Chinese History Early dynasties to 770BCE Spring and Autumn Period 770-476BCE Warring States Period 476-221BCE Qin dynasty 221-207BCE Han dynasty 206BCE-220CE Period of disunity 220-581 Sui dynasty 581-618 Tang dynasty 618-907 Five dynasties and Ten kingdoms 907-960 Song dynasty 960-1279 Yuan/Mongol dynasty 1271-1368 Ming dynasty 1368-1644 Qing/Manchu dynasty 1644-1911 Republic of China 1912-1949 Peoples Republic of China 1949-present

Chinese History lì shǐ

China motif
China's Ancient Script

China's Ancient Script


The discovery of a huge number of 'oracle bones' has added greatly to the knowledge of the origins of China's written script. It pushes back the written language to at least 3,500 years ago. Careful study of the inscriptions is still revealing information about life in Shang dynasty times.
Foot binding

Foot binding


After the Han dynasty the custom of foot binding of girls from a very early age kept them house bound. The tradition lasted from the Sui to the Qing dynasty and was at times inflicted on half of all girls. It was seen as a badge of wealth of a household because it implied that the family was rich enough to not need women to carry out physical work. In poor areas the feet of women were not bound so they had to share the work of husbands in manual labor. Slightly richer families would have girls' feet bound and live out their lives indoors, bringing up the family.
Qing dynasty

Qing dynasty


The end of the dynastic system in China came after a very promising and prosperous start under the wise rule of the first four Manchu Emperors. Years of decline followed, with the Opium Wars and Taiping Rebellion culminating in the sad tale of the Last Emperor Puyi

Most countries can look back to a few hundred years of continuous recorded history; China looks back to thousands of years. From earliest times an accurate account of events has been treasured by the Chinese, this is embodied in the character shǐhistory’ which also has the meaning ‘impartial’. Chinese people know their heritage well and have a long tradition of revering their ancestors. A good knowledge of Chinese history is essential to understanding and relating to its people.

We include pages on all the main dynasties as well as significant events in Chinese history, up to the foundation of the Republic in 1912, including the Taiping Rebellion; coming of railways; the Imperial system; and the Opium Wars. We will continue to add further topics.

China's Armed Services

The active armed services of China numbered 2.2 million in 2010, the largest force in the world, but due to China's huge population it is only 114th on a per capita basis well behind most industrialized nations.
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Click on the time chart on the left to go to a particular time period. Hover the mouse over a dynasty to pop-up a list of key dates during each dynasty and then click on it to go to a more detailed page. You can also navigate between dynasties by clicking on the time bar at the top of each dynasty page.

Emei Shan, Sichuan
Mount Emei, Sichuan. June 2007.
Image by pookieevans available under a Creative Commons license
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Citation information: Chinasage, 'China's long Imperial history', last updated 23 Nov 2016, Web,

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