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Chinese History

China was really the first modern state because it had a centralized
government and a corps of bureaucrats who could execute the wishes of that
government.
Lasted from 150 BCE until 1911 CE.
Chinese history is divided into periods called dynasty.
Dynasty is ruled by a king, or as the Chinese know him, an emperor, who
comes from a continuous ruling family.
Empress Wu : founded her own dynasty, as regent in 683 CE, empress in 690
CE, deposed in 705 CE. She ruled China for more than 20 years.
The dynasty can end for 2 reasons : run out of emperors, or the emperor is
overthrown after a rebellion or a war.
The first Chinese dynasty were the Shang who were overthrown by the Zhou
which disintegrated into political chaos called The Warring States Period.
This dynasty ended when the Qin emperor were able to extend his power
over most of the warring states. Then, the Qin were replaced by the Han,
which were the dynasty lasted for almost 400 years that really set the
pattern for most of Chinas history. After that, China fell again into political
chaos which only means there was no dynasty that ruled over all of China.
Out of this chaos were the Sui who are followed quickly by the Tang. Tang
were replaced after a short period of no dynasty by the Song, who saw a
huge growth in Chinas commerce that was still not enough to prevent them
from being conquered by the Yuan. Yuan were both unpopular and unusual
because they were Mongols, which sparked rebellions resulting in the rise of
the Ming. Ming was the dynasty that built the Great Wall and made amazing
vases, but the Great Wall didnt save them from falling to the Manchoos.
Manchoos was the one who founded the dynasty called the Qing, which was
the last dynasty because in 1911, there was a rebellion like in France,
America, and Russia.
Shang Dynasty = 1600 1029 BCE.
Zhou Dynasty = 1029 771 BCE.
The Warring States period = 475 221 BCE.
Qin Dynasty = 221 206 BCE.
Han Dynasty = 206 220 CE.
The Three Kingdoms period = 220 280 CE.

Sui Dynasty = 581 618 CE.


Tang Dynasty = 618 907 CE.
Song Dynasty = 960 1271 CE.
Yuan Dynasty = 1271 1368 CE.
Red Turban Rebellion = 1351 1368 CE.
Ming Dynasty = 1368 1644 CE.
Qing Dynasty = 1644 1911 CE.
Mandate of Heaven :
This concept dates from the Zhou Dynasty. Current historians think they
invented it to get rid of the Shang. Before the Zhou, China didnt even have a
concept of heaven or tiantang, but they did have a high God called
Shangdi. The Zhou believed in tiantang and they were eager to portray the
idea of heaven as external, so they ascribed the concept of the Mandate of
Heaven back to a time even before the Shang, explaining that the Shang
were able to conquer the Xia only because Xia kings had lost the Mandate of
Heaven.
The Shoujing is pretty specific about what caused the Xia kings to lose the
mandate, explaining the attack on Xia may be traced to the orgies in Ming
Tao. Then, the Shang succeeded to take power. Unfortunately, the Shang lost
the mandate.
The cycle of dynasties lasted for 3000 years.
The Qin dynasty only lasted 38 years.
The accomplishment of the Qin was to reunify China under a single emperor
for the first time in 500 years, ending the Warring States period.
The great emperor Qin Chong Di and his descendants developed a reputation
for brutality that was justified, but it was also exaggerated for effect so that
the successor dynasty, the Han, would look more legitimate in the eyes of
heaven.
The Mandate of Heaven turned away from these suicidal puppet emperors
which set up a nice contrast with the early Han emperors such as Wen, who
came to power in 180 BCE.
According to the ancient Chinese version of history, Emperor Wen, by
behaving as a wise Confusian, maintains the Mandate of Heaven. In this
case, wise action means that he avoided extravagance in personal, ruled

largely according to confusion principles, declined excecution, erased harsh


punishment for criticizing government, stopped burning confusions book.
Confucious was a minor official who lived during the warring period and
developed a philosophical and political system he hoped would lead to a
more stable, safe society.
Confucious was conservative. He argued that the key to bringing about a
strong and peaceful state was to look to the past and the model of the Sage
Emperors. By following their example of upright moral behavior, the Chinese
emperor could bring order to China.
Confucious idea of morally upright behavior boils down to a persons
knowing his or her place in a series hierarchical relationships and acting.
There are 5 keys relationships, but the most important one is between father
and son. Son will respect his father and father will act respectively.
The goal of both father and son is to be a superior man, Junzi and Chinese. If
all men strive to be Junzi, the society as a whole will run smoothly. This idea
applies especially to the Emperor who is like the father to the whole country.
How to behave well?
1. Look to historical antecedents (the sage emperors, the study of history,
poetry, paintings)
2. Ren & Li ritual, which is associated with Chinese religion and involves
veneration of ancestors. Ren & Li humanity to understand how to act
with proper behavior in every situation depends on who you interact
with)
The 5 relationships :
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Ruler to ruled
Father to son
Husband to wife
Elder brother to younger brother
Friend to friend

How to maintain MOH?


1. Behave properly.
2. Not engage in orgies / enemies.
How to be a good emperor? By reading the conficicus classical book.