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Tang, Song and Ming
Dynasties
World History - Libertyville HS
Post Han China
• Han Dynasty ended in
220 AD
• Jin Period (265-618 AD)
– Political fragmentation
– Three main forces
fighting for dominance
• Northern kingdom
• Southern kingdom
• Nomads
• Sui Dynasty unified
China for 40 years but
lost to Tang Dynasty
T’ang Dynasty (618-907 AD)
• Economic, cultural
flowering of China
• Buddhism established as
state religion
• Int’l trade routes
maintained (traders in
China)
• Two main trade routes
– Silk Road (Persians, Indians,
Muslims – 639 AD)
– Ocean Trade throughout E.
Asian coastal areas incl.
Korea, Japan (70+ countries!)
T’ang Culture & Government
• At height, T’ang China /
allies / client states
controlled from Caspian
Sea to SE Asia
• Ideal T’ang Man
– Scholar, Poet, Painter,
Statesman
– Ideal person today?
• Perfection of civil service
– Hard tests based on Conf.
– Career bureaucrats were
commoners, not nobility
(no ambition for Imperial
throne)
T’ang Government & Culture
• Rice cultivation greatly
expanded (pop to 100
million)
• Roads, canals, irrigation
built
• Poetry, literature & arts
flourished
– Painting with strong
Taoist influence
• New Social Order
Emperor
& Royal
Family
Gentry
(Civil
Servants)
Urban middle
class
(merchants)
Urban lower class
(laborers, soldiers,
servants)
Peasants (worked farms of
rich)
T’ang Dynasty
• Inventions of T’ang
– Block printing (carve
into block, stamp on
paper)
– Gunpowder (fireworks)
– Mechanical clocks
(wind, w/ gears)
– Porcelain (hard white
ceramic)
Oldest dated block print
from China, 868 AD
Fall of the T’ang
• Lost fights against
Persian & Indian
Muslims
• After 816 AD, rebellions
weakened state
• High taxes sped the
disintegration of the
state
• Ten Kingdoms Period
(907-960 AD)
– Political fragmentation
– 10 kingdoms, 5
dynasties rule
Song Dynasty (960-1279)
• General finally took
over, est. Song
Dynasty
• Empire smaller than
T’ang, but stable
• Early 1100s – invasion
by Jurchens from N
– Loss northern half of
China
– Jurchens est. own
Empire, the Jin
– Jin invaded by Genghis
Khan
Song Dynasty Accomplishments
Chinese flamethrower;
2 pistons shot out
Stream of flaming oil /
Gas combo
• Ten cities of one
million + inhabitants
• 1020s – paper money,
making trade easier
• 1040 – invented
magnetic compass
(navigation)
• Algebra advancements
• Refined gunpowder
– Cannon
– Primitive flamethrower
Song Dynasty “Industrial
Revolution”
Chinese blast furnace;
Waterwheel driving furnace
• By 1078, Song Dynasty
producing 125,000
tons of iron, per year!
• Equal to 1.5 kg per
person
• Compare to Europe, at
same time: 0.5 kg /
per person
• Iron used to mass
produce tools, esp.
plows, hammers, etc
Fall of Song Dynasty
• Long, bitter struggle
against Mongols
eventually ended with
defeat of Song
• Defeated by 1279
• Estimated 50 million
Chinese killed during
war – about 50% of
population
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
•
Nobility Resurgence
–
–
•
Exploration: Zheng-He
–
–
–
•
Population of China back
to 120 million by 1600
Regained past prestige,
power
Eunuch in service of
emperor
Seven voyages in
Treasure Ships
Purpose: expand trade,
contact new peoples
Isolation and stagnation
–
–
New emperor cut off
further exploration, trade
Closed borders, threw out
foreigners cut off contact
with rest of world
Dimensions:350-400 feet
long, 150 feet wide;
weighed 14,000+ tons
displacement
Fleets had 62 ships, 27000
crew, incl. soldiers,
merchants, etc
Treasure Ship – compared to size
of Columbus’ Santa Maria
Fall of Ming Dynasty
• Ming Dynasty
conquered by
Manchu
• Manchu were
nomads from the
North
• Manchu est. dynasty
that lasted until
1912