Chinese Dynasties

By- Sarah Kline

Shang Dynasty

  • Ruled from to 1750 BC-1045 BC
  • North of Huang He River located in north-central China and the climate was much like our climate in Indiana with hot summers and cold winters. Fertile lands.
  • Believed in many gods: polytheistic. Believed to be into Buddhism. The Chinese believed that the forces of the gods would help them with worldly affairs, such as war.
  • The King who ruled in the city of Anyang, had a realm that was divided into territories that were controlled by warlords which were aristocratic leaders of the military.
  • The King was responsible for the controlling of big armies, choose the warlords of territories, and also, when he died he was buried in a royal tomb just like in Egypt.
  • The social scale included aristocrats (rich land owners), peasants, merchants, slaves and artisans.
  • Remembered for bronze casting skill mastery and the bronze vessels were found in tombs of Kings. The bronze items found are most admired of all the Chinese art discovered.
  • System of writing was found in bones that were used by priests to talk to the gods.

Zhou Dynasty

  • Ruled from 1045 BC- 256 BC.
  • Area- North of the Huang He River located in north-central China. The climate there was much like ours today in Indiana: hot summers and cold winters. Fertile lands were also a characteristic of Chinese lands.
  • Religion was Buddhism and were also polytheistic.
  • The King during the time of the Zhou Dynasty ruled a bureaucracy which means the decisions of the area were chosen not by representatives but by the rulers or officials.
  • The Zhou Dynasty thought that the reason they ruled China is because they possessed the Mandate of Heaven, which meant the order of nature was kept in line by the Zhou king.
  • The duty of the king was believed to be Dao which is their way of saying keep the gods pleased and happy. The Zhou were also polytheistic.
  • The Social Structure of the Zhou was similar to the Shang when it came to land ownership patterns, but Zhou was more developed. The artisans and merchants lived in a certain area of town and the peasants worked for landowners.
  • Accomplishments made by the Zhou included technological changes and economic growth. Irrigation had started before the 6th century that caused water spread out in the fields watering crops of rice and millet etc. evenly. Increase in food and usage of iron plows which increased population.
  • A cultural change was the creation and development of written language. Pictographs which were symbols that were pictures and Ideographs which are two or more pictographs combined, were used at this time.
  • Confucianism was also developed by none other than, Confucius, himself, that created part of the Chinese culture. Also, during this time, Daoism took place. Daoism was based on beliefs of Laozi who supposedly lived at the same time of Confucius.
  • The fall of the Zhou was caused by the fall of intellectual skills of the rulers and later causing civil wars break-outs also causing the Warring States Period. The Warring States Period ended up allowing the Qin Dynasty to take over China.

Qin Dynasty

  • Ruled from 221 BC- 206 BC.
  • Area- North of the Huang He River located in north-central China. The climate there was much like ours today in Indiana: hot summers and cold winters. Fertile lands were also a characteristic of Chinese lands.
  • They were polytheistic and into Buddhism.
  • The first ruler of the Qin Dynasty was Qin Shihuangdi. He created a single money system, a road system made by the people of China, and had many qualities that made a great leader.
  • During the time of the Qin Dynasty, the terracotta soldiers were made. Terracotta is hardened clay formations. The Qin Dynasty also built the Great Wall of China when Xiongnu tribes of nomadic people, challenged the people of China. To keep out the Xiongnu, the people of China made a wall.
  • Legalism was the regime which was the government in charges's way of ideas. Instead of many parts or territories like the Shang, the Qin split into three territories or divisions. The divisions were the military division, the civil division, and the censorate. Censorates were the inspectors that checked on officials of the government and made sure they were doing their jobs. They were much like a manager or supervisor of today.
  • The fall of the dynasty was caused by the death of the emperor in 210 BC and four years later, the dynasty was overthrown and followed by a series of civil wars. The wars did not last very long, though.

Han Dynasty

  • Ruled from 202 BC- 220 AD.
  • North of Huang He River located in north-central China and the climate was much like our climate in Indiana with hot summers and cold winters. Fertile lands.
  • Liu Pang was the founder of the Han Dynasty and during his pre-emperor days he was a peasant. His official title was Han Gaozu- Exalted Emperor of Han.
  • The politics of the Han was when they first came into rule, they got rid of the harsh, Qin ways. They got rid of Legalism which was a big deal to the Qin and started up with the Zhou Dynasty. The principles of Confucius was the philosophy of China and were the ways by which China was ran under the Han Dynasty and Han Gaozu. The Han Dynasty did keep the merit base system rather than birth that was used for choosing the officials of the government. Han emperors also made China expand in size to add places such as south of Chang Jiang and the coast of present day Vietnam and also up into places in Central Asia.
  • The Han Dynasty kept the Xiongnu out of the way even after the death of Han Wudi, who was the ruler that expanded China. He died in 87 BC and China was peaceful for long after that. !50 years to be exact!
  • Taxes were light of landowners which caused peasants that were not slaves to suffer. Since the tax rates were low, the government did not have much money. The government required landowners one month's worth of forced labor upon them and also the military needed help.
  • While this was happening, the population tripled. The landowners only ended up having one acre plots of land and that caused the peasants to have to sell their land and become tenants and farm other people's land.
  • The Religion of the Han was Buddhism and they were Polytheistic.
  • Technology development during the reign of the Han includes: paper, water mills for grain grinding, textile manufacturing, and iron casting. Ships were also invented to import and export and move goods. This resulted in trade with India and East Asia.
  • Fall of the Han started over a period of time in which weak rulers were making things so they benefitted from changes they made rather than the rest of China benefitting. In AD 170, wars broke out and peasant uprisings took place and finally by AD 220 the last of the war came. The nomadic people did not help with war efforts and made the civil war worse.
  • After all this war, 400 years later a new greater dynasty rose.