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Worst Chinese dynasty?

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bhchao

What is the worst dynasty in Chinese history?

The Han and the Tang are the two greatest dynasties. Song was a period of cultural, intellectual, and economic progress. The only reason for its downfall was its weak military which led to the Mongol takeover. Song was also liberal-minded in the modern sense, as demonstrated by Wang Anshi's reforms. So I would throw Song out as well.

Here are my picks for contenders of "below-average" dynasties:

1. Yuan

2. Sui

3. Ming

4. Ching

Yuan was a complete disaster which lasted only 89 years. It failed because of its refusal to adapt to Chinese culture and methods of governing. Another factor is discrimination against the Han Chinese.

The reason I put Ming on the list is its repressive nature. Ming was the exact opposite of Tang. However some people may see Ming in a positive light. The Ming is the dynasty that comes into the mind of many Westerners when asked to name a Chinese dynasty. Many great works of Chinese culture were produced during the Ming dynasty. For example, 3 of the 4 famous Chinese novels were written during this period; The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, and Journey to the West. The first Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang was quite crazy. He put to death 40,000 people when he found out his prime minister tried to conspire against him. Anyone even remotely connected to the prime minister was executed. The first Europeans appeared in China during the Ming, who they called "foreign devils"

The Ching were even more conservative and rigid than their Ming counterparts. I don't think the Ching were the worst rulers, but their stubborn refusal to accept change hurt China. With the exception of Kangxi, the rest of the Ching rulers were very orthodox in their perception of China in relation with the world.

Sui was pretty bad. The reason why I didn't put Qin on the list is because Qin laid many of the foundations of Chinese government that exist to this day. The bureaucratic structure created by Qin Shi Huang can be found in the current Chinese government.

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wushijiao

I would say the Qin is the worst because it laid the violent template for generations of future leaders, as far as what was acceptable in the name of unification. The "we must burn this village to save it" mentality would be like having Nixon as Founding Father.

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confucius

Yuan Shikai's feeble attempt at some kind of dynasty was short and bitter.

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shibo77

I would select 五代十国Five Dynasties Ten States as the worst periods in history. I would select 元Yuan (大汗汗国Khanate of the Great Khan) as the worst of the major dynasties. They were good warriors, and the arts and literature was good, inncluding 元曲Yuan Qu. But politics was unstable, and the caste system was introduced in China.

I consider 隋Sui to be pretty good. It reunified China, built one of the best capitals in the world 大兴Daxing later 长安Chang'an. 杨坚Yang Jian also built the 大运河Grand Canal.

I consider 秦Qin to be very beneficial to China.

汉Han,唐Tang,宋Song,明Ming are considered the four greatest dynasties in China.

中华帝国Chinese Imperium was a joke.

-Shibo :mrgreen:

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ala

秦 How was Qin very beneficial to China?

唐 is the best post-Qin dynasty of China, as it was the most cosmopolitan, diverse, and least puritan. Not including Yuan, 明 is by far the worst major Chinese dynasty post-Qin.

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Quest

China had been going down ever since the jins and the mongols.

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bhchao

Ironically, the Han and Tang dynasties owed much of their success by inheriting and retaining the institutions created by the preceding dynasties. Han inherited the bureaucracy from Qin, but ruled wisely. Tang inherited from Sui, and like Han also ruled better. Therefore historians have pointed out the analogies between Qin-Han and Sui-Tang. Both the Qin and the Sui were lousy dynasties which lasted for a very short time, 15 years and 35 years respectively. But the institutions they created helped lay everything in place for the next dynasty.

Another reason why the Han and the Tang were so successful was the ability to discover and retain talent, and to act on good advice.

Liu Bang was someone who had this unique ability. During the Chu-Han war following the collapse of the Qin, Xiang Yu had a talented general named Han Xin.

Han Xin was known by his friends as a coward when he was young. As a young man, Han Xin came across a town bully at some kind of tavern. The bully ordered Han to crawl in between his legs or he will tear Han apart. Han Xin took a look at the man's size and did exactly what the bully told him to do. He crawled right through the man's legs. Afterwards, Han's friends were very ashamed of him, and the word "coward" stuck with him until decades later during the Chu-Han war.

As Xiang Yu's general, Han Xin won many battles for the kingdom of Chu. However as time went on, Xiang Yu made a series of strategic blunders because he often ignored Han Xin's advice. Han became disillusioned and expressed to Xiao He his willingness to help Liu Bang, who did not take him seriously at first. Han was disappointed and left Liu Bang's camp one night on horseback. Xiao He followed him into the sunset and chased him for two days on horseback. (This event has been played often in Chinese operas). Xiao He pleaded Han Xin to come back and help Liu Bang defeat Xiang Yu, which Han finally agreed to.

When Liu Bang found out that Xiao He had snuck out of camp, he was disappointed and wondered why his trusted advisor would spend so much time chasing after Han. Xiao He responded by saying talent like Han Xin is irreplaceable and cannot be found elsewhere. It would be very advantageous to recruit him. Liu finally interviewed Han and was amazed by the general's talent. He regretted that he had not earlier recruited the general. When Liu Bang's advisors told him of the story of Han Xin's crawling, he laughed and said "I am not looking for a bar brawler. I am looking for someone who knows when to attack and when to retreat." After being recruited, Han Xin won many battles for Liu Bang, which helped establish the Han Dynasty.

As the first emperor of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang had a disdain for the scholars. There was an incident when Liu took the hat of a Confucian scholar and urinated into it. However he did not persecute them. Eventually he saw the merits of retaining these scholars, and he knew that talents like these can help him administer the government. His son Liu Heng, known as Emperor Han Wendi, established the first civil service exams, which continued all the way until the demise of the Ching dynasty. This practice continues today even in Taiwan.

Han Wudi established a university to train people in the Confucian Classics. People were selected for government positions based on their success in mastering Confucian philosophy and morality. This influx of talent enabled the Han rulers to maintain a solid government foundation for most of the 400 years they were in power.

The civil service exams were perfected during the Tang dynasty. Even Wu Zetian used them to help her recruit men of talent into the government. During her reign lived a famous prime minister called Di Renjie (Ti Jen-chieh).

Di was the Chinese version of Sherlock Holmes. He became the basis of a series of Judge Dee novels written in the 19th century by a Dutch author. As a young man, Di was not an aristocrat by birth. So his only way for rising up in society was through the civil service exams. Di became a detective and solved murders and disputes at the provincial level. His work in the provinces attracted the eye of Wu Zetian, who eventually recruited him into her government. He gradually rose up to prime minister and was indispensable. One time Wu Zetian became angry with Di Renjie because he disagreed with a new policy she was proposing. Di responded by banging his head onto one of the pillars in the hall and told her that he was perfectly willing to keep banging his head until he killed himself. Alarmed, she begged him to stop and finally agreed to adopt his proposal. He was unquestionably loyal and honest, and she also saw him as a buffer against the aristocrats who hated her.

The use of the exams reached its peak during the Song when thousands of people waited outside halls for their test results.

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skylee

A well-written piece, bhchao. But sometimes I wonder why people tend to forget 文景之治, when the war ridden country recovered and based on which Han Wudi could start his conquests and expansion. (Oh but you have mentioned Han Wendi.)

And regarding the civil service exams, you say "This practice continues today even in Taiwan"? There are "Civil Service Examinations" even in HK, but they are nothing like 科舉 ...

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Guest Yau
How was Qin very beneficial to China?

It's quite surprised that after the confucius scholars' 2000-year defamation on Qin Dynasty, it became one of the widely recognized dynasty eventually.

Almost every of her policy remained for the following 2000 years until the fall down of chinese empire.

In Qin, it introduced central gov't system, unified charactes, standardized measures and size of the road. All these are commonly told, and no other dynasties could have the same great influence, if not contributions.

Despite totalitarianism, it ensured relatively peaceful and stable under her system and made chinese empire arguably prevailing until year 1500.

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ala
Despite totalitarianism, it ensured relatively peaceful and stable under her system and made chinese empire arguably prevailing until year 1500.

There must be a trade-off. And has a Chinese Empire really lasted from c220 BC till year 1500? No. It wasn't the most beneficial dynasty because it successfully ingrained its attitude of government (from the loosely feudal and regionalistic model of the Warring States to a bloated authoritarian bureaucracy) into the subsequent dynasties, preventing an enlightenment on par with the West, and stunting the modernization process. The Chinese are still living its legacy today.

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Guest Yau
It wasn't the most beneficial dynasty because it successfully ingrained its attitude of government (from the loosely feudal and regionalistic model of the Warring States to a bloated authoritarian bureaucracy) into the subsequent dynasties, preventing an enlightenment on par with the West, and stunting the modernization process. The Chinese are still living its legacy today

Your focus is only on the turning point of west and east history, but ignore the fact that history is something that last for a much longer period of time.

What model is better always aroused the interest of historians. If China model is so bad, what made them early prosperous? If European model is better, we have also to explain the dark age on the continent.

Today people tends to have an illusion that china was almost united in every time, but back to the history, it's not uncommon to see that china was broken up. Then it turns to another question: If Warring states could do better to stimulate thoughts and release free will, why we'd not see enlightment during the latter warring period during chinese history?

In fact, all these are not the only indicator to take into account. Stability and the effectiveness of resource allocation are also important. A great scholar like Mengzi had suggested the importance of unity because of the power to mobilise resources to combat flooding or famine.

Which system is better? it's always open to debate, but I never suggest blindly overstate the benefit of any models.

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yhjow
I would say the Qin is the worst because it laid the violent template for generations of future leaders, as far as what was acceptable in the name of unification. The "we must burn this village to save it" mentality would be like having Nixon as Founding Father.

Actually, Qin was one of the most important, because Qinshihuang put forth many policy to unify the nation, the culture, the language etc...without Qin, there would be no China of today.

The worst dynasty would have to be Sui dynasty, which lasted only some 20 years or so, which was quite short-lived. It was because of Sui Yang Di whose tyranny caused the downfall.

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woodcutter

There is no way the Ming was a below average Chinese dynasty. As already mentioned, the greatest works of literature came from that time. It is the most famous dynasty in the west, and that is because of it's wonderful porcelain. If it was not for the Ming then China would have had about a millennia of outside domination - could it have survived it? The voyages of Zheng He took place, although the fine opportunities following that were wasted. It seems to me that the main crime of the Ming was to keep Chinese rule inside the boundaries of China proper, and that isn't such a bad thing............

Give me "Journey to the West" before Du Fu! The Ming were best!

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holyman
In fact, all these are not the only indicator to take into account. Stability and the effectiveness of resource allocation are also important. A great scholar like Mengzi had suggested the importance of unity because of the power to mobilise resources to combat flooding or famine.

wow this is a great point... one of the reasons qin can conquer all the other states is the problem of transportation. yes, when there is flood or famine, a unified state is more efficient in terms of resource allocation to save the commoners, compared to a few separated ones. among the 'inter-states' regulations then, if a state is suffering from natural disasters, the neighbouring states should aid if requested. if not the requesting state(the one suffering) is given the right to attack its unhelpful neighbour(which reminds me of the water problem in the country of singapore. singapore hasnt got enough water for itself all the while, so it is buying water from malaysia. i think the treaty says that if malaysia cut the water supply abruptly, it would mean war, cos its affecting the srvival of the country). then there are problems like 'customs' btw the states, they tax everything passing thru the borders, so if a trader move from qin to qi, he probably got taxed multiple times. a unified country can remove all these and commerce can prosper.

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holyman

i would say song is the obviously weaker one, worst or not i'm not so sure. they obviously used an ineffective policy at the wrong time. if china was a unified country then, relying more on the scholars would probably be good for running the country. but at that time china was facing newly emerged minority states all over the place, and these people are good horseback riders and warriors. relying on the scholars instead of a balanced policy for both scholars and military officials inevitably led to its downfall.

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Guest dingo

the worst dynasty is Mao Ze Dong's "the Peoples Republic of China"

i say bring back the monarchy !!!!

and abolish communism

that way china will enjoy its superpower status once more like back in the tang dynasty.

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Guest dingo

Early Ming Dynasty was one of the greater dynastys, it had sea expeditions with admiral Cheng He who reached as far as East Africa and the northern tip of Australia.

But the Later Ming Dynasty was a disaster, as much efforts spent on exploration were stopped and all efforts are put back into the military to stop invaders from the north once again. This time not the Mongols, but instead the Manchurians.

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woodcutter

The Ming may have been awful at the end, but of course that must be true of every dynasty.[/url]

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woodcutter

And my post is awful at the end, because, let's confess, I can't work out how to quote properly............

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ala

I'm sorry, but the Ming was a disaster from the beginning to the end.

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