Factoid Lesson Plan of the Day: China - A General Introduction - 5 - Disunity Period, Tang Dynasty

This brief lesson is used to discuss the Disunity Period previous to the Tang Dynasty and the Tang Dynasty, itself. It is meant to be an educational resource for teachers of Social Studies and their students.

5. The Period of Disunity and the Sui Dynasty (220 – 618 AD)

A. Ban Zhao (Pan Chao) – 49-120 AD – was noted as China’s most famous scholar and wrote “History of the Former Han Dynasty”

B. 220 – 589 AD was known as the Secon Period of Disunity. The Han empire breaks up into the Wei, Shu and Wu kingdom and becomes known as the “Three Kingdoms” A modern-day computer game has been invented to see which of these kingdoms could become dominant.

C. Buddhism introduced into China in 67 AD. By 200 AD, Buddhism has much official support and a unifying effect.

D. Sui Wendi – 589 AD – started Sui Dynasty. Noted for the completion of the Grand Canal which took greater effort than the Great Wall. Sui Wendi was a Buddhist nobleman.

E. Another great construction of the Sui Dynasty was the Zhao Zhou bridge in Hebei province.

F. Sui Yangdi – 605 AD – killed his father and became the second and last Sui emperor. Considered among the more evil of Chinese emperors.

Critical Questions

Why were written histories of Chinese dynasties important to Chinese students?

Why was the Grand Canal a more useful project that the Great Wall?

How was Buddhism introduced into Chinese society?

Why are bridges important to the Chinese economy?

Additional Internet Research Links For This Lesson:





Augmentation of Lesson

Invasions of northern barbarians begin to increase.

Revolts throughout the provinces increase.

Expansion of the empire continued despite trouble in more established areas.

Foreign trade expanded , under the Sui.

Civil Service becomes an established part of Chinese society.

The safety of the Silk Road is preserved.

The first major university is founded in 124 BC called The Imperial Academy.

Confucianism not only emerged, but revised every aspect of Taoist writing and folklore in the empire.

Land taxes were reduced from 1/5 to 1/15 under the Han.

Buddhism becomes prominent in Tibet and spreads East.

5- The Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD)

Tang Taizong (Li Shimin) was the son of Tang Gaozu and became the second and the greatest of all Tang emperors. His father and brothers tried to kill him, but were unsuccessful. He, in turn, killed his father, all his brothers and every member of every family related to his father. He then went on to rule for 23 years (626-649 AD). He was known for tolerance, influenced by Buddhism, but maintained his beliefs in the basic tenets of Confucianism.

After the reign of Tang Taizong, the next prominent ruler of the Tang was Empress Wu Zetian. Empress Wu ruled 15 years from 690 to 705 AD. She was far more ruthless than Tang Taizong; she killed all of her brothers and sisters, father and mother, and her husband and sons.

Empress Wu was noted for invading Korea in 700 AD, the invention of polo and the institution of foot-binding.

The grandson of Empress Wu was Tiang Shuan Tsun, who ruled from 713 to 756 AD.

Political stability and a flowering of the arts were a trademark of his reign.

The Tang Dynasty declined as a result of a love triangle between the emperor, his top general and his favorite concubine.

An Lushon, the general that brought down the Tang, ushered in a period of disunity of over 300 years.

Critical Questions

Why was Empress Wu Zetian (Wu), considered the most ruthless of all Chinese rulers?

Why was Tang Tai Zong a useful emperor?

Why did the Tang Dynasty decline?

What followed the Tang Dynasty?

Additional Internet Research Links For This Lesson:

Tang Tai Zong


Empress Wu Zetian


Augmentations of Lesson

China was re-unified under the Tang.

Buddhism led to a spiritual rebirth throughout China as people began putting Confucianism into a secondary role/

The tolerance of the Sui and Tang dynasties toward the Mongols allowed the Chinese to keep the Mongols overrunning China.

The Tang decline was generally tied to military overexpansion.

Empress Wu cleverly used Buddhism to diffuse the power of Confucianists in her Royal Court.


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