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Zelesi Chafilwa Student Number: AC1204965 HS150.2.

1 World Civilizations I Assignment 5_05 August 28, 2012

Q. What major changes in political structures, social and economic life, occurred during
each of the following?

The Sui dynasty The Tang dynasty The Song dynasty

(Refer to pages 277-280 of your textbook and additional references.)

China, one of the countries that can boast of an ancient civilization, has a long and mysterious history - almost 5,000 years of it! Like most other great civilizations of the world, China can trace her culture back to a blend of small original tribes which have expanded till they became the great country we have today. It is recorded that Yuanmou man is the oldest hominoid in China and the oldest dynasty is Xia Dynasty. From the long history of China, there emerge many eminent people that have contributed a lot to the development of the whole country and to the enrichment of her history. Among them, there are emperors like Li Shimin (emperor Taizong of the Tang), philosophers like Confucius, great patriotic poets like Qu Yuan and so on.

SUI DYNASTY Started from 581 and ended in 618, the Sui Dynasty lasted for only 38 years and had only three emperors. With a tyrannical second emperor - Emperor Yang, the Sui Dynasty was often

compared to the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC). However, the whole nation was reunified and certain economic and political advances were achieved in the period. In Northern Zhou (557 - 581), Yang Jian, who was born to the noble class and was the Chengxiang (Prime Minister) of the last emperor, monopolized the political and military power and suppressed the separatist forces as well as some other royal forces. In 581, Yang Jian replaced Northern Zhou with Sui and proclaimed himself Emperor Wen. Thus the Sui Dynasty was founded, with Chang'an (currently Xian) the capital and Luoyang the auxiliary capital. In 589, the Sui Court defeated the last of the Southern Dynasties, Chen, and unified the whole nation. As a result of the reunification, the society became stable and peaceful which encouraged economic and political development. At the beginning, the agricultural acreage increased greatly which promoted the crop yield. The skills industry made some new advances with the shipbuilding technology reaching a new high level. Meanwhile, the commerce in Luoyang was fairly prosperous and in order to develop the national economy, a series of policies, such as Juntian (equal division of fields) System and Zutiao (tax moderation) System, were carried out. This equally distributed the farmland and moderated the tax rates while increasing the fiscal revenue. In order to enhance the communication between southern and northern areas, Emperor Yang ordered his people to dredge a grand canal running from north and south. Centering on Luoyang, the Grand Canal was more than 2.5 miles long and functioned as the main artery in the Nation's transportation. The Grand Canal played an important role in economic and cultural exchange between southern and northern areas. There were also many changes in political life. A new political system - Three Departments and Six Ministries was established - the first in Chinese history. Under this system, the royal power was enhanced and the work division in the court became detailed. Since this dynasty, the method of selecting talent was thoroughly overhauled. The traditional Jiupin Zhongzheng (nine ranks of officials) Hierarchical System was replaced by the Imperial Examination System, which connected studying, the taking of examinations and attaining an official position. It had a profound influence on the selection of talent in Chinese history.

TANG DYNASTY At the end of Sui Dynasty (581 - 618), the whole country fell into chaos due to the tyranny of Emperor Yang; rebellions roused by peasants were everywhere. Resenting Emperor Yang's ruling, the chief officer of Taiyuan - Li Yuan, who was also known as Tangguo Gong (a vassal in Sui Court) raised an army in Taiyuan from May 617. In November of the same year, Li Yuan's army captured the capital city Chang'an (currently Xian) and put a new monarch, Yang You, on the throne as Emperor Gong. Meanwhile, Li Yuan proclaimed himself Da Chengxiang (prime minister) and Tang Wang (King of Tang). In 618 after Emperor Yang was killed by his chancellor, Yuwen Huaji, Li Yuan seized the chance to proclaim himself emperor and changed the state title into Tang, still with Chang'an as the capital city.

The first glorious period was from 627 to 649 when the Tang Dynasty was just set up and its national strength was recovering from the previous weak condition. Under Emperor Taizong Li Shimin's wise governing, the national strength and social development reached an unparalleled prosperity - economy and commerce flourished, the social order was stable, corruption never existed in the court and the national boundaries were even open to foreign countries. The second glorious period was during Emperor Xuanzong's reign. In 712, Emperor Ruizong abdicated and Li Longji was enthroned as Emperor Xuanzong. Under his ruling, the national economy, politics and culture all developed rapidly and the social development entered a new heyday. In that period, Chang'an City was the largest and the most prosperous metropolis in the world. Since the title of Xuanzong's reign was Kaiyuan, that period was called the Heyday of Kaiyuan, in which the Tang Dynasty reached its summit of prosperity.

SONG DYNASTY Starting in 960 and ending in 1279, the Song Dynasty consisted of the Northern Song (960-1127) and the Southern Song (1127-1279). With a prosperous economy and radiant culture, the Song Dynasty was considered as another period of 'golden age' after the glorious Tang Dynasty (618 907). Generally, the Song Dynasty was prosperous in many respects of the society. In agriculture, the productive technology was improved which promoted the output of food; in handicraft industry, the division of labor became more detailed which made the handicrafts technology reach an advanced level; additionally, the development of the commodity economy exceeded the previous level. Particularly, the earliest paper currency appeared at that period. As for the development of science and culture, tremendous achievements were made in the Song Dynasty. Two of China's four great inventions - typography and compass were both invented and the application of gunpowder also developed rapidly. With regard to literature, a large number of outstanding scholars and poets, such as Zhuxi, Ouyang Xiu, Su Shi, Sima Guang and Shen Kuo, emerged and built up the splendid cultural atmosphere of the Song Dynasty.

CONCLUSION Chinese society has progressed through five major stages - Primitive Society, Slave Society, Feudal Society, Semi-feudal and Semi-colonial Society, and Socialist Society. The rise and fall of the great dynasties forms a thread that runs through Chinese history, almost from the beginning. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1st, 1949, China has become a socialist society and become stronger and stronger.


Britannica. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2012, from Britannica website: Chapter 12: Reunification and Renaissance in Chinese Civilization: The Era of the Tang and Song Dynasties. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2012, from Pearson Website: Duiker, W. J. (2010). World History. In W. J. Duiker, World History (pp. 277 - 280). Boston: Wadsworth: Cengage Learning. Travel China Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved August 28, 2012, from Travel China Guide: