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Rebuilding the Imperial Edifice in the Sui-Tang Era Essay Sample

Rebuilding the Imperial Edifice in the Sui-Tang Era Pages
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* Splinter states fought for the control of China in the centuries after the fall of the Han * Yang Jian was a member of a prominent northern Chinese noble family that had been active in these contests * Yang Jian struck a marriage alliance with his daughter and the ruler of the northern Zhou empire * The Zhou monarch had recently defeated several rivals, which united much of northern China * Yang Jian seized control of the Zhou empire from his son and law and proclaimed himself emperor * Jian secured his power base by winning the support of neighboring nomadic military commanders by reconfirming their titles and showing little desire to favor the Confucian scholar-gentry class at their expense * Yang Jian took the title of Wendi (Literary Emperor) and extended his rule across northern China

* In 589 Wendi’s armies attacked the weak and divided Chen kingdom, which had long ruled much of the south * Wendi reunited the traditional core areas of China for the first time in 3 ½ centuries b/c of the Chen victory * Wendi won widespread support by lowering taxes and est. granaries throughout his domains * Bins for storing grain were built in all large cities and in each village of the empire to ensure that there would be a food supply in case of floods or drought destroyed the peasants’ crops and threatened people w/ famine * Large landholders and poor peasants were taxed a portion of their crops to keep granaries filled * Surplus grain was used to ward off famine and brought to market in times of food shortages to hold down the price of people’s stable food Sui Excesses and Collapse p 267-269

* The foundations of Wendi laid for political unification and economic prosperity * Yangdi- Second member of the Sui dynasty, murdered his father Yang Jian to become emperor, restored Confucian examination system; responsible for construction of Chinese canal system, assassinated in 618 * Yangdi extended his father’s conquests by driving back nomadic intruders who threatened the frontiers of the empire * Est. a milder legal code and devoted resources to upgrading Confucian edu. Also sought to restore examination system for regulating entry into the bureaucracy. * These legal and edu. Reforms were part of a broader policy of promoting the scholar-gentry in imperial education * Yangdi forcibly constricted 100,000’s of peasants to build palaces, canals to link the empire, and a new capital city at Luoyang. * In his new capital, Yangdi wanted an extensive game park built, but because there was not enough forest on the chosen site tens of thousands of laborers were forced to dig up huge trees and cart them miles to be replanted in artificial mounds that other laborers had to build

* Yangdi led his subjects through a series of unsuccessful wars to try to bring Korea back under Chinese rule between 611 and 614 * The near fatal reverse he suffered in Central Asia at the hands of Turkish nomads in 615 set in motion wide-spread revolts in the empire * When Yangdi was assassinated in 618 by his own ministers, it looked as if china would return to the state of political division and social turmoil that it had endured in the preceding centuries The emergence of the Tang and the restoration of the empire p 269-270 * Li Yuan- also known as Duke of Tang, minister for Yangdi; took over empire following assassination of Yangdi; first emperor of Tang dynasty, took imperial title of Gaozu * Li Yuan convinced his sons and allies that only rebellion could save his family and the empire after Yangdi grew irrational * Li Yuan emerged as the victor of the throne in 623 and together with his second son, Tang Taizong, in whose favored he abdicated in 626, Li Yuan laid the basis of the golden age of the Tang

* Tang armies conquered deep in to central Asia as far as present day Afghanistan * These victories meant that many of the nomadic peoples who had dominated China in the 6 dynasties era had to submit to Tang rule * Tang emperors also completed repairs begun by Sui and earlier dynasties on the northern walls and created frontier armies, and became the most potent military units in the empire * The sons of Turkish tribal leaders were sent to the capital as hostages to guarantee good behavior of the tribe in question and were also educated in Chinese ways in the hope of their eventual assimilation into the Chinese culture * The empire also extended into parts of Tibet, the red river valley of Vietnam, and Manchuria * In the Tang period the Yangzi river basin and much of the south were fully integrated with North China for the 1st time since the Han * In 668 under the emperor Gaozong Korea was overrun with Chinese armies and a vassal kingdom called Silla was est. that long remained loyal to the Tang Rebuilding the World’s Largest and most Pervasive Bureaucracy p 270

* A revived scholar gentry elite reworked confusion ideology and played central roles in the process * From the time under yangdi the fortunes of the scholar gentry had begun to improve with the trend being continued under the early tang emperors who desperately needed loyal and well educated officials to help govern the empire * The tang rulers also needed the scholar gentry bureaucrats to offset the power of the aristocracy * Because of this aristocratic families rules in Chinese history was reduced * This bureaucracy reached from the imperial palace down to the district level which was roughly equivalent to an American country * One secretariat drafted imperial decrees a second monitored reports of regional provisional officials and the petitions of local notables * The executive department which was divided into six ministries including war, justice, and public works , ran the empire on a daily basis * There was also a powerful bureau of censors whose chief task was to keep track of officials at all levels and report their mistakes

* Chang’on – capital of tang dynasty population of 2 million larger than that of any other city in the world at the time Institutionalizing meritocracy: the growing importance of the examination system p 270-271 * Like yangdi, the tang emperors patronized academies to train state officials and education them in confusion classics * In the tang and song dynasty that followed, the numbers of the educated scholar gentry rose far above those in the Han era * In the tang and song periods the examination system was greatly expanded and the advancement in civil service was more regulated

* The Chinese connected merit as measured by tested skills with authority and status * Ministry of rights – administered examinations to students from Chinese government schools or those recommended by distinguished scholars * Kinship – title granted to students who passed the most difficult Chinese examination on all of Chinese literature became immediate dignitaries and eligible for high office * Birth and family connections continued to be important * Established bureau not only ensured that their sons and cousins got into the imperial academy’s but could pull strings to see that even failed candidates from their families received government posts * Ethnic and regional ties also played a role in staffing departments this meant that the central administration was overwhelmingly dominated by a small number of established families State and religion in the tang and song eras p 271-273

* Increasing state patronage for confusion learning threatened not only the old aristocratic families but also the Buddhist monastic orders which had become a major force in the six dynasties era * These tensions represent a well-documented instance of the long standing problem of delineating the boundaries between established religion and state systems * Mahayana – pure lands Buddhism, emphasized Salvationist aspects of Chinese Buddhism popular among masses of Chinese society * Chan Buddhism – known as Zen in japan stressed meditation and appreciation of natural and artistic beauty. Popular with members of elite Chinese society

* The goal of those who followed Chan Buddhism was to come to know the ultimate wisdom and thus find release from the cycle of rebirth through introspective meditation * The combination of royal patronage and widespread conversion of both the elite and mass levels made Buddhism a strong social economic and political force by the time of the tang unification * No tang ruler matched empress wu in supporting the Buddhist establishment. At one point she tried to elevate Buddhism to the status of a state religion * By the mid-9th century, there were nearly 50000 monasteries and hundreds of thousands of monks and nuns in china The anti-Buddhist backlash p 273-274

* Buddhist successes aroused the envy of confusion and dacoits rivals * Daoest monks tried to counter Buddhism’s appeals to the masses by stressing their own magical and predictive powers * Most damaging to Buddhism was the growing campaign of confusion scholar administrators to convince the tang rulers that large Buddhist monastic establishments posed a fundamental economic challenge to the imperial order * State fears that the Buddhist wealth and power led to measures to limit the flow of land and resources to monastic orders * Wuzong – Chinese emperor of tang dynasty who openly persecuted Buddhism by destroying monasteries in the 840s; reduced influence of Chinese Buddhism in favor of confusion ideology * Although Chinese Buddhism survived this and other bouts of repression, it was weakened * Confucianism emerged as the central ideology of Chinese civilization from the 9th to the early 30th century Tang decline and rise of the Song p 274-275

* After the controversial but strong rule between 690 and 705 by empress Wu, who actually tried to establish a new dynasty, a second attempt to control the throne was made a high born woman who had married into the imperial family * Backed by her powerful relatives and a group of prominent courtiers empress wei poisoned her husband, the son of empress wu and placed her own small child on the throne * Empress Wei’s attempt to seize power were thwarted by another prince who led a palace revolt that ended with the destruction of wei and her supporters * Xuanzong – leading Chinese emperor of the tang dynasty who reigned from 713- 755 though he encouraged over expansion * Initially xuanzong took a strong interest in political and economic reforms but then his interest waned and he devoted more time to patronizing the arts and enjoying the pleasures within the imperial city * After the death of his second wife, the aged emperor became infatuated with yang guifei * Yang guifei – royal concubine during the reign of xuanzong introduction of relatives into royal administration led to revolt

* Xuanzong’s long neglect of state affairs resulted in economic distress which also led to chronic military weaknesses * In 755 a general of a nomadic origin named an lushan led a widely supported revolt with aim at founding a new dynasty to replace the tang * Although the revolt was crushed, and the tang dynasty preserved, victory was won at a high cost in the rebellion xuanzong’s troops killed several members of the yang family and then forcing the emperor to have yang guifei executed * None the tang monarchs who followed xuanzong to the able leaders could compare with the able leaders of the dynasty had consistently * To defeat the rebels the tang had sought alliances with nomadic peoples living on the northern boarders of the empire * At the same time many of the allies became in effect independent rulers by collecting their own taxes, passing little or none to the imperial treasury * Worsening economic conditions led to a succession of revolt in the 9th century, some of which were popular uprising of peasants The Founding of the Song Dynasty p 275

* By 907 the last emperor of the Tang empire was forced to resign * In 960 military commander Zhao Kuangyin reunited China under a single dynasty * Zhao Kuangyin- founder of Song dynasty; originally a general following the fall of the Tang; took title of Taizu, failed to overcome Liao dynasty that remained independent * Khitans- nomadic people of Manchuria; militarily superior to Song dynasty but influenced by Chinese culture, forced humiliating treaties on the Song in the 11th century * Treaties that the Khitans made the Song said that they had to pay heavy tribute to the Liao dynasty to keep them from raiding and possibly dominating the Song domains * Signified- influenced by Chinese culture

Song Politics: Settling for partial restoration p 275-276
* The Song never matched its predecessor in political or military strength * The weakness of the Song resulted in the part from imperial policies that were designed to ward off the conditions that had destroyed the Tang empire * Only civil officials were allowed to be governors, thereby removing the temptation of regional military commanders to seize power along with being rotated to prevent them from building up power I the place they were stationed * Early song rulers promoted the interests of the Confucian scholar gentry. Official’s salaries were increased and they had many benefits. * As a result, the bureaucracy became bloated with wealthy officials with too little to do The Revival of Confucian Thought p 276-277

* The great influence of the scholar gentry in the Song era was mirrored in the revival of the Confucian ideas and values * Libraries for classical texts were founded along with schools of philosophy * Zhu Xi- most prominent of neo-Confucian scholars during the Song Dynasty in China; stressed importance of applying philosophical principles to everyday life and action * Neo-Confucians- revived ancient Confucian teachings in the Song era; great impact on the empires that followed; their emphasis on tradition and hostility to foreign systems made Chinese rulers and bureaucrats less receptive to outside ideas and influences * Neo-Confucian emphasis on rank, obligation, deference, and traditional rituals re-enforced class, age, and gender distinctions, particularly in occupational roles * If men and women kept to their place and performed the tasks of their age and social rank, the Neo Confucians argued, there would be social harmony and prosperity * They believed that historical experience was the best guide for navigating the future Roots of Decline: Attempts at Reform p 277

* Tangut- rulers of the Xi Xia kingdom of northwest China ; one of the regional kingdoms during the period of the Southern Song; conquered by Mongols in 1226 * Xi Xia- Kingdom of the Tangut people, north of the Song kingdom in mid-11th century; collected tribute the drained Song resources and burdened peasants * The emphasis on civil administration and the scholar gentry and the growing distain among the Song elite for the military also took their toll. * Wang Anshi- Confucian scholar and chief minister of a Song emperor in the 1070s; introduced sweeping reforms based on legalists; advocated greater state intervention in society. * Wang tried to correct the defects in the imperial order by introducing cheap loans, government assisted irrigation projects to encourage ag. growth, and taxed landlord and scholarly classes. * Wang used the increased revenue to est. well trained mercenary forces instead of using conscripted peasants * His reforms stressed analytical thinking rather than the memorization of classics Reaction and Disaster: The flight to the South p 277-278

* Unfortunately for Wang his emperor died in 1085, and his successor favored the conservative cliques that opposed Wang’s changes * The Neo-Confucians reversed many of Wang’s initiatives and as a result the economy continued to deteriorate * Jurchens- founders of the Qin Kingdom that succeeded the Liao; annexed most of the Yellow River basin and forced the Song to flee to the South * Jin- Kingdom north of the Song empire; est. by Jurchens in 1115 after overthrowing Liao; ended in 1234 * Southern Song- rump state of the Song dynasty from 1127 to 1279; carved out of much larger domains ruled by the Tang and the northern Song; culturally one of the most glorious reigns in Chinese history Tang and Song Prosperity: The Basis of a Golden Age p 278

* The Grand Canal- built in the 7th century during the reign of Yangdi during Sui dynasty; designed to link the original centers of Chinese civilization on the north China plain with the Yangtze river basin to the south; nearly 1200 mi long; easier to ship goods and people north to south than the opposite way * Overland travel of goods was slow and difficult and the transport of bulk goods was expensive * The increase of population in the southern region during the later Han and Six dynasty periods made it necessary to improve communications once the two regions joined under the Sui. * By the late Tang and early Song times the south surpassed the north in both food production and population * Yangdi’s canal was intended to facilitate control over the Southern regions by courts, bureaucracies, and armies centered in ancient imperial centers * The canal made it possible to transport grains from the South to districts threatened by drought and famine in the North A New Phase of Intercontinental Commercial Expansion by Land and Sea p 278-280

* The extension of Tang control deep into central asia meant that the overland silk routes between and china and Persia were reopened and protected. This intensified international contacts in the post classical period. * As in the Han era china exported mainly manufactured goods to overseas areas like southeast Asia while importing mainly luxury products like aromatic woods and spices * In the late Tang and Song times then Chinese carried trade overseas instead of letting seafarers come to them. * Junks – Chinese ships equipped with water tight bulk heads sternpost rudders compasses and bamboo fenders. Dominate force in Asian seas east of the Malayan peninsula * The heightened role of commerce and the money economy in Chinese life was readily apparent in the market quarters found in all cities and major towns * The Tang and Song governments supervised the hours and marketing methods in the centers banding merchants specializing in the same product and guilds to regulate competition

* Flying money – Chinese credit instrument that provided credit vouchers to merchants to be redeemed at the end of the voyage. Reduced danger of robbery, early form of currency * In the 11th century, the government began to issue paper money when an economic crisis made it clear that the private merchant banks could no longer handle the demand for new currency * The expansion of commerce and artisan production was complemented by a surge in urban growth in the Tang and Song eras * The number of people living in large cities in china, which may have been as high as 10%, was also far greater than that found in any civilization until after the industrial revolution Expanding agrarian production and life in the country p 280-281 * The movement of population southward to the valleys of the Yangzi and other river systems as part of a larger process of agrarian expansion in the Tang and Song period

* Officials of both dynasties actively encouraged peasant groups to migrate to uncultivated areas or those occupied by shifting cultivators or foreigners * State regulated irrigation and embankment systems advanced agrarian expansion * Inventions such as the wheel barrel eased the plowing , planting, weeding, and harvesting tasks * The rulers of both the Sui and Tang dynasty’s had adopted policies aimed at breaking up the great estates of the old aristocracy and distributing land among the free peasant households of the empire * The policies were designed in part to eliminate or reduce the threat that the aristocracy posed for new dynasties * To a point these agrarian measures succeeded

* The fortunes of many of the old aristocratic families declined thus removing many of them as independent centers of power Family and society in the Tang and Song eras p 281
* The position of women showed signs of improving under the Tang and early Song eras but then deteriorated in the late Song era * In the tang period the authority of elders and males within the family was buttressed by laws that prescribed beheading as a punishment for children who struck their parents or grandparents in anger and two and a half years of hard labor for younger siblings who hit their older siblings * Over the centuries, a very elaborate process of forging marriage alliances developed. * Brides and grooms in china in contrast to those in India were generally about the same age probably because of the confusion reluctance to mix generations * Tang women could wield considerable power at the highest levels of Chinese society * Tang and Song law allowed divorce by mutual consent

* There were also laws prohibiting a husband from setting aside his wife if her parents were dead or if he had been poor when they married and later became rich * Wealthy women in the late Song times would sometimes take lovers or complementary husbands with the knowledge of their husbands The Neo-Confusion assertion of male dominance p 281-282

* The Neo Confusions stressed the women’s’ role as a homemaker and mother particularly as a bearer of sons to continue the family line * They advocated confining women and emphasized the importance of virginity for young brides, fidelity for wives and chastity for widows * They were discouraged from re-marriage

* At the same time men could do all of those things without scandal * The Neo Confusions attacked the Buddhists for promoting career alternatives for women at the expense of marriage and raising a family * They drafted laws that favored men in inheritance, divorce and familial interaction and also excluded women from the sorts of education that would allow them to rise to positions of political power * Foot binding – practice in Chinese society to mutilate women’s feet in order to make them smaller, produce pain and restricted movement making it easier to confine women to the household. Invention, artistic creativity and china’s global impact p 282-283 * Major technological and scientific breakthroughs were made under the Tang and Song Dynasties * Some of them, especially those involving the invention of new tools, production techniques and weapons gradually spread to other civilizations and changed the course of human development

* In addition to building the great canal, tang and song engineers made advances in building dIkes and dams and regulating the flow of water in complex irrigation systems * Most of the basic bridge types known to humans were pioneered in china * One of the most important technological advances made in the Tang era, the invention of explosive powder, at first had little impact on warfare * For centuries the Chinese used it mainly for fireworks but by the late song explosive powder was widely used by the imperial armies in a variety of grenades and bombs * Compasses, abacuses, and a moveable printing block were all invented in the Song era Scholarly refinement and artistic accomplishments p 283-286

* Buddhist art and architecture had been heavily patronized by the court, prosperous merchants, and wealthy monasteries in theTang period * But scholarly administrators and confusion teachers wrote much of the literature the Tang is best remembered for * Confusion thinkers valued skillful writing and painting and educated people were expected to practice those arts * Talented and often well trained amateurs wrote most of the poems, composed much of the music and painted the landscapes for which the Tang and Song eras are renowned

* Much of the short story literature was focused on the lives of common people popular belief in witchcraft and demons, ill-fated romances, and even detective stories about brutal murders * Li Bo – most famous poet of the Tang era blended images of the mundane world with philosophical musings. * The intense interest in nature came to full artistic fruition in the landscape paintings of the Song * The artist were not concerned with depicting nature accurately but rather with creating a highly personal vision of natural beauty

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