Early Chinese Empires

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Transcript Early Chinese Empires

Early Chinese Empires
Ancient China
• Qin Dynasty
• Han Dynasty 206BCE - 220CE
– Founded by Emperor Gaozu
– Briefly interrupted by Xin Dynasty (Wang Mang)
– “Golden Age”
• Succeeded by Three Kingdoms 220-280CE
– Fell due to internal corruption and natural disasters
• Confucianism prevalent
• Fragmented for several centuries
• Reunited under Sui Dynasty
Sui Dynasty 581-615
• Father & son rulers
• Capital at Chang’an
• Built the 1,100 mile Grand Canal linking Yellow & Yangzi
– Facilitate communication & trade with the south
– Also constructed irrigation systems in Yangzi valley
• Improved the Great Wall
• Military ambitions toward Korea, Vietnam, and Inner Asia
– Required organization & mustering resources
– Overextension compounded political dilemma stemming from
military defeat & assassination of second Sui emperor
• Defeated by Turks from Inner Asia
Tang Empire 618-907
• Li family took dynastic name Tang
• Descended from Turkik elites that built small states in
northern China after the Han
• Appreciated pastoral nomadic culture of Inner Asia &
Chinese traditions
• Li Shimin (r.626-649) extended power into Inner Asia
– Retained many Sui governing practices
– Avoided overcentralization by allowing local nobles, gentry,
officials, and religious establishments to exercise power
• Combined Chinese weapons with Inner Asian
Buddhism & Tang Empire
• Rulers followed Inner Asian precedents in political use of Buddhism
– Interpretations of doctrine accorded kings & emperors spiritual function of
welding humankind into a harmonious Buddhist society
– Protecting spirits were to help the ruler govern & prevent harm from coming to
his people
• Mahayana Buddhism prevalent
Permitted absorption of local gods & goddesses
Encouraged translating scripture into local languages
Accepted religious practices not based on texts
Adaptable to different societies & classes of people
Invigorated travel, language learning, and cultural exchange
• Monasteries collaborated with princes
– Princes enlisted monastic leaders to pray for them, preach on their behalf, and
contribute wealth to the war chest
– Monasteries received tax exemptions, land privileges, and gifts in return
• Complexity of influence increased as Tang Empire expanded westward
– Many people visited Chang’an, taking away recent ideas and styles
– Regional cultures & identities remained strong
– Historians denote Tang China as being “cosmopolitan” due to its breadth &
Upheavals & Repression 750-859
• Increasing turmoil as result of conflict with Tibetans and
Turkic Uighurs
– Backlash against “foreigners” which included Buddhists according
to Confucians
– Tang elites saw Buddhism as undermining Confucian idea of the
family as the model for the state
– Also attacked for encouraging women in politics
• 840 – government moved to crush monasteries whose tax
exemptions allowed them to accumulate land, serfs, and
precious objects
– 4,600 temples destroyed within 5 years
– Some centers protected by local warlords
• Buddhism never recovered the influence of early Tang times
End of Tang Empire 897-907
• Campaigns of expansion in 7th century left empire dependent on local
military commanders & complex tax collection system
– Reverses led to demoralization & underfunding of military
• Rebellion on the frontier for 8 years
– Resulted in new powers for provincial military governors
– Thereby weakening central power
• Uprising between 879-881
– Led by Huang Chao, a member of the gentry
– Attracted poor farmers & tenants who had oppressive bosses or landlords
– New hatred of “barbarians” spurred murder of thousands of foreign residents in
Canton and Beijing
– Local warlords finally wiped out rebels
• Tang society didn’t find peace
– Refugees, migrant workers, and homeless people common sights
– Never regained power after Huang Chao’s rebellion
After the Tang
• Liao Empire
– Khitan People
– Nomadic peoples of the northeastern frontier
– Mahayana Buddhism
• Tanggut State
– Minyak People
– Inner Asian frontier in northwestern China
– Tibetan Buddhism
• Song Empire
Central China
Came into being in 960
Song Empire 960-1279
• Divided into two distinct periods
– Northern Song
• Capital in Bianjing
• Controlled most of inner China
– Southern Song
• Period after Song lost control of northern China to the
Jin Dynasty
• Court retreated south of the Yangtze River
• Bolstered naval strength
• Developed new military technology, incl. gunpowder
• Fought with northern rivals for control of
mines for iron and coal
Song Achievements
First government to nationally issue paper money
Establish permanent standing navy
First known use of gunpowder
First discernment of true north using a compass
Introduced use of fractions
Precise calendar
Junk – oceangoing ship
Movable-Type Printing Press – each character is
cast on separate piece of metal, replacing
woodblock printing & making printing cheaper
Civil man outranked the military man
Private academies became influential in culture and politics
Neo-Confucianism – new approaches to understanding Confucian texts
Popular Buddhist sects also persisted
Meditation by Buddhists and Confucians
Examinations to fill civil service positions
– Hereditary class distinctions meant less than in Tang times
– Men from wealthy families still had advantage
– Shift from an aristocratic elite to a bureaucratic elite
• Population Growth
– Growth of merchant class
• Women subordinate, disenfranchised, and restricted
– Fashionable to be moderately literate
– Footbinding spread among elites
• Vibrant culture
– Spread of literature & knowledge
– Public festivals
– Lively entertainment quarters in cities
End of the Song Dynasty
• Kublai Khan led assaults against the Song through
the 1260s
• Officially declared the creation of the Yuan
Dynasty in 1271
– Defeated Song troops again in 1275
– Most Song territory captured by 1276
– Finally crushed Song resistance in 1279
• 8 year-old emperor committed suicide, along with Prime
Minister and 800 members of royal clan
• Rest of imperial family unharmed
Yuan Dynasty Basics
• Established by Kublai Khan
– Mongols had ruled northern China for decades, but
not in traditional Chinese dynasty style
Isolated from other khanates
First foreign dynasty to rule all of China
Lasted until 1368
Considered both a successor to the Mongol
Empire and an imperial Chinese dynasty
– Bore the Mandate of Heaven in Chinese histories
– Replaced by the Ming Dynasty
Primary Sources
• Analects for Women – Outlines roles and
expectations for women as inferred from
Confucian teachings
• Remonstrance Against New Laws – a scholar
and official’s opinion about new laws designed
to address declining tax revenue & increasing
government expenses
• Tang Law Code – Defines the Ten
Abominations in Tang society