The two-thousand year history of China and its civilization originates from small populations that settled along the valleys of the Yellow River (and the Yangtze River), considered the cradle of Chinese civilization. The first writings found on Chinese history date back to the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BC), although philosophy, culture and literature developed in the following Zhou Dynasty (1045-256 BC).
The imperial period, began by the Emperor Qin Shi Huang (221 BC), gave birth to a history dominated largely by various dynasties that ruled parts of China. It all ended with the last dynasty, the Qing Dynasty, which was defeated by Republican rebels in the Wuchang Uprising, in 1911, followed by the abdication of Emperor child Pu Yi(1912) and the appointment of Yuan Shi-kai as president of the Republic of China.
The term “dynasty” means a succession of rulers from the same family clan. While some dynasties persisted for centuries (see Zhou and Ming), others lasted only a few decades (see Qin and Sui) .
The ancient Chinese did not know the concept of “nation” and only rarely national boundaries were permanently defined. “All lands are under the watch of Heaven” was a basic principle of the dynasties that effectively unified China as a nation. The emperor, called the Son of Heaven, ensured titles to the rulers of neighboring territories, thus uniting several regions and ethnic groups under a single administration.
It is also a history characterized by alternating periods of unity, with the expansion of dynasties, and period of divisions (or disunity) , with the presence of other peoples from Central Asia, which over the centuries were assimilated into the Han population (often it is the name used as the original ethnic Chinese population, to differentiate themselves from other ethnic minorities in China).
1912 puts an end to the Celestial Empire.
Since each dynasty was unique, it left behind a wide range of culture, art, philosophy and historical artifacts for us to admire.
All Chinese Dynasty’s
We have highlighted a number of dynasties on our website. Use the drop down menu to select the dynasty and their associated important emperors.