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Ms. K. Demircanli

Global 9S

11 May 2012

The Tang Dynasty

After 300 years of division and fragmentation following the collapse of the Han dynasty in 220 A.D., China was once again unified under the Sui dynasty (581–618). The political and governmental institutions established during this brief period laid the foundation for the growth and prosperity of the succeeding Tang dynasty (618-907). The dynasty was founded by Li Yuan. Marked by strong and benevolent rule, successful diplomatic relationships, economic expansion, and a cultural flowering of cosmopolitan style, Tang China emerged as one of the greatest empires in the medieval world. Merchants, clerics, and envoys from India, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Korea, and Japan thronged the streets of Chang'an, the capital, and many foreign languages were a common part of daily life.

In the beginning decades of the Tang, China subdued its nomadic neighbors from the north and northwest, conquering Mongolia, Manchuria and Tibet. They were also responsible for securing peace and safety on overland trade routes reaching as far as Syria and Rome. The seventh century was a time of momentous social change; the official examination system enabled educated men without family connections to serve as government officials. This new social elite gradually replaced the old aristocracy, and the recruitment of gentlemen from the south contributed to the cultural assimilation that had already begun in the sixth century.

  1. How did the Sui dynasty help the Tang dynasty?

  2. What were some positive effects of the Tang dynasty?

Buddhism during the Tang

The revival of Confucianism under the Tang threatened the position of Buddhism in China. Both Mahayana and Chan versions of Buddhism had flourished during the Period of the Six Dynasties. Early Tang rulers continued to patronize both Buddhist monasteries and Confucian schools. By the middle of the ninth century, in part as a result of early Tang support, there were nearly 50,000 Buddhist monasteries in China. Even though Buddhism was a part of Chinese life before the Tang, many Tang emperors protected Buddhism. But soon it became a major problem of the Tang dynasty.

The Anti-Buddhist Backlash

Both Daoists and Confucians attacked Buddhism as an alien importation into China. Confucian bureaucrats pointed out that the untaxed Buddhist monasteries represented a threat to the Chinese economy. By the eighth century, emperors began to take steps to halt the growth of Buddhism and the alienation of land. Under the emperor Wuzong, actual suppression of Buddhist monasteries and the recovery of their lands began. Tang repression marked the end of Buddhist expansion in China, although the religion continued to survive as a major aspect of Chinese culture. Confucianism was restored to its central position within Chinese intellectual and religious life.

  1. Why did Buddhism grow in China?

  2. Why did Taoists and Confucians attack Buddhism?

  3. What happened to Buddhism afterwards?

Emperor Xuanzong

The eighth century heralded the second important epoch in Tang history, achieved largely during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong (r. 712–56), called minghuang—the Brilliant Monarch. During his reign the Mongols were defeated and he helped to centralize the faltering Tang government.

This period is rightfully ranked as the classical period of Chinese art and literature, as it set the high standard to which later poets, painters, and sculptors aspired. The expressions and images contained in the poems of Li Bo (ca. 700–762) and Du Fu (722–770) reflect the flamboyant lives of the court and the conflicting sentiments generated by military campaigns. The vigorous brushwork of the court painter Wu Daozi (active ca. 710–60) and the naturalist idiom of the poet and painter Wang Wei (699–759) became artistic paradigms for later generations. Although the An Lushan rebellion in the middle of the century considerably weakened the power and authority of the court, the restored government ruled for another century and a half, providing stability for lasting cultural and artistic development.

The turning point came in 755 during the closing years of Xuanzong's reign, where the An Lushan rebellion all but destroyed the Tang dynasty and the prosperity that took years to build up. Although the revolution failed to unseat the Tang, later emperors were unable to restore the dynasty's power. As central authority weakened, nomads on the frontiers gained control over large portions of China and generals were able to establish regional kingdoms. For the remaining 150 years the Tang never regained its glory days of the 7th and 8th century. The Tang were driven out of Central Asia, and China did not regain ground in that region for 1000 years.

  1. How did Xuanzong’s reign positively affect the Tang dynasty?

  2. Who were some influential artists and writers of the time? How did they impact China?

  3. How did the Tang dynasty decline?

The Song Dynasty

After the Tang dynasty, the Song dynasty was a time that helped to unite Chinese culture. The revival of Confucian thought again made an impact on China during the Song Dynasty. This time is known as the “Chinese Renaissance” because it was full of progress in technology and inventions.

The Song Empire never matched the Tang dynasty in terms of extent of land controlled or military power but they did impact the future of the Chinese civilization. In the Song government, the scholar-gentry carefully restrained military growth to prevent internal insurrection.

Under the scholar-gentry, Confucianism was revived. Confucianism became a powerful force of thought in what is generally called the Song Confucian Revival or neo-Confucianism. In the centuries preceding, Buddhism was the dominant force in China; the intellectual centers of China were the Buddhist temples. But in the Song, the center of intellectual activity again devolved on the scholar. Like Confucius and his followers, Neo-Confucians were primarily concerned with ethics rather than abstract religious or metaphysical speculation; his overwhelming concern lies in the concerns of government and the ethics of day to day living. As a result of this Confucian revival, the government itself undertook massive reforms according to Confucian principles; part of this reform was the extension of the examination system for choosing government officials. Song rulers promoted the interests of the Confucian bureaucracy. The examination system was further regularized. Passage of the exams was made easier, leading to a large and inefficient bureaucracy. It was hostile to foreign thought, making the bureaucracy less receptive of outside ideas and technologies. It had a major emphasis on tradition, social hierarchy, gender distinction, and served to harden the Chinese social system.

  1. Why was the Song dynasty known as the Chinese Renaissance?

  2. What is Neo-Confucianism? How did it impact China?

Decline of the Song Dynasty

The Song Dynasty was not as strong as the Tang. Its military weakness on the frontiers led to external pressure on the Song Empire. Tangut tribesmen created the rival kingdom of Xi Xia on the northern borders of China. They were able to force the Song to pay tribute. Tribute payments to the Liao and Xi Xia in addition to military costs placed increasing burdens on the bureaucracy and the Chinese economy. In the long run, military performance suffered. In the 1070s and 1080s, Wang Anshi, chief minister of the Song emperor, attempted to enact reforms. Taxes were extended to the scholar-gentry as a means of improving the military.

When the emperor who had supported Wang's reforms died, his successor preferred the traditional approaches to government. When Wang's reforms were reversed, conditions worsened. In 1115, the Jurchens, northern nomads who had overthrown the Liao, successfully invaded the northern frontiers of the Song Empire. The Song government was forced to flee southward to the Yangtze basin, where they established a new capital at Hang Zhou. Following the flight, the dynasty was referred to as the southern Song. It existed as a rump state until its final demise in 1279.

  1. What were some weaknesses of the Song Empire?

  2. What did they do to try and fix their weaknesses? Did they work?

  3. What eventually happened to the Song?

Tang and Song Prosperity: The Basis of a Golden Age

A massive population increase of ethnic Chinese in the southern portions of China compelled the emperors from the Sui on to improve communications, most commonly through the construction of a series of canals linking the north China plain with the Yangtze River basin. The Grand Canal both facilitated bureaucratic control of the south and increased economic exchange between the Yangtze and northern China. The construction of the Grand Canal accelerated the shift of population to the south.

Tang conquests on the western frontier opened up trade routes and helped to establish connections between the civilized cores of Eurasia. China tended to export manufactured goods and import luxuries. Commercial shipping improved as the pace of trade quickened. Chinese junks were perhaps the finest commercial vessels in the world at this time. Market quarters in Chinese cities grew larger. These markets were organized by local guilds. Exchanges involving money and credit became common. The government began the introduction of paper money in the eleventh century during the Tang era.

Confucian thinkers advocated the restriction of women to the household. Confucians drafted laws favoring males in inheritance and permitting divorce. Women were excluded from the education system, and thus from public life. The practice of foot-binding during the late Tang and Song dynasties secluded women by literally removing their physical mobility. It was considered beautiful to have small feet and women would have their feet bound or tied back at a young age in order to have small feet. Foot-binding became typical of all social classes.

Major technological innovations and scientific discoveries were common in the Tang-Song era. Engineering feats included the construction of the vital canal system, dikes, dams, and bridges. All were critical to the commercial expansion and population movement typical of the period. The Chinese also developed gunpowder at first for amusement, then for military use. On a more domestic plane, chairs, tea-drinking, coal for fuel, and kites became common in Chinese households. Under the Song emperors, compasses were applied to sea navigation. The abacus was used for calculations, much as a modern computer. Bi Sheng invented movable type, making the production of books less onerous.

Scholarly Refinement and Artistic Accomplishment

Much of the literary and artistic accomplishment of the Tang- Song era was due to the revival of the Confucian scholar- gentry. The Confucian ideal required the educated man to appreciate the arts and to participate in their creation. The art and literature of the scholar-gentry concentrated on everyday life, rather than religious motifs.

  1. How did the Grand Canal help China?

  2. How did trade improve during the Tang and Song Dynasties?

  3. What is foot-binding?

  4. List some technological advances of these two dynasties.

The Rise of the Ming Dynasty
The Ming dynasty was the last native imperial dynasty in Chinese history. The Ming dynasty rose up out of a peasant rebellion to create a grand new dynasty. The Ming are also the first to deal with Europeans arriving in ever increasing numbers; as a pre-modern period, many of the issues and contentions of the modern period will have their precursors in the Ming dynasty.

The story of the Ming dynasty begins in 1351 in a small Chinese province. A group of laborers uncover a statue with only one eye and an inscription: "Do not despise this one-eyed statue: it will be the herald of rebellion all throughout the empire." Soon, news of this discovery spreads all throughout China. Other disasters, such as floods and landslides occurred. These events plus the statue meant that the Mandate of Heaven had been withdrawn from the Mongol dynasty. Revolution was at hand.

 In reality, the Yuan had begun to decline long before revolutions began to break out in the 1350's. In the 1350's, the pace of rebellion picked up. Several rebel leaders, almost all of whom came from the merchant or lower classes, seized cities and set themselves up as kings. Chu Yüan-chang would become the founder of the Ming dynasty.

  1. How did the Chinese know it was time for a change in China?

Chu established the Ming ("Brilliant") dynasty in 1368 and called himself Hong Wu; he ruled China from 1368 to 1398 and is considered one of the greatest emperors of China. The Hong Wu emperor set about remedying what he saw were the defects of the Mongol system.

First, he sought to consolidate rule into absolute rule by the Emperor. In order to consolidate his authority, he established complex rituals and he tightened the bureaucracy to allow for absolute control. Hong Wu allowed for no dissension or criticism of the Emperor from administrators or scholars. He adopted the Sui and Yuan practice of publicly beating incompetent or corrupt bureaucratic officials.

However, the single most important innovation that the Hong Wu emperor instituted in Chinese imperial government was the abolishment of the office of Chief Minister. By eliminating the position of Chief Minister, Hong Wu essentially took over the administration of China. All of these policies combined helped the Hong Wu emperor to consolidate all power. Unfortunately, this consolidation of power would eventually lead to the downfall of the Ming.

In order to better administer the state, the Hong Wu emperor ordered several surveys and censuses be taken of China and the data gathered in government registries. It was on this vast bookkeeping that the central government regulated taxation. In addition, however, he made all occupations hereditary in order to prevent social mobility. All members of Chinese society were grouped into three large hereditary classes: peasants, craftspeople, and soldiers.

The Hong Wu emperor also worked tirelessly on a code of laws for China, and to revive scholarship and philosophy that had fallen into bad days under the Mongols. He sponsored scholarship, but his most significant contribution to scholarship and Chinese administration was the re-adoption of the civil-service examination system. The reforms that the Hong Wu emperor instituted in the civil service examination made it a standard part of Chinese life and administration up until the early twentieth century. From 1364 to his death in 1397, the Hong Wu emperor rebuilt China to its past glories.

  1. What are some ways the Hong Wu Emperor improved China after the fall of the Yuan Dynasty?

The Commercial Revolution of China

Under the Ming dynasty, China experienced one of the greatest economic expansions in its history. This expansion affected every area of Chinese economic life: agriculture, commerce, and maritime trade and exploration. It was under the Ming that the Chinese first began to trade and interact with Europeans on any significant scale.

   The Chinese began in the 1400s to explore their surrounding areas. The Yung-lo emperor wanted to expand trade with other countries and had a taste for imported and exotic goods. These expeditions sailed to East Asia, Southeast Asia, southern India, the Persian Gulf, and Africa. Trading from Africa to Southeast Asia, these expeditions made China the world's greatest commercial naval power in the world at the time, far superior to any European power. These expansions were led by Zheng He. Zheng was a Chinese Muslim admiral who led a series of voyages to these far off lands. As Zheng traveled he spread gifts of silk and silver to show the superiority of China and its people. The ships they sailed could hold up to 27,000 people, which made China the leader in sailing and exploration. This led to great prestige throughout the world; it was at this time that China first received embassies from major Islamic countries such as Europe. In 1435, however, the court scholars convinced the emperor that the decline of the dynasty would be signaled by a taste for exotic wares, so China greatly contracted its commercial and maritime expansion it had begun so auspiciously.

  1. Why did the Chinese begin to explore? Who was Zheng He?

  2. Why did the Chinese stop sailing?

The Chinese experienced a commercial revolution that included extensive trade with foreign countries, including direct trade with Europe. By the late sixteenth century, China was intimately a part of the growing global economy. The Chinese were trading actively with the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the Japanese, who traded silver for Chinese silks and porcelain. With their fleet, which rivaled that of any European power, the Ming shipped silks, cotton, and porcelain to areas and traded with the Spanish for silver, firearms, and American goods such as sugar, potatoes, and tobacco. The Chinese porcelains became all the rage in Europe in the seventeenth century. The Dutch, however, began importing tea, which became wildly popular all throughout Europe. All this trade had made China one of the leading manufacturing economies in the world. In exchange for raw goods such as silver the Chinese shipped out manufactured goods such as textiles and porcelain. By the mid-1500's, China was well on its way to becoming an urban, industrial, and mercantile economy.

Fall of the Ming Dynasty

  There are numerous causes for the decline and fall of the Ming. The most immediate and direct cause of the fall of the Ming were the rebellions that racked the country in the seventeenth century because the imperial government exacted increasingly burdensome taxes on the common people. Another was the aggressive military expansion of the Manchu’s. Others believe that the Ming dynasty declined because the virtue and the competence of the emperors gradually declined. All three of these factors coupled with large scale famines eventually led the aggressive Manchu’s to conquer the Ming in 1644.

1. How did the Ming Dynasty fall?

The Origins of Japan

Japanese Geography

Japan is an archipelago, which is a chain of islands. Much of Japan is composed of mountains. It is located on the Ring of Fire, a zone of earthquake and volcanic activity surrounding the Pacific Ocean. Only about 11% of the total land can be farmed, but the volcanic soil is very fertile. Because of their isolation from the mainland, the Japanese developed many unique qualities. They believed that they had a destiny separate from that of the peoples on the mainland, although cultural diffusion of language, religion, and architecture did occur from China via the Korea land bridge.

The economy of early Japan was based on farming. Because of the limited amount of farmland and the abundant rainfall, the Japanese people grew wet rice. Foreign trade began during the eleventh century. This trade was mainly with China and Korea. Japan traded raw materials, paintings, and swords and manufactured goods for silk, porcelain, books, and copper coins.

  1. What were some geographic features of Japan?

The Rise of the Japanese State

The early Japanese settled on the largest Japanese Island, in the first century A.D. Japanese society was made up of clans. The people of Japan were divided between a small aristocratic class and a large class of rice farmers, artisans and servants. Eventually, one ruler of the Yamato clan became ruler of Japan.

During the early years of Yamato rule (250-710), the official state religion was Shinto, “the way of the gods.” Shinto honors the spirits thought to inhabit such natural features as trees, rocks, and mountains. The Yamato rulers claimed to be descendants of the sun goddess who ruled over nature spirits and protected Japan. The emperor controlled both religion and government.

In the early seventh century, the Yamato prince Shotoku Taishi tried to unify the clans to resist an invasion by the Chinese. He sent representatives to China to learn how its government was organized. Then he created a centralized system of government in Japan based on the Chinese model. Shotoku wanted to enhance his own authority. As a result, the ruler was portrayed as a divine figure and the symbol of the Japanese nation. A new tax system was set up to pay taxes directly to the central government and all farmland belonged to the state.

  1. What is Shintoism?

  2. What was Prince Shotoku’s plan?

The Nara Period

In 622, after Shotoku Taishi’s death, the Fujiwara family gained power. The new leaders enacted Shotoku’s reforms after his death. The most profound change of Japanese government was the adoption of Confucian models of government. The reforms undertaken by Shotoku addressed internal problems the Yamato court was faced with and dramatically changed Japanese history. These reforms were known as the Taika Reforms, set in 645. The first permanent capital was modeled after the Chinese capital and established in Nara in 710. The emperor began using the title, “Son of Heaven.”

The most influential cultural development in the Nara was the flowering of Buddhism. Several schools of Buddhist thought imported from Tang China made their way to the capital city. For the most part, Buddhism was a phenomenon of the capital city well into the Heian period. This gave Japanese monarchs a moral basis for their rule and a justification for adapting rules and laws to changing circumstances.

  1. How did Prince Shotoku’s reforms change Japan?

  2. What was the most important cultural development of the Nara?

The Heian Period

The Heian Period (794-1192) in Japanese history is marked by a time of peace and prosperity rivaled only by the Tokugawa Shogunate in later Japanese history. Japanese culture flourished like never before under the Heian, this period along with the Nara period is known as “Classical” Japan.

The emperor moved the capital from Nara to Heian, in 794. The emperor continued to rule in name, but actual power remained in the hands of the Fujiwara clan. The new Heian government solidified the reforms of the Nara dynasty. At the top of the hierarchy was the Tenno, or “Divine Emperor.” The emperor was both Shinto and Confucian; he ruled by virtue of the Mandate of Heaven and had legitimate claim of being a descendant of the Sun Goddess.

The government was becoming more decentralized. Powerful aristocrats were losing power. They began to take justice into their own hands, began to dominate rural areas. They hired warriors called samurai (“those who serve”) to protect their property and for security. Originally, the samurai were servants of the emperor but because the aristocracy paid them the samurai began to shift toward them. The samurai lived by a strict code, known as Bushido, the way of the warrior. This code was rooted in loyalty to the lord the samurai served.

The Heian government began to develop a culture all their own, independent of China. Even with Chinese influences, the Japanese began to develop their own system of writing. Secondly, they developed a court culture with values that were uniquely Japanese. The Japanese created such values such as “courtliness”, and “simplicity.” Literature also took hold, Lady Murasaki Shikibu wrote The Tales of the Genji, which is considered to be the greatest classic of Japanese literature. By this time Japan was going through a period of success and stability that had greatly impacted their society. It is considered one of the greatest times in Japanese history.

  1. What are samurai? Why were they important?

  2. What is Bushido?

  3. What were some things the Heian government did the give Japan its own culture?

Influence of China and Korea

From the Koreans, the Japanese learned many Chinese ways. Their temple architecture, clothing styles, and methods of preparing food all began to show Chinese influence. More important, the Japanese learned the Chinese writing system and adapted it to their own language. Writing also led to the development of Japanese literature, philosophy, and written history. They also used a Chinese bureaucratic method of governing.

The Koreans introduced Buddhism and Confucianism to Japan. The Buddhist idea of gaining peace through discipline and methods of concentrating the mind appealed to the Japanese. The most popular form of Buddhism is Zen Buddhism. Zen beliefs became a part of the samurai’s code of behavior. In Zen Buddhism, there are different ways to achieve enlightenment. Some believe it can be achieved suddenly, while others believe that meditation and self-discipline is the path.

  1. How did Korea and China influence Japan?

  2. What is Zen Buddhism?

The Kamakura Shogunate

Minamoto Yoritomo became leader at the end of the twelfth century. He created a more centralized government under a powerful military leader known as the Shogun (general). The emperor remained the ruler in name only; power was in the hands of the shogun, which supervised a system of government known as a Shogunate. This ushered in a feudal system similar to Europe’s during the Middle Ages. A class system based on protection for land lasted for nearly 500 years.

The Kamakura Shogunate, founded by Yoritomo, lasted from 1192 to 1333. In 1274, Kublai Khan sent a vast fleet to invade Japan but it was destroyed by a hurricane—the Japanese called this fortunate hurricane a kamikaze, or a "wind from the gods." Again in 1281, Kublai launched the largest amphibious assault in the history of the ancient and medieval worlds. They had the latest technology including gunpowder bombs and "fire-sticks," or guns, and their waves of archers dealt out death and destruction with astonishing efficiency. But they were unable to land. Finally, another hurricane struck, and the bulk of the Chinese army sank with the fleet. Fighting the Mongols placed a heavy strain on the government, which was overthrown by the Ashikaga family in 1333.

  1. What is the shogun? What kind of power did he have?

  2. What is a kamikaze?

Feudalism in Japan
Rise of Feudalism in Japan

In contrast to Europe, where feudalism declined, Japanese feudal institutions increasingly replaced national ones after the 11th century.  Emperors continued to reign, but they no longer ruled.  Their power was replaced by provincial lords. These lords managed the estates, fought the wars, and supervised the peasant population. The economic and political structure of Japan encouraged a more decentralized power structure.  Japanese government resorted to fixed tax quotas, which were collected by the regional authorities. This enhanced power at the local levels. The court began a new fighting system based on local mounted warriors, the samurai. They generally came from well-to-do families who could afford the costly armor and equipment.  Their initial purpose was to preserve order and help collect taxes, but from 10th century onward they also contributed to the disorder as participants in regional military coalitions.

  1. Why did feudalism begin in Japan?

The Samurai

By 1200, the Japanese military forces had emerged as potent force for either change or stability. The samurai dominated Japanese feudal society. The name samurai came from the verb meaning "to serve."  It was expensive to be a warrior, as you had to supply your own armor, horse, and weaponry.   Armed with bows and arrows and curved swords, Japanese warrior aristocrats were called either "samurai" or (lord) or "bushi" ("noble warrior"). A feudal-style relationship existed between the lord and his samurai; and the samurai often served the same family for generations. It was different from European feudalism in that the samurai weren't rewarded by being given estates to run directly — the system which created medieval Europe's pyramid-style pattern of land ownership.  Instead, the lord provided the samurai with income derived from his agricultural estates.  In return the samurai was expected to serve his lord with absolute loyalty.

  1. Explain the relationship between a lord and the samurai.


Bushido was the samurai code of conduct. The samurai held to a highly developed warrior ethic, which stressed personal bravery, honor and loyalty. It stressed a hard life and avoidance of luxuries, and expected a samurai to face pain and death with indifference. The warrior code stressed family honor — much of combat hinged on man-to-man struggles; and samurai warriors would shout out their lineage and exploits before battle. Beaten or disgraced warriors were expected to commit ritual suicide. This ritual was called seppuku. The Bushido code did not wholly exclude samurai women, who were also expected to be brave and choose death rather than submit to shame. The rise of the samurai and feudal system thwarted any hope the peasants might have had of improving their status — over the next several centuries, Japanese peasants were reduced to serfdom, bound to the land and treated as the property of the local lord for whom they worked. They were separated by rigid class barriers from the warrior elite, and forbidden to dress like them, carry swords, or ride on horseback

  1. What were some attributes of the Samurai?

  2. How were peasants treated during Japanese feudalism?

Read the selection below comparing and contrasting feudalism in Japan and Europe, and complete the chart that follows.
Japan’s warriors, who were known by the term of samurai, “servitors,” placed great emphasis on the military virtues of bravery, honor, self-discipline, and the acceptance of death. Lacking any religious injunctions against suicide, they commonly took their own lives in defeat, rather than accept torture and possible humiliation in capture. Suicide by the gruesome and extremely painful means of cutting open one’s own abdomen became a sort of ritual used to demonstrate will power and maintain one’s honor. Vulgarly called hari-kari, or “belly-slitting,” but more properly known as seppuku, this form of honorable suicide has survived on occasion into modern times, and suicide by less difficult means is still considered an acceptable and honorable way to die.

The prime virtue in the Japanese feudal system, as in that of Europe, was loyalty, because the whole system depended on the bonds of personal loyalty. In Europe, with its background of Roman law, the lord-vassal relationship was seen as mutual and legalistic. In Japan, the system has placed less emphasis on law and more on morality- that is, on the moral sense of the ruler, since his right to rule was theoretically based on his superior wisdom and morality. Hence, the lord-vassal relationship was seen as one of unlimited and absolute loyalty on the part of the vassal, not merely a legal contract.

Still, family lineage and honor were of great importance in medieval Japanese society, because inheritance determined power and prestige as well as the ownership of property. The Japanese avoided the problems of the Western hereditary systems, by permitting a man to select among his sons the one most suitable to inherit his position and also by using adoption when there was no male heir by birth. The husband of a daughter, a young relative, or even some entirely unrelated person could be adopted as a completely acceptable heir.

Japanese feudal society differed from that of Europe in two other revealing ways. In Japan there was no cult of chivalry which put women on a romantic pedestal, as though they were fragile, inferior beings. The Japanese warriors expected their women to be as tough as they were and accept self-destruction out of loyalty or family. Also Japanese warriors, though men of the sword like their Western counterparts, had none of the contempt that the Western feudal aristocracy often showed for learning the gentler arts. They prided themselves on their fine calligraphy or poetic skills.

The Samurai vs. The Knight

The Samurai and the English knight both serve as a mascot for their respective cultures, and they have much in common. The samurais wore protective helmets and armor and fought with two curved swords. Samurais, who came into power from 1000 to 1200, put a great deal of value on honor and discipline. They honored skills such as horsemanship and the ability to fight with a bow and arrow, but their value was placed on a much higher level, dealing with strong, self-discipline, bravery, and total obedience and honor towards their lords.

It was an unspoken standard that if a samurai were disgraced they would ritualistically kill themselves in repentance. Knights, and the idea of chivalry, where based on the same concept but it had several differences as well. The knight wore a helmet and an outfit of interlaced metal rings called a mail that was eventually replaced with plated armor. A knight's typical weapons were lances, swards, maces and battle-axes, and like the Samurai they rode on horseback. The code of chivalry, the code intended to keep the same honor in knighthood as there was among the samurai, stated that a knight must protect women and the feeble, fighting against injustice and evil, along with a sworn faith and deep love for the Christian faith. On face value this shared much in common with Samurai, however the knights were not as dedicated or as disciplined as the samurai. The code was broken regularly and greed was as prevalent as honor. Knighthood and the Samurai had the same ideals in mind, demonstrating that many of the ideals behind the two feudal governments may have been similar as well.

























The Tokugawa Shogunate
During the Ashikaga Shogunate, there was civil strife and by the late 15th century Japan fell into the hands of local warlords. There were three leaders that rebuilt Japan. Nobunaga began to reunify Japan. He was followed by Hideyoshi, who had gained control of all of Japan. After his death, the struggle for control was won by Ieyasu, who gained the title of Shogun and created Japan’s last Shogunate the Tokugawa. A strong central government was established. The Tokugawa ruled for a 250 year stretch of peace and stability. They did this by imposing controls designed to preserve the social and economic order as it existed in 1600. These controls included:

1. The system of alternate attendance: Each of the daimyo was required to spend every other year in Edo, and his family was required to reside in Edo at all times as hostages.

2. The class system of the nation became a caste system. Membership in a class was made hereditary, and classes were ranked according to their value to society. At the top were the samurai; second were the peasants; third were the skilled workers; and fourth were the merchants.

3. Japan was isolated. Portuguese traders came in the 16th century and were followed by Christian missionaries. Fearing the foreign influences that came with Christianity, the Tokugawa persecuted Christians. The Tokugawa feared all types of foreign influence. Because of this the Japanese were forbidden to go abroad, and Japanese in other countries were forbidden to return.

Although the Tokugawa controls were designed to prevent change in Japan, change did take place. The 250 years of imposed peace and isolation led to an increase in internal commerce, the development of cities, and the strengthening of the economic power of the merchants. Most of the samurai, with no wars to fight became scholars and teachers, and the literacy rate increased considerably. During their long period of isolation, the Japanese developed a strong feeling of their own uniqueness.

  1. Describe the Japanese caste system.

  2. How did the Tokugawa feel about foreigners?

  3. What changes took place under Tokugawa control?

Tokugawa Rule

The Tokugawa rulers set out to establish control like that of the feudal system that governed Japan for more than 300 years. The state was divided into about 250 separate territories, called hans or domains. A daimyo ruled each individual han. The Shogunate used a hostage system to control the daimyo, which were required to have two residences. One was to be located on their own land and the other was in Edo, the location of the Shogun’s court. When the daimyo were away from the Edo residence, his family was forced to stay there, thus preventing rebellion by the daimyo.

Under the Tokugawa, trade and industry began to flourish. Paper money became the usual medium of exchange in business. Banking flourished and a Japanese merchant class developed. Some farm families benefited from the growing demand for cash crops. Most peasants, however, experienced both declining profits and rising taxes and costs. Many were forced to work as hired help or become tenants. When conditions grew desperate, some peasants revolted. During the Tokugawa era, nearly 7,000 revolts against high taxes occurred.

  1. What was the hostage system?

  2. What economic changes occurred under the Tokugawa?

The Class System

Japan had four main classes: warriors, peasants, artisans, and merchants. The emperor and the imperial court were at the very top of the political and social structure. Second in line was the warrior class, composed of the shogun, daimyo, samurai and ronin. Below the warriors were the farmers, or peasants. The artisan class included craftspeople such as carpenters. The merchants were at the bottom because they profited from the labor of others. Below these classes was the eta, Japan’s outcasts. The Tokugawa regulated the eta’s residence, dress, and hairstyles.

Women in Tokugawa society became more restricted. Men had broad authority over marriage, divorce and property. Parents arranged marriages, and a wife was expected to move in with her husband’s family. A wife could be divorced if she did not meet the expectations of her husband or his family. Among the people, women were valued for their work as child-bearers and homemakers. But both men and women shared work responsibilities in the fields.

  1. What role did merchants play in society?

  2. Who were the eta? How were they treated?

  3. What role did women play in Japanese life?

Tokugawa Culture

1. Literature—works of Ihara Saikaku are the best examples of the new urban fiction. His greatest novel, Five Women Who Loved Love, is a tragic tale. Poetry was considered serious literature. Matsuo Basho, the greatest Japanese poet, lived during the seventeenth century.

2. Theater and Art—Kabuki theater, which is full of action, music, and dramatic gestures, began appearing in the cities. Women were forbidden to act on stage, because the government feared these dramas would corrupt the nation’s morals. This ban led to a new class of professional actors, the men who assumed female roles.

The Shogun’s decree that all daimyo must have homes in Edo resulted in an increase in building. Nobles competed to build the most magnificent mansions, lavishly furnished.

Other cultures influenced Japanese art. From Korea, the Japanese borrowed pottery techniques. The Japanese also studied painting styles, languages, medicine, and astronomy from Western nations. Those nations in turn wanted Japanese ceramics.

  1. What literature was created under the Tokugawa?

  2. How was theater affected?

  3. What did they borrow from outside cultures?

Tokugawa: The Closed Country Edict of 1635

During the early years of the Tokugawa Shogunate the new leaders were open to foreign ideas. Portuguese and Christian missionaries brought trade and ideas that were accepted by the Japanese. But as time passed the Tokugawa became suspicious of the Western visitors and eventually closed the Japanese ports. This edict was created to keep foreign influence out of Japan and was instituted by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Japanese ships are strictly forbidden to leave for foreign countries.

No Japanese is permitted to go abroad. If anyone attempts to do so secretly they will be executed…

If any Japanese returns from overseas after residing there, he must be put to death

If there is any place where the teachings of the Catholic priests are practiced, men must order a thorough investigation.

Any informer revealing the whereabouts of the followers of the priests must be rewarded accordingly. If anyone reveals the whereabouts of a high ranking priest, he must be given one hundred pieces of-silver. For those of lower ranks, depending on the deed, the reward must be set accordingly.

If there are any Southern Barbarians who propagate the teachings of the priests, or otherwise commit crimes, they may be incarcerated in the prison. . . .

All incoming ships must be carefully searched for the followers of the priests.

  1. What is the purpose of this document? What are they targeting?

  2. Why does the Tokugawa Shogunate feel it is necessary?

  3. In order to understand this document better, what TWO views would be necessary to gain a full perspective on the edict?

The Period of the Mongol Empire
Genghis Khan

The Mongol Empire was one of the largest and most powerful empires that ever existed. It lasted for 185 years, and yet in that small time frame they were able to accomplish more than many other empires could ever hope to. At its height the empire stretched through lands in modern-day Korea, China, Russia, the Middle East, India, Eastern Europe and all the land in between. However the enormity of the Mongol Empire is what would ultimately destroy it.

The official beginning of the Mongol Empire began in the year 1206 When Temujin was declared Genghis Khan and was declared ruler of all the Mongols. Genghis Khan had been able to unite the Mongol people. This unified force could and would destroy almost every opposing force that tried to go against the Mongols. Genghis Khan improved his military organization.  He created a body of law and introduced record keeping. He created a supreme officer of the law, which was the judge and jury.

The Mongols were a group of people that incorporated other cultures inventions into their own. This was greatly utilized by the Mongols; in fact the weapons and tactics that they used were borrowed from foreign civilizations to make their army stronger and more efficient. The Mongols were very tolerant of outside religions. The most surprising thing is that many of the religions hated each other and yet they fought with each other to expand the reach of the empire. There were many times when Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians were fighting alongside one another despite their differences. This is one of the ways that the Mongols kept their captured lands in peace. The Mongols did not prohibit any religion and in fact they usually promoted it among the people.

The Mongol Empire is considered the force that unified China and Russia. Before the Mongol Empire both of these nations were fragmented kingdoms that were constantly at war. However, once the Mongols forced these people to join their kingdoms together to make governing easier for the Mongols. To make governing easier the Khan divided up the land into Khanates; a Khanate is comparable to a state or province, each with its own head of government.

  1. Who was Temujin

  2. What were some unique characteristics of the Mongol Empire?

  3. How did the Mongols govern their empire? What is a Khanate?

The Mongols Dominate Asia

The Mongols were ruthless, cruel and power hungry. They destroyed everything that stood in their way to build their empire. They were great creators and destructors. More than once did they burn a town to the ground and kill everyone. In fact that was the fate of the Russian cities of Moscow and Kiev.

The Mongol armies were extremely successful despite being greatly outnumbered by every army they ever encountered. Time and time again the Mongols destroyed the opposing force even when they were outnumbered six to one. This was mostly due to superior military tactics, their extreme discipline and their use of modern weapons. The Mongol armies were disciplined and extremely orderly despite the lack of communication. Their formation style was also different. They would deploy men in groups of ten, then ten of those for a hundred, and ten of those for a thousand, and finally ten of those giving them ten thousand men which was called a tuman.

A practice used by the Mongols to deter any traitors was if one man of the ten were to run away, the other nine men would be killed. With that policy the life of every man depended on each other. Each Mongol warrior also carried his own food. However, when that ran out they would cut open a vein of a horse and drink the blood to maintain their strength. That and cannibalism of the enemy was not uncommon among the Mongols. The Mongol leaders would eat the livers of the conquered leaders so they could capture the strength of that leader and add it to their own.

  1. What was a tuman?

The Mongol War Machine

The Mongol armies were known as the Mongol War Machine. It was devastating and destroyed everything in its path. They were excellent at deploying and inventing military strategies and they had one that destroyed many armies. They would send a small force near an enemy city and retreat as soon as the enemy force was spotted, the opposing force would then chase the Mongol warriors. The enemy would soon find themselves surrounded by the Mongols. The surrounding Mongol army begins to start fires so there is no room for the enemy to retreat allowing them to be killed by arrows from the Mongol archers.

Another strategy was that the Mongol army would find an opposing city and they would at first offer to spare the city if the citizens agreed to pay them tribute. The tribute would be one-tenth of everything in the city, including people.

Military strategies were abundant for the Mongol armies. The Mongol army would sometimes cut down trees and build a wall around an entire enemy city closing it off from food, resources and outside help. The walls would lead the city to starvation and finally the Mongols would bomb the city with stones and fire until they surrendered, they were all dead, or the Mongols got bored and entered the city to kill the enemy using hand to hand combat.

  1. What were some military strategies of the Mongols?

After the death of Genghis Khan his successors continued to acquire territory from China to Poland. This helped create the largest empire in world history. For easier administration the empire was divided into four regional empires: China, central Asia, Persia and Russia.

The Mongols in Persia

Sweeping into Persia in 1231, the Mongols massacred hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants, interrupted trade, and destroyed cities, some of which were never recovered. In 1258, Islamic civilization was dealt a crippling blow when Mongols defeated the Abbasids in Baghdad. Throughout Southwest Asia, the invaders destroyed ancient irrigation systems. Eventually the Mongols allowed the Persians to rule their own local territory as long as they paid tribute and maintained law and order. Mongols retained the highest government positions. Gradually the Mongols in Persia assimilated to the local culture and often adopted Islam as their religion.

The Mongols in Russia and Central Europe

The Khanate of the Golden Horde demanded tribute from Russians. The Mongol invasion of Russia in 1237 was the only time in history that a winter invasion of Russia was successful. Mongol rule created a long-standing mistrust between Russia and westerners by keeping Russia isolated from the lifestyle and the technology of the Western world. The lack of Mongol concern kept Russian areas such as Moscow culturally impoverished, isolating them from the cultural and economic wealth of the European Renaissance. Inept administration maintained Russia’s economic backwardness. During Mongol rule, Russian peasants became serfs of the Russian ruling class in exchange for their protection.

Moscow finally rose to prominence when Prince Alexander Nevsky cooperated with the Mongols. Acting as a tribute collector for Mongols after 1328, Nevsky’s government annexed those territories that did not pay tribute, adding to the territory and power of Moscow. He was granted the title of grand Prince. Ii was not until 1480 that Ivan III of Moscow stopped paying taxes to the Mongol leader, effectively ending Mongol presence in Russia.

Even Central Europe was not exempt from Mongol advances. In 1241 and 1242, the Mongols centered on the areas of present-day Poland, Hungary and eastern Germany, reaching the outskirts of Vienna, Austria before they were turned back.

The Mongols in China

The grand prize of the Mongol invaders was their occupation of China, where they set up a tribute empire beginning in 1260. Under the leadership of Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan he founded the Yuan Dynasty. Kublai Khan extended the length of the Grand Canal to connect the Huang He River with Beijing in order to haul food supplies into Beijing. He ended the Confucian system of education and reliance on civil service exams. Although he promoted Buddhism, Kublai Khan supported the rights of Daoists, Muslims, and Christians to exercise their faith.

The Mongols brought foreign merchants and administrators to China and remained separate from the Chinese. They outlawed marriage between Mongols and Chinese and forbade the Chinese from studying the Mongol written language. Mongol women retained property rights, enjoyed freedom to move around publicly, and had considerable control over the household.

The Yuan period, in fact, is one of vital cultural transmission between China and the rest of the world. Europe formally met China during the reign of Kublai Khan with the arrival of Marco Polo, an Italian adventurer, who served as an official in Kublai's court from 1275-1291.

In addition to its presence in China, the Yuan Dynasty advanced into Vietnam. The Yuan Dynasty occupied Korea from 1231 to 1350 and attempts to conquer Indonesia, Cambodia and Japan failed. Twice, in 1274 and 1281, massive Mongol forces were turned back from a successful invasion of Japan by mighty winds known as Kamikazes. The aborted invasion of 1281 was one of the largest seaborne invasions prior to WWII. The Mongol domination of China ended in 1369 when the Chinese defeated them and established the Ming Dynasty.
The Mongol Peace

The Mongol Presence in Eurasia led to a period of peace and prosperity for the continent. The so-called Mongol Peace or Pax Mongolia lasted from the 1250s to the 1350s. This ensured the safety of travelers along the trade routes in Eurasia and helped increase trade between Asia and Europe along the Silk Roads. The Mongols established foreign embassies and maintained diplomatic relations with Korea, Vietnam, India and Western Europe. The Mongols also resettled people in new lands and recruited craftsmen to better the lifestyle of those they ruled.

The Black Death and the Fall of the Mongol Empire

Increased trade was a contributing factor to the spread of the Black Death. The plague had been brought unknowingly to China by Mongol invaders, whose food sacks had been invaded by infected rats and fleas. Appearing initially in China in the 1330s, the plague spread through China and central Asia. By the late 1340s, it has spread throughout Europe and Africa. Mongol invaders catapulted infected bodies over city walls to end battles. The disease spread by following the path of the trade routes, wiping out nearly half of the population in infected areas. Merchants carried the plague from port to port.

Poor administration and economic distress brought down the Mongol Empire. In Persia, the Mongols’ excessive spending caused them to print valueless paper money. The resulting inflation caused merchants to close their shops. When the Mongol rule in Persia ended in 1335, the Persian government returned to local rule until the Turks reinstated centralized government in the late fourteenth century.

In China, the people rebelled against the valueless paper money. The devastation brought by the Black Plague further weakened Mongol rule. The Yuan was the shortest lived of the major dynasties. Later Yuan emperors could not stop the slide into powerlessness. A peasant, Chu Yuan-chang, led a rebel army against the Yuan. He took Beijing in 1368 and the Yuan emperor fled. When he drove the Yuan emperor back to Mongolia, he declared himself the founder of a new dynasty: the Ming. The desire of the Chinese to reassert their cultural identity after long years of Mongol rule strengthened the ability of the Ming Dynasty to return China to the Chinese. Even though they were ousted by the Chinese in 1369, the Mongols remained a constant threat to the northwestern borders of China until the eighteenth century.

Directions: Fill in the graphic organizer below discussing the facts about the Mongols after Genghis Khan.


The Mongols in Persia

The Mongols in Russia and Central Europe

The Mongols in China

The Mongol Peace

The Black Plague and the Fall of the Mongols

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