Question A (2)
An evaluation of China’s development through the Han dynasty reveals that the Han dynasty was among the most powerful and unified empires in the history of China. Liu Bang who was named Emperor Gaozu after a civil war he started established the dynasty. He recruited people according to their ability and not wealth nor birth. This caused the government to comprise commoners and former serfs (Wyborny 25).
China managed to produce a powerful and centralized system during the Han dynasty because of the many effective measures that were initiated by Emperor Gaozu. The people who served in his government were recruited based on their ability and not wealth or birth. Lessons were also drawn from the collapse of former dynasties, for example, the Qin. This caused the economy to recover very quickly because the people in government were able and policies that were used were based on Liu Bang’s reforms (Wyborny 27). Despite the death of Emperor Gauzo, the other emperors in succession reduced the citizen’s tax burdens. Emperor Gauzo introduced this issue. People were also encouraged to farm and be thrifty. The effective measures that were developed during the Han dynasty are among the factors that caused China to produce a powerful and centralized system. This is because the citizens led stable lives causing the nation’s wealth and power to be enhanced.
The other emperors who ruled after emperor Gauzo saw the Han dynasty achieve its powerful and prosperous period. An example can be illustrated during the reign of Emperor Wu. He dispatched General Huo Qubing and General Wei Quing to fight against the invasion by the Hun. This ancient tribe dominated the northern part of China. Winning this war led to the enlargement of the territory. The wars by emperor Wu provided an assurance of safe trade routes. It also led to the establishment of the Silk Road (Wyborny 31). He sent trade missions and emissaries to other countries and established foreign trade. He also encouraged agriculture causing the economy to develop quickly.
The developments of China during the Han dynasty can be illustrated from the improvement in the economy, industry, commerce, and cultural arts. The improvement in the economy was obtained from agriculture, industry, handicrafts and commerce. The textile industry and metallurgy improved productivity in industry. Looms were introduced replacing manual labor in weaving. Steel was made with coal as fuel and iron smelting was done on a large scale (Wyborny 55). During the Han dynasty, the rapid development of the arts and stability in the country provided a favorable environment for the development of commerce. This led to the development of domestic cities around Chang’an. The opening of Silk Road caused domestic trade and foreign trade to prosper. Culture and arts were among the other achievements by the Han dynasty. During the reign of Emperor Wu, Confucianism was the mainstream thought in the government. Confucianism was a philosophy from the Han dynasty that was adopted by other emperors in managing state affairs (Wyborny 59).
Question B (1)
Despite changes in Chinese dynasties over time, there were striking similarities that were shared by the dynasties. One element in the Shang society that was present in the Qin society was stratification based on hereditary rank and occupation. In the Shang society, the top was the king, who was served by the aristocratic class. Under the leadership of a king and aristocracy, there were increased peasants and artisans, who were supposed to pay shares of their produce as taxes (Meyer 13). This is similar to legalism that was established during the Qin dynasty. This social and political philosophy portrayed human nature as anti-social and selfish. The other tenet of legalism was that people were meant to serve the state and not vice versa. This is similar to the leadership in the Shang dynasty because it also portrayed selfishness. Peasants and artisans were supposed to serve the state by paying shares of the produce as taxes (Eberhard 121).
Despite the similarities that existed between the two societies, there are elements that disappeared. This includes the leadership styles that were employed by the rulers in the two societies. For example, the Shang king depended on local leaders to control outlying areas of the empire (Meyer 15). The leadership style that was employed by the Qin society was different. This is because the king carried out thorough reforms of the state. This was by instituting a centralized bureaucratic administration. Lord Shang of the Qin society did not depend on local rulers. He instead organized the society with the intention of strengthening the state (Eberhard 151).
An examination of the religious rites that were performed by the two societies also portrays some of the elements that disappeared. In the Shang society, religious rites were performed in an attempt to venerate ancestral spirits. The king did this activity during his travels. However, in the Qin dynasty, the monarch did not roam around. The Qin rulers standardized the diverse administrative and cultural practices. The king in this society spent most of his time in the palace and was never aware of some of the things that took place in their surroundings (Eberhard 152).
Eberhard, Wolfram. A History of China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. Print.
Meyer, Milton W. China: A Concise History. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1994. Print.
Wyborny, Sheila. The Han Dynasty. San Diego: Blackbirch Press/Thomson Gale, 2004. Print.