The Song Dynasty (宋朝/Song Chao/Song Ch’ao): Social and Technological Development
The end of the Tang Dynasty was heralded by a dilution of imperial control in favour of an increase in the power of local warlords. With the eventual demise of the Tang Imperial line in 907 CE, China experienced a brief fragmentation into much smaller states. This period would last less than a hundred years, however, and would be closely followed by the instatement in 960 CE of a new unified dynasty, known as the Song.
The Yuan Dynasty (元朝/Yuan Chao/Yüan Ch’ao): Foreign Rulers and Sinicization
The conquests of Genghis Khan are known throughout the world. What is lesser known is the impact that the short-lived Mongol empire would have on China. Although the Mongols were able to conquer one of the largest regions in history, stretching from the Korean Penninsula to Ukraine by 1259 BCE, the size of their empire made it basically ungovernable for an essentially nomadic peoples. The rapid fragmentation of the Mongol Empire forced the Mongolian tribes back toward the east, and they were able to maintain political control over a much smaller region for the next hundred years. The region they held included most of modern-day China, Mongolia and Korea.
The Ming Dynasty (明朝/Ming Chao/Ming Ch’ao): Steps Toward Modernity
With the collapse of Mongol rule in 1368, the Han people were free to once again assert their dominance in China. The Ming dynasty was thus a period during which Chinese culture was celebrated and developed in order to recapture the glories of the Song and Tang. This new-found enthusiasm for a Chinese culture was coupled with unprecedented influences, both from without and within.
The Qing Dynasty (清朝/Qing Chao/Ch’ing Ch’ao): From Prosperity to Ruin
As had been so often the case in Chinese History, the Ming Dynasty fell victim to increasingly calcified politcal systems and fragmenting power structures. Following a series of military defeats, the last Ming Emperor took his own life, leaving the incumbent Manchu forces to assert complete dominance over China in 1662. The next three hundred years would see the Manchu, at the head of the Qing Dynasty, rule in a fashion not unlike that of previous dynasties. Nevertheless, strict political control was the norm as the ethnically separate Manchu struggled to keep a stranglehold on what was essentially a captured territory.