Chinese Imperial Dynasties | World History | Khan Academy
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Chinese Imperial Dynasties | World History | Khan Academy


– [Instructor] In other videos
we talk about some of the truly ancient Chinese
dynasties, the Shang Dynasty, the Zhou Dynasty, and as we
get to the end of the Zhou Dynasty, China falls into
chaos in the Warring States Period, which is a really
tough time for China. But the silver lining is it’s
also the time that you have all these schools of
thought, the Hundred Schools of Thought, of which
Confucianism and Daoism and Legalism and all of these
other schools of thought begin to emerge. But what we’re really going
to focus on in this video is the beginning of truly
imperial China under the Qin Dynasty from which China gets its name. So here we are in the third
century B.C.E. and you have your first true emperor
of China, Qin Shi Huang, and the dynasty that he
sets up is known as the Qin Dynasty which will be
shortly lived but it’s known as the first dynasty to truly unify China. This is where we believe the
word China actually comes from, from the Qin Dynasty. The dynasty is known for its
fairly harsh, centralized rule motivated over the
foundation on legalism. In terms of relics that
we have from that period, you might have heard
of the Terra Cotta Army which was buried along
with Qin Shi Huang’s grave. Now the Qin Dynasty is
most known for ending the Warring States Period and
unifying China, and really laying the foundation for
the Golden Age of China that will happen in the Han Dynasty. The Han Dynasty lasts from
roughly 200 B.C.E. to a little after 200 C.E. And in my head I think of
it as bit of a contemporary as the Roman Empire. The 200 years of the Western
Han Dynasty correspond roughly to the Roman
Republic, and as we get to the Eastern Han Dynasty, that
corresponds to really the heyday of the Roman Empire. And it’s also a golden age of
China, a time where science and the arts, and especially
Confucianism begins to really take hold in China,
becomes officially part of the civil service,
part of the bureaucracy. The Han Dynasty was so
successful at unifying China culturally and linguistically,
that today, 92% of Chinese identify themselves as ethnically Han. So sometimes you’ll hear
the word Han referring to the Han Dynasty, and sometimes
it will be referring to the Han ethnic group,
which really derives from the notion of the unification
under the Han Dynasty. Now the Han Dynasty, as we see
here, ends at the beginning of the third century in the
Common Era, and then China gets fragmented again,
and it gets split into multiple dynasties. This roughly 360 years that
I don’t have marked on my timeline, it’s not that
nothing was happening in China, in fact, a lot was, but
China was not unified. To get a sense of that,
here is China during the Three Kingdoms Period
in the third century, shortly after the fall of the Han Dynasty. You see the Jin Dynasty depicted
here in the fourth century, still part of what’s often known as the Six Dynasties Period, this
roughly 360 years of a fragmented China. And then you see this North
and South Dynasty Period here in the sixth century. And eventually, China is
reunified, and that happens under the Sui. It is unified under
Emperor Wen of Sui for whom the dynasty is known,
and similar to the Qin, what the Sui are most known
for is taking this chaotic period and finally unifying China. And the Sui are ethnically Han,
and they lay the foundation for another golden age
of China under the Tang and the Sung Dynasties. The Tang Dynasty depicted
here, it rivals the Han as a golden age of China. It’s a time where the arts,
the sciences really come about. One interesting thing about
this Six Dynasties Period that we talk about,
which is a chaotic time, it is a time that Buddhism
starts to come into China from central Asia, originally
from India, and by the Sui and the Tang, it really takes hold. Now one of the most important
innovations that comes from Tang China is the notion
of block printing. What you see depicted here
is one of the first books ever printed, the Diamond
Sutra, during the Tang Dynasty. Now, after the Tang falls in
907, you have, on a historical time scale, a relatively
brief period of chaos again. About 50, I guess exactly
53 years where you get this Five Dynasties and 10 Kingdoms
Period, but then China gets reunified under the Song Dynasty. And the Song Dynasty is able
to, on some level, pick up where the Tang Dynasty left off. One thing that happens as
we get into the late Tang Dynasty, is that there’s
push-back against Buddhism that we talk about in
other videos, and you see Neo-Confucianism begin to
take hold and it really takes hold under the Song
Dynasty that we talk about in other videos. The Song Dynasty is also
known as a time of really putting a lot of energy
into the civil service and the bureaucracy, and it
really being very meritocratic, based on some of these
Neo-Confucian ideals. It’s also a time of significant
technological innovation. The compass, which has use
as early as the Han Dynasty, but it really gets into its
fairly evolved or modern form, especially for maritime use,
during the Song Dynasty. The notion of a Chinese
junk boat also gets into its evolved form during the Song Dynasty. Some of the really far-reaching
innovations from this Dynasty include building on
the Tang use of block printing, but thinking about movable
type, which makes printing far more practical. And maybe the biggest single
innovation that changed the world, for better or worse,
was the use of gunpowder, which there’s some use in
the late Tang, but it really starts to get perfected
during the Song Dynasty. The Song Dynasty is
eventually overthrown in the 13th century by the Mongols. They are able to establish
the Yuan Dynasty with Kublai Khan being the first emperor of it, grandson of Genghis, or Jen-gees Khan. They are eventually
overthrown in the 14th century by the Ming Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty is once
again ethnically Han, and some of the most famous
attractions that are associated with China today really came
about from the Ming Dynasty. This is the Forbidden Palace,
the imperial residence during the Ming and Qing
Dynasties in Beijing. This is the Great Wall of China. And even though the history
of the Great Wall of China goes a good ways back, even
to the Zhou and Warring States Periods, much of what you
now see as the Great Wall, a lot of this brick work, was
built during the Ming Dynasty. And then the last true
Dynasty of China is the Qing. The Qing Dynasty is again,
to some degree, foreign rule. It’s ruled by the Manchus
who come from Manchuria, which is this region right
over here, and they’re eventually able to
overwhelm the Ming Dynasty, and ruled China all the way
until the early 20th century when the Republic of China
is able to overthrow them.

22 Comments

  • Alex Lam

    Very good introduction. I am a Hong Kong student and i studied Chinese History as it is one of my main subjects. You are so good at sumarizing the things happened in different dynasties but you should make more video explaining why some dynasties are short/long and why they split then reunified.(Although i know the reasons).Thats good for people that are interested in Chinese History.Thanks.

  • Fankas2000

    Chines people really have a nasty habit of naming their dynasties witch just a few letters. This makes it especially confusing to foreigners who have 0 understanding of Chinese language.

  • Thomas Peterlin

    It is also worth noting that the Qing dynasty didn't destroy the Ming dynasty. The Ming empire had already fallen (in the north) by the time they invaded. Li Zicheng's rebellion had conquered Beijing where he proclaimed the Shun dynasty, and after Li's troops killed Chen Yuanyuan, the favorite concubine of Ming general Wu Sangui, he rebuked the Shun and let the Manchu cross the Great Wall so that they could destroy Shun. Li Zicheng led his formidable army to defend against Wu's and the Manchu forces at Shanhai Pass, but lost the battle, after which Beijing was open to the advancing Manchu who then proclaimed the Qing dynasty.

  • Julia Dens

    I just want to find out about Ong Sun Ping from which Dynasty married wt my ancient The indigenous lady in North Borneo – East Malaysia.Mount Kinabalu areas tribe.

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    One small sweet thing to add to what Sal says about the word "Han" (汉): It also gets used with the meaning "fella" or "guy." A 好汉, hao han, might be a good guy, or it might fade off into having a Mafioso sort of flavour to it…

  • Fatih Kull

    Word of 'HAN' is especially used in Turkic emperor application like Mete HAN, Atilla HAN, Oguz KHAN, Fatih Sultan Mehmet HAN, Kanuni Sultan Suleyman HAN and more more. So Han is Turkic application. And Qin means in Turkic (Kün) in English Sun. I think North of chinese dynasties were releated in Turkic dynasties. Soon we will se that true and You call pyramit is kurgan. Kurgan is a grave for afterlife in GokTengri believing. In Kurgan there are king horse, belongings, their treasure and him army(made of clay / Terrscotta army is look like Turanic/Turkic people not chinese) even him wife. I think chinese has a big secret.

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