Bruce Morrison » Empires in East Asia, 600–1350

Empires in East Asia, 600–1350

Several kingdoms and empires arise in East Asia, helping to spread Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as trade, technology, and culture.

 

Section 1: Tang and Song China

Section 2: The Mongol Conquests

Section 3: The Mongol Empire

Section 4: Feudal Powers in Japan

Section 5: Kingdoms of Southeast Asia and Korea

 

Section 1: Tang and Song China

During the Tang and Song dynasties, China experiences an era of prosperity and technological innovation.

 

The Tang Dynasty Expands China

 

Brief Reign of the Sui Dynasty

  • Sui Dynasty, established by Wendi, lasts from 581 to 618
  • Main accomplishment: completingGrand Canal, which expands trade
  • Forced labor, high taxes lead to revolt; Sui emperor assassinated, 618

 

Tang Rulers Create a Powerful Empire

  • Tang Dynasty(618 to 907) begun by brilliant emperor Tang Taizong
  • Wu Zhao—only woman in China to assume title of emperor
  • Tang rulers expand and unify empire, strengthen government

 

Scholar-Officials

  • Tang rulers revive civil service examination system
  • Theoretically, exams open to all men, even commoners
  • Practically, only rich can afford necessary education to take exam
  • Growth of bureaucracy cuts power of nobles

 

The Tang Lose Power

  • Tang rulers increase taxes in mid-700s, causing hardship
  • Attacks on empire increase; in 907, last Tang emperor killed

 

The Song Dynasty Restores China

 

Turmoil Followed by Strong Rule

  • In 960, Taizu reunites China, proclaims Song Dynasty (960–1279)
  • Song rulers unable to recapture lands lost in west and north
  • In 1100s, Jurchen people arise in Manchuria, set up own empire
  • In 1127, Song rulers forced south; build new capital at Hangzhou
  • Southern Song empire lasts from 1127 to 1279

 

An Era of Prosperity and Innovation

 

Growth

  • Population doubles during Tang and Song Dynasties to 100 million
  • China becomes most populous country in the world

Science and Technology

  • Chinese invent gunpowder, porcelain, mechanical clock, paper money
  • Movable type—blocks of individual characters—makes printing easier
  • In mathematics, Chinese develop use of negative numbers

 

Agriculture

  • Advances in farming contribute to population growth
  • Main advance: new strain of rice that produces two crops a year

 

Trade and Foreign Contacts

  • In early Tang, trade with west overSilk Road
  • During Tang decline, Chinese depend more on ocean trade routes
  • Trade stretches from Japan to Southeast Asia, India, Africa
  • Trade helps Buddhism spread

 

A Golden Age of Poetry and Art

  • Tang period produces great poetry, including works of Li Bo and Tu Fu
  • Song period known for brilliant painting

 

Changes in Chinese Society

 

Levels of Society

  • Power of noble families fades
  • Wealthy scholar-officials form new upper class, called the gentry
  • Urban middle class below gentry in social structure
  • Laborers, soldiers, peasants at bottom of social structure

 

The Status of Women

  • Status of women always lower than men in China
  • That status falls even lower during Tang and Song periods
  • Foot binding of upper-class girls becomes new custom

 

Section 2: The Mongol Conquests

The Mongols, a nomadic people from the steppe, conquer settled societies across much of Asia.

 

Nomads of the Asian Steppe

 

Geography of the Steppe

  • Steppe—dry grassland of Eurasia—provides home for nomads
  • Two main expanses: Central Asia to eastern Europe, and Mongolia
  • Steppe has little rain, dramatic seasonal temperature differences

 

The Nomadic Way of Life

  • Steppe nomads arepastoralists—herd domesticated animals
  • Way of life teaches Asian nomads to be skilled horse riders
  • Nomads travel inclans—kin groups linked by common ancestor

 

 

 

 

Steppe Nomads and Settled Societies

  • Nomads and people living in settled communities often interact
  • Some interactions peaceful, as in trade
  • Sometimes nomads raid towns and cities to seize wealth, goods
  • Strong state or empire could protect its lands from these invasions

 

The Rise of the Mongols

 

Genghis Khan Unites the Mongols

  • About 1200,Genghis Khan—“universal ruler”—unites Mongols
  • In early 1200s, begins campaign of conquest
  • By 1225, controls Central Asia

 

Genghis the Conqueror

  • A brilliant organizer, strategist
  • Uses brutality to terrorize enemies, force surrenders

 

The Mongol Empire

 

Death and Succession

  • Genghis Khan dies in 1227
  • Successors continue conquests for 50 years
  • Conquer territory from China to Poland

 

The Khanates

  • In east, Mongols conquer northern China and invade Korea
  • In west, Mongols take Kiev and threaten Vienna and Venice
  • In 1250s, Mongols turn their attention to Persia
  • By 1260, Mongol Empire split into khanates, four regions

 

The Mongols as Rulers

  • Mongol rulers are tolerant of other peoples, cultures
  • Some Mongols adopt local ways, leading to split among khanates

 

The Mongol Peace

  • Peaceful period from mid-1200s to mid-1300s calledPax Mongolica
  • Much east-west trade, exchange of ideas during this period

 

Section 3: The Mongol Empire

As Emperor of China, Kublai Khan encourages foreign trade.

 

Kublai Khan Becomes Emperor

 

A New Emperor

  • Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis, becomes great khan in 1260
  • Kublai conquers China by 1279

 

Beginning a New Dynasty

  • EstablishesYuan Dynasty(1279–1368), period of peace, prosperity
  • Kublai adopts Chinese ways, builds capital atBeijing

Failure to Conquer Japan

  • In 1274 and 1281, Kublai tries but fails to conquer Japan
  • Massive second invasion destroyed by typhoon

 

Mongol Rule in China

 

The Mongols and the Chinese

  • Mongols live separately from Chinese, follow own laws
  • Mongols keep top government posts, put Chinese in local positions
  • Kublai extends Grand Canal to Beijing, builds highway

 

Foreign Trade

  • Trade increases under Kublai, sending Chinese products to other lands
  • Kublai invites merchants from other lands to China

 

Marco Polo at the Mongol Court

  • Venetian traderMarco Polovisits China in 1275
  • Polo returns to Venice in 1292; tells stories of what he saw in China

-fabulous cities, fantastic wealth

-burning “black stones” (coal) to heat Chinese homes

-Kublai Khan’s government and trade in Beijing

  • These stories gathered into a book; most readers doubt its truth

 

The End of Mongol Rule

 

Declining Power

  • Failed expeditions to Southeast Asia show weakness of Yuan Dynasty
  • High taxes cause resentment

 

Yuan Dynasty Overthrown

  • Kublai dies in 1294; successors are weak
  • In 1300s, rebellions break out, leading to formation of Ming Dynasty

 

Decline of the Mongol Empire

  • Mongol rule collapses in Persia in 1330s; in Central Asia in 1370s
  • By end of 1300s, only Mongol rule in Russia remains, the Golden Horde

 

Section 4: Feudal Powers in Japan

Japanese civilization is shaped by cultural borrowing from China and the rise of feudalism and military rulers.

 

The Growth of Japanese Civilization

 

Japan’s Location

  • Japan lies east of China; name means “land of the rising sun”
  • Closest neighbor is 120 miles over water, Korea
  • 500 miles of water separate it from China

 

 

 

The Geography of Japan

  • Consists of about 4,000 islands in a 12,000-mile archipelago
  • Varied climate, but little land for farming

 

Early Japan

  • Many different clans worshipped own gods
  • This early religion later calledShinto—“the way of the gods”
  • Shinto worshipers respect forces of nature, ancestors, and kami
  • Kami—divine spirits dwelling in nature: tree, rock, waterfall

 

The Yamato Emperors

  • By 400s, Yamato clan takes control, names emperor
  • For many centuries, Yamato emperors rule; sometimes in name only

 

Japanese Culture

 

Buddhism in Japan

  • Japanese learn Chinese ideas, customs from contact with Korea
  • Buddhism spreads widely in Japan, mixes with Shinto practices

 

Cultural Borrowing from China

  • Prince Shotoku rules as regent; sponsors missions to Tang China
  • Chinese ideas, practices gain wide currency in Japan as result
  • Japanese adopt Chinese writing, art, and ways of everyday living
  • Japan does not copy China’s civil-service system

 

Life in the Heian Period

 

The Heian Court

  • In late 700s, Japanese move capital from Nara to Heian (modern Kyoto)
  • Heian’s upper class creates a highly refined court society
  • Rules, rituals, and artistic pursuits structure court life
  • The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki Shikibu illustrates Heian society
  • This 11th-century masterpiece is considered the world’s first novel

 

Feudalism Erodes Imperial Authority

 

Decline of Central Power

  • During most of Heian period (794–1185) rich Fujiwara family rules
  • In mid-1000s, large landowners build private armies, become warlords
  • Small landowners trade land to warlords in exchange for protection
  • Feudal system of local rule develops; Fujiwara family loses power

 

Samurai Warriors

  • Landowners takesamurai—warriors—as bodyguards
  • Samurai live according toBushido—demanding code of behavior

 

 

 

 

The Kamakura Shogunate

  • In late 1100s, Minamoto family wins in struggle for power
  • In 1192, Yoritomo becomesshogun—military dictator running Japan
  • Shogun rules from Kamakura, while emperor stays in Kyoto
  • Kamakura shoguns use samurai to repel Mongol invasions (1274, 1281)

 

Section 5: Kingdoms of Southeast Asia and Korea

Several smaller kingdoms prosper in East and Southeast Asia, a region culturally influenced by China and India.

 

Kingdoms of Southeast Asia

 

Geography of Southeast Asia

  • Area between Indian and Pacific Ocean, includes mainland and islands
  • Five major rivers on mainland, but mountains make travel difficult
  • Key to power in region is control of trade routes and harbors

 

Influence of India and China

  • Indian traders arrive in first century A.D.; bring Buddhism, Hinduism
  • Indian influence remains today
  • Chinese migrants and traders bring Chinese influence

 

The Khmer Empire

  • By 800s the Khmer conquers kingdoms, creates an empire
  • Khmer Empire(now Cambodia) controls Southeast Asian mainland
  • Rulers build temple complexes in capital, Angkor
  • Angkor Wat—square mile complex dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu

 

Island Trading Kingdoms

  • Sailendra dynasty rules on Java; its culture shows Indian influence
  • Island empire Srivijaya dominated area from 600s to 1200s

 

Dai Viet

  • During Han Dynasty, China controls Southeast Asia
  • Vietnam becomes an independent kingdom, Dai Viet, in 939
  • Influenced by Chinese culture: Buddhism, government
  • Keep own cultural identity; women have some independence
  • Ly Dynasty (1009–1225) establishes capital at Hanoi

 

Korean Dynasties

 

Korean Culture

  • Combines Chinese culture with native traditions

 

Geography of Korea

  • Peninsula with little arable land; mountains and seas isolate it

 

 

 

 

Early History

  • Different clans control areas; in108 B.C., Han China conquers Korea
  • Chinese introduce governing method, religions, system of writing
  • Regional powers arise; theSilladefeats others, drives out Chinese
  • Silla rule: Buddhist monasteries, bronze sculptures, writing system

 

The Koryu Dynasty

  • In 935, Wang Kon takes control, formsKoryu Dynasty, rules to 1392
  • Models government on China’s civil service system, with differences
  • Mongols dominate Korea from 1231 to 1360s
  • In 1392, scholar-officials overthrow Koryu Dynasty

 

Koryu Culture

  • Inspired by Song artists; Korean artists produce celadon pottery
  • Korean artisans produce wood blocks for printing Buddhist scriptures