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China, a History

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Bee Cha
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« Reply #75 on: October 07, 2007, 06:19:39 am »



The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang.

Second Emperor

During the last trip with his youngest son Huhai (胡亥) in 210 BC, Qin Shi Huang died suddenly at Shaqiu prefecture. Huhai, under the advice of two high officials the Imperial Secretariat Li Si(李斯) and the chief eunuch Zhao Gao, forged and altered Emperor's will. The faked decree ordered Qin Shi Huang's first son, the heir Fusu (扶蘇), to commit suicide, instead naming Huhai as the next emperor. The decree also stripped the command of troops from Marshal Meng Tian (蒙恬) a faithful supporter of Fusu and sentenced Meng's family to death. Zhao Gao step by step seized the power of Huhai, effectively making Huhai a puppet emperor. Thus beginning the Qin dynasty decline. (Note: This story actually came from Han dynasty historians. There is a controversy regarding whether Qin Shi Huang himself wanted Huhai to be the next emperor or not. The fundamental mistake of Qin Shi Huang was that he had not arranged his successor properly because he actually wanted to live forever.)

Out of concern for the security of his throne, Huhai killed all his brothers and sisters. At the end, he was killed by Zhao Gao. Thus Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor, has no known descendants. The Second Emperor, Huhai, also has no known descendants.

Within three years of Qin Shi Huangdi's death, widespread revolts by peasants, prisoners, soldiers, and descendants of the nobles of the Six Warring States sprang up all over China. Chen Sheng (陳勝) and Wu Guang (吳廣), two in a group of about 900 soldiers assigned to defend against the Xiongnu (匈奴), became the leaders of the first revolution by commoners.

Huhai lived to see the Battle of Julu, the major defeat of the Qin army in the hands of the rebels, which marked the end of the Qin Dynasty.

« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 06:24:19 am by Bee Cha » Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
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« Reply #76 on: October 07, 2007, 06:20:13 am »



Third Emperor

In the beginning of October 207 BC, Zhao Gao forced Huhai to commit suicide and replaced him with Fusu's son, Ziying (子嬰). Note that the title of Ziying was "king of Qin" to reflect the fact that Qin no longer controlled the whole of China. The Chu-Han contention ensued. Ziying soon killed Zhao Gao and surrendered to Liu Bang (劉邦) in the beginning of December 207 BC. But Liu Bang was forced to hand over Xianyang and Ziying to Xiang Yu. Xiang Yu then killed Ziying and burned down the palace in the end of January 206 BC. It is said the fire lasted two months before the inferno died down. A recent archeology survey of the ruin palace determined it to be roughly the size of Manhattan island of New York City. The palace is supported with thousands of pillars made from prehistoric lumbers growing to up to 115 meters (375 ft) high. One single pillar requires a team of a thousand workers a life time to harvest.[citation needed] Due to the weight and scale of each lumber, cutting the lumber can take weeks if not months, transporting from the prehistoric forest to the lumber mill requires certain weather so the river can be flooded to even move the massive lumber down river. The captain of each team is rewarded with imperial rank, their goal in life is to acquire one of these prehistoric lumber for the construction of the palace. It is said each pillar sacrificed the lives of a hundred men. Xiang Yu's controversial action sets the stage for the legendary battles between Xiang Yu, the warrior king and Liu Bang, the people's king. The Qin dynasty came to an end, three years after the death of Qin Shi Huang, and less than twenty years after it was founded.

Although the Qin Dynasty was short-lived, its legalist rule had a deep impact on later dynasties in China. The imperial system initiated during the Qin dynasty set a pattern that was developed over the next two millennia.

« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 06:23:05 am by Bee Cha » Report Spam   Logged
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« Reply #77 on: October 07, 2007, 06:20:48 am »



Sovereigns of Qin Dynasty

Note: King Zhaoxiang of Qin (秦昭襄王) had already been ruling Qin for 51 years when Qin annihilated the Zhou Dynasty; however the other six warring states were still independent regimes. Historiographers thus used the next year (the 52nd year of King Zhaoxiang of Qin) as the official continuation from Zhou Dynasty.

Qin Shi Huang was the second Chinese sovereign to proclaim himself "Emperor", after reunifying China in 221 BC. That year is therefore usually taken as the start of the "Qin Dynasty".

« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 06:22:14 am by Bee Cha » Report Spam   Logged
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« Reply #78 on: October 07, 2007, 06:25:23 am »



A Han Dynasty incense burner with a sliding shutter.
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« Reply #79 on: October 07, 2007, 06:26:32 am »

Han Dynasty

The Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 漢朝; Simplified Chinese: 汉朝; Hanyu Pinyin: Hn Cho; Wade-Giles: Han Ch'ao; 206 BC220 AD) followed the Qin Dynasty and preceded the Three Kingdoms in China. The Han Dynasty was ruled by the prominent family known as the Liu (劉) clan. The reign of the Han Dynasty, lasting over 400 years, is commonly considered within China to be one of the greatest periods in the history of China. To this day, the ethnic majority of China still refer to themselves as the "Han people."

During the Han Dynasty, China officially became a Confucian state and prospered domestically: agriculture, handicrafts and commerce flourished, and the population reached over 55 million. Meanwhile, the empire extended its political and cultural influence over Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam, Japan, and Central Asia before it finally collapsed under a combination of domestic and external pressures.

The first of the two periods of the dynasty was the Former Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 前漢; Simplified Chinese: 前汉; pinyin: Qinhn) or Western Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 西漢; Simplified Chinese: 西汉; pinyin: Xī Hn) 206 BC24 AD, seated at Chang'an. The Later Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 後漢; Simplified Chinese: 后汉; pinyin: Hu Hn) or Eastern Han Dynasty (Traditional Chinese: 東漢; Simplified Chinese: 东汉; pinyin: Dōng Hn) 25220 AD was seated at Luoyang. The western-eastern Han convention is currently used to avoid confusion with the Later Han Dynasty of the Period of the Five Dynasties and the Ten Kingdoms although the former-later nomenclature was used in history texts including Sima Guang's Zizhi Tongjian.

The Han Dynasty was notable also for its military prowess. The empire expanded westward to the Tarim Basin (in modern Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region), with military expeditions as far west as beyond the Caspian Sea, making possible a relatively safe and secure caravan and merchantile traffic across Central Asia. The paths of caravan traffic are often called the "Silk Road" because the route was used to export Chinese silk. Chinese armies also invaded and annexed parts of northern Korea (Wiman Joseon) and northern Vietnam toward the end of the 2nd century BC. Han Dynasty control of peripheral regions was generally insecure, however. To ensure peace with non-Chinese local powers, the Han court developed a mutually beneficial "tributary system." Non-Chinese states were allowed to remain autonomous in exchange for symbolic acceptance of Han overlordship. Tributary ties were confirmed and strengthened through intermarriages at the ruling level and periodic exchanges of gifts and goods.

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« Reply #80 on: October 07, 2007, 06:27:49 am »



A portrait of Han Gaozu entering Xianyang.
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« Reply #81 on: October 07, 2007, 06:28:38 am »

Emergence

Within the first three months after Qin Dynasty Emperor Qin Shi Huang's death at Shaqiu, widespread revolts by peasants, prisoners, soldiers and descendants of the nobles of the six Warring States sprang up all over China. Chen Sheng and Wu Guang, two in a group of about 900 soldiers assigned to defend against the Xiongnu, were the leaders of the first rebellion. Continuous insurgence finally toppled the Qin dynasty in 206 BC. The leader of the insurgents was Xiang Yu, an outstanding military commander without political expertise, who divided the country into 19 feudal states to his own satisfaction.

The ensuing war among those states signified the 5 years of Chu Han Contention with Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, as the eventual winner. Initially, "Han" (the principality as created by Xiang Yu's division) consisted merely of modern Sichuan, Chongqing, and southern Shaanxi and was a minor humble principality, but eventually grew into an empire; the Han Dynasty was named after the principality, which was itself named after Hanzhong (Traditional Chinese: 漢中; Simplified Chinese: 汉中; pinyin: hnzhōng) modern southern Shaanxi, the region centering the modern city of Hanzhong. The beginning of the Han Dynasty can be dated either from 206 BC when the Qin dynasty crumbled and the Principality of Han was established or 202 BC when Xiang Yu committed suicide
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #82 on: October 07, 2007, 06:29:58 am »



A Han Dynasty bronze mirror
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« Reply #83 on: October 07, 2007, 06:30:40 am »

Taoism and feudal system

The new empire retained much of the Qin administrative structure, but retreated somewhat from centralized rule by establishing vassal principalities in some areas for the sake of political convenience. After the establishment of the Han Dynasty, Emperor Gao (Liu Bang) divided the country into several "feudal states" to satisfy some of his wartime allies, though he planned to get rid of them once he had consolidated his power.

After his death, his successors from Emperor Hui to Emperor Jing tried to rule China combining Legalist methods with the Taoist philosophic ideals. During this "pseudo-Taoism era", a stable centralized government over China was established through revival of the agriculture sectors and fragmentations of "feudal states" after the suppression of the Rebellion of the seven states.
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« Reply #84 on: October 07, 2007, 06:31:46 am »

Emperor Wudi and Confucianism

During the "Taoism era", the government reduced taxation. This policy of the government's reduced role over civilian lives (Traditional Chinese: 與民休息; Simplified Chinese: 与民休息; pinyin: yǔ mn xiūxi) started a period of stability, which was called the Rule of Wen and Jing (Chinese: 文景之治; pinyin: Wn-Jǐngzhīzh), named after the two Emperors of this particular era. However, under Emperor Wu's leadership, among the most prosperous periods of the Han Dynasty, the Empire was able to fight back. At its height, Han China incorporated the present day Qinghai, Gansu, and northern Vietnam into its territories, as well as military expeditions into Siberian land beyond Lake Baikal in the northern extremeties and establishing military bases on the shores of the Caspian Sea in the western extremeties.

Emperor Wu decided that Taoism was no longer suitable for China, and officially declared China to be a Confucian state; however, like the Emperors of China before him, he combined Legalist methods with the Confucian ideal. This official adoption of Confucianism led to not only a civil service nomination system, but also the compulsory knowledge of Confucian classics of candidates for the imperial bureaucracy, a requirement that lasted up to the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911. Confucian scholars gained prominent status as the core of the civil service.

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« Reply #85 on: October 07, 2007, 06:32:42 am »



 
A Han Dynasty pottery tomb model of a tower with corbel brackets supporting balconies, 1st-2nd century.
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« Reply #86 on: October 07, 2007, 06:33:47 am »

Government

The bureacratic system of the Han Dynasty can be divided into two system, the central and the local. As for the central bureaucrats in the capital, it was organized into a head cabinet of officials called the Three Lords and Nine Ministers (三公九卿). This cabinet was led by the Prime Minister (丞相), who was included as one of the three lords. Officials were graded by rank and salary, were appointed to posts based on the merit of their skills rather than aristocratic clan affiliation, and were subject to dismissal, demotion, and transfer to different administrative regions.[1] The local official during the former Han Dynasty was different from that of the later Han Dynasty. As for the former Han, there were two administered levels, the county (郡) and the xian (縣). In the former Han Dynasty the xian was a subdivision or sub-prefecture of a county. During the Han period, there were about 1,180 of these xian, or sub-prefectures. The entire Han Empire was heavily dependent upon its county governors (郡太守), as they could decide military policy, economic regulations, and legal matters in the county they presided over. According to historians Ebrey, Walthall, and Palais:

They collected taxes, judged lawsuits, commanded troops to suppress uprisings, undertook public works such as flood control, chose their own subordinates, and recommended local men to the central government for appointments.

The main tax exacted on the population during Han times was a poll tax, fixed at a rate of 120 government-issued coins for adults. For adults there was also the addition of mandatory labor service for one month out of the year. Besides the poll tax, there was also the land tax administered by county and commandery officials. This was set by the government at a relatively low rate of one-thirtieth of the collected harvest.
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« Reply #87 on: October 07, 2007, 06:34:49 am »



A replica of Eastern Han Dynasty inventor Zhang Heng's seismometer, Houfeng Didong Yi
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« Reply #88 on: October 07, 2007, 06:36:31 am »

Culture, society, and technology

Intellectual, literary, and artistic endeavors revived and flourished during the Han Dynasty. The Han period produced China's most famous historian, Sima Qian (14590 BC), whose Records of the Grand Historian provides a detailed chronicle from the time of legendary Xia emperor to that of the Emperor Wu (14187 BC). Technological advances also marked this period. One of the great Chinese inventions, paper, dates from the Han Dynasty, largely attributed to the court eunuch Cai Lun (50 - 121 AD). By the 1st century BC, the Chinese had discovered how to forge the highly durable metal of steel, by melting together wrought iron with cast iron. There were great mathematicians, astronomers, statesmen, and technological inventors such as Zhang Heng (78 - 139 AD), who invented the world's first hydraulic-powered armillary sphere. He was also largely responsible for the early development of the shi poetry style in China. Zhang Heng's work in mechanical gear systems influenced countless numbers of inventors and engineers to follow, such as Ma Jun, Yi Xing, Zhang Sixun, Su Song, etc. Zhang Heng's most famous invention was a seismometer with a swinging pendulum that signified the cardinal direction of earthquakes that struck locations hundreds of kilometres away from the positioned device. There was also continuing development in Chinese philosophy, with figures such as Wang Chong (27 - 97 AD), whose written work represented in part the great intellectual atmosphere of the day. Among his various written achievements, Wang Chong accurately described the water cycle in meteorology. Zhang Heng argued that light emanating from the moon was merely the reflected light that came originally from the sun, and accurately described the reasons for solar eclipse and lunar eclipse as path obstructions of light by the celestial bodies of the earth, sun, and moon.

Military technology in the Han period was advanced by the use of cast iron and steel, which the 1st century engineer Du Shi had made easier by applying the hydraulic power of waterwheels in working the bellows of the blast furnace. The military of the Han Dynasty also engaged in chemical warfare, as written in the Hou Han Shu for the governor of Ling-ling, Yang Xuan, who fought against a peasant revolt near Guiyang in 178 AD:

The bandits were numerous, and Yang's forces very weak, so his men were filled with alarm and despondency. But he organized several dozen horse-drawn vehicles carrying bellows to blow powdered lime strongly forth, he caused incendiary rags to be tied to the tails of a number of horses, and he prepared other vehicles full of bowmen and crossbowmen. The lime chariots went forward first, and as the bellows were plied the smoke was blown forwards according to the wind, then the rags were kindled and the frightened horses rushed forwards throwing the enemy lines into confusion, after which the bowmen and crossbowmen opened fire, the drums and gongs were sounded, and the terrified enemy was utterly destroyed and dispersed.

There were other notable technological advancements during the Han period. This includes the hydraulic-powered trip hammer for agriculture and iron industry, the winnowing machine for agriculture, and the rotary fan and Cardan suspension of Ding Huan (fl. 180 AD).

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« Reply #89 on: October 07, 2007, 06:37:26 am »



Han era bronze horse statue with saddle and plume, Freer Gallery of Art.
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