Ancient China Civilization dates back thousands of years, during which time most of China was ruled by various dynasties, which is when the region or country is ruled by one family for a long period of time. Typically, the ruler of the land is the head of the family, such as a king or emperor and when the ruler dies, power is taken over by another family member; typically it is the oldest son. A new dynasty is begun when a new family takes over control of the land.
The Mandate of Heaven
The Chinese people believed that the Mandate of Heaven is what gave their rulers the right to be an emperor or a king. The Mandate of Heaven meant that the person had been blessed by the gods and was given the right to rule. In order to maintain the Mandate of Heaven, the ruler had to be a good and just ruler. When a dynasty or a ruler lost their power, it meant that they had also lost the Mandate of Heaven.
Ancient China Dynasties
The major ancient China Dynasties were first thought to begin in 2205 and includes:
• Xia (2205 to 1575 BC) – there is very little known information about the Xia, however, it was the first dynasty in China.
Shang (1570 to 1045 BC)-this dynasty ruled the majority of the area along the Yellow River and their last known capital was the city of Yin.
• Zhou (1045 to 256 BC) –in the history of China, the Zhou was the longest ruling dynasty and they were the first to use the Mandate of Heaven to justify their ruling. Feudal lords that were Zhou family relatives ruled most of the land.
• Qin (221 BC to 206 BC)-the Qin dynasty was the start of the Chinese Empire and Shi Huangdi because of the first Chinese Emperor. The Qin dynasty was a short one; however during this time there were standards set for measures, weights, and money, several canals and roads were built, the Great Wall was begun and one form of writing was used throughout China.
• Han (206 BC to 220 AD)-during the Han dynasty, the civil service was established, which allowed the creation of an organized and strong government. Also during the Han dynasty, porcelain and paper were invented.
• Six Dynasties (222 to 581 AD)-during the Six dynasties, China was not united under a single leader.
• Sui (589 to 618 AD)-China was united under one rule again during the Sui Dynasty and they built the Grand Canal as well as expanded the Great Wall.
• Tang (618 – 907)-The Tang rule is often referred to as the “Golden Age of Ancient China” because it was a time of peace and prosperity. It was during the Tang dynasty when Chang’ a (the capital city) because of the largest city in the world.
• Five Dynasties (907 – 960)-the Tang dynasty was taken down by a peasant rebellion, creating a period of division.
• Song (960 – 1279)-China was again reunited under the Song dynasty and it was during the Song dynasty that China became one of the world leaders in science and technology, with the compass and gunpowder being invented during this time period.
• Yuan (1279 – 1368)-the Yuan dynasty was established by a Mongol leader (Kublai Khan) after the Song was defeated in a long war by the Mongols.
• Ming (1368 – 1644)-the Ming dynasty gained power by overthrowing the rule of the Mongols. During the Ming dynasty, the Great Wall was completed and an enormous palace, known as the Forbidden City was built for the Emperor. The Ming dynasty was the last of the great Chinese dynasties.
• Qing(1644AD-1944AD-China was invaded in 1644AD by the Manchus and defeated the Li Zicheng army (an army of peasants that entered Beijing). The Manchus then set up a new dynasty known as the Qing dynasty, which ruled China for the next 300 years.
For over 3000 years, there were 13 dynasties that ruled ancient China. The last dynasty, the Qing, was succeeded by the Republic of China, which ended the period of ancient dynasties.
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