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China, a History


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Bee Cha
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« Reply #135 on: December 08, 2007, 04:55:18 pm »

Sui Dynasty

The Sui Dynasty (Chinese: 隋朝; pinyin: Su cho; 581-618 AD[1]) followed the Southern and Northern Dynasties and preceded the Tang Dynasty in China. It ended nearly four centuries of division between rival regimes.

The Sui Dynasty, founded by Emperor Wen, or Yang Jian, held its capital at Chang'an (present-day Xi'an). It was marked by the reunification of Southern and Northern China and the construction of the Grand Canal, though it was a relatively short Chinese dynasty. It saw various reforms by Emperors Wen and Yang: the land equalization system, initiated to reduce the rich-poor social gap, resulted in enhanced agricultural productivity; governmental power was centralized, coinage was standardized and re-unified; defense was improved, and the Great Wall was expanded. Buddhism was also spread and encouraged throughout the empire, uniting the varied people and cultures of China.

This dynasty has often been compared to the earlier Qin Dynasty in tenure and the ruthlessness of its accomplishments. The Sui dynasty's early demise was attributed to the government's tyrannical demands on the people, who bore the crushing burden of taxes and compulsory labor. These resources were overstrained in the completion of the Grand Canal--a monumental engineering feat-- and in the undertaking of other construction projects, including the reconstruction of the Great Wall. Weakened by costly and disastrous military campaigns against Goguryeo which ended with defeat of Sui in the early seventh century, the dynasty disintegrated through a combination of popular revolts, disloyalty, and assassination.

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Bee Cha
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« Reply #136 on: December 08, 2007, 04:56:41 pm »


The Sui Dynasty of China amongst the Asian, African, and European spheres of the world, 600 AD.
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #137 on: December 08, 2007, 04:57:33 pm »

When the Northern Zhou Dynasty defeated the Northern Qi Dynasty in 577 AD, this was the culminating moment and ultimate advantage for the northern Chinese to face south. The southern dynasties had lost hope in conquering the north, and the situation of conquest from north-to-south was only delayed in 523 with civil war.

The Sui Dynasty began when Wendi's daughter became the Empress Dowager of Northern Zhou, with her stepson as the new emperor. After crushing an army mutiny in the eastern provinces as the prime minister of Zhou, Wendi took the throne by force and claimed himself to be emperor. In a bloody purge, Wendi had fifty-nine princes of the Zhou royal family eliminated, yet nonetheless was known as the 'Cultured Emperor' (581 - 604 AD).[2] He abolished the anti-Han policies of Zhou and reclaimed his Han surname of Yang. Having won the support of the Confucian scholars that had powered previous Han dynasties (abandoning the nepotism and corruption of the Nine-rank system), Wendi initiated a series of reforms aimed at strengthening his empire for the war that would reunify China.

In his campaign for southern conquest, Wendi assembled thousands of boats to confront the naval forces of the Chen Dynasty on the Yangtze River. The largest of these ships were very tall, having five layered decks, the capacity of holding 800 passengers, and were outfitted with six 50-foot-long booms that were used to swing and damage enemy ships, or to pin them down so that Sui marine troops could use grapple-and-board techniques.[3] Besides employing Xianbei and Chinese ethnicities for the fight against Chen, Wendi also employed the service of aborigines from southeastern Sichuan, peoples that Sui had recently conquered.[4]

In 588 AD, the Sui had amassed 18,000 troops along the northern bank of the Yangtze River, stretching from Sichuan to the Pacific Ocean.[5] The Chen Dynasty was meanwhile collapsing, and could not withstand such an assault. By 589 AD, Sui troops entered Jiankang (Nanjing) and the last emperor of the southern Chen dynasty surrendered. The city was razed to the ground, while Sui troops escorted Chen nobles back north, where the northern aristocrats became fascinated with everything the south had to provide culturally and intellectually.

Although Wendi was famous for bankrupting the state treasury with warfare and construction projects, he made many improvements to infrastructure during his early reign. He established granaries as sources of food and as a means to regulate market prices from the taxation of crops, much like the earlier Han Dynasty.

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« Reply #138 on: December 08, 2007, 04:58:48 pm »


Sui Dynasty Bodhisattva, sandstone, Tianlongshan Grottoes, Shanxi, 6th century. Tokyo National Museum.

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Bee Cha
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« Reply #139 on: December 08, 2007, 04:59:55 pm »

Buddhism was popular during the Six Dynasties period that preceded the Sui dynasty, spreading from India through Kushan Afghanistan into China during the Late Han period. Buddhism gained prominence during the period, when central political control was limited. Buddhism created a unifying cultural force that uplifted the people out of war and into the Sui Dynasty. In many ways, Buddhism was responsible for the rebirth of culture in China under the Sui Dynasty.

The Emperor Wen and his empress had converted to Buddhism to legitimate imperial authority over China and the conquest of Chen. Wendi presented himself as a Cakravartin king, a Buddhist monarch that would use military force to defend the Buddhist faith, much like the notion of Jihad in Islam. In the year 601 AD, Emperor Wen had relics of the Buddha distributed to temples throughout China, with edicts that expressed his goals, "all the people within the four seas may, without exception, develop enlightenment and together cultivate fortunate karma, bringing it to pass that present existences will lead to happy future lives, that the sustained creation of good causation will carry us one and all up to wondrous enlightenment". Ultimately, this act was an imitation of the ancient Mauryan Emperor Ashoka of India.
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« Reply #140 on: December 08, 2007, 05:01:35 pm »



Strolling About in Spring, by Zhan Ziqian, Sui era artist.
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« Reply #141 on: December 08, 2007, 05:02:14 pm »

Yangdi gained the throne after his father's death (possibly by murder). He further extended the empire, but, unlike his father, he did not seek to gain support from the nomads. Instead, he restored Confucian education and the Confucian examination system for bureaucrats. By supporting educational reforms, he lost the support of nomads. He also started many expensive construction projects such as the Grand Canal of China. This combined with his failed invasions into Korea (with Chinese casualties exceeding well over 2 million in all the wars combined), invasions into China from Turkic nomads, and his growing life of decadent luxury at the expense of the peasantry, he lost public support and was assassinated by his own ministers.

Both Wendi and Yangdi sent military ventures into Vietnam as well, as northern Vietnam had been incorporated into the Chinese empire during the previous Han Dynasty (202 BC - 220 AD). However, the ancient Kingdom of Champa in southern Vietnam became a major contestant to Chinese invasions to its north. These invasions became known as the Linyi-Champa Campaign (602-605 AD). According to Ebrey, Walthall, and Palais:

The Hanoi area [that the Han and Jin dynasties had held] was easily recovered from the local ruler in 602, and a few years later the Sui army pushed farther south. When the army was attacked by troops on war elephants from Champa (in southern Vietnam), Sui feigned retreat and dug pits to trap the elephants. The Sui army lured the Champan troops to attack, then used crossbows against the elephants, causing them to turn around and trample their own army. Although Sui troops were victorious, many succumbed to disease, as northern soldiers did not have immunity to tropical diseases such as malaria.
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« Reply #142 on: December 08, 2007, 05:03:09 pm »



A Chinese stoneware pilgrim flask with transparent glaze from the era of the en:Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD).
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« Reply #143 on: December 08, 2007, 05:03:53 pm »

Arguably, the biggest factor that led to the downfall of Sui Dynasty was the series of massive expeditions into the Korean Peninsula to invade Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. The war that conscripted the most soldiers was caused by Sui Yangdi. The army was so enormous it was actually recorded in historical texts that it took 30 days for all the armies to exit their last rallying point near Shanhaiguan before invading Korea; in one instance, the soldiers--both conscripted and paid-- listed over 3000 warships, 1.15 million infantry, 50,000 cavalry, 5000 artillery, and more. There were just as many supporting laborers, and an exorbitant military budget that included mounds of equipment and rations (most of which never reached the Chinese avant-guard, as they were captured by Goguryeo armies already). The army stretched to "1000 lis (a Chinese unit of length, in modern translation one half-kilometer, though its precision in antiquity may be questioned), or about 410 kilometers, across rivers and valleys, over mountains and hills."

In all 4 main campaigns, the military conquest ended in failure. Nearly all the Chinese soldiers were defeated by the prominent army leader Eulji Mundeok of Goguryeo. For example, of the 305,000 Chinese troops, only 2,700 returned to China, according to the Book of Tang records, soldiers in summer conquests would return several years later, barely living through the cold and famishing winter. Many died of frostbite and hunger.

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« Reply #144 on: December 08, 2007, 05:05:09 pm »

Eventually the resentment for the emperor increased and the wars, coupled with revolts and assassinations, led to the fall of the Sui Dynasty. One great accomplishment was rebuilding the Great Wall of China, but along with other large projects, strained the economy and angered the resentful workforce employed. During the last few years of the Sui Dynasty, the rebellion that rose against it took many of China's able-bodied men from rural farms and other occupations, which damaged the agricultural base and the economy further. Men would deliberately break their limbs in order to avoid military conscription, calling the practice "propitious paws" and "fortunate feet." In the year 642, Emperor Taizong of Tang made an effort to eradicate this practice by issuing a decree of a stiffer punishment for those who were found to deliberately injure themselves.

In 617, the rebel general Li Yuan (the later Emperor Gaozu of Tang) declared Emperor Yang's grandson Yang You emperor (as Emperor Gong) and "honored" Emperor Yang as Taishang Huang (retired emperor) at the western capital Daxing (Chang'an), but only the commanderies under Li's control recognized this change; for the other commanderies under Sui control, Emperor Yang was still regarded as emperor, not as retired emperor. After news of Emperor Yang's death in 618 reached Daxing and the eastern capital Luoyang, Li Yuan deposed Emperor Gong and took the throne himself, establishing Tang Dynasty, but the Sui officials at Luoyang declared Emperor Gong's brother Yang Tong (later also known as Emperor Gong during the brief reign of Wang Shichong over the region as the emperor of a brief Zheng (鄭) state) emperor. Meanwhile, Yuwen Huaji, the general under whose leadership the plot to kill Emperor Yang was carried out, declared Emperor Wen's grandson Yang Hao emperor but killed Yang Hao later in 618 and declared himself emperor of a brief Xu (許) state. As Yang Hao was completely under Yuwen's control and only "reigned" briefly, he is not usually regarded as a legitimate emperor of Sui, while Yang Tong's legitimacy is more recognized by historians but still disputed.
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« Reply #145 on: December 08, 2007, 05:08:44 pm »

Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty (Chinese: 唐朝; pinyin: Tng Cho; Middle Chinese: dhng) (18 June 6184 June 907) was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li (李) family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire. The dynasty was interrupted briefly by the Second Zhou Dynasty (16 October 6903 March 705) when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, becoming the first and only Chinese empress regent, ruling in her own right.

The Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an (present-day Xi'an), the most populous city in the world at the time, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization equal to or surpassing that of the earlier Han Dynasty as well as a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Its territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han period, and rivaled that of the later Yuan Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. The enormous Grand Canal of China, built during the previous Sui Dynasty, facilitated the rise of new urban settlements along its route, as well as increased trade between mainland Chinese markets. The canal is to this day the longest in the world. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records stated that the population (by number of registered households) was about 50 million people.a[] However, even when the central government was breaking down and unable to exact an accurate census of the population in the 9th century, it is estimated that the population in that century had grown to the size of about 80 million people.

In Chinese history, the Tang Dynasty was largely a period of progress and stability, except during the An Shi Rebellion and the decline of central authority in the latter half of the dynasty. Like the previous Sui Dynasty, the Tang Dynasty maintained a civil service system by drafting officials through standardized examinations and recommendations to office. This civil order was undermined by the rise of regional military governors known as jiedushi during the 9th century. Chinese culture flourished and further matured during the Tang era; it is considered the greatest age for Chinese poetry. Two of China's most famous historical poets, Du Fu and Li Bai, belonged to this age, as well as the poets Meng Haoran and Bai Juyi. Many famous visual artists lived during this era, such as the renowned painters Han Gan, Wu Daozi, and Zhan Ziqian. The religious and philosophical ideology of Buddhism became a major aspect of Chinese culture, with native Chinese sects becoming the most prominent. However, Buddhism would eventually be persecuted by the state and would decline in influence. Although the dynasty and central government were in decline by the 9th century, art and culture continued to flourish. The weakened central government largely withdrew from managing the economy, but the country's mercantile affairs stayed intact and commercial trade continued to thrive regardless.

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« Reply #146 on: December 08, 2007, 05:11:39 pm »



Tang Dynasty circa 700 AD. Derived from Territories_of_Dynasties_in_China.gif.
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« Reply #147 on: December 08, 2007, 05:13:38 pm »

Transition from Sui to Tang

Li Yuan (later to become Emperor Gaozu of Tang) was a former governor of Taiyuan when other government officials were fighting off bandit leaders in the collapse of the Sui Empire, with local elites developing defenses of their own. With prestige and military experience, he later rose in rebellion at the urging of his second son, the skilled and militant Li Shimin (later Emperor Taizong of Tang). Their family came from the background of the northwest military aristocracy prevalent during the reign of the Sui emperors. In fact, the mothers of both Emperor Yang of Sui and Gaozu of Tang were sisters, making these two emperors of different dynasties first cousins.

Li Yuan installed a puppet child emperor of the Sui Dynasty in 617 but he eventually removed the child emperor and established the Tang Dynasty in 618. Li Yuan ruled until 626 before being forcefully deposed by his son Li Shimin, Prince of Qin, known as "Tang Taizong." Li Shimin had commanded troops since the age of 18, had prowess with a bow, sword, lance, and was known for his effective cavalry charges. Fighting a numerically superior army, he defeated Dou Jiande at Luoyang in the Battle of Hulao in 621. In a violent elimination of royal family due to fear of assassination, Li Shimin ambushed and killed two of his brothers, Li Yuanji and Crown Prince Li Jiancheng in the Incident at Xuanwu Gate on July 2, 626. Shortly after, his father abdicated in favor of him and he ascended the throne as Emperor Taizong. Although his rise to power was brutal and violent, he showed to be a capable leader who listened to the advise of the wisest members of his council. In 628, Emperor Taizong held a Buddhist memorial service for the casualties of war, and in 629 had Buddhist monasteries erected at the sites of major battles so that monks could pray for the fallen on both sides of the fight. This was during Emperor Taizong's campaign against Eastern Tujue, a Gktrk khanate that was destroyed after the capture of Jiali Khan Ashini Duobi by the famed Tang military officer Li Jing (571649), who later became a Chancellor of the Tang Dynasty.
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« Reply #148 on: December 08, 2007, 05:15:17 pm »



The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, built in 652, Chang'an (modern-day Xi'an), China.
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« Reply #149 on: December 08, 2007, 05:17:12 pm »

Taizong set out to solve internal problems within the government which had constantly plagued past dynasties. Building upon the Sui legal code, he issued a new legal code that subsequent Chinese dynasties would model theirs upon, as well as neighboring polities in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. The earliest law code to survive though was the one established in the year 653, which was divided into 500 articles specifying different crimes and penalties ranging from ten blows with a light stick, one hundred blows with a heavy rod, exile, penal servitude, or execution. The legal code clearly distinguished different levels of severity in meted punishments when different members of the social and political hierarchy committed the same crime. For example, the severity of punishment was different when a servant or nephew killed a master or an uncle than when a master or uncle killed a servant or nephew. Although the Tang legal code was largely retained by subsequent Chinese dynasties, there were several revisions in later times, such as improved property rights for women during the Song Dynasty (9601279).

Emperor Taizong had three administrations (省, shěng), which were obliged to draft, review, and implement policies respectively. There were also six divisions (部, b) under the administration that implemented policy, each of which was assigned different tasks. These divisional state bureaus included the personnel administation, finance, rites, military, justice, and public works an administrative model which would last until the fall of the Qing Dynasty in the early 20th century. Although the founders of the Tang related to the glory of the earlier Han Dynasty, the basis for much of their administrative organization was very similar to the previous Southern and Northern Dynasties. The Northern Zhou divisional militia (fubing) was continued by the Tang governments, along with farmer-soldiers serving in rotation from the capital or frontier in order to receive appropriated farmland. The equal-field system of the Northern Wei Dynasty was also kept, although there were a few modifications.

Although the central and local governments kept an enormous amount of records about land property in order to assess taxes, it became common practice in the Tang for literate and affluent people to create their own private documents and signed contracts. These had their own signature and that of a witness and scribe in order to prove in court (if necessary) that their claim to property was legitimate. The prototype of this actually existed since the ancient Han Dynasty, while contractual language became even more common and embedded into Chinese literary culture in later dynasties.

The center of the political power of the Tang was the capital city of Chang'an (modern Xi'an), where the emperor maintained his large palace quarters, and entertained political emissaries with music, sports, acrobatic stunts, poetry, paintings, and dramatic theater performances (see Pear Garden acting troupe). The capital was also filled with incredible amounts of riches and resources to spare. When the Chinese prefectural government officials traveled to the capital in the year 643 to give the annual report of the affairs in their districts, Emperor Taizong discovered that many had no proper quarters to rest in, and were renting rooms with merchants. Therefore, Emperor Taizong ordered the government agencies in charge of municipal construction to build every visiting official his own private mansion in the capital
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