Song school vs. Han school of Confucian thought in the Qing dynasty

Song school vs. Han school of Confucian thought in the Qing dynasty

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The Song school eventually prevailed due to favor from the Qing emperor and also because some Han texts were determined to be not genuine by scholars of the time.

My question is, were the scholars who determined the validity of the Han texts influenced/pressured by the fact that the Qing dynasty favored the Song school? Perhaps they found it more convenient to come up with evidence that some Han texts were disingenuous due to the prevailing attitudes of the rulers?

I am not sure why Song Confucianism would be put in opposition to Han Confucianism, it seems more reasonable to put to Song Confucianism in opposition to Ming Confucianism: Li-principle-based thought (Song) versus Xin-mind/heart-based thought (Ming) or also referred to as Zhu Xi school (Song) versus Wang Yangming school (Ming). So I first have reservations on the way the question is presented.

Not withstanding that, Qing officials would no doubt be more receptive to Song thought than to Ming thought just because of the reason that Qing had conquered the Ming dynasty, though we can't deny that Song thought might have prevailed on "merit" alone. As for Qing scholars finding that some Confucian texts that they thought were written earlier were in fact probably written much later which I think is what you are referring to as Han texts, remember that genealogy of Song Confucian text (and for that matter Ming texts) would not have been in much dispute by the Qing scholars, while Han texts since they were written nearly two millennia from Qing times, would obviously be a source of study and contention among the new kaozheng (validating authenticity) based scholars.

So, my answer would be a qualified answer: Yes, Qing preferred Song thought (but over Ming thought and not Han thought-not sure what Han thought would be considered as during that time) and kaozheng scholars would concentrate on authenticating Han texts just by default since Song and Ming era texts needed little authenticating. Remember that both Song and Ming thoughts were using Han texts and I would also note that some critical analysis of their correctness were being done by Song and Ming scholars even before Qing times though not in any sort of concerted way like the Qing scholars.

Song school vs. Han school of Confucian thought in the Qing dynasty - History

Although Confucianism has originated from the teachings of the Chinese sage, Confucius, Confucianism is not based solely on the teaching of Confucius himself. It is a collection of philosophies and superstition including those from other philosophers. The impact of Confucianism in China and East Asia is remarkable and many of the teachings are still being used today. Confucianism is considered as a philosophy and even sometimes, although arguably, as a religion.

During Confucius’ lifetime, his ideas were not really accepted. This didn’t stop him from trying to spread his ideals and philosophies across China though. Some say he tried to gain enough political power to start a new dynasty but it didn’t pan out. He has been referred to as a “crownless king” and eventually he ended up back in his hometown to spend the rest of his life teaching his students.

The teaching and ideas of Confucius that we know today are actually just the recollections by his students and disciples so it may not be all that accurate. This is further complicated when more than 200 years after the death of Confucius, the Qin Dynasty decided to suppress Confucianism and burn Confucius’ books.

The Qin Dynasty did not last long though, and fortunately, the Han Dynasty which followed the Qin has seen potential in the teaching of Confucius and decided to use Confucianism mixed with Legalism. Emperor Han Wudi was the one who declared China as a Confucian state. During this period, other ideologies were banned and everyone, even children were told to learn the teachings of Confucianism.

The Han Dynasty did benefit from Confucianism. Because of it, the Han Dynasty improved and established the system of ruling the land by morals and ethics, something that the Qin Dynasty has overlooked. The establishment of a Confucian state has helped Han Wudi rule for 54 years, making him one of the longest rulers in China’s history.

Also, before Confucianism, people were given positions whether or not they were competent enough to do the job. But now, written exams are given to determine the best one for the job and emperors chose people based on their merits and whether they believe that these people indeed are best suited for the position.

The teachings of Confucius also emphasize a lot about respect especially to the parents, and to the elders. This is one tradition that is still very much alive in a lot of Asian countries today.

But the rise of Confucianism in the Han Dynasty did bring about some negative effects as well. The first one is discrimination against women. This starts with the birth of a child, as one of the teachings of Confucius’ five classics says that if a man has a son, he puts him on the bed, and if he has a daughter, he puts her on the grounds. Also when a woman is not married she is to obey her father absolutely. When a woman is married, she is to obey her husband absolutely. And when she is widowed, she is to obey her son absolutely.

Another problem with Confucianism during the Han Dynasty was that parents not only have to be respected, but they have to be obeyed, and have total control over their children. So children have very little freedom. Starting form the age of six, they are forced to study the teachings of Confucius. Children also had no freedom to choose their husbands or wives. Their parents would choose for them. Even after marriage, children are to stay with the groom’s parents and fulfill their duty to take care of them for the rest of their lives.

Despite the good and the bad effects of Confucianism, it has been an integral part in shaping the history of China. Even today, the teachings of Confucius live on as his philosophies and ideals are passed on to the next generation.

Achievements of the Han Dynasty

The achievements of the Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE), often regarded by scholars and the ancient Chinese themselves as the golden era of Chinese culture, would have lasting effects on all who followed, particularly in the areas of government, law, philosophy, history, and art. The thirst for new knowledge, ambitious experimentation, and unstinting intellectual enquiry are hallmarks of Han culture, and they helped, amongst other achievements, to develop the Silk Road trade network, invent new materials such as paper and glazed pottery, formulate history writing, and greatly improve agricultural tools, techniques, and yields.

The Silk Road

The Han Dynasty saw the first official trade with western cultures from around 130 BCE. Many types of goods from foodstuffs to manufactured luxuries were traded, and none were more typical of ancient China than silk. As a result of this commodity, the trade routes became known as the Silk Road or Sichou Zhi Lu. The 'road' was actually an entire network of overland camel caravan routes connecting China to the Middle East and hence is now often referred to as the Silk Routes by historians. Goods were imported and exported via middlemen as no single trader ever travelled the length of the routes. Eventually, the network would spread not only to neighbouring states such as the Korean kingdoms and Japan but also to the great empires of India, Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Besides physical goods, one of the major consequences of the Silk Road was the exchange of ideas between cultures carried not only by traders but also diplomats, scholars, and monks who travelled the routes across Asia. Languages (especially the written word), religions (notably Buddhism), foodstuffs, technology, and artistic ideas were spread so that cultures across Asia and Europe helped each other to develop.


Philosophy & Education

Confucianism was officially adopted as the state ideology of the Han dynasty but, in practice, principles of Legalism were followed too, which created a philosophical blend aimed at ensuring the welfare of all based on strong legal principles. Taoism was another influential philosophy in politics and a hallmark of the thinking of the period is one of open enquiry into any ideology which could adequately explain humanity's position in the cosmos and forge a link between government, religion, and cosmology. Theories involving numbers were particularly popular with intellectuals who searched for an all-embracing ideology to explain all facets of the human condition.

One tangible consequence of the promotion of Confucianism and other philosophies by the state was the building of schools and colleges to promote literacy so that the classic texts of Chinese thought might be studied. An Imperial Academy was established in 124 BCE for scholars to study in depth the Confucian and Taoist Classics. By the end of the Han period, the Academy was training an impressive 30,000 students each year. In general, the state held the view that education was a mark of a civilised society, although the expense of sending young people to school severely limited access to education in practice. Society remained highly stratified but, at least for those who had the means to an education, there was now the possibility of access to the state bureaucracy.


In addition to the promotion of philosophy, the destruction of many books on all manner of topics by the Qin emperor Shi Huangti (259-210 BCE) necessitated a massive rewriting project to preserve from memory the accumulated knowledge within those lost works. Inevitably perhaps, while reformulating the past, Han writers were selective according to their own ideas and those of their patrons but, so too, they very often put on record contemporary thought so that the Han dynasty is one of the best-documented periods of Chinese history.

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The earliest surviving literature from ancient China dates to the Han period, although the possibility that earlier writings were deliberately destroyed or have simply been lost over time is not to be discounted. The most famous Han work is undoubtedly the Shiji (Historical Records or Records of the Grand Historian) by Sima Qian (135 - 86 BCE) who is often cited as China's first historian. Qian was actually the court's Grand Astrologer, but as this also meant he had to compile records of past omens and create guides for future imperial decisions, he was, in effect, a historian. The Shiji draws on both oral and written records, including those in the imperial archives, and was begun by Qian's father Sima Tan. The Shiji goes much further than recording astrological phenomena and documents the imperial dynasties in sequence, beginning with early legendary emperors and ending in Qian's own time. Thus, the 130 chapters cover two and a half millennia of history. With a new systematic approach and including descriptions of technological and cultural developments as well as biographies of non-royal famous figures and foreign peoples, the work would hugely influence the official Chinese histories that followed in subsequent dynasties.

Another important Han work and another first is the Canon of Medicine credited to the Yellow Emperor, which is a record of medicine in Han China. The writer Ban Gu (32-92 CE), besides writing his famous history Hanshu (History of the Western Han Dynasty), created a new genre, rhapsody or fu, most famously seen in his Rhapsody on the Two Capitals. Involving dynamic dialogues between two characters, his works are valuable records of local customs and events. By the 1st century CE, the surge in Han literature meant that the imperial library boasted some 600 titles which included works of philosophy, military treatises, calendars, and works of science.


The stability provided by the Han government and consequent accumulation of wealth by its more fortunate citizens resulted in a flourishing of the arts. Wealthy individuals became both patrons and consumers of fine art works. This demand led to innovations and experimentation in art, notably the first glazed pottery and figure painting. The latter was the first Chinese attempts at realistic portraiture of ordinary people. Capturing natural landscapes became another preoccupation of Han artists. Art was previously concerned with religion and ceremonies but now came to focus on people and everyday life activities such as hunting and farming. Tomb paintings, especially, sought to pick out the individual facial characteristics of people and depict narrative scenes.


One invention which greatly helped the spread of literature and literacy was the invention of refined paper in 105 CE. The discovery, using pressed plant fibres which were then dried in sheets, was credited to one Cai Lun, the director of the Imperial Workshops at Luoyang. Heavy bamboo or wooden strips and expensive silk had long been used as a surface for writing but, after centuries of endeavour, a lighter and cheaper alternative had finally been found in the form of paper scrolls. The combination of brush, ink, and paper would establish painting and calligraphy as the most important areas of art in China for the next two millennia. One other Han innovation was to use paper to produce topographical and military maps. Drawn to a reasonably accurate scale they included colour-coding, symbols for local features, and specific areas of enlarged scale.

Science & Technology

The Han period witnessed a number of important technical inventions and improvements which helped make agriculture much more efficient than in previous times. Better metalworking skills and the wider use of iron meant tools were more effective. The plough, in particular, was greatly improved, and now had two blades instead of one. It was more easily directed, too, with the addition of two handles. The arrival of the wheelbarrow helped farmers shift loads more efficiently. Fans were used to separate kernels from the chaff, and hand mills ground up the flour. Irrigation was greatly improved by mechanised pumps - worked either by a pedal or using a pole with a counterweighted bucket - and wells were made more efficient reservoirs by lining them with bricks. Meanwhile, crop management became more sophisticated with greater care taken over the timing of planting and the sowing of alternate crops in successive rows to maximise yields.


Another area which benefitted from Han investment was the construction of a more extensive road and waterways network, as well as better built harbours. Weaving greatly improved under the Han, especially of silk which, using new foot-powered looms, could have as many as 220 warp threads per centimetre of cloth. Innovations were also made in science such as the use of sundials and primitive seismographs. In medicine, one popular development was the use of acupuncture.

In warfare, the crossbow became much more widely used and now came in more sizes from heavy mounted artillery to light handheld versions. The Han made a far greater use of cavalry than their predecessors, too, making the battlefield a more dynamic and deadly arena. Han swords, halberds, and armour were noted for their craftsmanship and benefitted from the use of iron and low-grade steel.


Social Changes

Although not necessarily 'achievements', the Han government did pass laws which resulted in several significant changes in the ordinary lives of its citizens. Universal conscription had been a feature of an unsettled China for centuries but, in 31 CE, the Han abolished it. Finally recognising that forcing farmers to fight was not the best way to achieve a disciplined and skilled fighting force, they instead (more or less) created a professional army. The sheer size of the Han empire necessitated a huge number of soldiers to defend the borders, but these were now recruited from available mercenaries, conquered tribes, and released prisoners instead of full-time farmers. In addition, the Han government invested some 10% of its revenue on extravagant gifts to rival states. Many states sent tribute in return, and the establishment of strong diplomatic relations ensured that less investment was needed in military defence.

One of the notable changes in the family's dealings with the state was the government's decision to nominate and deal with only one representative of each family unit. Typically, this role went to the most senior male but it could be temporarily held by a woman if her sons were not yet of age. Family ties were strengthened by making everyone responsible for the conduct of each other member in the unit. If one family member was convicted of a serious crime, for example, then the other family members could be enslaved as a wider punishment. Another change was inheritance. Whereas previously the senior male inherited everything, the Han changed the rules to equally distribute inheritance among all male siblings. Daughters still got nothing, though, and their only hope for some financial independence was the dowry their family might provide for them.

An unfortunate consequence of the changes in inheritance was that, over time, farms became smaller and smaller as they were parcelled out to brothers, and it became more difficult to support a family on a single plot. This, in turn, led to small farmers selling out and preferring to work for larger landed estate owners, eventually concentrating land ownership in fewer and fewer hands. Ultimately, the combination of the loss of tax revenue this caused, the general disaffection of the peasantry, and the increase in wealth and power of the aristocracy would lead to the overthrow of the Han dynasty and the splitting of China into three warring kingdoms.

Silk Road

In 138 B.C., a man named Zhang Qian was sent on a mission by Emperor Wu to make contact with tribes to the west. He and his party were captured by the Xiognu tribe, but Zhang Qian escaped and continued west. He reached Afghanistan, in an area known as Bactria, which was under Greek control.

In Bactria, Zhang Qian saw bamboo and textiles brought from China and asked how they had gotten there. He was told that the items came from a kingdom in Afghanistan called Shendu.

Thirteen years after he had left, Zhang Qian made his way back to the Emperor, told him of what he had seen and mapped out a route to send an expedition back there. The map and this route was used more and more, and developed into the international trade route known as the Silk Road.

Map showing the expansion of Han dynasty in 2nd century BC. The orange line marks Zhang Qians travels.

SY/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0


According to the Records of the Grand Historian, after the collapse of the Qin dynasty the hegemon Xiang Yu appointed Liu Bang as prince of the small fief of Hanzhong, named after its location on the Han River (in modern southwest Shaanxi). Following Liu Bang's victory in the Chu–Han Contention, the resulting Han dynasty was named after the Hanzhong fief. [7]

Western Han Edit

China's first imperial dynasty was the Qin dynasty (221–207 BC). The Qin united the Chinese Warring States by conquest, but their regime became unstable after the death of the first emperor Qin Shi Huang. Within four years, the dynasty's authority had collapsed in the face of rebellion. [8] Two former rebel leaders, Xiang Yu (d. 202 BC) of Chu and Liu Bang (d. 195 BC) of Han, engaged in a war to decide who would become hegemon of China, which had fissured into 18 kingdoms, each claiming allegiance to either Xiang Yu or Liu Bang. [9] Although Xiang Yu proved to be an effective commander, Liu Bang defeated him at Battle of Gaixia (202 BC), in modern-day Anhui. Liu Bang assumed the title "emperor" (huangdi) at the urging of his followers and is known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu ( r . 202–195 BC). [10] Chang'an (known today as Xi'an) was chosen as the new capital of the reunified empire under Han. [11]

At the beginning of the Western Han (traditional Chinese: 西漢 simplified Chinese: 西汉 pinyin: Xīhàn ), also known as the Former Han (traditional Chinese: 前漢 simplified Chinese: 前汉 pinyin: Qiánhàn ) dynasty, thirteen centrally controlled commanderies—including the capital region—existed in the western third of the empire, while the eastern two-thirds were divided into ten semi-autonomous kingdoms. [12] To placate his prominent commanders from the war with Chu, Emperor Gaozu enfeoffed some of them as kings.

By 196 BC, the Han court had replaced all but one of these kings (the exception being in Changsha) with royal Liu family members, since the loyalty of non-relatives to the throne was questioned. [12] After several insurrections by Han kings—the largest being the Rebellion of the Seven States in 154 BC—the imperial court enacted a series of reforms beginning in 145 BC limiting the size and power of these kingdoms and dividing their former territories into new centrally controlled commanderies. [13] Kings were no longer able to appoint their own staff this duty was assumed by the imperial court. [14] [15] Kings became nominal heads of their fiefs and collected a portion of tax revenues as their personal incomes. [14] [15] The kingdoms were never entirely abolished and existed throughout the remainder of Western and Eastern Han. [16]

To the north of China proper, the nomadic Xiongnu chieftain Modu Chanyu ( r . 209–174 BC) conquered various tribes inhabiting the eastern portion of the Eurasian Steppe. By the end of his reign, he controlled Manchuria, Mongolia, and the Tarim Basin, subjugating over twenty states east of Samarkand. [17] [18] [19] Emperor Gaozu was troubled about the abundant Han-manufactured iron weapons traded to the Xiongnu along the northern borders, and he established a trade embargo against the group. [20]

In retaliation, the Xiongnu invaded what is now Shanxi province, where they defeated the Han forces at Baideng in 200 BC. [20] [21] After negotiations, the heqin agreement in 198 BC nominally held the leaders of the Xiongnu and the Han as equal partners in a royal marriage alliance, but the Han were forced to send large amounts of tribute items such as silk clothes, food, and wine to the Xiongnu. [22] [23] [24]

Despite the tribute and a negotiation between Laoshang Chanyu ( r . 174–160 BC) and Emperor Wen ( r . 180–157 BC) to reopen border markets, many of the Chanyu's Xiongnu subordinates chose not to obey the treaty and periodically raided Han territories south of the Great Wall for additional goods. [25] [26] [27] In a court conference assembled by Emperor Wu ( r . 141–87 BC) in 135 BC, the majority consensus of the ministers was to retain the heqin agreement. Emperor Wu accepted this, despite continuing Xiongnu raids. [28] [29]

However, a court conference the following year convinced the majority that a limited engagement at Mayi involving the assassination of the Chanyu would throw the Xiongnu realm into chaos and benefit the Han. [30] [31] When this plot failed in 133 BC, [32] Emperor Wu launched a series of massive military invasions into Xiongnu territory. The assault culminated in 119 BC at the Battle of Mobei, where the Han commanders Huo Qubing (d. 117 BC) and Wei Qing (d. 106 BC) forced the Xiongnu court to flee north of the Gobi Desert. [33] [34]

In 121 BC, Han forces expelled the Xiongnu from a vast territory spanning the Hexi Corridor to Lop Nur. They repelled a joint Xiongnu-Qiang invasion of this northwestern territory in 111 BC. In that year, the Han court established four new frontier commanderies in this region: Jiuquan, Zhangyi, Dunhuang, and Wuwei. [37] [38] [39] The majority of people on the frontier were soldiers. [40] On occasion, the court forcibly moved peasant farmers to new frontier settlements, along with government-owned slaves and convicts who performed hard labor. [41] The court also encouraged commoners, such as farmers, merchants, landowners, and hired laborers, to voluntarily migrate to the frontier. [42]

Even before Han's expansion into Central Asia, diplomat Zhang Qian's travels from 139 to 125 BC had established Chinese contacts with many surrounding civilizations. Zhang encountered Dayuan (Fergana), Kangju (Sogdiana), and Daxia (Bactria, formerly the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom) he also gathered information on Shendu (Indus River valley of North India) and Anxi (the Parthian Empire). All of these countries eventually received Han embassies. [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] These connections marked the beginning of the Silk Road trade network that extended to the Roman Empire, bringing Han items like silk to Rome and Roman goods such as glasswares to China. [48] [49]

From roughly 115 to 60 BC, Han forces fought the Xiongnu over control of the oasis city-states in the Tarim Basin. Han was eventually victorious and established the Protectorate of the Western Regions in 60 BC, which dealt with the region's defense and foreign affairs. [50] [51] [52] [53] The Han also expanded southward. The naval conquest of Nanyue in 111 BC expanded the Han realm into what are now modern Guangdong, Guangxi, and northern Vietnam. Yunnan was brought into the Han realm with the conquest of the Dian Kingdom in 109 BC, followed by parts of the Korean Peninsula with the Han conquest of Gojoseon and colonial establishments of Xuantu Commandery and Lelang Commandery in 108 BC. [54] [55] In China's first known nationwide census taken in 2 AD, the population was registered as having 57,671,400 individuals in 12,366,470 households. [3]

To pay for his military campaigns and colonial expansion, Emperor Wu nationalized several private industries. He created central government monopolies administered largely by former merchants. These monopolies included salt, iron, and liquor production, as well as bronze-coin currency. The liquor monopoly lasted only from 98 to 81 BC, and the salt and iron monopolies were eventually abolished in early Eastern Han. The issuing of coinage remained a central government monopoly throughout the rest of the Han dynasty. [56] [57] [58] [59] [60] [61]

The government monopolies were eventually repealed when a political faction known as the Reformists gained greater influence in the court. The Reformists opposed the Modernist faction that had dominated court politics in Emperor Wu's reign and during the subsequent regency of Huo Guang (d. 68 BC). The Modernists argued for an aggressive and expansionary foreign policy supported by revenues from heavy government intervention in the private economy. The Reformists, however, overturned these policies, favoring a cautious, non-expansionary approach to foreign policy, frugal budget reform, and lower tax-rates imposed on private entrepreneurs. [62] [63] [64]

Wang Mang's reign and civil war Edit

11 km (7 miles) northeast of the Western-Han-era Yumen Pass, were built during the Western Han (202 BC–9 AD) and significantly rebuilt during the Western Jin (280–316 AD). [65]

Wang Zhengjun (71 BC–13 AD) was first empress, then empress dowager, and finally grand empress dowager during the reigns of the Emperors Yuan ( r . 49–33 BC), Cheng ( r . 33–7 BC), and Ai ( r . 7–1 BC), respectively. During this time, a succession of her male relatives held the title of regent. [66] [67] Following the death of Ai, Wang Zhengjun's nephew Wang Mang (45 BC–23 AD) was appointed regent as Marshall of State on 16 August under Emperor Ping ( r . 1 BC – 6 AD). [68]

When Ping died on 3 February 6 AD, Ruzi Ying (d. 25 AD) was chosen as the heir and Wang Mang was appointed to serve as acting emperor for the child. [68] Wang promised to relinquish his control to Liu Ying once he came of age. [68] Despite this promise, and against protest and revolts from the nobility, Wang Mang claimed on 10 January that the divine Mandate of Heaven called for the end of the Han dynasty and the beginning of his own: the Xin dynasty (9–23 AD). [69] [70] [71]

Wang Mang initiated a series of major reforms that were ultimately unsuccessful. These reforms included outlawing slavery, nationalizing land to equally distribute between households, and introducing new currencies, a change which debased the value of coinage. [72] [73] [74] [75] Although these reforms provoked considerable opposition, Wang's regime met its ultimate downfall with the massive floods of c. 3 AD and 11 AD. Gradual silt buildup in the Yellow River had raised its water level and overwhelmed the flood control works. The Yellow River split into two new branches: one emptying to the north and the other to the south of the Shandong Peninsula, though Han engineers managed to dam the southern branch by 70 AD. [76] [77] [78]

The flood dislodged thousands of peasant farmers, many of whom joined roving bandit and rebel groups such as the Red Eyebrows to survive. [76] [77] [78] Wang Mang's armies were incapable of quelling these enlarged rebel groups. Eventually, an insurgent mob forced their way into the Weiyang Palace and killed Wang Mang. [79] [80]

Under Guangwu's rule the Han Empire was restored. Guangwu made Luoyang his capital in 25 AD, and by 27 AD his officers Deng Yu and Feng Yi had forced the Red Eyebrows to surrender and executed their leaders for treason. [84] [85] From 26 until 36 AD, Emperor Guangwu had to wage war against other regional warlords who claimed the title of emperor when these warlords were defeated, China reunified under the Han. [86] [87]

The period between the foundation of the Han dynasty and Wang Mang's reign is known as the Western Han (traditional Chinese: 西漢 simplified Chinese: 西汉 pinyin: Xīhàn ) or Former Han (traditional Chinese: 前漢 simplified Chinese: 前汉 pinyin: Qiánhàn ) (206 BC–9 AD). During this period the capital was at Chang'an (modern Xi'an). From the reign of Guangwu the capital was moved eastward to Luoyang. The era from his reign until the fall of Han is known as the Eastern Han or Later Han (25–220 AD). [88]

Eastern Han Edit

The Eastern Han (traditional Chinese: 東漢 simplified Chinese: 东汉 pinyin: Dōnghàn ), also known as the Later Han (traditional Chinese: 後漢 simplified Chinese: 后汉 pinyin: Hòuhàn ), formally began on 5 August AD 25, when Liu Xiu became Emperor Guangwu of Han. [89] During the widespread rebellion against Wang Mang, the state of Goguryeo was free to raid Han's Korean commanderies Han did not reaffirm its control over the region until AD 30. [90]

The Trưng Sisters of Vietnam rebelled against Han in AD 40. Their rebellion was crushed by Han general Ma Yuan (d. AD 49) in a campaign from AD 42–43. [91] [92] Wang Mang renewed hostilities against the Xiongnu, who were estranged from Han until their leader Bi (比), a rival claimant to the throne against his cousin Punu (蒲奴), submitted to Han as a tributary vassal in AD 50. This created two rival Xiongnu states: the Southern Xiongnu led by Bi, an ally of Han, and the Northern Xiongnu led by Punu, an enemy of Han. [93] [94]

During the turbulent reign of Wang Mang, China lost control over the Tarim Basin, which was conquered by the Northern Xiongnu in AD 63 and used as a base to invade the Hexi Corridor in Gansu. [95] Dou Gu (d. 88 AD) defeated the Northern Xiongnu at the Battle of Yiwulu in AD 73, evicting them from Turpan and chasing them as far as Lake Barkol before establishing a garrison at Hami. [96] After the new Protector General of the Western Regions Chen Mu (d. AD 75) was killed by allies of the Xiongnu in Karasahr and Kucha, the garrison at Hami was withdrawn. [96] [97]

At the Battle of Ikh Bayan in AD 89, Dou Xian (d. AD 92) defeated the Northern Xiongnu chanyu who then retreated into the Altai Mountains. [96] [98] After the Northern Xiongnu fled into the Ili River valley in AD 91, the nomadic Xianbei occupied the area from the borders of the Buyeo Kingdom in Manchuria to the Ili River of the Wusun people. [99] The Xianbei reached their apogee under Tanshihuai (檀石槐) (d. AD 180), who consistently defeated Chinese armies. However, Tanshihuai's confederation disintegrated after his death. [100]

Ban Chao (d. AD 102) enlisted the aid of the Kushan Empire, occupying the area of modern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, to subdue Kashgar and its ally Sogdiana. [101] [102] When a request by Kushan ruler Vima Kadphises ( r . c. 90 – c. 100 AD ) for a marriage alliance with the Han was rejected in AD 90, he sent his forces to Wakhan (Afghanistan) to attack Ban Chao. The conflict ended with the Kushans withdrawing because of lack of supplies. [101] [102] In AD 91, the office of Protector General of the Western Regions was reinstated when it was bestowed on Ban Chao. [103]

Foreign travelers to Eastern-Han China include Buddhist monks who translated works into Chinese, such as An Shigao from Parthia, and Lokaksema from Kushan-era Gandhara, India. [105] [106] In addition to tributary relations with the Kushans, the Han Empire received gifts from the Parthian Empire, from a king in modern Burma, from a ruler in Japan, and initiated an unsuccessful mission to Daqin (Rome) in AD 97 with Gan Ying as emissary. [107] [108]

A Roman embassy of Emperor Marcus Aurelius ( r . 161–180 AD) is recorded in the Weilüe and Hou Hanshu to have reached the court of Emperor Huan of Han ( r . 146–168 AD) in AD 166, [109] [110] yet Rafe de Crespigny asserts that this was most likely a group of Roman merchants. [111] [112] In addition to Roman glasswares and coins found in China, [113] [114] Roman medallions from the reign of Antoninus Pius and his adopted son Marcus Aurelius have been found at Óc Eo in Vietnam. [114] [115] This was near the commandery of Rinan (also Jiaozhi) where Chinese sources claim the Romans first landed, as well as embassies from Tianzhu (in northern India) in the years 159 and 161. [116] [110] Óc Eo is also thought to be the port city "Cattigara" described by Ptolemy in his Geography (c. 150 AD) as lying east of the Golden Chersonese (Malay Peninsula) along the Magnus Sinus (i.e. Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea), where a Greek sailor had visited. [117] [118] [119] [120]

Emperor Zhang's ( r . 75–88 AD) reign came to be viewed by later Eastern Han scholars as the high point of the dynastic house. [121] Subsequent reigns were increasingly marked by eunuch intervention in court politics and their involvement in the violent power struggles of the imperial consort clans. [122] [123] In 92 AD, with the aid of the eunuch Zheng Zhong (d. 107 AD), Emperor He ( r . 88–105 AD) had Empress Dowager Dou (d. 97 AD) put under house arrest and her clan stripped of power. This was in revenge for Dou's purging of the clan of his natural mother—Consort Liang—and then concealing her identity from him. [124] [125] After Emperor He's death, his wife Empress Deng Sui (d. 121 AD) managed state affairs as the regent empress dowager during a turbulent financial crisis and widespread Qiang rebellion that lasted from 107 to 118 AD. [126] [127]

When Empress Dowager Deng died, Emperor An ( r . 106–125 AD) was convinced by the accusations of the eunuchs Li Run ( 李閏 ) and Jiang Jing ( 江京 ) that Deng and her family had planned to depose him. An dismissed Deng's clan members from office, exiled them and forced many to commit suicide. [128] [129] After An's death, his wife, Empress Dowager Yan (d. 126 AD) placed the child Marquess of Beixiang on the throne in an attempt to retain power within her family. However, palace eunuch Sun Cheng (d. 132 AD) masterminded a successful overthrow of her regime to enthrone Emperor Shun of Han ( r . 125–144 AD). Yan was placed under house arrest, her relatives were either killed or exiled, and her eunuch allies were slaughtered. [130] [131] The regent Liang Ji (d. 159 AD), brother of Empress Liang Na (d. 150 AD), had the brother-in-law of Consort Deng Mengnü (later empress) (d. 165 AD) killed after Deng Mengnü resisted Liang Ji's attempts to control her. Afterward, Emperor Huan employed eunuchs to depose Liang Ji, who was then forced to commit suicide. [132] [133]

Students from the Imperial University organized a widespread student protest against the eunuchs of Emperor Huan's court. [134] Huan further alienated the bureaucracy when he initiated grandiose construction projects and hosted thousands of concubines in his harem at a time of economic crisis. [135] [136] Palace eunuchs imprisoned the official Li Ying ( 李膺 ) and his associates from the Imperial University on a dubious charge of treason. In 167 AD, the Grand Commandant Dou Wu (d. 168 AD) convinced his son-in-law, Emperor Huan, to release them. [137] However the emperor permanently barred Li Ying and his associates from serving in office, marking the beginning of the Partisan Prohibitions. [137]

Following Huan's death, Dou Wu and the Grand Tutor Chen Fan (d. 168 AD) attempted a coup d'état against the eunuchs Hou Lan (d. 172 AD), Cao Jie (d. 181 AD), and Wang Fu ( 王甫 ). When the plot was uncovered, the eunuchs arrested Empress Dowager Dou (d. 172 AD) and Chen Fan. General Zhang Huan ( 張奐 ) favored the eunuchs. He and his troops confronted Dou Wu and his retainers at the palace gate where each side shouted accusations of treason against the other. When the retainers gradually deserted Dou Wu, he was forced to commit suicide. [138]

Under Emperor Ling ( r . 168–189 AD) the eunuchs had the partisan prohibitions renewed and expanded, while also auctioning off top government offices. [139] [140] Many affairs of state were entrusted to the eunuchs Zhao Zhong (d. 189 AD) and Zhang Rang (d. 189 AD) while Emperor Ling spent much of his time roleplaying with concubines and participating in military parades. [141]

End of the Han dynasty Edit

The Partisan Prohibitions were repealed during the Yellow Turban Rebellion and Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion in 184 AD, largely because the court did not want to continue to alienate a significant portion of the gentry class who might otherwise join the rebellions. [139] The Yellow Turbans and Five-Pecks-of-Rice adherents belonged to two different hierarchical Daoist religious societies led by faith healers Zhang Jue (d. 184 AD) and Zhang Lu (d. 216 AD), respectively.

Zhang Lu's rebellion, in modern northern Sichuan and southern Shaanxi, was not quelled until 215 AD. [142] Zhang Jue's massive rebellion across eight provinces was annihilated by Han forces within a year, however the following decades saw much smaller recurrent uprisings. [143] Although the Yellow Turbans were defeated, many generals appointed during the crisis never disbanded their assembled militia forces and used these troops to amass power outside of the collapsing imperial authority. [144]

General-in-Chief He Jin (d. 189 AD), half-brother to Empress He (d. 189 AD), plotted with Yuan Shao (d. 202 AD) to overthrow the eunuchs by having several generals march to the outskirts of the capital. There, in a written petition to Empress He, they demanded the eunuchs' execution. [145] After a period of hesitation, Empress He consented. When the eunuchs discovered this, however, they had her brother He Miao ( 何苗 ) rescind the order. [146] [147] The eunuchs assassinated He Jin on September 22, 189 AD.

Yuan Shao then besieged Luoyang's Northern Palace while his brother Yuan Shu (d. 199 AD) besieged the Southern Palace. On September 25 both palaces were breached and approximately two thousand eunuchs were killed. [148] [149] Zhang Rang had previously fled with Emperor Shao ( r . 189– AD) and his brother Liu Xie—the future Emperor Xian of Han ( r . 189–220 AD). While being pursued by the Yuan brothers, Zhang committed suicide by jumping into the Yellow River. [150]

General Dong Zhuo (d. 192 AD) found the young emperor and his brother wandering in the countryside. He escorted them safely back to the capital and was made Minister of Works, taking control of Luoyang and forcing Yuan Shao to flee. [151] After Dong Zhuo demoted Emperor Shao and promoted his brother Liu Xie as Emperor Xian, Yuan Shao led a coalition of former officials and officers against Dong, who burned Luoyang to the ground and resettled the court at Chang'an in May 191 AD. Dong Zhuo later poisoned Emperor Shao. [152]

Dong was killed by his adopted son Lü Bu (d. 198 AD) in a plot hatched by Wang Yun (d. 192 AD). [153] Emperor Xian fled from Chang'an in 195 AD to the ruins of Luoyang. Xian was persuaded by Cao Cao (155–220 AD), then Governor of Yan Province in modern western Shandong and eastern Henan, to move the capital to Xuchang in 196 AD. [154] [155]

Yuan Shao challenged Cao Cao for control over the emperor. Yuan's power was greatly diminished after Cao defeated him at the Battle of Guandu in 200 AD. After Yuan died, Cao killed Yuan Shao's son Yuan Tan (173–205 AD), who had fought with his brothers over the family inheritance. [156] [157] His brothers Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi were killed in 207 AD by Gongsun Kang (d. 221 AD), who sent their heads to Cao Cao. [156] [157]

After Cao's defeat at the naval Battle of Red Cliffs in 208 AD, China was divided into three spheres of influence, with Cao Cao dominating the north, Sun Quan (182–252 AD) dominating the south, and Liu Bei (161–223 AD) dominating the west. [158] [159] Cao Cao died in March 220 AD. By December his son Cao Pi (187–226 AD) had Emperor Xian relinquish the throne to him and is known posthumously as Emperor Wen of Wei. This formally ended the Han dynasty and initiated an age of conflict between three states: Cao Wei, Eastern Wu, and Shu Han. [160] [161]

Social class Edit

In the hierarchical social order, the emperor was at the apex of Han society and government. However the emperor was often a minor, ruled over by a regent such as the empress dowager or one of her male relatives. [162] Ranked immediately below the emperor were the kings who were of the same Liu family clan. [15] [163] The rest of society, including nobles lower than kings and all commoners excluding slaves belonged to one of twenty ranks (ershi gongcheng 二十公乘 ).

Each successive rank gave its holder greater pensions and legal privileges. The highest rank, of full marquess, came with a state pension and a territorial fiefdom. Holders of the rank immediately below, that of ordinary marquess, received a pension, but had no territorial rule. [164] [165] Officials who served in government belonged to the wider commoner social class and were ranked just below nobles in social prestige. The highest government officials could be enfeoffed as marquesses. [166]

By the Eastern Han period, local elites of unattached scholars, teachers, students, and government officials began to identify themselves as members of a larger, nationwide gentry class with shared values and a commitment to mainstream scholarship. [167] [168] When the government became noticeably corrupt in mid-to-late Eastern Han, many gentrymen even considered the cultivation of morally grounded personal relationships more important than serving in public office. [136] [169]

The farmer, or specifically the small landowner-cultivator, was ranked just below scholars and officials in the social hierarchy. Other agricultural cultivators were of a lower status, such as tenants, wage laborers, and slaves. [170] [171] [172] [173] The Han dynasty made adjustments to slavery in China and saw an increase in agricultural slaves. Artisans, technicians, tradespeople and craftsmen had a legal and socioeconomic status between that of owner-cultivator farmers and common merchants. [174]

State-registered merchants, who were forced by law to wear white-colored clothes and pay high commercial taxes, were considered by the gentry as social parasites with a contemptible status. [175] [176] These were often petty shopkeepers of urban marketplaces merchants such as industrialists and itinerant traders working between a network of cities could avoid registering as merchants and were often wealthier and more powerful than the vast majority of government officials. [176] [177]

Wealthy landowners, such as nobles and officials, often provided lodging for retainers who provided valuable work or duties, sometimes including fighting bandits or riding into battle. Unlike slaves, retainers could come and go from their master's home as they pleased. [178] Medical physicians, pig breeders, and butchers had a fairly high social status, while occultist diviners, runners, and messengers had low status. [179] [180]

Marriage, gender, and kinship Edit

The Han-era family was patrilineal and typically had four to five nuclear family members living in one household. Multiple generations of extended family members did not occupy the same house, unlike families of later dynasties. [183] [184] According to Confucian family norms, various family members were treated with different levels of respect and intimacy. For example, there were different accepted time frames for mourning the death of a father versus a paternal uncle. [185]

Marriages were highly ritualized, particularly for the wealthy, and included many important steps. The giving of betrothal gifts, known as bridewealth and dowry, were especially important. A lack of either was considered dishonorable and the woman would have been seen not as a wife, but as a concubine. [186] Arranged marriages were normal, with the father's input on his offspring's spouse being considered more important than the mother's. [187] [188]

Monogamous marriages were also normal, although nobles and high officials were wealthy enough to afford and support concubines as additional lovers. [189] [190] Under certain conditions dictated by custom, not law, both men and women were able to divorce their spouses and remarry. [191] [192] However, a woman who had been widowed continued to belong to her husband's family after his death. In order to remarry, the widow would have to be returned to her family in exchange for a ransom fee. Her children would not be allowed to go with her. [186]

Apart from the passing of noble titles or ranks, inheritance practices did not involve primogeniture each son received an equal share of the family property. [193] Unlike the practice in later dynasties, the father usually sent his adult married sons away with their portions of the family fortune. [194] Daughters received a portion of the family fortune through their marriage dowries, though this was usually much less than the shares of sons. [195] A different distribution of the remainder could be specified in a will, but it is unclear how common this was. [196]

Women were expected to obey the will of their father, then their husband, and then their adult son in old age. However, it is known from contemporary sources that there were many deviations to this rule, especially in regard to mothers over their sons, and empresses who ordered around and openly humiliated their fathers and brothers. [197] Women were exempt from the annual corvée labor duties, but often engaged in a range of income-earning occupations aside from their domestic chores of cooking and cleaning. [198]

The most common occupation for women was weaving clothes for the family, sale at market or for large textile enterprises that employed hundreds of women. Other women helped on their brothers' farms or became singers, dancers, sorceresses, respected medical physicians, and successful merchants who could afford their own silk clothes. [199] [200] Some women formed spinning collectives, aggregating the resources of several different families. [201]

Education, literature, and philosophy Edit

The early Western Han court simultaneously accepted the philosophical teachings of Legalism, Huang-Lao Daoism, and Confucianism in making state decisions and shaping government policy. [202] [203] However, the Han court under Emperor Wu gave Confucianism exclusive patronage. He abolished all academic chairs or erudites (bóshì 博士) not dealing with the Confucian Five Classics in 136 BCE and encouraged nominees for office to receive a Confucian-based education at the Imperial University that he established in 124 BCE. [204] [205] [206] [207]

Unlike the original ideology espoused by Confucius, or Kongzi (551–479 BCE), Han Confucianism in Emperor Wu's reign was the creation of Dong Zhongshu (179–104 BCE). Dong was a scholar and minor official who aggregated the ethical Confucian ideas of ritual, filial piety, and harmonious relationships with five phases and yin-yang cosmologies. [208] [209] Much to the interest of the ruler, Dong's synthesis justified the imperial system of government within the natural order of the universe. [210]

The Imperial University grew in importance as the student body grew to over 30,000 by the 2nd century CE. [211] [212] A Confucian-based education was also made available at commandery-level schools and private schools opened in small towns, where teachers earned respectable incomes from tuition payments. [213]

Some important texts were created and studied by scholars. Philosophical works written by Yang Xiong (53 BCE – 18 CE), Huan Tan (43 BCE – 28 CE), Wang Chong (27–100 CE), and Wang Fu (78–163 CE) questioned whether human nature was innately good or evil and posed challenges to Dong's universal order. [217] The Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Tan (d. 110 BCE) and his son Sima Qian (145–86 BCE) established the standard model for all of imperial China's Standard Histories, such as the Book of Han written by Ban Biao (3–54 CE), his son Ban Gu (32–92 CE), and his daughter Ban Zhao (45–116 CE). [218] [219] There were dictionaries such as the Shuowen Jiezi by Xu Shen (c. 58 – c. 147 CE) and the Fangyan by Yang Xiong. [220] [221]

Biographies on important figures were written by various gentrymen. [222] Han dynasty poetry was dominated by the fu genre, which achieved its greatest prominence during the reign of Emperor Wu. [219] [223] [224] [225] [226]

Law and order Edit

Han scholars such as Jia Yi (201–169 BCE) portrayed the previous Qin dynasty as a brutal regime. However, archeological evidence from Zhangjiashan and Shuihudi reveal that many of the statutes in the Han law code compiled by Chancellor Xiao He (d. 193 BCE) were derived from Qin law. [228] [229] [230]

Various cases for rape, physical abuse and murder were prosecuted in court. Women, although usually having fewer rights by custom, were allowed to level civil and criminal charges against men. [231] [232] While suspects were jailed, convicted criminals were never imprisoned. Instead, punishments were commonly monetary fines, periods of forced hard labor for convicts, and the penalty of death by beheading. [233] Early Han punishments of torturous mutilation were borrowed from Qin law. A series of reforms abolished mutilation punishments with progressively less-severe beatings by the bastinado. [234]

Acting as a judge in lawsuits was one of many duties of the county magistrate and Administrators of commanderies. Complex, high-profile or unresolved cases were often deferred to the Minister of Justice in the capital or even the emperor. [235] In each Han county was several districts, each overseen by a chief of police. Order in the cities was maintained by government officers in the marketplaces and constables in the neighborhoods. [236] [237]

Food Edit

The most common staple crops consumed during Han were wheat, barley, foxtail millet, proso millet, rice, and beans. [240] Commonly eaten fruits and vegetables included chestnuts, pears, plums, peaches, melons, apricots, strawberries, red bayberries, jujubes, calabash, bamboo shoots, mustard plant, and taro. [241] Domesticated animals that were also eaten included chickens, Mandarin ducks, geese, cows, sheep, pigs, camels, and dogs (various types were bred specifically for food, while most were used as pets). Turtles and fish were taken from streams and lakes. Commonly hunted game, such as owl, pheasant, magpie, sika deer, and Chinese bamboo partridge were consumed. [242] Seasonings included sugar, honey, salt, and soy sauce. [243] Beer and wine were regularly consumed. [244] [245]

Clothing Edit

The types of clothing worn and the materials used during the Han period depended upon social class. Wealthy folk could afford silk robes, skirts, socks, and mittens, coats made of badger or fox fur, duck plumes, and slippers with inlaid leather, pearls, and silk lining. Peasants commonly wore clothes made of hemp, wool, and ferret skins. [246] [247] [248]

Religion, cosmology, and metaphysics Edit

Families throughout Han China made ritual sacrifices of animals and food to deities, spirits, and ancestors at temples and shrines. They believed that these items could be utilized by those in the spiritual realm. [249] It was thought that each person had a two-part soul: the spirit-soul (hun 魂) which journeyed to the afterlife paradise of immortals (xian), and the body-soul (po 魄) which remained in its grave or tomb on earth and was only reunited with the spirit-soul through a ritual ceremony. [245] [250]

In addition to his many other roles, the emperor acted as the highest priest in the land who made sacrifices to Heaven, the main deities known as the Five Powers, and the spirits (shen 神) of mountains and rivers. [251] It was believed that the three realms of Heaven, Earth, and Mankind were linked by natural cycles of yin and yang and the five phases. [252] [253] [254] [255] If the emperor did not behave according to proper ritual, ethics, and morals, he could disrupt the fine balance of these cosmological cycles and cause calamities such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, epidemics, and swarms of locusts. [255] [256] [257]

It was believed that immortality could be achieved if one reached the lands of the Queen Mother of the West or Mount Penglai. [258] [259] Han-era Daoists assembled into small groups of hermits who attempted to achieve immortality through breathing exercises, sexual techniques and use of medical elixirs. [260]

By the 2nd century CE, Daoists formed large hierarchical religious societies such as the Way of the Five Pecks of Rice. Its followers believed that the sage-philosopher Laozi (fl. 6th century BCE ) was a holy prophet who would offer salvation and good health if his devout followers would confess their sins, ban the worship of unclean gods who accepted meat sacrifices and chant sections of the Daodejing. [261]

Buddhism first entered Imperial China through the Silk Road during the Eastern Han, and was first mentioned in 65 CE. [262] [263] Liu Ying (d. 71 CE), a half-brother to Emperor Ming of Han ( r . 57–75 CE), was one of its earliest Chinese adherents, although Chinese Buddhism at this point was heavily associated with Huang-Lao Daoism. [263] China's first known Buddhist temple, the White Horse Temple, was constructed outside the wall of the capital, Luoyang, during Emperor Ming's reign. [264] Important Buddhist canons were translated into Chinese during the 2nd century CE, including the Sutra of Forty-two Chapters, Perfection of Wisdom, Shurangama Sutra, and Pratyutpanna Sutra. [265] [266]

Central government Edit

In Han government, the emperor was the supreme judge and lawgiver, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and sole designator of official nominees appointed to the top posts in central and local administrations those who earned a 600-bushel salary-rank or higher. [267] [268] Theoretically, there were no limits to his power.

However, state organs with competing interests and institutions such as the court conference (tingyi 廷議)—where ministers were convened to reach majority consensus on an issue—pressured the emperor to accept the advice of his ministers on policy decisions. [269] [270] If the emperor rejected a court conference decision, he risked alienating his high ministers. Nevertheless, emperors sometimes did reject the majority opinion reached at court conferences. [271]

Below the emperor were his cabinet members known as the Three Councillors of State (San gong 三公). These were the Chancellor or Minister over the Masses (Chengxiang 丞相 or Da situ 大司徒), the Imperial Counselor or Excellency of Works (Yushi dafu 御史大夫 or Da sikong 大司空), and Grand Commandant or Grand Marshal (Taiwei 太尉 or Da sima 大司馬). [272] [273]

The Chancellor, whose title was changed to 'Minister over the Masses' in 8 BC, was chiefly responsible for drafting the government budget. The Chancellor's other duties included managing provincial registers for land and population, leading court conferences, acting as judge in lawsuits and recommending nominees for high office. He could appoint officials below the salary-rank of 600 bushels. [274] [275]

The Imperial Counselor's chief duty was to conduct disciplinary procedures for officials. He shared similar duties with the Chancellor, such as receiving annual provincial reports. However, when his title was changed to Minister of Works in 8 BC, his chief duty became oversight of public works projects. [276] [277]

The Grand Commandant, whose title was changed to Grand Marshal in 119 BC before reverting to Grand Commandant in 51 AD, was the irregularly posted commander of the military and then regent during the Western Han period. In the Eastern Han era he was chiefly a civil official who shared many of the same censorial powers as the other two Councillors of State. [278] [279]

Ranked below the Three Councillors of State were the Nine Ministers (Jiu qing 九卿), who each headed a specialized ministry. The Minister of Ceremonies (Taichang 太常) was the chief official in charge of religious rites, rituals, prayers and the maintenance of ancestral temples and altars. [280] [281] [282] The Minister of the Household (Guang lu xun 光祿勳) was in charge of the emperor's security within the palace grounds, external imperial parks and wherever the emperor made an outing by chariot. [280] [283]

The Minister of the Guards (Weiwei 衛尉) was responsible for securing and patrolling the walls, towers, and gates of the imperial palaces. [285] [286] The Minister Coachman (Taipu 太僕) was responsible for the maintenance of imperial stables, horses, carriages and coach-houses for the emperor and his palace attendants, as well as the supply of horses for the armed forces. [285] [287] The Minister of Justice (Tingwei 廷尉) was the chief official in charge of upholding, administering, and interpreting the law. [288] [289] The Minister Herald (Da honglu 大鴻臚) was the chief official in charge of receiving honored guests at the imperial court, such as nobles and foreign ambassadors. [290] [291]

The Minister of the Imperial Clan (Zongzheng 宗正) oversaw the imperial court's interactions with the empire's nobility and extended imperial family, such as granting fiefs and titles. [292] [293] The Minister of Finance (Da sinong 大司農) was the treasurer for the official bureaucracy and the armed forces who handled tax revenues and set standards for units of measurement. [294] [295] The Minister Steward (Shaofu 少府) served the emperor exclusively, providing him with entertainment and amusements, proper food and clothing, medicine and physical care, valuables and equipment. [294] [296]

Local government Edit

The Han empire, excluding kingdoms and marquessates, was divided, in descending order of size, into political units of provinces, commanderies, and counties. [297] A county was divided into several districts (xiang 鄉), the latter composed of a group of hamlets (li 里), each containing about a hundred families. [298] [299]

The heads of provinces, whose official title was changed from Inspector to Governor and vice versa several times during Han, were responsible for inspecting several commandery-level and kingdom-level administrations. [300] [301] On the basis of their reports, the officials in these local administrations would be promoted, demoted, dismissed or prosecuted by the imperial court. [302]

A governor could take various actions without permission from the imperial court. The lower-ranked inspector had executive powers only during times of crisis, such as raising militias across the commanderies under his jurisdiction to suppress a rebellion. [297]

A commandery consisted of a group of counties, and was headed by an Administrator. [297] He was the top civil and military leader of the commandery and handled defense, lawsuits, seasonal instructions to farmers and recommendations of nominees for office sent annually to the capital in a quota system first established by Emperor Wu. [303] [304] [305] The head of a large county of about 10,000 households was called a Prefect, while the heads of smaller counties were called Chiefs, and both could be referred to as Magistrates. [306] [307] A Magistrate maintained law and order in his county, registered the populace for taxation, mobilized commoners for annual corvée duties, repaired schools and supervised public works. [307]

Kingdoms and marquessates Edit

Kingdoms—roughly the size of commanderies—were ruled exclusively by the emperor's male relatives as semi-autonomous fiefdoms. Before 157 BC some kingdoms were ruled by non-relatives, granted to them in return for their services to Emperor Gaozu. The administration of each kingdom was very similar to that of the central government. [308] [309] [310] Although the emperor appointed the Chancellor of each kingdom, kings appointed all the remaining civil officials in their fiefs. [308] [309]

However, in 145 BC, after several insurrections by the kings, Emperor Jing removed the kings' rights to appoint officials whose salaries were higher than 400 bushels. [309] The Imperial Counselors and Nine Ministers (excluding the Minister Coachman) of every kingdom were abolished, although the Chancellor was still appointed by the central government. [309]

With these reforms, kings were reduced to being nominal heads of their fiefs, gaining a personal income from only a portion of the taxes collected in their kingdom. [15] Similarly, the officials in the administrative staff of a full marquess's fief were appointed by the central government. A marquess's Chancellor was ranked as the equivalent of a county Prefect. Like a king, the marquess collected a portion of the tax revenues in his fief as personal income. [306] [311]

Up until the reign of Emperor Jing of Han, the Emperors of the Han had great difficulty bringing the vassal kings under control, as kings often switched their allegiance to the Xiongnu Chanyu whenever threatened by Imperial attempts to centralize power. Within the seven years of Han Gaozu's reign, three vassal kings and one marquess either defected to or allied with the Xiongnu. Even imperial princes in control of fiefdoms would sometimes invite the Xiongnu to invade in response to threats by the Emperor to remove their power. The Han emperors moved to secure a treaty with the Chanyu to demarcate authority between them, recognizing each other as the "two masters" (兩主), the sole representatives of their respective peoples, cemented with a marriage alliance (heqin), before eliminating the rebellious vassal kings in 154 BC. This prompted some vassal kings of the Xiongnu to switch their allegiance to the Han emperor from 147 BC. Han court officials were initially hostile to the idea of disrupting the status quo and expanding into the Xiongnu steppe territory. The surrendered Xiongnu were integrated into a parallel military and political structure under the Han Emperor, and opened the avenue for the Han dynasty to challenge the Xiongnu cavalry on the steppe. This also introduced the Han to the interstate networks in the Tarim Basin (Xinjiang), allowing for the expansion of the Han dynasty from a limited regional state to a universalist and cosmopolitan empire through further marriage alliances with another steppe power, the Wusun. [312]

Military Edit

At the beginning of the Han dynasty, every male commoner aged twenty-three was liable for conscription into the military. The minimum age for the military draft was reduced to twenty after Emperor Zhao's ( r . 87–74 BC) reign. [313] Conscripted soldiers underwent one year of training and one year of service as non-professional soldiers. The year of training was served in one of three branches of the armed forces: infantry, cavalry or navy. Soldiers who completed their term of service still needed to train to maintain their skill because they were subject to annual military readiness inspections and could be called up for future service - until this practice was discontinued after 30 AD with the abolishment of much of the conscription system. [314] [315] The year of active service was served either on the frontier, in a king's court or under the Minister of the Guards in the capital. A small professional (full time career) standing army was stationed near the capital. [314] [315]

During the Eastern Han, conscription could be avoided if one paid a commutable tax. The Eastern Han court favored the recruitment of a volunteer army. [316] The volunteer army comprised the Southern Army (Nanjun 南軍), while the standing army stationed in and near the capital was the Northern Army (Beijun 北軍). [317] Led by Colonels (Xiaowei 校尉), the Northern Army consisted of five regiments, each composed of several thousand soldiers. [318] [319] When central authority collapsed after 189 AD, wealthy landowners, members of the aristocracy/nobility, and regional military-governors relied upon their retainers to act as their own personal troops. [320] The latter were known as buqu 部曲, a special social class in Chinese history. [321]

During times of war, the volunteer army was increased, and a much larger militia was raised across the country to supplement the Northern Army. In these circumstances, a General (Jiangjun 將軍) led a division, which was divided into regiments led by Colonels and sometimes Majors (Sima 司馬). Regiments were divided into companies and led by Captains. Platoons were the smallest units of soldiers. [318] [322]

Currency Edit

The Han dynasty inherited the ban liang coin type from the Qin. In the beginning of the Han, Emperor Gaozu closed the government mint in favor of private minting of coins. This decision was reversed in 186 BC by his widow Grand Empress Dowager Lü Zhi (d. 180 BC), who abolished private minting. [323] In 182 BC, Lü Zhi issued a bronze coin that was much lighter in weight than previous coins. This caused widespread inflation that was not reduced until 175 BC when Emperor Wen allowed private minters to manufacture coins that were precisely 2.6 g (0.09 oz) in weight. [323]

In 144 BC Emperor Jing abolished private minting in favor of central-government and commandery-level minting he also introduced a new coin. [324] Emperor Wu introduced another in 120 BC, but a year later he abandoned the ban liangs entirely in favor of the wuzhu (五銖) coin, weighing 3.2 g (0.11 oz). [325] The wuzhu became China's standard coin until the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD). Its use was interrupted briefly by several new currencies introduced during Wang Mang's regime until it was reinstated in 40 AD by Emperor Guangwu. [326] [327] [328]

Since commandery-issued coins were often of inferior quality and lighter weight, the central government closed commandery mints and monopolized the issue of coinage in 113 BC. This Central government issuance of coinage was overseen by the Superintendent of Waterways and Parks, this duty being transferred to the Minister of Finance during Eastern Han. [328] [329]

Taxation and property Edit

Aside from the landowner's land tax paid in a portion of their crop yield, the poll tax and property taxes were paid in coin cash. [330] The annual poll tax rate for adult men and women was 120 coins and 20 coins for minors. Merchants were required to pay a higher rate of 240 coins. [331] The poll tax stimulated a money economy that necessitated the minting of over 28,000,000,000 coins from 118 BC to 5 AD, an average of 220,000,000 coins a year. [332]

The widespread circulation of coin cash allowed successful merchants to invest money in land, empowering the very social class the government attempted to suppress through heavy commercial and property taxes. [333] Emperor Wu even enacted laws which banned registered merchants from owning land, yet powerful merchants were able to avoid registration and own large tracts of land. [334] [335]

The small landowner-cultivators formed the majority of the Han tax base this revenue was threatened during the latter half of Eastern Han when many peasants fell into debt and were forced to work as farming tenants for wealthy landlords. [336] [337] [338] The Han government enacted reforms in order to keep small landowner-cultivators out of debt and on their own farms. These reforms included reducing taxes, temporary remissions of taxes, granting loans and providing landless peasants temporary lodging and work in agricultural colonies until they could recover from their debts. [59] [339]

In 168 BC, the land tax rate was reduced from one-fifteenth of a farming household's crop yield to one-thirtieth, [340] [341] and later to a one-hundredth of a crop yield for the last decades of the dynasty. The consequent loss of government revenue was compensated for by increasing property taxes. [341]

The labor tax took the form of conscripted labor for one month per year, which was imposed upon male commoners aged fifteen to fifty-six. This could be avoided in Eastern Han with a commutable tax, since hired labor became more popular. [314] [342]

Private manufacture and government monopolies Edit

In the early Western Han, a wealthy salt or iron industrialist, whether a semi-autonomous king or wealthy merchant, could boast funds that rivaled the imperial treasury and amass a peasant workforce of over a thousand. This kept many peasants away from their farms and denied the government a significant portion of its land tax revenue. [343] [344] To eliminate the influence of such private entrepreneurs, Emperor Wu nationalized the salt and iron industries in 117 BC and allowed many of the former industrialists to become officials administering the state monopolies. [345] [346] [347] By Eastern Han times, the central government monopolies were repealed in favor of production by commandery and county administrations, as well as private businessmen. [345] [348]

Liquor was another profitable private industry nationalized by the central government in 98 BC. However, this was repealed in 81 BC and a property tax rate of two coins for every 0.2 L (0.05 gallons) was levied for those who traded it privately. [349] [350] By 110 BC Emperor Wu also interfered with the profitable trade in grain when he eliminated speculation by selling government-stored grain at a lower price than demanded by merchants. [59] Apart from Emperor Ming's creation of a short-lived Office for Price Adjustment and Stabilization, which was abolished in 68 AD, central-government price control regulations were largely absent during the Eastern Han. [351]

The Han dynasty was a unique period in the development of premodern Chinese science and technology, comparable to the level of scientific and technological growth during the Song dynasty (960–1279). [353] [354]

Writing materials Edit

In the 1st millennium BC, typical ancient Chinese writing materials were bronzewares, animal bones, and bamboo slips or wooden boards. By the beginning of the Han dynasty, the chief writing materials were clay tablets, silk cloth, hemp paper, [355] [356] and rolled scrolls made from bamboo strips sewn together with hempen string these were passed through drilled holes and secured with clay stamps. [357] [358] [359]

The oldest known Chinese piece of hempen paper dates to the 2nd century BC. [360] [355] The standard papermaking process was invented by Cai Lun (AD 50–121) in 105. [361] [362] The oldest known surviving piece of paper with writing on it was found in the ruins of a Han watchtower that had been abandoned in AD 110, in Inner Mongolia. [363]

Metallurgy and agriculture Edit

Evidence suggests that blast furnaces, that convert raw iron ore into pig iron, which can be remelted in a cupola furnace to produce cast iron by means of a cold blast and hot blast, were operational in China by the late Spring and Autumn period (722–481 BC). [364] [365] The bloomery was nonexistent in ancient China however, the Han-era Chinese produced wrought iron by injecting excess oxygen into a furnace and causing decarburization. [366] Cast iron and pig iron could be converted into wrought iron and steel using a fining process. [367] [368]

The Han dynasty Chinese used bronze and iron to make a range of weapons, culinary tools, carpenters' tools and domestic wares. [369] [370] A significant product of these improved iron-smelting techniques was the manufacture of new agricultural tools. The three-legged iron seed drill, invented by the 2nd century BC, enabled farmers to carefully plant crops in rows instead of casting seeds out by hand. [371] [372] [373] The heavy moldboard iron plow, also invented during the Han dynasty, required only one man to control it, two oxen to pull it. It had three plowshares, a seed box for the drills, a tool which turned down the soil and could sow roughly 45,730 m 2 (11.3 acres) of land in a single day. [374] [375]

To protect crops from wind and drought, the grain intendant Zhao Guo (趙過) created the alternating fields system (daitianfa 代田法) during Emperor Wu's reign. This system switched the positions of furrows and ridges between growing seasons. [376] Once experiments with this system yielded successful results, the government officially sponsored it and encouraged peasants to use it. [376] Han farmers also used the pit field system (aotian 凹田) for growing crops, which involved heavily fertilized pits that did not require plows or oxen and could be placed on sloping terrain. [377] [378] In southern and small parts of central Han-era China, paddy fields were chiefly used to grow rice, while farmers along the Huai River used transplantation methods of rice production. [379]

Structural and geotechnical engineering Edit

Timber was the chief building material during the Han dynasty it was used to build palace halls, multi-story residential towers and halls and single-story houses. [384] Because wood decays rapidly, the only remaining evidence of Han wooden architecture is a collection of scattered ceramic roof tiles. [384] [385] The oldest surviving wooden halls in China date to the Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). [386] Architectural historian Robert L. Thorp points out the scarcity of Han-era archeological remains, and claims that often unreliable Han-era literary and artistic sources are used by historians for clues about lost Han architecture. [387]

Though Han wooden structures decayed, some Han-dynasty ruins made of brick, stone, and rammed earth remain intact. This includes stone pillar-gates, brick tomb chambers, rammed-earth city walls, rammed-earth and brick beacon towers, rammed-earth sections of the Great Wall, rammed-earth platforms where elevated halls once stood, and two rammed-earth castles in Gansu. [388] [389] [390] [391] The ruins of rammed-earth walls that once surrounded the capitals Chang'an and Luoyang still stand, along with their drainage systems of brick arches, ditches, and ceramic water pipes. [392] Monumental stone pillar-gates, twenty-nine of which survive from the Han period, formed entrances of walled enclosures at shrine and tomb sites. [393] [383] These pillars feature artistic imitations of wooden and ceramic building components such as roof tiles, eaves, and balustrades. [394] [383]

The courtyard house is the most common type of home portrayed in Han artwork. [384] Ceramic architectural models of buildings, like houses and towers, were found in Han tombs, perhaps to provide lodging for the dead in the afterlife. These provide valuable clues about lost wooden architecture. The artistic designs found on ceramic roof tiles of tower models are in some cases exact matches to Han roof tiles found at archeological sites. [395]

Over ten Han-era underground tombs have been found, many of them featuring archways, vaulted chambers, and domed roofs. [396] Underground vaults and domes did not require buttress supports since they were held in place by earthen pits. [397] The use of brick vaults and domes in aboveground Han structures is unknown. [397]

From Han literary sources, it is known that wooden-trestle beam bridges, arch bridges, simple suspension bridges, and floating pontoon bridges existed in Han China. [398] However, there are only two known references to arch bridges in Han literature, [399] and only a single Han relief sculpture in Sichuan depicts an arch bridge. [400]

Underground mine shafts, some reaching depths over 100 meters (330 ft), were created for the extraction of metal ores. [401] [402] Borehole drilling and derricks were used to lift brine to iron pans where it was distilled into salt. The distillation furnaces were heated by natural gas funneled to the surface through bamboo pipelines. [401] [403] [404] These boreholes perhaps reached a depth of 600 m (2000 ft). [405]

Mechanical and hydraulic engineering Edit

Han-era mechanical engineering comes largely from the choice observational writings of sometimes-disinterested Confucian scholars who generally considered scientific and engineering endeavors to be far beneath them. [406] Professional artisan-engineers (jiang 匠) did not leave behind detailed records of their work. [407] [408] Han scholars, who often had little or no expertise in mechanical engineering, sometimes provided insufficient information on the various technologies they described. [409] Nevertheless, some Han literary sources provide crucial information.

For example, in 15 BC the philosopher and writer Yang Xiong described the invention of the belt drive for a quilling machine, which was of great importance to early textile manufacturing. [410] The inventions of mechanical engineer and craftsman Ding Huan are mentioned in the Miscellaneous Notes on the Western Capital. [411] Around AD 180, Ding created a manually operated rotary fan used for air conditioning within palace buildings. [412] Ding also used gimbals as pivotal supports for one of his incense burners and invented the world's first known zoetrope lamp. [413]

Modern archeology has led to the discovery of Han artwork portraying inventions which were otherwise absent in Han literary sources. As observed in Han miniature tomb models, but not in literary sources, the crank handle was used to operate the fans of winnowing machines that separated grain from chaff. [414] The odometer cart, invented during Han, measured journey lengths, using mechanical figures banging drums and gongs to indicate each distance traveled. [415] This invention is depicted in Han artwork by the 2nd century, yet detailed written descriptions were not offered until the 3rd century. [416]

Modern archeologists have also unearthed specimens of devices used during the Han dynasty, for example a pair of sliding metal calipers used by craftsmen for making minute measurements. These calipers contain inscriptions of the exact day and year they were manufactured. These tools are not mentioned in any Han literary sources. [417]

The waterwheel appeared in Chinese records during the Han. As mentioned by Huan Tan about AD 20, they were used to turn gears that lifted iron trip hammers, and were used in pounding, threshing and polishing grain. [418] However, there is no sufficient evidence for the watermill in China until about the 5th century. [419] The Nanyang Commandery Administrator and mechanical engineer Du Shi (d. 38 AD) created a waterwheel-powered reciprocator that worked the bellows for the smelting of iron. [420] [421] Waterwheels were also used to power chain pumps that lifted water to raised irrigation ditches. The chain pump was first mentioned in China by the philosopher Wang Chong in his 1st-century Balanced Discourse. [422]

The armillary sphere, a three-dimensional representation of the movements in the celestial sphere, was invented in Han China by the 1st century BC. [423] Using a water clock, waterwheel and a series of gears, the Court Astronomer Zhang Heng (AD 78–139) was able to mechanically rotate his metal-ringed armillary sphere. [424] [425] [426] [427] To address the problem of slowed timekeeping in the pressure head of the inflow water clock, Zhang was the first in China to install an additional tank between the reservoir and inflow vessel. [424] [428]

Zhang also invented a device he termed an "earthquake weathervane" (houfeng didong yi 候風地動儀), which the British biochemist, sinologist, and historian Joseph Needham described as "the ancestor of all seismographs". [429] This device was able to detect the exact cardinal or ordinal direction of earthquakes from hundreds of kilometers away. [424] [430] [426] It employed an inverted pendulum that, when disturbed by ground tremors, would trigger a set of gears that dropped a metal ball from one of eight dragon mouths (representing all eight directions) into a metal toad's mouth. [431]

The account of this device in the Book of the Later Han describes how, on one occasion, one of the metal balls was triggered without any of the observers feeling a disturbance. Several days later, a messenger arrived bearing news that an earthquake had struck in Longxi Commandery (in modern Gansu Province), the direction the device had indicated, which forced the officials at court to admit the efficacy of Zhang's device. [432]

Mathematics Edit

One of the Han's greatest mathematical advancements was the world's first use of negative numbers. Negative numbers first appeared in the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art as black counting rods, where positive numbers were represented by red counting rods. [434] Negative numbers were also used by the Greek mathematician Diophantus around AD 275, and in the 7th-century Bakhshali manuscript of Gandhara, South Asia, [444] but were not widely accepted in Europe until the 16th century. [434]

The Han applied mathematics to various diverse disciplines. In musical tuning, Jing Fang (78–37 BC) realized that 53 perfect fifths was approximate to 31 octaves while creating a musical scale of 60 tones, calculating the difference at 177147 ⁄176776 (the same value of 53 equal temperament discovered by the German mathematician Nicholas Mercator [1620–1687], i.e. 3 53 /2 84 ). [445] [446]

Astronomy Edit

Mathematics were essential in drafting the astronomical calendar, a lunisolar calendar that used the Sun and Moon as time-markers throughout the year. [447] [448] During the spring and autumn periods of the 5th century BC, the Chinese established the Sifen calendar (古四分历), which measured the tropical year at 365.25 days. This was replaced in 104 BC with the Taichu calendar (太初曆) that measured the tropical year at 365 + 385 ⁄ 1539 (

Han Chinese astronomers made star catalogues and detailed records of comets that appeared in the night sky, including recording the 12 BC appearance of the comet now known as Halley's Comet. [451] [452] [453] [454]

Han dynasty astronomers adopted a geocentric model of the universe, theorizing that it was shaped like a sphere surrounding the earth in the center. [455] [456] [457] They assumed that the Sun, Moon, and planets were spherical and not disc-shaped. They also thought that the illumination of the Moon and planets was caused by sunlight, that lunar eclipses occurred when the Earth obstructed sunlight falling onto the Moon, and that a solar eclipse occurred when the Moon obstructed sunlight from reaching the Earth. [458] Although others disagreed with his model, Wang Chong accurately described the water cycle of the evaporation of water into clouds. [459]

Cartography, ships, and vehicles Edit

Evidence found in Chinese literature, and archeological evidence, show that cartography existed in China before the Han. [460] [461] Some of the earliest Han maps discovered were ink-penned silk maps found amongst the Mawangdui Silk Texts in a 2nd-century-BC tomb. [460] [462] The general Ma Yuan created the world's first known raised-relief map from rice in the 1st century. [463] This date could be revised if the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is excavated and the account in the Records of the Grand Historian concerning a model map of the empire is proven to be true. [464]

Although the use of the graduated scale and grid reference for maps was not thoroughly described until the published work of Pei Xiu (AD 224–271), there is evidence that in the early 2nd century, cartographer Zhang Heng was the first to use scales and grids for maps. [424] [460] [465] [466]

Han dynasty Chinese sailed in a variety of ships different from those of previous eras, such as the tower ship. The junk design was developed and realized during the Han era. Junk ships featured a square-ended bow and stern, a flat-bottomed hull or carvel-shaped hull with no keel or sternpost, and solid transverse bulkheads in the place of structural ribs found in Western vessels. [467] [468] Moreover, Han ships were the first in the world to be steered using a rudder at the stern, in contrast to the simpler steering oar used for riverine transport, allowing them to sail on the high seas. [469] [470] [471] [472] [473] [474]

Although ox-carts and chariots were previously used in China, the wheelbarrow was first used in Han China in the 1st century BC. [475] [476] Han artwork of horse-drawn chariots shows that the Warring-States-Era heavy wooden yoke placed around a horse's chest was replaced by the softer breast strap. [477] Later, during the Northern Wei (386–534), the fully developed horse collar was invented. [477]

Medicine Edit

Han-era medical physicians believed that the human body was subject to the same forces of nature that governed the greater universe, namely the cosmological cycles of yin and yang and the five phases. Each organ of the body was associated with a particular phase. Illness was viewed as a sign that qi or "vital energy" channels leading to a certain organ had been disrupted. Thus, Han-era physicians prescribed medicine that was believed to counteract this imbalance. [478] [479] [480]

For example, since the wood phase was believed to promote the fire phase, medicinal ingredients associated with the wood phase could be used to heal an organ associated with the fire phase. [478] Besides dieting, Han physicians also prescribed moxibustion, acupuncture, and calisthenics as methods of maintaining one's health. [481] [482] [483] [484] When surgery was performed by the Chinese physician Hua Tuo (d. AD 208), he used anesthesia to numb his patients' pain and prescribed a rubbing ointment that allegedly sped the process of healing surgical wounds. [481] Whereas the physician Zhang Zhongjing (c. AD 150 – c. 219 ) is known to have written the Shanghan lun ("Dissertation on Typhoid Fever"), it is thought that both he and Hua Tuo collaborated in compiling the Shennong Ben Cao Jing medical text. [485]

Confucianism and Authoritarianism - Bertil Lintner's Ch 1 in China's India War

So I been reading some different views due to the current crisis and I picked up Mr Lintner's work and this post has nothing to do with the factual or opinion in the body of the work but rather something he brought up in his ch 1 which I felt amounts to some pretty bad bad history for a work that tried to discuss historical events. However this does not mean that the rest of his work are without factual errors just I am not interested enough to debate about them.

In it he mentioned the Chinese system and I quote

China, on the other hand, has a long history of imperial rule under one dominant thnic group, the Han Chinese, which has, over the centuries, subdued and, in some instances, absorbed, other, minor groups of people. In is true that the last imperial dynasty in China, thee Qing, was Manchu and that the country was somewhat multicultural in character during its reign (which lasted from 1644-1912) than it had been under previous emperors, possibly with the exceptions of the Liao, Jin, and Mongol dynasties, which were also non-Han. But while retaining some of their own ethnic identity, the Manchu elites also acquird all the trappings of the traditional Chinese rulers. They spoke standard Chinese and the Manchu language almost died out in China in the 19th century. Even so, Dr Sun Yat-sen, one of the founders of the anti-Qing movement, wrote in 1904 that the goal of the struggle was 'to expel the Tartar [i.e Manchu] barbarians.' In 1912,the Qing Dynasty was overthrown and Dr Sun became the first president of the Republic of China. For decades after that, many families of Manchu descent tried hard to conceal their heritage and to conform to the Han Chinese customs and culture.

Local dialects may differ in China, and several, among them Cantonese, Hakka, and Fujiannese, are not mutually intelligible and differ from 'standard' Chinese, but the writing system, based on the logograms and not on a phonetic alphabet, remains essentially the same all over the country. As for its political culture, China has long been dominated by authoritarian schools of thought, be it Confucianism or Communism in the past, or today's post-Communist totalitarian capitalism.

So I won't tag him for making the claims like how China was not multicultural in the Tang, especially if he were to compare it to the Indian kingdoms and empires which 'have always been immensely diverse with a multitude of languages and different religion' nor will I ding him for the comment that China wasn't diverse when he himself mentioned how the languages are 'mutually indistinguishable', or that Dr Sun was a ɿirst' president when he was a provisional president and the honor goes to the dubious Gen. Yuan Shikai, but specifically I want to discuss this idea of Confucianism as an authoritarian schools of thought.

Given we are talking mostly about a school of thought from 2500 years that aim to recreate something that occurred roughly 3000 years ago, using modern ideology of what is authoritarians would be difficult. For one, if it is a discussion of political freedom, most people have very few rights and selected people have all the rights. By strict definition, since Confucianism does not offer democracy but rather believe in a strong central power, one could reasonably if unlearn about Confucianism consider it to be ɺuthoritarian school of thought.'

However we must consider the following in thinking about Confucianism and authoritarianism.

The first first is how does one enforce Confucian rule, or rather how does Confucians believe that rules should be enforced.

Professor Pol probably stated best, Confucius believed that order can be maintained through rituals. Not just any meaningless rituals, or lip service rituals, but rituals through learning and self cultivation. Or in plain English, reciprocity is the core of Confucian rituals, and Confucian rituals is the core to Confucian thinking. 1 Professor Sor-hoon Tan wrote Confucianism attempts to obtain obedience through excellence. That is Confucius obtain power through his authoritative rather than his authoritarian nature. 2

In that sense, Confucianisms inner working is about the common value and through that common value one can obtain excellence. The understanding of scripture provides authoritative power, and the act following the scripture provides power. The argument for Confucian towards rule is not one enforced through fear or punishment, but through fear of moral failing, Confucian concept, at least most schools of Confucian thoughts, thus asks one to obtain power through learning and acting in accordance to excellence and virtue. Power then is secondary rather than primary focus of one's governance. The governance comes, perhaps wrongly from our understanding, not as one attempts go govern the masses but rather through the governance of himself, and through his governance of himself can he then govern the masses.

That would be a very simplistic view of the inner working of Confucian thoughts that scraps not even the tip of the iceberg, but I do hope we can see that the working of the Confucian school while may appear to be authoritarian is rather authoritative.

Then we should consider how the Confucian government as a Consensus government rather than an authoritarian government. I must first claim that from the context provided in Lintner's book, I understand him as saying a government of the single rule as he constantly contrast it with Mao's government. I would also have to suggest that PRIOR to CR, Mao's government was probably still a consensus government especially during the second Five Year Planning. Nevertheless, from that understanding, I like to tackle whether or not the Confucian governments, or governments operated by Confucians, are one of authoritarian in nature.

I suppose we would first have to tackle whether or not Chinese monarchies are absolute monarchies. And I would say the majority of Chinese history does not have absolute monarchs. Some monarchies, the Qing, were perhaps absolute in that their requests cannot be legally rejected. The only constraint on the Qing monarchs were perhaps the subordinate foot dragging. Sure, you told me to do something and I promise I will do it, but I swear the letter got lost in the mail, and the second letter well my dog ate it, and the third letter there was this donkey in the post system and that donkey loves to kick the lamps and then one day, he kick over the lamp and the letters got caught in the flame. However, from my understanding, the monarchs during the Han, the Tang, and the Song were not absolute monarchs. The Master of Writing during the Han can legally refuse to sign on to an imperial decree, making it not legally enforceable. I mean, sure, one would always have to consider the consequences of rejecting a personal request from the emperor, but the government bureaucracy does not have the capacity to make someone do the personal request of the emperor without the sign off from the Master of Writing. Now this isn't to say it happened often and always, after all, the emperor employs the Master of Writing, so it is in the person's political interest if he wishes to advance passes the post of Master of Writing to more powerful posts later, it is common enough that we would hear about the Imperial Secretariat rejecting certain things. Now, this then depends on the personality of the emperor and the excellencies in office and the character of the Master of Writing. A stronger emperor would compelled his will whereas a weaker emperor would be convinced to abandon his will. The political nature of the balance in the role of the imperial will and the bureaucracy has been a recurring theme in Chinese history. After all, emperors don't often leave their palace, so whatever they wish to accomplish must depend on a willing bureaucracy, and thus the authoritative nature of Confucianism again plays a role in shaping Chinese historical discourse.

Now these may just be empty words but we can look at some of the most pivotal moments in Chinese history in the decision making. When the Emperor Wu of Han decided to change the state policy towards the nomads, the debate was not made up in his mind, but through vigorous court debates. Han Anguo, the Imperial Counselor, [韓安國,御史大夫]argued for peace, and the nature of war would be disastrous, whereas Wang Hui, Superintendent of State Visits [王恢, 大行令/大鴻臚]. What resolve the impasse was not the strengthen of the political faction, but rather Wudi's decision based on authoritative nature of the Annals. In his decree to the empire, he stated ‘the Emperor Gao [Liu Bang] has left me with the grief of Ping Cheng, and the Dowager Empress Gao [Dowager Empress Lv] received the most insulting letters from them it was said that the Annals has approved the acts of Duke Xiang of Qi in his vengeance 9 generations past." 3

So here again, we see it was not the moral high ground or anything else but rather the authoritativeness of the Annal that was used. Wudi didn't say they invaded us in my father's time [they did] or in my grandfather's time [they did] or in my great grandfather's time [they did] but rather, the argument from the Annals or at least the Annals According to Master Gongyang that vengeance is proper and necessary. That was the reason that allowed for the consensus in the Han court to push for total war where Han Anguo, the anti-war person commanded the field forces. 3

At least in my head, a government where the debate comes from bottom to top is not an authoritarian government. Seeing how when the initial campaign failed and Wang committed suicide, we know that he really did push for his position and has probably made promises and or claims he couldn't kept. So while he was able to temporary obtain the government's acceptance for war, he also paid for the consequences of war.

The Han court's debate were captured in two more significant moments. First was the Discourse on Salt and Iron in 81 BC, a 62 chapter records of the court debate pass down by Huan Kuan that reminds me of Thucydides’s debate between the Athenians and Melians. Now interestingly enough, the Discourse show quite little Classics but in general was one where ideas comes to clash fiercely. 4

While the Discourse saw the reformist scholars debating against court officials where the court officials were called profiteering from state monopolies and reduce the officials to silence whereas the officials accused scholars to be people who are poor and weak in the understanding of state craft, the state officials ultimately won hinges on the state need for revenue the Wang vs Han debate on war was won because Han was unable to present evidence that peace could be maintained, thus what is the point of maintaining a pricey peace if that peace was mere illusion, and Han unable to answer allowed for the court to agree that if one cannot maintain peace however one tries, then war must be the only way forward. 5

This is not to say that Emperors aren't the ultimate decision maker. Even with all the memorandums officials kept and sent and responds to, the Emperor ultimately can say no. Now, while the Imperial Secretariat could legally speaking issue commands on it's own, after all, the emperor simply cannot keep tracks of all matters, we would think the important ones are at least acceptable to the emperor even if he did not specifically say I approve. However, this isn't a one man process, where the details and discussions are often in private and public, with open debates that were on record.

Perhaps one could say that during certain period, such as Wudi's reign, Confucianism idealism was used as justification to make certain reforms easier, or need for pragmatism, or for various propaganda reasons, after all Wudi himself does not seem to particulate interested in following these ideals rather than expressing about these ideals, but we could see towards the later period in the Former Han where these idealism seems to become far more ingrained in their principal and thus, one could argue these rigidity may be authoratirainsm as they ignore the pragmatical nature of their predecessors that further led to disillusionment of the scholar class, but I do find that argument hard to sustain as the nature of Confucianism demands excellence thus the rigid demand in excellence in personal virtue and proper governance is a form of authoritarianism. 6

Ultimately, I find the claim that Confucianism as a school of authoritarianism to be unfounded, unsustainable, and simply ignorant.

Authoritative Master Kong (Confucius) in An Authoritarian Age, Tan, So-hoon

Toward a Comparative Understanding of the Executive Decision-Making Process in China and Rome, T. Corey Brennan

Chinese civil service

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Chinese civil service, the administrative system of the traditional Chinese government, the members of which were selected by a competitive examination. The Chinese civil service system gave the Chinese empire stability for more than 2,000 years and provided one of the major outlets for social mobility in Chinese society. It later served as a model for the civil service systems that developed in other Asian and Western countries.

The Qin dynasty (221–207 bce ) established the first centralized Chinese bureaucratic empire and thus created the need for an administrative system to staff it. Recruitment into the Qin bureaucracy was based on recommendations by local officials. This system was initially adopted by the succeeding Han dynasty (206 bce –220 ce ), but in 124 bce , under the reign of the Han emperor Wudi, an imperial university was established to train and test officials in the techniques of Confucian government.

The Sui dynasty (581–618) adopted this Han system and applied it in a much more systematic way as a method of official recruitment. They also introduced the rule that officials of a prefecture must be appointees of the central government rather than local aristocrats and that the local militia was to be subject to officials of the central government. The Tang dynasty (618–907) created a system of local schools where scholars could pursue their studies. Those desiring to enter the upper levels of the bureaucracy then competed in the jinshi exams, which tested a candidate’s knowledge of the Confucian Classics. This system gradually became the major method of recruitment into the bureaucracy by the end of the Tang dynasty, the old aristocracy was destroyed, and its power was taken by the scholar-gentry, who staffed the bureaucracy. This nonhereditary elite would eventually become known to the West as “mandarins,” in reference to Mandarin, the dialect of Chinese they employed.

The civil service system expanded to what many consider its highest point during the Song dynasty (960–1279). Public schools were established throughout the country to help the talented but indigent, business contact was barred among officials related by blood or marriage, relatives of the imperial family were not permitted to hold high positions, and promotions were based on a merit system in which a person who nominated another for advancement was deemed totally responsible for that person’s conduct.

Almost all Song officials in the higher levels of the bureaucracy were recruited by passing the jinshi degree, and the examinations became regularly established affairs. After 1065 they were held every three years, but only for those who first passed qualifying tests on the local level.

Under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), the civil service system reached its final form, and the succeeding Qing dynasty (1644–1911/12) copied the Ming system virtually intact. During this period no man was allowed to serve in his home district, and officials were rotated in their jobs every three years. The recruitment exam was divided into three stages: the xiucai (“cultivated talent”), or bachelor’s degree, held on the local-prefecture level the juren (“recommended man”), given at the prefectural capital and the jinshi, held at Beijing. Although only the passage of the jinshi made one eligible for high office, passage of the other degrees gave one certain privileges, such as exemption from labour service and corporal punishment, government stipends, and admission to upper-gentry status (juren).

Elaborate precautions were taken to prevent cheating, different districts in the country were given quotas for recruitment into the service to prevent the dominance of any one region, and the testing matter was limited to the Nine Classics of Confucianism. The examination became so stylized that the set form for an examination paper came to be the famous “eight-legged essay” (bagu wenzhang), which had eight main headings, used not more than 700 characters, and dealt with topics according to a certain set manner. It had no relation to the candidate’s ability to govern and was often criticized for setting a command of style above thought.

The examination system was finally abolished in 1905 by the Qing dynasty in the midst of modernization attempts. The whole civil service system as it had previously existed was overthrown along with the dynasty in 1911/12.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy McKenna, Senior Editor.

The End of the Western Han Dynasty (86 BC – 9 AD)

The Western Han dynastic reign ended under the rule of an empress named Wang Zhengjun and successive short-reign emperors named Yuan, Cheng, and Ai.

Emperor Ping became emperor for a few years (1 BC – 6 AD). During this time, his relatives were regents. The last regent was Wang Mang. He claimed that he had the Mandate of Heaven to rule, which means that it picked him to be the next emperor.


The Great Wall: Qin set people to work building the Great Wall. He believed the country needed better protection. Just as cities had wall built around them, he wanted a wall built around China.

He greatly weakened the nobles: Qin took land away from the nobles so they would lose most of their control and wealth. He did not want the nobles to band together to remove Qin from power. Anyone who fought this change was either buried alive or put to work building the Great Wall.

He greatly weakened the teachers and scholars: Censorship was introduced. Qin burned what he called useless books. If a book was not about agriculture, medicine, or prophecy, it was burned. Scholars who refused to allow their books to be burned where either burned alive or sent to work on the wall. Qin did not want his people wasting time. He wanted nearly all the people to grow food.

He gave most peasants one of two jobs: Either a peasant was assigned to grow food or to harvest silk. If they tried to do anything else besides their assigned job, they were put to death or sent to work on the wall. If people were slow or lazy, they were put to death or sent to work on the wall.

He built public works projects: Qin put some people to work building bridges, roads, canals, and systems of flood control. The people he assigned to do this work either did the work they were assigned to do quickly and well, or they were killed or sent to work on the wall.

He created a law code: His law code applied to everyone. He created a huge law enforcement group, to enforce those laws.

He created a system of standardization: Qin introduced one system of weights and measures, one system of money, the same written language, the same laws - all systems of standardization to be used all over China. No one argued with him.

Qin did not believe that he was cruel. His systems of protection, standardization, and job assignment probably saved millions of lives from flood and famine and war. Qin thought of himself as an outstanding leader. He used to say, "A thousand may die so that millions may live."

Qin had planned that his son would take over one day. After Qin died of natural causes, his son tried to rule the county. A peasant led a revolt against Qin's government officials. People all over the country joined in the revolt. The revolt was successful. That peasant became the new emperor. He called his dynasty the Han Dynasty.

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1747-1749 1750-1757?
The suppression of the Jinchuan hill people was the costliest and most difficult, and also the most destructive. The Jinchuan (literally "Golden Stream") was northwest of Chengdu in western Sichuan. The tribal peoples there were related to the Tibetans of the Amdo. The first campaign in 1747-1749 was a simple affair with little use of force the Manchu general induced the native chieftains to accept a peace plan, and departed.

Interethnic conflict brought the Manchus back after twenty years. The reresulting Qing expeditionary force was forced to fight a protracted war of attrition costing the Qing treasury several times the amounts expended on the earlier conquests of the Dzungars and Turkestan. The resisting tribes retreated to their stone towers and forts in steep mountains and could only be dislodged by European cannon. The Manchu generals were ruthless in annihilating the rebellious tribes, then reorganised the region in a military prefecture and repopulated it with more cooperative inhabitants.

The Gurkha wars display the Qing court's continuing sensitivity to conditions in Tibet. The late 1760s saw the creation of a strong state in Nepal and the involvement in the region of a new foreign power, Britain, through their British East India Company. When the rash Gurkha rulers of Nepal decided to invade southern Tibet in 1788, they probably thought they would have British backing.

The two Manchu resident agents in Lhasa (Ambans) made no attempt at defense or resistance. Instead they took the child Panchen Lama to safety when the Nepalese troops came through and plundered the rich monastery at Shigatse on their way to Lhasa. Upon hearing of the first Nepalese incursions, the Qianlong Emperor commanded troops from Sichuan to proceed to Lhasa and restore order. By the time they reached southern Tibet, the Gurkhas had already withdrawn. This counted as the first of two wars with the Gurkhas.

In 1791 the Gurkhas returned in force. Qianlong urgently dispatched an army of 10,000. It was made up of around 6,000 Manchu and Mongol forces supplemented by tribal soldiers under the able general Fukang'an, with Hailancha as his deputy. They entered Tibet from Xining (Qinghai) in the north, shortening the march but making it in the dead of winter 1791-1792, crossing high mountain passes in deep snow and cold. They reached central Tibet in the summer of 1792 and within two or three months could report that they had won a decisive series of encounters that pushed the Gurkha armies across the crest of the Himalaya and back into the valley of Kathmandu. Fukang'an fought on into 1793, when he forced the battered Gurkhas to accept surrender on Manchu terms.

1793 Victory:
Gurka try to expand to tibet, Become tributary of China

Watch the video: Buddhismus erklärt. Eine Religion in fast fünf Minuten


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