New dynasty gains power, restores peace and order, and claims to have Mandate of Heaven. In time, dynasty declines and becomes corrupt; taxes are raised; power grows weaker. Dynastic Cycle in China Dynasty is overthrown through rebellion and bloodshed; new dynasty emerges. Role of Mandate of Heaven Disasters such as floods, famines, peasant revolts, and invasions occur. Old dynasty is seen as having lost Mandate of Heaven; rebellion is justified.
Primary Source Description • “Heaven, unpitying, has sent down ruin on Yin [Shang]. Yin has lost the Mandate, and we Zhou have received it. I dare not say that our fortune would continue to prosper, even though I believe that heaven favors those who are sincere in their intentions. I dare not say, either it would end in certain disaster. . . . • The Mandate of Heaven is not easy to gain. It will be lost when men fail to live up to the reverent and illustrious virtues of their forefathers.” • – Duke of Shao
Let’s look at the dynastic cycle at work… Make some predictions.
Qin (ch’in) Empire 221-206 BCContributions to China • Standardized written characters. • Standardized weights and measures, coinage (money), and axle widths. • Legalism philosophy • Unified and expanded Chinese borders • Great Wall of China
Decline and Fall of the Qin Empire • Taxes are too high. • Peasants (farmers) have to work for free one month of the year and must serve in the military. • Legalism philosophy means harsh punishments. • Government burns books that don’t teach legalism. • Thousands of common people die building the Great Wall. • What is the result?
Qin lose Mandate of Heaven!Rebellion of the common people.A new dynasty rise, the Han.
Han Empire 202 BC-220 ADContributions to China • Confucianism: respect for family and government, kindness, education valued • Technological innovations: paper, magnetic compass, printing, gunpowder, water mills, iron and steel • Silk Road built and better ships for Indian Ocean trade
Decline and Fall of the Han Empire • Taxes are too high. • Peasants (farmers) have to work for free one month of the year and must serve in the military. • Peasants forced to sell land and become tenant farmers. • China attacked by nomads from the north. • Government corruption. • What is the result?
Han lose Mandate of Heaven!Rebellion of the common people.A new dynasty will not rise for 400 years.