China Ancient History Part VII

By | October 22, 2021

The Mongols had always come into contact with several cultural influences in their traditional settlement area. Shamanistic, Buddhist and popular religious elements combined in their religion. They were indifferent to Confucianism, at most they showed interest in popular Daoism. But other Chinese and foreign religions – Nestorian Christianity, Judaism, Islam – were tolerated, and the clergy even enjoyed tax exemption.

The Mongols also took a liking to the bourgeois culture of the Chinese cities; Opera and novel were able to develop further under her aegis. The scholarly culture, which had always been promoted publicly, now survived mainly in private circles. Neither they nor the Chinese folk culture showed any foreign influences, despite the close contact that the Mongolian Empire established between the east and the west. However, for the first time Europe has now received direct news from China and other countries beyond the Islamic world about the Franciscan monks Giovanni dal Piano dei Carpini († 1252), Wilhelm von Rubruk, Odorico da Pordenone († 1331) and who traveled to the Mongol court on behalf of the papal Giovanni dei Marignolli († 1359); the latter two reached Beijing. The most lasting effect, however, was the trip to Asia of the Venetian merchant Marco Polo (1271–95), whose detailed report stimulated later voyages of discovery.

Chinese achievements such as compass and letterpress (printing process) found their way west. China’s openness to the world, shown earlier, was lost after the song returned to its own traditions – not least because of the ongoing defensive battles against foreign peoples. Nationalism and xenophobia, on the other hand, became increasingly noticeable. In the end, the Yuan dynasty fell victim to the classic uprisings of impoverished peasants, which – given the ethnic discrimination they had previously suffered – were also marked by national uprising. These were, of course, made easier by disputes within the Mongolian clans. All in all, the Mongols (unlike other foreign rulers) adapted their style of government strongly to China, a country located in Asia according to, but they were not sinized in their entire way of life.

Ruling dynasties in China

Chinese dynasties
Traditional chronology:
Legendary emperors (9 rulers) 2852-2205 BC Chr.
Xia (Hsia) (17 rulers) 2205-1766 BC Chr.
(? Erlitou) around 2500-1500 BC Chr.
Historical chronology:
Shang, later Yin (28 rulers) around the 16th  century to around 1050 BC Chr.
Zhou (Chou; 38 ruler) about 1050 to 249 BC Chr.
Western Zhou (12 rulers) about 1050 to 771 BC Chr.
Eastern Zhou (26 rulers) 771-249 BC Chr.
Qin (Ch’in; 3 rulers) 221-206 BC Chr.
Han 202 BC BC to AD 220
Western (former) Han (15 rulers) 202 BC Chr. To 9 n. Chr. 23-25 and n.  Chr.
Xin (Hsin; 1 ruler) 9-23 AD
Eastern (Later) Han (14 rulers) 25-220
Three realms (Sanguo, San-kuo) 220-265 / 280
Wei (5 rulers) 220-265
Shu (2 rulers) 221-263
Wu (4 rulers) 222-280
Jin (Chin) 265-420
Western Jin (4 rulers) 265-316
Eastern Jin (11 rulers) 317-420
1. Separation into north and south(Nanbei Chao, Nan-pei ch’ao) 420-589 and 386-581, respectively
In the south:
Southern Dynasties (Nanchao, Nan-ch’ao) 420-589
Song (Sung; 8 rulers) 420-479
Qi (Ch’i; 7 rulers) 479-502
Liang (6 rulers) 502-557
Chen (Ch’en; 5 rulers) 557-589
In the North:
Sixteen States (Shiliuguo, Shih-liu-kuo) 304-439
Tibetans: 4 dynasties, 19 rulers
Xiongnu (Hsiungnu): 4 dynasties, 19 rulers
Mongols: 5 dynasties, 16 rulers
Chinese: 3 dynasties, 14 rulers
Northern Dynasties (Beichao, Pei-ch’ao) 386-581
Northern Wei or Toba-Wei (Topa-Wei; 14 rulers) 386-534
Western Wei (3 rulers) 535-556
Eastern Wei (1 ruler) 534-550
Northern Zhou (Chou; 6 rulers) 556-581
Northern Qi (Ch’i; 6 rulers) 550-577
Sui (3 rulers) 581 / 589-618
Tang (T’ang; 22 rulers) 618-907
2. Separation into north and south 907-979
In the North:
Five Dynasties (Wudai, Wu-tai) 907-960
Later Liang (2 rulers) 907-923
Later Tang (T’ang; 4 rulers) 923-936
Later Jin (Chin; 2 rulers) 936-946
Later Han (2 rulers) 947-950
Later Zhou (Chou; 3 rulers) 951-960
In the south:
Ten States (Shiguo, Shih-kuo) 902-979
Wu (4 rulers) 902-937
Southern Tang (T’ang; 3 rulers) 937-975
Former Shu (2 rulers) 907-925
Later Shu (2 rulers) 934-965
Southern Han (4 rulers) 917-917
Chu (Ch’u; 6 rulers) 927-951
Wuyue (Wu-yüeh; 5 rulers) 907-987
Min (6 rulers) 909-944
Jingnan (Ching-nan; 5 rulers) 925-963
Northern Han (4 rulers; in the north) 951-979
Song (sung) 960-1279
Northern Song (9 rulers) 960-1127
Southern Song (9 rulers) 1127-1279
Foreign dynasties (in the north) 907-1271
Liao (9 rulers; Kitan) 907-1125
Xixia (Hsi-Hsia; 10 rulers; Tanguts) 1032 / 38-1227
Jin (Chin; 9 rulers; Jurdschen) 1115-1234
Yuan (Yüan; 12 rulers; Mongols) 1271 / 79-1368
Ming (17 rulers) 1368-1644
Qing (Ch’ing; 12 rulers; Manchu) 1644-1911 / 12

Ming (1368-1644)

Zhu Yuanzhang (Chu Yüan-chang), as Emperor Taizu (T’ai-tsu, 1368–98), the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty, came from Anhui, a stronghold of the messianically inspired sect »White Lotus«, whose mixed doctrine of folk-religious-Buddhist Elements with a Manichaean influence was a driving force behind the first uprisings of the population of central and northern China, impoverished by extinction and natural disasters. In his childhood and adolescence, overshadowed by hardship and misery, a mendicant and beggar monk, Zhu Yuanzhang concluded joined the rebels in his homeland, swung himself up to their leaders and, after long fighting, knocked other regional rulers of central and southern China out of the field. In 1368, after a skilfully conducted national, anti-Mongolian propaganda campaign, he conquered the still Mongolian-ruled north and took the capital Beijing after he had previously proclaimed the national Ming dynasty (“the bright” or “the enlightened”); the name of which may have made a conscious reference to Manichaeism. However, he himself expanded Nanjing as the capital. Until his death (1398) he secured campaigns in Manchuria, Mongolia and south-west China took control of the classical territories of China and created a Chinese empire again.

China Ancient History Ming