Rise of Imperial China

China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The problem with this time line is really the same as with the others and that is the limited information about ancient things.  The other problem is that many of us in the West have not studied history of this area.  As I was growing up China was largely a mystery and I was under the impression that even this brief treatment would be difficult to produce.  Clearly that has not been the case but I remain unsure of much of this.



Other Traditions


1600 - 1046 BC Israel in Egypt Shang Dynasty The first historical Chinese dynasty
1111–255 BC


Kingdom of Israel

Ch'ou Dynasty China began to be unified into a single civilization

The Ch'ou Dynasty also included the teachings of Confucius and Mo-tzu, who emphasized virtue, humanity, the importance of social relationships and a just ruler.

221-206 BC   Ch'in Dynasty The feudal system was abolished completely and China was divided into 40 prefectures. A network of highways was built for the emperor's troops, and several hundred thousand workers were enlisted to connect and strengthen the walls on the northern border of China. The resulting wall (now known as the Great Wall of China) extended from Gulf of Chihli westward across the pastureland of what is today Inner Mongolia and through the fertile loop of the Huang Ho to the edge of Tibet.
206/202 BC - 220 Macabees Han Dynasty The first dynasty to embrace Confucianism, which became the ideological underpinning of all regimes until the end of imperial China.

During the Han Dynasty, emperors were seen as ruling under the Mandate of Heaven.

Sometime during the 1st century Buddhism reached China, probably by travelers who had taken the Silk Road from north India.

220-263   Three Kingdoms The Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out in 184, ushering in an era of warlords. The period from 190 to 220 was marked by chaotic infighting between warlords in various parts of China.
263-618   Period of Many Dynasties and New Buddhist Schools Though these three kingdoms were reunited temporarily in 280 by the (Western) Jin dynasty, the contemporary non-Han Chinese (Wu Hu) ethnic groups ravaged the country in the early 4th century and provoked large-scale Han Chinese migrations to south of the Chang Jiang. In 303 the Di people rebelled and later captured Chengdu.
618-907   Tang Dynasty The Tang dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an (modern day suburb of Xi'an), the most populous city in the world at the time, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization — equal, or even superior, to the Han period. Its territory, acquired through the military exploits of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han.

Stimulated by contact with India and the Middle East, the empire saw a flowering of creativity in many fields. The Tang period was the golden age of literature and art. A government system supported by a large class of Confucian literati selected through civil service examinations was perfected under Tang rule.

Nestorian Christianity was likely introduced at this time.

960-1279   Sung Dynasty After a brief period of instability known as the "Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms," the Sung Dynasty was established in China. The founders of the Sung dynasty built an effective centralized bureaucracy staffed with civilian scholar-officials.
1271-1368   Yuan/Mongol Dynasty Kublai Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan, became the supreme leader of all Mongol tribes in 1260. He began his reign with great aspirations and self-confidence — in 1264 he moved the capital of the expansive Mongol Empire to Beijing, in recently acquired North China. He began his drive against the Southern Song, establishing, in 1271 — eight years prior to Southern conquest — the first alien dynasty to rule all China: the Yuan. The creation of a dynasty prior to conquest, keeping in mind that Dynasty was not a Mongol concept, shows political and military tact. The name was significantly in Chinese — neither his native tongue, nor a language he spoke at all. In 1279, Guangzhou fell into Mongol hands, which marks the end of the Southern Song and the onset of China under the Mongols.

The Mongols did not attempt to impose their religion (which consisted of a cult of Heaven and nature and shamanistic practices) on the Chinese people. The existing religions in China thus enjoyed comparative freedom under the foreign rulers. The Mongol rulers referred to the "three teachings" of the Chinese people: Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism.

1368-1644   Ming Dynasty Among the populace there were strong feelings against the rule of "the foreigners," which finally led to a peasant revolt that pushed the Yuan dynasty back to the Mongolian steppes and established the Ming Dynasty in 1368.
1644-1912   Ch'ing Dynasty The Ch'ing Dynasty was founded not by the Han Chinese people who form the overwhelming majority of the population of China proper, but by the Manchus, a semi-nomadic people not even known by that name when they first rose to prominence in what is now northeastern China. Taking advantage of the political instability and popular rebellions convulsing the Ming dynasty, the highly organized military forces of the Manchus swept into the Ming capital of Beijing in 1644, and there remained until the Ch'ing dynasty was overthrown in a revolution in 1911, with the last emperor abdicating early in 1912.
1912-1945   Republic of China The Republic of China succeeded the Ch'ing Dynasty. It ruled mainland China from 1912 to 1949 and has ruled Taiwan (along with several islands of Fujian) since 1945.
    People's Republic of China The People's Republic of China was proclaimed in the aftermath of the Communist Party's triumph in the Chinese Civil War by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949.


"China." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. Jan. 19, 2005 <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=71629>.

"History of China." Wikipedia. Jan. 19, 2005 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_China>. This article incorporates some public domain text from this source.

"Religion in China." Wikipedia. Jan. 19, 2005 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_China> This article incorporates some public domain text from this source

(http://www.religionfacts.com/chinese_religion/history.htm )