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The Tang Dynasty Era and Chinese Development Essay

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Updated: Aug 26th, 2020

The epoch of the Tang Dynasty is traditionally considered as the period of the uttermost might of the country. It was the time when China kept ahead all other contemporary states in their development. “Measured by any standard, Tang China surpassed the rest of Eurasia” (Lockard 9).

The Tang Empire was founded by Li Yuan who was a large landowner originally hailed from the northern regions of China. Together with his son Li Shimin, Li Yuan achieved the victory in the civil war caused by the cruel and audacious policy of the last emperor of the Sui Dynasty Dou Jiande. Soon after the death of Dou Jiande in 618, Li Yuan came to the throne under the name of Gaozu. Later on, he was overthrown by Li Shimin, but the dynasty, which had been founded by him, was in power till 907 with the short interval from 690 till 705.

From the very beginning of its existence, the Tan Dynasty made a bid for the merging of China with prairie regions. The founder of the dynasty Li Yuan was familiar with the nations of the prairie, with their cultures and traditions. The early periods of the Tan dynastys rule were characterized by the intensive cultural interchange between the two regions. The prairie gave China a highly developed army with the heavily armored horse cavalry. In its turn, the descendants of the nomad tribes were fascinated by the Chinese wealth and by its ancient and sophisticated culture.

The idea of the association of China and the nomads under the rule of the Tang emperor was the factor that during several centuries had been determining the focal point of the foreign and domestic policy. Peace and reconciliation in the country allowed concentrating all human resources for the benefit of China. It was the period of the economic exuberance, the development of crafts, agriculture, and trade. There were made numerous improvements in the spheres of weaving, dyeing, pottery industry, metallurgy, and shipbuilding. The whole country were covered with the net of highly developed roads and water communication lines. At this period, China created cultural and economic relationship with Japan, India, Persia, and Arabia.

Apart from expanding of the boundaries of the country, there were annexed western regions and Korea. In the south China exercised authority over Amman. In such a way, the territory of the country in size was approximately equal to the territory of the empire of the period of the Han Dynastys prosperity. At that time China was no only the most powerful, but the most hospitable country in the world. Many religious figures and philosophers, who had to leave their motherland, sought shelter and protection in China.

The era of the Tang Dynasty was the period of the development and the flowering of the Chinese art and literature. The majority of the Tang emperors patronized poets and artists.

Moreover, the economic and administrative innovations of the Sui Dynasty were developed. There was elaborated the new land legislation, in accordance with which the formation of large-scale land holdings was reduced and peasants obtained the opportunity to sustain the appropriate living conditions. There was also formulated the obligatory set of social traditions and rules of conduct.

At the same time, the first Tang emperors did not manage to get the army under complete control. Strong emperors made use of the loyalty of commanders. At the same time, the weakening of the centralized power permitted satraps to extend military power on the local civil administration. In 775, one of the commanders practically destroyed the imperial dynasty. It was An Lushan who abolished Emperor Xuanzong from power and whose rebellion gave birth to the long civil war.

The change on the political climate took place simultaneously with changes in the administrative system. Cities, which had been always administrative centers, became the area of the activity of the new growing class of bourgeoisie. The attempts of the governors to retain control over the external trade by means of the creation of inspectorial agencies failed. Private trades taught how to skirt various legislative bans or even to lay hands on these establishments.

The positions of the emperors were weakening, while the power of the local military leaders was strengthening. As the result of this process, various rebellions and revolts took place. Ultimately, they put an end to the Tang Empire. One of such rebellions under the leadership of Huang Chao, who declared himself emperor, dealt the deathblow to the Tang Empire. Huang Chao dethroned the last Tang emperor and killed all his family.

Charlemagne is the most distinguished figure of the Carolingian Dynasty. His name gave the title to the whole dynasty. At the age of sixteen, he became a king and his reign lasted 46 years. Charlemagne was an outstanding government leader and military commander. During his life, he took part in 50 military campaigns in the result of which he became a leader of the big state, which had no analogues in Western Europe since the times of the Roman Empire.

In the 70th of the VIII century, after the victory over the Langobardic king Desiderius, Charlemagne joined this land to his kingdom. Soon he began the war against the Arabs, who had conquered by that time the Visigothic kingdom on the Iberian Peninsula. This military campaign was unsuccessful for Charlemagne. He did not manage to conquer Saragossa. On their way home, their troops were attacked by the Basques. This episode of this campaign is usually associated with the famous example of the French epos The Song of Roland.

By the end of the eighth century, Charlemagne undertook new war expeditions against the Arabs. These campaigns were more successful. The Franks managed to conquer the area on the territory of the contemporary Spain, where they laid the foundation to the Spanish March. Later on, on this territory Barcelona will appear.

The major part of his conquests Charlemagne conducted in the central Europe. The war against the Saxons was particularly long and murderous. The joining of Saxony was especially important for the empire of Charlemagne. It meant the acquisition of new lands and peasants, the access to the Baltic sea, and the development of the trade. In 777, the chiefs of the Saxon tribes took the oath to Charlemagne. Since then, there were built many churches all over Saxony. The Saxons were imposed new taxes and the free Saxon peasantry was enslaved.

Beginning from the 70th of the eighth century, there was a great number of rebellions against the Franks. Charlemagne put down these revolts with a heavy hand. Thousands of the Saxons were executed. However, the rebellions continued. After that, Charlemagne chose another way. He generously bribed the Saxon nobility. In such a way, many of the Saxons went over to the enemy and their last rebellion failed. At this time, Charlemagne laid under the tribute the Avarian realm and conquered the Bavarian kingdom.

As the result of his conquests, the borders of his empire began from the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean in the West up to the Danube and the Adriatic Sea in the East.

In 800 during the mass on the Christmas day, Charlemagne was crowned by the Pope as the Emperor of the Romans. The fact that neither the Roman Empire nor the Romans did not exist at that time witnessed how strong the idea of the Roman tradition was.

Such huge empire demanded a complete reorganization of the administrative structure. Charlemagne was eager to create a strong centralized government ruled by the developed machinery of clerks. The center of the system was the capital in Aachen.

The administrative structure of the Charlemagnes Empire, as well as the administrative system in the Tang Dynasty, had some similar peculiarities. The emperors of China and Charlemagne realized that for the effective government of the state the highly developed administrative apparatus was needed. In the early stages of its existence, the bureaucratic apparatus was rather effective in the Tang Empire. It was based on the strict hierarchy of ranks. Every rank corresponded to a definite allotment of the land, provided by the government to a bureaucrat. The bureaucratic apparatus consisted on three chambers, six departments, and a great deal of bureaus. The special chamber exercised oversight of every administrative establishment. The country was divided into ten big regions, which were further subdivided on districts. Later on, the development of technologies and the enforcement of large landowners caused the decentralization of power that led to the disruption of the empire. However, it must be admitted that at the initial stages this system was rather effective.

As distinct from the Tang Empire, Charlemagne did not manage to create the centralized state. There were major deficiencies in the Frankish administrative system. There were absent financial authorities, judicial establishments, and a regular taxation system. The Charlemagnes Empire was heterogeneous by its ethnic composition. The nations did not have one whole economy, culture, and language. Every tribe, which was a part of the empire spoke its own language and kept in with its own laws. As distinguished from the Tang Dynasty, the Charlemagne’s Empire existed not so long. Soon after his death, there was a struggle between feudal lords, which was characterized by civil discords. In 843, the empire was divided into three parts. The emperorship lost its meaning and obtained the symbolic function.

At the same time, the role of these empires for the world history can hardly be overestimated. In spite of its quick rise and fall, the Frankish Empire was the basis for the creation of the Holy Roman Empire. “Charlemagne was also responsible for spreading Christianity throughout large portions of Western and Central Europe» (“The Fall of the Carolingian Empire” p.2).

Speaking about the Tang Dynasty it is possible to mention that at this period the highest cultural explosion took place. Moreover, at this epoch the gunpowder and the movable type were invented. This period is also characterized by such inventions as “porcelain, the mechanical clock, paper money, and magnetic compass» (“Tang and Song China” p.326).

Works Cited

Lockard, Craig. Tang Civilization and the Chinese Centuries. 2000. PDF file. Web.

Tang and Song China. n.d. PDF file. Web.

The Fall of the Carolingian Empire. n.d. PDF file. Web.

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