Han Dynasty (206bc- 220AD)



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Han Dynasty (206BC- 220AD)
After Qin Shih Huang Di died, many people throughout the Qin Empire revolted against his successor. What is important is that although the people of China did not like the legalist methods of the Qin, they did like the cultural, and economic benefits of a united China, and in the short reign of the Qin (221BC-206 BC- just 15 years!), they had also accepted the belief in a Chinese national identity. Basically, the Chinese believed that they should stay united because they still feared another warring states period - - they just wanted more rights than Qin Shih Huang Di’s legalism allowed.

The Han Dynasty came to power just 1month after Chin Shih Huang Di’s death. The Han Dynasty kept a centralized government like the Qin, but they tried to get rid of the harsh laws and violence. The first emperors of the Han Dynasty tried to rule as Taoists. They allowed great freedoms and even allowed some areas to rule themselves without stopping them.

However, in 140 BC, an emperor named Wu Di decided that Taoism is not suited for empires, he thought that it made China weak. He switched China to a Confucian country - - based instead on the ideas of Confucius. This created a great government bureaucracy, in which everyone was required to read the writings of Confucius. Those that understood them the best, whether they were rich or poor, were given important duties with the government, those that did not, whether they were rich or poor, were given small duties. All in the Han dynasty believed in the Confucian system, and it lasted for hundreds of years (until 1911!!!), even after the Han Dynasty ended.

During the Han Dynasty, the silk road was created. This road went from Eastern China, to central Asia. It brought goods (silk, spices etc..) across Asia, and some even found their way to Europe.

Eventually, the aristocracy became very opposed with the Han Dynasty and its Confucian ideals. The aristocracy felt that they should be granted certain rights because of their status, but the Han Dynasty refused to recognize them as special - - the Han only felt that the special were those that did well in learning about Confucius whether they were rich or poor. By 220 AD, the rich had all banded together and brought down the Han Dynasty.
1.) What did people like about Chin Shih Huang Di? What did they dislike?
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2.) What did the Han Dynasty carry over from the Qin Dynasty? What did they change?


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3.) How did the first emperors of the Han try to rule? Why was it changed?
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4.) What did Wu Di change about the Han Empire?
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5.) How does the Confucian Bureaucracy work?
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6.) What do you think some of the short term and long term effects of the Silk Road were?
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7.) Why did the aristocracy overthrow the Han Dynasty?
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