If we were to compare Chinese civilization to an amusement ride, it would be a roller coaster.
As each dynasty ended, there was usually a period of chaos, war and anarchy among rival factions.
After the collapse of China’s last Dynasty, the Qing, between 1911 and 1949, chaos, anarchy, warlords, rebellion and World War II tore at the fabric of China. See The Roots of Madness
Then Communist China was born, which eventually led to China’s Capitalist Revolution.
The Xia Dynasty (about 2205 – 1766 BC) ended with the reign of a tyrannical emperor, who lived an extravagant life. When patriotic ministers attempted giving him good advice, he killed them. Then the people rose in rebellion.
The Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1122 BC) ended in similar circumstances when the last emperor lived a luxurious life and tortured both his ministers and people. Another rebellion led by the chief of the Zhou tribe brought down the Shang.
The Zhou Dynasty (1122 – 221 BC) was divided between the Eastern and Western Zhou Dynasties, which fell apart during the Spring and Autumn (770 – 475 BC) Period and the Warring States Period (476 – 221 BC) when the Zhou Emperor didn’t have the power to control the nobles, who fought amongst themselves again leading to chaos and anarchy.
The short Qin Dynasty (221 to 207 BC) unified all China ending the Warring States Period.
However, Qin Shi Huangdi, China’s first emperor, was brutal and soon after his death, the Qin Dynasty was swept aside to be replaced by the Han Dynasty.
The Han Dynasty (207 BC to 220 AD) was divided into the Western and Eastern Han. Near the end of the Han, the last two emperors were weak. The rule of law broke down again and life was hard.
The Han ended with another rebellion leading to the Three Kingdom’s Period (220 – 280 AD), which meant more chaos and anarchy before China would be unified again under one emperor.
With the end of the Three Kingdoms Period, the Jin Dynasty (265 – 420 AD) ruled until the final emperors were too weak to control the warlords, which led to chaos and anarchy.
The Jin Dynasty was followed by four successive southern dynasties (420 – 589 AD) and five northern dynasties (386 – 581 AD) followed by the Sui Dynasty that lasted for 38 years when the last emperor of the Sui yielded the throne to the Emperor Gaozu of the Tang Dynasty.
The early Tang emperors built an empire that pushed China’s boundaries to their farthest existence and a culture whose achievements would profoundly influence all Asia.
A thriving economy with complex international ties created one of the richest, strongest and most sophisticated states in world history.
The western capital of Chan-an, which had been the first capital of the Zhou, Qin and Han Dynasties, had a population of a million inside the city walls.
Continued in the Tang Dynasty – Part 2
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.
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