The kings of the Zhou Dynasty 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) secured domination over a vast territory by giving distant or critical regions into the hands of regional rulers (zhuhou 諸侯, see political system), many of them related to the royal house by kinship. The rulers over these secondary states (regional states) were granted titles of nobility, like marquis (hou 侯), or viscount (bo 伯). While many of the smaller regional states were conquered by larger ones during the Spring and Autumn period 春秋 (770-5th cent. BCE), the remaining of the regional rulers began during the Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE) to appropriate the title of king (wang 王).
For the Western Zhou 西周 (11th cent.-770 BCE) and Spring and Autumn periods, traditional Chinese historians provide the annals and more or less complete ruler lists of 13 regional states (incl. the semi-barbarian state of Wu 吳), and for the Warring States period those of 7 states (including Qin 秦). Information about lesser states is scarce, even if the ruler lists and genealogies of some houses can be reconstructed.
The regional rulers themselves entrusted their own relatives with offices (qing 卿, dafu 大夫) and territories inside their states. Some of the genealogies of these tertiary states survive in the chronicle Chunqiu-Zuozhuan 春秋左傳.
Apart from these larger states, there was a abundant number of statelets that were by and by conquered by larger states:
Bei 邶, Bi 畢, Bi 偪, Bin 豳, Bo 柏, Chao 巢, Cheng 成/郕, Chui 垂, Dai 戴, Dao 道, Du 杜, Er 貳, Fei 費, Fang 房, Feng 酆, Geng 耿, Guan 管, Gui 檜, Guo 虢, Hua 滑, Huo 霍, Ji 薊, Ji 極, Ji 冀, Jiang 蔣, Jiao 焦, Jiao 絞, Ju 莒, Kang 康, Kuai 鄶, Kui 夔, Li 厲, Liao 蓼, Lu 六 (special reading instead of Liu), Long 龍, Lü 呂, Mao 茅, Mi 密, Ni 郳, Pi 邳, Qi 其, Quan 權, Quwo 曲沃, Ran or Na 冉 (冄, 𨚗, 𨚉, Dan 𣆀), Ren 任, Ruo 鄀, Shen 申, Shi 邿, Sui 隨, Sui 祟, Tan 郯, Tang 唐, Teng 滕, Tong 桐, Xi 息, Xiang 項, Xiang 向, Xu 許, Xue 薛, Xun 郇, Yang 陽, Yang 揚, Yi 益, Ying 應, Ying 英, Yong 鄘, Yong 雍, Yu 邘, Yu 虞, Zeng 繒, Zeng 鄫, Zhang 鄣, Zhou 州, Zhu 邾 (Zou 鄒, Zou 陬 or Zhulou 邾婁), Zhu 祝, Zhu 鑄, Zhuan 鄟, Zuo 胙.