ChAPTER 17 -- Part 1: Reunification and Renaissance in
The energy and prosperity that characterized Chinese urban life in the Tang-Song eras can be seen in this cityscape.
Bian Liang's bridges, bustling river markets, and spacious parks attracted many visitors, especially at times of festival celebrations like that depicted here.
Located between a large lake and a river in the Yangzi Delta, Hangzhou was criss crossed by canals and bridges.
The city's location near the coast of the east China Sea allowed its traders and artisans to prosper through the sale of goods and the manufacture of products from materials drawn from throughout China as well as overseas.
By the late Song times, Hangzhou had more than a million residents and was renowned for its wealth, clean streets, and variety of diversions.
There are ten great marketplaces in Hangzhou, each filled with products from much of the known world.
The city's many parks and delightful gardens could be enjoyed by the less consumption minded visitor.
One could visit the bath houses in the late afternoon.
One could also get a massage at these establishments.
There are many fine restaurants in the city that specialize in the different cuisines of the different regions of China.
There were many different entertainments to choose from after dinner.
The pleasure parks have acrobats, jugglers, and actors performing.
The city's ornate tea houses, an opera performance by the lake, and a viewing of paintings by artists from the city's famed academy were some of the other options.
The good life in cities like Hangzhou was made possible by the large, well-educated bureaucracy that had ruled China for centuries.
In this chapter, we will see how a strong military and centralized control brought long periods of peace, during which the ruling elites promoted technological innovation, agricultural expansion, and commercial enterprise.
From the 11th century onward, these trends persisted despite increased pressure from nomadic invaders from the west and north.
China produced some of the great art of humankind and was one of the most prosperous societies of the modern era.
The rise of the Sui dynasty in the early 580s appeared to be just another factional struggle of the Tang era that followed, a Confucian sort that had occurred repeatedly in the splinter states fighting for control of China in the centuries revival enhanced the position.
The return to highly centralized northern Zhou empire was the result of a marriage between a daughter and the ruler of the family that had been active in these contests.
The Zhou monarch ruled under an imperial dynasty.
The throne of his son-in-law was seized by the emperor.
The second Sui title shows little desire to favor the Confucian scholar-gentry class.
With their dynasty, murdered his father to support, and then taking the title Wendi (or Literary Emperor) and extending his rule across the north gain throne, Confucian China was restored.
The weak and divided Chen kingdom was conquered by Wendi's armies in 589.
For the first time in over three and a half centuries, the traditional core for construction of Chinese canal areas of Chinese civilization was returned to Wendi after his victory over the Chen.
Wendi was supported by lower taxes and the establishment of granaries.
L A Y A M T S.
After the collapse of the Han dynasty, China was divided into warring kingdoms for nearly 400 years.
Military commanders were the deep divisions of this period.
L A Y A M T S.
The Tang was built on the foundations of the Sui dynasty.
He was fond of extravagant construction projects.
He forcibly conscripted hundreds of thousands of peasants to build palaces, a new capital city, and a series of canals to link his empire.
His demands seemed to be endless.
There was an extensive game park in his new capital.
Tens of thousands of laborers were forced to dig up huge trees in the nearby hills and replant them in the artificial mounds built by other laborers because there wasn't enough forest on the site chosen.
Before work on his many construction projects was done, Yangdi led his tired and angry subjects into a series of unsuccessful wars to bring Korea back under Chinese rule.
His failures in the Korean campaigns, and the near-fatal reverse he suffered in central Asia, set in motion widespread revolts throughout the empire.
The governors of the provinces declared themselves independent rulers, bandit gangs raided at will, and nomadic peoples seized large sections of the north China plain.
Faced with a crumbling empire, the emperor retreated to his pleasure palaces in the city of Hangzhou on the Yangzi River to the south.
It looked as if China would return to the state of political division and social turmoil it had experienced in the preceding centuries when Yangdi was assassinated by his own ministers.
Li was a loyal supporter of the Sui ruler and was the duke of Tang.
The first emperor of the Tang dynasty, whose forces had been trapped by a large force of Turkic cavalry in a small fort, was saved from assassination by Li Yuan.
The unrest spread from of gaozu as Yangdi grew more irrational.
Li Yuan emerged the victor from the many-sided struggle for the throne that followed Yangdi's death.
The golden age of the Tang was laid down by Li Yuan and his second son, Tang Taizong.