China Ancient History Part III

By | October 18, 2021

A theocratic community founded by Zhang Lu (Chang Lu) in western China, whose grandfather Zhang Daoling (Chang Tao-ling) went back to it, which was referred to as the “five bushel rice sect” because of the contributions to be paid by its members, considered disease as a sign of sin and promised healing through the confession of sin. She submitted to the political authorities in good time and was therefore able to develop into the recognized Daoist sect of the “Heavenly Masters”, who to this day venerate Zhang Daoling as her first patriarch. The simultaneous movement “Path of Supreme Peace” (Taiping dao, T’ai-p’ing-tao), which was centered around Zhang Jue (Chang Chüeh, † 184) in eastern China, was less successful.grouped. It too had a political claim, indeed it inspired China’s first major religiously motivated uprising and led to the rebellion of the »yellow urban«, which brought the end of the cell phone dynasty. Although the weakened dynasty was able to put down the rebellion, the victorious generals did not give up power and now pursued their own dynastic plans.

The first reliable population figures are available for the Hanzeit. A census from the year 2 AD counted 12 million households, not quite 60 million residents. In 140 AD there were 9.5 million households, about 49 million residents.

First division of the empire (220-589)

The warlords involved in the suppression of the uprising of the “Yellow Turban” created their own spheres of power, from which the “Three Kingdoms” (Sanguo, San-kuo) emerged: Wei (220–265) in the north, in whose favor the last emperor the Cell dynasty abdicated, Shu (221-263) in the southwest and Wu (222-280) in the southeast. The economically and militarily strong Wei was able to conquer the state of Shu, but then fell victim to a coup by the Sima (Ssu-ma) family, whose own dynasty Jin (Chin) reunited the empire with the conquest of Wu (Western Jin, 265-316). Disputes within the ruling Sima familyas well as conflicts with other powerful clans, however, did not allow the dynasty to find any internal cohesion. In addition, there were huge natural disasters and famines, among other things. caused regional uprisings and an exodus from northern China, a country located in Asia according to In addition to all of this, foreign policy pressure from non-Chinese peoples (the so-called Wu hu, “five barbarians”) grew in the north, v. a. the Xiongnu.

The Western Jin dynasty succumbed to this pressure and only one generation after the unification of the empire had to give up parts of its territory and withdraw to the southeast. Now called Eastern Jin (317-420), what is now Nanjing became their capital. The rulership extended to the north as far as the Yangtze River and the Huai He approach. With the exodus of the 4th century, the demographic and economic emphasis began to move south, to an area favorable for wet rice cultivation. The division of the empire, again marked with the establishment of the Eastern Jin dynasty, was to remain characteristic of the next three centuries. It roughly corresponds to a division of China into a northern and a southern half, with the Yangtze River as the border.

In the south, six short-lived dynasties with a capital in today’s Nanjing replaced each other, all of which were ruled by a small group of powerful aristocratic families and their generals – mostly emigrants from the north. The political situation was unstable. Occasional attempts to retake the north failed, but successful expansion to the south took place. Despite their political weakness, these dynasties were bearers of refined culture (literature, calligraphy, painting), a lively religious life (Buddhism and Daoism) and the awareness that they were the true heir to Chinese culture.

The events in the north, formerly the most advanced, richest and most populous area of ​​China, have been reduced to a common denominator with the term “Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarians” (Wu hu shiliu guo, Wu-hu shih-liu-kuo). He refers to states that between 302 and 439 claimed parts of China in the north, north-west or south-west in continuous wars, destruction and anarchy. However, recent research indicates that the “barbaric” founders of the state were mostly not conquerors, but had lived on Chinese territory for a long time. First the Toba were able to restore a stable order in northern China with their Northern Wei dynasty (386-534). They tried unsuccessfully to preserve their cultural identity. At the end of the 5th century there was a legally mandated compulsory Sinization of their nobility; the now mixed-blooded nobility made up the power elite until the middle of the 8th century. The Toba also introduced the even distribution of land (Juntian, Chün-t’ien) to strengthen a free peasantry and to prevent large landowners, a policy which the successor dynasties Sui and Tang (T’ang) followed. Buddhism, known in China since the 1st century ADnow supplanted Confucianism, which had lost its political base after the decline of the central power, and Daoism. For half a millennium Buddhism became the leading spiritual and religious power, but also an economic power due to the large monastery possessions, and in the north under the Toba rulers even the state religion.

China Ancient History