Essay on Order and Authority in Ancient Chinese Dynasties

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Vanderbilt University
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Ancient China was ruled by emperors who had the responsibility of ensuring order and authority were maintained throughout the nation. During the Tang dynasty, various political leaders rose to power and determined how the public affairs were ran. These leaders had their economic, social, religious and political inclinations that played a central role in how China was managed. Wu Zetian was the first female emperor to take up leadership, and political affairs continued as she deemed right. Qin Shi and Hu of Han also had their social affiliations that took the nation to a tangent that they deemed good, acceptable and that would affirm their authority. Notably, there are different approaches used by this leaders, but the objectives remained one that if ensuring they offered great leadership and authority in their reign.

Wu Zetian was the first female emperor to rule in China through a strategy that seemed to work for. Her exposure to political affairs because of her intelligence through schooling allowed her to know a lot of political issues and public affairs (Song, pp.361). When she was taken as the concubine of the Emperor Taizong, she ruled unofficially since she had enough exposure to the political affairs. However, when Taizong died, she ruled officially through her marriage to the successor, Taizongs 9th son. She was just working as an administrator and assisting her husband in running political affairs. However, while alive and his health deteriorating, her decisions became final and her authority affirmed. In fact, before the impending death of her husband, she dismissed her political enemies who she interpreted would oppose her rulership once the husband died.

Apparently, her political authority was not experienced until the death of her husband and her liberty to make decisions. She owed her ability to rule over China to her education and exposure. As such, she would make huge investment and emphasis on education of everybody, and she believed that knowledge would grant someone power. She offered her support for religion especially Buddhism since she knew it was respected among the community. In fact, when she once faced opposition she quoted passed from Buddha writing to affirm her position. As such, she concluded that religion was a fundamental aspect of ensuring order in the society. Because of her persuasion about religion, she played a critical role in the construction of the Longmen Grottos. Further, the propagation of literature in social settings and schools allowed unity and preservation of social values as through literature, and societal values would be inculcated in the young people who would be expected to pass it on to other generations. Additionally, she invested in the military leadership through a significant expansion of the Chinese empire beyond the territorial boundaries that had existed previously as far as central Asia. She also foresaw the battles and wars like the Korean Peninsula just to ensure that the borders were guarded against external attack. At times this would involve having political allies in pursuit of the enemy like at some instance China allied with Silla against Goguryeo. Socially, Wu Zetian aimed at eliminating social classes that were dividing people through allowing Taoism among other social set ups to propagate during her reign.

Wu of Han was the 7th emperor of the Han dynasty of China. His rule lasted fifty-four years setting a record that took long to break. To assert his authority, his reign resulted in the expansion of the territorial boundaries, the development of centralized government and a strong state emanating from governmental reorganization. Further, the lasting change in the society during his reign was the exaltation of the Confucian doctrines that he believed were fundamental in the well-being of the society. Wu of Han is said to have made lasting change in the religious field through his patronage of poetic and music arts including the transformation of the Imperial Music Bureau to a prestigious and remarkable entity (Ti, pp.368). He pursued cultural contact and interrelationships between ethnic groups in the neighboring regions. He expanded the Eurasia contact in direct and indirect ways with the Chinese which would foster incredible relationships. Moreover, Wu of Han valued hard work and financial independence in ensuring order was maintained in the society. As such, he oversaw the introduction of new crops ad expansion of agriculture including bringing new things into that field. His assertion of his authority and commitment to order was seen in his military pursuits that would ensure peace ensued as long as he was in power. He expanded the boundaries such that the western side went as far as Kyrgyzstan, the eastern side as far as Korea, to the north, Vietnam. Further, he resisted the nomadic Xiongnu from their constant raids to China through the deployment of Zhang Qian.

Unlike Wu Zetian, Wu of Han did not value Buddhism but rather emphasized on Confucianism especially for his administrators. He ensured it was the basis of the code of ethics and the nation philosophy which ensured the order of the society. In fact, he started a school for his administrators which would be based on Confucianism principles. Also, he employed Shaman advisors, influenced religious and cultural changes in China and influenced the surrounding civilizations significantly.

Qin Shi was the first emperor of unified China after inventing that word emperor making him the first one of the Qin dynasty. He became a king only at age 13 but took up the emperor title at age 38. He was in power, and he aimed at unifying China through conquering the sub-kingdoms to as to ensure that China was a centralized system of government for easy governing and management. He sought to eliminate discrepancies that existed in the political and economic systems of China (Paludan, pp.1). As such, it would be during his reign that he would promote equality in workplaces and provide equal opportunities across the different social classes. As such order would ensure since the crime rate would be low as people have jobs to do. Further, busy people would not have time to idle. Additionally, during his reign, he eliminated the boundary walls that existed within China and ensured the construction of the Great Wall of China. Such a construction was not just for protection against external attack but also for easy control of the nation. He would be able to ensure that the law was adhered to and people in any part of the country not adhering to such orders would face dire consequences.

However, unlike Wu Zetian and Wu of Han who had their principles based on Buddhism and Confucianism respectively, Qin Shi had no such affiliations to religion or society. Unlike Wu Zetian who placed a strong emphasis on empowering people through education. Qin Shi put emphasis on political power and unification of China for order and authority.

Works Cited

Paludan, Ann. Chinese Emperors: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial China. Thames & Hudson, 2009.

Song, Xianlin. "Re-gendering Chinese History: Zhao Meis Emperor Wu Zetian." East Asia 27.4 (2010): 361-379.

Ti, Hui, et al. "Western Han Dynasty." World Monarchies and Dynasties (2015): 368.

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