HAN CHINA & ROMAN EMPIRE
Both lasted approximately 400 years
Both had populations of about 50 million
Both emphasized territorial expansion
Agriculture was the base
Land = wealth
Gov’t revenue based on a % of the annual harvest
Both dominated by patriarchy & reverence for fathers
Both focused on veneration of ancestors (but more so the Han) •
Han – family was the model of organization for the state •
Early on, both empires focused on rituals and themes that would bring loyalty to the empire, but neither was intensely spiritual •
Both were exposed to new religions late in the Classical Period (Buddhism in China, Christianity in Rome) Here's more facts
EMPIRE AND CULTURAL IDENTITY:
PATTERNS OF IMPERIAL EXPANSION
Arising out of preexisting territorial kingdoms, the Roman and Han empires marked a different scale and quality of empire building. With a population of over 50 million people and up to 4 million square miles under its control, the Han Empire had vast resources on which to draw. The Roman Empire governed equally vast land and territories, yet the two empires had separate patterns of development. The Chinese envisaged imperial culture as an ideal from the past to be emulated by the civilian magistrates and bureaucrats who managed the state. The Romans, in contrast, transformed—through experimentation and innovations—from a city-state ruled collectively by citizens into one-man imperial rule. And both empires became principal models for successor states.
The Qin Dynasty
King Zheng of Qin claimed the mandate of heaven and forged a central state far more powerful than that of the Zhou dynasty. He forced the families of defeated states to move to his capital at Xianyang so he could ensure that they were not gathering armies against him. And he took the title Shi Huangdi—First August Emperor.
ADMINISTRATION AND CONTROL
Zheng divided China into thirty-six provinces (or commanderies) and each province into counties. Each commandery had a civilian and military governor, both of whom answered to an inspector general. Regional and local officials answered directly to the emperor, and they could be removed at the emperor’s discretion. Civilian governors rotated offices to prevent them from building an independent power base. All males were registered by clerks, providing lists for conscription and taxation. All able-bodied men were expected to serve in the army and provide labor for public works. The Qin took control over education and learning. Censorship of books was strongly enforced, and books in private residences confiscated and burned. Teachers were forbidden from using outlawed books. A new standard written script was created to facilitate communication. Standard weights and measures and currency were also established. An idea of “grand unity” emerged as the Qin began to extend the boundaries of China. The Qin chief minister Li Si subscribed to the principles of Legalism and established strict laws and punishments in order to provide social stability and order. The Qin also established a road network connecting the Qin capital to all parts of the empire.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CHANGES
Building on trends in landownership that began during the Warring States period, the Qin dynasty championed free farmers who could be individually taxed by the state. By supporting agricultural production, the state could expand its tax revenues. As agriculture shifted from self-sufficient royal manors to farmers producing goods for the marketplace, landowners began to use contracts and money to strike bargains with laborers and with each other. The practice of farmers and traders using contracts was coming to replace the tradition of ties of blood dominating public and private affairs. A class of merchants grew as long-distance trade expanded, aided by the new roads and canals built by the Qin dynasty. The Qin state, however, believed trade produced nothing of lasting value and...
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