Corruption in the Shang Dynasty reached its peak during the reign of King Zhouwang. He had a luxurious palace built in Chaoge called "Lutai," or Deer Terrace, which served as a storehouse for the treasures he had seized. The king used various brutal methods to suppress the people. One of the devices, dubbed paoluo, was said to be a hollow bronze column, some 6 meters high and 2.4 meters cross, stuffed with buming carbon, with three holes distributed evenly from top to bottom. Those who opposed him, officials and common people alike, would all be arrested and burned to death on the red-hot column.
As the Shang Dynasty declined, a state named Zhou was rising to the west. In stark contrast to Zhouwang's cruelty, King Wenwang of Zhou adopted a policy of "enriching the people," to encourage them to become rich through labor. Hardworking and living a simple life, the king often went to work in the fields together with the peasants to learn about their lives. By the time his son, King Wuwang (r. 1046 to 1042 BC), took the throne, Zhou had overpowered the Shang. Many states that had been subordinate to Shang turned instead to Zhou.
When Wuwang commanded his troops to advance toward Mengjin, taking with him on a chariot a memorial tablet for his late father, he was joined by many other regional rulers who had long resented Zhouwang. They all suggested to Wuwang that he should attack Chaoge directly, to end the rule of Zhouwang. After studying the intelligence reports filed by the spies he had sent to Chaoge, Wuwang decided that the time was not yet ripe for the final attack. He then withdrew his troops, and continued to make preparations while biding his time.
Upon learning that Wuwang's troops were nearby, Zhouwang hastened to gather about 170,000 troops to confront the invaders at Muye. Though outnumbering Wuwang's troops, Zhouwang's troops were mostly composed of slaves who had just been captured. These slaves were all outraged by the cruel king, but they were placed in the front, with elite forces and imperial guards from behind forcing them to charge, an arrangement that only heightened their desire to rebel. As soon as the battle commenced, they switched allegiances and joined soldiers from the Zhou and fought against the Shang troops. As a result, Zhouwang suffered a severe defeat at Muye. Upon seeing the fall of his dynasty, he dressed himself up, mounted the Deer Terrace, piled beautiful jade and other precious treasures all around himself, and ordered the terrace to be set on fire, putting an end to his wicked life.
Five days after the decisive battle at Muye, Wuwang proclaimed the founding of the Zhou Dynasty, taking Haojing (southeast of today's Lintong, Shaanxi Province) as the capital. It was known as the Western Zhou (1046-771 BC), the third and last slave dynasty in Chinese history, after the Xia and Shang dynasties, and considered the golden age of early China.