Rome vs. Han China Essay
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The Han Dynasty and Imperial Rome were both large and powerful empires that existed during the Classical Period. The Han Dynasty and Imperial Rome had some major similarities as well as differences. The Han Dynasty had a similar government system as Imperial Rome, the empires’ governments made the same mistakes that led to similar declines; however the government’s involvement and view on trade was different between these two empires. Both the Han Dynasty and Imperial Rome were monarchies. They had emperors that had absolute power.
In addition, both emperors appointed officials to help them rule their land. This system of government is called a bureaucracy. The emperors of Han China claimed to have divine right to rule just like the Roman emperors. Both emperors used this divine right to rule to get their peoples support, after all if the emperor had divine right to rule and you didn’t support the emperor, then you would be going against god. Another similarity between the Han Dynasty and Imperial Rome was that both emperors of each empire were able to carry out huge public works projects.
These emperors were able to do so because the two empires had similar government systems, monarchy, thus the emperors had absolute power and could force their people to build these public works. Just like the Romans the Han built canals and roads, however unlike the Romans, the Han improved upon their great wall and did not develop aqueducts. Both the Han Dynasty and Imperial Rome had this similar government because their politicians wanted to have absolute power and supported the monarchy system.
Imperial Rome’s and The Han dynasty’s governments also made similar mistakes which led to similar declines. Since both government systems were monarchies, the emperors had absolute power. Although some Emperors from both empires made huge improvements to their respective empires, some emperors from both empires made critical mistakes. Also, in both empires, their emperors forced their people to work and pay for the public works. The heavy taxes and focus on public works worsened the economy. Both empires also spent a lot of money on threats at their borders.
The Romans, at the time of their steady decline, had to spend a lot of money on their military to fight off their enemies. The Romans, at this time, were invaded by the Huns as well as many Germanic tribes such as the Visigoths. The Hand Dynasty also had problems with their borders. Unlike the Romans, The Han paid off their invaders. The Han were mostly invaded by nomads. As a result of both empires spending a lot of money, both governments decided to create more money to pay off their depts. As more money was made by the government, the less it became worth.
As a result, there was inflation; prices went up however peoples stored money lost value. Not only did Imperial Rome and Han China face economic troubles, their people were disunities. The gap between the rich and the poor grew in both dynasties. And as a result of poor government, there was “unfair” land distribution which causes hatred between the rich and the poor. This hatred led to disunity. In both empires, government officials and generals fought each other for power instead of their common enemies.
In addition to the disunity between the rich and the poor, both Han China and Imperial Rome, split their empires to make them easier to control. The failing economy and disunity, which were caused by similar failing government systems which gave absolute power to one person, led to the decline of both Han China and Imperial Rome. Han China and Imperial Rome had many similarities, they did, however, have some differences. For example their governments had different views on trade and government involvement in trade. Not only this, Han China and Imperial Rome traded different products.
The Han traded silk and porcelain while the Romans traded their olive products and any abundant agricultural produce. The Han were so influential in their land trade that there were trade routes called “The Silk Roads. ” On the other hand, The Romans were so successful in their sea trade, that the Mediterranean Sea was named “The Roman Lake. ” Also, the Han government decided to focus on trading their products made at home with foreign nations for a profit, while the Romans focused on buying needed goods from other countries and selling those goods to their own people.
For example, Rome required timber and grains. Rome traded with Egypt to get the grain they needed. In addition, the Han government had a different view on government involvement in trade than the Roman government. The Han government had monopolies on some products such as iron. This meant that they sold/ traded their iron with government/political control. Unlike the Han government, the Roman’s had more independent trading. The Romans focused on their “latifundias” or large land estates.
The reason why Han China and Imperial Rome had different views on trade, types of trade, and government involvement in trade was because of their geography and cultural beliefs. For example, Since Han china was ethnocentric and believed that they were the best and the world revolved around them, their government made trade more focused on exporting products. Also, China had better and more abundant resources than Rome; this made the people of China not need to import goods from other nations, also their abundance in Iron led to government involvement in the trade of iron.
This difference in geography also explains why Rome focused on importing goods from other nations more than China did. Han China and Imperial Rome were both successful empires. They had a similar system of government, they were both monarchies. According to history, even the greatest empires fall. This was no exception for the Han dynasty and Imperial Rome. Both empires fell due to the mistakes of their emperors such as too much government spending. Although the empires had many similarities, their types, view, and government involvement in trade was different.