qin dynasty china 221 bc 205 bc the first real empire l.
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Qin Dynasty China 221 BC-205 BC The First Real Empire. Zhou to Qin: Warring States. Disorder or loose government of Later Zhou devolves into “Warring States Period” Autonomous smaller regions emerge as largely independent nations Periodic war ensues

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Qin Dynasty China 221 BC-205 BC The First Real Empire

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zhou to qin warring states
Zhou to Qin: Warring States
  • Disorder or loose government of Later Zhou devolves into “Warring States Period”
      • Autonomous smaller regions emerge as largely independent nations
      • Periodic war ensues
      • One among the several emerges to establish a new, far more centralized dynasty
      • Qin Dynasty emerges as the first Chinese “Empire” 221 BC (pronounced “chin”)
qin shi huang di
Qin Shi Huang Di

Unifies China by brute force

Adopts Legalism as official governing ideology

Rules with ruthless, iron fist

qin dynasty and legalism
Qin Dynasty and Legalism

Legalism as promoted by Han Fei Zi: 233 BC

Humans are selfish and evil; can not be reformed

Ruler must establish rule of law

Ruler must rule with force and violence

Confucian doctrine is misguided and corrupting

qin dynasty qin shi huang di
Qin Dynasty:Qin Shi Huang Di

Rejects Confucian Governance Rules

Orders Slaughter of 400 Scholars

Orders ALL Confucian Documents/Books Burned

qin dynasty
Qin Dynasty

Captures and unifies much of China

Builds first Great Wall

Builds Canal System

qin dynasty qin shi huang di7
Qin Dynasty:Qin Shi Huang Di

Builds Great Tomb

Terracotta Warriors – 8000 + and still counting

qin dynasty brutality pays but only for a while
Qin Dynasty: Brutality Pays(but only for a while)

Brutality of Legalist Governance alienates:


Not recognized as important

Traditional privileges stripped


Confucian knowledge and skills distained

Many scholars slaughtered


Brutal, forced labor and harsh law enforcement

qin dynasty problems
Qin Dynasty: Problems

Legalism Provides no Legitimating Myth

No Mandate of Heaven Claim

Legalism = rule of law --- but by force

Force as a source of Power???Generates Hostility

Requires vigilant monitoring

Inevitably creates the revolution that destroys it

qin dynasty collapse 205 bc
Qin Dynasty: Collapse 205 BC

First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di, Dies

Son, heir not as capable or brutal

Alienation leads to revolt and collapse

han dynasty 206 bc 221 ad
Han Dynasty: 206 BC – 221 AD

Han Gaozu – First Emperor

  • Originally a commoner
  • Rose to prominence as a general in an army trying to overthrow the Qin
  • Overthrows his own king to become Emperor when they succeed
han dynasty han gaozu
Governing philosophy drawn from XunZi:

The prince is the boat; the common people are the water.

The water can support the boat, or the water can capsize the boat.

Han Dynasty: Han Gaozu
han dynasty han gaozu13
Han Dynasty: Han Gaozu

Government of Reconciliation:

  • Win over gentry by restoring privileges
  • Win over scholars by reinstating Confucian advisors and Confucian court system
  • Win over commoners with reduced labor load and more gentle system of government
  • Make peace with northern neighbors:
    • Marriages of convenience -send his daughters
    • Generous dowries
    • Lavish annual gifts to

keep peace

han dynasty cultural developments
Han DynastyCultural Developments
  • Han period Poetry develops and gains in elegance and complexity
  • Confucian ideals codified
  • Confucian based civil service exam developed but never used in official recruitment
han dynasty problem becomes opportunity
Han Dynasty: Problem Becomes Opportunity

Tax System based on Land and Agriculture

Great Families are Tax Exempt

Major revenue problem

Iron, Salt, and Liquor Monopolies imposed to boost government revenue

han dynasty problem becomes opportunity16
Han Dynasty: Problem Becomes Opportunity

Grain Storage and Arbitrage

  • Government buys grain in good times
  • Stores it
  • Government sells grain in shortage periods

Intent: Profit and Government Revenue


  • Price Stabilization
  • Avoid Famine
  • Stabilize political system and support
recurring dynastic themes
Recurring Dynastic Themes:
  • Empress families
    • Empresses come from powerful families
    • She brings along brothers or uncles who are appointed to powerful posts
    • Clash or power struggle between empress’ family and imperial family
    • Major power struggles
    • Solutions… Complex, sometimes violent
recurring dynastic themes18
Recurring Dynastic Themes:
  • Eunuchs: emasculated male servants
    • Ensure legitimacy of Imperial Heir
      • (Empress can’t produce a bastard if she never sees any other men with reproductive equipment intact)
    • Men without offspring (or testicles) were presumed to lack ambition – hence they were thought trustworthy
    • Eunuchs sometimes adopted or worked to build inheritance for a nephew
recurring dynastic themes19
Recurring Dynastic Themes:
  • Eunuchs: Continued
    • Testicles apparently do not equal ambition (or more precisely, the absence of testicles does not equal the absence of ambition)
    • Eunuchs built alliances with Empresses
    • Power battles between eunuchs and other factions, even the imperial family were common
recurring dynastic themes20
Recurring Dynastic Themes:

Millenarian Movements ??

Millennium ??

Christian Millennium: heaven on earth, reign of Christ, 1000 years of peace

  • Millenarian movements are social movements claiming the ability to lead their followers to some ideal world, some heaven on earth. Often also referred to as utopian movements.

Tend to arise in times of economic or social stress or chaos: flood, drought, famine, plague, etc.

han period millenarian movements
Han Period Millenarian Movements
  • Red Eyes
  • Yellow Turbans: 184 AD
    • Daoist Agricultural rebellion
  • Five Pecks of Rice: 2nd Century AD
    • Daoist inspired.
    • Communal movement
    • 5 pecks of rice was the price of entry
    • Unsettled Han Period power structure
recurring dynastic themes22
Recurring Dynastic Themes:
  • Disinterest in military oversight
    • Confucianism does not value military virtues
    • Confucian scholar officials avoid military issues
    • Generals frequently recruited from low status families or even as foreign mercenaries
recurring dynastic themes23
Recurring Dynastic Themes:
  • Factional fighting
    • Top families form factions in government and feud for power
    • Feuding within government creates major weaknesses and vulnerabilities
han s end
Han’s End
  • Too-independent generals overthrow Han 221 AD
  • No new, unified dynast succeeds Han period.
  • Six Dynasties period until 589