The Dynasties of China
The Han Dynasty had previously ruled China from 206 BC to 220 AD. Eventually after the Dynasty fell, it split into different kingdoms under the leadership of their military leaders. This period of chaos and war is known as the Period of Disunion, lasting more than 350 years.
This period of disorder ended when one of the rulers, Wendi, brought the different kingdoms back together. He founded the Sui Dynasty and became the first emperor.
The Sui Dynasty
The Sui Dynasty was a monarchy government with its capitol being the city Chang'an. Emperor Wendi brought along many reforms. He took older dynasties as examples and restored order. He reestablished the bureaucracy and created plans to help men with land and guarantee grains. They also expanded upon the Great Wall.
Probably their biggest accomplishment was the Great Canal. Started during the time of Wendi's son, Yang Di, connected the Northern and Southern parts of China. This 1,000-mile long waterway made transportation and trade a lot easier.
Buddhism was the main religion in China at the time. It was one of the factors that helped reunite China after the Period of Disunion. Emperor Wendi himself converted to Buddhism to make his control over his dynasty stronger.
Along with Buddhism, they also valued poetry in their culture. Popular poets of this time include Yang Guang (the last Sui emperor) and one of his consorts Lady Hou.
During his Reign as emperor, Yang Di, forced millions of peasants to work on many projects, the Great Canal being one of them. As thousands of laborers continued to die, the people started to rebel and eventually, in 618 AD, one of his officials assassinated him, ending the Sui Dynasty. After the fall of the Sui Dynasty, one of the Generals seized power and started the Tang Dynasty.
The Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was a monarchy government with capitol also being Chang'an and also building another one at Louyang. The Tang Dynasty ruled China from 618 to 907 for about 300 years. The Tang basically built their government based off of the Sui's and made it even stronger. The government was still centralized around the authority of officials. They also established a written exam one had to past to become a government officials.
As the Tang expanded the borders of their dynasty, they also expanded its influence on the world. They gained control over certain areas in Central Asia, Korea, and other neighboring areas. Chinese contact with the Tang grew and pretty soon Japanese scholars came and started to study the Tang's government, culture, and way of life in general. The Tang's influence helped their relations and trade with other states flourish and boost their economy.
Literature and art was a big part of Tang culture. Poets such as Du Fu and Li Be wrote poems about Confucianism or War and about friendship or the joy of life respectively. Chinese paintings also progressed during this time period. Wu Daozi painted many paintings that expressed Buddhist culture and ideas. Tang artisans also created sculptures from things like clay. They were made to be put in things like tombs. They often made things that showed entertainment such as games, polo, dancing, etc. They were also extremely good at using porcelain (also known as china). Because if its beautiful glaze and good quality, it was admired around the world.
Major technological achievements were also made. Gunpowder was a big one. it was a game changer in how war would be fought around the world. It also gives us things like fireworks, which was popular in China. The Tang also improved the magnetic compass, helping people to better navigate trade routes over land and sea. Woodblock printing was also a major development. Characters were carved onto blocks of wood, which would be coated in ink and would press down on the paper.
Buddhism was first introduced to China during the time of the Han dynasrty. Since Buddhism taught people how to escpe suffering and achieve peace, it was appealing during that time. By the time of the Tang Dynasty, Buddhism had become well accepted. But then Tang emperors saw the growing Buddhist community as a threat and oreder all of their books and temples to be burned. The religion survived and morfed in with other ideas such as confusionism
Most of this expansion occurred during the reign of the Taizong (626-649). Taizong relied on his ministers and advisers to help him maintain and govern his vast empire. He also built many schools to help students prepare for their civil service in the government.
After the death of Taizong , a new weaker ruler takes his place, but soon his wife, Wu Zhou, takes over to become the only woman in Chinese history to do so. Soon after, she too was overthrown. Then the dynasty reached its peek under Xuanzong (712-756).
The Tang eventually began to decline in the 750's. The government had become weak after putting down a rebellion. They were also losing battles in Northern Central Asia. The Tang Dynasty ended in 907 when a general killed the emperor.
After the fall of the Tang Dynasty, China was once again split into rival kingdoms. For 50 years, China remained that was until it was once again reunited by the emperor Taizu, founder of the Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty reigned supreme over China for about 300 years (960-1279). under their rule, the Chinese civilization became the most advance in the world.
The Song Dynasty was a monarchy government with its capitol being the city of Kaifeng. Taizu had restored centralized government control over china. to help manage the government, the they enlarged government control and enhanced the system for the civil service examinations. The new exams tested students on their knowledge on Confucianism, specifically Neo-Confucianism ("new"-Confucianism). This form of Confucianism emphasized not only ethics and morals, but also spirituality.
These exams were very tough, and those who passed became "scholar-officials". Basically, high members of the government. Since these exams were allowed to everyone, it opened a path way to status and wealth.
Towards the north, there were the Nomadic Jurchen people. despite the many gits given by the Song to try and maintain peace, they were eventually raided and the northern parts were taken over, leaving the Southern Song remaining.
Like many others, Song Culture was also influenced by Tangs. The Song took much of the things during the Tang Dynasty and adapted it to their own, Such as printing. They developed a better form of printing called the movable type. This used individual blocks that could be rearranged to form many different words.
In short, the Sui, Tang and the Song shared many similar qualities, one based on it predecessor.