The Meaning of the 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.

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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.

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 need for change.


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 lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

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China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

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