春秋五霸 The Five Hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period
春秋初年诸侯国有一百多个。各诸侯国为了争夺土地和人口，发生混战。力量强大的诸侯国一面不断吞并弱小的国家，一面争夺霸权。春秋时期先后起来争当霸主的有齐桓公、宋襄公、晋文公、秦穆公、楚庄王，历史上称为“春秋五霸”。还有一种说法，“春秋五霸”指齐桓公、晋文公、楚庄王、吴王阖闾越王勾践。 齐国是春秋时期东方一个富裕的国家。齐桓公在大政治家管仲的辅佐下，在政治上和经济上进行了一系列改革，发展生产，使齐国强大起来。齐桓公率兵击退山戎等少数民族的进攻，又率领齐、鲁、宋等八国的军队讨伐中原的楚国，阻止了楚军的北进，威信大增。公元前651年，齐桓公召集各诸侯国订立盟约，周天子也派人参加，齐国称霸中原的时代开始了。 齐桓公之后，宋襄公一心想接替齐桓公做霸主，但没有成功。晋文公做了国君以后采取了一系列措施，很快使晋国成为北方一大强国。当时南方的楚国也想称霸。公元前632年，晋国和楚国进行了一场大战，楚军大败，晋国从此成为中原的一大霸主。晋楚之间的争霸持续了一百多年，后来楚庄王打败晋军，做了中原的霸主。秦穆公本来也打算向东发展，到中原去做霸主，没能成功，转而向西扩大地盘，独自称霸西方。 吴国和越国都是长江下游的国家。这两个国家都不大，但也加入了争霸战争。晋楚争霸时，吴国在晋国的支持下曾经攻破楚国的都城。后来吴越两国进行了多次战争，各有胜负。公元前494年，吴王夫差大败越国，越国成为吴国的属国。越王勾践经过10年的艰苦准备，终于灭掉了吴国。后来勾践又率军北上，成为春秋时期最后一个霸主。
The Five Hegemons of the Spring and Autumn Period
In the early Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC) the Zhou Kingdom was divided into over 100 vassal states, all squabbling over land and population. Strong states annexed weak ones and contended for hegemony over all the others. During this period, Duke Huan of Qi, Duke Xiang of Song, Duke Wen of Jin, Duke Mu of Qin and King Zhuang of Chu became the hegemons in succession, and were called the "Five powers of the Spring and Autumn Period". Some historians rank the "five powers" as Duke Huan of Qi, Duke Wen of Jin, King Zhuang of Chu, King Helu of Wu and King Goujian of Yue. Qi was a rich state in what is now Shandong Province. With the aid of the able statesman Guan Zhong, Duke Huan of Qi carried out a series of political and economic reforms, which helped the state to flourish and greatly enhanced its military power. In 651 BC, Duke Huan convened a meeting of the rulers of all the states, at which envoys from the Son of Heaven of Zhou (the Son of Heaven was the titular sovereign, and had little real power) were present. A treaty of alliance was concluded, and the period of Qi hegemony commenced. In 632 BC the State of Jin defeated the State of Chu to rule the roost in the Central Plains. However, the fight for hegemony went on between the two states for 100 years, until King Zhuang of Chu smashed the Jin army and made himself the hegemon. In the meantime, Duke Mu of Qin was expanding his territory to the west, and the State of Yue, located on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, finally absorbed its long-time rival State of Wu. Gou Jian, King of Yue, led his army north, and made himself the last hegemon of the Spring and Autumn Period.