Imperial China

Pages: 208
Subject: History
Series: Beginner's Guides
Imprint: Oneworld

Imperial China

A Beginner's Guide

Peter Lorge

A rich, wide-ranging and accessible introduction to over 2,000 years of history


Paperback
9781786075789 (1 Jul 2021)
RRP £9.99 / US$14.95

The Book

In 221 BCE, the Qin state conquered its neighbours and created the first unified Chinese empire in history. So began the imperial era, where dynasties claiming divine assent ruled for more than 2,000 years.

Borders shifted and emperors struggled to exert control over every region of their diverse territories. Elites held that they were inheritors of a rich, pre-imperial culture, while their society produced world-changing inventions such as the compass, printing, gunpowder and the gun. And imperial China itself was altered as it came into contact with others through trade, exploration and war.

For anyone curious about this fascinating period, Peter Lorge introduces imperial China's major ruling dynasties, religions, arts, thinkers, inventions, military advancements, economic developments and historians.

Additional Information

Subject History
Series Beginner's Guides
Pages 208
Imprint Oneworld

 

About the Author

Peter Lorge is Associate Professor of Asian Studies at Vanderbilt University. He is a historian of tenth- and eleventh-century China, with a particular interest in Chinese military, political and social history. His previous books include Chinese Martial Arts: From Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century and The Asian Military Revolution.

Reviews

‘In short, fast-paced chapters, Peter Lorge provides a fresh look at key elements of China's imperial past. He invites the reader to ponder what we mean by "China”, how to understand "dynasty”, and whether sources written in literary Chinese overstate unity and continuity and underplay law, the military, and openness to new ideas.'

- Patricia Buckley Ebrey, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Washington, and author of The Cambridge Illustrated History of China

‘A compact but engaging exposition of imperial China over the course of its 2,000-year history. Both accessible and informative, this book challenges a series of commonly held assumptions and reveals the complexity and incredible diversity of the Chinese world.'

- Imre Galambos, Reader in Chinese Studies, University of Cambridge

Table of Contents

Map

A Timeline of the Dynasties of Imperial China

 

Introduction

Before the Imperial Age

Imperial China

Master Kong, the Ru, and Confucius

Language

Conclusion

 

1 Foundations

The Imperial State

Law and Morality in Reality

Conclusion

 

2 Dynasties

Similarities

Differences

The Other Dynasties

Conclusion

 

3 Borders

Geography

Macroregions

Localities

Conclusion

 

4 War and the Military

Military Technology, Society, and Politics

Organization

Guns

Military Thought

Conclusion

 

5 Discovery

The Four Great Inventions

Other Technology

Contact and Exploration

Conclusion

 

6 Religions

Popular Religion

Ruism (Confucianism)

Buddhism

Daoism

Conclusion

 

7 The Imperial Economy

The State

Money

Markets

Conclusion

 

8 The Arts: Literature, Calligraphy, Painting, and Architecture

Literature

Poetry

Prose

Calligraphy

Painting

Architecture

Conclusion

 

9 Popular Arts and Culture

Decorative Arts

Gardens

Public Performance and Theatre

Popular Literature

Conclusion

 

10 Constructing China Through History

Sima Qian (c.145/135-c.86 BCE) and The Records of the Grand Historian

Ban Gu (32-92) and The History of the Han (Hanshu)

History Writing in the Tang Dynasty

History Writing in the Song Dynasty

Conclusion

 

11 The End of Imperial China?

Imperial History

Diversity

Unity

Conclusion

 

Acknowledgments

Further Reading

Index