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LATER DYNASTIES OF CHINA. Sui Yuan Tang Ming Song Qing. After the fall of the Han Dynasty, military leaders split China into rival kingdoms, which led to a period of warfare called the Period of Disunion

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later dynasties of china


Sui Yuan

Tang Ming

Song Qing


After the fall of the Han Dynasty, military leaders split China into rival kingdoms, which led to a period of warfare called the Period of Disunion

    • Lasted for more than 350 years and ended when a northern ruler named Wendi reunified China and founded the Sui dynasty
sui dynasty 581 to 618
Sui Dynasty 581 to 618
  • Wendi was the first emperor of the dynasty and was also known as Yang Jian
    • He reunified China
    • He also established a centralized gov’t and restored order
  • His son, Emperor Sui Yangdi, built the Grand Canal that linked northern and southern China
    • It was a 1,000 mile waterway that made it easier to trade and ship rice
    • Millions of peasants were forced to work on the Grand Canal and hundreds of thousands died
  • High taxes and military failures led to Yangdi’s assassination and the end of the dynasty
tang dynasty 618 to 907
Tang Dynasty 618 to 907
  • A Sui general seized power and founded the Tang dynasty, which was a period of prosperity and cultural achievement
    • Tang rulers began by instituting reforms, such as giving land to peasants, and restoring the civil service exam
    • China also expanded, regaining lands in Central Asia, along with gaining influence over Korea
    • Many early Tang rulers were Buddhists, although Buddhism lost official favor later on
    • Trade revived and the Silk Road once again prospered
    • Wu Zhao – first and only female emperor


    • Invented gunpowder – used mostly for fireworks
      • Fire-lance: weapon that shot out flame and projectiles up to 40 yards
    • Perfected the magnetic compass
      • Sailors could more accurately determine direction and navigate
    • Developed woodblock printing
      • Books could be mass produced
  • Gov’t corruption, high taxes, nomadic invasions, and peasant rebellions all led to the decline of the Tang dynasty
    • A powerful general killed the emperor, ending the dynasty
song dynasty 960 to 1279
Song Dynasty 960 to 1279
  • After the Tang, China once again split apart until it was reunified under the Song Dynasty
    • Under the Song, Chinese civilization became the most advanced in the world
  • Enlarged the gov’t bureaucracy and reformed the civil service exam
    • Exams tested students’ knowledge of Confucianism
    • Those who passed the exam became scholar-officials, the elite educated members of the gov’t
      • The exams were a pathway to gain wealth and status

Scholar-gentry = landed aristocrats who produced most of the candidates for the civil service exam – political and economic elite of China

  • Invasions by northern tribes forced the Song to move the imperial court farther south, but eventually they were conquered by the Mongols, leading to foreign rule in China
the mongols
The Mongols
  • The Mongols were nomadic people who were fierce warriors and skilled horsemen
    • Were divided into separate clans, each ruled by a khan, or chief
    • One khan, Temujin, conquered his rivals and united the Mongol clans
      • He took the title Genghis Khan, which means “universal ruler”
  • Genghis Khan organized the Mongols into a powerful military machine and his armies were highly mobile and could strike quickly
    • Used brutality and psychological warfare

Many people surrendered without a fight

  • With his armies, Genghis Khan created the largest land empire in history, controlling much of the Eurasian landmass
    • On his death, his empire was divided into four parts and given to his heirs
    • His grandson, Kublai Khan, completed the conquest of China
yuan dynasty 1279 to 1368
Yuan Dynasty 1279 to 1368
  • Kublai Khan defeated the last Song ruler and had himself declared emperor
    • This was the first time foreigners ruled China
    • He established his capital at future Beijing
      • Explorer Marco Polo was greatly impressed by this city
  • Kublai Khan kept the Chinese gov’t system in place, but its highest positions were staffed by Mongols
    • He distrusted the Chinese and limited their power
    • Mongols were made to live apart from the Chinese

Kublai Khan tried to expand his empire

    • Sent several invading forces into Southeast Asia, which all failed
    • He also tried to invade Japan twice, but failed again
  • These military losses, along with Chinese resentment of foreign rule, led to rebellion that ended the Yuan dynasty
ming dynasty 1368 to 1644
Ming Dynasty 1368 to 1644
  • A peasant and his rebel army overthrew Mongol ruled and established a new dynasty, taking the title Emperor Hongwu
    • Hongwu reduced taxes and passed reforms to improve agriculture and trade
    • He also greatly expanded his powers as emperor, taking over more control of the gov’t
      • Ming emperors were more powerful than previous emperors
  • Ming rulers gained control of Korea, Mongolia, and parts of Asia

The Ming capital was established at Beijing

    • In the center the vast Imperial City was built, also known as the Forbidden City
  • One Ming ruler sponsored overseas voyages
    • Chinese admiral Zheng He led seven voyages that explored Southeast Asia, India, the Arabian Peninsula, and the east coast of Africa
    • Zheng He travelled with 300 ships
  • Made contact with the first Europeans since Marco Polo, the Portuguese
    • Restricted foreign trade to a few ports
    • Ming disliked the influence of Europeans, especially the missionaries – wanted to preserve China’s traditions

The Ming emperors decided to isolate China from the outside world

  • The main artistic achievement was the porcelain Ming vases
  • Decline due to weak rulers, corruption, and high taxes, which all leads to a peasant revolt
    • The Manchus, a group of people who live in Manchuria, invade and conquer the peasant revolt
    • The last Ming emperor commits suicide and the Manchus establish a dynasty
qing dynasty 1644 to 1911
Qing Dynasty 1644 to 1911
  • The Manchus established the Qing dynasty, which would be the last dynasty of China
  • The Manchus adopted the Chinese political system and shared power with them
    • Showed respect for Chinese customs and maintained Confucian traditions
    • Remained separate from the Chinese and placed restrictions on them
  • In order to better identify rebels, the Qing gov’t ordered all men to adopt Manchu dress and hairstyles
    • Men had to adopt the queue = hair style in which the front is shaved with a braid or ponytail in the back

Missionaries were allowed to enter China

    • Qing emperors entertained Jesuit priests to learn about European intellectual advances
  • Foreign relations
    • Conquered Taiwan and Tibet
    • The Dutch began a thriving trade in Chinese goods
      • Had to accept China’s terms
  • The Qing dynasty would eventually fall to rebellion in 1911, mostly due to increasing Western influence and the efforts of European imperialism in the 1800s