Mark Edward Lewis 'An Empires Fight For Centralization'

Powerful Essays
Gabriella Estrada Mr.Stano AP World History October 7, 2015 An Empires Fight For Centralization Ancient China’s history is a colorful story that Mark Edward Lewis makes comes to life in “The Early Chinese Empires : Qin and Han”. In this book Lewis sets put an end to the false perceptions spread in western society of Ancient China by setting the record straight. Lewis explain presents a clear and obviously well researched explanation of why and how things happened in Ancient China during The Classical Age, through several key events and leaders. This book explores the underlying challenges of this period…show more content…
The Chinese were way ahead of the curve when it came to wide scale standardization. Lewis explains that Huangdi made many decisions with standardization being the ultimate goal. Huangdi standardized the Chinese language, he created one language as the official language as a way to unite the states and for efficiency. The language was less complex and easier to write allowing for more efficient records and better communication between Huangdi’s Empire. Through the standardized language Huangdi standardized political discourse. To make sure that the new language was used correctly and that all texts were interpreted properly into the new language Huangdi set up an imperial academy to keep control. Through this academy he made sure that texts open to the general public spread one one united perspective, that perspective being his legalistic approach.Through his control on academia he united the viewpoints of his subjects. Huangdi did not stop there with standardization, he also standardized currency and weights. This allowed for the unification of little things making it so all of the chariots could run in the same ruts in the roads, and much bigger things like trading and additionally increased market stabilization. All of Huangdi’s standardization movement spearheaded china into a centralized state, Lewis explains“Many of these innovations also gave a tangible form to the new office of emperor, and conveyed a sense that the ruler and his government must be obeyed”.…show more content…
A good example of this would be Lewis writing on the fall of The Eastern Han Empire. Lewis presents several factors as to their decline, however there are two major reasons, decentralization and corruption. Lewis explains that The Han dynasty had based its governmental power in a two tier system that broke up local power in order to keep the central government remaing supreme, however the power deviated from this system. Lewis explains “The provincial governor, however, became a third tier, with command of large populations, great wealth, and significant armed forces— resources that could challenge the authority of the imperial government”. This broke up the power of the central government and decentralized the empire back into states. The second reason, corruption also helped with the transition from a centralized government to a decentralized government. The local government got so strong that leaders were able to be appointed without having to get approval from the courts. The result of this was that warlords came into rulership of providence, because of this civil order decayed and provincial forces were constantly away at battle. According to Lewis the shift of focus to military resulted in provinces barring more of a resemblance to semi private armies. The corruption was not exclusive to China’s local government, it extended to the diminishing central government. In
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