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Home >> china-history >>

China History

China was one of the world's ancient high cultures and has seen a long, varying and complicated history.

A brief Chinese chronology

Xia                          about 2100 B.C. -- 1600 B.C.
        *Hua Xia is used today by Chinese referring to China

Shang                        about 1600 B.C. -- 1100 B.C.
        *There is a very famous ancient book (written in Ming) about the end of Shang: Feng1 Shen2 Yan3 Yi4 (Yan Yi means historical novel)

        Western Zhou          about 1100 B.C. -- 771 B.C.
        Eastern Zhou           770 B.C. -- 226 B.C.
        Spring/Autumn         770 B.C. -- 476 B.C.
        Warring States          475 B.C. -- 221 B.C.
*Western and eastern Zhou are the same dynasty, ruled by the same family. The difference was eastern Zhou moved the capital to an eastern city.
*Spring/Autumn time was one of the most important times in Chinese history. Most Chinese philosophies developed at this time. Among them are: Confucianism and Taoism.
        *_Art of War_ was written at this time by Sun Zi
        *Eastern Zhou was very weak, and was divided into lots of smaller states (and bigger states, such as Jin, was later divided into several states) fighting with each other.
        *The account of this period of history was later written by Sima Qian of Han Dynasty.  Shi3 Ji4 is one of the best Chinese history and literature book. Lots of its sections were in the literature text book. Every Chinese is supposed to read it :)
        *Another book, "Dong Zhou Lie Guo Zhi" (How Eastern Zhou States Created), is supposed to be the text book for politicians.

Qin                            221 B.C. -- 207 B.C.
        *Perhaps the darkest time in Chinese history. Qin was one of the Warring States, but managed to unite China again. The worst thing they did was all the books were ordered to be burned.
        *Qin started building the Great Wall, although the one we see now was rebuilt much later in Ming.

        Western Han            206 B.C. -- 24
        Eastern Han             25 -- 220
        *Again, the two are considered to be the same dynasty.  Eastern Han had its capital in today's Luo-yang (Luo is a river. Yang refers to the shadow of river bank here, which means north of river Luo) which is EAST of the old capital, today's Xian.
        *The so called Han Chinese used when trying to distinguish other minorities inside China came from here.
        *China became strong at this time, especially after Wu Di.
        *Dong Zhongsu advised Wu Di to use Confucianism as the ONLY philosophy. Other novel ideas developed at eastern Zhou was only discouraged, but outlawed. I list Dong most worst only next to Qin Shi Hunag.
        *China had many wars with Hun on north. Wu Di started a new way of solving the problem: sending his daughter as wife of Hun Khan. [According to Jin, Wu Di stopped the custom of sending his daughter to the huns. He defeated them after 40 years of battle.]

Three Kingdoms
        Wei                     220 -- 265
        Shu Han                 221 -- 263
        Wu                      222 -- 280
        *Once again, the last emperor could and control the kingdom again. China was divided into three parts fighting to be the Son of Heaven.
        *Three Kingdoms is a very famous historical novel about this period.

Jin                             265 -- 420
        *The winner of the fighting was the powerful general of Wei whose son started Jin Dynasty.

Northern/Southern Dynasties
        *Jin did not have a good control of China either. China was divided in all kind of combinations.
   Southern Dynasties:
        Song                     420 -- 479
        Qi                       479 -- 502
        Liang                    502 -- 557
        Chen                     557 -- 589
   Northern Dynasties:
        Northern Wei             386 -- 534
        Eastern Wei              534 -- 550
        Northern Qi              550 -- 577
        Western Wei              535 -- 556
        Northern Zhou            557 -- 581

        *Some kings in northern dynasties were not Han.

Sui                              581 -- 618
        *Like Qin, this is a very short dynasty ruled by very cruel emperors.
        *But bad reader seems like to make big things. The longest channel was built at this time just like Great Wall was built in Qin.

Tang                             618 -- 907
        *This is perhaps the best time in Chinese time. The overseas Chinese in early days like to use Tang Shan referring to their homeland.
        *Many good poems were written in this time. I believe no one so far has been able to top the great poets at that time.
        *Tang was a very liberal (perhaps most liberal) period in Chinese history.

Five Dynasties
        Later Liang              907 -- 923
        Later Tang               923 -- 936
        Later Jin                936 -- 946
        Later Han                947 -- 950
        Later Zhou               951 -- 960
        *Can you believe the speed of dynasty change here?

        Northern Song            960 -- 1127
        Southern Song           1127 -- 1279
        *Song is the turning point of Chinese history (More actually, after Song Shen Zong). The society became conservative from then. Lots of bad Chinese traditions started from here.
        *Zu Xi carried Confucianism forward.
        *Ci2, poetry written to certain tunes with strict tonal pattern and rhyme schemes in fixed number of lines and words, was fully developed now.
        *Song was not a strong dynasty in history. It was consistently invaded by others from north. Song was in war with Liao and was later defeated by Jin at north. Song retreated to south of Yangtze. This was why northern and southern Song was named.
        *During southern Song period, north part of China was ruled by Jin (1115 -- 1234)

Yuan                            1271 -- 1368
        *Jin had not had the trance to win Song.  Mongolian was the winner after all.
        *Chinese culture was preserved under Mongolian ruling.  It was Mongolian who were affected by Chinese culture.
        *It was the time Chinese opera developed.
        *Beijing was the capital for the first time.

Ming                            1368 -- 1644
        *The Great Wall was rebuilt.  It was what we see today.
        *In literature, the novel was fully developed at this time. Some of the novels, such as Three Kingdoms, were the best ever.
        *In late Ming, the so called capitalism buds started in some developed areas such as lower Yangtze Delta. Some quite big silk-making shops with one hundred some employee were recorded.

Qing                            1644 -- 1911
        *China was ruled by non-Han once again.
        *Although China started becoming conservative after Song, Qing made the development stopped.



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