This is part three of a 5-part series on the Complete History of China (abridged). I am covering the basics of China’s history to help me (and you) understand what makes China the way it is. Last week, we covered ancient China and the beginnings of the Dynastic age. Today, we are covering over 500 years of China’s History.
420 AD – It is still a time of unrest, called the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Two ways of fighting are mastered: the North with its cavalry (including the invention of the stirrup) and the South with its navy (on the Yangtze River). Advances in medicine, map making, astronomy and mathematics are made. Buddhism is becoming ever more popular, and the Chinese pagoda towers are used as a place to keep Buddhist scriptures. The South is becoming the cultural center of the area as poetry, calligraphy, painting and music flourish.
581 AD – Emperor Wen is able to unite Northern and Southern China forming the Sui Dynasty. A land equalization scheme is devised to bring the rich and poor classes together. The Grand Canal is dug and the Great Wall is expanded. But a heavy tax and labor burdens causes resentment among the people.
618 AD – The Tang Dynasty gains power and is considered the high point in Chinese civilization. The empire is expanded like never before. Chinese poetry is at its best. Buddhism is practically the national religion. A census puts the population near 50 million people. The Silk Road is also at its height of trade. But nothing ever lasts. Several military leaders start rebellions, and along with floods on the grand canal, proved too much for the ruling Tang. In 907, the Zhu Wen took control, making himself emperor. His was a short lived reign. He was poisoned the next year.
907 AD – Another chaotic period begins called the 5 Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Five dynastic attemps were made, none really succeeded. Also ten states broke off and formed their own kingdoms. Most of this was happening in the South. In the North, the Khitan Empire was taking hold. It’s from them that we get the word Cathay.
I’m glad to finally be blogging again. We’ll have the final two post for the series on Monday and Tuesday. Have a great weekend!