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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 droughts

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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