The Importance of Trade and Foreign Relations.
In the Han, Tang, and Song Dynasties.
The history of China is a long and complex one. Boasting 13 different dynasties dating as far as back 18th century BC, China has the longest dated history in the world (Lecture 9/5). Within this history there are three dynasties that were known as major periods of prosperity, especially in terms of trade and foreign relations. Among them are the Han, the Tang, and the Song, in chronological order. The Chinese believed in the Mandate of Heaven, which said that "the ancient Chinese, as represented by their monarch, had a valid claim to preside over everyone else by virtue of their unequivocal political, cultural, and moral authority" (Sextants of Beijing 14). This principal is the means by which the Chinese dynasties took control of the country, and other surrounding countries and peoples. During their periods of control, these dynasties made advancements that did not just affect the people of those respective time periods; they have carried over to present day, and have affected the entire modern world. .
The founder of the Han dynasty was known as Liu Pang. He gained control and crowned himself emperor in 206 BC (China: Han Dynasty). Under this dynasty, trade flourished along with the creation and advancement of the Silk Road. The Silk Road was a trade route that connected China to the Mediterranean Sea, as far west as Rome (American Heritage Dictionary). According to a web page entitled "The Silk Road: Linking and Asia Through Trade," it was 7,000 miles long and passed through places like Kansu, Sinkiang, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. At this time, China had many items that were desired throughout the Middle East and in Europe. Such items include two kinds of beer, seven kinds of meat, rice, wheat, barley, lentils, two kinds of millet, and seasonings like salt and sugar (Lecture 9/12). Silk and porcelain were two items that were developed in China and were though to be luxuries by the rest of the world.