Chinese History

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In order to help some of our customer to purchase their antique items properly, We simply give a  simple Chinese history review here for your reference. 

Dynasty From at least 1766BC to this century, China was ruled by dynasties. 

A dynasty is a ruling family that passes control from one generation to the next. One dynasty lasted more than 800 years, while another lasted only fifteen years. The Chinese people supported their rulers because of what they called the Mandate of Heaven

The ancient Chinese believed their ancestors in heaven had chosen their leaders. The people would rebel against a weak leader because they believed he had lost the Mandate of Heaven. The Shang was the first dynasty to leave written records. The Shang rulers expanded the borders of their kingdom to include all of the land between Mongolia and the Pacific Ocean. The Shang practiced human sacrifice. If a king died, many of his slaves would join him in the grave. Some were beheaded first, others were buried alive. The Shang also developed a lunar calendar consisting of twelve months of 30 days each. When a Shang king died, his next oldest brother replaced him. When there were no brothers, the oldest maternal nephew became king.

The Chou were nomads who lived west of the Shang. They overthrew the Shang and ruled China from 1122BC to 253BC. The Chou learned how to extract iron from rocks and they used the metal to create powerful weapons. The Chou developed a feudal system in China. The rulers appointed nobles to divide land into smaller units for families. The families were loyal to the nobles and the nobles were loyal to the Chou rulers. The Chou rulers taxed their subjects, but they used the money well. They built huge walls around their cities to defend them from nomadic warriors. They also built roads, irrigation systems, and dams. The Chou dynasty ended slowly as nobles became more powerful. The period that followed became known as the Age of Warring States. It was during this period that a great teacher named Confucius tried to develop good government. Eventually, the Ch’in state managed to unify China by 221BC. A group known as the Legalists influenced the Ch’in Dynasty. The Ch’in rulers clearly explained and strictly enforced laws. They standardized weights and measures and carried out irrigation projects. They also gave peasant farmers the land they lived on.The West first learned of China during the Chi’in dynasty. It is from Ch’in that we get the word China. China grew into a powerful empire during the Han Dynasty, between 202BC and AD220. Scholars trained in the teachings of Confucius ran the government with great skill. During the Han Dynasty, the Chinese invented paper, writers recorded the history of their land, and the Chinese first learned of Buddhism.

The last Chinese dynasty to rule came from Manchuria, in northeast China. The Manchus were unable to stop other nations from interfering with China. The British defeated China in the Opium Wars. They seized Hong Kong, but more importantly, the British forced the government to allow them to sell a dangerous drug called opium to the Chinese people. Japan seized the island of Formosa, which later became known as Taiwan. By the turn of the century, foreigners had overrun China. Parts of China were ruled by the British, French, American, German, Russian, and Japanese forces. The Chinese people believed that the Manchus had lost the Mandate of Heaven. They began to support a group known as the Nationalists, who pledged to free China from foreign rule. The Nationalists had driven out the last of the Manchu rulers, a six year old boy, by 1911. .

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