Tang Dynasty China - Ancient China
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Tang Dynasty

T'ai Tsung
T'ai Tsung, 626 AD

December 2016 - Yangdi, the last ruler of the Sui Dynasty, was killed in 618 AD by his generals, who blamed him for the disastrous defeat of the Chinese army in Korea. One of the generals, Li Shih-min, took over ruling the empire, putting his father, Li Yuan, on the throne as emperor. By 626 AD, Li Shih-min made his father abdicate (retire) and took over being emperor himself, taking the new name T'ai Tsung. He made his capital at in northern China, at Chang'an, one of the main stops on the Silk Road. Chang'an became one of the biggest cities in the world at this time.

chinese painting of a luxurious house
A T'ang Dynasty official's house

T'ai Tsung had a long reign and was a strong emperor. He continued the Han Dynasty way of choosing governors and judges on the basis of the great examinations, to see who was the smartest and the best educated. And he also continued the Sui Dynasty way of giving each man a grant of land and collecting taxes equally from everyone. T'ai Tsung also took a census every three years to make sure that everyone paid the right amount of taxes. Under his rule, trade and cities began to become more important to China.

Learn by doing: Chinese coins
More about the T'ang Dynasty
T'ang Dynasty architecture
T'ang Dynasty art
T'ang Dynasty pottery

Bibliography and further reading about the T'ang Dynasty:

Eyewitness: Ancient China, by Arthur Cotterell, Alan Hills, and Geoff Brightling (2000).

China (History of Nations), by Greenhaven Press (2002). For teens. The negative review on Amazon is actually for a different book - don't be alarmed!

Daily Life in Traditional China: The Tang Dynasty, by Charles Benn (2001). A general introduction for adults.

Women of the Tang Dynasty, by May Holdsworth (1999). A short introduction, with many pictures of T'ang period figurines.

The Court of the Lion: A Novel of the T'ang Dynasty, by Eleanor Cooney and Daniel Altieri (1990). Historical fiction, for grownups.

Tang Dynasty Art
T'ang Dynasty Architecture
Tang Dynasty Pottery
Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD)
Ancient China
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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