China History


Ebrey’s writing is an inclusive introduction to the exceptionalChinese civilization, and a study of the continuity and disjunctureof Chinese past (Ebrey, 2010). The book clearly explores Chinesehistory from its origins, during which the country alternated amidperiods of disunity as well as unity.

Following the institution of Shang power in North China and emergenceof written texts, the country was unified. Shang’s leaders managedto succeed in instituting themselves as overloads of lesser triballeaders. Shang China was under the rule of hereditary kings acting asintermediaries amid the civilians and spiritual globe. Because thenobles and kings had massive ownership of land, had a monopoly inbronze metallurgy, owned costly battle chariots and held spiritualroles, it was possible to maintain leadership during the historicperiod (Ebrey, 2010). Contrary, civilians were merely common peopleand peasants that had no class, or land. Their survival was onworking plots allotted by the nobles and kings.

The Zhou dynasty defeated the Shang becoming the longest-servingdynasty. It was categorized into western and eastern Zhou. Thepolitical structure of Western Zhou was symbolized through theinstitutions of the many regional states mostly in East China. Thestates resulted in the stabilization of western Zhou (Ebrey, 2010).The institution of states was a procedure through which a unifiededucated society spread in most of North China. However, the unitywas short-lived due to class divisions greatly advanced under Zhoudynasty. The king and the upper classes were alienated from commonindividuals depending on the amount of land owned and family descent.There was also increased competition for power amid the establishedstates. Political alterations within the feudal states resulted inthe replacement of prehistoric feudal rules by newcomers. The rise ofConfucianism, Daoism and advent forms of governance all created awarring environment (Ebrey, 2010).

The era of the warring states concluded with the rise of the Qindynasty. Qin Shi Huang instituted himself as an emperor. Hewas succeeded by Han dynasty, which took over most of Qin’sadministrative measures (Ebrey, 2010). Qin and Han dynasties wereafter the unification of China during the period. Under the Handynasty, the ruler commenced major public works, involving theconstruction of walls. He united the currency, printed language andmeasurements, availing the foundation for a united state hence,keeping the idea of a united Chinese state conscious in individual’sminds. Han intended at creating a less ruthless dynasty by slowlyincluding Confucian ideals in his legal governance. Economic growth,altering associations with individuals of steppes, intensification ofthe palace, lessening the state’s control over peasantry and theemergence of the wealthy were all aspects, which resulted in adoptingConfucian principles (Ebrey, 2010). Under the advent type of legalismas well as Confucianism, rewarding and punishing was still employedfor common individuals though punishment was employed as a lastresort. This ensured that all individuals were treated fairlyreducing the possibility for revolts.

However, once again China was divided due to Han’s incapability toregulate an expanding empire eventually resulting in the dynasty’sfall. For instance, Han was unable to control the social challenge ofa revolt by Daoists. Uprisings became an unending theme amid Chinesedynasties. During the fall of Han was the emergence of Buddhism. Inthe following half millennium, it acted as an overriding spiritualityin China, since the country was divided over governance (Ebrey,2010). Buddhists leaders depicting more skills than Taoists ingaining support from people, contributed to further division ofChina.


Ebrey, P. B. (2010). The Cambridge illustrated history of China.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.