Monday, August 25, 2008

History of China The Chou Dynasty (c. 1028-257 B.c.)

1 Cultural origin of the Chou and end of the Shang dynasty
The Shang culture still lacked certain things that were to become typical of "Chinese" civilization. The family system was not yet the strong patriarchal system of the later Chinese. The religion, too, in spite of certain other influences, was still a religion of agrarian fertility. And although Shang society was strongly stratified and showed some tendencies to develop a feudal system, feudalism was still very primitive. Although the Shang script was the precursor of later Chinese script, it seemed to have contained many words which later disappeared, and we are not sure whether Shang language was the same as the language of Chou time. With the Chou period, however, we enter a period in which everything which was later regarded as typically "Chinese" began to emerge.
During the time of the Shang dynasty the Chou formed a small realm in the west, at first in central Shensi, an area which even in much later times was the home of many "non-Chinese" tribes. Before the beginning of the eleventh century B.C. they must have pushed into eastern Shensi, due to pressures of other tribes which may have belonged to the Turkish ethnic group. However, it is also possible that their movement was connected with pressures from Indo-European groups. An analysis of their tribal composition at the time of the conquest seems to indicate that the ruling house of the Chou was related to the Turkish group, and that the population consisted mainly of Turks and Tibetans. Their culture was closely related to that of Yang-shao, the previously described painted-pottery culture, with, of course, the progress brought by time. They had bronze weapons and, especially, the war-chariot. Their eastward migration, however, brought them within the zone of the Shang culture, by which they were strongly influenced, so that the Chou culture lost more and more of its original character and increasingly resembled the Shang culture. The Chou were also brought into the political sphere of the Shang, as shown by the fact that marriages took place between the ruling houses of Shang and Chou, until the Chou state became nominally dependent on the Shang state in the form of a dependency with special prerogatives. Meanwhile the power of the Chou state steadily grew, while that of the Shang state diminished more and more through the disloyalty of its feudatories and through wars in the East. Finally, about 1028 B.C., the Chou ruler, named Wu Wang , crossed his eastern frontier and pushed into central henan. His army was formed by an alliance between various tribes, in the same way as happened again and again in the building up of the armies of the rulers of the steppes. Wu Wang forced a passage across the Yellow River and annihilated the Shang army. He pursued its vestiges as far as the capital, captured the last emperor of the Shang, and killed him. Thus was the Chou dynasty founded, and with it we begin the actual history of China. The Chou brought to the Shang culture strong elements of Turkish and also Tibetan culture, which were needed for the release of such forces as could create a new empire and maintain it through thousands of years as a cultural and, generally, also a political unit.
2 Feudalism in the new empire
A natural result of the situation thus produced was the turning of the country into a feudal state. The conquerors were an alien minority, so that they had to march out and spread over the whole country. Moreover, the allied tribal chieftains expected to be rewarded. The territory to be governed was enormous, but the communications in northern China at that time were similar to those still existing not long ago in southern China--narrow footpaths from one settlement to another. It is very difficult to build roads in the loess of northern China; and the war-chariots that required roads had only just been introduced. Under such conditions, the simplest way of administering the empire was to establish garrisons of the invading tribes in the various parts of the country under the command of their chieftains. Thus separate regions of the country were distributed as fiefs. If a former subject of the Shang surrendered betimes with the territory under his rule, or if there was one who could not be overcome by force, the Chou recognized him as a feudal lord.
We find in the early Chou time the typical signs of true feudalism: fiefs were given in a ceremony in which symbolically a piece of earth was handed over to the new fiefholder, and his instalment, his rights and obligations were inscribed in a "charter". Most of the fiefholders were members of the Chou ruling family or members of the clan to which this family belonged; other fiefs were given to heads of the allied tribes. The fiefholder regarded the land of his fief, as far as he and his clan actually used it, as "clan" land; parts of this land he gave to members of his own branch-clan for their use without transferring rights of property, thus creating new sub-fiefs and sub-lords. In much later times the concept of landed property of a family developed, and the whole concept of "clan" disappeared. By 500 B.C., most feudal lords had retained only a dim memory that they originally belonged to the Chi clan of the Chou or to one of the few other original clans, and their so-called sub-lords felt themselves as members of independent noble families. Slowly, then, the family names of later China began to develop, but it took many centuries until, at the time of the Han Dynasty, all citizens had accepted family names. Then, reversely, families grew again into new clans.
Thus we have this picture of the early Chou state: the imperial central power established in Shensi, near the present Sian; over a thousand feudal states, great and small, often consisting only of a small garrison, or sometimes a more considerable one, with the former chieftain as feudal lord over it. Around these garrisons the old population lived on, in the north the Shang population, farther east and south various other peoples and cultures. The conquerors' garrisons were like islands in a sea. Most of them formed new towns, walled, with a rectangular plan and central crossroads, similar to the European towns subsequently formed out of Roman encampments. This town plan has been preserved to the present day.
This upper class in the garrisons formed the nobility; it was sharply divided from the indigenous population around the towns. The conquerors called the population "the black-haired people", and themselves "the hundred families". The rest of the town populations consisted often of urban Shang people: Shang noble families together with their bondsmen and serfs had been given to Chou fiefholders. Such forced resettlements of whole populations have remained typical even for much later periods. By this method new cities were provided with urban, refined people and, most important, with skilled craftsmen and businessmen who assisted in building the cities and in keeping them alive. Some scholars believe that many resettled Shang urbanites either were or became businessmen; incidentally, the same word "Shang" means "merchant", up to the present time. The people of the Shang capital lived on and even attempted a revolt in collaboration with some Chou people. The Chou rulers suppressed this revolt, and then transferred a large part of this population to Loyang. They were settled there in a separate community, and vestiges of the Shang population were still to be found there in the fifth century A.D.: they were entirely impoverished potters, still making vessels in the old style.
3 Fusion of Chou and Shang
The conquerors brought with them, for their own purposes to begin with, their rigid patriarchate in the family system and their cult of Heaven , in which the worship of sun and stars took the principal place; a religion most closely related to that of the Turkish peoples and derived from them. Some of the Shang popular deities, however, were admitted into the official Heaven-worship. Popular deities became "feudal lords" under the Heaven-god. The Shang conceptions of the soul were also admitted into the Chou religion: the human body housed two souls, the personality-soul and the life-soul. Death meant the separation of the souls from the body, the life-soul also slowly dying. The personality-soul, however, could move about freely and lived as long as there were people who remembered it and kept it from hunger by means of sacrifices. The Chou systematized this idea and made it into the ancestor-worship that has endured down to the present time.
The Chou officially abolished human sacrifices, especially since, as former pastoralists, they knew of better means of employing prisoners of war than did the more agrarian Shang. The Chou used Shang and other slaves as domestic servants for their numerous nobility, and Shang serfs as farm labourers on their estates. They seem to have regarded the land under their control as "state land" and all farmers as "serfs". A slave, here, must be defined as an individual, a piece of property, who was excluded from membership in human society but, in later legal texts, was included under domestic animals and immobile property, while serfs as a class depended upon another class and had certain rights, at least the right to work on the land. They could change their masters if the land changed its master, but they could not legally be sold individually. Thus, the following, still rather hypothetical, picture of the land system of the early Chou time emerges: around the walled towns of the feudal lords and sub-lords, always in the plains, was "state land" which produced millet and more and more wheat. Cultivation was still largely "shifting", so that the serfs in groups cultivated more or less standardized plots for a year or more and then shifted to other plots. During the growing season they lived in huts on the fields; during the winter in the towns in adobe houses. In this manner the yearly life cycle was divided into two different periods. The produce of the serfs supplied the lords, their dependants and the farmers themselves. Whenever the lord found it necessary, the serfs had to perform also other services for the lord. Farther away from the towns were the villages of the "natives", nominally also subjects of the lord. In most parts of eastern China, these, too, were agriculturists. They acknowledged their dependence by sending "gifts" to the lord in the town. Later these gifts became institutionalized and turned into a form of tax. The lord's serfs, on the other hand, tended to settle near the fields in villages of their own because, with growing urban population, the distances from the town to many of the fields became too great. It was also at this time of new settlements that a more intensive cultivation with a fallow system began. At latest from the sixth century B.C. on, the distinctions between both land systems became unclear; and the pure serf-cultivation, called by the old texts the "well-field system" because eight cultivating families used one common well, disappeared in practice.
The actual structure of early Chou administration is difficult to ascertain. The "Duke of Chou", brother of the first ruler, Wu Wang, later regent during the minority of Wu Wang's son, and certainly one of the most influential persons of this time, was the alleged creator of the book Chou-li which contains a detailed table of the bureaucracy of the country. However, we know now from inscriptions that the bureaucracy at the beginning of the Chou period was not much more developed than in late Shang time. The Chou-li gave an ideal picture of a bureaucratic state, probably abstracted from actual conditions in feudal states several centuries later.
The Chou capital, at Sian, was a twin city. In one part lived the master-race of the Chou with the imperial court, in the other the subjugated population. At the same time, as previously mentioned, the Chou built a second capital, Loyang, in the present province of henan. Loyang was just in the middle of the new state, and for the purposes of Heaven-worship it was regarded as the centre of the universe, where it was essential that the emperor should reside. Loyang was another twin city: in one part were the rulers' administrative buildings, in the other the transferred population of the Shang capital, probably artisans for the most part. The valuable artisans seem all to have been taken over from the Shang, for the bronze vessels of the early Chou age are virtually identical with those of the Shang age. The shapes of the houses also remained unaltered, and probably also the clothing, though the Chou brought with them the novelties of felt and woollen fabrics, old possessions of their earlier period. The only fundamental material change was in the form of the graves: in the Shang age house-like tombs were built underground; now great tumuli were constructed in the fashion preferred by all steppe peoples.
One professional class was severely hit by the changed circumstances--the Shang priesthood. The Chou had no priests. As with all the races of the steppes, the head of the family himself performed the religious rites. Beyond this there were only shamans for certain purposes of magic. And very soon Heaven-worship was combined with the family system, the ruler being declared to be the Son of Heaven; the mutual relations within the family were thus extended to the religious relations with the deity. If, however, the god of Heaven is the father of the ruler, the ruler as his son himself offers sacrifice, and so the priest becomes superfluous. Thus the priests became "unemployed". Some of them changed their profession. They were the only people who could read and write, and as an administrative system was necessary they obtained employment as scribes. Others withdrew to their villages and became village priests. They organized the religious festivals in the village, carried out the ceremonies connected with family events, and even conducted the exorcism of evil spirits with shamanistic dances; they took charge, in short, of everything connected with customary observances and morality. The Chou lords were great respecters of propriety. The Shang culture had, indeed, been a high one with an ancient and highly developed moral system, and the Chou as rough conquerors must have been impressed by the ancient forms and tried to imitate them. In addition, they had in their religion of Heaven a conception of the existence of mutual relations between Heaven and Earth: all that went on in the skies had an influence on earth, and vice versa. Thus, if any ceremony was "wrongly" performed, it had an evil effect on Heaven--there would be no rain, or the cold weather would arrive too soon, or some such misfortune would come. It was therefore of great importance that everything should be done "correctly". Hence the Chou rulers were glad to call in the old priests as performers of ceremonies and teachers of morality similar to the ancient Indian rulers who needed the Brahmans for the correct performance of all rites. There thus came into existence in the early Chou empire a new social group, later called "scholars", men who were not regarded as belonging to the lower class represented by the subjugated population but were not included in the nobility; men who were not productively employed but belonged to a sort of independent profession. They became of very great importance in later centuries.
In the first centuries of the Chou dynasty the ruling house steadily lost power. Some of the emperors proved weak, or were killed at war; above all, the empire was too big and its administration too slow-moving. The feudal lords and nobles were occupied with their own problems in securing the submission of the surrounding villages to their garrisons and in governing them; they soon paid little attention to the distant central authority. In addition to this, the situation at the centre of the empire was more difficult than that of its feudal states farther east. The settlements around the garrisons in the east were inhabited by agrarian tribes, but the subjugated population around the centre at Sian was made up of nomadic tribes of Turks and Mongols together with semi-nomadic Tibetans. Sian lies in the valley of the river Wei; the riverside country certainly belonged, though perhaps only insecurely, to the Shang empire and was specially well adapted to agriculture; but its periphery--mountains in the south, steppes in the north--was inhabited by nomads, who had also been subjugated by the Chou. The Chou themselves were by no means strong, as they had been only a small tribe and their strength had depended on auxiliary tribes, which had now spread over the country as the new nobility and lived far from the Chou. The Chou emperors had thus to hold in check the subjugated but warlike tribes of Turks and Mongols who lived quite close to their capital. In the first centuries of the dynasty they were more or less successful, for the feudal lords still sent auxiliary forces. In time, however, these became fewer and fewer, because the feudal lords pursued their own policy; and the Chou were compelled to fight their own battles against tribes that continually rose against them, raiding and pillaging their towns. Campaigns abroad also fell mainly on the shoulders of the Chou, as their capital lay near the frontier.
It must not be simply assumed, as is often done by the Chinese and some of the European historians, that the Turkish and Mongolian tribes were so savage or so pugnacious that they continually waged war just for the love of it. The problem is much deeper, and to fail to recognize this is to fail to understand Chinese history down to the Middle Ages. The conquering Chou established their garrisons everywhere, and these garrisons were surrounded by the quarters of artisans and by the villages of peasants, a process that ate into the pasturage of the Turkish and Mongolian nomads. These nomads, as already mentioned, pursued agriculture themselves on a small scale, but it occurred to them that they could get farm produce much more easily by barter or by raiding. Accordingly they gradually gave up cultivation and became pure nomads, procuring the needed farm produce from their neighbours. This abandonment of agriculture brought them into a precarious situation: if for any reason the Chinese stopped supplying or demanded excessive barter payment, the nomads had to go hungry. They were then virtually driven to get what they needed by raiding. Thus there developed a mutual reaction that lasted for centuries. Some of the nomadic tribes living between garrisons withdrew, to escape from the growing pressure, mainly into the province of Shanxi, where the influence of the Chou was weak and they were not numerous; some of the nomad chiefs lost their lives in battle, and some learned from the Chou lords and turned themselves into petty rulers. A number of "marginal" states began to develop; some of them even built their own cities. This process of transformation of agro-nomadic tribes into "warrior-nomadic" tribes continued over many centuries and came to an end in the third or second century B.C.
The result of the three centuries that had passed was a symbiosis between the urban aristocrats and the country-people. The rulers of the towns took over from the general population almost the whole vocabulary of the language which from now on we may call "Chinese". They naturally took over elements of the material civilization. The subjugated population had, meanwhile, to adjust itself to its lords. In the organism that thus developed, with its unified economic system, the conquerors became an aristocratic ruling class, and the subjugated population became a lower class, with varied elements but mainly a peasantry. From now on we may call this society "Chinese"; it has endured to the middle of the twentieth century. Most later essential societal changes are the result of internal development and not of aggression from without.
4 Limitation of the imperial power
In 771 B.C. an alliance of northern feudal states had attacked the ruler in his western capital; in a battle close to the city they had overcome and killed him. This campaign appears to have set in motion considerable groups from various tribes, so that almost the whole province of Shensi was lost. With the aid of some feudal lords who had remained loyal, a Chou prince was rescued and conducted eastward to the second capital, Loyang, which until then had never been the ruler's actual place of residence. In this rescue a lesser feudal prince, ruler of the feudal state of Ch'in, specially distinguished himself. Soon afterwards this prince, whose domain had lain close to that of the ruler, reconquered a great part of the lost territory, and thereafter regarded it as his own fief. The Ch'in family resided in the same capital in which the Chou had lived in the past, and five hundred years later we shall meet with them again as the dynasty that succeeded the Chou.
The new ruler, resident now in Loyang, was foredoomed to impotence. He was now in the centre of the country, and less exposed to large-scale enemy attacks; but his actual rule extended little beyond the town itself and its immediate environment. Moreover, attacks did not entirely cease; several times parts of the indigenous population living between the Chou towns rose against the towns, even in the centre of the country.
Now that the emperor had no territory that could be the basis of a strong rule and, moreover, because he owed his position to the feudal lords and was thus under an obligation to them, he ruled no longer as the chief of the feudal lords but as a sort of sanctified overlord; and this was the position of all his successors. A situation was formed at first that may be compared with that of Japan down to the middle of the nineteenth century. The ruler was a symbol rather than an exerciser of power. There had to be a supreme ruler because, in the worship of Heaven which was recognized by all the feudal lords, the supreme sacrifices could only be offered by the Son of Heaven in person. There could not be a number of sons of heaven because there were not a number of heavens. The imperial sacrifices secured that all should be in order in the country, and that the necessary equilibrium between Heaven and Earth should be maintained. For in the religion of Heaven there was a close parallelism between Heaven and Earth, and every omission of a sacrifice, or failure to offer it in due form, brought down a reaction from Heaven. For these religious reasons a central ruler was a necessity for the feudal lords. They needed him also for practical reasons. In the course of centuries the personal relationship between the various feudal lords had ceased. Their original kinship and united struggles had long been forgotten. When the various feudal lords proceeded to subjugate the territories at a distance from their towns, in order to turn their city states into genuine territorial states, they came into conflict with each other. In the course of these struggles for power many of the small fiefs were simply destroyed. It may fairly be said that not until the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. did the old garrison towns became real states. In these circumstances the struggles between the feudal states called urgently for an arbiter, to settle simple cases, and in more difficult cases either to try to induce other feudal lords to intervene or to give sanction to the new situation. These were the only governing functions of the ruler from the time of the transfer to the second capital.
5 Changes in the relative strength of the feudal states
In these disturbed times China also made changes in her outer frontiers. When we speak of frontiers in this connection, we must take little account of the European conception of a frontier. No frontier in that sense existed in China until her conflict with the European powers. In the dogma of the Chinese religion of Heaven, all the countries of the world were subject to the Chinese emperor, the Son of Heaven. Thus there could be no such thing as other independent states. In practice the dependence of various regions on the ruler naturally varied: near the centre, that is to say near the ruler's place of residence, it was most pronounced; then it gradually diminished in the direction of the periphery. The feudal lords of the inner territories were already rather less subordinated than at the centre, and those at a greater distance scarcely at all; at a still greater distance were territories whose chieftains regarded themselves as independent, subject only in certain respects to Chinese overlordship. In such a system it is difficult to speak of frontiers. In practice there was, of course, a sort of frontier, where the influence of the outer feudal lords ceased to exist. The development of the original feudal towns into feudal states with actual dominion over their territories proceeded, of course, not only in the interior of China but also on its borders, where the feudal territories had the advantage of more unrestricted opportunities of expansion; thus they became more and more powerful. In the south the garrisons that founded feudal states were relatively small and widely separated; consequently their cultural system was largely absorbed into that of the aboriginal population, so that they developed into feudal states with a character of their own. Three of these attained special importance-- Ch'u, in the neighbourhood of the present Chungking and Hankow; Wu, near the present Nanking; and Yüeh, near the present Hangchow. In 704 B.C. the feudal prince of Wu proclaimed himself "Wang". "Wang", however was the title of the ruler of the Chou dynasty. This meant that Wu broke away from the old Chou religion of Heaven, according to which there could be only one ruler in the world.
At the beginning of the seventh century it became customary for the ruler to unite with the feudal lord who was most powerful at the time. This feudal lord became a dictator, and had the military power in his hands, like the shoguns in nineteenth-century Japan. If there was a disturbance of the peace, he settled the matter by military means. The first of these dictators was the feudal lord of the state of Ch'i, in the present province of Shandong. This feudal state had grown considerably through the conquest of the outer end of the peninsula of Shandong, which until then had been independent. Moreover, and this was of the utmost importance, the state of Ch'i was a trade centre. Much of the bronze, and later all the iron, for use in northern China came from the south by road and in ships that went up the rivers to Ch'i, where it was distributed among the various regions of the north, north-east, and north-west. In addition to this, through its command of portions of the coast, Ch'i had the means of producing salt, with which it met the needs of great areas of eastern China. It was also in Ch'i that money was first used. Thus Ch'i soon became a place of great luxury, far surpassing the court of the Chou, and Ch'i also became the centre of the most developed civilization.

After the feudal lord of Ch'i, supported by the wealth and power of his feudal state, became dictator, he had to struggle not only against other feudal lords, but also many times against risings among the most various parts of the population, and especially against the nomad tribes in the southern part of the present province of Shanxi. In the seventh century not only Ch'i but the other feudal states had expanded. The regions in which the nomad tribes were able to move had grown steadily smaller, and the feudal lords now set to work to bring the nomads of their country under their direct rule. The greatest conflict of this period was the attack in 660 B.C. against the feudal state of Wei, in northern henan. The nomad tribes seem this time to have been Proto-Mongols; they made a direct attack on the garrison town and actually conquered it. The remnant of the urban population, no more than 730 in number, had to flee southward. It is clear from this incident that nomads were still living in the middle of China, within the territory of the feudal states, and that they were still decidedly strong, though no longer in a position to get rid entirely of the feudal lords of the Chou.
The period of the dictators came to an end after about a century, because it was found that none of the feudal states was any longer strong enough to exercise control over all the others. These others formed alliances against which the dictator was powerless. Thus this period passed into the next, which the Chinese call the period of the Contending States.
6 Confucius
After this survey of the political history we must consider the intellectual history of this period, for between 550 and 280 B.C. the enduring fundamental influences in the Chinese social order and in the whole intellectual life of China had their original. We saw how the priests of the earlier dynasty of the Shang developed into the group of so-called "scholars". When the Chou ruler, after the move to the second capital, had lost virtually all but his religious authority, these "scholars" gained increased influence. They were the specialists in traditional morals, in sacrifices, and in the organization of festivals. The continually increasing ritualism at the court of the Chou called for more and more of these men. The various feudal lords also attracted these scholars to their side, employed them as tutors for their children, and entrusted them with the conduct of sacrifices and festivals.
China's best-known philosopher, Confucius , was one of these scholars. He was born in 551 B.C. in the feudal state Lu in the present province of Shandong. In Lu and its neighbouring state Sung, institutions of the Shang had remained strong; both states regarded themselves as legitimate heirs of Shang culture, and many traces of Shang culture can be seen in Confucius's political and ethical ideas. He acquired the knowledge which a scholar had to possess, and then taught in the families of nobles, also helping in the administration of their properties. He made several attempts to obtain advancement, either in vain or with only a short term of employment ending in dismissal. Thus his career was a continuing pilgrimage from one noble to another, from one feudal lord to another, accompanied by a few young men, sons of scholars, who were partly his pupils and partly his servants. Many of these disciples seem to have been "illegitimate" sons of noblemen, i.e. sons of concubines, and Confucius's own family seems to have been of the same origin. In the strongly patriarchal and patrilinear system of the Chou and the developing primogeniture, children of secondary wives had a lower social status. Ultimately Confucius gave up his wanderings, settled in his home town of Lu, and there taught his disciples until his death in 479 B.C.
Such was briefly the life of Confucius. His enemies claim that he was a political intriguer, inciting the feudal lords against each other in the course of his wanderings from one state to another, with the intention of somewhere coming into power himself. There may, indeed, be some truth in that.
Confucius's importance lies in the fact that he systematized a body of ideas, not of his own creation, and communicated it to a circle of disciples. His teachings were later set down in writing and formed, right down to the twentieth century, the moral code of the upper classes of China. Confucius was fully conscious of his membership of a social class whose existence was tied to that of the feudal lords. With their disappearance, his type of scholar would become superfluous. The common people, the lower class, was in his view in an entirely subordinate position. Thus his moral teaching is a code for the ruling class. Accordingly it retains almost unaltered the elements of the old cult of Heaven, following the old tradition inherited from the northern peoples. For him Heaven is not an arbitrarily governing divine tyrant, but the embodiment of a system of legality. Heaven does not act independently, but follows a universal law, the so-called "Tao". Just as sun, moon, and stars move in the heavens in accordance with law, so man should conduct himself on earth in accord with the universal law, not against it. The ruler should not actively intervene in day-to-day policy, but should only act by setting an example, like Heaven; he should observe the established ceremonies, and offer all sacrifices in accordance with the rites, and then all else will go well in the world. The individual, too, should be guided exactly in his life by the prescriptions of the rites, so that harmony with the law of the universe may be established.
A second idea of the Confucian system came also from the old conceptions of the Chou conquerors, and thus originally from the northern peoples. This is the patriarchal idea, according to which the family is the cell of society, and at the head of the family stands the eldest male adult as a sort of patriarch. The state is simply an extension of the family, "state", of course, meaning simply the class of the feudal lords . And the organization of the family is also that of the world of the gods. Within the family there are a number of ties, all of them, however, one-sided: that of father to son that of husband to wife ; that of elder to younger brother. An extension of these is the association of friend with friend, which is conceived as an association between an elder and a younger brother. The final link, and the only one extending beyond the family and uniting it with the state, is the association of the ruler with the subject, a replica of that between father and son. The ruler in turn is in the position of son to Heaven. Thus in Confucianism the cult of Heaven, the family system, and the state are welded into unity. The frictionless functioning of this whole system is effected by everyone adhering to the rites, which prescribe every important action. It is necessary, of course, that in a large family, in which there may be up to a hundred persons living together, there shall be a precisely established ordering of relationships between individuals if there is not to be continual friction. Since the scholars of Confucius's type specialized in the knowledge and conduct of ceremonies, Confucius gave ritualism a correspondingly important place both in spiritual and in practical life.
So far as we have described it above, the teaching of Confucius was a further development of the old cult of Heaven. Through bitter experience, however, Confucius had come to realize that nothing could be done with the ruling house as it existed in his day. So shadowy a figure as the Chou ruler of that time could not fulfil what Confucius required of the "Son of Heaven". But the opinions of students of Confucius's actual ideas differ. Some say that in the only book in which he personally had a hand, the so-called Annals of Spring and Autumn, he intended to set out his conception of the character of a true emperor; others say that in that book he showed how he would himself have acted as emperor, and that he was only awaiting an opportunity to make himself emperor. He was called indeed, at a later time, the "uncrowned ruler". In any case, the Annals of Spring and Autumn seem to be simply a dry work of annals, giving the history of his native state of Lu on the basis of the older documents available to him. In his text, however, Confucius made small changes by means of which he expressed criticism or recognition; in this way he indirectly made known how in his view a ruler should act or should not act. He did not shrink from falsifying history, as can today be demonstrated. Thus on one occasion a ruler had to flee from a feudal prince, which in Confucius's view was impossible behaviour for the ruler; accordingly he wrote instead that the ruler went on a hunting expedition. Elsewhere he tells of an eclipse of the sun on a certain day, on which in fact there was no eclipse. By writing of an eclipse he meant to criticize the way a ruler had acted, for the sun symbolized the ruler, and the eclipse meant that the ruler had not been guided by divine illumination. The demonstration that the _Annals of Spring and Autumn_ can only be explained in this way was the achievement some thirty-five years ago of Otto Franke, and through this discovery Confucius's work, which the old sinologists used to describe as a dry and inadequate book, has become of special value to us. The book ends with the year 481 B.C., and in spite of its distortions it is the principal source for the two-and-a-half centuries with which it deals.
Rendered alert by this experience, we are able to see and to show that most of the other later official works of history follow the example of the Annals of Spring and Autumn in containing things that have been deliberately falsified. This is especially so in the work called T'ung-chien kang-mu, which was the source of the history of the Chinese empire translated into French by de Mailla.
Apart from Confucius's criticism of the inadequate capacity of the emperor of his day, there is discernible, though only in the form of cryptic hints, a fundamentally important progressive idea. It is that a nobleman should not be a member of the ruling élite by right of birth alone, but should be a man of superior moral qualities. From Confucius on, "chün-tzu" became to mean "a gentleman". Consequently, a country should not be ruled by a dynasty based on inheritance through birth, but by members of the nobility who show outstanding moral qualification for rulership. That is to say, the rule should pass from the worthiest to the worthiest, the successor first passing through a period of probation as a minister of state. In an unscrupulous falsification of the tradition, Confucius declared that this principle was followed in early times. It is probably safe to assume that Confucius had in view here an eventual justification of claims to rulership of his own.
Thus Confucius undoubtedly had ideas of reform, but he did not interfere with the foundations of feudalism. For the rest, his system consists only of a social order and a moral teaching. Metaphysics, logic, epistemology, i.e. branches of philosophy which played so great a part in the West, are of no interest to him. Nor can he be described as the founder of a religion; for the cult of Heaven of which he speaks and which he takes over existed in exactly the same form before his day. He is merely the man who first systematized those notions. He had no successes in his lifetime and gained no recognition; nor did his disciples or their disciples gain any general recognition; his work did not become of importance until some three hundred years after his death, when in the second century B.C. his teaching was adjusted to the new social conditions: out of a moral system for the decaying feudal society of the past centuries developed the ethic of the rising social order of the gentry. The gentry continually claimed that there should be access for every civilized citizen to the highest places in the social pyramid, and the rules of Confucianism became binding on every member of society if he was to be considered a gentleman. Only then did Confucianism begin to develop into the imposing system that dominated China almost down to the present day. Confucianism did not become a religion. It was comparable to the later Japanese Shintoism, or to a group of customs among us which we all observe, if we do not want to find ourselves excluded from our community, but which we should never describe as religion. We stand up when the national anthem is played, we give precedency to older people, we erect war memorials and decorate them with flowers, and by these and many other things show our sense of belonging. A similar but much more conscious and much more powerful part was played by Confucianism in the life of the average Chinese, though he was not necessarily interested in philosophical ideas.
While the West has set up the ideal of individualism and is suffering now because it no longer has any ethical system to which individuals voluntarily submit; while for the Indians the social problem consisted in the solving of the question how every man could be enabled to live his life with as little disturbance as possible from his fellow-men, Confucianism solved the problem of how families with groups of hundreds of members could live together in peace and co-operation in a densely populated country. Everyone knew his position in the family and so, in a broader sense, in the state; and this prescribed his rights and duties. We may feel that the rules to which he was subjected were pedantic; but there was no limit to their effectiveness: they reduced to a minimum the friction that always occurs when great masses of people live close together; they gave Chinese society the strength through which it has endured; they gave security to its individuals. China's first real social crisis after the collapse of feudalism, that is to say, after the fourth or third century B.C., began only in the present century with the collapse of the social order of the gentry and the breakdown of the family system.
7 Lao Tzu
In eighteenth-century Europe Confucius was the only Chinese philosopher held in regard; in the last hundred years, the years of Europe's internal crisis, the philosopher Lao Tzu steadily advanced in repute, so that his book was translated almost a hundred times into various European languages. According to the general view among the Chinese, Lao Tzu was an older contemporary of Confucius; recent Chinese and Western research has contested this view and places Lao Tzu in the latter part of the fourth century B.C., or even later. Virtually nothing at all is known about his life; the oldest biography of Lao Tzu, written about 100 B.C., says that he lived as an official at the ruler's court and, one day, became tired of the life of an official and withdrew from the capital to his estate, where he died in old age. This, too, may be legendary, but it fits well into the picture given to us by Lao Tzu's teaching and by the life of his later followers. From the second century A.D., that is to say at least four hundred years after his death, there are legends of his migrating to the far west. Still later narratives tell of his going to Turkestan ; according to other sources he travelled as far as India or Sogdiana , where according to some accounts he was the teacher or forerunner of Buddha, and according to others of Mani, the founder of Manichaeism. For all this there is not a vestige of documentary evidence.
Lao Tzu's teaching is contained in a small book, the Tao Tê Ching, the "Book of the World Law and its Power". The book is written in quite simple language, at times in rhyme, but the sense is so vague that countless versions, differing radically from each other, can be based on it, and just as many translations are possible, all philologically defensible. This vagueness is deliberate.
Lao Tzu's teaching is essentially an effort to bring man's life on earth into harmony with the life and law of the universe . This was also Confucius's purpose. But while Confucius set out to attain that purpose in a sort of primitive scientific way, by laying down a number of rules of human conduct, Lao Tzu tries to attain his ideal by an intuitive, emotional method. Lao Tzu is always described as a mystic, but perhaps this is not entirely appropriate; it must be borne in mind that in his time the Chinese language, spoken and written, still had great difficulties in the expression of ideas. In reading Lao Tzu's book we feel that he is trying to express something for which the language of his day was inadequate; and what he wanted to express belonged to the emotional, not the intellectual, side of the human character, so that any perfectly clear expression of it in words was entirely impossible. It must be borne in mind that the Chinese language lacks definite word categories like substantive, adjective, adverb, or verb; any word can be used now in one category and now in another, with a few exceptions; thus the understanding of a combination like "white horse" formed a difficult logical problem for the thinker of the fourth century B.C.: did it mean "white" plus "horse"? Or was "white horse" no longer a horse at all but something quite different?
Confucius's way of bringing human life into harmony with the life of the universe was to be a process of assimilating Man as a social being, Man in his social environment, to Nature, and of so maintaining his activity within the bounds of the community. Lao Tzu pursues another path, the path for those who feel disappointed with life in the community. A Taoist, as a follower of Lao Tzu is called, withdraws from all social life, and carries out none of the rites and ceremonies which a man of the upper class should observe throughout the day. He lives in self-imposed seclusion, in an elaborate primitivity which is often described in moving terms that are almost convincing of actual "primitivity". Far from the city, surrounded by Nature, the Taoist lives his own life, together with a few friends and his servants, entirely according to his nature. His own nature, like everything else, represents for him a part of the Tao, and the task of the individual consists in the most complete adherence to the Tao that is conceivable, as far as possible performing no act that runs counter to the Tao. This is the main element of Lao Tzu's doctrine, the doctrine of wu-wei, "passive achievement".
Lao Tzu seems to have thought that this doctrine could be applied to the life of the state. He assumed that an ideal life in society was possible if everyone followed his own nature entirely and no artificial restrictions were imposed. Thus he writes: "The more the people are forbidden to do this and that, the poorer will they be. The more sharp weapons the people possess, the more will darkness and bewilderment spread through the land. The more craft and cunning men have, the more useless and pernicious contraptions will they invent. The more laws and edicts are imposed, the more thieves and bandits there will be. 'If I work through Non-action,' says the Sage, 'the people will transform themselves.'" Thus according to Lao Tzu, who takes the existence of a monarchy for granted, the ruler must treat his subjects as follows: "By emptying their hearts of desire and their minds of envy, and by filling their stomachs with what they need; by reducing their ambitions and by strengthening their bones and sinews; by striving to keep them without the knowledge of what is evil and without cravings. Thus are the crafty ones given no scope for tempting interference. For it is by Non-action that the Sage governs, and nothing is really left uncontrolled."
The Way of Acceptance: a new version of Lao Tzu's _Tao Tê Ching_, by Hermon Ould , Ch. 57.
The Way of Acceptance, Ch. 3.
Lao Tzu did not live to learn that such rule of good government would be followed by only one sort of rulers--dictators; and as a matter of fact the "Legalist theory" which provided the philosophic basis for dictatorship in the third century B.C. was attributable to Lao Tzu. He was not thinking, however, of dictatorship; he was an individualistic anarchist, believing that if there were no active government all men would be happy. Then everyone could attain unity with Nature for himself. Thus we find in Lao Tzu, and later in all other Taoists, a scornful repudiation of all social and official obligations. An answer that became famous was given by the Taoist Chuang Tzu when it was proposed to confer high office in the state on him : "I have heard," he replied, "that in Ch'u there is a tortoise sacred to the gods. It has now been dead for 3,000 years, and the king keeps it in a shrine with silken cloths, and gives it shelter in the halls of a temple. Which do you think that tortoise would prefer--to be dead and have its vestigial bones so honoured, or to be still alive and dragging its tail after it in the mud?" the officials replied: "No doubt it would prefer to be alive and dragging its tail after it in the mud." Then spoke Chuang Tzu: "Begone! I, too, would rather drag my tail after me in the mud!"
The true Taoist withdraws also from his family. Typical of this is another story, surely apocryphal, from Chuang Tzu . At the death of Lao Tzu a disciple went to the family and expressed his sympathy quite briefly and formally. The other disciples were astonished, and asked his reason. He said: "Yes, at first I thought that he was our man, but he is not. When I went to grieve, the old men were bewailing him as though they were bewailing a son, and the young wept as though they were mourning a mother. To bind them so closely to himself, he must have spoken words which he should not have spoken, and wept tears which he should not have wept. That, however, is a falling away from the heavenly nature."
Lao Tzu's teaching, like that of Confucius, cannot be described as religion; like Confucius's, it is a sort of social philosophy, but of irrationalistic character. Thus it was quite possible, and later it became the rule, for one and the same person to be both Confucian and Taoist. As an official and as the head of his family, a man would think and act as a Confucian; as a private individual, when he had retired far from the city to live in his country mansion , or when he had been dismissed from his post or suffered some other trouble, he would feel and think as a Taoist. In order to live as a Taoist it was necessary, of course, to possess such an estate, to which a man could retire with his servants, and where he could live without himself doing manual work. This difference between the Confucian and the Taoist found a place in the works of many Chinese poets. I take the following quotation from an essay by the statesman and poet Ts'ao Chih, of the end of the second century A.D.:
"Master Mysticus lived in deep seclusion on a mountain in the wilderness; he had withdrawn as in flight from the world, desiring to purify his spirit and give rest to his heart. He despised official activity, and no longer maintained any relations with the world; he sought quiet and freedom from care, in order in this way to attain everlasting life. He did nothing but send his thoughts wandering between sky and clouds, and consequently there was nothing worldly that could attract and tempt him.

"When Mr. Rationalist heard of this man, he desired to visit him, in order to persuade him to alter his views. He harnessed four horses, who could quickly traverse the plain, and entered his light fast carriage. He drove through the plain, leaving behind him the ruins of abandoned settlements; he entered the boundless wilderness, and finally reached the dwelling of Master Mysticus. Here there was a waterfall on one side, and on the other were high crags; at the back a stream flowed deep down in its bed, and in front was an odorous wood. The master wore a white doeskin cap and a striped fox-pelt. He came forward from a cave buried in the mountain, leaned against the tall crag, and enjoyed the prospect of wild nature. His ideas floated on the breezes, and he looked as if the wide spaces of the heavens and the countries of the earth were too narrow for him; as if he was going to fly but had not yet left the ground; as if he had already spread his wings but wanted to wait a moment. Mr. Rationalist climbed up with the aid of vine shoots, reached the top of the crag, and stepped up to him, saying very respectfully:
"'I have heard that a man of nobility does not flee from society, but seeks to gain fame; a man of wisdom does not swim against the current, but seeks to earn repute. You, however, despise the achievements of civilization and culture; you have no regard for the splendour of philanthropy and justice; you squander your powers here in the wilderness and neglect ordered relations between man....'"
Frequently Master Mysticus and Mr. Rationalist were united in a single person. Thus, Shih Ch'ung wrote in an essay on himself:
"In my youth I had great ambition and wanted to stand out above the multitude. Thus it happened that at a little over twenty years of age I was already a court official; I remained in the service for twenty-five years. When I was fifty I had to give up my post because of an unfortunate occurrence.... The older I became, the more I appreciated the freedom I had acquired; and as I loved forest and plain, I retired to my villa. When I built this villa, a long embankment formed the boundary behind it; in front the prospect extended over a clear canal; all around grew countless cypresses, and flowing water meandered round the house. There were pools there, and outlook towers; I bred birds and fishes. In my harem there were always good musicians who played dance tunes. When I went out I enjoyed nature or hunted birds and fished. When I came home, I enjoyed playing the lute or reading; I also liked to concoct an elixir of life and to take breathing exercises, because I did not want to die, but wanted one day to lift myself to the skies, like an immortal genius. Suddenly I was drawn back into the official career, and became once more one of the dignitaries of the Emperor."
Both Taoist practices.
Thus Lao Tzu's individualist and anarchist doctrine was not suited to form the basis of a general Chinese social order, and its employment in support of dictatorship was certainly not in the spirit of Lao Tzu. Throughout history, however, Taoism remained the philosophic attitude of individuals of the highest circle of society; its real doctrine never became popularly accepted; for the strong feeling for nature that distinguishes the Chinese, and their reluctance to interfere in the sanctified order of nature by technical and other deliberate acts, was not actually a result of Lao Tzu's teaching, but one of the fundamentals from which his ideas started.
If the date assigned to Lao Tzu by present-day research is correct, he was more or less contemporary with Chuang Tzu, who was probably the most gifted poet among the Chinese philosophers and Taoists. A thin thread extends from them as far as the fourth century A.D.: Huai-nan Tzu, Chung-ch'ang T'ung, Yüan Chi , Liu Ling , and T'ao Ch'ien , are some of the most eminent names of Taoist philosophers. After that the stream of original thought dried up, and we rarely find a new idea among the late Taoists. These gentlemen living on their estates had acquired a new means of expressing their inmost feelings: they wrote poetry and, above all, painted. Their poems and paintings contain in a different outward form what Lao Tzu had tried to express with the inadequate means of the language of his day. Thus Lao Tzu's teaching has had the strongest influence to this day in this field, and has inspired creative work which is among the finest achievements of mankind.

History of China The Contending States (481-256 B.c.): Dissolution Of The Feudal System

1 Social and military changes
The period following that of the Chou dictatorships is known as that of the Contending States. Out of over a thousand states, fourteen remained, of which, in the period that now followed, one after another disappeared, until only one remained. This period is the fullest, or one of the fullest, of strife in all Chinese history. The various feudal states had lost all sense of allegiance to the ruler, and acted in entire independence. It is a pure fiction to speak of a Chinese State in this period; the emperor had no more power than the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire in the late medieval period of Europe, and the so-called "feudal states" of China can be directly compared with the developing national states of Europe. A comparison of this period with late medieval Europe is, indeed, of highest interest. If we adopt a political system of periodization, we might say that around 500 B.C. the unified feudal state of the first period of Antiquity came to an end and the second, a period of the national states began, although formally, the feudal system continued and the national states still retained many feudal traits.
As none of these states was strong enough to control and subjugate the rest, alliances were formed. The most favoured union was the north-south axis; it struggled against an east-west league. The alliances were not stable but broke up again and again through bribery or intrigue, which produced new combinations. We must confine ourselves to mentioning the most important of the events that took place behind this military façade.
Through the continual struggles more and more feudal lords lost their lands; and not only they, but the families of the nobles dependent on them, who had received so-called sub-fiefs. Some of the landless nobles perished; some offered their services to the remaining feudal lords as soldiers or advisers. Thus in this period we meet with a large number of migratory politicians who became competitors of the wandering scholars. Both these groups recommended to their lord ways and means of gaining victory over the other feudal lords, so as to become sole ruler. In order to carry out their plans the advisers claimed the rank of a Minister or Chancellor.
Realistic though these advisers and their lords were in their thinking, they did not dare to trample openly on the old tradition. The emperor might in practice be a completely powerless figurehead, but he belonged nevertheless, according to tradition, to a family of divine origin, which had obtained its office not merely by the exercise of force but through a "divine mandate". Accordingly, if one of the feudal lords thought of putting forward a claim to the imperial throne, he felt compelled to demonstrate that his family was just as much of divine origin as the emperor's, and perhaps of remoter origin. In this matter the travelling "scholars" rendered valuable service as manufacturers of genealogical trees. Each of the old noble families already had its family tree, as an indispensable requisite for the sacrifices to ancestors. But in some cases this tree began as a branch of that of the imperial family: this was the case of the feudal lords who were of imperial descent and whose ancestors had been granted fiefs after the conquest of the country. Others, however, had for their first ancestor a local deity long worshipped in the family's home country, such as the ancient agrarian god Huang Ti, or the bovine god Shen Nung. Here the "scholars" stepped in, turning the local deities into human beings and "emperors". This suddenly gave the noble family concerned an imperial origin. Finally, order was brought into this collection of ancient emperors. They were arranged and connected with each other in "dynasties" or in some other "historical" form. Thus at a stroke Huang Ti, who about 450 B.C. had been a local god in the region of southern Shanxi, became the forefather of almost all the noble families, including that of the imperial house of the Chou. Needless to say, there would be discrepancies between the family trees constructed by the various scholars for their lords, and later, when this problem had lost its political importance, the commentators laboured for centuries on the elaboration of an impeccable system of "ancient emperors"--and to this day there are sinologists who continue to present these humanized gods as historical personalities.
In the earlier wars fought between the nobles they were themselves the actual combatants, accompanied only by their retinue. As the struggles for power grew in severity, each noble hired such mercenaries as he could, for instance the landless nobles just mentioned. Very soon it became the custom to arm peasants and send them to the wars. This substantially increased the armies. The numbers of soldiers who were killed in particular battles may have been greatly exaggerated ; but there must have been armies of several thousand men, perhaps as many as 10,000. The population had grown considerably by that time.
The armies of the earlier period consisted mainly of the nobles in their war chariots; each chariot surrounded by the retinue of the nobleman. Now came large troops of commoners as infantry as well, drawn from the peasant population. To these, cavalry were first added in the fifth century B.C., by the northern state of Chao , following the example of its Turkish and Mongol neighbours. The general theory among ethnologists is that the horse was first harnessed to a chariot, and that riding came much later; but it is my opinion that riders were known earlier, but could not be efficiently employed in war because the practice had not begun of fighting in disciplined troops of horsemen, and the art had not been learnt of shooting accurately with the bow from the back of a galloping horse, especially shooting to the rear. In any case, its cavalry gave the feudal state of Chao a military advantage for a short time. Soon the other northern states copied it one after another--especially Ch'in, in north-west China. The introduction of cavalry brought a change in clothing all over China, for the former long skirt-like garb could not be worn on horseback. Trousers and the riding-cap were introduced from the north.
The new technique of war made it important for every state to possess as many soldiers as possible, and where it could to reduce the enemy's numbers. One result of this was that wars became much more sanguinary; another was that men in other countries were induced to immigrate and settle as peasants, so that the taxes they paid should provide the means for further recruitment of soldiers. In the state of Ch'in, especially, the practice soon started of using the whole of the peasantry simultaneously as a rough soldiery. Hence that state was particularly anxious to attract peasants in large numbers.
2 Economic changes
In the course of the wars much land of former noblemen had become free. Often the former serfs had then silently become landowners. Others had started to cultivate empty land in the area inhabited by the indigenous population and regarded this land, which they themselves had made fertile, as their private family property. There was, in spite of the growth of the population, still much cultivable land available. Victorious feudal lords induced farmers to come to their territory and to cultivate the wasteland. This is a period of great migrations, internal and external. It seems that from this period on not only merchants but also farmers began to migrate southwards into the area of the present provinces of Kwangtung and Kwangsi and as far as Tonking.
As long as the idea that all land belonged to the great clans of the Chou prevailed, sale of land was inconceivable; but when individual family heads acquired land or cultivated new land, they regarded it as their natural right to dispose of the land as they wished. From now on until the end of the medieval period, the family head as representative of the family could sell or buy land. However, the land belonged to the family and not to him as a person. This development was favoured by the spread of money. In time land in general became an asset with a market value and could be bought and sold.
Another important change can be seen from this time on. Under the feudal system of the Chou strict primogeniture among the nobility existed: the fief went to the oldest son by the main wife. The younger sons were given independent pieces of land with its inhabitants as new, secondary fiefs. With the increase in population there was no more such land that could be set up as a new fief. From now on, primogeniture was retained in the field of ritual and religion down to the present time: only the oldest son of the main wife represents the family in the ancestor worship ceremonies; only the oldest son of the emperor could become his successor. But the landed property from now on was equally divided among all sons. Occasionally the oldest son was given some extra land to enable him to pay the expenses for the family ancestral worship. Mobile property, on the other side, was not so strictly regulated and often the oldest son was given preferential treatment in the inheritance.
The technique of cultivation underwent some significant changes. The animal-drawn plough seems to have been invented during this period, and from now on, some metal agricultural implements like iron sickles and iron plough-shares became more common. A fallow system was introduced so that cultivation became more intensive. Manuring of fields was already known in Shang time. It seems that the consumption of meat decreased from this period on: less mutton and beef were eaten. Pig and dog became the main sources of meat, and higher consumption of beans made up for the loss of proteins. All this indicates a strong population increase. We have no statistics for this period, but by 400 B.C. it is conceivable that the population under the control of the various individual states comprised something around twenty-five millions. The eastern plains emerge more and more as centres of production.
The increased use of metal and the invention of coins greatly stimulated trade. Iron which now became quite common, was produced mainly in Shanxi, other metals in South China. But what were the traders to do with their profits? Even later in China, and almost down to recent times, it was never possible to hoard large quantities of money. Normally the money was of copper, and a considerable capital in the form of copper coin took up a good deal of room and was not easy to conceal. If anyone had much money, everyone in his village knew it. No one dared to hoard to any extent for fear of attracting bandits and creating lasting insecurity. On the other hand the merchants wanted to attain the standard of living which the nobles, the landowners, used to have. Thus they began to invest their money in land. This was all the easier for them since it often happened that one of the lesser nobles or a peasant fell deeply into debt to a merchant and found himself compelled to give up his land in payment of the debt.
Soon the merchants took over another function. So long as there had been many small feudal states, and the feudal lords had created lesser lords with small fiefs, it had been a simple matter for the taxes to be collected, in the form of grain, from the peasants through the agents of the lesser lords. Now that there were only a few great states in existence, the old system was no longer effectual. This gave the merchants their opportunity. The rulers of the various states entrusted the merchants with the collection of taxes, and this had great advantages for the ruler: he could obtain part of the taxes at once, as the merchant usually had grain in stock, or was himself a landowner and could make advances at any time. Through having to pay the taxes to the merchant, the village population became dependent on him. Thus the merchants developed into the first administrative officials in the provinces.
In connection with the growth of business, the cities kept on growing. It is estimated that at the beginning of the third century, the city of Lin-chin, near the present Chi-nan in Shandong, had a population of 210,000 persons. Each of its walls had a length of 4,000 metres; thus, it was even somewhat larger than the famous city of Lo-yang, capital of China during the Later Han dynasty, in the second century A.D. Several other cities of this period have been recently excavated and must have had populations far above 10,000 persons. There were two types of cities: the rectangular, planned city of the Chou conquerors, a seat of administration; and the irregularly shaped city which grew out of a market place and became only later an administrative centre. We do not know much about the organization and administration of these cities, but they seem to have had considerable independence because some of them issued their own city coins.
When these cities grew, the food produced in the neighbourhood of the towns no longer sufficed for their inhabitants. This led to the building of roads, which also facilitated the transport of supplies for great armies. These roads mainly radiated from the centre of consumption into the surrounding country, and they were less in use for communication between one administrative centre and another. For long journeys the rivers were of more importance, since transport by wagon was always expensive owing to the shortage of draught animals. Thus we see in this period the first important construction of canals and a development of communications. With the canal construction was connected the construction of irrigation and drainage systems, which further promoted agricultural production. The cities were places in which often great luxury developed; music, dance, and other refinements were cultivated; but the cities also seem to have harboured considerable industries. Expensive and technically superior silks were woven; painters decorated the walls of temples and palaces; blacksmiths and bronze-smiths produced beautiful vessels and implements. It seems certain that the art of casting iron and the beginnings of the production of steel were already known at this time. The life of the commoners in these cities was regulated by laws; the first codes are mentioned in 536 B.C. By the end of the fourth century B.C. a large body of criminal law existed, supposedly collected by Li K'uei, which became the foundation of all later Chinese law. It seems that in this period the states of China moved quickly towards a money economy, and an observer to whom the later Chinese history was not known could have predicted the eventual development of a capitalistic society out of the apparent tendencies.
So far nothing has been said in these chapters about China's foreign policy. Since the central ruling house was completely powerless, and the feudal lords were virtually independent rulers, little can be said, of course, about any "Chinese" foreign policy. There is less than ever to be said about it for this period of the "Contending States". Chinese merchants penetrated southwards, and soon settlers moved in increasing numbers into the plains of the south-east. In the north, there were continual struggles with Turkish and Mongol tribes, and about 300 B.C. the name of the Hsiung-nu makes its first appearance. It is known that these northern peoples had mastered the technique of horseback warfare and were far ahead of the Chinese, although the Chinese imitated their methods. The peasants of China, as they penetrated farther and farther north, had to be protected by their rulers against the northern peoples, and since the rulers needed their armed forces for their struggles within China, a beginning was made with the building of frontier walls, to prevent sudden raids of the northern peoples against the peasant settlements. Thus came into existence the early forms of the "Great Wall of China". This provided for the first time a visible frontier between Chinese and non-Chinese. Along this frontier, just as by the walls of towns, great markets were held at which Chinese peasants bartered their produce to non-Chinese nomads. Both partners in this trade became accustomed to it and drew very substantial profits from it. We even know the names of several great horse-dealers who bought horses from the nomads and sold them within China.
3 Cultural changes
Together with the economic and social changes in this period, there came cultural changes. New ideas sprang up in exuberance, as would seem entirely natural, because in times of change and crisis men always come forward to offer solutions for pressing problems. We shall refer here only briefly to the principal philosophers of the period.
Mencius and Hsün Tzu were both followers of Confucianism. Both belonged to the so-called "scholars", and both lived in the present Shandong, that is to say, in eastern China. Both elaborated the ideas of Confucius, but neither of them achieved personal success. Mencius recognized that the removal of the ruling house of the Chou no longer presented any difficulty. The difficult question for him was when a change of ruler would be justified. And how could it be ascertained whom Heaven had destined as successor if the existing dynasty was brought down? Mencius replied that the voice of the "people", that is to say of the upper class and its following, would declare the right man, and that this man would then be Heaven's nominee. This theory persisted throughout the history of China. Hsün Tzu's chief importance lies in the fact that he recognized that the "laws" of nature are unchanging but that man's fate is determined not by nature alone but, in addition, by his own activities. Man's nature is basically bad, but by working on himself within the framework of society, he can change his nature and can develop. Thus, Hsün Tzu's philosophy contains a dynamic element, fit for a dynamic period of history.
In the strongest contrast to these thinkers was the school of Mo Ti . The Confucian school held fast to the old feudal order of society, and was only ready to agree to a few superficial changes. The school of Mo Ti proposed to alter the fundamental principles of society. Family ethics must no longer be retained; the principles of family love must be extended to the whole upper class, which Mo Ti called the "people". One must love another member of the upper class just as much as one's own father. Then the friction between individuals and between states would cease. Instead of families, large groups of people friendly to one another must be created. Further one should live frugally and not expend endless money on effete rites, as the Confucianists demanded. The expenditure on weddings and funerals under the Confucianist ritual consumed so much money that many families fell into debt and, if they were unable to pay off the debt, sank from the upper into the lower class. In order to maintain the upper class, therefore, there must be more frugality. Mo Ti's teaching won great influence. He and his successors surrounded themselves with a private army of supporters which was rigidly organized and which could be brought into action at any time as its leader wished. Thus the Mohists came forward everywhere with an approach entirely different from that of the isolated Confucians. When the Mohists offered their assistance to a ruler, they brought with them a group of technical and military experts who had been trained on the same principles. In consequence of its great influence this teaching was naturally hotly opposed by the Confucianists.
We see clearly in Mo Ti's and his followers' ideas the influence of the changed times. His principle of "universal love" reflects the breakdown of the clans and the general weakening of family bonds which had taken place. His ideal of social organization resembles organizations of merchants and craftsmen which we know only of later periods. His stress upon frugality, too, reflects a line of thought which is typical of businessmen. The rationality which can also be seen in his metaphysical ideas and which has induced modern Chinese scholars to call him an early materialist is fitting to an age in which a developing money economy and expanding trade required a cool, logical approach to the affairs of this world.
A similar mentality can be seen in another school which appeared from the fifth century B.C. on, the "dialecticians". Here are a number of names to mention: the most important are Kung-sun Lung and Hui Tzu, who are comparable with the ancient Greek dialecticians and Sophists. They saw their main task in the development of logic. Since, as we have mentioned, many "scholars" journeyed from one princely court to another, and other people came forward, each recommending his own method to the prince for the increase of his power, it was of great importance to be able to talk convincingly, so as to defeat a rival in a duel of words on logical grounds.
Unquestionably, however, the most important school of this period was that of the so-called Legalists, whose most famous representative was Shang Yang . The supporters of this school came principally from old princely families that had lost their feudal possessions, and not from among the so-called scholars. They were people belonging to the upper class who possessed political experience and now offered their knowledge to other princes who still reigned. These men had entirely given up the old conservative traditions of Confucianism; they were the first to make their peace with the new social order. They recognized that little or nothing remained of the old upper class of feudal lords and their following. The last of the feudal lords collected around the heads of the last remaining princely courts, or lived quietly on the estates that still remained to them. Such a class, with its moral and economic strength broken, could no longer lead. The Legalists recognized, therefore, only the ruler and next to him, as the really active and responsible man, the chancellor; under these there were to be only the common people, consisting of the richer and poorer peasants; the people's duty was to live and work for the ruler, and to carry out without question whatever orders they received. They were not to discuss or think, but to obey. The chancellor was to draft laws which came automatically into operation. The ruler himself was to have nothing to do with the government or with the application of the laws. He was only a symbol, a representative of the equally inactive Heaven. Clearly these theories were much the best suited to the conditions of the break-up of feudalism about 300 B.C. Thus they were first adopted by the state in which the old idea of the feudal state had been least developed, the state of Ch'in, in which alien peoples were most strongly represented. Shang Yang became the actual organizer of the state of Ch'in. His ideas were further developed by Han Fei Tzu . The mentality which speaks out of his writings has closest similarity to the famous Indian Arthashastra which originated slightly earlier; both books exhibit a "Macchiavellian" spirit. It must be observed that these theories had little or nothing to do with the ideas of the old cult of Heaven or with family allegiance; on the other hand, the soldierly element, with the notion of obedience, was well suited to the militarized peoples of the west. The population of Ch'in, organized throughout on these principles, was then in a position to remove one opponent after another. In the middle of the third century B.C. the greater part of the China of that time was already in the hands of Ch'in, and in 256 B.C. the last emperor of the Chou dynasty was compelled, in his complete impotence, to abdicate in favour of the ruler of Ch'in.
Apart from these more or less political speculations, there came into existence in this period, by no mere chance, a school of thought which never succeeded in fully developing in China, concerned with natural science and comparable with the Greek natural philosophy. We have already several times pointed to parallels between Chinese and Indian thoughts. Such similarities may be the result of mere coincidence. But recent findings in Central Asia indicate that direct connections between India, Persia, and China may have started at a time much earlier than we had formerly thought. Sogdian merchants who later played a great role in commercial contacts might have been active already from 350 or 400 B.C. on and might have been the transmitters of new ideas. The most important philosopher of this school was Tsou Yen ; he, as so many other Chinese philosophers of this time, was a native of Shandong, and the ports of the Shandong coast may well have been ports of entrance of new ideas from Western Asia as were the roads through the Turkestan basin into Western China. Tsou Yen's basic ideas had their root in earlier Chinese speculations: the doctrine that all that exists is to be explained by the positive, creative, or the negative, passive action of the five elements, wood, fire, earth, metal, and water . But Tsou Yen also considered the form of the world, and was the first to put forward the theory that the world consists not of a single continent with China in the middle of it, but of nine continents. The names of these continents sound like Indian names, and his idea of a central world-mountain may well have come from India. The "scholars" of his time were quite unable to appreciate this beginning of science, which actually led to the contention of this school, in the first century B.C., that the earth was of spherical shape. Tsou Yen himself was ridiculed as a dreamer; but very soon, when the idea of the reciprocal destruction of the elements was applied, perhaps by Tsou Yen himself, to politics, namely when, in connection with the astronomical calculations much cultivated by this school and through the identification of dynasties with the five elements, the attempt was made to explain and to calculate the duration and the supersession of dynasties, strong pressure began to be brought to bear against this school. For hundreds of years its books were distributed and read only in secret, and many of its members were executed as revolutionaries. Thus, this school, instead of becoming the nucleus of a school of natural science, was driven underground. The secret societies which started to arise clearly from the first century B.C. on, but which may have been in existence earlier, adopted the politico-scientific ideas of Tsou Yen's school. Such secret societies have existed in China down to the present time. They all contained a strong religious, but heterodox element which can often be traced back to influences from a foreign religion. In times of peace they were centres of a true, emotional religiosity. In times of stress, a "messianic" element tended to become prominent: the world is bad and degenerating; morality and a just social order have decayed, but the coming of a savior is close; the saviour will bring a new, fair order and destroy those who are wicked. Tsou Yen's philosophy seemed to allow them to calculate when this new order would start; later secret societies contained ideas from Iranian Mazdaism, Manichaeism and Buddhism, mixed with traits from the popular religions and often couched in terms taken from the Taoists. The members of such societies were, typically, ordinary farmers who here found an emotional outlet for their frustrations in daily life. In times of stress, members of the leading élite often but not always established contacts with these societies, took over their leadership and led them to open rebellion.
The fate of Tsou Yen's school did not mean that the Chinese did not develop in the field of sciences. At about Tsou Yen's lifetime, the first mathematical handbook was written. From these books it is obvious that the interest of the government in calculating the exact size of fields, the content of measures for grain, and other fiscal problems stimulated work in this field, just as astronomy developed from the interest of the government in the fixation of the calendar. Science kept on developing in other fields, too, but mainly as a hobby of scholars and in the shops of craftsmen, if it did not have importance for the administration and especially taxation and budget calculations.

History of China The Ch'in Dynasty (256-207 B.c.)

1 Towards the unitary State
In 256 B.C. the last ruler of the Chou dynasty abdicated in favour of the feudal lord of the state of Ch'in. Some people place the beginning of the Ch'in dynasty in that year, 256 B.C.; others prefer the date 221 B.C., because it was only in that year that the remaining feudal states came to their end and Ch'in really ruled all China.
The territories of the state of Ch'in, the present Shensi and eastern Kansu, were from a geographical point of view transit regions, closed off in the north by steppes and deserts and in the south by almost impassable mountains. Only between these barriers, along the rivers Wei and T'ao , is there a rich cultivable zone which is also the only means of transit from east to west. All traffic from and to Turkestan had to take this route. It is believed that strong relations with eastern Turkestan began in this period, and the state of Ch'in must have drawn big profits from its "foreign trade". The merchant class quickly gained more and more importance. The population was growing through immigration from the east which the government encouraged. This growing population with its increasing means of production, especially the great new irrigation systems, provided a welcome field for trade which was also furthered by the roads, though these were actually built for military purposes.
The state of Ch'in had never been so closely associated with the feudal communities of the rest of China as the other feudal states. A great part of its population, including the ruling class, was not purely Chinese but contained an admixture of Turks and Tibetans. The other Chinese even called Ch'in a "barbarian state", and the foreign influence was, indeed, unceasing. This was a favourable soil for the overcoming of feudalism, and the process was furthered by the factors mentioned in the preceding chapter, which were leading to a change in the social structure of China. Especially the recruitment of the whole population, including the peasantry, for war was entirely in the interest of the influential nomad fighting peoples within the state. About 250 B.C., Ch'in was not only one of the economically strongest among the feudal states, but had already made an end of its own feudal system.
Every feudal system harbours some seeds of a bureaucratic system of administration: feudal lords have their personal servants who are not recruited from the nobility, but who by their easy access to the lord can easily gain importance. They may, for instance, be put in charge of estates, workshops, and other properties of the lord and thus acquire experience in administration and an efficiency which are obviously of advantage to the lord. When Chinese lords of the preceding period, with the help of their sub-lords of the nobility, made wars, they tended to put the newly-conquered areas not into the hands of newly-enfeoffed noblemen, but to keep them as their property and to put their administration into the hands of efficient servants; these were the first bureaucratic officials. Thus, in the course of the later Chou period, a bureaucratic system of administration had begun to develop, and terms like "district" or "prefecture" began to appear, indicating that areas under a bureaucratic administration existed beside and inside areas under feudal rule. This process had gone furthest in Ch'in and was sponsored by the representatives of the Legalist School, which was best adapted to the new economic and social situation.
A son of one of the concubines of the penultimate feudal ruler of Ch'in was living as a hostage in the neighbouring state of Chao, in what is now northern Shanxi. There he made the acquaintance of an unusual man, the merchant Lü Pu-wei, a man of education and of great political influence. Lü Pu-wei persuaded the feudal ruler of Ch'in to declare this son his successor. He also sold a girl to the prince to be his wife, and the son of this marriage was to be the famous and notorious Shih Huang-ti. Lü Pu-wei came with his protégé to Ch'in, where he became his Prime Minister, and after the prince's death in 247 B.C. Lü Pu-wei became the regent for his young son Shih Huang-ti . For the first time in Chinese history a merchant, a commoner, had reached one of the highest positions in the state. It is not known what sort of trade Lü Pu-wei had carried on, but probably he dealt in horses, the principal export of the state of Chao. As horses were an absolute necessity for the armies of that time, it is easy to imagine that a horse-dealer might gain great political influence.
Soon after Shih Huang-ti's accession Lü Pu-wei was dismissed, and a new group of advisers, strong supporters of the Legalist school, came into power. These new men began an active policy of conquest instead of the peaceful course which Lü Pu-wei had pursued. One campaign followed another in the years from 230 to 222, until all the feudal states had been conquered, annexed, and brought under Shih Huang-ti's rule.
2 Centralization in every field
The main task of the now gigantic realm was the organization of administration. One of the first acts after the conquest of the other feudal states was to deport all the ruling families and other important nobles to the capital of Ch'in; they were thus deprived of the basis of their power, and their land could be sold. These upper-class families supplied to the capital a class of consumers of luxury goods which attracted craftsmen and businessmen and changed the character of the capital from that of a provincial town to a centre of arts and crafts. It was decided to set up the uniform system of administration throughout the realm, which had already been successfully introduced in Ch'in: the realm was split up into provinces and the provinces into prefectures; and an official was placed in charge of each province or prefecture. Originally the prefectures in Ch'in had been placed directly under the central administration, with an official, often a merchant, being responsible for the collection of taxes; the provinces, on the other hand, formed a sort of military command area, especially in the newly-conquered frontier territories. With the growing militarization of Ch'in, greater importance was assigned to the provinces, and the prefectures were made subordinate to them. Thus the officials of the provinces were originally army officers but now, in the reorganization of the whole realm, the distinction between civil and military administration was abolished. At the head of the province were a civil and also a military governor, and both were supervised by a controller directly responsible to the emperor. Since there was naturally a continual struggle for power between these three officials, none of them was supreme and none could develop into a sort of feudal lord. In this system we can see the essence of the later Chinese administration.

Owing to the centuries of division into independent feudal states, the various parts of the country had developed differently. Each province spoke a different dialect which also contained many words borrowed from the language of the indigenous population; and as these earlier populations sometimes belonged to different races with different languages, in each state different words had found their way into the Chinese dialects. This caused divergences not only in the spoken but in the written language, and even in the characters in use for writing. There exist to this day dictionaries in which the borrowed words of that time are indicated, and keys to the various old forms of writing also exist. Thus difficulties arose if, for instance, a man from the old territory of Ch'in was to be transferred as an official to the east: he could not properly understand the language and could not read the borrowed words, if he could read at all! For a large number of the officials of that time, especially the officers who became military governors, were certainly unable to read. The government therefore ordered that the language of the whole country should be unified, and that a definite style of writing should be generally adopted. The words to be used were set out in lists, so that the first lexicography came into existence simply through the needs of practical administration, as had happened much earlier in Babylon. Thus, the few recently found manuscripts from pre-Ch'in times still contain a high percentage of Chinese characters which we cannot read because they were local characters; but all words in texts after the Ch'in time can be read because they belong to the standardized script. We know now that all classical texts of pre-Ch'in time as we have them today, have been re-written in this standardized script in the second century B.C.: we do not know which words they actually contained at the time when they were composed, nor how these words were actually pronounced, a fact which makes the reconstruction of Chinese language before Ch'in very difficult.
The next requirement for the carrying on of the administration was the unification of weights and measures and, a surprising thing to us, of the gauge of the tracks for wagons. In the various feudal states there had been different weights and measures in use, and this had led to great difficulties in the centralization of the collection of taxes. The centre of administration, that is to say the new capital of Ch'in, had grown through the transfer of nobles and through the enormous size of the administrative staff into a thickly populated city with very large requirements of food. The fields of the former state of Ch'in alone could not feed the city; and the grain supplied in payment of taxation had to be brought in from far around, partly by cart. The only roads then existing consisted of deep cart-tracks. If the axles were not of the same length for all carts, the roads were simply unusable for many of them. Accordingly a fixed length was laid down for axles. The advocates of all these reforms were also their beneficiaries, the merchants.
The first principle of the Legalist school, a principle which had been applied in Ch'in and which was to be extended to the whole realm, was that of the training of the population in discipline and obedience, so that it should become a convenient tool in the hands of the officials. This requirement was best met by a people composed as far as possible only of industrious, uneducated, and tax-paying peasants. Scholars and philosophers were not wanted, in so far as they were not directly engaged in work commissioned by the state. The Confucianist writings came under special attack because they kept alive the memory of the old feudal conditions, preaching the ethic of the old feudal class which had just been destroyed and must not be allowed to rise again if the state was not to suffer fresh dissolution or if the central administration was not to be weakened. In 213 B.C. there took place the great holocaust of books which destroyed the Confucianist writings with the exception of one copy of each work for the State Library. Books on practical subjects were not affected. In the fighting at the end of the Ch'in dynasty the State Library was burnt down, so that many of the old works have only come down to us in an imperfect state and with doubtful accuracy. The real loss arose, however, from the fact that the new generation was little interested in the Confucianist literature, so that when, fifty years later, the effort was made to restore some texts from the oral tradition, there no longer existed any scholars who really knew them by heart, as had been customary in the past.
In 221 B.C. Shih Huang-ti had become emperor of all China. The judgments passed on him vary greatly: the official Chinese historiography rejects him entirely--naturally, for he tried to exterminate Confucianism, while every later historian was himself a Confucian. Western scholars often treat him as one of the greatest men in world history. Closer research has shown that Shih Huang-ti was evidently an average man without any great gifts, that he was superstitious, and shared the tendency of his time to mystical and shamanistic notions. His own opinion was that he was the first of a series of ten thousand emperors of his dynasty , and this merely suggests megalomania. The basic principles of his administration had been laid down long before his time by the philosophers of the Legalist school, and were given effect by his Chancellor Li Ssu. Li Ssu was the really great personality of that period. The Legalists taught that the ruler must do as little as possible himself. His Ministers were there to act for him. He himself was to be regarded as a symbol of Heaven. In that capacity Shih Huang-ti undertook periodical journeys into the various parts of the empire, less for any practical purpose of inspection than for purposes of public worship. They corresponded to the course of the sun, and this indicates that Shih Huang-ti had adopted a notion derived from the older northern culture of the nomad peoples.
He planned the capital in an ambitious style but, although there was real need for extension of the city, his plans can scarcely be regarded as of great service. His enormous palace, and also his mausoleum which was built for him before his death, were constructed in accordance with astral notions. Within the palace the emperor continually changed his residential quarters, probably not only from fear of assassination but also for astral reasons. His mausoleum formed a hemispherical dome, and all the stars of the sky were painted on its interior.
3 Frontier defence. Internal collapse
When the empire had been unified by the destruction of the feudal states, the central government became responsible for the protection of the frontiers from attack from without. In the south there were only peoples in a very low state of civilization, who could offer no serious menace to the Chinese. The trading colonies that gradually extended to Canton and still farther south served as Chinese administrative centres for provinces and prefectures, with small but adequate armies of their own, so that in case of need they could defend themselves. In the north the position was much more difficult. In addition to their conquest within China, the rulers of Ch'in had pushed their frontier far to the north. The nomad tribes had been pressed back and deprived of their best pasturage, namely the Ordos region. When the livelihood of nomad peoples is affected, when they are threatened with starvation, their tribes often collect round a tribal leader who promises new pasturage and better conditions of life for all who take part in the common campaigns. In this way the first great union of tribes in the north of China came into existence in this period, forming the realm of the Hsiung-nu under their first leader, T'ou-man. This first realm of the Hsiung-nu was not yet extensive, but its ambitious and warlike attitude made it a danger to Ch'in. It was therefore decided to maintain a large permanent army in the north. In addition to this, the frontier walls already existing in the mountains were rebuilt and made into a single great system. Thus came into existence in 214 B.C., out of the blood and sweat of countless pressed labourers, the famous Great Wall.
On one of his periodical journeys the emperor fell ill and died. His death was the signal for the rising of many rebellious elements. Nobles rose in order to regain power and influence; generals rose because they objected to the permanent pressure from the central administration and their supervision by controllers; men of the people rose as popular leaders because the people were more tormented than ever by forced labour, generally at a distance from their homes. Within a few months there were six different rebellions and six different "rulers". Assassinations became the order of the day; the young heir to the throne was removed in this way and replaced by another young prince. But as early as 206 B.C. one of the rebels, Liu Chi , entered the capital and dethroned the nominal emperor. Liu Chi at first had to retreat and was involved in hard fighting with a rival, but gradually he succeeded in gaining the upper hand and defeated not only his rival but also the other eighteen states that had been set up anew in China in those years.