a period of the Eastern Chou in China that lasted from 722 B.C. to 481 B.C.; named after the Ch’un ch’iu (Spring and Autumn Annals), which chronicled the events of these years.
During the Ch’un Ch’iu period, the kingdoms and principalities that had been formed from early Chou fiefs became in fact independent states embroiled in internecine strife. Because many of the nobles perished in the strife and the large kingdoms gained strength at the expense of the smaller ones, the institution of hereditary fiefs and the aristocracy itself were weakened. In the conquered, escheated, or newly acquired lands of the large kingdoms, regions and prefectures were created and placed under the leadership of officials trained by the central government.