Most powerful empires of each century

Mar 2012
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Two hundred thousand strong Tibetan armies only existed in the dreams of Tang historians. Tibetan folk history says that Tang got beaten by small Tibetan army in Suzhou. why should we believe Tang over Tibetan history ? And Tibet has 1/20th of arable land compared to the Xinjiang and the steppe pastures are much harsher than central asian steppes.. How the hell can they raise an army of 200000 strong ? The whole population of Tibet in 640 AD was around four hundred thousand strong. Did everybody from Tibetan grandfathers to the babies invade Tang dynasty ?

Tang got beaten multiple times by small Tibetan armies through out two hundred years of wars. Tang had ally with the Turks and the Arabs and even Indians to hold back the Tibetans ..let only defeat them.
Tibetan official chronicles and records mentioned nothing about Tang armies getting beaten by small Tibetan armies in Suzhou or that the Tibetan population is only 400,000. And we've already done a topic on Tibetan population and military potential; it was clearly more than just 400,000, even critically analyzing the census of later times. The Tibetan plateau could support more people than Mongolia, so 200,000 in universal mobilization is not at all impossible; whether its actually mobilized is another question.
Population of the Tibetan Empire
 
Jul 2014
1,571
world
Tibetan official chronicles and records mentioned nothing about Tang armies getting beaten by small Tibetan armies in Suzhou or that the Tibetan population is only 400,000. And we've already done a topic on Tibetan population and military potential; it was clearly more than just 400,000, even critically analyzing the census of later times. The Tibetan plateau could support more people than Mongolia, so 200,000 in universal mobilization is not at all impossible; whether its actually mobilized is another question.
Population of the Tibetan Empire
I said Tibetan folk history says that TIbetans defeated Tang after they insulted Tibetan envoys. I see no reason to believe almost Kungfu like Tang version of the battle against a folk Tibetan version. There is also a different source.
Powers, John (2004). History As Propaganda : Tibetan Exiles versus the People's Republic of China: Tibetan Exiles versus the People's Republic of China

TIbetan plateau may support more people than Mongolia but Mongolian plateau supports multiple times more people than the Tibetan Plateau. Please compare the population of the Mongolian plateau with the Tibetan Plateau.

I will agree with you in that in mid and later Tibetan empire period total universal mobilisation may have fielded giant armies. Tibetans had even Arabs prisoner of wars fighting against the Tang in Yunnan.
 
Mar 2012
4,351
I said Tibetan folk history says that TIbetans defeated Tang after they insulted Tibetan envoys. I see no reason to believe almost Kungfu like Tang version of the battle against a folk Tibetan version. There is also a different source.
Powers, John (2004). History As Propaganda : Tibetan Exiles versus the People's Republic of China: Tibetan Exiles versus the People's Republic of China

TIbetan plateau may support more people than Mongolia but Mongolian plateau supports multiple times more people than the Tibetan Plateau. Please compare the population of the Mongolian plateau with the Tibetan Plateau.

I will agree with you in that in mid and later Tibetan empire period total universal mobilisation may have fielded giant armies. Tibetans had even Arabs prisoner of wars fighting against the Tang in Yunnan.
I assume you are talking about the Tibetans defeating the Tang army after Songtsan Gampo's envoy was slighted at the Tang court for a marriage alliance. This doesn't come from folk history, its from sources such as the rgyal rabs gsal bayi melong , which are 14th century records and are loaded with mythology that are often outright contradicted by earlier Tibetan annals (nor did it give numerical figures for the army size). The Tang record is hardly "kungfu like", it recorded that the Tibetans defeated the local Tang garrison at Songpan but Hou Junji counter attacked and killed over 1,000 Tibetans. Songtsan Gampo withdrew afterwards. Tang records are primary sources while the Tibetan record isn't.

Mongolia is mostly steppe and desert, not much of plateau there. The total population of Inner and Outer Mongolia throughout history is rarely over 2 million, while the Tibetan Plateau usually had 2.5 million or above (especially in the imperial period). When the Tang fought Tibet at Dafeichuan in 670 and later at Wuhai in 678, where figures of 200,000 or more came from (the Old Tibetan Chronicle itself mentioned the empire had 360,000 soldiers), the Tibetan Empire already controlled all of the Tibetan Plateau and more (Nepal and the surrounding area, Pamirs etc.), the population was probably around 4 million.
 
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Jul 2014
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I assume you are talking about the Tibetans defeating the Tang army after Songtsan Gampo's envoy was slighted at the Tang court for a marriage alliance. This doesn't come from folk history, its from sources such as the rgyal rabs gsal bayi melong , which are 14th century records and are loaded with mythology that are often outright contradicted by earlier Tibetan annals (nor did it give numerical figures for the army size). The Tang record is hardly "kungfu like", it recorded that the Tibetans defeated the local Tang garrison at Songpan but Hou Junji counter attacked and killed over 1,000 Tibetans. Songtsan Gampo withdrew afterwards. Tang records are primary sources while the Tibetan record isn't.

Mongolia is mostly steppe and desert, not much of plateau there. The total population of Inner and Outer Mongolia throughout history is rarely over 2 million, while the Tibetan Plateau usually had 2.5 million or above (especially in the imperial period). When the Tang fought Tibet at Dafeichuan in 670 and later at Wuhai in 678, where figures of 200,000 or more came from (the Old Tibetan Chronicle itself mentioned the empire had 360,000 soldiers), the Tibetan Empire already controlled all of the Tibetan Plateau and more (Nepal and the surrounding area, Pamirs etc.), the population was probably around 4 million.
It may have come from rgyal rabs gsal bayi melong but it is a folk history in Kham and Amdo. In our folk version when Tibetans demanded the Tang princess and were refused. They than waged war and defeated the Tang army two times and scared the Tang into giving the Princess.

Tibetans had around four hundred thousand total population in the beginning as the imperial census conducted in 642 AD says. I would prefer to believe a government census. That is a primary source as you can get.

This wild fantasy of 200000 thousand strong Tibetan army in Dafeichuan and so on is just a fantasy by the Tang to justify their asskicking by the Tibetans.

Inner and Outer Mongolia has the population of 27 million. Tibetan Plateau has roughly 10-12 millions.
 
Mar 2012
4,351
It may have come from rgyal rabs gsal bayi melong but it is a folk history in Kham and Amdo. In our folk version when Tibetans demanded the Tang princess and were refused. They than waged war and defeated the Tang army two times and scared the Tang into giving the Princess.
It's a mixture of legend with records, in any case they are secondary, whereas the Tang source is a primary archival material. Its also common sense that primary sources are more reliable than folk history.

Tibetans had around four hundred thousand total population in the beginning as the imperial census conducted in 642 AD says. I would prefer to believe a government census. That is a primary source as you can get.

We've already done a topic on this in that very thread. You are making me repeating myself. There is NO population census in 642. There is only an enumeration of military districts; with each district having the name "unit of thousand" or stong sde. Saying that these districts had exactly 1,000 soldiers (not total population for your information) throughout the centuries with no change is downright unrealistic. Even if you insist on a stong sde being 1,000, this only pertains to 642, where Tibet did not control all of the Tibetan Plateau, the Qinghai region was still under the Tuyuhun (Azha).


This wild fantasy of 200000 thousand strong Tibetan army in Dafeichuan and so on is just a fantasy by the Tang to justify their asskicking by the Tibetans.
You keep on saying its fantasy. While the exact military size is not determinable from just the Tang records alone, I've already demonstrated from the Old Tibetan Chronicles, that Tibet has the potential to mobilize armies that nominally stood at 360,000 in the 7th century:
" {2.13} The 360 khab stong-sde served as soldiers and
border [guards]. {2.14} The hundred cha households ploughed the fields and tamed
the badlands (tha-rgod), {2.15} The nine experts (mkhari), seven rulers (read srid-pa
for sris-pd), seven herdsmen, the seven merchants and seven and one half civilian
men (g.yung-po) acted as subordinate subjects (snying-*bangs) and three 79 subjects
and fulfilled the wishes of the ruler. So it is said."


Dafeichuan also happened in 670 after the Azha was conquered in 663, not 642, so don't give me the 642 census (which isn't even clear) to challenge this.


Inner and Outer Mongolia has the population of 27 million. Tibetan Plateau has roughly 10-12 millions.
You are comparing modern Mongolia with modern Tibet, you absolutely do not do that and project that onto history. Inner Mongolia has been settled by Han agriculturalists since the Qing dynasty, transforming local pastures into farmlands, and is now predominantly agriculture and Han in population. The same did not happen in Tibet. Inner Mongolia's population at the start of the Qing was barely over a million, and Mongolia was less than a million whereas the population of the Tibetan Plateau was consistently around 2.5-3 million.
 
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"We've already done a topic on this in that very thread. You are making me repeating myself. There is NO population census in 642. There is only an enumeration of military districts; with each district having the name "unit of thousand" or stong sde. Saying that these districts had exactly 1,000 soldiers (not total population for your information) throughout the centuries with no change is downright unrealistic. Even if you insist on a stong sde being 1,000, this only pertains to 642, where Tibet did not control all of the Tibetan Plateau, the Qinghai region was still under the Tuyuhun (Azha)."

So census of military districts may not be population census but it is a census from which we can guess the population of the TIbetan people and military force available to it.
It was not even 50000 strong men spread across approximately 1 million square miles of territory.


I agree with you that Tibet did not control the whole of Plateau during 642 AD.


"You keep on saying its fantasy. While the exact military size is not determinable from just the Tang records alone, I've already demonstrated from the Old Tibetan Chronicles, that Tibet has the potential to mobilize armies that nominally stood at 360,000 in the 7th century:
" {2.13} The 360 khab stong-sde served as soldiers and
border [guards]. {2.14} The hundred cha households ploughed the fields and tamed
the badlands (tha-rgod), {2.15} The nine experts (mkhari), seven rulers (read srid-pa
for sris-pd), seven herdsmen, the seven merchants and seven and one half civilian
men (g.yung-po) acted as subordinate subjects (snying-*bangs) and three 79 subjects
and fulfilled the wishes of the ruler. So it is said."

I have so many rebuttals for that.

I have repeatedly said to you that Old Tibetan chronicles is a not a reliable piece of document. Old Tibetan Annals are reliable. Old Chronicles is not an imperial period text. How can you trust it so implicitly ? This is how Sam van Schaik describes Old Tibetan Chronicles as

"a rather less reliable
narrative drawing on traditional songs and tales"


I don't have to tell you who Schaik is.

My many old point still stands.

Tibet geographically is not suitable for any large or even medium size population. The Mongol census of 1260's and the census of 1950s prove my point.
I have many other points but I am not in China right now so have no access to documents.


just googled and found this document :


Abstract
PIP:
This article describes trends in population growth in Tibet during the Yuan Dynasty (1260-1287), the Qing Dynasty (1734-36), and during decennial periods after 1952, until 1994. Tibet was conquered by the Mongols who founded the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century. During 1260-87, 3 enumerations revealed a total population of about 559,962 Tibetans, of whom 70,000 were lamas. Enumeration during 1734-36, revealed a total population of 941,151 Tibetans and 138,617 households. Tibet's population increased to about 1 million in 1951, an addition of 60,000 persons over 210 years. During 1952-59, the rate of population growth was fairly low at 0.94%. The total increase was 78,000 persons, or 11,000/year. Population increased from 1.15 million to about 1.23 million during 1952-59. The Dalai Lama went into exile with about 74,000 Tibetans in March 1959. Population during 1960-69 increased from 1.23 million to 1.48 million. The annual growth rate was 1.89%. Population increased by 252,500 persons, or 25.300/year. Reforms were carried out during this period. The region shifted from feudalism to socialism. Tibetans obtained free medical care and access to land. The birth rate was 25/1000, and the death rate was 10/1000. During 1970-79, both economic and population growth increased. Population increased from 1.48 million to 1.83 million, or a rate of annual growth of 2.14%. Population during this period increased by 348,500 persons, or 34,900/year. This was the fastest period of population growth. During 1980-89, the total fertility rate was maintained at around 4 children/woman, and family planning was implemented in urban areas. The annual rate of growth was 1.85%. Population increased by 367,000 persons, or 36,700/year. During 1990-94, the annual growth rate was 1.76 with a total increase of 159,000 persons, or 39,800/year.

Tibet's population: past and present.
Tu D.
China Popul Today. 1997 Aug;14(3-4):4-6.
PMID: 12321528


I believe the Qing numbers are wrong. I believe Qing census was conducted by the local lords who inflated the numbers to seem more powerful. I am not 100 percent sure so please give me time to verify it.
 
Mar 2012
4,351
So census of military districts may not be population census but it is a census from which we can guess the population of the TIbetan people and military force available to it.
It was not even 50000 strong men spread across approximately 1 million square miles of territory.


I agree with you that Tibet did not control the whole of Plateau during 642 AD.
In that case, we also have a census recording 36 stong sde, so why should be believe in the so called "census" of 642 and not the other one?



I have so many rebuttals for that.

I have repeatedly said to you that Old Tibetan chronicles is a not a reliable piece of document. Old Tibetan Annals are reliable. Old Chronicles is not an imperial period text. How can you trust it so implicitly ? This is how Sam van Schaik describes Old Tibetan Chronicles as


"a rather less reliable
narrative drawing on traditional songs and tales"


I don't have to tell you who Schaik is.

My many old point still stands.


That's hardly a rebuttal, because I'm not comparing the Old Tibetan Chronicle with the Old Tibetan Annal.
Tell me what is the primary source for 61 stong sde, because the Old Tibetan Annals doesn't have anything that goes that far back.


Tibet geographically is not suitable for any large or even medium size population. The Mongol census of 1260's and the census of 1950s prove my point.
I have many other points but I am not in China right now so have no access to documents.

No the Mongol census of 1260 doesn't address that and I already went over it. I don't know if you are not reading or just don't understand what I wrote, because its common academic knowledge.

It comes from the 14th century Rgya Bod Yig Tshan. U-tsang under the Yuan was divided into two types of population; the Mi sde and the Lha sde. The former paid tax to the government whereas the later are monastic serfs. According to the source, there was a total of 36,453 Mi sde households in U-Tsang. To this, Zhang Tianlu multipled by 6 people per household and arrived at roughly 234,000 people total. Yet this is only the Mi sde population and did not include the Lha sde population, which Rgya Bod Yig Tshan recorded that for each tumen of Mi sde, 6 miliarchs will be Lha sde. This mean that about 60% of the population are Lha sde. Making the total Tibetan taxed population close to 600,000. To this, we still have the serfs directly under the Sakya nobility as well as the Lama population which is not counted in either. Adding them we have at least 700,000-800,000 population in the region of U-Tsang alone. If the population of Amdo and Kham already surpassed that of U-Tsang as Sperling and others speculated, the total population of Tibetan Plateau at the time can easily be 2 million or over.

Source: Xizang tongshi

Abstract
PIP:
This article describes trends in population growth in Tibet during the Yuan Dynasty (1260-1287), the Qing Dynasty (1734-36), and during decennial periods after 1952, until 1994. Tibet was conquered by the Mongols who founded the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century. During 1260-87, 3 enumerations revealed a total population of about 559,962 Tibetans, of whom 70,000 were lamas. Enumeration during 1734-36, revealed a total population of 941,151 Tibetans and 138,617 households. Tibet's population increased to about 1 million in 1951, an addition of 60,000 persons over 210 years. During 1952-59, the rate of population growth was fairly low at 0.94%. The total increase was 78,000 persons, or 11,000/year. Population increased from 1.15 million to about 1.23 million during 1952-59. The Dalai Lama went into exile with about 74,000 Tibetans in March 1959. Population during 1960-69 increased from 1.23 million to 1.48 million. The annual growth rate was 1.89%. Population increased by 252,500 persons, or 25.300/year. Reforms were carried out during this period. The region shifted from feudalism to socialism. Tibetans obtained free medical care and access to land. The birth rate was 25/1000, and the death rate was 10/1000. During 1970-79, both economic and population growth increased. Population increased from 1.48 million to 1.83 million, or a rate of annual growth of 2.14%. Population during this period increased by 348,500 persons, or 34,900/year. This was the fastest period of population growth. During 1980-89, the total fertility rate was maintained at around 4 children/woman, and family planning was implemented in urban areas. The annual rate of growth was 1.85%. Population increased by 367,000 persons, or 36,700/year. During 1990-94, the annual growth rate was 1.76 with a total increase of 159,000 persons, or 39,800/year.

Tibet's population: past and present.
Tu D.
China Popul Today. 1997 Aug;14(3-4):4-6.
PMID: 12321528
[/B]Already addressed above, with actual critical analysis applied. The figure of 559,962 Tibetans actually coincided with the rough 600,000 registered figure (not including monks and nobility serfs not counted in the census) given by Xizang Tongshi, so you are only proving my point. The figure you provided above also referred to Central Tibet, not the entire Tibetan plateau.

I believe the Qing numbers are wrong. I believe Qing census was conducted by the local lords who inflated the numbers to seem more powerful. I am not 100 percent sure so please give me time to verify it.
Qing Tibet is far more organized than Yuan Tibet, at least its under a semi-state structure in the form of the Ganden regime. I have no idea why you think there are more local lords during the Qing than the Yuan when Yuan Tibet is full of different monastic powers of which the Sakyapa was a mere hegemon. The Yuan census also only recorded the Mi sde population, not the Lha sde, and only to Central Tibet, and not to Amdo or Kham, so its limited as well.
 
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"In that case, we also have a census recording 36 stong sde, so why should be believe in the so called "census" of 642 and not the other one? "

Because:

‘The 360 khab stong-sde served as soldiers and border [guards]’,
appears to be nothing more than an embellishment. There are two well-attested
traditions of thousand-districts in Tibet. The earlier tradition counts forty-four, while
the later tradition counts sixty-one (infra, {3.2.1}). Thus 360 thousand-districts seem
too astronomical to warrant serious consideration.


Administration and Law in the Tibetan Empire:
The Section on Law and State and its Old Tibetan Antecedents
Brandon Dotson



Already addressed above, with actual critical analysis applied. The figure of 559,962 Tibetans actually coincided with the rough 600,000 registered figure (not including monks and nobility serfs not counted in the census) given by Xizang Tongshi, so you are only proving my point. The figure you provided above also referred to Central Tibet, not the entire Tibetan plateau.

You missed the important part:
During 1260-87, 3 enumerations revealed a
"total" population of about 559,962 Tibetans, of whom 70,000 were lamas.

Total means total.

Qing Tibet is far more organized than Yuan Tibet, at least its under a semi-state structure in the form of the Ganden regime. I have no idea why you think there are more local lords during the Qing than the Yuan when Yuan Tibet is full of different monastic powers of which the Sakyapa was a mere hegemon. The Yuan census also only recorded the Mi sde population, not the Lha sde, and only to Central Tibet, and not to Amdo or Kham, so its limited as well.

Qing ruled nominally from 1722 to 1911 and were definitely more organised than the yuan. But of those 190 years Qing rule, except during the times of war Qing never had more than 5000 people in Tibet. They needed the local lords and monasteries to stay in power. When Qing got its butt kicked in Kham it was the same Tibetan lords and monasteries who helped them take back the place. Local lords were more powerful and numerous in Qing period than the Yuan especially in the second half of the 19th century

Many local lords and monasteries outright refused to respect Qing official seals and travel passes granted to Europeans.
 
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Mar 2012
4,351
Because:

‘The 360 khab stong-sde served as soldiers and border [guards]’,
appears to be nothing more than an embellishment. There are two well-attested
traditions of thousand-districts in Tibet. The earlier tradition counts forty-four, while
the later tradition counts sixty-one (infra, {3.2.1}). Thus 360 thousand-districts seem
too astronomical to warrant serious consideration.


Administration and Law in the Tibetan Empire:
The Section on Law and State and its Old Tibetan Antecedents
Brandon Dotson

You didn't answer the question; which primary source states sixty one and why should we believe that over 360?
Plenty of later sources states that the Tibetan Empire can mobilize armies over 300,000. The 13th century Bka thang sde lnga stated that “The four Ru with 36 stong ste have a total force of 300,000-400,000”. The religious history in the “Mkhas pa ldeus mdzad pai rgya bod kyi chis ‘byung rgyas pa” also stated that “there was 360 stong sde, with each having 1000 soldiers, the total force would be 360,000.” And no, these are figures pertaining to the army in Tibet itself, not outside of it after khri srong lde btsan's conquest.
We also have Tang sources from the early 8th century consistently talking about Tibetan garrisons numbering in the tens of thousands in the Amdo and Pamirs frontier alone. If you believe in secondary sources like the rgyal rabs gsal bayi melong why do you ignore these; which probably have imperial period record basis?


You missed the important part:
During 1260-87, 3 enumerations revealed a
"total" population of about 559,962 Tibetans, of whom 70,000 were lamas.

Total means total.
I gave you the systematic break down of the primary source, you cited a secondary source with an unclear methodology; I expect something better from you if you intend to challenge the primary sources directly. And for the second time, this is Central Tibet, NOT including Amdo and Kham; which already out populated Central Tibet by this period.

Qing ruled nominally from 1722 to 1911 and were definitely more organised than the yuan. But of those 190 years Qing rule, except during the times of war Qing never had more than 5000 people in Tibet. They needed the local lords and monasteries to stay in power. When Qing got its butt kicked in Kham it was the same Tibetan lords and monasteries who helped them take back the place. Local lords were more powerful and numerous in Qing period than the Yuan especially in the second half of the 19th century
[/B]

Neither did the Yuan have large military presence in Tibet, in fact when the census of 1265 was conducted, there was no Mongol garrison in Tibet at all. It wasn't until the 1280s that the Mongols even established garrisons in Tibet, and this small presence was overthrown in the 1250s.



Many local lords and monasteries outright refused to respect Qing official seals and travel passes granted to Europeans.
Qing presence only became weaker after Qishan loosened up the 28 ordnance in the 1840s. Yet there was no regulation within the ordnance which allowed foreigners to proselytize in Tibet anyways, nor did the Qing government want that to happen and hence it never tried to enforce it. In any case this has nothing to do with the census, because it is Mongolia which saw a population growth during the Qing, not Tibet. When Chinggis Qan united Mongolia, the population there is also no more than 600,000-800,000, yet he still had a force of 129,000 along with around 20,000 additional Naiman auxiliars, with a total of around 150,000 soldiers. Tibet under Songtsen Gampo easily had such a population and over after conquering the Zhang zhun and after conquering the Azha, Tibet had well more than twice the population of the Mongols under Chinggis Qan, if not 4-5 times as much. A force near 200,000 in an all out mobilization is not at all beyond its capability.
 

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