Chinese Dynasties

Sui, Tang, and Song Dynasties

The Sui Dynasty thrived from 581-618 . The Sui dynasty was founded by Emperor Wendi. Wendi was also known as Yang Di. Emperor Wendi was the first emperor of the Sui Dynasty. The Sui Dynasty’s capital came to be Luoyang. Wendi was influenced by the reunification of Southern and Northern China, the construction of the Grand Canal, and the construction of the Great Wall of China. Emperors Wen and Yang undertook various reforms including the Equal-field system, initiated to reduce the rich-poor social gap that resulted in enhanced agricultural productivity, centralization of government power. During Yang Di’s region, he forced millions of peasants to work on the Grand Canal and other project. Hundreds of thousands of labors died, leading to discontent and rebellion. A series of failed military campaigns worsened the situation. In 618 an official assassinated Yang Di, and the Sui Dynasty quickly rushed to an end.

The Tang Dynasty lasted from 618 - 907. Flourishing with art and literature, this dynasty was a time of great growth both intellectually and financially. The Tang rulers built on Sui foundations to create a strong government. They established one capital at Chang’an and the Tang’s second capital was the Sui’s capital, Luoyang. Tang rulers created a flexible law code that became the model law code for Korea and Japan. The Tang dynasty expanded China. Tang forces regained western lands in Central Asia and gained influence over Korea. This expansion occurred during the region of Taizong, who ruled from 626 to 649 BC. After Taizong’s death, his wife Wu Zhao gained power. She was the only women to become empire throughout Chinese history. The last ruler of the Tang Dynasty was Xuanzong, who ruled from 712 to 726 .

The establishment of the Song Dynasty was in 960 AD. The first emperor of the Song Dynasty adopted a centralized bureaucratic system employing scholar-officials. The capital of the Song Dynasty Kaifeng, which restored a centralized government. The Song Dynasty had many cultural achievements like painting, calligraphy and glazed porcelain. The military in the Song Dynast was not as powerful as it had been in the previous Han and Tang Dynasties. The Song frequently signed treaties that were unfair to them just to end fighting, and temporary peace with nomads was achieved by paying tribute to their enemies. This dynasty did not collapse internally, as so many others had, but was overthrown by Mongols.

The Mongol Empire and The Yuan Dynasty

-      In the 1200s a nomadic people called the Mongols came from Central Asia. They would create a large land empire in history and conquer China. Over the next twenty years, Genghis Khan led the Mongols in conquering Asia. When Genghis Khan died in 1227,the Mongols ruled must of Northern China and Central Asia. The Mongols divided Genghis Khan’s empire into four regions. Under the rule of Kublai Khan, the Mongols continued to complete the conquest of China and Korea. Another grandson, Hulegu, ruled part of the empire. He conquered Persia. Batu, another grandson, took up the task of conquering Russia. Although harsh in building their empire, the Mongols ruled it peacefully. They dealt with local beliefs and the ways of life. The Mongol Empire established peace and stability across Asia. For this reason, people call this period the Pax Mongolia which means Mongol peace. Death which swept away much of Europe during the 1300s, this also spread from Asia to the Middle East during this time.

In 1260, Kublai Khan became the great Khan of the Mongol Empire. In 1279, the last Song ruler was defeated. This led to the creation of the Yuan Dynasty. Kublai Khan declared himself empire and for the first time foreigners ruled all of China. The new capitol was located was located what is now the city of Beijing. At his new capitol, he built a walled city. The Yuan Dynasty began to weaken during the last part of Kublai Khan’s region. This was caused by military defeats and invasions failing. In the 1300s many Chinese sub groups rebelled against the Yuan Dynasty , and in 1368 a rebel army defeated the Mongols.

Yamato Clan and Heian Period

According to the legion Japan’s first emperor was the grandson of the sun goddess. This emperor belonged to the Yamato Clan. The Yamato Clan lived on the Yamato plain. This was a rich farming region on the island of Honshu. Although they didn’t control of Japan, the Yamato chiefs began to call themselves the empires of Japan. Other clans eventually gained power over Yamato. The leaders of these clans didn’t remove the Yamato Empire, instead they controlled him. This political system, continued in Japan until the 1900s.


In 794, Japan’s emperor moved to the capitol Hein, which is now called Kyoto. The nobles at Hein lived in beautiful palaces and enjoyed lives of ease and privilege. They loved elegance and beauty. Nobles spent lots of time writing letters and speaking properly. Hein woman produced some of the best works in early Japan’s literature. One of the greatest writers was Lady Murasaki-Shikibu. She wrote the Tale of Gengi, one of the world’s first full length novel.

Koryo Dynasty

    After the Silla kingdom eventually weakened, rebels founded the Koryo dynasty. This Dynasty lasted until 1392. Koryo adopted a civil service examination system similar to China’s. During the Koryo period, Korean culture thrived. Koryo artisans created pottery called celadon. In addition the Korean’s used Chinese methods of printing. When the Yuan Dynasty weakened, Koreans revolted. In 1392, a Korean general founded a new Dynasty which ruled until 1910.

Pagan Kingdom, Khmer Empire, Trading Kingdoms, and Vietnam


Around the AD 840s, people called the Burmans established the kingdom Pagan. The kingdom was located in the fertile Irrawaddy River Valley. Pagan’s first great king was Anawrahta,who ruled from 1044 to 1077. King Anawrahta began to conquer the surrounding areas. His conquests provided Pagan with access to trading ports, and the kingdom grew. Anawrahta and her successors supported Theravada Buddhism. They built thousands of Buddhist temples and Pagan became a center of Buddhist learning. The Venetian traveler Marco Polo who visited the Mongol court in China, even mentioned the splendor of Pagan. Pagan culture established principals that continue to influence their religion and society.

    To the southeast of Pagan, is the strong Khmer empire arose into what today is Cambodia. Khmer began to conquer the kingdoms to build a great empire. The Khmer empire reflected a strong Indian influence. The empire’s followed the beliefs of both Hindu and Buddhist and ruled as Gods. The capitol of the Khmer empire was Angkor. The Khmer rulers had major building projects because their empire prospered. In time, costly building projects and invaders contributed to the empires decline.

     To the south of the main land, several trading kingdoms developed on the islands of southeast Asia. The people of this kingdom relied on trade and agriculture for their livelihood. The kingdom adopted Mahayana Buddhism and is known for impressive Buddhist art and architecture. The people of Srivijaya adopted Hinduism and Buddhism with local beliefs. The Srivijaya capital, located at Palembang on Sunatra. As Islam spread throughout the islands of southeast Asia, Muslim traders developed a stable trade network that linked to other Muslim ports in Asia and Africa.


While most of southeast Asia was influenced by India, Vietnam was strongly influenced by China. Under Chinese rule, Vietnam absorbed many aspects of Chinese civilizations. Chinese rulers forced the Vietnamese to adopt the Chinese language in Chinese clothing language and hairstyles. Confucianism and Daoism influenced Vietnamese society. The Vietnamese adopted many features of Chinese government. Two sisters, named Trung Trac and Trung Nhi raised an army and briefly drove the Chinese from Vietnam. The Chinese soon regained control of Vietnam and the sisters drowned themselves. The Chinese failed their attempts to reconquer Vietnam. In the late 1200s the Mongols invaded but the Vietnamese defeated the Mongols and remained independent.

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