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The Beginning of the Tang Dynasty. Chapter 12 (1 of 3). Postclassical China (450 C.E. – 1450 C.E.) (During this period, China ruled mostly by 2 dynasties). Tang Dynasty (618 C.E. – 907 C.E.). Song Dynasty (960 C.E.– 1279 C.E.). Background: China Leading Up to Postclassical Period.

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Postclassical China (450 C.E. – 1450 C.E.)

(During this period, China ruled mostly by 2 dynasties)

Tang Dynasty

(618 C.E. – 907 C.E.)

Song Dynasty

(960 C.E.– 1279 C.E.)


Background: China Leading Up to Postclassical Period

Late 100s C.E.

Han Dynasty collapsed (had ruled China through most of classical period)

220 C.E. – 589 C.E.

China experienced Era of Division (China politically divided)


Era of Division (220 C.E. – 589 C.E.)

Regional kingdoms fought for control

Nomadic groups attacked and conquered much land

Great Wall divided by regional kingdoms and became weak

Landowning aristocracy held great political power

Non-Chinese nomads ruled most of China, and foreign idea like Buddhism grew

Cities shrank, trade decreased, and little new technology


So Long Era of Division, Welcome Sui Dynasty

Sui rose to power in 580s, ending 400 year Era of Division



First emperor of Sui Dynasty

Got support of nomadic military commanders and conquer southern China



Murdered his father, Wendi, to take power

Beat back nomadic invaders to expand China’s borders

Improved education, restored exam system, and promoted scholar-gentry class (educated elites)

As scholar-gentry gained power, aristocrats and nomadic military commanders lost power


Yangdi = Crazy

Yangdi became irrational and overspent greatly on public works

Forced thousands of peasants to work (built canal system)

Launched failed war against Korea

Due to overspending and failed war, many in empire revolted


Li Yuan

Became emperor of China after the assassination of Yangdi, beginning the Tang Dynasty (618 C.E. -907 C.E.)


Tang Dynasty

Defeated nomads by playing one group against another

Completed repairs on Great Wall that Sui had started

Tang expanded China by defeating nomadic groups which had long plagued China

Built frontier armies by recruiting nomadic peoples


The Return of the Bureaucrats

Tang rebuild the Chinese bureaucracy – key to reviving China

Tang used scholar-gentry class as leaders, and Confucian ideas used

Rise to power of scholar-gentry class meant loss of power of aristocratic families


Growing Importance of Examination System

Tang set up academies to train future bureaucrats

More scholar-gentry than under Han

Tang expand exam system (determined job)


Ministry of Rites established to administer the exam. Exams were open to all, but having family connections helped. Government jobs (bureaucracy) given based on exam performance

Ministry of Rites


Chinese Buddhism

By time the Tang took over, Buddhism was major force in China

2 Major Buddhist Sects in China:

Pure Land Buddhism

Chan Buddhism (a.k.a. Zen Buddhism)


Buddhism flourishes early in Tang Dynasty under leadership of Empress Wu (690 C.E.- 705 C.E.)

By 850 C.E., China had over 50,000 Buddhist monasteries and Buddhism was major force in China


Chinese Buddhism Comes Under Attack

Tang promoted Confucian teachings and Buddhists lost power

Confucians upset with growth of Buddhism and begin to persecute Buddhists

Tang leaders convinced Buddhism posed economic threat (monasteries not taxed)

Buddhism criticized as a foreign religion

(from India)


Wuzong (841-847)

Chinese emperor who began persecution of Buddhists

Monasteries closed and monks had to return to civilian life

Buddhism survived in China, but lost all political influence