Ancient China Rulers

Ancient China began in around 10,000 BC, over 12,000 years ago! At the start of ancient Chinese civilisation, people lived in small communities but did not have one ruler for the whole country.

Different cultures lived across the country, such as the Yangshao people (5000 – 3000 BC) and the Lungshan people (2500 – 2000 BC).

It wasn’t until 2,000 BC that China was ruled as a whole country by one ruling family, called a dynasty.

This period was known as Imperial China. It ended in 1912, when the Xinhai Revolution happened, and China became a republic.

In Imperial China, each dynasty ruled for a very long time as each emperor was succeeded by his son.

When an emperor was overthrown, the person that won became the next ruler and so a new dynasty started. There were 13 dynasties in ancient China, but four of the most important are below.

Gaozu of Tang

Xia Dynasty (2205 – 1575 BC)

The Xia dynasty was the first dynasty of ancient China and was founded by the best engineer from the Lungshan people.

This dynasty was very advanced for its time. They made bricks to build houses, made colourful silk clothes, and used water systems to improve how much crop they grew.

There are no writings from this time, so we only know about this time through ancient stories and ruins.

Zhou Dynasty (1045 – 256 BC)

The Zhou Dynasty was the longest, ruling for over 800 years with 37 different emperors. In this time, Taoism began and was the main way of life in China.

Taoists believe that if you look at life in the right way, it’s much easier to be happy.

The Zhou people made a lot of literature, were interested in science and astronomy (stars), and built roads to improve trade.

Qin Dynasty (221 – 207 BC)

Emperor Qin only ruled for 15 years but brought all of China together under one emperor for the first time.

He reformed politics, the army and the economy and standardised all weights and measurements (something we still use today)!

He also built the Great Wall of China This dynasty was a time of war and cruelty. Many people were killed for disagreeing with Qin.

King Wen of Zhou

Tang Dynasty (6118 – 907 AD)

This is the Golden Age of Ancient China. It was a time of peace and little poverty so people were very happy.

The emperors encouraged art, literature, music and craft. Pottery and murals were painted with scenes of daily life, happiness and zodiac signs.

There was lots of travel, trade and sharing knowledge. There were opportunities for learning and training in other countries and in the Imperial palace.

Qi of Xia 

Summary

  • Ancient China began in 10,000 BC and lasted until 2,000 BC.
  • In 2,000 BC, China united as one country and the Imperial era started.
  • In 1912, China became a republic after the Xinhai Revolution.
  • A dynasty is when a country is ruled by people from the same family, immediately one after the other.
  • The Xia dynasty was the first dynasty of China and was a time of engineering.
  • The Zhou dynasty was the longest ruling dynasty in China, lasting over 800 years.
  • Taoism is a Chinese way of life which helps people to be happy.
  • During the Qin dynasty, all of China was united under one emperor and the era of Imperial China began.
  • The Tang dynasty was a time of peace, opportunity, wealth and happiness.

Questions

  • What was a dynasty?
    A dynasty was the era that one family ruled China, with one person ruling after another.
  • How long did Ancient China last?
    Ancient China ran over 11,000 years – from 10,000 BC to AD 1912.
  • What was Imperial China?
    In Imperial China, all of the Chinese states were united under one emperor.
  • Why was the Tang dynasty known as the Golden Age of China?
    It was a peaceful time and the people were happy and had lots of opportunities.