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The Emperor is the Son Of Heaven

Updated on January 19, 2015

The Yellow Emperor

HuangDi (The Yellow Emperor)
HuangDi (The Yellow Emperor)

Qin Shi Huangdi

Qin Shi Huangdi, Terracotta Army, Public Works:The Great Wall,Lingqu Canal
Qin Shi Huangdi, Terracotta Army, Public Works:The Great Wall,Lingqu Canal

Mandate of Heaven (Tian Ming)

The Mandate of Heaven (tiānmìng) is an ancient Chinese belief and philosophical idea that Heaven granted emperors the right to rule based on their ability to govern well and fairly

Tian means heaven.It`s the closest Chinese word to "God".Ming means life,fate or command.

  • Thus the term Tian Ming has been translated as "Mandate of Heaven",or "divine right to rule".
  • Tian Zi (Son of Heaven) is another term for Emperor.
  • Tian Xia (All under Heaven) means the Emperor`s Kingdom.

The Chinese believed that Heaven only supports an Emperor if he is good.Floods,famine,drought or earthquakes will happen if he is bad.Should these natural disasters occur,then it`s time to rebel.A successful revolt means that Heaven has passed the Mandate to the new ruler.


Shang Dynasty Map
Shang Dynasty Map
Zhou Dynasty Map
Zhou Dynasty Map
Ritual food container, Western Zhou Dynasty
Ritual food container, Western Zhou Dynasty
Ceremonial bronze fangyi, late 11th–early 10th century bc, Zhou dynasty; in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Ceremonial bronze fangyi, late 11th–early 10th century bc, Zhou dynasty; in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Bell, Eastern Zhou dynasty, late Spring and Autumn period (770–ca. 475 b.c.), early 5th century b.c.
Bell, Eastern Zhou dynasty, late Spring and Autumn period (770–ca. 475 b.c.), early 5th century b.c.
incense Zhou period
incense Zhou period

Ancient Dynasties in Chinese history:

  • The Xia dynasty -(c. 2070 – c. 1600 BC) is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian. The dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great after Shun, the last of the Five Emperors, gave his throne to him.
  • The Shang dynasty- (c. 1600 BC-1046 BC)The classic account of the Shang comes from texts such as the Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian.

The Anyang site has yielded the earliest known body of Chinese writing, mostly divinations inscribed on oracle bones,discovered during the 1920s and 1930s scientific excavations.

  • The Zhou dynasty - (c. 1046–256 BC) lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history.This period of Chinese history produced what many consider the zenith of Chinese bronze-ware making:
  1. The Western Zhou period (1046–771 BC) was the first half of the Zhou dynasty of ancient China. It began when King Wu of Zhou overthrew the Shang dynasty at the Battle of Muye. The dynasty was successful for about seventy-five years and then slowly lost power. The former Shang lands were divided into hereditary fiefs which became increasingly independent of the king. In 771, barbarians drove the Zhou out of the Wei River valley; afterwards that real power was in the hands of the king's nominal vassals.

2. The Eastern Zhou was characterized by an accelerating collapse of royal authority, although the king's ritual importance allowed over five more centuries of rule. The Confucian chronicle of the early years of this process led to its title of the "Spring and Autumn" period.


Shang Dynasty Art

Shang bronze
Shang bronze
human face,Shang bronze
human face,Shang bronze
Shang Dynasty Bronze Ritual Wine-Pouring Vessel
Shang Dynasty Bronze Ritual Wine-Pouring Vessel
The earliest bronzes found in the Hunan region so far have come from several Shang Dynasty sites more 3500 years old
The earliest bronzes found in the Hunan region so far have come from several Shang Dynasty sites more 3500 years old

Book

Confucius

The Master said, “ A man is worthy of being a teacher who gets to know what is new by keeping fresh in his mind what he is already familiar with.” (The Analects, II.11)
The Master said, “ A man is worthy of being a teacher who gets to know what is new by keeping fresh in his mind what he is already familiar with.” (The Analects, II.11)

Confucius taught all the land and all the people in China belonged to the Emperor.Army generals and civil ministers must therefore be absolutely loyal to their Emperor because he was the Son of Heaven and had been given the Mandate to Rule.If the Emperor ruled unwisely,however,Heaven would take away his Mandate and give it to somebody else.Natural disasters and famine were signs that the Mandate was about to be taken away from a corrupt ruler.The people would throw out and the new recipient of Heaven`s Mandate would become the next Emperor.This idea continues through Chinese history.

Towards the end of the Han Dynasty in 184 AD,the Yellow Turban Society led a successful rebellion after a series of floods and famine.

In 960 AD,a regiment of disgruntled troops rebelled and founded the Song Dynasty when they were sent to battle on Chinese New Year`s Day.

In the mid-fourteenth century,the Yellow River flooded and the Red Turban Society,led by the future First Ming Emperor,drove out the Mongols.

In the early 1900s,the political party that ended the reign of the last Qing Emperor described itself as "The Association for Changing the Mandate of Heaven".Many Chinese today believe that the Chinese Communist Party holds the Mandate of Heaven to rule the country.

Confucius (551–479 BC)

Confucius
Confucius
Confucius teaching his followers (painting on silk from Taiwan)
Confucius teaching his followers (painting on silk from Taiwan)

Book

The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China (History of Imperial China)
The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China (History of Imperial China)

Just over a thousand years ago, the Song dynasty emerged as the most advanced civilization on earth. Within two centuries, China was home to nearly half of all humankind. In this concise history, we learn why the inventiveness of this era has been favorably compared with the European Renaissance, which in many ways the Song transformation surpassed. fucian Rule is an essential introduction to this transformative era. “A scholar should congratulate himself that he has been born in such a time” (Zhao Ruyu, 1194).

 

Just before Chinese New Year in 2008,China suffered its worst snowstorms in 50 years.Over a million people were stranded in railway stations,unable to go home for the festival.Sixty people died and a quarter of a million homes collapsed.Mindful of the close historical connection between "natural disasters" and "withdrawal of Heaven`s Mandate",President Hu Jintao did his utmost to visit the hardest-hit areas and mobilised the army to bring aid to the victims.

Now,we will go to see the closest person or persons to an Emperor:Eunuch(s)

What is a Eunuch?

A eunuch is a man who has had his testicles removed(he has been castrated).In China,the penis was sometimes removed along with the testicles.The custom started in China during the eighth century BC.Eunuchs were employed as sexless slaves in the ruler`s palace to carry out household chores and guard the chastity of his women.In his vast palace,the Emperor was the only "normal" adult male.He lived there with his wives(sometimes hundreds of them),his children and his eunuchs.


Eunuchs

A group of eunuchs. Mural from the tomb of the prince Zhanghuai, 706 AD.
A group of eunuchs. Mural from the tomb of the prince Zhanghuai, 706 AD.

Castration could be a form of punishment but was also a way to get a job in the Emperor`s palace.Many men and boys volunteered themselves for castration in order to gain direct access to the royal household.Eunuchs provided personnel services such as washing the face,cutting the hair or massaging the feet of the Emperor,his Empress,his concubines and his children,including the future Emperor.Sometimes a prince would gain the throne when still a child.Since he had been looked after by eunuchs all hi life,he would often rely heavily on his favourite ones for support and advice.

Eunuchs were supposed to be "docile,loyal,modest and polite"The reality could be very different in many cases, throughout the entire history of China.

Eunuchs in Chinese history

Ming Dynasty Eunuchs
Ming Dynasty Eunuchs
Eunuchs from the Qing dynasty
Eunuchs from the Qing dynasty

Book

China's Last Empire: The Great Qing (History of Imperial China)
China's Last Empire: The Great Qing (History of Imperial China)

In a brisk revisionist history, William Rowe challenges the standard narrative of Qing China as a decadent, inward-looking state that failed to keep pace with the modern West.

 

Eunuchs


The history of imperial China cannot be understood without knowing the significant role played by the Eunuchs. Often, they were able to use their intimate connection to the Emperor and the royal family to manipulate the throne and enrich themselves. Indeed, several Eunuchs throughout Chinese history became the de facto rulers. This video lecture is a brief introduction to the Eunuchs of Imp

Watch Movie

The Sword Identity (English Subtitled)
The Sword Identity (English Subtitled)

During the Ming Dynasty one man will request a competition when his weapon is rejected. After a series of fights he is determined to prove his sword is invincible

 

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Watch

Global Treasures - The Ming Necropolis - The Ming Dynasty Tombs - China
Global Treasures - The Ming Necropolis - The Ming Dynasty Tombs - China

Necropolis of the Ming Dynasty A dignified pavilion rises behind the main entrance of the magnificent Ming Necropolis, which is located 50km north west of Beijing. Seven kilometres long, the holy avenue of the Ming Necropolis is lined with numerous beautiful stone figures.Ding Ling, the mausoleum of the 13th Ming Emperor, Wanli, is one of three restored grave sites where elegant stairs, decorated with beautiful stone masonry, lead up to the terrestrial section of the mausoleum.

 

Comments

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    • ConfuciusAllanPoe profile imageAUTHOR

      ConfuciusAllanPoe 

      3 years ago

      Thank you for your comment and advice :)

    • Fred Arnold profile image

      Fred Arnold 

      3 years ago from Clearwater, FL

      Interesting history lesson! I think there needs to be better transition into your talking points. You go from history to eunuchs without really saying why. Also, you introduced someone, Eunuch Zhao, then never talk about him. I am not in a position where I can watch a 52 min. video so the information felt sporadic! You have a basis for a good hub, though!

      -Fred

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