Ancient China Government

China is a massive country and throughout its history it has had many changes. Thousands of years ago there were warlords that governed various areas.

The warlords had huge armies and were constantly at war with each other. Ultimate rule of each area ended up with a dominant king that would be emperor and loyalty was an absolute requirement.

Laws and rules were very strict and this was probably necessary due to the fact that various areas of China were always under threat of invasion.
Ancient China

Before Qin

The various smaller warlord kings continued to rule independently until 221 B.C. when China was united under one emperor, Qin Shi Huang.

This dynasty period may have only lasted 12 years, but it established the method of rule for many years to come.

Qin was a ruthless dictator, requiring that all books and references of previous rulers be burned as well as killing scholars that knew or taught the information.

Ruling by Fear

The way that the Qin Dynasty retained their rule was by getting rid of many of the landowning lords that ruthlessly ruled over the peasants.

In this way, Qin gained the loyalty of the people. He also rallied more military, established a standard method of weights and measures, created specific axel lengths for carts so that the roads were the correct width, and increased trade within the country.

Gaining a huge labor force allowed him to devote thousands and thousands of laborers to building the Great Wall of China.

The reason that they built the wall was to try to keep out the skilled horseback riding nomadic tribes that were constantly trying to invade and conquer a lot of areas.

Workers were sent out into harsh conditions to build the wall and thousands died.
Qin Dynasty

Future Dynasties

After the Qin Dynasty, the following dynasties used a similar pattern of aggression towards the nomadic tribes.

They also realized the benefits of trade and helped to create the Silk Road where they could sell the one product that they were known for: silk. Sharing the secrets of the Chinese method of making silk was against the law and would mean death.

Over the years, each dynasty experienced many problems, including the separation of some of the areas into fracture kingdoms.

At one point, the nomadic tribes of Wu Hu, Mongols, and Manchu overtook the dynasty rule and began to adopt many of the previous Chinese ways of life.

  • In ancient China, noble women were considered to be very delicate and one of the signs of beauty was very tiny feet. To accomplish a small size, people bound the feet of female children to the point of crippling them so that they could barely walk or had to be carried.
  • The philosophy of Confucianism altered the complete warring tribes into one that preferred common sense governing.
  • The Chinese New Year was adapted as early as the Shang Dynasty in 14thcentury BC when they believe that everyone turns a year older.
  • The ancient Chinese devoted years of study in their military efforts. To defend their lands they invented the crossbow, which could puncture the heavy armor of their enemies.
  • To protect the Emperor and his family, the ancient Chinese built the Forbidden City. Any common person that saw the Emperor was immediately killed.
  • During the Qing Dynasty, in the reign of Emperor Qianlong, they built the Port of Shanghai.
  • As the ancient Chinese society became more sophisticated, nobles and wealthy people were expected to say hello and goodbye through the use of poetry and verse.

Shang Dynasty


What is the name of the first official emperor that united all of China?

Qin Shi Huang

What philosophy brought about common sense governing?


Name one of the three nomadic tribes that were always trying to invade China and eventually succeeded.

Wu Hu, Mongols, and Manchu

What one product did the ancient Chinese make that was the cause of death if the production secrets were shared?


Name one of the three benefits that the first Emperor Qin brought to ancient China.

established a standard method of weights and measures, created specific axel lengths for carts so that the roads were the correct width, and increased trade within the country