THE HAN DYNASTY (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) I _Development of the gentry-state_ In 206 B.C. Liu Chi assumed the title of Emperor and gave his dynasty the name of the Han Dynasty. After his death he was given as emperor the name of Kao Tsu. The period of the Han dynasty may be described as the beginning of the Chinese Middle Ages, while that of the Ch'in dynasty represents the transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages; for under the Han dynasty we meet in China with a new form of state, the "gentry state". The feudalism of ancient times has come definitely to its end. [Footnote 4: From then on, every emperor was given after his death an official name as emperor, under which he appears in the Chinese sources. We have adopted the original or the official name according to which of the two has come into the more general use in Western books.] Emperor Kao Tsu came from eastern China, and his family seems to have been a peasant family; in any case it did not belong to the old nobility. After his destruction of his strongest rival, the removal of the kings who had made themselves independent in the last years of the Ch'in dynasty was a relatively easy task for the new autocrat, although these struggles occupied the greater part of his reign. A much more difficult question, however, faced him: How was the empire to be governed? Kao Tsu's old friends and fellow-countrymen, who had helped him into power, had been rewarded by appointment as generals or high officials. Gradually he got rid of those who had been his best comrades, as so many upstart rulers have done before and after him in every country in the world. An emperor does not like to be reminded of a very humble past, and he is liable also to fear the rivalry of men who formerly were his equals. It is evident that little attention was paid to theories of administration; policy was determined mainly by practical considerations. Kao Tsu allowed many laws and regulations to remain in force, including the prohibition of Confucianist writings. On the other hand, he reverted to the allocation of fiefs, though not to old noble families but to his relatives and some of his closest adherents, generally men of inferior social standing. Thus a mixed administration came into being: part of the empire was governed by new feudal princes, and another part split up into provinces and prefectures and placed directly under the central power through its officials. But whence came the officials? Kao Tsu and his supporters, as farmers from eastern China, looked down upon the trading population to which farmers always regard themselves as superior. The merchants were ignored as potential officials although they had often enough held official appointments under the former dynasty. The second group from which officials had been drawn under the Ch'in was that of the army officers, but their military functions had now, of course, fallen to Kao Tsu's soldiers. The emperor had little faith, however, in the loyalty of officers, even of his own, and apart from that he would have had first to create a new administrative organization for them. Accordingly he turned to another class which had come into existence, the class later called the _gentry_, which in practice had the power already in its hands. The term "gentry" has no direct parallel in Chinese texts; the later terms "shen-shih" and "chin-shen" do not quite cover this concept. The basic unit of the gentry class are families, not individuals. Such families often derive their origin from branches of the Chou nobility. But other gentry families were of different and more recent origin in respect to land ownership. Some late Chou and Ch'in officials of non-noble origin had become wealthy and had acquired land; the same was true for wealthy merchants and finally, some non-noble farmers who were successful in one or another way, bought additional land reaching the size of large holdings. All "gentry" families owned substantial estates in the provinces which they leased to tenants on a kind of contract basis. The tenants, therefore, cannot be called "serfs" although their factual position often was not different from the position of serfs. The rents of these tenants, usually about half the gross produce, are the basis of the livelihood of the gentry. One part of a gentry family normally lives in the country on a small home farm in order to be able to collect the rents. If the family can acquire more land and if this new land is too far away from the home farm to make collection of rents easy, a new home farm is set up under the control of another branch of the family. But the original home remains to be regarded as the real family centre. In a typical gentry family, another branch of the family is in the capital or in a provincial administrative centre in official positions. These officials at the same time are the most highly educated members of the family and are often called the "literati". There are also always individual family members who are not interested in official careers or who failed in their careers and live as free "literati" either in the big cities or on the home farms. It seems, to judge from much later sources, that the families assisted their most able members to enter the official careers, while those individuals who were less able were used in the administration of the farms. This system in combination with the strong familism of the Chinese, gave a double security to the gentry families. If difficulties arose in the estates either by attacks of bandits or by war or other catastrophes, the family members in official positions could use their influence and power to restore the property in the provinces. If, on the other hand, the family members in official positions lost their positions or even their lives by displeasing the court, the home branch could always find ways to remain untouched and could, in a generation or two, recruit new members and regain power and influence in the government. Thus, as families, the gentry was secure, although failures could occur to individuals. There are many gentry families who remained in the ruling _elite_ for many centuries, some over more than a thousand years, weathering all vicissitudes of life. Some authors believe that Chinese leading families generally pass through a three- or four-generation cycle: a family member by his official position is able to acquire much land, and his family moves upward. He is able to give the best education and other facilities to his sons who lead a good life. But either these sons or the grandsons are spoiled and lazy; they begin to lose their property and status. The family moves downward, until in the fourth or fifth generation a new rise begins. Actual study of families seems to indicate that this is not true. The main branch of the family retains its position over centuries. But some of the branch families, created often by the less able family members, show a tendency towards downward social mobility. It is clear from the above that a gentry family should be interested in having a fair number of children. The more sons they have, the more positions of power the family can occupy and thus, the more secure it will be; the more daughters they have, the more "political" marriages they can conclude, i.e. marriages with sons of other gentry families in positions of influence. Therefore, gentry families in China tend to be, on the average, larger than ordinary families, while in our Western countries the leading families usually were smaller than the lower class families. This means that gentry families produced more children than was necessary to replenish the available leading positions; thus, some family members had to get into lower positions and had to lose status. In view of this situation it was very difficult for lower class families to achieve access into this gentry group. In European countries the leading _elite_ did not quite replenish their ranks in the next generation, so that there was always some chance for the lower classes to move up into leading ranks. The gentry society was, therefore, a comparably stable society with little upward social mobility but with some downward mobility. As a whole and for reasons of gentry self-interest, the gentry stood for stability and against change. The gentry members in the bureaucracy collaborated closely with one another because they were tied together by bonds of blood or marriage. It was easy for them to find good tutors for their children, because a pupil owed a debt of gratitude to his teacher and a child from a gentry family could later on nicely repay this debt; often, these teachers themselves were members of other gentry families. It was easy for sons of the gentry to get into official positions, because the people who had to recommend them for office were often related to them or knew the position of their family. In Han time, local officials had the duty to recommend young able men; if these men turned out to be good, the officials were rewarded, if not they were blamed or even punished. An official took less of a chance, if he recommended a son of an influential family, and he obliged such a candidate so that he could later count on his help if he himself should come into difficulties. When, towards the end of the second century B.C., a kind of examination system was introduced, this attitude was not basically changed. The country branch of the family by the fact that it controlled large tracts of land, supplied also the logical tax collectors: they had the standing and power required for this job. Even if they were appointed in areas other than their home country (a rule which later was usually applied), they knew the gentry families of the other district or were related to them and got their support by appointing their members as their assistants. Gentry society continued from Kao Tsu's time to 1948, but it went through a number of phases of development and changed considerably in time. We will later outline some of the most important changes. In general the number of politically leading gentry families was around one hundred (texts often speak of "the hundred families" in this time) and they were concentrated in the capital; the most important home seats of these families in Han time were close to the capital and east of it or in the plains of eastern China, at that time the main centre of grain production. We regard roughly the first one thousand years of "Gentry Society" as the period of the Chinese "Middle Ages", beginning with the Han dynasty; the preceding time of the Ch'in was considered as a period of transition, a time in which the feudal period of "Antiquity" came to a formal end and a new organization of society began to become visible. Even those authors who do not accept a sociological classification of periods and many authors who use Marxist categories, believe that with Ch'in and Han a new era in Chinese history began.
2 _Situation of the Hsiung-nu empire; its relation to the Han empire. Incorporation of South China_
In the time of the Ch'in dynasty there had already come into unpleasant prominence north of the Chinese frontier the tribal union, then relatively small, of the Hsiung-nu. Since then, the Hsiung-nu empire had destroyed the federation of the Yueeh-chih tribes (some of which seem to have been of Indo-European language stock) and incorporated their people into their own federation; they had conquered also the less well organized eastern pastoral tribes, the Tung-hu and thus had become a formidable power. Everything goes to show that it had close relations with the territories of northern China. Many Chinese seem to have migrated to the Hsiung-nu empire, where they were welcome as artisans and probably also as farmers; but above all they were needed for the staffing of a new state administration. The scriveners in the newly introduced state secretariat were Chinese and wrote Chinese, for at that time the Hsiung-nu apparently had no written language. There were Chinese serving as administrators and court officials, and even as instructors in the army administration, teaching the art of warfare against non-nomads. But what was the purpose of all this? Mao Tun, the second ruler of the Hsiung-nu, and his first successors undoubtedly intended ultimately to conquer China, exactly as many other northern peoples after them planned to do, and a few of them did. The main purpose of this was always to bring large numbers of peasants under the rule of the nomad rulers and so to solve, once for all, the problem of the provision of additional winter food. Everything that was needed, and everything that seemed to be worth trying to get as they grew more civilized, would thus be obtained better and more regularly than by raids or by tedious commercial negotiations. But if China was to be conquered and ruled there must exist a state organization of equal authority to hers; the Hsiung-nu ruler must himself come forward as Son of Heaven and develop a court ceremonial similar to that of a Chinese emperor. Thus the basis of the organization of the Hsiung-nu state lay in its rivalry with the neighbouring China; but the details naturally corresponded to the special nature of the Hsiung-nu social system. The young Hsiung-nu feudal state differed from the ancient Chinese feudal state not only in depending on a nomad economy with only supplementary agriculture, but also in possessing, in addition to a whole class of nobility and another of commoners, a stratum of slavery to be analysed further below. Similar to the Chou state, the Hsiung-nu state contained, especially around the ruler, an element of court bureaucracy which, however, never developed far enough to replace the basically feudal character of administration. Thus Kao Tsu was faced in Mao Tun not with a mere nomad chieftain but with the most dangerous of enemies, and Kao Tsu's policy had to be directed to preventing any interference of the Hsiung-nu in North Chinese affairs, and above all to preventing alliances between Hsiung-nu and Chinese. Hsiung-nu alone, with their technique of horsemen's warfare, would scarcely have been equal to the permanent conquest of the fortified towns of the north and the Great Wall, although they controlled a population which may have been in excess of 2,000,000 people. But they might have succeeded with Chinese aid. Actually a Chinese opponent of Kao Tsu had already come to terms with Mao Tun, and in 200 B.C. Kao Tsu was very near suffering disaster in northern Shansi, as a result of which China would have come under the rule of the Hsiung-nu. But it did not come to that, and Mao Tun made no further attempt, although the opportunity came several times. Apparently the policy adopted by his court was not imperialistic but national, in the uncorrupted sense of the word. It was realized that a country so thickly populated as China could only be administered from a centre within China. The Hsiung-nu would thus have had to abandon their home territory and rule in China itself. That would have meant abandoning the flocks, abandoning nomad life, and turning into Chinese. The main supporters of the national policy, the first principle of which was loyalty to the old ways of life, seem to have been the tribal chieftains. Mao Tun fell in with their view, and the Hsiung-nu maintained their state as long as they adhered to that principle--for some seven hundred years. Other nomad peoples, Toba, Mongols, and Manchus, followed the opposite policy, and before long they were caught in the mechanism of the much more highly developed Chinese economy and culture, and each of them disappeared from the political scene in the course of a century or so. The national line of policy of the Hsiung-nu did not at all mean an end of hostilities and raids on Chinese territory, so that Kao Tsu declared himself ready to give the Hsiung-nu the foodstuffs and clothing materials they needed if they would make an end of their raids. A treaty to this effect was concluded, and sealed by the marriage of a Chinese princess with Mao Tun. This was the first international treaty in the Far East between two independent powers mutually recognized as equals, and the forms of international diplomacy developed in this time remained the standard forms for the next thousand years. The agreement was renewed at the accession of each new ruler, but was never adhered to entirely by either side. The needs of the Hsiung-nu increased with the expansion of their empire and the growing luxury of their court; the Chinese, on the other hand, wanted to give as little as possible, and no doubt they did all they could to cheat the Hsiung-nu. Thus, in spite of the treaties the Hsiung-nu raids went on. With China's progressive consolidation, the voluntary immigration of Chinese into the Hsiung-nu empire came to an end, and the Hsiung-nu actually began to kidnap Chinese subjects. These were the main features of the relations between Chinese and Hsiung-nu almost until 100 B.C. In the extreme south, around the present-day Canton, another independent empire had been formed in the years of transition, under the leadership of a Chinese. The narrow basis of this realm was no doubt provided by the trading colonies, but the indigenous population of Yueeh tribes was insufficiently civilized for the building up of a state that could have maintained itself against China. Kao Tsu sent a diplomatic mission to the ruler of this state, and invited him to place himself under Chinese suzerainty (196 B.C.). The ruler realized that he could offer no serious resistance, while the existing circumstances guaranteed him virtual independence and he yielded to Kao Tsu without a struggle. 3 _Brief feudal reaction. Consolidation of the gentry_ Kao Tsu died in 195 B.C. From then to 179 the actual ruler was his widow, the empress Lue, while children were officially styled emperors. The empress tried to remove all the representatives of the emperor's family and to replace them with members of her own family. To secure her position she revived the feudal system, but she met with strong resistance from the dynasty and its supporters who already belonged in many cases to the new gentry, and who did not want to find their position jeopardized by the creation of new feudal lords. On the death of the empress her opponents rose, under the leadership of Kao Tsu's family. Every member of the empress's family was exterminated, and a son of Kao Tsu, known later under the name of Wen Ti (Emperor Wen), came to the throne. He reigned from 179 to 157 B.C. Under him there were still many fiefs, but with the limitation which the emperor Kao Tsu had laid down shortly before his death: only members of the imperial family should receive fiefs, to which the title of King was attached. Thus all the more important fiefs were in the hands of the imperial family, though this did not mean that rivalries came to an end. On the whole Wen Ti's period of rule passed in comparative peace. For the first time since the beginning of Chinese history, great areas of continuous territory were under unified rule, without unending internal warfare such as had existed under Shih Huang-ti and Kao Tsu. The creation of so extensive a region of peace produced great economic advance. The burdens that had lain on the peasant population were reduced, especially since under Wen Ti the court was very frugal. The population grew and cultivated fresh land, so that production increased and with it the exchange of goods. The most outstanding sign of this was the abandonment of restrictions on the minting of copper coin, in order to prevent deflation through insufficiency of payment media. As a consequence more taxes were brought in, partly in kind, partly in coin, and this increased the power of the central government. The new gentry streamed into the towns, their standard of living rose, and they made themselves more and more into a class apart from the general population. As people free from material cares, they were able to devote themselves to scholarship. They went back to the old writings and studied them once more. They even began to identify themselves with the nobles of feudal times, to adopt the rules of good behaviour and the ceremonial described in the Confucianist books, and very gradually, as time went on, to make these their textbooks of good form. From this point the Confucianist ideals first began to penetrate the official class recruited from the gentry, and then the state organization itself. It was expected that an official should be versed in Confucianism, and schools were set up for Confucianist education. Around 100 B.C. this led to the introduction of the examination system, which gradually became the one method of selection of new officials. The system underwent many changes, but remained in operation in principle until 1904. The object of the examinations was not to test job efficiency but command of the ideals of the gentry and knowledge of the literature inculcating them: this was regarded as sufficient qualification for any position in the service of the state. In theory this path to training of character and to admission to the state service was open to every "respectable" citizen. Of the traditional four "classes" of Chinese society, only the first two, officials (_shih_) and farmers (_nung_) were always regarded as fully "respectable" (_liang-min_). Members of the other two classes, artisans (_kung_) and merchants (_shang_), were under numerous restrictions. Below these were classes of "lowly people" (_ch'ien-min_) and below these the slaves which were not part of society proper. The privileges and obligations of these categories were soon legally fixed. In practice, during the first thousand years of the existence of the examination system no peasant had a chance to become an official by means of the examinations. In the Han period the provincial officials had to propose suitable young persons for examination, and so for admission to the state service, as was already mentioned. In addition, schools had been instituted for the sons of officials; it is interesting to note that there were, again and again, complaints about the low level of instruction in these schools. Nevertheless, through these schools all sons of officials, whatever their capacity or lack of capacity, could become officials in their turn. In spite of its weaknesses, the system had its good side. It inoculated a class of people with ideals that were unquestionably of high ethical value. The Confucian moral system gave a Chinese official or any member of the gentry a spiritual attitude and an outward bearing which in their best representatives has always commanded respect, an integrity that has always preserved its possessors, and in consequence Chinese society as a whole, from moral collapse, from spiritual nihilism, and has thus contributed to the preservation of Chinese cultural values in spite of all foreign conquerors. In the time of Wen Ti and especially of his successors, the revival at court of the Confucianist ritual and of the earlier Heaven-worship proceeded steadily. The sacrifices supposed to have been performed in ancient times, the ritual supposed to have been prescribed for the emperor in the past, all this was reintroduced. Obviously much of it was spurious: much of the old texts had been lost, and when fragments were found they were arbitrarily completed. Moreover, the old writing was difficult to read and difficult to understand; thus various things were read into the texts without justification. The new Confucians who came forward as experts in the moral code were very different men from their predecessors; above all, like all their contemporaries, they were strongly influenced by the shamanistic magic that had developed in the Ch'in period. Wen Ti's reign had brought economic advance and prosperity; intellectually it had been a period of renaissance, but like every such period it did not simply resuscitate what was old, but filled the ancient moulds with an entirely new content. Socially the period had witnessed the consolidation of the new upper class, the gentry, who copied the mode of life of the old nobility. This is seen most clearly in the field of law. In the time of the Legalists the first steps had been taken in the codification of the criminal law. They clearly intended these laws to serve equally for all classes of the people. The Ch'in code which was supposedly Li K'uei's code, was used in the Han period, and was extensively elaborated by Siao Ho (died 193 B.C.) and others. This code consisted of two volumes of the chief laws for grave cases, one of mixed laws for the less serious cases, and six volumes on the imposition of penalties. In the Han period "decisions" were added, so that about A.D. 200 the code had grown to 26,272 paragraphs with over 17,000,000 words. The collection then consisted of 960 volumes. This colossal code has been continually revised, abbreviated, or expanded, and under its last name of "Collected Statues of the Manchu Dynasty" it retained its validity down to the present century. Alongside this collection there was another book that came to be regarded and used as a book of precedences. The great Confucianist philosopher Tung Chung-shu (179-104 B.C.), a firm supporter of the ideology of the new gentry class, declared that the classic Confucianist writings, and especially the book _Ch'un-ch'iu_, "Annals of Spring and Autumn", attributed to Confucius himself, were essentially books of legal decisions. They contained "cases" and Confucius's decisions of them. Consequently any case at law that might arise could be decided by analogy with the cases contained in "Annals of Spring and Autumn". Only an educated person, of course, a member of the gentry, could claim that his action should be judged by the decisions of Confucius and not by the code compiled for the common people, for Confucius had expressly stated that his rules were intended only for the upper class. Thus, right down to modern times an educated person could be judged under regulations different from those applicable to the common people, or if judged on the basis of the laws, he had to expect a special treatment. The principle of the "equality before the law" which the Legalists had advocated and which fitted well into the absolutistic, totalitarian system of the Ch'in, had been attacked by the feudal nobility at that time and was attacked by the new gentry of the Han time. Legalist thinking remained an important undercurrent for many centuries to come, but application of the equalitarian principle was from now on never seriously considered. Against the growing influence of the officials belonging to the gentry there came a last reaction. It came as a reply to the attempt of a representative of the gentry to deprive the feudal princes of the whole of their power. In the time of Wen Ti's successor a number of feudal kings formed an alliance against the emperor, and even invited the Hsiung-nu to join them. The Hsiung-nu did not do so, because they saw that the rising had no prospect of success, and it was quelled. After that the feudal princes were steadily deprived of rights. They were divided into two classes, and only privileged ones were permitted to live in the capital, the others being required to remain in their domains. At first, the area was controlled by a "minister" of the prince, an official of the state; later the area remained under normal administration and the feudal prince kept only an empty title; the tax income of a certain number of families of an area was assigned to him and transmitted to him by normal administrative channels. Often, the number of assigned families was fictional in that the actual income was from far fewer families. This system differs from the Near Eastern system in which also no actual enforcement took place, but where deserving men were granted the right to collect themselves the taxes of a certain area with certain numbers of families. Soon after this the whole government was given the shape which it continued to have until A.D. 220, and which formed the point of departure for all later forms of government. At the head of the state was the emperor, in theory the holder of absolute power in the state restricted only by his responsibility towards "Heaven", i.e. he had to follow and to enforce the basic rules of morality, otherwise "Heaven" would withdraw its "mandate", the legitimation of the emperor's rule, and would indicate this withdrawal by sending natural catastrophes. Time and again we find emperors publicly accusing themselves for their faults when such catastrophes occurred; and to draw the emperor's attention to actual or made-up calamities or celestial irregularities was one way to criticize an emperor and to force him to change his behaviour. There are two other indications which show that Chinese emperors--excepting a few individual cases--at least in the first ten centuries of gentry society were not despots: it can be proved that in some fields the responsibility for governmental action did not lie with the emperor but with some of his ministers. Secondly, the emperor was bound by the law code: he could not change it nor abolish it. We know of cases in which the ruler disregarded the code, but then tried to "defend" his arbitrary action. Each new dynasty developed a new law code, usually changing only details of the punishment, not the basic regulations. Rulers could issue additional "regulations", but these, too, had to be in the spirit of the general code and the existing moral norms. This situation has some similarity to the situation in Muslim countries. At the ruler's side were three counsellors who had, however, no active functions. The real conduct of policy lay in the hands of the "chancellor", or of one of the "nine ministers". Unlike the practice with which we are familiar in the West, the activities of the ministries (one of them being the court secretariat) were concerned primarily with the imperial palace. As, however, the court secretariat, one of the nine ministries, was at the same time a sort of imperial statistical office, in which all economic, financial, and military statistical material was assembled, decisions on issues of critical importance for the whole country could and did come from it. The court, through the Ministry of Supplies, operated mines and workshops in the provinces and organized the labour service for public constructions. The court also controlled centrally the conscription for the general military service. Beside the ministries there was an extensive administration of the capital with its military guards. The various parts of the country, including the lands given as fiefs to princes, had a local administration, entirely independent of the central government and more or less elaborated according to their size. The regional administration was loosely associated with the central government through a sort of primitive ministry of the interior, and similarly the Chinese representatives in the protectorates, that is to say the foreign states which had submitted to Chinese protective overlordship, were loosely united with a sort of foreign ministry in the central government. When a rising or a local war broke out, that was the affair of the officer of the region concerned. If the regional troops were insufficient, those of the adjoining regions were drawn upon; if even these were insufficient, a real "state of war" came into being; that is to say, the emperor appointed eight generals-in-chief, mobilized the imperial troops, and intervened. This imperial army then had authority over the regional and feudal troops, the troops of the protectorates, the guards of the capital, and those of the imperial palace. At the end of the war the imperial army was demobilized and the generals-in-chief were transferred to other posts. In all this there gradually developed a division into civil and military administration. A number of regions would make up a province with a military governor, who was in a sense the representative of the imperial army, and who was supposed to come into activity only in the event of war. This administration of the Han period lacked the tight organization that would make precise functioning possible. On the other hand, an extremely important institution had already come into existence in a primitive form. As central statistical authority, the court secretariat had a special position within the ministries and supervised the administration of the other offices. Thus there existed alongside the executive a means of independent supervision of it, and the resulting rivalry enabled the emperor or the chancellor to detect and eliminate irregularities. Later, in the system of the T'ang period (A.D. 618-906), this institution developed into an independent censorship, and the system was given a new form as a "State and Court Secretariat", in which the whole executive was comprised and unified. Towards the end of the T'ang period the permanent state of war necessitated the permanent commissioning of the imperial generals-in-chief and of the military governors, and as a result there came into existence a "Privy Council of State", which gradually took over functions of the executive. The system of administration in the Han and in the T'ang period is shown in the following table: _Han epoch_ _T'ang epoch_ 1. Emperor 1. Emperor 2. Three counsellors to the emperor 2. Three counsellors and three (with no active functions) assistants (with no active functions) 3. Eight supreme generals (only 3. Generals and Governors-General appointed in time of war) (only appointed in time of war; but in practice continuously in office) 4. --------------------------- 4. (a) State secretariat (1) Central secretariat (2) Secretariat of the Crown (3) Secretariat of the Palace and imperial historical commission (b) Emperor's Secretariat (1) Private Archives (2) Court Adjutants' Office (3) Harem administration 5. Court administration 5. Court administration (Ministries) (Ministries) (1) Ministry for state (1) Ministry for state sacrifices sacrifices (2) Ministry for imperial (2) Ministry for imperial coaches and horses coaches and horses (3) Ministry for justice at (3) Ministry for justice at court court (4) Ministry for receptions (4) Ministry for receptions (i.e. foreign affairs) (5) Ministry for ancestors' (5) Ministry for ancestors' temples temples (6) Ministry for supplies to (6) Ministry for supplies to the court the court (7) Ministry for the harem (7) Economic and financial Ministry (8) Ministry for the palace (8) Ministry for the payment guards of salaries (9) Ministry for the court (9) Ministry for armament (state secretariat) and magazines 6. Administration of the 6. Administration of the capital: capital: (1) Crown prince's palace (1) Crown prince's palace (2) Security service for the (2) Palace guards and guards' capital office (3) Capital administration: (3) Arms production department (a) Guards of the capital (b) Guards of the city gates (c) Building department (4) Labour service department (5) Building department (6) Transport department (7) Department for education (of sons of officials!) 7. Ministry of the Interior 7. Ministry of the Interior (Provincial administration) (Provincial administration) 8. Foreign Ministry 8. --------------------------- 9. Censorship (Audit council) There is no denying that according to our standard this whole system was still elementary and "personal", that is to say, attached to the emperor's person--though it should not be overlooked that we ourselves are not yet far from a similar phase of development. To this day the titles of not a few of the highest officers of state--the Lord Privy Seal, for instance--recall that in the past their offices were conceived as concerned purely with the personal service of the monarch. In one point, however, the Han administrative set-up was quite modern: it already had a clear separation between the emperor's private treasury and the state treasury; laws determined which of the two received certain taxes and which had to make certain payments. This separation, which in Europe occurred not until the late Middle Ages, in China was abolished at the end of the Han Dynasty. The picture changes considerably to the advantage of the Chinese as soon as we consider the provincial administration. The governor of a province, and each of his district officers or prefects, had a staff often of more than a hundred officials. These officials were drawn from the province or prefecture and from the personal friends of the administrator, and they were appointed by the governor or the prefect. The staff was made up of officials responsible for communications with the central or provincial administration (private secretary, controller, finance officer), and a group of officials who carried on the actual local administration. There were departments for transport, finance, education, justice, medicine (hygiene), economic and military affairs, market control, and presents (which had to be made to the higher officials at the New Year and on other occasions). In addition to these offices, organized in a quite modern style, there was an office for advising the governor and another for drafting official documents and letters. The interesting feature of this system is that the provincial administration was _de facto_ independent of the central administration, and that the governor and even his prefects could rule like kings in their regions, appointing and discharging as they chose. This was a vestige of feudalism, but on the other hand it was a healthy check against excessive centralization. It is thanks to this system that even the collapse of the central power or the cutting off of a part of the empire did not bring the collapse of the country. In a remote frontier town like Tunhuang, on the border of Turkestan, the life of the local Chinese went on undisturbed whether communication with the capital was maintained or was broken through invasions by foreigners. The official sent from the centre would be liable at any time to be transferred elsewhere; and he had to depend on the practical knowledge of his subordinates, the members of the local families of the gentry. These officials had the local government in their hands, and carried on the administration of places like Tunhuang through a thousand years and more. The Hsin family, for instance, was living there in 50 B.C. and was still there in A.D. 950; and so were the Yin, Ling-hu, Li, and K'ang families. All the officials of the various offices or Ministries were appointed under the state examination system, but they had no special professional training; only for the more important subordinate posts were there specialists, such as jurists, physicians, and so on. A change came towards the end of the T'ang period, when a Department of Commerce and Monopolies was set up; only specialists were appointed to it, and it was placed directly under the emperor. Except for this, any official could be transferred from any ministry to any other without regard to his experience. 4 _Turkestan policy. End of the Hsiung-nu empire_ In the two decades between 160 and 140 B.C. there had been further trouble with the Hsiung-nu, though there was no large-scale fighting. There was a fundamental change of policy under the next emperor, Wu (or Wu Ti, 141-86 B.C.). The Chinese entered for the first time upon an active policy against the Hsiung-nu. There seem to have been several reasons for this policy, and several objectives. The raids of the Hsiung-nu from the Ordos region and from northern Shansi had shown themselves to be a direct menace to the capital and to its extremely important hinterland. Northern Shansi is mountainous, with deep ravines. A considerable army on horseback could penetrate some distance to the south before attracting attention. Northern Shensi and the Ordos region are steppe country, in which there were very few Chinese settlements and through which an army of horsemen could advance very quickly. It was therefore determined to push back the Hsiung-nu far enough to remove this threat. It was also of importance to break the power of the Hsiung-nu in the province of Kansu, and to separate them as far as possible from the Tibetans living in that region, to prevent any union between those two dangerous adversaries. A third point of importance was the safeguarding of caravan routes. The state, and especially the capital, had grown rich through Wen Ti's policy. Goods streamed into the capital from all quarters. Commerce with central Asia had particularly increased, bringing the products of the Middle East to China. The caravan routes passed through western Shensi and Kansu to eastern Turkestan, but at that time the Hsiung-nu dominated the approaches to Turkestan and were in a position to divert the trade to themselves or cut it off. The commerce brought profit not only to the caravan traders, most of whom were probably foreigners, but to the officials in the provinces and prefectures through which the routes passed. Thus the officials in western China were interested in the trade routes being brought under direct control, so that the caravans could arrive regularly and be immune from robbery. Finally, the Chinese government may well have regarded it as little to its honour to be still paying dues to the Hsiung-nu and sending princesses to their rulers, now that China was incomparably wealthier and stronger than at the time when that policy of appeasement had begun. [Illustration: Map 3. China in the struggle with the Huns or Hsiung Nu (_roughly 128-100 B.C._)] The first active step taken was to try, in 133 B.C., to capture the head of the Hsiung-nu state, who was called a _shan-yue_ but the _shan-yue_ saw through the plan and escaped. There followed a period of continuous fighting until 119 B.C. The Chinese made countless attacks, without lasting success. But the Hsiung-nu were weakened, one sign of this being that there were dissensions after the death of the _shan-yue_ Chuen-ch'en, and in 127 B.C. his son went over to the Chinese. Finally the Chinese altered their tactics, advancing in 119 B.C. with a strong army of cavalry, which suffered enormous losses but inflicted serious loss on the Hsiung-nu. After that the Hsiung-nu withdrew farther to the north, and the Chinese settled peasants in the important region of Kansu. Meanwhile, in 125 B.C., the famous Chang Ch'ien had returned. He had been sent in 138 to conclude an alliance with the Yueeh-chih against the Hsiung-nu. The Yueeh-chih had formerly been neighbours of the Hsiung-nu as far as the Ala Shan region, but owing to defeat by the Hsiung-nu their remnants had migrated to western Turkestan. Chang Ch'ien had followed them. Politically he had no success, but he brought back accurate information about the countries in the far west, concerning which nothing had been known beyond the vague reports of merchants. Now it was learnt whence the foreign goods came and whither the Chinese goods went. Chang Ch'ien's reports (which are one of the principal sources for the history of central Asia at that remote time) strengthened the desire to enter into direct and assured commercial relations with those distant countries. The government evidently thought of getting this commerce into its own hands. The way to do this was to impose "tribute" on the countries concerned. The idea was that the missions bringing the annual "tribute" would be a sort of state bartering commissions. The state laid under tribute must supply specified goods at its own cost, and received in return Chinese produce, the value of which was to be roughly equal to the "tribute". Thus Chang Ch'ien's reports had the result that, after the first successes against the Hsiung-nu, there was increased interest in a central Asian policy. The greatest military success were the campaigns of General Li Kuang-li to Ferghana in 104 and 102 B.C. The result of the campaigns was to bring under tribute all the small states in the Tarim basin and some of the states of western Turkestan. From now on not only foreign consumer goods came freely into China, but with them a great number of other things, notably plants such as grape, peach, pomegranate. In 108 B.C. the western part of Korea was also conquered. Korea was already an important transit region for the trade with Japan. Thus this trade also came under the direct influence of the Chinese government. Although this conquest represented a peril to the eastern flank of the Hsiung-nu, it did not by any means mean that they were conquered. The Hsiung-nu while weakened evaded the Chinese pressure, but in 104 B.C. and again in 91 they inflicted defeats on the Chinese. The Hsiung-nu were indirectly threatened by Chinese foreign policy, for the Chinese concluded an alliance with old enemies of the Hsiung-nu, the Wu-sun, in the north of the Tarim basin. This made the Tarim basin secure for the Chinese, and threatened the Hsiung-nu with a new danger in their rear. Finally the Chinese did all they could through intrigue, espionage, and sabotage to promote disunity and disorder within the Hsiung-nu, though it cannot be seen from the Chinese accounts how far the Chinese were responsible for the actual conflicts and the continual changes of _shan-yue_. Hostilities against the Hsiung-nu continued incessantly, after the death of Wu Ti, under his successor, so that the Hsiung-nu were further weakened. In consequence of this it was possible to rouse against them other tribes who until then had been dependent on them--the Ting-ling in the north and the Wu-huan in the east. The internal difficulties of the Hsiung-nu increased further. Wu Ti's active policy had not been directed only against the Hsiung-nu. After heavy fighting he brought southern China, with the region round Canton, and the south-eastern coast, firmly under Chinese dominion--in this case again on account of trade interests. No doubt there were already considerable colonies of foreign merchants in Canton and other coastal towns, trading in Indian and Middle East goods. The traders seem often to have been Sogdians. The southern wars gave Wu Ti the control of the revenues from this commerce. He tried several times to advance through Yuennan in order to secure a better land route to India, but these attempts failed. Nevertheless, Chinese influence became stronger in the south-west. In spite of his long rule, Wu Ti did not leave an adult heir, as the crown prince was executed, with many other persons, shortly before Wu Ti's death. The crown prince had been implicated in an alleged attempt by a large group of people to remove the emperor by various sorts of magic. It is difficult to determine today what lay behind this affair; probably it was a struggle between two cliques of the gentry. Thus a regency council had to be set up for the young heir to the throne; it included a member of a Hsiung-nu tribe. The actual government was in the hands of a general and his clique until the death of the heir to the throne, and at the beginning of his successor's reign. At this time came the end of the Hsiung-nu empire--a foreign event of the utmost importance. As a result of the continual disastrous wars against the Chinese, in which not only many men but, especially, large quantities of cattle fell into Chinese hands, the livelihood of the Hsiung-nu was seriously threatened; their troubles were increased by plagues and by unusually severe winters. To these troubles were added political difficulties, including unsettled questions in regard to the succession to the throne. The result of all this was that the Hsiung-nu could no longer offer effective military resistance to the Chinese. There were a number of _shan-yue_ ruling contemporaneously as rivals, and one of them had to yield to the Chinese in 58 B.C.; in 51 he came as a vassal to the Chinese court. The collapse of the Hsiung-nu empire was complete. After 58 B.C. the Chinese were freed from all danger from that quarter and were able, for a time, to impose their authority in Central Asia. 5 _Impoverishment. Cliques. End of the Dynasty_ In other respects the Chinese were not doing as well as might have been assumed. The wars carried on by Wu Ti and his successors had been ruinous. The maintenance of large armies of occupation in the new regions, especially in Turkestan, also meant a permanent drain on the national funds. There was a special need for horses, for the people of the steppes could only be fought by means of cavalry. As the Hsiung-nu were supplying no horses, and the campaigns were not producing horses enough as booty, the peasants had to rear horses for the government. Additional horses were bought at very high prices, and apart from this the general financing of the wars necessitated increased taxation of the peasants, a burden on agriculture no less serious than was the enrolment of many peasants for military service. Finally, the new external trade did not by any means bring the advantages that had been hoped for. The tribute missions brought tribute but, to begin with, this meant an obligation to give presents in return; moreover, these missions had to be fed and housed in the capital, often for months, as the official receptions took place only on New Year's Day. Their maintenance entailed much expense, and meanwhile the members of the missions traded privately with the inhabitants and the merchants of the capital, buying things they needed and selling things they had brought in addition to the tribute. The tribute itself consisted mainly of "precious articles", which meant strange or rare things of no practical value. The emperor made use of them as elements of personal luxury, or made presents of some of them to deserving officials. The gifts offered by the Chinese in return consisted mainly of silk. Silk was received by the government as a part of the tax payments and formed an important element of the revenue of the state. It now went abroad without bringing in any corresponding return. The private trade carried on by the members of the missions was equally unserviceable to the Chinese. It, too, took from them goods of economic value, silk and gold, which went abroad in exchange for luxury articles of little or no economic importance, such as glass, precious stones, or stud horses, which in no way benefited the general population. Thus in this last century B.C. China's economic situation grew steadily and fairly rapidly worse. The peasants, more heavily taxed than ever, were impoverished, and yet the exchequer became not fuller but emptier, so that gold began even to be no longer available for payments. Wu Ti was aware of the situation and called different groups together to discuss the problems of economics. Under the name "Discussions on Salt and Iron" the gist of these talks is preserved and shows that one group under the leadership of Sang Hung-yang (143-80 B.C.) was business-oriented and thinking in economic terms, while their opponents, mainly Confucianists, regarded the situation mainly as a moral crisis. Sang proposed an "equable transportation" and a "standardization" system and favoured other state monopolies and controls; these ideas were taken up later and continued to be discussed, again and again. Already under Wu Ti there had been signs of a development which now appeared constantly in Chinese history. Among the new gentry, families entered into alliances with each other, sealed their mutual allegiance by matrimonial unions, and so formed large cliques. Each clique made it its concern to get the most important government positions into its hands, so that it should itself control the government. Under Wu Ti, for example, almost all the important generals had belonged to a certain clique, which remained dominant under his two successors. Two of the chief means of attaining power were for such a clique to give the emperor a girl from its ranks as wife, and to see to it that all the eunuchs around the emperor should be persons dependent on the clique. Eunuchs came generally from the poorer classes; they were launched at court by members of the great cliques, or quite openly presented to the emperor. The chief influence of the cliques lay, however, in the selection of officials. It is not surprising that the officials recommended only sons of people in their own clique--their family or its closest associates. On top of all this, the examiners were in most cases themselves members of the same families to which the provincial officials belonged. Thus it was made doubly certain that only those candidates who were to the liking of the dominant group among the gentry should pass. Surrounded by these cliques, the emperors became in most cases powerless figureheads. At times energetic rulers were able to play off various cliques against each other, and so to acquire personal power; but the weaker emperors found themselves entirely in the hands of cliques. Not a few emperors in China were removed by cliques which they had attempted to resist; and various dynasties were brought to their end by the cliques; this was the fate of the Han dynasty. The beginning of its fall came with the activities of the widow of the emperor Yuean Ti. She virtually ruled in the name of her eighteen-year-old son, the emperor Ch'eng Ti (32-7 B.C.), and placed all her brothers, and also her nephew, Wang Mang, in the principal government posts. They succeeded at first in either removing the strongest of the other cliques or bringing them into dependence. Within the Wang family the nephew Wang Mang steadily advanced, securing direct supporters even in some branches of the imperial family; these personages declared their readiness to join him in removing the existing line of the imperial house. When Ch'eng Ti died without issue, a young nephew of his (Ai Ti, 6-1 B.C.) was placed on the throne by Wang Mang, and during this period the power of the Wangs and their allies grew further, until all their opponents had been removed and the influence of the imperial family very greatly reduced. When Ai Ti died, Wang Mang placed an eight-year-old boy on the throne, himself acting as regent; four years later the boy fell ill and died, probably with Wang Mang's aid. Wang Mang now chose a one-year-old baby, but soon after he felt that the time had come for officially assuming the rulership. In A.D. 8 he dethroned the baby, ostensibly at Heaven's command, and declared himself emperor and first of the Hsin ("new") dynasty. All the members of the old imperial family in the capital were removed from office and degraded to commoners, with the exception of those who had already been supporting Wang Mang. Only those members who held unimportant posts at a distance remained untouched. Wang Mang's "usurpation" is unusual from two points of view. First, he paid great attention to public opinion and induced large masses of the population to write petitions to the court asking the Han ruler to abdicate; he even fabricated "heavenly omina" in his own favour and against the Han dynasty in order to get wide support even from intellectuals. Secondly, he inaugurated a formal abdication ceremony, culminating in the transfer of the imperial seal to himself. This ceremony became standard for the next centuries. The seal was made of a precious stone, once presented to the Ch'in dynasty ruler before he ascended the throne. From now on, the possessor of this seal was the legitimate ruler. 6 _The pseudo-socialistic dictatorship. Revolt of the "Red Eyebrows"_ Wang Mang's dynasty lasted only from A.D. 9 to 23; but it was one of the most stirring periods of Chinese history. It is difficult to evaluate Wang Mang, because all we know about him stems from sources hostile towards him. Yet we gain the impression that some of his innovations, such as the legalization of enthronement through the transfer of the seal; the changes in the administration of provinces and in the bureaucratic set-up in the capital; and even some of his economic measures were so highly regarded that they were retained or reintroduced, although this happened in some instances centuries later and without mentioning Wang Mang's name. But most of his policies and actions were certainly neither accepted nor acceptable. He made use of every conceivable resource in order to secure power to his clique. As far as possible he avoided using open force, and resorted to a high-level propaganda. Confucianism, the philosophic basis of the power of the gentry, served him as a bait; he made use of the so-called "old character school" for his purposes. When, after the holocaust of books, it was desired to collect the ancient classics again, texts were found under strange circumstances in the walls of Confucius's house; they were written in an archaic script. The people who occupied themselves with these books were called the old character school. The texts came under suspicion; most scholars had little belief in their genuineness. Wang Mang, however, and his creatures energetically supported the cult of these ancient writings. The texts were edited and issued, and in the process, as can now be seen, certain things were smuggled into them that fitted in well with Wang Mang's intentions. He even had other texts reissued with falsifications. He now represented himself in all his actions as a man who did with the utmost precision the things which the books reported of rulers or ministers of ancient times. As regent he had declared that his model was the brother of the first emperor of the Chou dynasty; as emperor he took for his exemplar one of the mythical emperors of ancient China; of his new laws he claimed that they were simply revivals of decrees of the golden age. In all this he appealed to the authority of literature that had been tampered with to suit his aims. Actually, such laws had never before been customary; either Wang Mang completely misinterpreted passages in an ancient text to suit his purpose, or he had dicta that suited him smuggled into the text. There can be no question that Wang Mang and his accomplices began by deliberately falsifying and deceiving. However, as time went on, he probably began to believe in his own frauds. Wang Mang's great series of certain laws has brought him the name of "the first Socialist on the throne of China". But closer consideration reveals that these measures, ostensibly and especially aimed at the good of the poor, were in reality devised simply in order to fill the imperial exchequer and to consolidate the imperial power. When we read of the turning over of great landed estates to the state, do we not imagine that we are faced with a modern land reform? But this applied only to the wealthiest of all the landowners, who were to be deprived in this way of their power. The prohibition of private slave-owning had a similar purpose, the state reserving to itself the right to keep slaves. Moreover, landless peasants were to receive land to till, at the expense of those who possessed too much. This admirable law, however, was not intended seriously to be carried into effect. Instead, the setting up of a system of state credits for peasants held out the promise, in spite of rather reduced interest rates, of important revenue. The peasants had never been in a position to pay back their private debts together with the usurious interest, but there were at least opportunities of coming to terms with a private usurer, whereas the state proved a merciless creditor. It could dispossess the peasant, and either turn his property into a state farm, convey it to another owner, or make the peasant a state slave. Thus this measure worked against the interest of the peasants, as did the state monopoly of the exploitation of mountains and lakes. "Mountains and lakes" meant the uncultivated land around settlements, the "village commons", where people collected firewood or went fishing. They now had to pay money for fishing rights and for the right to collect wood, money for the emperor's exchequer. The same purpose lay behind the wine, salt, and iron tool monopolies. Enormous revenues came to the state from the monopoly of minting coin, when old metal coin of full value was called in and exchanged for debased coin. Another modern-sounding institution, that of the "equalization offices", was supposed to buy cheap goods in times of plenty in order to sell them to the people in times of scarcity at similarly low prices, so preventing want and also preventing excessive price fluctuations. In actual fact these state offices formed a new source of profit, buying cheaply and selling as dearly as possible. Thus the character of these laws was in no way socialistic; nor, however, did they provide an El Dorado for the state finances, for Wang Mang's officials turned all the laws to their private advantage. The revenues rarely reached the capital; they vanished into the pockets of subordinate officials. The result was a further serious lowering of the level of existence of the peasant population, with no addition to the financial resources of the state. Yet Wang Mang had great need of money, because he attached importance to display and because he was planning a new war. He aimed at the final destruction of the Hsiung-nu, so that access to central Asia should no longer be precarious and it should thus be possible to reduce the expense of the military administration of Turkestan. The war would also distract popular attention from the troubles at home. By way of preparation for war, Wang Mang sent a mission to the Hsiung-nu with dishonouring proposals, including changes in the name of the Hsiung-nu and in the title of the _shan-yue_. The name Hsiung-nu was to be given the insulting change of Hsiang-nu, meaning "subjugated slaves". The result was that risings of the Hsiung-nu took place, whereupon Wang Mang commanded that the whole of their country should be partitioned among fifteen _shan-yue_ and declared the country to be a Chinese province. Since this declaration had no practical result, it robbed Wang Mang of the increased prestige he had sought and only further infuriated the Hsiung-nu. Wang Mang concentrated a vast army on the frontier. Meanwhile he lost the whole of the possessions in Turkestan. But before Wang Mang's campaign against the Hsiung-nu could begin, the difficulties at home grew steadily worse. In A.D. 12 Wang Mang felt obliged to abrogate all his reform legislation because it could not be carried into effect; and the economic situation proved more lamentable than ever. There were continual risings, which culminated in A.D. 18 in a great popular insurrection, a genuine revolutionary rising of the peasants, whose distress had grown beyond bearing through Wang Mang's ill-judged measures. The rebels called themselves "Red Eyebrows"; they had painted their eyebrows red by way of badge and in order to bind their members indissolubly to their movement. The nucleus of this rising was a secret society. Such secret societies, usually are harmless, but may, in emergency situations, become an immensely effective instrument in the hands of the rural population. The secret societies then organize the peasants, in order to achieve a forcible settlement of the matter in dispute. Occasionally, however, the movement grows far beyond its leaders' original objective and becomes a popular revolutionary movement, directed against the whole ruling class. That is what happened on this occasion. Vast swarms of peasants marched to the capital, killing all officials and people of position on their way. The troops sent against them by Wang Mang either went over to the Red Eyebrows or copied them, plundering wherever they could and killing officials. Owing to the appalling mass murders and the fighting, the forces placed by Wang Mang along the frontier against the Hsiung-nu received no reinforcements and, instead of attacking the Hsiung-nu, themselves went over to plundering, so that ultimately the army simply disintegrated. Fortunately for China, the _shan-yue_ of the time did not take advantage of his opportunity, perhaps because his position within the Hsiung-nu empire was too insecure. Scarcely had the popular rising begun when descendants of the deposed Han dynasty appeared and tried to secure the support of the upper class. They came forward as fighters against the usurper Wang Mang and as defenders of the old social order against the revolutionary masses. But the armies which these Han princes were able to collect were no better than those of the other sides. They, too, consisted of poor and hungry peasants, whose aim was to get money or goods by robbery; they too, plundered and murdered more than they fought. However, one prince by the name of Liu Hsiu gradually gained the upper hand. The basis of his power was the district of Nanyang in Honan, one of the wealthiest agricultural centres of China at that time and also the centre of iron and steel production. The big landowners, the gentry of Nanyang, joined him, and the prince's party conquered the capital. Wang Mang, placing entire faith in his sanctity, did not flee; he sat in his robes in the throne-room and recited the ancient writings, convinced that he would overcome his adversaries by the power of his words. But a soldier cut off his head (A.D. 22). The skull was kept for two hundred years in the imperial treasury. The fighting, nevertheless, went on. Various branches of the prince's party fought one another, and all of them fought the Red Eyebrows. In those years millions of men came to their end. Finally, in A.D. 24, Liu Hsiu prevailed, becoming the first emperor of the second Han dynasty, also called the Later Han dynasty; his name as emperor was Kuang-wu Ti (A.D. 25-57). 7 _Reaction and Restoration: the Later Han dynasty_ Within the country the period that followed was one of reaction and restoration. The massacres of the preceding years had so reduced the population that there was land enough for the peasants who remained alive. Moreover, their lords and the moneylenders of the towns were generally no longer alive, so that many peasants had become free of debt. The government was transferred from Sian to Loyang, in the present province of Honan. This brought the capital nearer to the great wheat-producing regions, so that the transport of grain and other taxes in kind to the capital was cheapened. Soon this cleared foundation was covered by a new stratum, a very sparse one, of great landowners who were supporters and members of the new imperial house, largely descendants of the landowners of the earlier Han period. At first they were not much in evidence, but they gained power more and more rapidly. In spite of this, the first half-century of the Later Han period was one of good conditions on the land and economic recovery. 8 _Hsiung-nu policy_ In foreign policy the first period of the Later Han dynasty was one of extraordinary success, both in the extreme south and in the question of the Hsiung-nu. During the period of Wang Mang's rule and the fighting connected with it, there had been extensive migration to the south and south-west. Considerable regions of Chinese settlement had come into existence in Yuennan and even in Annam and Tongking, and a series of campaigns under General Ma Yuan (14 B.C.-A.D. 49) now added these regions to the territory of the empire. These wars were carried on with relatively small forces, as previously in the Canton region, the natives being unable to offer serious resistance owing to their inferiority in equipment and civilization. The hot climate, however, to which the Chinese soldiers were unused, was hard for them to endure. The Hsiung-nu, in spite of internal difficulties, had regained considerable influence in Turkestan during the reign of Wang Mang. But the king of the city state of Yarkand had increased his power by shrewdly playing off Chinese and Hsiung-nu against each other, so that before long he was able to attack the Hsiung-nu. The small states in Turkestan, however, regarded the overlordship of the distant China as preferable to that of Yarkand or the Hsiung-nu both of whom, being nearer, were able to bring their power more effectively into play. Accordingly many of the small states appealed for Chinese aid. Kuang-wu Ti met this appeal with a blank refusal, implying that order had only just been restored in China and that he now simply had not the resources for a campaign in Turkestan. Thus, the king of Yarkand was able to extend his power over the remainder of the small states of Turkestan, since the Hsiung-nu had been obliged to withdraw. Kuang-wu Ti had several frontier wars with the Hsiung-nu without any decisive result. But in the years around A.D. 45 the Hsiung-nu had suffered several severe droughts and also great plagues of locusts, so that they had lost a large part of their cattle. They were no longer able to assert themselves in Turkestan and at the same time to fight the Chinese in the south and the Hsien-pi and the Wu-huan in the east. These two peoples, apparently largely of Mongol origin, had been subject in the past to Hsiung-nu overlordship. They had spread steadily in the territories bordering Manchuria and Mongolia, beyond the eastern frontier of the Hsiung-nu empire. Living there in relative peace and at the same time in possession of very fertile pasturage, these two peoples had grown in strength. And since the great political collapse of 58 B.C. the Hsiung-nu had not only lost their best pasturage in the north of the provinces of Shensi and Shansi, but had largely grown used to living in co-operation with the Chinese. They had become much more accustomed to trade with China, exchanging animals for textiles and grain, than to warfare, so that in the end they were defeated by the Hsien-pi and Wu-huan, who had held to the older form of purely warlike nomad life. Weakened by famine and by the wars against Wu-huan and Hsien-pi, the Hsiung-nu split into two, one section withdrawing to the north. The southern Hsiung-nu were compelled to submit to the Chinese in order to gain security from their other enemies. Thus the Chinese were able to gain a great success without moving a finger: the Hsiung-nu, who for centuries had shown themselves again and again to be the most dangerous enemies of China, were reduced to political insignificance. About a hundred years earlier the Hsiung-nu empire had suffered defeat; now half of what remained of it became part of the Chinese state. Its place was taken by the Hsien-pi and Wu-huan, but at first they were of much less importance. In spite of the partition, the northern Hsiung-nu attempted in the years between A.D. 60 and 70 to regain a sphere of influence in Turkestan; this seemed the easier for them since the king of Yarkand had been captured and murdered, and Turkestan was more or less in a state of confusion. The Chinese did their utmost to play off the northern against the southern Hsiung-nu and to maintain a political balance of power in the west and north. So long as there were a number of small states in Turkestan, of which at least some were friendly to China, Chinese trade caravans suffered relatively little disturbance on their journeys. Independent states in Turkestan had proved more profitable for trade than when a large army of occupation had to be maintained there. When, however, there appeared to be the danger of a new union of the two parts of the Hsiung-nu as a restoration of a large empire also comprising all Turkestan, the Chinese trading monopoly was endangered. Any great power would secure the best goods for itself, and there would be no good business remaining for China. For these reasons a great Chinese campaign was undertaken against Turkestan in A.D. 73 under Tou Ku. Mainly owing to the ability of the Chinese deputy commander Pan Ch'ao, the whole of Turkestan was quickly conquered. Meanwhile the emperor Ming Ti (A.D. 58-75) had died, and under the new emperor Chang Ti (76-88) the "isolationist" party gained the upper hand against the clique of Tou Ku and Pan Ch'ao: the danger of the restoration of a Hsiung-nu empire, the isolationists contended, no longer existed; Turkestan should be left to itself; the small states would favour trade with China of their own accord. Meanwhile, a considerable part of Turkestan had fallen away from China, for Chang Ti sent neither money nor troops to hold the conquered territories. Pan Ch'ao nevertheless remained in Turkestan (at Kashgar and Khotan) where he held on amid countless difficulties. Although he reported (A.D. 78) that the troops could feed themselves in Turkestan and needed neither supplies nor money from home, no reinforcements of any importance were sent; only a few hundred or perhaps a thousand men, mostly released criminals, reached him. Not until A.D. 89 did the Pan Ch'ao clique return to power when the mother of the young emperor Ho Ti (89-105) took over the government during his minority: she was a member of the family of Tou Ku. She was interested in bringing to a successful conclusion the enterprise which had been started by members of her family and its followers. In addition, it can be shown that a number of other members of the "war party" had direct interests in the west, mainly in form of landed estates. Accordingly, a campaign was started in 89 under her brother against the northern Hsiung-nu, and it decided the fate of Turkestan in China's favour. Turkestan remained firmly in Chinese possession until the death of Pan Ch'ao in 102. Shortly afterwards heavy fighting broke out again: the Tanguts advanced from the south in an attempt to cut off Chinese access to Turkestan. The Chinese drove back the Tanguts and maintained their hold on Turkestan, though no longer absolutely. 9 _Economic situation. Rebellion of the "Yellow Turbans". Collapse of the Han dynasty_ The economic results of the Turkestan trade in this period were not so unfavourable as in the earlier Han period. The army of occupation was incomparably smaller, and under Pan Ch'ao's policy the soldiers were fed and paid in Turkestan itself, so that the cost to China remained small. Moreover, the drain on the national income was no longer serious because, in the intervening period, regular Chinese settlements had been planted in Turkestan including Chinese merchants, so that the trade no longer remained entirely in the hands of foreigners. In spite of the economic consolidation at the beginning of the Later Han dynasty, and in spite of the more balanced trade, the political situation within China steadily worsened from A.D. 80 onwards. Although the class of great landowners was small, a number of cliques formed within it, and their mutual struggle for power soon went beyond the limits of court intrigue. New actors now came upon the stage, namely the eunuchs. With the economic improvement there had been a general increase in the luxury at the court of the Han emperors, and the court steadily increased in size. The many hundred wives and concubines in the palace made necessary a great army of eunuchs. As they had the ear of the emperor and so could influence him, the eunuchs formed an important political factor. For a time the main struggle was between the group of eunuchs and the group of scholars. The eunuchs served a particular clique to which some of the emperor's wives belonged. The scholars, that is to say the ministers, together with members of the ministries and the administrative staff, served the interests of another clique. The struggles grew more and more sanguinary in the middle of the second century A.D. It soon proved that the group with the firmest hold in the provinces had the advantage, because it was not easy to control the provinces from a distance. The result was that, from about A.D. 150, events at court steadily lost importance, the lead being taken by the generals commanding the provincial troops. It would carry us too far to give the details of all these struggles. The provincial generals were at first Ts'ao Ts'ao, Lue Pu, Yuean Shao, and Sun Ts'e; later came Liu Pei. All were striving to gain control of the government, and all were engaged in mutual hostilities from about 180 onwards. Each general was also trying to get the emperor into his hands. Several times the last emperor of the Later Han dynasty, Hsien Ti (190-220), was captured by one or another of the generals. As the successful general was usually unable to maintain his hold on the capital, he dragged the poor emperor with him from place to place until he finally had to give him up to another general. The point of this chase after the emperor was that according to the idea introduced earlier by Wang Mang the first ruler of a new dynasty had to receive the imperial seals from the last emperor of the previous dynasty. The last emperor must abdicate in proper form. Accordingly, each general had to get possession of the emperor to begin with, in order at the proper time to take over the seals. By about A.D. 200 the new conditions had more or less crystallized. There remained only three great parties. The most powerful was that of Ts'ao Ts'ao, who controlled the north and was able to keep permanent hold of the emperor. In the west, in the province of Szechwan, Liu Pei had established himself, and in the south-east Sun Ts'e's brother. But we must not limit our view to these generals' struggles. At this time there were two other series of events of equal importance with those. The incessant struggles of the cliques against each other continued at the expense of the people, who had to fight them and pay for them. Thus, after A.D. 150 the distress of the country population grew beyond all limits. Conditions were as disastrous as in the time of Wang Mang. And once more, as then, a popular movement broke out, that of the so-called "Yellow Turbans". This was the first of the two important events. This popular movement had a characteristic which from now on became typical of all these risings of the people. The intellectual leaders of the movement, Chang Ling and others, were members of a particular religious sect. This sect was influenced by Iranian Mazdaism on the one side and by certain ideas from Lao Tz[)u] on the other side; and these influences were superimposed on popular rural as well as, perhaps, local tribal religious beliefs and superstitions. The sect had roots along the coastal settlements of Eastern China, where it seems to have gained the support of the peasantry and their local priests. These priests of the people were opposed to the representatives of the official religion, that is to say the officials drawn from the gentry. In small towns and villages the temples of the gods of the fruits of the field, of the soil, and so on, were administered by authorized local officials, and these officials also carried out the prescribed sacrifices. The old temples of the people were either done away with (we have many edicts of the Han period concerning the abolition of popular forms of religious worship), or their worship was converted into an official cult: the all-powerful gentry extended their domination over religion as well as all else. But the peasants regarded their local unauthorized priests as their natural leaders against the gentry and against gentry forms of religion. One branch, probably the main branch of this movement, developed a stronghold in Eastern Szechwan province, where its members succeeded to create a state of their own which retained its independence for a while. It is the only group which developed real religious communities in which men and women participated, extensive welfare schemes existed and class differences were discouraged. It had a real church organization with dioceses, communal friendship meals and a confession ritual; in short, real piety developed as it could not develop in the official religions. After the annihilation of this state, remnants of the organization can be traced through several centuries, mainly in central and south China. It may well be that the many "Taoistic" traits which can be found in the religions of late and present-day Mongolian and Tibetan tribes, can be derived from this movement of the Yellow Turbans. The rising of the Yellow Turbans began in 184; all parties, cliques and generals alike, were equally afraid of the revolutionaries, since these were a threat to the gentry as such, and so to all parties. Consequently a combined army of considerable size was got together and sent against the rebels. The Yellow Turbans were beaten. During these struggles it became evident that Ts'ao Ts'ao with his troops had become the strongest of all the generals. His troops seem to have consisted not of Chinese soldiers alone, but also of Hsiung-nu. It is understandable that the annals say nothing about this, and it can only be inferred from the facts. It appears that in order to reinforce their armies the generals recruited not only Chinese but foreigners. The generals operating in the region of the present-day Peking had soldiers of the Wu-huan and Hsien-pi, and even of the Ting-ling; Liu Pei, in the west, made use of Tanguts, and Ts'ao Ts'ao clearly went farthest of all in this direction; he seems to have been responsible for settling nineteen tribes of Hsiung-nu in the Chinese province of Shansi between 180 and 200, in return for their armed aid. In this way Ts'ao Ts'ao gained permanent power in the empire by means of these troops, so that immediately after his death his son Ts'ao P'ei, with the support of powerful allied families, was able to force the emperor to abdicate and to found a new dynasty, the Wei dynasty (A.D. 220). This meant, however, that a part of China which for several centuries had been Chinese was given up to the Hsiung-nu. This was not, of course, what Ts'ao Ts'ao had intended; he had given the Hsiung-nu some area of pasturage in Shansi with the idea that they should be controlled and administered by the officials of the surrounding district. His plan had been similar to what the Chinese had often done with success: aliens were admitted into the territory of the empire in a body, but then the influence of the surrounding administrative centres was steadily extended over them, until the immigrants completely lost their own nationality and became Chinese. The nineteen tribes of Hsiung-nu, however, were much too numerous, and after the prolonged struggles in China the provincial administration proved much too weak to be able to carry out the plan. Thus there came into existence here, within China, a small Hsiung-nu realm ruled by several _shan-yue_. This was the second major development, and it became of the utmost importance to the history of the next four centuries. 10 _Literature and Art_ With the development of the new class of the gentry in the Han period, there was an increase in the number of those who were anxious to participate in what had been in the past an exclusively aristocratic possession--education. Thus it is by no mere chance that in this period many encyclopaedias were compiled. Encyclopaedias convey knowledge in an easily grasped and easily found form. The first compilation of this sort dates from the third century B.C. It was the work of Lue Pu wei, the merchant who was prime minister and regent during the minority of Shih Huang-ti. It contains general information concerning ceremonies, customs, historic events, and other things the knowledge of which was part of a general education. Soon afterwards other encyclopaedias appeared, of which the best known is the Book of the Mountains and Seas (_Shan Hai Ching_). This book, arranged according to regions of the world, contains everything known at the time about geography, natural philosophy, and the animal and plant world, and also about popular myths. This tendency to systemization is shown also in the historical works. The famous _Shih Chi_, one of our main sources for Chinese history, is the first historical work of the modern type, that is to say, built up on a definite plan, and it was also the model for all later official historiography. Its author, Ss[)u]-ma Ch'ien (born 135 B.C.), and his father, made use of the material in the state archives and of private documents, old historical and philosophical books, inscriptions, and the results of their own travels. The philosophical and historical books of earlier times (with the exception of those of the nature of chronicles) consisted merely of a few dicta or reports of particular events, but the _Shih Chi_ is a compendium of a mass of source-material. The documents were abbreviated, but the text of the extracts was altered as little as possible, so that the general result retains in a sense the value of an original source. In its arrangement the _Shih Chi_ became a model for all later historians: the first part is in the form of annals, and there follow tables concerning the occupants of official posts and fiefs, and then biographies of various important personalities, though the type of the comprehensive biography did not appear till later. The _Shih Chi_ also, like later historical works, contains many monographs dealing with particular fields of knowledge, such as astronomy, the calendar, music, economics, official dress at court, and much else. The whole type of construction differs fundamentally from such works as those of Thucydides or Herodotus. The Chinese historical works have the advantage that the section of annals gives at once the events of a particular year, the monographs describe the development of a particular field of knowledge, and the biographical section offers information concerning particular personalities. The mental attitude is that of the gentry: shortly after the time of Ss[)u]-ma Ch'ien an historical department was founded, in which members of the gentry worked as historians upon the documents prepared by representatives of the gentry in the various government offices. In addition to encyclopaedias and historical works, many books of philosophy were written in the Han period, but most of them offer no fundamentally new ideas. They were the product of the leisure of rich members of the gentry, and only three of them are of importance. One is the work of Tung Chung-shu, already mentioned. The second is a book by Liu An called _Huai-nan Tz[)u]_. Prince Liu An occupied himself with Taoism and allied problems, gathered around him scholars of different schools, and carried on discussions with them. Many of his writings are lost, but enough is extant to show that he was one of the earliest Chinese alchemists. The question has not yet been settled, but it is probable that alchemy first appeared in China, together with the cult of the "art" of prolonging life, and was later carried to the West, where it flourished among the Arabs and in medieval Europe. The third important book of the Han period was the _Lun Heng_ (Critique of Opinions) of Wang Ch'ung, which appeared in the first century of the Christian era. Wang Ch'ung advocated rational thinking and tried to pave the way for a free natural science, in continuation of the beginnings which the natural philosophers of the later Chou period had made. The book analyses reports in ancient literature and customs of daily life, and shows how much they were influenced by superstition and by ignorance of the facts of nature. From this attitude a modern science might have developed, as in Europe towards the end of the Middle Ages; but the gentry had every reason to play down this tendency which, with its criticism of all that was traditional, might have proceeded to an attack on the dominance of the gentry and their oppression especially of the merchants and artisans. It is fascinating to observe how it was the needs of the merchants and seafarers of Asia Minor and Greece that provided the stimulus for the growth of the classic sciences, and how on the contrary the growth of Chinese science was stifled because the gentry were so strongly hostile to commerce and navigation, though both had always existed. There were great literary innovations in the field of poetry. The splendour and elegance at the new imperial court of the Han dynasty attracted many poets who sang the praises of the emperor and his court and were given official posts and dignities. These praises were in the form of grandiloquent, overloaded poetry, full of strange similes and allusions, but with little real feeling. In contrast, the many women singers and dancers at the court, mostly slaves from southern China, introduced at the court southern Chinese forms of song and poem, which were soon adopted and elaborated by poets. Poems and dance songs were composed which belonged to the finest that Chinese poetry can show--full of natural feeling, simple in language, moving in content. Our knowledge of the arts is drawn from two sources--literature, and the actual discoveries in the excavations. Thus we know that most of the painting was done on silk, of which plenty came into the market through the control of silk-producing southern China. Paper had meanwhile been invented in the second century B.C., by perfecting the techniques of making bark-cloth and felt. Unfortunately nothing remains of the actual works that were the first examples of what the Chinese everywhere were beginning to call "art". "People", that is to say the gentry, painted as a social pastime, just as they assembled together for poetry, discussion, or performances of song and dance; they painted as an aesthetic pleasure and rarely as a means of earning. We find philosophic ideas or greetings, emotions, and experiences represented by paintings--paintings with fanciful or ideal landscapes; paintings representing life and environment of the cultured class in idealized form, never naturalistic either in fact or in intention. Until recently it was an indispensable condition in the Chinese view that an artist must be "cultured" and be a member of the gentry--distinguished, unoccupied, wealthy. A man who was paid for his work, for instance for a portrait for the ancestral cult, was until late time regarded as a craftsman, not as an artist. Yet, these "craftsmen" have produced in Han time and even earlier, many works which, in our view, undoubtedly belong to the realm of art. In the tombs have been found reliefs whose technique is generally intermediate between simple outline engraving and intaglio. The lining-in is most frequently executed in scratched lines. The representations, mostly in strips placed one above another, are of lively historical scenes, scenes from the life of the dead, great ritual ceremonies, or adventurous scenes from mythology. Bronze vessels have representations in inlaid gold and silver, mostly of animals. The most important documents of the painting of the Han period have also been found in tombs. We see especially ladies and gentlemen of society, with richly ornamented, elegant, expensive clothing that is very reminiscent of the clothing customary to this day in Japan. There are also artistic representations of human figures on lacquer caskets. While sculpture was not strongly developed, the architecture of the Han must have been magnificent and technically highly complex. Sculpture and temple architecture received a great stimulus with the spread of Buddhism in China. According to our present knowledge, Buddhism entered China from the south coast and through Central Asia at latest in the first century B.C.; it came with foreign merchants from India or Central Asia. According to Indian customs, Brahmans, the Hindu caste providing all Hindu priests, could not leave their homes. As merchants on their trips which lasted often several years, did not want to go without religious services, they turned to Buddhist priests as well as to priests of Near Eastern religions. These priests were not prevented from travelling and used this opportunity for missionary purposes. Thus, for a long time after the first arrival of Buddhists, the Buddhist priests in China were foreigners who served foreign merchant colonies. The depressed conditions of the people in the second century A.D. drove members of the lower classes into their arms, while the parts of Indian science which these priests brought with them from India aroused some interest in certain educated circles. Buddhism, therefore, undeniably exercised an influence at the end of the Han dynasty, although no Chinese were priests and few, if any, gentry members were adherents of the religious teachings. With the end of the Han period a further epoch of Chinese history comes to its close. The Han period was that of the final completion and consolidation of the social order of the gentry. The period that followed was that of the conflicts of the Chinese with the populations on their northern borders.