Atlantis Online
December 11, 2019, 08:58:08 am
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Underwater caves off Yucatan yield three old skeletons—remains date to 11,000 B.C.
http://www.edgarcayce.org/am/11,000b.c.yucata.html
 
  Home Help Arcade Gallery Links Staff List Calendar Login Register  

China, a History

Pages: 1 ... 6 7 8 9 10 11 [12] 13 14   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: China, a History  (Read 3257 times)
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #165 on: December 08, 2007, 05:38:51 pm »

Although she entered Emperor Gaozong's court as the lowly consort Wu Zhao, Wu Zetian would rise to the highest seat of power in 690, establishing the short-lived latter Zhou Dynasty. Empress Wu's rise to power was achieved through cruel and calculating tactics. For example, she allegedly killed her own baby girl and blamed it on Gaozong's empress so that the empress would be demoted. Emperor Gaozong suffered a stroke in 655, and Wu began to make many of his court decisions for him, discussing affairs of state with his councilors that would take orders from her while she sat behind a screen. When Empress Wu's eldest son and crown prince began to assert his authority and announce his support for issues that were opposed to Empress Wu's ideas, he suddenly died in 675. Many suspected he was poisoned by Empress Wu. Although the next heir apparent kept a lower profile, in 680 he was accused by Wu of plotting a rebellion and was banished (and later forced to commit suicide). After only six weeks on the throne in 683, Emperor Zhongzong was deposed by Empress Wu after his attempt to appoint his wife's father as chancellor. Because she dominated the court of Emperor Ruizong, a group of Tang princes and their allies staged a major rebellion against Empress Wu in 684; yet her armies suppressed their dissent within two months. Becoming China's first female emperor in 690 upon her son's (forced) abdication, she ruled until her death in 705, her designated heir apparent becoming Emperor Zhongzong of Tang again. In order to legitimize her rule in a religious sense, she circulated a document known as the Great Cloud Sutra, which predicted that a reincarnation of the Maitreya Buddha would be a female monarch who would dispel illness, worry, and disaster from the world. Arguably the most important part of her legacy was diminishing the power of the northwest aristocracy, allowing people from other clans and regions of China to become more representative in Chinese politics and government.

There were many prominent women at court during and after Wu Zetian's reign, including Shangguan Wan'er (664–710), a female poet, writer, and trusted court official of Wu Zetian as a palace secretary. In 706 the wife of Emperor Zhongzong of Tang, Empress Wei, convinced her husband to staff government offices with his sister and her daughters, and in 709 requested that he grant women the right to bequeth hereditary privileges to their sons (which before was a male right only). Empress Wei eventually poisoned Zhongzong, whereupon she placed his fifteen year old son upon the throne in 710. Two weeks later, Li Longji (the later Emperor Xuanzong) entered the palace with a few followers and slew Empress Wei and her faction. He then installed his father Emperor Ruizong on the throne. Just as Emperor Zhongzong was dominated by Empress Wei, so too was Ruizong dominated by Princess Taiping. This was finally ended when Princess Taiping's coup failed in 712 (she later hung herself in 713) and Emperor Ruizong abdicated to Emperor Xuanzong.

During the 44 year reign of Emperor Xuanzong, the Tang Dynasty was brought to its height, a golden age, a period of low economic inflation, as well as a toning down of the excessively lavish lifestyle of the imperial court. Seen as a progressive and benevolent ruler, Xuanzong even abolished the death penalty in the year 747, and all executions had to be approved beforehand by the emperor himself (which was relatively few, considering that there were only 24 executions in the year 730 alone).
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #166 on: December 08, 2007, 05:39:54 pm »



A Tang Dynasty earthenware vase with three-color (sancai) glaze, with a spout in the shape of a bird's head.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #167 on: December 08, 2007, 05:41:08 pm »

Through use of the land trade along the Silk Road and maritime trade by sail at sea, the Tang were able to gain many new technologies, cultural practices, rare luxury, and contemporary items. From the Middle East, India, Persia, and Central Asia the Tang were able to acquire new ideals in fashion, new types of ceramics, and improved silver-smithing. The Chinese also gradually adopted the foreign concept of stools and chairs as seating, whereas the Chinese beforehand always sat on mats placed on the floor. To the Middle East, the Islamic world coveted and purchased in bulk Chinese goods such as silks, lacquer-wares, and porcelain wares. Songs, dances, and musical instruments from foreign regions became popular in China during the Tang Dynasty. These musical instruments included oboes, flutes, and small lacquered drums from Kucha in the Tarim Basin, and percussion instruments from India such as cymbals. There was great contact and interest in India as a hub for Buddhist knowledge, with famous travelers such as Xuanzang (d. 664) visiting the South Asian subcontinent. After a 17-year long trip, Xuanzang managed to bring back tons of valuable Sanskrit texts to be translated into Chinese. In the interior of China, trade was facilitated by the Grand Canal and the Tang government's rationalization of the greater canal system that reduced costs of transporting grain and other commodities.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #168 on: December 08, 2007, 05:42:25 pm »



A 5-stringed pipa (wuxian) from the Tang Dynasty.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #169 on: December 08, 2007, 05:43:43 pm »

The Silk Road was the most important pre-modern Eurasian trade route. During this period of the Pax Sinica, the Silk Road reached its golden age, whereby Persian and Sogdian merchants benefited from the commerce between East and West. At the same time, the Chinese empire welcomed foreign cultures, making the Tang capital the most cosmopolitan area in the world. In addition, the maritime port city of Guangzhou in the south was also a home to many foreign merchants and travelers from abroad.

Although the Silk Road from China to the West was initially formulated during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han (141–87 BC) centuries before, it was reopened by the Tang in 639 when Hou Junji conquered the West, and remained open for three decades. It was closed after the Tibetans captured it, largely blocking the route to the west. About 20 years later, during Empress Wu Zetian's period, the Silk Road reopened when the Tang empire reconquered the Four Garrisons of Anxi, once again connecting China directly to the West for land-based trade. After the An Shi Rebellion ended in 763, the Tang Empire had once again lost control over many of its outer western lands, as the Tibetan Empire largely cut off China's direct access to the Silk Road. It was not until the 840s that Tang China regained its western territories from Tibet, which contained crucial grazing areas and pastures for raising horses that the Tang Dynasty desperately needed.

Despite the many western travelers coming into China to live and trade, many travelers, mainly religious monks, recorded the strict border laws that the Chinese enforced. As the monk Xuanzang and many other monk travelers attested to, there were many Chinese government checkpoints along the Silk Road that examined travel permits into the Tang Empire. Furthermore, banditry was a problem along the checkpoints and oasis towns, as Xuanzang also recorded that his group of travelers were assaulted by bandits on multiple occasions.

Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #170 on: December 08, 2007, 05:44:53 pm »



A Tang Dynasty tri-color glazed figurine of a horse.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #171 on: December 08, 2007, 05:46:22 pm »

Chinese envoys had been sailing through the Indian Ocean to India since the 2nd century BC, yet it was during the Tang Dynasty that a strong Chinese maritime presence could be found in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, into Persia, Mesopotamia (sailing up the Euphrates River in modern-day Iraq), Arabia, Egypt, Aksum (Ethiopia), and Somalia in East Africa. From the same Quraysh tribe of Muhammad, Sa'd ibn Abi-Waqqas sailed from Ethiopia to China during the reign of Emperor Gaozu. He later traveled back to China with a copy of the Quran, establishing China's first mosque, the Mosque of Remembrance, during the reign of Emperor Gaozong. To this day he is still buried in a Muslim cemetery at Guangzhou.

During the Tang Dynasty, thousands of foreigners came and lived in Guangzhou for trade and commercial ties with China, including Persians, Arabs, Hindu Indians, Malays, Jews and Nestorian Christians of the Near East, and many others. In 748, the Buddhist monk Jian Zhen described Guangzhou as a bustling mercantile center where many large and impressive foreign ships came to dock. He wrote that "many big ships came from Borneo, Persia, Qunglun (Indonesia/Java)...with...spices, pearls, and jade piled up mountain high", as written in the Yue Jue Shu (Lost Records of the State of Yue). After Arab and Persian pirates burned and looted Guangzhou in 758, the Tang government reacted by shutting the port down for roughly five decades. However, when the port reopened it continued to thrive. In 851 the Arab merchant Suleiman al-Tajir observed the manufacturing of Chinese porcelain in Guangzhou and admired its transparent quality. He also provided description on the mosque at Guangzhou, its granaries, its local government administration, some of its written records, the treatment of travellers, along with the use of ceramics, rice-wine, and tea. However, in another bloody episode at Guangzhou in 879, the Chinese rebel Huang Chao sacked the city, and purportedly slaughtered thousands of native Chinese, along with foreign Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the process. His rebellion was eventually suppressed in 884.

The Tang government and Chinese merchants became interested in by-passing the Arab merchants who dominated the trade of the Indian Ocean, to gain access to thriving trade in the vast oceanic region. Beginning in 785, the Chinese began to call regularly at Sufala on the East African coast in order to cut out Arab middlemen, with various contemporary Chinese sources giving detailed descriptions of trade in Africa. In 863 the Chinese author Duan Chengshi provided detailed description about the slave trade, ivory trade, and ambergris trade in a country called Bobali, which historians point to the possibility of being Berbera in Somalia. In Fustat (old Cairo), Egypt, the fame of Chinese ceramics there led to an enormous demand for Chinese goods, hence Chinese often traveled there, also in later periods such as Fatimid Egypt. From this time period, the Arab merchant Shulama once wrote of his admiration for Chinese seafaring junks, but noted that the draft was too deep for them to enter the Euphrates River, which forced them to land small boats for passengers and cargo. Shulama also noted in his writing that Chinese ships were often very large, large enough to carry aboard 600 to 700 passengers each.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #172 on: December 08, 2007, 05:47:28 pm »



Figurine of a foreign merchant of the Tang Dynasty, 7th century.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #173 on: December 08, 2007, 05:49:29 pm »

The Tang Empire was at its height of power up until the middle of the 8th century, when the An Shi Rebellion (December 16, 755 – February 17, 763) destroyed the prosperity of the empire. An Lushan was a half-Sogdian, half-Turk Tang commander since 744, had experience fighting the Khitans of Manchuria, yet most of his campaigns against the Khitans since 736 and after 744 were unsuccessful. He was given great responsibility in Hebei, which allowed him to rebel with an army of more than one hundred thousand troops. The newly recruited troops of the army at the capital were no match for An Lushan's die-hard frontier veterans, so the court fled Luoyang. While the heir apparent raised troops in Ningxia and Xuanzong fled to Sichuan province, they called upon the help of the Uyghur Turks in 756. The Uyghur khan Moyanchur was greatly excited at this prospect, and even married his own daughter to the Chinese diplomatic envoy once he arrived. Although the Uyghurs helped recapture the Tang capital from the rebels, they continued to stay and refused to leave until the Tang paid them an enormous sum of tribute in silk. Furthermore, the Tibetans took hold of the opportunity and raided many areas under Chinese control, and even after the Tibetan Empire had fallen apart in 842 (and the Uyghurs soon after) the Tang were in no position to reconquer Central Asia after 763. Although An Lushan was killed by his own son in 757, this time of troubles and widespread insurrection continued until 763.

One of the legacies that the Tang government left since 710 was the gradual rise of regional military governors, the jiedushi, who slowly came to challenge the power of the central government. After the An Shi Rebellion, the autonomous power and authority accumulated by the jiedushi in Hebei went beyond the central government's control. After a series of rebellions between 781 and 784 in today's Hebei, Shandong, Hubei and Henan provinces, the government had to officially acknowledge the jiedushi's hereditary ruling without accreditation. The Tang government relied on these governors and their armies for protection and to suppress locals that would take up arms against the government. In return, the central government would acknowledge the rights of these governors to maintain their army, collect taxes and even to pass on their title to heirs. As time passed on these military governors slowly phased out the prominence of civil officials drafted by exams, and became more autonomous from central authority. The rule of these powerful military governors lasted until 965, when a new civil order under the Song Dynasty was established.[78] Also, the abandonment of the equal-field system meant that people could buy and sell land freely. Many poor fell into debt because of this, forced to sell their land to the wealthy, which led to the exponential growth of large estates.

With the central government collapsing in authority over the various regions of the empire, it was recorded in 845 that bandits and river pirates in parties of 100 or more began plundering settlements along the Yangtze River with little resistance. In 858, enormous floods along the Grand Canal inundated vast tracts of land and terrain of the North China Plain, which drowned tens of thousands of people in the process.The Chinese belief in the Mandate of Heaven granted to the ailing Tang was also challenged when natural calamities occurred, forcing many to believe the Heavens were displeased and that the Tang had lost their right to rule. Then in 873 a disastrous harvest shook the foundations of the empire, in some areas only half of all agricultural produce being gathered, and tens of thousands faced famine and starvation. In the earlier period of the Tang, the central government was able to meet crisis in the harvest, as it was recorded from 714–719 that the Tang government took assertive action in responding to natural disasters by extending the price-regulation granary system throughout the country. The central government was able then to build a large surplus stock of foods to meet danger of rising famine and increased agricultural productivity through effective land reclamation, yet the Tang government in the 9th century was nearly helpless in dealing with any calamity.

Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #174 on: December 08, 2007, 05:50:50 pm »



The Leshan Giant Buddha, 71 m (233 ft) in height; construction began in 713 and was completed ninety years later in 803.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #175 on: December 08, 2007, 06:01:33 pm »

Although these natural calamities and rebellions stained the reputation and hampered the effectiveness of the central government, the early 9th century is nonetheless viewed as a period of recovery for the Tang Dynasty. The government's withdrawal from its role in managing the economy had the unintended effect of stimulating trade, as more markets with less bureaucratic restrictions were opened up. Cities in the Jiangnan region to the south, such as Yangzhou, Suzhou, and Hangzhou prospered the most economically during the late Tang period. Yet even after the power of the central government was in decline since the mid 8th century, it was still able to function and give out imperial orders on a massive scale. Although weakened after the An Shi Rebellion, in 799 the Tang government's salt monopoly accounted for over half of the government's revenues, while the Salt commission became one of the most powerful state agencies, run by capable ministers chosen as specialists in finance. The Tangshu (Book of Tang) compiled in the year 945 recorded that in 828 the Tang government issued a decree that standardized irrigational square-pallet chain pumps in the country:

“ In the second year of the Taihe reign period [828 AD], in the second month...a standard model of the chain pump was issued from the palace, and the people of Jingzhao Fu (d footnote: the capital) were ordered by the emperor to make a considerable number of machines, for distribution to the people along the Zheng Bai Canal, for irrigation purposes. ”

The last great ambitious ruler of the Tang Dynasty was Emperor Xianzong of Tang (r. 805–820), his reign period aided by the fiscal reforms of the 780s, including the government monopoly on the salt industry. He also had an effective well trained imperial army stationed at the capital led by his court eunuchs; this was the Army of Divine Strategy, numbering 240,000 in strength as recorded in 798. Between the years 806 and 819, Emperor Xianzong conducted seven major military campaigns to quell the rebellious provinces that had claimed autonomy from central authority, managing to subdue all but two of them. Under his reign there was a brief end to the hereditary jiedushi, as Xianzong appointed his own military officers and staffed the regional bureaucracies once again with civil officials. However, Xianzong's successors proved less capable and more interested in the leisure of hunting, feasting, and playing outdoor sports, allowing eunuchs to amass more power as drafted scholar-officials caused strife in the bureaucracy with factional parties. The eunuchs' power became unchallenged after Emperor Wenzong of Tang's failed plot to have them overthrown; instead the allies of Emperor Wenzong were publicly executed in the West Market of Chang'an, by the eunuch's command.

Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #176 on: December 08, 2007, 06:03:35 pm »



The Three Pagodas of Dali, Yunnan province, 9th and 10th centuries.
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #177 on: December 08, 2007, 08:10:13 pm »

In addition to natural calamities and jiedushi amassing autonomous control, the Huang Chao Rebellion (875–884) resulted in the sacking of both Chang'an and Luoyang, and took an entire decade to suppress. Although the rebellion was defeated by the Tang, it never recovered from that crucial blow, weakening it for the future military powers to take over. There were also large groups of bandits, in the size of small armies, that ravaged the countryside in the last years of the Tang, who smuggled illicit salt, ambushed merchants and convoys, and even besieged several walled cities.

A certain Zhu Wen (originally a salt smuggler) who had served under the rebel Huang had later surrendered to Tang forces, his military merit in betraying and defeating Huang's forces meaning rapid military promotions for him. In 907, after almost 300 years in power, the dynasty was ended when this military governor, Zhu Wen (known soon after as Taizu of Later Liang), deposed the last emperor of Tang, Emperor Ai of Tang, and took the throne for himself. He established his Later Liang Dynasty, which thereby inaugurated the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. A year later, the deposed Emperor Ai was poisoned to death by Zhu Wen.

Although cast in a negative light by many for usurping power from the Tang, Zhu Wen turned out to be a skilled administrator. Emperor Taizu of Later Liang was also responsible for the building of a large seawall, new walls and roads for the burgeoning city of Hangzhou, which would later become the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #178 on: December 08, 2007, 08:11:43 pm »



Painting of the scholar Fu Sheng, by the Tang poet, musician, and painter Wang Wei (701–761)
Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
Superhero Member
******
Posts: 3827



« Reply #179 on: December 08, 2007, 08:12:32 pm »

Both the Sui and Tang Dynasties had turned away from the more feudal culture of the preceding Northern Dynasties, in favor of staunch civil Confucianism. The governmental system was supported by a large class of Confucian intellectuals selected through either civil service examinations or recommendations. In the Tang period, Taoism and Buddhism reigned as core ideologies as well, and played a large role in people's daily lives. The Tang Chinese enjoyed feasting, drinking, holidays, sports, and all sorts of entertainment, while Chinese literature blossomed and was more widely accessible with new printing methods.

Report Spam   Logged
Pages: 1 ... 6 7 8 9 10 11 [12] 13 14   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by EzPortal
Bookmark this site! | Upgrade This Forum
SMF For Free - Create your own Forum
Powered by SMF | SMF © 2016, Simple Machines
Privacy Policy