorant, irritable monarch that was killed by thunder for being disrespectful to the deity, or a reformer that tried to separate politics from Theocracy but got assassinated and defiled by his opponents.

When King Wu Yi ascended to the throne in the year 1147 BC, his empire was already in decline and many nearby regimes were expanding.

Ceremonial Jade Weapon (Yu Ge) of the Shang Dynasty — Harvard Art Museums  (Photo by Dongmaiying)

As an excellent militarist, King Wu Yi defeated those forces that might threaten his reign and further expanded Shang's territory. 

Nevertheless, the most noteworthy behavior of King Wu Yi was his challenge to the theocracy.

He made leather into a human figure and filled with blood, which he believed was the representative of the most sacred deity; then he hung it up high and shot it.

He tried many things to show that the king, not any deities, was the most powerful monarch of the world.

Ceremonial Bronze Cooking Utensils (Ding) of the Shang Dynasty Decorated with Mythical Animals' Patterns — Jiangxi Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

King Wu Yi passed away after thunder attacked him on his way back from hunting. Most people believed that this was the consequence of his having insulted heaven and deity.

Others believed that he was assassinated or sacrificed on the battlefield, since he passed away in the area that he frequently fought against his enemies. 

Though his activities were long considered absurd or controversial, King Wu Yi's ruling period was a turning point of transferring from Theocracy to the Monarchical Politics in the history of China. 

Jade Figurine Wearing A Phoenix Crown of the Shang Dynasty — National Museum of China

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