PICRURES ON A CHINESE TIME LINE PART I (PICTURES ON A CHINESE TIME LINE)

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Modi makes his speech that the world is divided into two camps. The two meet for almost 80 minutes. They were, however, pushed back. India subsequently refuses to allow two Chinese defense officials to visit New Delhi.. Instruments of ratification in respect to Confidence Building Measures agreement exchanged.

India accepts and later on 10 December endorses Colombo proposals. The Qin Emperor presided over the brutal silencing of political opposition, including the event known as the burning of books and burying of scholars. This would be the impetus behind the later Han synthesis incorporating the more moderate schools of political governance. Major contributions of the Qin include the concept of a centralized government, and the unification and development of the legal code, the written language, measurement, and currency of China after the tribulations of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods.

Even something as basic as the length of axles for carts—which need to match ruts in the roads—had to be made uniform to ensure a viable trading system throughout the empire. Also as part of its centralization, the Qin connected the northern border walls of the states it defeated, making the first Great Wall of China.

The tribes of the north, collectively called the Wu Hu by the Qin, were free from Chinese rule during the majority of the dynasty. After a military campaign led by General Meng Tian , the region was conquered in BC and agriculture was established; the peasants, however, were discontented and later revolted. The succeeding Han dynasty also expanded into the Ordos due to overpopulation, but depleted their resources in the process.

Indeed, this was true of the dynasty's borders in multiple directions; modern Inner Mongolia , Xinjiang , Tibet , Manchuria , and regions to the southeast were foreign to the Qin, and even areas over which they had military control were culturally distinct.

As early as Confucius and up until , there was reliance upon a trained intellectual elite, the scholar-official "scholar-gentlemen". Talented young men were selected through an elaborate process of imperial examination. They had to demonstrate skill at calligraphy , and had to know Confucian philosophy. Historian Wing-Tsit Chan concludes that:. Generally speaking, the record of these scholar-gentlemen has been a worthy one. It was good enough to be praised and imitated in 18th century Europe. Nevertheless, it has given China a tremendous handicap in their transition from government by men to government by law, and personal considerations in Chinese government have been a curse.

After Emperor Qin Shi Huang's unnatural death due to the consumption of mercury pills, [39] the Qin government drastically deteriorated and eventually capitulated in BC after the Qin capital was captured and sacked by rebels, which would ultimately lead to the establishment of a new dynasty of a unified China. A golden age in Chinese history, the Han dynasty's long period of stability and prosperity consolidated the foundation of China as a unified state under a central imperial bureaucracy, which was to last intermittently for most of the next two millennia.

During the Han dynasty, territory of China was extended to most of the China proper and to areas far west. Confucianism was officially elevated to orthodox status and was to shape the subsequent Chinese civilization. Art, culture and science all advanced to unprecedented heights. With the profound and lasting impacts of this period of Chinese history, the dynasty name "Han" had been taken as the name of the Chinese people, now the dominant ethnic group in modern China, and had been commonly used to refer to Chinese language and written characters.

The Han dynasty also saw many mathematical innovations being invented such as the method of Gaussian elimination which appeared in the Chinese mathematical text Chapter Eight Rectangular Arrays of The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art. Its use is illustrated in eighteen problems, with two to five equations. The first reference to the book by this title is dated to AD, but parts of it were written as early as approximately BC, more than years before the Europeans came up with the method in the 18th century. After the initial laissez-faire policies of Emperors Wen and Jing , the ambitious Emperor Wu brought the empire to its zenith.

To consolidate his power, Confucianism, which emphasizes stability and order in a well-structured society, was given exclusive patronage to be the guiding philosophical thoughts and moral principles of the empire. Imperial Universities were established to support its study and further development, while other schools of thought were discouraged.

Major military campaigns were launched to weaken the nomadic Xiongnu Empire , limiting their influence north of the Great Wall. Along with the diplomatic efforts led by Zhang Qian , the sphere of influence of the Han Empire extended to the states in the Tarim Basin , opened up the Silk Road that connected China to the west, stimulating bilateral trade and cultural exchange. To the south, various small kingdoms far beyond the Yangtze River Valley were formally incorporated into the empire. Emperor Wu also dispatched a series of military campaigns against the Baiyue tribes. After Emperor Wu , the empire slipped into gradual stagnation and decline.

Economically, the state treasury was strained by excessive campaigns and projects, while land acquisitions by elite families gradually drained the tax base. Various consort clans exerted increasing control over strings of incompetent emperors and eventually the dynasty was briefly interrupted by the usurpation of Wang Mang. In AD 9, the usurper Wang Mang claimed that the Mandate of Heaven called for the end of the Han dynasty and the rise of his own, and he founded the short-lived Xin "New" dynasty.

Wang Mang started an extensive program of land and other economic reforms, including the outlawing of slavery and land nationalization and redistribution. These programs, however, were never supported by the landholding families, because they favored the peasants. The instability of power brought about chaos, uprisings, and loss of territories. This was compounded by mass flooding of the Yellow River ; silt buildup caused it to split into two channels and displaced large numbers of farmers.

Emperor Guangwu reinstated the Han dynasty with the support of landholding and merchant families at Luoyang , east of the former capital Xi'an. Thus, this new era is termed the Eastern Han dynasty. With the capable administrations of Emperors Ming and Zhang , former glories of the dynasty was reclaimed, with brilliant military and cultural achievements.

The Xiongnu Empire was decisively defeated. The diplomat and general Ban Chao further expanded the conquests across the Pamirs to the shores of the Caspian Sea , [46] thus reopening the Silk Road , and bringing trade, foreign cultures, along with the arrival of Buddhism. With extensive connections with the west, the first of several Roman embassies to China were recorded in Chinese sources, coming from the sea route in AD , and a second one in AD The Eastern Han dynasty was one of the most prolific era of science and technology in ancient China, notably the historic invention of papermaking by Cai Lun , and the numerous scientific and mathematical contributions by the famous polymath Zhang Heng.

By the 2nd century, the empire declined amidst land acquisitions, invasions, and feuding between consort clans and eunuchs. In the ensuing turmoil, three states tried to gain predominance in the period of the Three Kingdoms. This time period has been greatly romanticized in works such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms. After Cao Cao reunified the north in , his son proclaimed the Wei dynasty in This period was characterized by a gradual decentralization of the state that had existed during the Qin and Han dynasties, and an increase in the power of great families. In , the Jin dynasty overthrew the Wei and later unified the country in , but this union was short-lived.

The Jin dynasty was severely weakened by internecine fighting among imperial princes and lost control of northern China after non-Han Chinese settlers rebelled and captured Luoyang and Chang'an. In , a Jin prince in modern-day Nanjing became emperor and continued the dynasty, now known as the Eastern Jin, which held southern China for another century. Prior to this move, historians refer to the Jin dynasty as the Western Jin.

Northern China fragmented into a series of independent kingdoms , most of which were founded by Xiongnu , Xianbei , Jie , Di and Qiang rulers. These non-Han peoples were ancestors of the Turks , Mongols , and Tibetans. Many had, to some extent, been " sinicized " long before their ascent to power. In fact, some of them, notably the Qiang and the Xiongnu, had already been allowed to live in the frontier regions within the Great Wall since late Han times.

During the period of the Sixteen Kingdoms , warfare ravaged the north and prompted large-scale Han Chinese migration south to the Yangtze River Basin and Delta. In the early 5th century, China entered a period known as the Northern and Southern dynasties, in which parallel regimes ruled the northern and southern halves of the country.

Each of these Southern dynasties were led by Han Chinese ruling families and used Jiankang modern Nanjing as the capital. They held off attacks from the north and preserved many aspects of Chinese civilization, while northern barbarian regimes began to sinify. In the north, the last of the Sixteen Kingdoms was extinguished in by the Northern Wei , a kingdom founded by the Xianbei , a nomadic people who unified northern China.

These regimes were dominated by Xianbei or Han Chinese who had married into Xianbei families. During this period most Xianbei people adopted Han surnames, eventually leading to complete assimilation into the Han. Despite the division of the country, Buddhism spread throughout the land. In southern China, fierce debates about whether Buddhism should be allowed were held frequently by the royal court and nobles. By the end of the era, Buddhists and Taoists had become much more tolerant of each other.

The short-lived Sui dynasty was a pivotal period in Chinese history. Founded by Emperor Wen in in succession of the Northern Zhou , the Sui went on to conquer the Southern Chen in to reunify China, ending three centuries of political division. The Sui pioneered many new institutions, including the government system of Three Departments and Six Ministries , imperial examinations for selecting officials from commoners, while improved on the systems of fubing system of the army conscription and the Equal-field system of land distributions.

These policies, which were adopted by later dynasties, brought enormous population growth, and amassed excessive wealth to the state. Standardized coinage were enforced throughout the unified empire. Buddhism took root as a prominent religion and was supported officially.


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Sui China was known for its numerous mega-construction projects. Intended for grains shipment and transporting troops, the Grand Canal was constructed, linking the capitals Daxing Chang'an and Luoyang to the wealthy southeast region , and in another route, to the northeast border. The Great Wall was also expanded, while series of military conquests and diplomatic maneuvers further pacified its borders.

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However, the massive invasions of the Korean Peninsula during the Goguryeo—Sui War failed disastrously, triggering widespread revolts that led to the fall of the dynasty. The Tang dynasty was founded by Emperor Gaozu on 18 June It was a golden age of Chinese civilization and considered to be the most prosperous period of China with significant developments in culture, art, literature, particularly poetry , and technology.

Buddhism became the predominant religion for the common people. Chang'an modern Xi'an , the national capital, was the largest city in the world during its time. The second emperor, Taizong , is widely regarded as one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history , who had laid the foundation for the dynasty to flourish for centuries beyond his reign.

Combined military conquests and diplomatic maneuvers were implemented to eliminate threats from nomadic tribes, extend the border, and submit neighboring states into a tributary system. In the south, lucrative maritime trade routes began from port cities such as Guangzhou. There was extensive trade with distant foreign countries, and many foreign merchants settled in China, encouraging a cosmopolitan culture.

The Tang culture and social systems were observed and imitated by neighboring countries, most notably, Japan. Internally the Grand Canal linked the political heartland in Chang'an to the agricultural and economic centers in the eastern and southern parts of the empire. Xuanzang , a Chinese Buddhist monk , scholar, traveller, and translator who travelled to India on his own, and returned with, "over six hundred Mahayana and Hinayana texts, seven statues of the Buddha and more than a hundred sarira relics.

Underlying the prosperity of the early Tang dynasty was a strong centralized bureaucracy with efficient policies. The government was organized as " Three Departments and Six Ministries " to separately draft, review, and implement policies. These departments were run by royal family members as well as scholar officials who were selected by imperial examinations. These practices, which matured in the Tang dynasty, were continued by the later dynasties, with some modifications. Under the Tang " equal-field system " all land was owned by the Emperor and granted to people according to household size.

Men granted land were conscripted for military service for a fixed period each year, a military policy known as the " Fubing system ". These policies stimulated a rapid growth in productivity and a significant army without much burden on the state treasury. By the dynasty's midpoint, however, standing armies had replaced conscription, and land was continuously falling into the hands of private owners. The dynasty continued to flourish under the rule of Empress Wu Zetian , the only empress regnant in Chinese history, and reached its zenith during the long reign of Emperor Xuanzong , who oversaw an empire that stretched from the Pacific to the Aral Sea with at least 50 million people.

There were vibrant artistic and cultural creations, including works of the greatest Chinese poets , Li Bai , and Du Fu. At the zenith of prosperity of the empire, the An Lushan Rebellion from to was a watershed event that devastated the population and drastically weakened the central imperial government.

Upon suppression of the rebellion, regional military governors, known as Jiedushi , gained increasingly autonomous status. With loss of revenue from land tax, the central imperial government relied heavily on salt monopoly. Externally, former submissive states raided the empire and the vast border territories were irreversibly lost for subsequent centuries. Nevertheless, civil society recovered and thrived amidst the weakened imperial bureaucracy.

In late Tang period, the empire was worn out by recurring revolts of regional warlords , while internally, as scholar-officials engaged in fierce factional strife , corrupted eunuchs amassed immense power. Catastrophically, the Huang Chao Rebellion , from to , devastated the entire empire for a decade. The sack of the southern port Guangzhou in was followed by the massacre of most of its inhabitants, along with the large foreign merchant enclaves.

The reliance on ethnic Han and Turkic warlords in suppressing the rebellion increased their power and influence. Consequently, the fall of the dynasty following Zhu Wen 's usurpation led to an era of division. The period of political disunity between the Tang and the Song, known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period , lasted from to During this half-century, China was in all respects a multi-state system.

Five regimes, namely, Later Liang , Tang , Jin , Han and Zhou , rapidly succeeded one another in control of the traditional Imperial heartland in northern China. More stable and smaller regimes of mostly ethnic Han rulers coexisted in south and western China over the period, cumulatively constituted the "Ten Kingdoms".

Amidst political chaos in the north, the strategic Sixteen Prefectures region along today's Great Wall were ceded to the emerging Khitan Liao dynasty , which drastically weakened the defense of the China proper against northern nomadic empires.

Chinese History | A 5, Year Timeline of Events by China Mike

To the south, Vietnam gained lasting independence after being a Chinese prefecture for many centuries. With wars dominated in Northern China, there were mass southward migrations of population, which further enhanced the southward shift of cultural and economic centers in China.

The era ended with the coup of Later Zhou general Zhao Kuangyin , and the establishment of the Song dynasty in , which eventually annihilated the remains of the "Ten Kingdoms" and reunified China. In , the Song dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu , with its capital established in Kaifeng also known as Bianjing. In , the Song dynasty reunified most of the China proper , while large swaths of the outer territories were occupied by sinicized nomadic empires. The Khitan Liao dynasty , which lasted from to , ruled over Manchuria , Mongolia , and parts of Northern China.

Meanwhile, in what are now the north-western Chinese provinces of Gansu , Shaanxi , and Ningxia , the Tangut tribes founded the Western Xia dynasty from to Aiming to recover the strategic Sixteen Prefectures lost in the previous dynasty , campaigns were launched against the Liao dynasty in the early Song period , which all ended in failure. Then in , the Liao cavalry swept over the exposed North China Plain and reached the outskirts of Kaifeng , forcing the Song's submission and then agreement to the Chanyuan Treaty , which imposed heavy annual tributes from the Song treasury.

The treaty was a significant reversal of Chinese dominance of the traditional tributary system. Yet the annual outflow of Song's silver to the Liao was paid back through the purchase of Chinese goods and products, which expanded the Song economy, and replenished its treasury. This dampened the incentive for the Song to further campaign against the Liao.

Meanwhile, this cross-border trade and contact induced further sinicization within the Liao Empire , at the expense of its military might which was derived from its primitive nomadic lifestyle. Similar treaties and social-economical consequences occurred in Song's relations with the Jin dynasty. Within the Liao Empire , the Jurchen tribes revolted against their overlords to establish the Jin dynasty in Jin's invasion of the Song dynasty followed swiftly. In , Kaifeng was sacked, a massive catastrophe known as the Jingkang Incident , ending the Northern Song dynasty.

Later the entire north of China was conquered. The survived members of Song court regrouped in the new capital city of Hangzhou , and initiated the Southern Song dynasty , which ruled territories south of the Huai River. In the ensuing years, the territory and population of China were divided between the Song dynasty, the Jin dynasty and the Western Xia dynasty. The era ended with the Mongol conquest , as Western Xia fell in , the Jin dynasty in , and finally the Southern Song dynasty in Despite its military weakness, the Song dynasty is widely considered to be the high point of classical Chinese civilization.

The Song economy , facilitated by technology advancement, had reached a level of sophistication probably unseen in world history before its time. The population soared to over million and the living standards of common people improved tremendously due to improvements in rice cultivation and the wide availability of coal for production. The capital cities of Kaifeng and subsequently Hangzhou were both the most populous cities in the world for their time, and encouraged vibrant civil societies unmatched by previous Chinese dynasties. Although land trading routes to the far west were blocked by nomadic empires, there were extensive maritime trade with neighboring states, which facilitated the use of Song coinage as the de facto currency of exchange.

Giant wooden vessels equipped with compasses traveled throughout the China Seas and northern Indian Ocean. The concept of insurance was practised by merchants to hedge the risks of such long-haul maritime shipments. With prosperous economic activities, the historically first use of paper currency emerged in the western city of Chengdu , as a supplement to the existing copper coins.

The Song dynasty was considered to be the golden age of great advancements in science and technology of China, thanks to innovative scholar-officials such as Su Song — and Shen Kuo — Inventions such as the hydro-mechanical astronomical clock, the first continuous and endless power-transmitting chain, woodblock printing and paper money were all invented during the Song dynasty. There was court intrigue between the political reformers and conservatives, led by the chancellors Wang Anshi and Sima Guang , respectively.

By the mid-to-late 13th century, the Chinese had adopted the dogma of Neo-Confucian philosophy formulated by Zhu Xi. Enormous literary works were compiled during the Song dynasty, such as the historical work, the Zizhi Tongjian "Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government". The invention of movable-type printing further facilitated the spread of knowledge. The Song dynasty was also a period of major innovation in the history of warfare. Gunpowder , while invented in the Tang dynasty , was first put into use in battlefields by the Song army, inspiring a succession of new firearms and siege engines designs.

During the Southern Song dynasty , as its survival hinged decisively on guarding the Yangtze and Huai River against the cavalry forces from the north, the first standing navy in China was assembled in , with its admiral 's headquarters established at Dinghai. Paddle-wheel warships equipped with trebuchets could launch incendiary bombs made of gunpowder and lime, as recorded in Song's victory over the invading Jin forces at the Battle of Tangdao in the East China Sea , and the Battle of Caishi on the Yangtze River in The advances in civilization during the Song dynasty came to an abrupt end following the devastating Mongol conquest , during which the population sharply dwindled, with a marked contraction in economy.

Despite viciously halting Mongol advance for more than three decades, the Southern Song capital Hangzhou fell in , followed by the final annihilation of the Song standing navy at the Battle of Yamen in The Yuan dynasty was formally proclaimed in , when the Great Khan of Mongol , Kublai Khan , one of the grandsons of Genghis Khan , assumed the additional title of Emperor of China , and considered his inherited part of the Mongol Empire as a Chinese dynasty.

In the preceding decades, the Mongols had conquered the Jin dynasty in Northern China, and the Southern Song dynasty fell in after a protracted and bloody war. The Mongol Yuan dynasty became the first conquest dynasty in Chinese history to rule the entire China proper and its population as an ethnic minority. The dynasty also directly controlled the Mongolian heartland and other regions, inheriting the largest share of territory of the divided Mongol Empire , which roughly coincided with the modern area of China and nearby regions in East Asia.

Further expansion of the empire was halted after defeats in the invasions of Japan and Vietnam. Following the previous Jin dynasty , the capital of Yuan dynasty was established at Khanbaliq also known as Dadu , modern-day Beijing. The Grand Canal was reconstructed to connect the remote capital city to economic hubs in southern part of China, setting the precedence and foundation where Beijing would largely remain as the capital of the successive regimes that unified China mainland.

After the peace treaty in that ended a series of Mongol civil wars , the emperors of the Yuan dynasty were upheld as the nominal Great Khan Khagan of the greater Mongol Empire over other Mongol Khanates , which nonetheless remained de facto autonomous. The era was known as Pax Mongolica , when much of the Asian continent was ruled by the Mongols. For the first and only time in history, the silk road was controlled entirely by a single state, facilitating the flow of people, trade, and cultural exchange.

Network of roads and a postal system were established to connect the vast empire. Lucrative maritime trade, developed from the previous Song dynasty , continued to flourish, with Quanzhou and Hangzhou emerging as the largest ports in the world. Adventurous travelers from the far west, most notably the Venetian , Marco Polo , would have settled in China for decades. Upon his return, his detail travel record inspired generations of medieval Europeans with the splendors of the far East.


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The Yuan dynasty was the first ancient economy, where paper currency , known at the time as Chao , was used as the predominant medium of exchange. Its unrestricted issuance in the late Yuan dynasty inflicted hyperinflation , which eventually brought the downfall of the dynasty. While the Mongol rulers of the Yuan dynasty adopted substantially to Chinese culture, their sinicization was of lesser extent compared to earlier conquest dynasties in Chinese history.

For preserving racial superiority as the conqueror and ruling class, traditional nomadic customs and heritage from the Mongolian steppe were held in high regard. On the other hand, the Mongol rulers also adopted flexibly to a variety of cultures from many advanced civilizations within the vast empire.

Traditional social structure and culture in China underwent immense transform during the Mongol dominance. Large group of foreign migrants settled in China, who enjoyed elevated social status over the majority Han Chinese , while enriching Chinese culture with foreign elements. The class of scholar officials and intellectuals, traditional bearers of elite Chinese culture, lost substantial social status. This stimulated the development of culture of the common folks.

There were prolific works in zaju variety shows and literary songs sanqu , which were written in a distinctive poetry style known as qu. Novels of vernacular style gained unprecedented status and popularity. Before the Mongol invasion, Chinese dynasties reported approximately million inhabitants; after the conquest had been completed in , the census reported roughly 60 million people.

Scholars such as Frederick W. Mote argue that the wide drop in numbers reflects an administrative failure to record rather than an actual decrease; others such as Timothy Brook argue that the Mongols created a system of enserfment among a huge portion of the Chinese populace, causing many to disappear from the census altogether; other historians including William McNeill and David Morgan consider that plague was the main factor behind the demographic decline during this period.

Throughout the Yuan dynasty, there was some general sentiment among the populace against the Mongol dominance. Yet rather than the nationalist cause, it was mainly strings of natural disasters and incompetent governance that triggered widespread peasant uprisings since the s. After the massive naval engagement at Lake Poyang , Zhu Yuanzhang prevailed over other rebel forces in the south. He proclaimed himself emperor and founded the Ming dynasty in The same year his northern expedition army captured the capital Khanbaliq.

The Yuan remnants fled back to Mongolia and sustained the regime. The capital was initially set at Nanjing , and was later moved to Beijing from Yongle Emperor's reign onward. Urbanization increased as the population grew and as the division of labor grew more complex. Large urban centers, such as Nanjing and Beijing , also contributed to the growth of private industry.

In particular, small-scale industries grew up, often specializing in paper, silk, cotton, and porcelain goods. For the most part, however, relatively small urban centers with markets proliferated around the country. Town markets mainly traded food, with some necessary manufactures such as pins or oil. Despite the xenophobia and intellectual introspection characteristic of the increasingly popular new school of neo-Confucianism , China under the early Ming dynasty was not isolated.

Foreign trade and other contacts with the outside world, particularly Japan, increased considerably. The Hongwu Emperor , being the only founder of a Chinese dynasty who was also of peasant origin, had laid the foundation of a state that relied fundamentally in agriculture. Commerce and trade, which flourished in the previous Song and Yuan dynasties, were less emphasized. Neo-feudal landholdings of the Song and Mongol periods were expropriated by the Ming rulers.

Land estates were confiscated by the government, fragmented, and rented out. Private slavery was forbidden. Consequently, after the death of the Yongle Emperor , independent peasant landholders predominated in Chinese agriculture. These laws might have paved the way to removing the worst of the poverty during the previous regimes.

Towards later era of the Ming dynasty , with declining government control, commerce, trade and private industries revived. The dynasty had a strong and complex central government that unified and controlled the empire. The emperor's role became more autocratic, although Hongwu Emperor necessarily continued to use what he called the " Grand Secretariat " to assist with the immense paperwork of the bureaucracy, including memorials petitions and recommendations to the throne , imperial edicts in reply, reports of various kinds, and tax records.

It was this same bureaucracy that later prevented the Ming government from being able to adapt to changes in society, and eventually led to its decline. The Yongle Emperor strenuously tried to extend China's influence beyond its borders by demanding other rulers send ambassadors to China to present tribute.

A standing army of 1 million troops was created.


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The Chinese armies conquered and occupied Vietnam for around 20 years, while the Chinese fleet sailed the China seas and the Indian Ocean, cruising as far as the east coast of Africa. The Chinese gained influence in eastern Moghulistan. Several maritime Asian nations sent envoys with tribute for the Chinese emperor. Domestically, the Grand Canal was expanded and became a stimulus to domestic trade. Many books were printed using movable type. The imperial palace in Beijing's Forbidden City reached its current splendor.

It was also during these centuries that the potential of south China came to be fully exploited.

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New crops were widely cultivated and industries such as those producing porcelain and textiles flourished. Since then, the Ming became on the defensive on the northern frontier, which led to the Ming Great Wall being built. Most of what remains of the Great Wall of China today was either built or repaired by the Ming. The brick and granite work was enlarged, the watchtowers were redesigned, and cannons were placed along its length.

At sea, the Ming became increasingly isolationist after the death of the Yongle Emperor. The treasure voyages which sailed Indian Ocean were discontinued, and the maritime prohibition laws were set in place banning the Chinese from sailing abroad.

Shang dynasty

European traders who reached China in the midst of the Age of Discovery were repeatedly rebuked in their requests for trade, with the Portuguese being repulsed by the Ming navy at Tuen Mun in and again in Domestic and foreign demands for overseas trade, deemed illegal by the state, led to widespread wokou piracy attacking the southeastern coastline during the rule of the Jiajing Emperor — , which only subsided after the opening of ports in Guangdong and Fujian and much military suppression.

The Dutch entry into the Chinese seas was also met with fierce resistance, with the Dutch being chased off the Penghu islands in the Sino-Dutch conflicts of — and were forced to settle in Taiwan instead. The Dutch in Taiwan fought with the Ming in the Battle of Liaoluo Bay in and lost, and eventually surrendered to the Ming loyalist Koxinga in , after the fall of the Ming dynasty. In , during the rule of the Jiajing Emperor , the Shaanxi earthquake killed about , people, the deadliest earthquake of all time. The Ming dynasty intervened deeply in the Japanese invasions of Korea —98 , which ended with the withdrawal of all invading Japanese forces in Korea , and the restoration of the Joseon dynasty , its traditional ally and tributary state.

The regional hegemony of the Ming dynasty was preserved at a toll on its resources. Not to have done so would have been unthinkable. At times throughout Chinese history, the huge country has been united under a single emperor. At other times, several competing dynasties have divided the country between them. It is only the ones who have ruled the entire country, however, which have been accorded true legitimacy by Chinese historians. Thus the early dynastic rulers of China are known as kings, rather than emperors. Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China.

In , a site located in the city of Yanshi was excavated containing large palaces which some archaeologists have identified as the capital of the Xia dynasty. Through the s and s, archaeologists have continued to uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs at locations linked to the Xia in ancient Chinese historical texts.

At a minimum, the Xia dynasty seems to have marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the later Chinese urban civilization of the Shang dynasty. The Shang dynasty period saw further strides in material culture, and some of the finest bronzes in world history were produced by Chinese craftsmen of the period. In due course, the Shang dynasty was succeeded by a new line of kings, of the Zhou dynasty. A Western Zhou bronze gui vessel. Reproduced under Creative Commons license 3. This, however, resulted in fragmentation.

The later Zhou period was not one of simple destruction. Important innovations began to emerge which were to characterise Chinese civilization throughout most of its history, not just in the ancient period. It was a time of great intellectual ferment, with rival schools of thought competing with one another. Amongst these was Confucianism , which would in due course become the supreme ideology in successive Chinese dynasties.

Other schools of thought, particularly Daoism and Legalism , would also directly or indirectly influence later ages. This was also the period in which the roots of that distinctly Chinese style of government, characterised by officials chosen on the basis of intellectual merit, can be traced. This was characterised by the rise of strong, centralised states which unified the Chinese cultural area under a single imperial dynasty. The Qin dynasty emerged as the first unifiers of ancient China from the constant warfare between the different regional states of the late Zhou period. The Qin is famous for imposing a rigid unity on Chinese society, and in building an early version of the Great Was of China.

It was brought down by regional forces which it had failed to tame and by a peasantry which it had ruthlessly exploited. The next of these unifying dynasties, however, would rule China for some years. Under the Han emperors the Chinese became so used to being ruled as a single nation that to this day they call themselves the Han people. It was under the Han that Confucianism triumphed over all the competing schools of thought which had emerged in the later Zhou period to become the ruling ideology of China. An empire-wide bureaucracy, staffed to a large extent by officials recruited and promoted on merit, and imbued with Confucian thought, came to govern China.

Closely linked to this, the roots of the exam system by which officials were recruited can to traced back to this period. The Han dynasty lasted until CE, when it broke up into several successor states. This opened a period of weakness for China, when no single dynasty was able to establish its rule over the whole country, and when barbarian peoples from surrounding regions were able to found a multitude of states within China.

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