Mandate of Heaven

Due to the Mandate of Heaven, many of China’s people see rebellion as a birthright under the right circumstances. The Mandate of Heaven has been traced back to 1753 B.C. or earlier.

With the Mandate of Heaven, the right to rule from divine legitimization to one based on ‘evenhanded’ rule was born. Whenever a dynasty fell, the reason offered by China’s wise men was the loss of the moral right to rule given by Heaven alone—on a good government, Heaven sends down all blessings; on the evildoer Heaven sends down all miseries.

Cycle for the Mandate of Heaven

However, humans in China were free to rule unjustly and could harm the people they ruled but their rule would come to a swift end as Heaven passed its mandate to another family or group. Heaven blessed the authority of a just ruler, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate. In addition, severe floods or famines might be considered evidence of divine repeal of the Mandate of Heaven.

The time an individual or family or a political group like the Communists rules China is based on a fair and just performance. As long as the ruling family or party rules fairly and justly, the majority will see no no need for change.

Discover The Next Super Power


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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4 Responses to Mandate of Heaven

  1. Abby Hagen says:

    The Mandate of Heaven makes sense to a non-Christian. It worked because the country was in unrest; the change of power helped the country.

  2. Irene,

    Where do you live?

    If you live in the US, when the colonies rebelled against the British Empire due to taxation without representation, it was caused by similar circumstances that define China’s “Mandate of Heaven”.

    When the 13 southern states split from the union of the United States over slavery and economic issues resulting in America’s Civil War (1860s), again, the reasons would have fit under the definition of “The Mandate of Heaven”.

    The French Revolution took place under similar circumstances when the king of France and his wife (despotic ruler that lived lavish lifestyles while ignoring the suffering of the masses) were beheaded and the French Republic burst into flames leading to the executions of many among the French royalty by the common people.

    The Communist Revolution in Russia came about for many of the same reasons, which is the cause of most revolutions in history.

    The only difference is that in China there is a belief that the “Mandate of Heaven” justifies rebellion when the government is ruining the country by going into debt and not taking care of the needs of the people when there are famines, high unemployment and the nation keeps getting in wars causing more suffering among the population due to higher taxes and the growing casualty counts among the military.

  3. Irene Breedlove says:

    wow all I have to say is Im glad I dont live in China.

  4. […] I wrote on the Mandate of Heaven in April, I didn’t see how deeply that belief was influencing China’s Communist […]

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