Asia 550-1400 AD

Chinese Empires

Sui Dynasty (589-618)

The Sui Dynasty was located on the eastern part of China. It was founded by Wendi, also known as Yang Jian, who became the first Sui Emperor. The Sui Dynasty ruled for a very short period of time, approximately 30 years. It had a centralized government and bureaucracy. The capital of the Sui was Chang'an. The Sui was greatly influenced by many previous Chinese dynasties, such as the Qin. The Sui Dynasty helped unite China after a time of disunion.  

The Grand Canal is the Sui Dynasty's greatest accomplishment. The Grand Canal, built by Emperor Yang, is a 1,000 mile waterway that linked northern and southern China. This allowed northern China to have access to southern resources.

Tang Dynasty (618-907)

The Tang Dynasty was located throughout all of China. The Tang came to be when a Sui general, Li Yuan, seized power. He became known as Emperor Gaozu of Tang. The Tang ruled from 618 to 907 AD, almost 300 years. The Tang also had a centralized bureaucratic government. The Tang Dynasty spread all across China, including the land of the previous Sui Dynasty. Most of this expansion was due to Taizong, who ruled from 626 to 649. The Tang kept Chang'an as one capital, but made a second in Luoyang. The Tang Dynasty was very similar to Sui Dynasty, and was influenced by previous dynasties as well. The Tang Dynasty had many achievements. The Tang expanded the Civil Service tests, as well as created a law code. The Tang period also had some China's greatest poets.

Buddhism is a very important part of Tang culture. Although Buddhism spread to China during the Han Dynasty, it became very popular during the Tang. This is because many people converted to Buddhism during the Period of Disunion due to the fact that Buddhism thaught people could escape suffering and find peace.

Song Dynasty (960-1279)

The Song Dynasty was located in eastern China. It lasted from 960 to 1279 AD. Again, almost 300 years. The Song Dynasty was split into two separate parts. First came the Northern Song, followed by the Southern Song. Northern Song was the initial land that the Song Dynasty had; but after some time, nomadic people threatened the Song borders and conquered the northern territory. Despite this, the Song continued to rule in the South. This time is called the Southern Song.

Gun powder was one of the main inventions of the early Song Dynasty. During this time, gun powder was mainly used for fireworks. As time progressed, gun powder spread across the world and people started using it for weapons, such as cannons and firearms.

The Mongol Empire

The Mongols

During the Song Dynasty, attacks from nomadic people began to become more and more frequent. In the 1200's, a nomadic group called the Mongols came into China from Central Asia and began to conquer great amounts of land. The most famous Mongol Leader was Temijin, more commonly known as Genghis Khan, which means "Universal Ruler". He was very powerful and started conquering other Mongol clans. Because of this he began to build an empire. Despite the Mongols brutal fighting strategies, they ruled their empire peacefully. They were willing to tolerate local cultures.

The Mongols were very skilled in battle. They used horses to travel farther distance in shorter amounts of time. The Mongols moved faster than anyone could at that time. The Mongols fighting strategies are what made the Mongols famous. The Mongols also made many advancements in weapons and battle skills.

Yuan Dynasty

In 1260, Kublai Khan became the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. He created the Yuan Dynasty. The Yuan Dynasty included all the land the Mongols conquered. Kublai Khan made sure to include some Chinese culture in his new empire to gain the people's loyalty. He moved the capital from Mongolia to China. The new city was called Beijing, the current capital of China. Under Kublai Khan, trading increased. He had large ships built to improve over seas trading.


The Yamato Clan

According to legend, the first emperor of Japan was a descendant of the sun goddess, Amaterasu. This emperor ruled over the Yamato Clan. The Yamato Clan lived on the Yamato Plain, located on the island of Honshu. Because of the fertile farming region, it was an ideal place to live. The Yamato Clan controlled most of Honshu and began calling themselves emperors of Japan. Eventually, other clans came to power and the Yamato clan had no more power.

(the pink area is the Yamato Plain)

The Heian Period

In 794, Japan's capital moved to Heian. Because of this, many nobles also moved there. There was a court society developed where Japanese culture flourished. This time from 794 to 1185 is called the Heian Period. Heian was a very place to live. Everyone was wealthy and did not have to worry about many of the struggles a common person at that time would have had.

During the Heian Period, women enjoyed reading and writing. Heian women wrote some of the most famous Japanese literature. Lady Murasaki Shikibu is considered one of the greatest authors at this time. She wrote the book "The Tale of Genji". It is considered the world's first full-length novel.


The Koryo Dynasty

The Koryo Dynasty lasted from 935 to 1392. It was founded by Taejo Wang Geon. The Koryo was greatly influenced by China. It shared much of the same cultures as earlier Chinese dynasties. Even though the two were similar, the Koryo rulers made sure that there were distinct Korean features mixed in with the shared customs. The Koryo Dynasty was located on the Korean Peninsula.

One achievement of the Koryo Dynasty was their art. Korean artisans made pottery covered in a blue-green glaze called celadon. Celadon pottery was somewhat similar to pottery from earlier Chinese dynasties, but it was very beautiful and highly prized.

Southeast Asia

The Pagan Kingdom

The Pagan Kingdom was established by a people called the Burmans. It is located in present day Myanmur, in the fertile Irrawaddy River valley. The first great king was Anawrahta who ruled from 1044 to 1077. He conquered much land and began to unite Myanmar under his rule. When the Mongols demanded tribute from them, Anawrahta refused. One of his sons killed him and then paid the Mongols. Pagan survived, bu it had lost all it's power.

The Khmer Empire

The Khmer Empire was to the southeast of the Pagan Empire. It began to conquer other lands by the early 800's. The Khmer was strongly influenced by India. The capital of teh Khmer Empire was Angkor. The rulers adopted Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Because of the religious beliefs, large temples were built. One of the most famous temples is Angkor Wat. The ruins still stand today.

Trading Kingdoms

On the islands off of Southeast Asia, several trading kingdoms developed. One of these kingdoms was Sailendra on the island of Java. It lasted about one hundred years. The people of Sailendra relied on trading and farming for survival. The kingdom adopted Mahayana Buddhism and is famous for their Buddhist art and architecture. There was also the wealthy Srivijaya Empire centered on the island of Sumatra.This empire gained all it's wealth because it had control of overseas traders through the Malacca and Sunda straits. The Srivijaya also adopted Buddhism, as well as Hinduism, and mixed it in with their beliefs. The Srivijaya capital, Palembang, became the a center of Buddhist learning.

The Buddhist temple at Borobudur, Java is one of the most famous Sailendra achievements. It has nine terraced levels to symbolize the different stages of the Buddhist spiritual journey.


In 111 BC, the Han Dynasty conquered the kingdom on Nam Viet in current day northern Vietnam. Because of this, Vietnam had a strong Chinese influence, versus an Indian influence like many other regions at this time. Despite the Chinese influence, Vietnam still maintained many of their traditional customs.  An example of this is their religion. Even though they adopted Mahayana Buddhism, they continued to believe in nature spirits. The Vietnamese rebelled multiple times in hopes of regaining independence. One of the most famous rebellions took place in AD 39. Two sisters, the Trung sisters, raised an army and drove the Chinese out of Vietnam for a short period of time. The Chinese soon regained control of Vietnam. In 939, the Vietnamese finally succeeded in gaining independence.

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