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History of China
|Neolithic c. 8500 – c. 2070 BC|
|Xia dynasty c. 2070 – c. 1600 BC|
|Shang dynasty c. 1600 – c. 1046 BC|
|Zhou dynasty c. 1046 – 256 BC|
|Spring and Autumn|
|Qin dynasty 221–206 BC|
|Han dynasty 206 BC – 220 AD|
|Three Kingdoms 220–280|
|Wei, Shu and Wu|
|Jin dynasty 265–420|
|Eastern Jin||Sixteen Kingdoms|
| Southern and Northern Dynasties|
|Sui dynasty 581–618|
|Tang dynasty 618–907|
|(Wu Zhou interregnum 690–705)|
| Five Dynasties and
| Liao dynasty|
| Song dynasty
|Northern Song||W. Xia|
|Yuan dynasty 1271–1368|
|Ming dynasty 1368–1644|
|Qing dynasty 1644–1911|
|Republic of China 1912–1949|
|Republic of |
China on Taiwan
The History of China covers thousands of years. The earliest records are from about 1250 BC but a few things are known about earlier times. Chinese history covers many periods and dynasties. It may be divided into the following parts:
- 1 Prehistory
- 2 Ancient history
- 3 Imperial China
- 4 Modern era
- 5 Other websites
Prehistory means history of a time before any written record. In such cases, it is very difficult to tell anything definite about the prehistory of China or any other country. Even then, historians believe some facts about the China of that period. About a million years ago Homo erectus, an early human species, lived in China. Later, about 65,000 years ago, modern human beings Homo sapiens reached China from Africa. For food, they hunted wild animals. They also began to pick and gather fruits, eventually resulting in the Chinese learning to farm by 5000 BC. They had started cultivating rice and possibly other types of grains. By 2500 BC, the Bronze Age had come to China. A ruling class with kings and queens had come into society.
Some scholars think that about 4000 years ago, the Xia dynasty ruled China. Yu(Da Yu) was the first ruler of this dynasty. There are few credible sources about Yu(who could have been legendary), his time, and other rulers of the Xia dynasty.
From the time of the Shang Dynasty, some written history is available. Writings were done on Oracle Bones. Several such bones and shells have been found. Scholars believe that present day Henan was the ninth and last capital of kings of the Shang Dynasty.
Most Chinese historians of that time think that one dynasty came after another but it is possible that two dynasties were ruling in different parts of China at the same time. Therefore, some scholars think that Xia dynasty and Shang Dynasty may have ruled at the same time, but in different areas of China.
About 1046 BC, the Zhou Dynasty defeated the last king of the Shang Dynasty and came to power. They changed the capital from Henan to a place near present-day Xi'an, near the Yellow River. The Zhou Dynasty also brought a new theory to China(see the Mandate of Heaven). Almost all dynasties of Chinese rulers continued to repeat this theory. The kings of this dynasty won many new areas. For the first time in the history of China, a large number of people also moved from one area to another area for settlement.
Spring and Autumn period
The Spring and Autumn Period was around the 8th century BC. The Zhou dynasty continued, but its power waned as the lords gained lands and followers. Many kings ruled in different parts of China. China became several fragmented states, each ruled by a different king. In some cases, a king ruled just a village with a small fort.
Warring States period
The Spring and Autumn Period continued for about 300 years. By the 5th century BC, there were only seven main Chinese states left. They had taken over all the smaller areas. These states continued to fight each other. Historians call this period the Warring States Period due to wars and fights among these states. In 221BC, Ying Zheng, king of the State of Qin, united all the seven states. He made himself the Emperor of China and founded the Qin Dynasty.
Qin Dynasty was a very important dynasty in the history of China. They followed the philosophy of Legalism. Their capital was at Xianyang. Under the king of this dynasty, China became a powerful country. Many new things were done for the first time. A tight legal system was followed. Written language was developed. Common currency was used. The building of the Great Wall of China was started.
The Han dynasty was founded by Liu Bang after the Qin dynasty ended. During the Han dynasty, the territory of China expanded, and many advancements in science and technology took place. It was considered to be a golden age in Chinese history.
The Three Kingdoms
The Three Kingdoms period (traditional Chinese: 三國; simplified Chinese: 三国; pinyin: Sānguó) is a period of history where China was divided into the states of Cao Wei, Shu Han, and Eastern Wu. The Eastern Han dynasty lost all power. Eventually, the Han dynasty emperor abdicated.
The Sui Dynasty (隋朝朝 Suí cháo; 581-618) was founded by Emperor Wen, or Yang Jian. Its capital was Chang'an (present-day Xi'an). The dynasty is important because it reunited Southern and Northern China and the Grand Canal was built in that time.
The Tang Dynasty was founded by the Li (李) family, who came to power during the fall of the Sui Empire. The dynasty was interrupted for a short time by the Second Zhou Dynasty (16 October 690–3 March 705) when Empress Wu Zetian managed to claim the throne, becoming the first and only Chinese Empress.
The capital of the Tang, Chang'an (today Xi'an), was the biggest city in the world at the time. Many historians see the Tang dynasty as a high point in Chinese civilization and as a golden age of cosmopolitan culture.
The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
The Yuan Dynasty was first ruled by Genghis Khan, a Mongolian leader who took control from the Song Dynasty. He was considered a barbarian and not civilized. His grandson, Kublai Khan, was one of the most famous and liked rulers of the Yuan dynasty. He opened up China to many other cultures and improved life for the Chinese very much.
In 1368, a rebellion led by Zhu Yuanzhang broke out in southern China, and eventually overthrew the Yuan Dynasty. Then Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty at Nanjing, its capital until Emperor Yongle changed the capital to Beijing. In the 15th century, a man named Zheng He took the majority of the Ming navy and explored the Indian Ocean, and brought wealth and power to the Ming Dynasty. The empire experienced a prosperous period until 1449, when the Battle of Tumu Fortress broke out. In the battle the Mongol descendants of Yuan captured the emperor and surrounded the capital. After the war with the Mongols, the Ming started to decline. During this time, the empire had two wars with the Japanese (the first against the Japanese pirates took place at southeastern China; the second against the armies of Toyotomi Hideyoshi that invaded Korea), and one war with the Portuguese of Macao. These wars eventually weakened the declining empire. In 1616, rebellions broke out at Manchuria and Shanxi. Twenty-eight years later, the Manchus crossed the Great Wall, invaded the capital, and destroyed the Shanxi rebels.
The Republic of China
People's Republic of China
Mao Zedong was the leader of the People's Republic of China from 1949 until his death in 1976.
- History of China: Table of Contents - Chaos Group at University of Maryland
- Chinese Database by Academia Sinica
- Manuscript and Graphics Database by Academia Sinica
- China Chronology World History Database Archived 2010-11-08 at the Wayback Machine
- Ancient Asian World Archived 2012-05-15 at the Wayback Machine History, culture and archaeology of the ancient Asian continent. Many articles and pictures
- A universal guide for China studies Archived 2012-11-29 at the Wayback Machine
- Chinese History Forum
- History Forum - Discuss Chinese history at History Forum's Asian History section
- Chinese Siege Warfare - Mechanical Artillery and Siege Weapons of Antiquity - An Illustrated History bought to you by History Forum
- A Simplified History of China
- Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese Home Explore the historical contents of domestic architecture during the Qing dynasty and its pertinence to Chinese heritage and historical culture.
- Early Medieval China Archived 2006-07-19 at the Wayback Machine is a journal devoted to academic scholarship relating to the period roughly between the end of the Han and beginning of the Tang eras.
- Cultural Revolution Propaganda Poster
- China Rediscovers its Own History 100 minute lecture on Chinese history given by renowned scholar/author Yu Ying-shih, Emeritus Professor of East Asian Studies and History at Princeton University.
- Resources for Middle School students Readable resources for students in grades 5-9 - more than 250 links.
- China, history -Citizendium