China’s First Empire (pages 201 – 206)

Dynastic Cycle: Confucian Historians saw a pattern in 3 stages – “mandate of heaven”
- stage one: wars that eventually lead to unification
- proof that heaven has given the unifier the right to rule
- the ruler consolidate  his power, restores peace, & economic growth follows
- the peak of the cycle is marked by public works & military expansion
- the country (China) appears invincible
- stage two: cycle turns downward
- costs of expansion & and extravagance in court/government cause heavy taxes
- energy of ruler pales (slows)
- corruption & gossip in court/government
- stage three: public works are in disrepair, floods, disease, rebellions, collapse
- the last stage is also marked by a loss of morals in the court/government

Former Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 8 CE)
- rose after the rebellions of the Ch’in (stage one)
- (stage two) Wu Ti (emperor) brought new economic policies, built canals, established granaries for surplus grain, increased taxes on merchants, created government monopolies (salt, copper coins, iron & liquor)
- Debate on monopolies after Wu Ti’s death: “Salt & Iron Debate”
- Legalists said: state should enjoy profits from salt & iron
- Confucians said: leave resources in private hands for moral purity (government would be corrupted by dealings with merchants)
- Confucian ideas begin to influence the legalists (emperors see Confucian scholars as bookish)
- Confucian ideas shaped the moral of men w/o external restraints (punishment)
- Confucius taught a true gentlemen is in touch with his own basic nature / which is part of the cosmic order
- Education should uncover and cultivate the innate goodness
- Emperor is “Son of Heaven” – common people follow
- Eunuchs were brought in from the lower classes and castrated – servants to  the emperor’s harem – in contact with the emperor from the day he was born & became childhood confidants
- Third stage: decline – military expenses were more than treasury / large landowners avoided paying taxes / taxes fell to small landowners & peasants / weak emperors given to intrigue & nepotism / famine & Yellow River overflowed & changed its course destroying irrigation system = no longer the mandate of heaven
- Emperor was killed and eaten by the rebellious

return to the History Box

site provided by