Suppose I’m the Duke of NJ, and I want to go to war against NY, but to do that I have to persuade the following:
- Barons of Bergen and Burlington
- Marquess of Marlton and Mercer
- Counts of Cumberland, Cape May, and Camden
Hoping of course, that they do in-fact show up with their personal armies on the appointed day. They will also be bringing their personal interest and personal vendettas to the battlefield. For example:
The Baron of Bergen might be much more inclined to seeking out his blood enemy, the Count of Cattaraugus, than to obey my orders even though I’m his Duke. Oh but what about the Duke of NY? He will as well face the same set of problems. This is how war was in 8th-century china.
War was small, yet central to the Chinese aristocracy. Time skip impending…. in comes Qi, pronounced Chi. They were known for their martial prowess and regularly were called upon to protect the northern frontiers (I have to do some more reading on this, it is quite interesting). A high state of war readiness in Qi had driven institutional innovations, that allowed the rulers of Qi to tap into the military prowess and potential of the population.
The Dukes of Qi (Interested in finding out who exactly they were) bought out or eliminated the lower aristocrat thiefdoms. They transformed Qi from a loose confederation into a unified state. The Qi even created a bureaucracy, that could systematically collect taxes and draft manpower (Reading on exactly how this happened, bare with me for now).
Finally, The Qi started a foundation for their military tradition that put the talent of commanders over their noble pedigree. So in turn, in one generation, Qi became one of the dominant states in ancient china. Its ruler was granted the title of bà (pronounced fa) or known as hegemon (Do you know how long i searched for this?!), a kind of supreme overlord and enforcer within the Chinese world.
But transformations and improvements can occur anywhere, and so can the Qi’s methods also migrate, so as other Chinese states start to obtain and modify these traditions, we see evolved ideas, we also see warfare becoming bigger and better organized. Sun Tzu (also Sunzi), the general to whom the Art of War is attributed to, was born and raised in Qi in the 6th-century BC. So he was steeped in these military ideas and models and these bureaucratic methods. However, by Sun Tzu’s time, Qi was in decline, and the experts of Qi were looking for other rulers to adopt their methods, and this is how Sun Tzu comes into the chamber of King Helü of Wu. The ruler of the southern state of Wu.