Imperial China The Age of Chin and Han 220 B.C.E-220 C.E.
Shang and Zhou Range • Marked by fragmentation, dictated by geography. • Compact in Northeastern China.
Warring States • Decentralized Zhou, saw rival states vying for the very thing the Zhou created, the Mandate of Heaven. • The Qin state from the Wei Valley emerged as victorious.
Qin rule • Marked by rigid centralization. • Emphasis on Legalist political ideology. • Totalitarian structure • Crackdown on Confucianism
Qin Politics • Eliminate all rivals centers of authority. • Coping with: • 1. Landowners: abolished hereditary land ownership by eldest son. • 2. Gain strength amongst poor: abolish slavery. Tried to create a free peasantry. • Complete Standardization: everything from coins to music. • More prominently: standardized writing and laws.
Qin achievements • Started Great Wall • Built thousands of miles of roads • Facilitated military transportation. • Uniform law code • Stability
Qin Collapse • As marked by his opulent tombdied in 210 B.C.E. • Myth of the “first emperor” • The dynasty died with him in 206 B.C.E as other Qin emperors couldn’t even take their place as the state erupted in rebellion.
Foundation of Han • Liu Bang a former peasant outlasted his rivals and claimed the Mandate of Heaven. • Hallmarks of the Han • Reject excess of the Qin • Reject errors of Qin legalism • Restore institutions of the past • Combined the objectives of Legalism with the “tone” of Confucianism. • Emphasized a strong rigid administration, ably staffed.
Han History • First 80 years to reconsolidate after Qin. • Remaining time focused on expansion. • Greatest expansionist: Emperor Wu
Chang’an • Thick pounded walls surrounded the city. • Built near a fertile plain. • Bustling city of over 200,000 residents. • Became a model of urban planning.
Han Politics • Emperor: the “Son of Heaven” • Was regarded as divine on earth • Word was law • Failure to govern demonstrated a loss of divine confidence. • Similar to Egypt.
Central Government • Run by a Prime Minister and civil service director. • Had a cabinet style structure. • Federalist in nature in that it was a tiered structure. • Central Government rarely impacted peoples daily lives.
Han Social Class • Rise of the GENTRY: a class of ruling scholars. • Part of a class warfare against the aristocratic class. • Similar to the Roman equites. This group was protected and respected.
Gentry, Confucianism, and Government • Role of Confucianism: • Provide a system for training officials to be: • Intellectually capable • Morally worth • Set a code of conduct to measure performance • Formal university to train at Chang’an • Civil Servants advanced through the system and grew in power and influence. In time this became the new aristocracy and target for Chinese youth.
Han Age Daoism • Became very popular to the common people, as Buddhism did during Mauryan India. • Daoism ephasized the search for the “dao” that elusive concept that means “path to nature” and harmonizing with it. • Despite its passive nature, Daoism began to become very skeptical. One aspect of its skepticism was the nature e of social order in China. • Urged denial of ambition, acceptance of the world’s disorders, and the following of natural instincts.
China: Center of Technology • Technology has always been a Chinese strength • First developed Bronze (1500 B.C.E) and Iron a millennium later. By the time of Rome’s height, the Chinese were the masters of Iron. • Developed: • Crossbow • Chariots • Watermills for running water • Horse collar (Europe) • Large scale wall building • Roads and couriers • Silk
The Silk Road • Fervor for Chinese Silk as well as improved security and transportation opened up a legendary trade route. • Over the centuries, many important scientific and technological innovations migrated to the West along the Silk Road, including gunpowder, the magnetic compass, the printing press, silk, mathematics, ceramic and lacquer crafts
Buddhism in China • Likely arrived in China around the same time as the Silk Roads began to explode. • Posed problems for the Chinese, in many of the same ways that the Romans experienced problems with the advent of Christianity. • Political obstacle to the direction of the “Son of Heaven principle” • Principle of “seclusion” ran contrary to the Chinese tradition of Family. • Different from the teachings of Confucius and the established norms of Chinese society. • Grew in popularity as chaos began to disrupt the Han Dynasty—it became a political threat.
Mahayana Buddhism in China • As barbarians consolidated rule in China, so did Buddhism grow. • “ We were born out of the marches and though we are unworthy, we have complied with our appointed destiny and govern the Chinese as their prince…with Buddha being a barbarian god, this is the very one we should worship.” • Buddhism provided a clear network of refuge for the desperate and a vision of salvation • Dharma began to become known as “Dao” • Pure land Buddhism
Political Upheaval: Wang Mang • Respected minister who undertook a complete overhaul of land reform. • In 9 C.E he claimed the Mandate of Heaven. • “The Socialist Reformer” • Land limits, large estates broken up and redistributed, and the landless given land.
Yellow Turban Uprising • A result of the failure to address land distribution • Renegade peasants in distinctive headwear disrupting trade as a result of hopelessness. • This didn’t destroy the empire, it did weaken them…outside invaders, namely the Xiongnu, epidemic diseases and political unrest will succeed where the Yellow Turbans failed.