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History >> Biography >> Ancient China


Growing Up

Not a lot is known about the childhood of Confucius. He was born in the state of Lu in 551 BC. His father was a soldier named Kong He who died when Confucius was three years old. The rest of his childhood was spent in poverty as Confucius was raised by his mother.

Confucius' family was part of a growing middle class of people in China called "shi." They weren't part of the nobility, but were considered above the common peasants. This gave him a different outlook on life than the majority of people. He thought that people should be promoted and rewarded based on their talents, not on what family they were born into.

"Konfuzius-1770" by Unknown
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Early Career

Confucius didn't start out as a wise teacher, he worked a number of normal jobs first. They included being a shepherd and a clerk,. Eventually, Confucius came to work for the government. He started out as the governor of a small town and worked his way up until he became an advisor at the top levels of government.

His Philosophy

Confucius developed his own philosophy which he taught to others. Today, his philosophy is known as Confucianism. His ideas didn't become popular until years after his death when they became the basic philosophy of the Chinese culture for over two thousand years.

Here are some of the basic ideas of Confucianism:
Later Life

Confucius quit his government job at the age of 51. He was disappointed that the leaders were not following his teachings. He then traveled throughout China for many years teaching his philosophy. Some of his followers wrote down his ideas in a book that would later be called The Analects of Confucius.


Confucius died in 479 BC of natural causes. He spent his last few years in his hometown of Qufu teaching his disciples.


Confucius' teachings became the state philosophy of China during the Han Dynasty. His teachings were the basis of the government civil service exams. The government liked Confucianism because it taught to respect authority and that a strong central government was important. Confucius' teachings remained an important part of Chinese culture and government up until the 20th century.

Confucius Quotes
Interesting Facts about Confucius Activities

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    Period of Disunion
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    Kangxi Emperor
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    Zheng He
    Emperors of China

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    History >> Biography >> Ancient China

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