Section 1 Pages 212-219

Reunifying China

The Han Dynasty, founded in 206 B.C., was a period of progress and prosperity for China. In time, however, political struggles, social problems, and a widening gap between rich and poor weakened the Han Dynasty. It fell in A.D. 220. Conflict and Chaos A time of great disorder followed. Various kingdoms fought among themselves. Invading nomads from the north crossed the Mongolian Plateau into northern China. (A nomad is a person who moves from place to place.) Floods, droughts, and food shortages also plagued the land. Despite these troubles, Chinese culture survived. In the north, the invading nomads eventually settled down and adopted Chinese customs. In the south, good harvests and growing trade helped people to prosper. Even so, most Chinese people led difficult lives.

Changes in Belief Systems

The turmoil after the fall of the Han Dynasty led to major changes in China’s belief systems.Confucianism For centuries, the Chinese had looked to Confucianism (kuhn•FYOO•shuh•nihz•uhm) for comfort and guidance. Confucianism is a belief system based on the ideas ofConfucius (551–479 B.C.). He was a scholar who taught moral virtues and ethics—ideas of right and wrong. In his teachings, Confucius emphasized these principles.

• Use right relationships to produce social order.
• Respect family and older generations.
• Educate individuals and society.
• Act in morally correct ways.

Confucianism Influences Chinese Life Confucianism affected many aspects of Chinese government and society. For example, Confucius taught that people could advance in life through education. An emphasis on education helped to produce an efficient, well-trained set of government officials.
Confucius’ ideas also influenced society. He thought society should be organized around five basic relationships. A code of conduct governed these relationships. For example, one relationship was between ruler and subject. Confucius taught that the ruler should be virtuous and kind. The subject should be loyal and obey the law. Other relationships were based on the family. Confucius wanted children to have respect for their parents and older generations. Around A.D. 200, however, Confucianism began to lose its influence as the Han Dynasty lost power. The Spread of Buddhism As Confucianism
lost influence, many Chinese turned to Buddhism. Buddhism is a religion that started in India and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (sihd•DAHR•tuh GOW•tuh•muh) (c. 566–486 B.C.). Siddhartha was known as the Buddha, or “Enlightened One.”

Buddhism teaches the following principles:

• Suffering is a part of life.
• The reason people suffer is that they are too attached to material possessions and selfish ideas.
• By living in a wise, moral, and thoughtful way, people can eventually learn to escape suffering.

During the first century A.D., missionaries and traders carried Buddhist teachings to China, as the above map shows. Over time, the religion spread into Korea and Japan too. Buddhism became widely practiced after the Han Dynasty fell. Buddhist teachings helped people endure the suffering that followed the dynasty’s collapse. Influences on Confucianism Confucianism began to enjoy a rebirth in the 600s. However, gradual changes began to take place in Confucian thought. Buddhism and Daoism caused some of these changes. Daoism is a belief system that seeks harmony with nature and with inner feelings. Daoism began in China in the 500s B.C. Since the Han Dynasty, Confucianism had mostly been a set of social ethics and political principles. Later, during the Song Dynasty, Confucian thinkers blended Buddhism and Daoism into Confucianism. As a result, Confucianism broadened its outlook.

A Change in Confucian Thought This new Confucianism was greatly concerned with human behavior and a person’s relationship with the universe. It emphasized the following principles:

• Morality is the highest goal a person can reach.
• This morality can be achieved through education.
• Education can occur through books, observation, or interaction with other wise people.

After the fall of the Han, the Chinese people endured more than 350 years of chaos and conflict. Finally, the Sui (sway) Dynasty (581–618) reunified China and brought order. Reunify means to bring a group together after it has been divided. The Sui Dynasty Yang Jian founded the Sui Dynasty. He was a general in the army of the Zhou (joh), the rulers of northern China. In 581, he took power by killing the heir to the Zhou throne—his grandson. He then massacred 59 royal princes. By 589, he had conquered the south and reunified China. He declared himself first emperor of the Sui Dynasty. Later he became known as Wendi. The Great Wall Wendi rebuilt parts of the Great Wall to keep out invaders.

Wendi Reunifies China During his rule, Wendi did many things to make the Chinese feel more unified. He restored old political traditions that reminded the Chinese of their glorious past. For example, on taking the throne he accepted the traditional Chinese imperial gifts of red doors for his house and a robe with a red sash. Wendi also reduced conflict by allowing people to follow their own belief systems. Although he was a Buddhist, he encouraged Daoist beliefs and practices. As you read earlier, Confucianism also enjoyed a rebirth during this time. For example, candidates for government jobs once again had to take a civil service examination. The examination carried out Confucius’s belief that a government had to be built on the skill of its people. Wendi also began public works projects. He rebuilt portions of the Great Wall, which you learned about on pages 206–207. He also started the building of the Grand Canal. It connected the Huang He (Yellow River) and Chang Jiang (Yangtze River), linking northern and southern China. Thousands of peasants labored five years to dig the Grand Canal. Nearly half of them died during the project. Wendi and his successor, Yangdi, raised taxes to pay for all these projects. In time, the Chinese people grew tired of high taxes, and they revolted. As a result, the dynasty fell after only 37 years.

The Tang Dynasty Although the Sui Dynasty lasted only a short time, it set the foundation for the Tang Dynasty. The Tang Dynasty started in 618 and ruled for nearly 300 years. During this period, China expanded its borders on all sides. In addition, Tang emperors expanded the network of roads and canals to bring the country together. Such a large empire needed many officials to manage it. So the Tang emperors fully adopted the Confucian ideas of how government should be run. The Tang government system was one of the most advanced and complex in the world at the time. Tang Emperors Taizong (ty•johng) helped his father, Gaozu (gow•joo), to found the Tang Dynasty. Taizong seized the throne in 626 after killing his two brothers and all ten of his brothers’ sons. Even though Taizong used violence to rise to power, many Chinese considered him a fair and just leader. For example, he did not overburden peasants with high taxes. He also took some lands from the rich to give to peasants. In 690 Wu Zhao (woo jow) declared herself emperor. She was the only woman to occupy the throne of China. She proved to be a capable leader. One of her greatest achievements was the reconquest of Korea. (China had ruled Korea earlier, in the 660s and 670s.) She did not leave power until 705, when she was more than 80 years old. Chinese dynasties rose and fell in a similar pattern. Historians call this pattern the dynastic cycle.

Another great Tang emperor, Xuanzong (shwahn•zung), came to power in 712. He ruled for more than 40 years. During his reign, Chinese literature and art reached great heights. The Tang period is best known for its masterful and lively poetry. (See the Primary Source feature on page 228.) Also, Tang sculptures of graceful horses were greatly desired trade items. In the next lesson, you will learn more about the development of the Chinese empire. In addition, you will learn about agricultural, technological, and commercial developments in China.


Section 2 pages 222-229

Building the Imperial State

Ruling a vast country like China was a difficult task. To rule more efficiently, the Tang rulers developed an imperial state. Imperial means related to an empire. The Tang used several ideas they had learned from the Sui Dynasty to set up this organized, well-run government. For the most part, Tang central and local government and military organization followed Sui models. In addition, the Tang used the Sui tax system. They even made the Sui capital—the city of Ch’ang-an on the Wei River—their capital. Ch’ang-an was important because it was located on major trade routes.

Chinese Government The Tang government was like a pyramid. An emperor ruled at the top, and many people served in various levels below him. The emperor’s chief advisers served him directly. They were the second-highest level of the pyramid. Below those advisers was the bureaucracy. A bureaucracy is a government that is divided into departments. Each department in China was in charge of a certain area, such as taxes, agriculture, or the army. This political system ruled all of China. Local governments throughout China had to report to the central bureaucracy. A Law Code Tang rulers created a new code of law. It listed all of the laws of China so that the same laws would be used everywhere. This new code proved highly effective. China used it from about 624 until the late 1200s. Scholar-Officials The Tang needed to educate people to work in the bureaucracy. For many jobs in the bureaucracy, people had to take an exam given by the government. The Han and Sui dynasties had also given exams to job seekers, but the Tang rulers greatly expanded the system. The state exam tested knowledge of Confucian ideas, poetry, and other subjects. The test was long and difficult. Most people who took it failed. A person who passed the state exam could become a scholar-official, an educated person with a government position. Almost all scholar-officials came from the upper class. Most wealthy people had relatives who worked in government. In China, relatives often helped each other get jobs. Also, only rich people could afford the education needed to pass the test. The Song Dynasty After the Tang, the Song Dynasty ruled from 960 to 1279. The Song Dynasty expanded and improved the exam system. It set up more schools and changed the exam to cover more practical subjects. More people took the exams, passed them, and got government jobs. Even so, most officials continued to come from rich families with political influence.

Prosperity from Trade and Farming

Under Tang and Song rule, China’s economy grew. In fact, China became the wealthiest and most developed nation in the world.One factor in this growth was an improved transport system. Changes in Travel and Trade The Tang and Song governments built many roads and waterways. This transportation system helped tie the Chinese empire together. Better transportation improved trade. Traders used the new roads to move grain, tea, and other goods. Along the roads were inns in which travelers could stay. Mounted messengers and runners carried government mail on the roads. This improved communication. Waterways were just as important. The government repaired old canals and built new ones to link major rivers. The resulting network of waterways provided an efficient way to move goods and people. Trade was also improved by several technological developments. These developments included gigantic ships powered by both oars and sails. Such ships made sea voyages faster and safer. The development of the magnetic compass, too, improved travel on the open seas.

Changes in Agriculture Around A.D. 1000, Chinese farmers began planting a new type of rice from Southeast Asia. This rice ripened faster than the type they had used before. With the new rice, farmers could raise two or even three crops a year instead of one. The food supply expanded rapidly, allowing the population to grow to about 100 million. During Tang and Song times, the Chinese turned areas of the Chang Jiang valley into productive rice paddies, or fields. Farmers used pumps and canals to drain water from marshes. They built terraces on hillsides and used elaborate irrigation systems to water them. By changing their environment, the Chinese farmers gained cropland. Additional land enabled them to grow more rice. These changes and a mild climate allowed southern China to grow more rice than the people in that region needed. Farmers sold the extra rice to merchants, who shipped it by canal to imperial centers in northern China. Having extra food meant that fewer people needed to work as farmers. As a result, more people could work in trade.

Changes in Commerce By the Song period, trade was thriving in China. Barges and cargo ships carried goods on canals and rivers and along the coastline of China. They also brought Chinese foods and other products to foreign lands, such as Korea and Japan. The growth of trade led to a rapid expansion in the use of money, in the form of coins, to pay for goods. However, large numbers of coins were heavy and difficult to carry. To solve this problem, Tang and Song governments began to print paper money. They were the first governments in history to do so. As trade increased, more people became merchants. China’s merchant class lived mainly in cities and towns, where most private trade took place. The cities grew and prospered. By the Song period, China had a few cities with populations of about 1,000,000 people. In contrast, Paris, one of Europe’s largest cities, had only 150,000 people at the time.

A Time of Brilliant Achievements

The Tang and Song dynasties were among the most creative periods in China’s long history. Poetry and art, in particular, flourished during this time. A Golden Age for Poetry and Art Three Tang writers—Li Bai, Du Fu, and Wang Wei—are considered among the greatest Chinese poets of all time. Li Bai wrote about life’s pleasures. In his poetry, Du Fu praised orderliness and Confucian values. And Wang Wei wrote of the beauty of nature and the briefness of life. (To read one of Wang Wei’s poems, see the Primary Source feature on the next page.) Tang artists produced beautiful pottery figurines. During Song times, landscape painting became an important art form. Song painters used only black ink—in every shade from pale grey to the darkest black. As one Song artist noted, “Black is ten colors.” Today, Tang pottery figurines and Song landscape paintings can be found in museums around the world.

Technological Progress In addition, the Tang and Song periods were a time of exciting advances in technology. Because the Chinese learning, they looked for better ways to support scholarly study and spread traditional ideas. They developed methods to manufacture paper in large quantities. Paper was easier to write on than other materials, such as silk cloth. The Chinese also invented wood-block printing. Printers carved wooden blocks with enough characters to print entire pages. Later, printers created movable type. The Chinese used paper and printing to make the first printed books. This allowed them to record their knowledge in a permanent form. Historic Influence Chinese technology shaped history in China and the West in many different ways.

• The technology of paper-making spread to the Arab world in the 700s and later to Europe.
• The Chinese invented gunpowder, which they used for fireworks. Later, gunpowder changed warfare by making deadly new weapons possible.
• The Chinese made the first magnetic compass, which spread to Europe. Compasses helped make the European Age of Exploration possible.

Background: Wang Wei (shown below) who lived from 699 to 759, was one of the great poets of the Tang Dynasty. This poem is about his experiences as a scholarofficial. It describes what happened after he disagreed with the emperor. movable type: a small block of metal or wood with a single raised character. Movable type can be used more than once and rearranged to spell different words.

The Chinese influenced daily life by exporting porcelain and tea to the world. Porcelain is a hard white ceramic often called china. People desired porcelain for its beauty. It became one of China’s most valuable exports. For centuries, the Chinese used tea as a medicine. During the Tang Dynasty, it became a popular drink. Later, traders brought tea from East Asia to Europe.

Section 3 Pages 233-237

A Great Leader

The Mongols lived in independent family groups called clans. These clans were joined together into several tribes, which were independent of each other. But around 1206 a strong leader named Temujin (TEHM•yuh•juhn) united the Mongol tribes. He fought and defeated all his rivals for leadership one by one. By doing so he became the khan, or ruler, of all the Mongols. He took the name Genghis Khan (JEHNG•gihs KAHN), which means “universal ruler.” Genghis organized the Mongol warriors into a mighty fighting force and began a campaign of conquest. He invaded northern China, then moved west across Central Asia. Throughout history, nomadic people often had a military advantage against settled people. Settled people tried to defend their cities and towns. Nomads, however, moved quickly, looked for weak spots, attacked, and moved on. This helped them succeed at war. By 1221, the Mongols had conquered all of Central Asia.

The Mongol Empire When Genghis died in 1227, his son, Ogadai (OH•goh•DAY), took power. Ogadai captured the rest of northern China. He also extended Mongol rule as far west as Russia and Persia. The Mongol Empire was divided into four large parts called khanates. A different descendant of Genghis ruled each part. Kublai Khan (KOO•bly KAHN), Genghis’s grandson, took power in the Chinese part of the empire in 1260. At that time, southern China was still under Song control. Kublai’s forces finally defeated the Song in 1279. The Mongols now controlled all of China and would rule until 1368.

Mongol Government

Kublai Khan was the first ruler in 300 years to control all of China. The Mongols were also the first foreign power to rule China. Kublai ruled China for 15 years and died in 1294. Learning to Rule The Mongols did not have much experience with government. The Chinese, on the other hand, had a long history of organized government. So Kublai kept many aspects of Chinese rule. He built his capital at Beijing in traditional Chinese style and declared himself emperor. He also founded a new dynasty—the Yuan (YOO•ahn) Dynasty. These steps were familiar to the Chinese and made it easier for Kublai to control China. Maintaining Control Kublai kept features of the Chinese form of government, but he made sure that the Chinese politicians didn’t gain too much power. He did this to keep control of China in Mongol hands. He ended the civil-service examination system for choosing officials. Instead, he gave the important government jobs to Mongols or to trusted foreigners. Chinese officials were given only minor jobs with little or no power. Even so, the influence of Confucian thought remained strong during Mongol rule. Mongol officials adopted Confucian approaches to government. In addition, Kublai appointed Confucian scholars to educate the sons of the Mongol nobility. Despite differences with the Chinese, Kublai Khan was a capable leader. He worked to rebuild China after years of warfare. He restored the Grand Canal and extended it 135 miles north to Beijing. And he built a paved highway that connected Bejing and Hangzhou. These land and water routes allowed for easy travel between north and south. He also made changes that helped promote trade and contacts with the rest of the world.During Kublai Khan’s rule, China became more open to the outside world. The Mongols developed a thriving sea trade and welcomed visitors from foreign lands.

Trade Routes

One way that the Mongols encouraged trade was by making trade routes safer. In the past, China sometimes closed overland trade routes because of warfare and banditry. Now, the Mongols controlled all of Central Asia. This period of Mongol control is known as the Mongol Ascendancy. Mongol control made overland travel safe. Caravans moved along the Silk Roads, ancient trade routes stretching from China to the Black Sea. Merchants took silks, porcelain, tea, and other goods to western Asia and Europe. The merchants brought back new foods, plants, and minerals. The Mongols also encouraged sea trade. Ships crossed the Indian Ocean and South China Sea to reach Chinese ports such as Guangzhou (gwahng•joh) and Fuzhou (foo•joh). There, merchants did a lively trade in goods from both East and West. Foreign Contacts Trade brought increased contact with foreign peoples and cultures. People from Arabia, Persia, and India frequently visited Mongol China. Even missionaries and diplomats from as far away as Europe made the long trip. These visitors helped tell the rest of the world about Chinese civilization. The most famous European visitor during this period was Marco Polo. Polo was a young trader from Venice, Italy. He traveled the Silk Roads to China with his father and uncle. He arrived around 1275 and stayed for 17 years. Polo became an assistant to Kublai Khan and traveled throughout China on government missions. He later published a book about his adventures. Polo’s book was a great success, but many Europeans found his vivid descriptions of China hard to believe. In the next lesson you will learn how the Chinese overthrew the Mongols.


Section 4 Pages 238-242

Overthrowing the Mongols

After Kublai Khan’s death in 1294, Mongol rule slowly weakened. In 1368 a rebel army led by Zhu Yuanzhang (joo yoo•ahn•jahng) overthrew the Mongol emperor. The First Ming Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang established the Ming Dynasty and became its first emperor under the name Hongwu (hung•woo). He encouraged Confucianism and brought back the state exams. To help trade, he rebuilt roads and canals. In addition, he rebuilt and extended the Great Wall to improve China’s defenses. Hongwu also helped farmers by lowering taxes and providing them with land. In addition to these positive steps, Hongwu began to increase his personal power. He did away with the position of prime minister and took control of all government offices. He made all decisions himself without consulting his advisers. He also set up a secret service to spy on his people. And he had tens of thousands of people arrested for treason and killed.

Yongle’s Rule Hongwu died in 1398. He had chosen his grandson to succeed him. Not everyone supported this decision, however. A struggle for power began. After nearly five years of fighting, Yongle (yung•law)—one of Hongwu’s sons—won victory. He declared himself emperor in 1403. Yongle, like his father, was a strong, capable leader. Under his leadership, the Ming Dynasty reached the height of its power. One of his greatest achievements was the enlarging of the capital city at Beijing. A great complex of palaces and temples, surrounded by 35-foot-high walls, stood at the center of the city. In time, this collection of buildings became known as the Forbidden City because commoners and foreigners were not allowed to enter it. The Forbidden City symbolized Yongle’s, and China’s, power and might. Yongle wanted not just China but also the rest of the world to know of his greatness. This desire led to another of his great achievements.

Trade and Overseas Voyages

In the early 1400s, Yongle sent a series of maritime expeditions to other civilizations. Maritime means “related to the sea. The Voyages of Zheng He Yongle wanted to extend Chinese influence and win tribute from other countries. Tribute is a payment made by one country to another as a sign of respect. To achieve this goal, Yongle built a great fleet of ships for exploration. China completed seven long voyages between 1405 and 1433. Admiral Zheng He (juhng huh) led the fleet. He had as many as 300 ships and nearly 28,000 crew members. Zheng He sailed around Southeast Asia to India, Arabia, and Africa. He returned with tribute that included gold and jewels. China’s foreign trade and reputation grew because of his voyages. A Change of Policy By the 1430s, Yongle and Zheng He had died. Most Confucian officials thought the government gained little from trade and contact with foreigners. They were more concerned with threats of invasion from Central Asia. So the Ming government ended the maritime voyages and banned the building of seagoing ships. China did not remain isolated, however. Chinese merchants expanded trade with the rest of Southeast Asia. In addition, European ships were traveling to China by the early 1500s. The Chinese traded silk, tea, and porcelain for a variety of Western goods, including silver.

The Ming Dynasty declined after almost 300 years in power. Weak rulers, high taxes, and poor harvests led to rebellion. To the northeast of China was a region called Manchuria. The people were known as the Manchus. In 1644, the Manchus took advantage of Ming weaknesses and conquered China. They started the Qing (chihng) Dynasty. Like the Ming rulers, the Manchus allowed some trade. But in general, they limited foreign contacts and tried to restrict foreign influence in China. The Qing Dynasty, China’s last, endured until 1911.