There were many Chinese dynasties that rose and fell throughout China’s history. The history of China, in a way, is a history of battles and wars. These wars were so important that they changed the structure of Chinese culture both then and now. Three dynasties that rose and fell during ancient China were the Han, the Tang, and the Song. The rise and fall of these great dynasties form a link that runs through Chinese history. The Han period was one of the golden ages of Chinese civilization. The Han dynasty lasted from 206 B. C. to A. D. 220.
It began when the prince of Han, Liu Bang, took the title Gao Zu and began to restore order and justice to his new empire. He lowered taxes and reduced the Qin emperor’s harsh Legalist policies. These policies created a strong basis for the Han dynasty. The most famous emperor, Wudi took China to a new level. During his reign from 141 BC to 87 BC, he strengthened both the government and economy. Economic expansion, strengthening the palace at the expense of the civil service, weakening the states hold on the peasantry and the rise of the rich and the gentry were all factors that led to the adoption of Confucian ideals.
Han emperors made Confucianism the official belief system of the state. Under Wudi, China conquered many lands, expanding their power and influence. The Han Dynasty now controlled northern Vietnam and the Korean Peninsula. Wudi sent explorers toward Central Asia, eventually opening up the famous trade route known as the Silk Road. However, signs of decay began to appear throughout the dynasty which put an enormous burden on the economy. Weak emperors allowed canals and roads to fall into disrepair.
Burdened by heavy taxes, and crushing debt, many peasants revolted. Thousands of rebellious peasants abandoned their villages and fled to the mountains. In AD 220 warlords overthrew the last Han emperor. After four hundred years of unity, China broke up into several kingdoms. The Han dynasty was over. After the Han dynasty collapsed, China remained divided for nearly four hundred years. It was not until the development of the Tang dynasty, in 618 that China was restored to its earlier glory. The tang was an imperial dynasty of China.
Its territory was acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers and was greater than that of the Han period. Tang rulers carried empire building to new depths. Chinese armies forced the neighboring lands of Vietnam, Tibet, and Korea to become tributary states. It is estimated that the population had grown by the 9th century to about eighty million people. The Tang Dynasty was largely a period of progress and stability. They rebuilt the bureaucracy and enlarged the civil service system to recruit talented officials trained in Confucian technology.
Chinese culture flourished and further developed during the Tang era. It is considered the greatest age for Chinese poetry. Tang emperors began to lose territories in Central Asia to the Arabs. Corruption, high taxes, drought and famine all contributed to the downfall of the Tang Dynasty. In 1907, a rebel general over through the last Tang emperor, which brought the dynasty to an end. The Song Dynasty lasted for more than three hundred years. It began in 960, when a educated general reunited most of China. The Song controlled less territory than the Tang dynasty did.
The dynasty was constantly threatened by invaders in the north. Despite military obstacles, the culture brought rise to a new religion. Education expanded the growth of literature and the arts. Foreign trade flourished and Chinese cities prospered as centers of trade. Positions in government were no longer held by aristocrats and were instead given to people with experience and degrees. This made the government stronger and formed new concepts. Chinese wealth and culture lead East Asia even when its militaries did not. Most problems in this dynasty were due to military power.
A combination of corrupt officials and weak emperors contributed to its downfall. China has a long and mysterious history of almost five thousand years. China can trace her culture back to a blend of small original tribes which have expanded until they became the great country we have today. Each rise and fall of a dynasty created new leaders, new laws, new rules, and usually new expansion. Chinese history is that of alternating periods of political unity and disunity. The rise and fall of many dynasties created a rocky path in Chinas history.
Courtney from Study Moose
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