China Early History Part 1

The Spanish name “China”, similar in most European languages, seems to have come to Europe from South Asia and although there is no conclusive evidence, it could come from the name of the Qin Dynasty, the first imperial dynasty. In ancient times, the name Cathay was also used, which has its origin in the Altaic Kitan people, who founded the Liao Dynasty in the 10th century. This is the name by which China was called in medieval European tales, such as the “Voyages of Marco Polo”.

The name “Cathay”, in slight variations, still survives as a common Chinese name in some languages such as Russian and Mongolian. In the 17th century, the Portuguese Jesuit missionary Bento de Goes would demonstrate that the “China” visited by European missionaries was the same country as Marco Polo’s “Cathay”.


The territory currently occupied by the People’s Republic of China, a country located in Asia according to PHILOSOPHYNEARBY, has been populated for thousands of years. Hominid remains have been found that constitute the most remote ancestors of man. This is demonstrated by the remains found belonging to the Renzidong man; Yuanmou’s man; the man from Nihewan; the Lantian man; the man from Nanking or the man from Peking. Later other cultures would emerge, such as the Dali man; the man from Maba; the man from Fujian or the man from Dingcun.

Between the 7th and 6th centuries BC, the first Neolithic cultures emerged, Peilikan and Cishan, precursors of the Yangshao culture, which would merge with those of Dawenkou and Hongshan to give rise to the Longshan culture, the beginning of territorial and political unity. of the North China Plain.


According to the Sima Qian Historical Memoirs, the first Chinese dynasty was the Xia Dynasty, which would have lasted from around 2100 BC to around 1600 BC (XXI BC – XVI BC), and would have occupied the middle course of the Yellow River (Huang He). Its 17 sovereigns established the seats of government in what are now southern Shanxi Province and western Henan Province.

According to Sima Qian’s account, on which all later Chinese historiography is based, the second dynasty was the Shang Dynasty, which ranged from around 1600 BC to around 1100 BC.

The Shang dynasty had its capital near the current city of Anyang, in the Juang He Valley, the Shang kingdom was a highly developed society, ruled by a hereditary class of aristocrats.

The Zhou Dynasty ruled China from | 1045 – 256 BC. In 1045 BCE, Western Zhou China overthrew the Shang and thus established its own dynasty. Zhou society had a class system similar to that of the Shang, with aristocrats and commoners, and they added the slave class. The Zhou Dynasty controlled only parts of northern China, dividing the kingdom into several states, each of the states being controlled by a local governor, who enforced the central authority. Over time, these states grew more and more independent, and the power of the dynasty weakened.

The manufacture of bronze reached an artistic and technical peak; There were great thinkers and philosophers during this time, such as Confucius and Lao Tzu and during this period many great books were produced, including the I Ching or Book of Changes, the Shijing or Book of Poems, the Shujing or Book of the History, the Liji or Book of Rites, and the Chunqiu or Annals of Spring and Autumn.

The imperial

Qin dynasty

The king of the Qin founds a new dynasty and takes for himself the new name of 皇帝 (huángd ì), with religious connotations, which we translate into Spanish as “emperor”. From this historical moment, all subsequent Chinese monarchs will use this title, abandoning the name of “kings” (王 wáng). The new emperor called himself 始 皇帝 Shǐ Huángdì (“first emperor”), seeing himself as the first of what he hoped would be a long dynasty of emperors.

The Qin State carried out an intense work of unifying norms: Weights and measures, as well as the writing system, were unified. The notorious book burning was ordered, in which writings that did not conform to the religious and social model of the new empire were destroyed. He built huge palaces in Xianyang to turn his former enemies into courtiers, he unified the wall fragments built over the previous centuries into the Great Wall, he also started the construction of his mausoleum, the famous Terracotta Warriors.

Despite the military success of the unification, the characteristics of the Qin state made its survival unviable, and it collapsed after the death of Qin Shi Huang. His cruelty and the many jobs he imposed on the people sowed discontent; After his death in 209 BC, the rebels took advantage of the reign of his weak son Èrshì Huángdì (“Second Emperor”), to end the Qin dynasty and raze its capital, Xianyang. In 206 BC, Liu Bang, who led the military rebellion against the Qin army, proclaimed himself emperor, founding a new dynasty: the Han.

Han Dynasty

Liu Bang established a new dynasty, the Han Dynasty. China prospered rapidly, agriculture, industry and commerce flourished.

General Zhang Qian, was sent to the western regions to look for the necessary horses for continuous wars against the Huns, on his return the Silk Road was inaugurated, Chinese silks were sold very well in those lands, from which they arrived hitherto unknown products. Paper is invented, helping to promote education, the seismograph, and many new techniques that are revolutionizing the country.

China Early History 1