Unit 4 Chapter 7 Lesson 1-Reunifying China

Lesson 1 explains the principles of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism and describes China’s reunification under the Sui and Tang dynasties.

Lesson 1


Sui and Tang Dynasties, A.D. 581-907

Story Fall of Louyang

Fall cont.

Main Ideas

Terms and Names

Build on what you know

Essential Question 1-

The Han Dynasty, founded in 206 B.C. B.C., was a period of progress and prosperity for China. In time, however, political struggles, social problems, and a widening gap between rich and poor weakened the Han Dynasty. It fell in A.D. 220

Conflict and Chaos

Conflict and Chaos A time of great disorder followed. Various kingdoms fought among themselves. Invading nomads from the north crossed the Mongolian Plateau into northern China. (A nomad nomad is a person who moves from place to place.) Floods, droughts, and food shortages also plagued the land.

Despite these troubles, Chinese culture survived. In the north, the invading nomads eventually settled down and adopted Chinese customs. In the south, good harvests and growing trade helped people to prosper. Even so, most Chinese people led difficult lives.

Question; The reason there was so much chaos in China during this time is because various fought among themselves and invading from the north attacked.


Question 1

What happened after the Han Dynasty fell in AD 220?  Confucianism influence and Buddhism in popularity.


Essential Question 2- What changes occurred in China's belief systems?

Essential Question 2- What changes occurred in China's belief systems?

Changes in Belief Systems

Confucianism (kuhn•FYOO•shuh•nihz•uhm)For centuries, the Chinese had looked to Confucianism  for comfort and guidance. Confucianism Confucianism is a belief system based on the ideas of Confucius (551–479 B.C. B.C.). He was a scholar who taught moral virtues and ethics—ideas of right and wrong. In his teachings, Confucius emphasized these principles. 

• Use right relationships to produce social order.

• Respect family and older generations.

• Educate individuals and society.

• Act in morally correct ways. 

Confucianism Influences Chinese Life

Confucianism Influences Chinese Life Confucianism affected many aspects of Chinese government and society. For example, Confucius taught that people could advance in life through education. An emphasis on education helped to produce an efficient, well-trained set of government officials.

Confucius’ ideas also influenced society. He thought society should be organized around five basic relationships. A code of conduct governed these relationships. For example, one relationship was between ruler and subject. Confucius taught that the ruler should be virtuous and kind. The subject should be loyal and obey the law. Other relationships were based on the family. Confucius wanted children to have respect for their parents and older generations. Around A.D. A.D. 200, however, Confucianism began to lose its influence as the Han Dynasty lost power. 

Question: Confucius taught that a ruler should be and kind.

The Spread of Buddhism

The Spread of Buddhism As Confucianism lost influence, many Chinese turned to Buddhism. Buddhism Buddhism is a religion that started in India and is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama (sihd•DAHR•tuh GOW•tuh•muh) (c. 566–486 B.C. B.C.). Siddhartha was known as the Buddha, or “Enlightened One.”

Question: As Confucianism began to decline, Chinese people turned to .


The Spread of Buddhism

Teachings of Buddhism

Buddhism teaches the following principles:

• Suffering is a part of life.

• The reason people suffer is that they are too attached to material possessions and selfish ideas.

• By living in a wise, moral, and thoughtful way, people can eventually learn to escape suffering.

During the first century A.D. A.D., missionaries and traders carried Buddhist teachings to China, as the above map shows. Over time, the religion spread into Korea and Japan too. Buddhism became widely practiced after the Han Dynasty fell. Buddhist teachings helped people endure the suffering that followed the dynasty’s collapse. 


Buddhism teaches that is a part of life.

Influences on Confucianism

Influences on Confucianism  Confucianism began to enjoy a rebirth in the 600s. However, gradual changes began to take place in Confucian thought. Buddhism and Daoism caused some of these changes. Daoism Daoism is a belief system that seeks harmony with nature and with inner feelings. Daoism began in China in the 500s B.C. B.C.

Since the Han Dynasty, Confucianism had mostly been a set of social ethics and political principles. Later, during the Song Dynasty, Confucian thinkers blended Buddhism and Daoism into Confucianism. As a result, Confucianism broadened its outlook.


Daoism is a belief system that seeks harmony with and with inner feelings. 

A Change in Confucian Thought

A Change in Confucian Thought This new Confucianism was greatly concerned with human behavior and a person’s relationship with the universe. It emphasized the following principles: • Morality is the highest goal a person can reach. • This morality can be achieved through education. • Education can occur through books, observation, or interaction with other wise people.

How did China’s belief systems change?

Buddhism became widely practiced; Confucian thinkers blended their ideas with and ideas.

Essential Question 3 How did the Sui and Tang dynasties reunify and strengthen China?

After the fall of the Han, the Chinese people endured more than 350 years of chaos and conflict. Finally, the Sui (sway) Dynasty (581–618) reunified China and brought order. Reunify Reunify means to bring a group together after it has been divided. 

The Sui Dynasty

The Sui Dynasty Yang Jian founded the Sui Dynasty. He was a general in the army of the Zhou (joh), the rulers of northern China. In 581, he took power by killing the heir to the Zhou throne—his grandson. He then massacred 59 royal princes. By 589, he had conquered the south and reunified China. He declared himself first emperor of the Sui Dynasty. Later he became known as Wendi.

The Great Wall

Sui and Tang Dynasties

Wendi Reunifies China

Wendi Reunifies China During his rule, Wendi did many things to make the Chinese feel more unified. He restored old political traditions that reminded the Chinese of their glorious past. For example, on taking the throne he accepted the traditional Chinese imperial gifts of red doors for his house and a robe with a red sash.

Wendi also reduced conflict by allowing people to follow their own belief systems. Although he was a Buddhist, he encouraged Daoist beliefs and practices. As you read earlier, Confucianism also enjoyed a rebirth during this time. For example, candidates for government jobs once again had to take a civil service examination. The examination carried out Confucius’s belief that a government had to be built on the skill of its people. 


Wendi also reduced conflict by allowing people to follow their own belief .

Wendi (cont.)

Wendi also began public works projects. He rebuilt portions of the Great Wall, which you learned about on pages 206–207. He also started the building of the Grand Canal. It connected the Huang He (Yellow River) and Chang Jiang (Yangtze River), linking northern and southern China. Thousands of peasants labored five years to dig the Grand Canal. Nearly half of them died during the project.

Wendi and his successor, Yangdi, raised taxes to pay for all these projects. In time, the Chinese people grew tired of high taxes, and they revolted. As a result, the dynasty fell after only 37 years.

 Question; Wendi did many things to make the Chinese feel more unified. He old political traditions that reminded the Chinese of their glorious past. 

The Grand Canal

Chinese Dynasties

The Tang Dynasty

The Tang Dynasty Although the Sui Dynasty lasted only a short time, it set the foundation for the Tang Dynasty. The Tang Dynasty started in 618 and ruled for nearly 300 years. During this period, China expanded its borders on all sides. In addition, Tang emperors expanded the network of roads and canals to bring the country together. Such a large empire needed many officials to manage it. So the Tang emperors fully adopted the Confucian ideas of how government should be run. The Tang government system was one of the most advanced and complex in the world at the time. 

Tang Emperors

Tang Emperors Taizong (ty•johng) helped his father, Gaozu (gow•joo), to found the Tang Dynasty. Taizong seized the throne in 626 after killing his two brothers and all ten of his brothers’ sons. Even though Taizong used violence to rise to power, many Chinese considered him a fair and just leader. For example, he did not overburden peasants with high taxes. He also took some lands from the rich to give to peasants.

Wu Zhao (woo jow), a wife of Taizong’s son, was the only woman to occupy the throne of China. In 690 Wu Zhao declared herself emperor. She proved to be a capable leader. She did not leave power until 705, when she was more than 80 years old.

Question: Tang emperors expanded the network of roads and to bring the country together.

Wu Zhao


Another great Tang emperor, Xuanzong (shwahn•zung), came to power in 712. He ruled for more than 40 years. During his reign, Chinese literature and art reached great heights. The Tang period is best known for its masterful and lively poetry. (See the Primary Source feature on page 228.) Also, Tang sculptures of graceful horses were greatly desired trade items.

In the next lesson, you will learn more about the development of the Chinese empire. In addition, you will learn about agricultural, technological, and commercial developments in China.


Lesson Summary

• Confucianism helped shape Chinese beliefs about social morals and political principles.

• Buddhism spread throughout East Asia because it helped people during difficult times.

• The Sui and Tang dynasties reunited China and brought a new sense of national identity.

Why It Matters Now . . . In Asia today about 10 percent of the population follows Confucianism and Buddhism.

Untitled text matching question

  • Person who moves from place to place.
  • Belief system based on the ideas of Confucius
  • Indian religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama
  • Belief system that seeks harmony with nature and with inner feelings
  • To bring a group together after it has been dividedA