It is generally thought that Confucius was born in 551 BC. His birthplace was in Zou, Lu state (near present-day Qufu, Shandong Province). His father Kong He, also known as Shuliang He, was an officer in the Lu military. Kong He died when Confucius was three years old, and Confucius was raised by his mother Yan Zhengzai in poverty. At age 19 he married his wife, surnamed Qiguan, and a year later the couple had their first child, Kong Li.
Confucius was born into the class of shi, between the aristocracy and the common people. He is said to have worked as a shepherd, cowherd, clerk, and a book-keeper. When his mother died, Confucius (aged 23) is said to have mourned for three years as was the tradition.