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The Political Development of Imperial China
Transcript of The Political Development of Imperial China
The Political Development of Imperial China
Which method of selecting officials led to the best leaders for China?
Mandate of Heaven
Near the begining of
rule, Chinese emperors established their right to govern using the Mandate of Heaven. This idea states that a
was choosen to rule by the gods, and until there is a distruption in the peace, they would continue to rule. Although this established an absolute power among the
, it created peace and prosperity through out the country due to the acceptance of optional power. This rule gave citizens the right to overthrow a ruler if he was not leading properly.
China's Breakup and Reunification
The Han dynasty had been ruling China for more than 400 years before their government was corrupted and their dynasty fell apart. The cause of this had to do with both the destruction of an honest
, and poverty resulting from that. Farmers could not afford the high taxes being issued by the government, and eventually rebelled; believing that the Han dynasty had lost the Mandate of Heaven. After China broke apart, two dynasties came and reunified China: the first being the Sui and the second, the Tang.
The Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was a large empire that ruled for almost 300 years in China. During this time of rule, they made some recognizable acheivements that furthered the Chinese culture and expanded their region. But, the Tang empire was most known for its system of hiring government officials. In the past, emperors would choose their advisors based solely on wealth and family position, such as members from an
. The Tang saw this method unreliable and unfair, therfore they decided to choose their government through a system called
civil service examinations
. The civil service exam was a test that could be taken by most every citizen, which allowed for families to move up in social status and gave the government a wider range or knowledge. Although this process was not created by Tang leaders, it was adopted by them, and through them was made famous. This form of govenment gave them the polictical stability that was not to waver in power. Eventually, however, the Tang dynasty was overthrown through peasant rebellions and battles between leaders. When the Tang was eradicated, it split China apart, and created five individual dynasties. These were ruled by military
, but was eventually unified through the Song dynasty.
The Song Dynasty
Starting in 960, after the fall of the Tang dynasty, the Song dynasty arose and reunified China. Like the Han and Tang dynasties, civil service exams were used to determine the leaders of their country. The Song, however, incorporated their neo-Confucianism beliefs into the exams that would determine their leading scholar-officials. This created a type of rule called a
where officials who rule have proven their merit, or worthiness, to lead their country. These exams were rigorous, and designed to prevent cheating. People were locked in a room for days with no one but a second person to copy down their answers, so that the examiners wouldn't know whose work they were reading. The Song dynasty was innovative, though, and their people were happy to have the opportunity to get respectable jobs.
From 220 to 1644 C.E, China's political atmosphere developed greatly. Dynasty after dynasty fell, and new ones arose to take their place. With so much instability, Chinese leaders had to discover a way to find competent, stable people to rule their government. These approaches to government affected China and its dynasties in many ways, and eventually one method of finding an adequate leader ruled out.
The Yuan Dynasty(Period of Mongol Rule)
Neo-Confucianism was new at the time of the Song dynasty, and combined parts of Buddhism, Daoism, and the teachings of Confucius. Confucius stressed the importance of the proper role in five important relationships:
1. Ruler and subject
2. Father and son
3. Older sibling & younger sibling
4. Husband and wife
5. Friend and friend
The idea was that in each relationship, except for the friend and friend, one person was of higher authority than the other. Those on a lower level should respect the person of higher authority, and those on a higher level must be kind to those below.
In 1276, the Mongols had taken control of China. Three years later they drove the Song dynasty completely from the area. During the Mongol reign, one that lasted almost a hundred years, the Mongols had eradicated the idea of civil service exams. They beieved that Confucius ideas had no presence in government, and that their leadership would be run by trusted members of the Mongols. Some of these government officials were friends of the Mongols. Other countries had a large presence in China during the Mongol rule. Due to the fact that most Mongols were illiterate. Chinese scholars were very present in government before the reign of the Mongols, but during their rule, they were demoted to minor officials at the most. Eventually, the Mongols' political system grew unbalanced and they saw the importance of the civil service exam. They reinstated it, but put limitations on the process. Because of the way they ran the government, they were not able to keep the peace among the native Chinese. This resulted in revolts and the Mongols were eventually overthrown. This paved way for the Ming dynasty.
The Ming Dynasty & Revival of the Civil Service System
The Mongol dynasty fell in 1368, and the Ming dynasty arose from the Chinese restoring their government. The Ming remained in power for nearly 300 years. Under the Ming emperors, civil service exams were brought back and used to occupy government positions. This exam system provided many positive aspects for China; a well-organized government, increased moral behavior, justice, kindness, and loyalty to the emperor, as well as proper conduct and the stressed imortance of family.
However, math, science, and engineering were not in the exams, so people who were skilled in these areas were generally not in the government. Trade and business were also discouraged.
What is your opinion on the civil service exam? Was it effective? If you were a ruler, would you enstate this process in your government? If not, what process would you choose?
Key Content Terms
: The political leader of a territory containing several countries or groups of people
: Belonging or related to an emperor
: A line of rulers descended from one family
: A highly complex body of workers with many levels of authority
: A military leader operation outside the control of the government
: A ruling class of noble families
Civil Service Examination
: A test given to qualify candidates for positions in the government
: Rule by officials of proven merit
This quiz will help you understand the vocabulary terms mentioned in our presentation.
The aristocracy form of government was very present in ancient Chinese government. One famous dynasty that it was present in was the Tang. This form of government occurs when power is held by the relatives of family, or the noblility. This reduces power stuggles, but limits the knowledge held by the government. It can also allow unfair and unjust rulers to continue their reign for greater periods of time with no influence of outside advice.
A bureaucracy is a system of government in which most of the important decisions are made by state officials rather than by elected representatives. As long as the bureacracy was honest and harworking, China prospered. However, by 220 (during the Han dynasty), dishonest and corrupt realtives and servants of the emperor had seized control of the government, which lead to poverty and eventually rebellion.
Meritocracy is a form of government or the holding of power by people selected on the basis of their ability. This means that the leader has proven his ability to rule.