The Chinese Dynasty Timeline


The Shang Dynasty

1766 BC - 1021 BC

During the Shang dynasty the period in which the Chinese learned how to make bronze out of tin and copper was called the Bronze Age. During this period they began to make many jars and flat pieces that were used to worship gods. As the Shang dynasty came to an end, people began to write messages on the bronze jars using pictograms. At some point, Indo-Europeans brought the potter's wheel to China. This let artists make pots quicker so that they became cheaper. (Kidipede) The Shang dynasty has the earliest recorded written history (Chinavoc) and like Egyptian writing, their writing was based on pictures that represent ideas or sounds. (Kidipede) As early as the Shang dynasty there were buildings that anyone could tell were from China and not any other country. You could compare some buildings such as the building at Panlongcheng to early Greek temples which also had wooden columns.

The Zhou Dynaaty

1027 BC - 256 BC

The Zhou began as a tribe that lived to the west of the Shang kingdom. They learned how to work with people of different cultures because of their nomadic ways. As time passed they became stronger then the Shang and built their capital in Xi'an. They adopted most of their lifestyle from the Shang. The Zhou bronze vessels were almost identical to those of the Shang. Also, they adopted much of their writing system, rituals, and administration skills. Although they adopted a great deal of their teachings, the Zhou however, created a different form of governing. In this new form of government, land was given to people in ceremonies and landowners became vassals to the king. It all became patriarchal, from father to son, instead of from eldest brother to youngest brother as it was in the Shang. They also brought their religion with them. In their religion they practiced the cult of Heaven and banned human sacrifice. To them, the worship of the sun and stars was the most important thing. Some Shang gods were integrated to this system. The Zhou wanted to transport to the Shang to their cities for their skills but they did not want to live directly with them so therefore, their capital was divided in two. One section was for the Zhou. It contained the imperial court and the other section for the Shang. Other cities belonging to the Zhou also show this same characteristic so, the houses were left the same as in the Shang dynasty. (Minnesota State University, MNSU)

The Qin Dynasty

221 BC - 206 BC

The Qin dynasty were one of the western states that existed during the Warring States Period. This period was the struggle between the large states of China that were trying to gain control over the entire area. the Qin dynasty conquered the other warring states and unified China for the first time. Their leader's name was the First Emperor and by doing this they began the tradition of using emperors for rulers. The Qin was the one that had the best military of all the Warring States. They made use of many technologies such as cavalry which were the modern soldiers who fought in armor-plated vehicles. They Qin made many changes to unify China and to support administrative duties. The first change they made was to implement a Legalist form of government. This government consisted in rewards and punishments to keep order. The state had absolute control over all the people and the nobility lost all their power. Not only did the Qin systematized the language of China but also the writing. This varied from area to area during the period of the Warring States.

(Minnesota State University, MNSU)

The Han Dynasty

206 BC - 220 CE

The Han dynasty officially began when Liu Bang, prince of Han, defeated the Qin army in the valley of Wei. The people were not satisfied with the tyranny of the Qin and their form of government. The Han rapidly modified the form of government and integrated Confucian ideals into it. Under this Legalist and Confucian form of government people were still rewarded and punished. The ruler could punish for both the officials and the people. During this time, power was based on direct control of people by the state. Just like the Qin, the Han's main goal was the unification of China but this created the fall of the imperial nobility. In 141 BC Wu Ti came to power. This was a period of great military expansion. He expanded the borders into Vietnam and Korea. This expansion resulted as a great one and it led to trade with the people of inner Asia. The Silk Road, which consisted of more than one possible route to the mountains was developed and the traders followed this road. With the development of better tools agriculture grew and irrigation systems were increased to help North China develop. (Minnesota State University, MNSU)

The Sui Dynasty

580 AD - 618 AD

Just like the Qin and the Han, the Sui once again united China. They were lead by Yang Chien who had been part of the Northern Zhou. The Sui dynasty had only two emperors in their lasting period. This two emperors were Yang Chien and his son Emperor Yang. Although the Sui dynasty lasted a short period of time they had numerous accomplishments. First, they extended The Grand Canal and the internal administration improved during this time too. Confucianism became popular again and the nobles gained importance. (Minnesota State University, MNSU)

The Tang Dynasty

618 AD - 907 AD

The Tang dynasty is often related to the Sui dynasty. Their power was made through canals built by the Sui. These canals helped with the communication all throughout the empire and were important to its economic development. The canals helped transport goods from the south to the north especially rice in times of famine. The land distribution of the Tang was important to their agricultural system and their economic growth. They created a program in which the land was supposed to be an equal distribution. The Tang wanted to ensure that families had enough land to both support themselves and pay taxes. The army during this time included both peasants and aristocrats. The aristocrats were used in the north to fight nomads and the peasants were used mainly in the south to occupy forts.

(Minnesota State University)

The Sung Dynasty

960 AD - 1279 AD

The Sung dynasty consisted of both the Northern Sung dynasty and the Southern Sung dynasty. This period was considered the period of the 'golden age' after the tang dynasty. The Northern Sung was founded by Zhao Kuangyin and during this period most of China's territory was unified. On the other hand the Southern Sung was set up by Zhao Gou. During this 'golden age' period agriculture improved because of technology and the output of food and in industry, the division of labor became more detailed. There were also several wonderful inventions such as the compass and the winemaking during the Sung dynasty. (Travel China Guide)

The Yuan Dynasty

1279 AD - 1368 AD

The Yuan Dynasty was the first time China was ruled by foreigners. During this period the Mongols ruled and Genghis Khan was the leader. His grandson, Kublai Khan, was the one who became the emperor and founder of the Yuan dynasty. They were able to conquer China thanks to their military capabilities. Since the Mongols were very different from the Chinese this made them very difficult to rule. They spoke different languages, different customs, and different forms of dress. This resulted as a lighter government than the previous ones and punishments were much less severe. The Chinese nobility was better educated and they were not allowed in the government. Many pursued art and literature since they were free to do this. The trade restriction and the numerous spending affected severely China's economy. As they gained land, they lacked on military training and became weaker. Soon after, they were overthrown because of this and their non-Chinese people in governmental positions.

(Minnesota State University)

The Ming Dynasty

1368 AD - 1644 AD

The founder of the Ming Dynasty was a peasant. He was the only of three peasants ever to become an emperor. He was known as Hongwu Emperor and he led the revolt against the Yuan Dynasty. The capital of the Ming dynasty was located in Nanjing until it was moved to Beijing by the third emperor. Hongwu improved peasant life by creating laws. Which included keeping the land tax low and keeping granaries stocked to guard against famine. Hongwu supported the creation of self-supporting communities and he
felt agriculture should be the country's source of wealth. (Minnesota State University, MNSU)

The Qing Dynasty

1644 AD - 1911 AD

In the Qing Dynasty China was ruled by the Manchu. This was the second time China was ruled by foreigners. The first three emperors were the Kangxi Emperor, the Yongzheng Emperor, and the Qianlong Emperor. During their 133 years of leadership there was a time of peace. They used the same form of government as the Ming with small differences. Their military was one of the best in the world since they organized their troops by banners. The Qing made changes in the way Chinese had to dress. they required men to shave their heads and they also required them to change their clothing style of the Ming dynasty. However, they did not require women to change their dress. One of the thing the Qings did not change was the preference of agriculture over trade. This lack of trade affected China economically. The period of peace during the Qing dynasty affected all areas in a positive way. Taxes were very light, in famine struck areas taxes were reduced, and commerce and international trade grew. This period improved the arts and learning. Poetry flourished and some colors that developed were some shades of green and black and yellow were the colors that were mostly used in compositions. (Minnesota State University)

The Republic of China

1911 CE - 1949 CE

In the year 1911 China was officially declared a republic and this ended the dynasties and the imperial rule. They did not have an organized government to replace the Qing dynasty and this was a big problem. During the struggle for the republic, Sun Yatsen ended foreign dominiation and unified China. (World Cultures: A Global Mosaic) Provincial assemblies were suspended and a new constitution was announced. (Chaos @ UMD)

Mao Zedong

1920 CE - 1976 CE

Mao Zedong used propaganda to become a popular hero. Adults and children were taught that Zedong had all the answers to China's problems. Everywhere they went, even in school, Chinese were taught to obey and to be loyal to Mao. Under his rule, China restored order and ended foreign influence. He promoted programs to increase food production and to protect people from periodic famines. (World Cultures: A Global Mosaic)

Deng Ziaopeng

1976 - 1989

When Chairman Mao died China's new leader, Deng Ziaopeng, eased some of the government's economic controls and sent Chinese students to study abroad. Not only did he do this but he also approved of foreign investment in China. Furthermore, better-educated Chinese pressed for democratic reforms. (World Cultures: A Global Mosaic)