Devoir de Philosophie

Han Dynasty - history.

Publié le 26/05/2013

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Han Dynasty - history. I INTRODUCTION Han Dynasty During the Han dynasty (206 bc-ad 220), Confucianism was the philosophical basis of government. For the first time in China's history, a person's qualifications began to play an important part in the selection of public officials. Overland trade routes were expanded into Europe, and Chinese culture became an influence in neighboring countries. © Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. - history. Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), Chinese imperial dynasty that reunited China after the fall of the Qin (Ch'in) dynasty (221-206 BC). The Han dynasty is known as the golden age of Chinese philosophy. During their 426 year history, the Han created many of the institutions that made China distinctive. They expanded the boundaries of the state by making them similar to those of China today. Confucianism was elevated to the official state philosophical-religious system. Buddhism arrived from India and became an important religion. Literature and the arts flourished. Agriculture expanded, and with it the size of the population. The basic system of a strong central government whose policies were implemented by a complex and efficient bureaucracy, which continued until the 20th century, had its beginnings under the Han. Many of the harsh laws of the Qin period were rescinded, taxes were reduced, and almost all the Han territory was placed under direct imperial rule. To this day the term Han is used to differentiate the ethnic Chinese from other racial and cultural groups within China. II POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE HAN A Gaozu As the Qin dynasty collapsed under the weight of military revolts and peasant rebellions, a minor official, Liu Bang (Liu Pang) became the head of a small band of soldiers and gradually began acquiring territory. Over time his forces swelled to an army, and more victories followed. In 206 the states within the Qin empire. By 202 BC BC, Liu named himself the wang (king) of Han, one of the last rulers of Qin were dead, and Liu had eliminated all his rivals; he declared himself emperor and adopted the imperial title, Gaozu. His dynasty is dated from the time he became king of Han, the state that gave the dynasty its name. Liu Bang had conquered a highly centralized empire. He relaxed the system somewhat, dividing the realm into principalities ruled by members of his family or military commanders who had provided him outstanding service. This laid the foundations for a return to feudalism, in which land was divided between minor lords and was worked by tenant farmers in exchange for rent. For a time, however, Gaozu and the rulers who followed him were able to keep feudalism in check by sending counselors, responsible to the emperor alone, to oversee each province. They thus preserved the authority of the central government during much of the dynasty. Gaozu established his capital on the plain of the Wei River at Chang'an (Ch'ang-an, "Eternal Peace"), near the site of what is now the city of Xi'an (Sian, "Western Peace"). Many of the harsh laws of Qin were rescinded. Taxes were lowered. Executions became infrequent. Gaozu accepted the Confucian principles that the purpose of government was to benefit those being governed, and that the emperor should rule by good example rather than harsh decrees. B Wudi Silk Road Beginning in about 100 bc, a network of overland trade routes developed to carry goods between Asia and Europe. The earliest, most direct, and most heavily used route came to be known as the Silk Road, for the precious Chinese cloth that was traded abundantly on it. The routes waxed and waned over the centuries with changing political and environmental conditions. After the discovery of a sea route from Europe to Asia in the late 15th century, the land routes were gradually abandoned in favor of ocean-borne trade. © Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved. When Gaozu died in 195 BC, his throne passed peacefully to his heirs. The most notable of these was Wudi (Wu-ti), who reigned from 141 to 87 BC. His reign is one of the most celebrated in Chinese history. Wudi paid particular attention to the art of governing. The power of local princes had grown over the years, but Wudi worked to recentralize government. In staffing the administrative hierarchy inherited from the Qin, the Han emperors followed the Confucian principle of appointing men on the basis of merit rather than birth. Written examinations were adopted as a means of determining the best qualified people, although use of the examinations in actually making appointments was limited. A school was established at the capital for training government officials. The ad...

« of merit rather than birth.

Written examinations were adopted as a means of determining the best qualified people, although use of the examinations in actually makingappointments was limited.

A school was established at the capital for training government officials.

The administrative bureaucracy was systematized, and a career civilservice was created and extended through much of the empire. Although personally interested in the magical side of Daoism, Wudi made a descendent of Confucius the superintendent of public instruction, encouraged the study of thefive Confucian classics (the Shu jing, or Book of History; the Shi jing, or Book of Songs; the I Ching or Yi jing, or Book of Changes; the Li ji, or Book of Rites; and the Chun qiu, or the Spring and Autumn Annals) on which Confucian education was based, and appointed those adept in Confucian knowledge to senior administrative posts.

In anattempt to provide an all-inclusive ideology for the empire, however, the Han incorporated ideas from many other philosophical schools into Confucianism, and employedpopular superstitions to augment and elaborate the spare teachings of Confucius and of his principal disciple, Mencius.

These beliefs became part of popular folklore. Commerce flourished under Wudi.

Internal trade expanded with the long period of domestic peace, lower taxes, and the reduction of the power of local princes.

Wudi'sministers kept prices steady by buying grain and cooking oil when prices were low and placing them on the market when commodities became scarce due to drought or poorharvest.

Canals and irrigation works were dug and roads constructed.

The country grew richer and stronger, the farms became prosperous, and the cities increased in size. Almost from the beginning of his reign, Wudi set about expanding his empire.

In the northwest, the Xiongnu (Hsiung-nu), a seminomadic tribe of mounted warriors, hadbeen raiding areas of northwestern China for some time.

Wudi sent several expeditions against them, formed alliances with central Asian tribes, and broke the power of theXiongnu.

With his northwest frontier secured, Wudi expanded into the northeast, conquering Manchuria and much of what is now Korea.

He added territories south of theYangtze River as far as Annam, in northern Vietnam.

The conquest of what is now Yunnan province opened a route into Burma and India. Perhaps the most interesting of Wudi's conquests were those in central Asia.

By taking control of territories in Ferghana (in what is now Uzbekistan) and the valley of theJaxartes River (also called Syr Darya River, in what is now Kazakhstan), far west of China's present boundary, Wudi's troops were able to open the Silk Road, a 6500 km(4000-mi) trade route linking Chang'an and Rome.

The Silk Road allowed China to trade with the states of the Persian Gulf and even of the eastern Mediterranean.

By thetime of his death in 87 BC, Wudi's empire was as large as the Roman empire was to become a few decades later under Julius Caesar. However, Wudi's expansionist policies also had the effect of draining the imperial treasury, necessitating sharp increases in taxes and increased government control of theeconomy.

Although these policies were effective for a short time, in the long term they weakened the dynasty substantially. C Wang Mang Wudi's immediate successors maintained the empire for a time, but three consecutive weak rulers allowed imperial regent Wang Mang (45 BC-AD 23) to concentrate power almost entirely in his own hands.

Wang Mang was a senior member of a family that had married into the imperial clan.

His power grew until finally, in AD 9, he declared himself emperor of the short-lived Xin (Hsin, “New”) dynasty ( AD 9-23). Although Wang Mang had seized power through murder and intrigue, he was a reformer who wanted better, less corrupt government.

He wanted to remedy the abusesresulting from the growing strength of feudalism.

Much of the land was now held in large estates, rented out in small plots to farmers at exorbitant prices.

In the first year ofhis reign, Wang Mang seized all of the land, striking at the power base of the barons and gentry.

The land was divided into equal tracts and given to the farmers whoactually cultivated it.

He then proceeded to abolish slavery, made no-interest loans to farmers, and became a patron of Confucian learning. However, these reforms faced serious opposition.

The feudal barons formed an alliance and rebelled against Wang Mang.

They were joined by members of the Liu family,who were descended from Jingdi (Ching-ti), a former Han emperor, and a civil war followed.

As the empire fell into disorder, militant secret societies formed armed bandsand attacked villages and towns.

Wang Mang had believed that proper institutions would eventually bring peace to China, but in AD 23, an army led by the Liu clan breached the gates of Chang'an, murdered Wang Mang, and restored the Han dynasty. D The Eastern Han During the civil war, the old capital of Chang'an was largely destroyed, and the victorious Liu family moved the capital eastward to Luoyang (Lo-yang), in what is nowHenan province.

The name Han was again used, but Chinese historians refer to the dynasty after Wang Mang as the Eastern, or Later, Han.

Its first ruler, Guangwudi(Kuang-wu-ti, 5 BC-AD 57), was vigorous and assertive.

The borderlands were reoccupied, the Xiongnu were again defeated, and tribute was again collected in Korea and Annam.

Like others of his ancestors, Guangwudi became a patron of Confucian learning and worked toward government reform. His successors were different.

Many took the throne in their teens, and the empire was actually controlled by ministers who encouraged the young emperors to lead a life ofdissipation.

This usually led to an early death, another child emperor, and a continuation of rule from behind the scenes.

Once again, peasant revolts and militaryinsurrections became frequent.

An armed Daoist cult, the Huangjin (Yellow Turbans), spearheaded a revolt that spread through much of the empire.

Generals and ministers plotted coups and counter-coups, with the child emperors as little more than pawns.

One such general, Dong Zhuo (Tung Cho), burned Luoyang in AD 190. Although the dynasty continued in name, the confused power struggle virtually eliminated any real Han authority.

Finally, in 220, the last Han emperor, Xiandi (Hsien-ti),who had been placed on the throne at age eight, formally abdicated in favor of Cao Pi (Ts'ao P'i), the son of his chief minister.

Cao Pi proclaimed himself the first emperor ofthe new Wei dynasty.

This date marks the beginning of the so-called Period of Disunity, which lasted from 220 to 589. E The Period of Disunity Chinese unity was fractured, and three rival states—Wu, Wei, and Shu—contended for power in the territory of what had been the Han empire, waging incessant warfareagainst one another.

In 265 Sima Yan (Ssu-ma Yen), a general of the Wei dynasty, took over the throne and established the Western Jin (Chin) dynasty (265-316) innorthern China.

By 280 he had reunited the north and south under his rule.

Soon after his death in 290, however, the empire began to crumble.

The non-Chinese tribes ofthe north seized the opportunity to attack.

Invasions began in 304, and by 317 the tribes had taken northern China from the Jin.

For almost three centuries northern Chinawas ruled by non-Chinese dynasties, while the south was ruled by a sequence of four Chinese dynasties, all of which were centered in Jiankang (Chien-k'ang), in the area ofwhat is now Nanjing (Nanking).

In 589 Yang Jian (Yang Chien), from the non-Chinese Northern Zhou state, succeeded in conquering all the other states and reuniting Chinaunder what became known as the Sui dynasty (581-618). III ECONOMY During the Han empire, the Chinese were an agricultural people.

Wheat and millet were grown in northern China, as they had been for centuries.

Rice, which can producemore calories per hectare than other grains, continued to be grown wherever farmers could get enough water to do so.

Chinese farmers drained swamps, dammed streams,and built irrigation canals.

During the reign of the early Han emperors, a long period of peace and a strong, centralized government allowed irrigation works to expand.

Moreand better crops were grown, and the population increased.

During the waning days of the Western Han, central control weakened and feudal armies ranged over the land.Then irrigation works fell into disrepair or were destroyed altogether, causing local and regional famines. During the long peace of the Han period, many cities grew in size, particularly Luoyang.

Merchants and craftsmen organized themselves into guilds, and, in fact,membership in the appropriate guild became necessary to engage in most lines of business.

The guilds fixed minimum prices and regulated wages and working hours ofguild members and their employees.

Each guild had a patron god that was enshrined in the guild hall.

The guilds also served as social protection units, and often would call. »


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