Ancient China Political System

During the time periods when ancient China existed, there were at least three other developing civilizations.

However, only China maintained a continuous civilization and that’s why it’s considered to be the oldest culture anywhere in the world. The name for China comes from the first Qin Dynasty.

It’s pronounced as “Chin.” When the Silk Road brought trade with the Persians and the rest of the world, the name became China as they transferred the word to the Sanskirt “Cina.”

The Greeks and Romans called the area “Seres” as it meant the lad where silk is derived. It wasn’t until the famed explorer, Marco Polo visited China that they called the land “Cathay”.
Ancient Chinese States

Before Dynasties

During the earliest days of ancient China it was an area divided up into many kingdoms that were ruled by individual warlords.

The rule of each land was whatever the warlord wanted and only a few members of society had privileges.

Peasant and farmer life was considered to be expendable and warlords killed a lot of people.

There were incentives for people to join the individual military armies to fight in battle for each warlord.
Growth of Qin Dynasty

First Dynasties Create Order

The first official dynasty was the Qin Dynasty and when it was established it united all of the independent warlords under one emperor.

During the reign of the emperors the military created bronze as well as other weaponry and items that encouraged social improvements.

Tools were created to help more productive farming cycles. It was during these times that the social structures took on the ideas of Confucianism to enforce order for success.

The political structure was established from the “top down” so that the Emperor’s word was rule, followed by nobles who were landlords, and extending down to those that had no power: peasants, farmers, and merchants.

Different Dynasties, Different Priorities

Each new dynasty that came into power had variations in the methods of rule.

Those that had to focus on wars with the outlying Mongolian people had to spend more money on their military while not reducing the funds devoted to the high expense of the nobles and royal family.

High taxes placed burdens on all members of the society. Additional emperors that took control lowered taxes and stopped the spending on the outrageous projects.

Social Development

The various wars that occurred in ancient China also gave opportunities to create both weapons and necessary tools.

The expansion of social development included the creation of paper and writing, communication, architecture, metallurgy and religion.

Politics within the emperor’s court became a popularity contest as well as those that could undermine each other to win favor with the emperor and his immediate family members.

No Desire to Have Visitors

While the creation of the Silk Road offered trade, the philosophy and politics of a majority of the ancient Chinese and the emperors was to not be interested in having any representatives of other countries come to China.

They were very proud of their personal belief systems, their order, their government, and their culture and considered a majority of those outside of China as “barbarians.”
Silk Road

  • Ancient China was far more advanced than other countries around the globe.
  • The Ancient Chinese created advancement in technology, science, math, and astronomy.
  • A combination of social influence and politics allowed the ancient Chinese to invent the magnetic compass, paper, porcelain, gunpowder, silk, and printing.
  • The ancient Chinese created toilet paper but it was only available for the emperor to use.
  • The origins of the Chinese kite was not for fun but to scare away enemies.
  • With each new dynasty, the emperor and his family became more and more politically unavailable until finally they Forbidden City was built to house them in which they never left.
  • The first emperor, Shi Huanghi, built a palace that contained 1,000 bedrooms because he was afraid of being killed. He slept in a different bedroom every night.


Why didn’t the ancient Chinese want people from other countries to visit them?

they thought all others were barbarians

Name at least one area of study that the ancient Chinese surpassed all others around the world

technology, science, math, and astronomy

What was the original purpose of the ancient Chinese kite?

scare enemies away

Name at least one of the inventions credited to the ancient Chinese

magnetic compass, paper, porcelain, gunpowder, silk, and printing

Did each emperor rule in the same way when they took over?