Political Structures in the Sui, Tang, and Song Dynasties Essay

  • Length: 4 pages
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  • Subject: History
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #14068134

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Sui, Tang, and Song Dynasties

The Major Changes in the Political Structures, Social and Economic Life in the Sui, Tang and Song Dynasties

One leading present-day nation that was home to one of the world's oldest and greatest civilizations and has a rich, 5000-year-old history is China. The Chinese culture can be traced back to an assortment of small, early tribes that grew to become modern-day China (Chafilwa, 2012).

According to Ahmed (2015), after the Han dynasty's disorganized and divided reign came to an end, the country experienced a period of preeminence beginning from 589 C.E. From 589 to 1279 C.E., it underwent reunification, achievement, chaos and renaissance. The Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties are credited with being the main chronological contributors to the aforementioned phases.

The Sui Dynasty

This empire ruled over China for a relatively small period of 38 years, between 581 and 618 C.E. Of its three emperors, the second, 'Yang Jian' or 'Sui Wen Ti' or 'Sui Wendi' (the latter two names are his reign titles) was a tyrant and his rule was frequently likened to that of the Qin Dynasty (which ruled between 221 and 206 BC). Nevertheless, in his day, reunification of the entire nation took place, and a number of political and economic improvements transpired (Chafilwa, 2012).

With regard to political changes, the Sui regime basically began in the year 581 C.E. when Yang Jian assumed leadership in the northern region of China. A military general and Emperor Wudi's chief advisor, Jian married the Emperor's daughter and orchestrated his ascent to the position of regent on his own son's (the grandson of Emperor Wudi's) behalf. Claiming the "Mandate of Heaven" for himself in the year 581 C.E., Jian began unifying China, assimilating numerous weak southern states through clever propaganda, land and river campaigns, and the support of Buddhists. Thus, he became the sole sovereign of a united China -- a feat that
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hadn't been accomplished in so many centuries -- under the name 'Emperor Wendi'. This first ruler of the Sui regime concentrated on forming and reinstating ties between all Chinese states. He also restored the Han dynasty's long abandoned civil service structure, and formulated and executed a country-wide code of law (Ahmed, 2015).

In Ahmed's (2015) view, from an economic and social standpoint, Emperor Wendi chose Chang'an as his capital; the city is counted among the era's finest cities worldwide. He also initiated the Great Canal's construction. This was a waterway connecting the nation's north and south, facilitating easy bidirectional transport of soldiers from north to south and agricultural produce from south to north, thereby reinforcing the dynasty's might and prosperity. But the dynasty didn't reign long after its founding monarch's demise in the year 604. Jian's son Yangdi, who succeeded him to the throne of China, was a despotic ruler whose reign proved disastrous. Yangdi oppressed his subjects, imposing cruel taxes and sacrificing several million laborers for the purpose of constructing extravagant palaces, completing the Grand Canal's construction, and rebuilding the Great Wall. Furthermore, he waged careless, disastrous wars which led to rebellion and destabilized the Chinese economy. Yangdi made off to south China's rural areas, and was killed in the year 618. A general, Li Yuan (Duke of Tang), claiming the Mandate of Heaven, proclaimed himself as ruler. This effectively ended the Sui rule and marked the beginning of the Tangs' regime.

The Tang Dynasty

This dynasty which was founded in the year 618, reigned for nearly three centuries (between 618 and 907 C.E.). Chinese socioeconomic and political changes accelerated under the founder's son -- Li Shimin -- who reigned between 626 and 649. Assuming the title of Emperor Taizong, Li Shimin ascended the throne when he was 26 years old, by coercing his father into stepping down and murdering his older brothers. He was a hero of legend in his day, owing to his political accomplishments -- he annexed Turkistan, coerced the…

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