China Overview: A Brief History of Chinese Dynasties - Printable Outline
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A Brief Outline History of Chinese Dynasties
Free Printable Outline for History Students and Teachers - Scroll Down to Print (PDF) - Han China - World History

I. Geography of China
i. Larger than the United States
ii. b. Climate varies
1. North
a. Temperate and cold
2. South
a. Subtropical
b. Erosion
c. Floods and drought
iii. Important rivers
1. Hwang ho (Yellow River) – north
2. Yangtze River – central China
iv. Enclosed by high mountains, hot deserts, and wide oceans

II. Ancient history
i. By 4000 BCE
1. Village settlements along the Hwang ho River
2. Farming, stone tools, weapons (bow and arrow), animal domestication, pottery
ii. Circa 1500 BCE
1. Picture writing (oldest writing in existence)
2. Now circa 40,000 characters

III. What are dynasties?
i. A dynasty is a series of rulers from the same family
ii. Historically, royal rule was descended from father to son
iii. Dynastic cycle
1. Emperor comes to power and gains the Mandate of Heaven
2. Upward rise (wealth and population increase) to peak
3. Downward spiral (natural disasters, corruption, etc.)
4. Emperor loses the Mandate of Heaven
5. Civil war until a new emperor, with the Mandate of Heaven, comes to power
iv. Mandate of Heaven
1. Described by philosopher Mencius
2. Belief that the emperor was chosen by heaven to rule

IV. Xia (a.k.a. Hsia) dynasty
i. Circa 2070-circa 1600 BCE
ii. China’s first dynasty
iii. Founded by Yu
iv. Built roads and irrigation projects

V. Shang dynasty
i. Circa 1600-1046 BCE
ii. Writing began
iii. Developed bronze, glazed pottery, and silk industries

VI. Zhou (a.k.a. Chou) dynasty
i. 1045-256 BCE
ii. Invaded China from the northwest
iii. Set up a loose central government
iv. Feudal power held by strong nobles
v. Philosophers
1. Confucius
2. Mencius (his follower)

VII. Qin (a.k.a. Chin) dynasty
i. 221-206 BCE
ii. Military dictatorship centralized China
iii. Emperor Shih Huang Ti
iv. Destroyed nobles’ feudal power
v. System of taxation
vi. Established weights and measures
vii. Great Wall (1500 miles)

VIII. Han dynasty
i. 206-220 CE
ii. Conquerors
iii. Empire – central Asia to China Sea, Indochina to Korea
iv. Trade
1. Chinese fruits, silks, and spices sold in Rome (1st century CE)
v. Buddhism came from India
vi. Civil service system
vii. First paper made

IX. Tang dynasty
i. 618-906 CE
ii. 400 years of warfare between Han and Tang dynasties
iii. Tang reunited China
iv. T’ai Tsung
1. Emperor in 627 CE
2. Education and government reforms
a. Extended boundaries
b. Alliances and peace treaties with neighbors
c. Industry and trade
d. Jade porcelain, and silks to Arabia, India, Japan, and Persia

X. Song (a.k.a. Sung) dynasty
i. 960-1279 CE
ii. Disorder between Tang and Sung dynasties
iii. Culture superior to that of medieval Europe
iv. Powerful only in southern China

XI. Mongol rule
i. 1259-1368
ii. Central Asian nomads
iii. Genghis Khan
1. Conquered Asia, including China
iv. Kublai Khan
1. Grandson of Genghis
2. Visited by Marco Polo (Venetian)
a. Ruled for circa 100 years
v. Capital – Peking (modern-day Beijing)
a. Trade with Europe begun

XII. Ming dynasty
i. 1368-1644
ii. Overthrew Mongols
iii. Chinese natives
iv. Beautified Peking (Beijing)
v. Encouraged trade with Europe
vi. Gave Europeans:
1. Gunpowder
2. Jade
3. Playing cards
4. Porcelain
5. Silk
6. Tea

XIII. Qing dynasty (Manchu rule)
i. 1644-1912
ii. Manchurians conquered China, Indochina, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, eastern Turkestan
iii. China prospered
iv. British imperialism
v. Western pressure brought about Manchu overthrow in 1912
vi. Ended with birth of Chinese republic

XIV. Philosophy and religion
i. Late Zhou (Chou) period (1100-256 BCE)
1. Suffering produced influential philosophers
a. Lao-Tse (6th century BCE)
a. Men should be left alone to work out their own lives with the fewest possible laws of government
b. Men should make their own lives simple and desire nothing, but should submit to all that comes in life
c. Taoism
b. Confucius (551-479 BCE)
a. Considered China’s greatest philosopher
b. Ethics – correct way to live
c. Human nature – good
d. Men should be kind, tolerant, and love their elders and ancestors (filial piety)
e. Golden rule: “Do not do to others what you would not have others do to you.”
f. Analects
g. Confucianism – code of behavior and religion
i. Education, good manners, right morals, respect for others, love of tradition, obedience to one’s parents

XV. Culture
i. Literature, poetry, history, philosophy
1. Tang dynasty – poet Li Po
2. Printing invented – books produced cheaply in great numbers
3. Paper – 1st century BCE
ii. “China” or “Chinaware”
1. Known for glazed pottery and porcelain
iii. Music
iv. Paintings

XVI. Science
i. 1000-1500 CE – civilization superior to that of medieval Europe
ii. Paper and ink
1. “India” ink really Chinese ink
iii. Movable type
1. Movable blocks with cut-out raised characters
iv. Compass
v. Gunpowder
1. Originally for firecrackers
vi. Silk manufacturing
vii. Irrigation and farming techniques

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