What factors led to China re-unifying multiple times throughout history while "Europe" failed to do so after Charlemagne?

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,961
Sydney
following Charlemagne there was waves of invaders coming from several directions
the vikings on the Atlantic seaboard , the Muslims all over the Mediterranean , the Magyars in central Europe
Charlemagne descendants were busy with each of those threats on their own

Eventually when the dust cleared ,there was the Holy roman empire of the Germanic nation , the French kingdom and various independent states quite busy with their own regional problems
the only unity was the pope who did not suffer rivals and kept the authority of both the Emperor and the French king in check
By the time the popes had been put back to their place , the Western Christendom had hardened into a permanent state
as for china there was often a split between the North and the south , sometime of decades duration
 
Feb 2016
42
United States
Europe in general always wanted to bring back something like the Roman Empire, but the post-Roman Empire period failed to deliver anyone who could create such an entity for the long term. Such attempts always led to fractured polities due to the fact none of them could govern as efficiently over such large swaths of territory.

Couple that with everyone of some form of political and military power trying to make their own Rome and the Church being the one thing most people could agree on, and Europe's inability to unite into a mega-polity like the Roman Empire makes sense.

China, by contrast, had a long tradition of unity in the political sense. They developed an early understanding that unity meant prosperity and peace so long as the unifiers did a good job managing the state, and China was always better off in the economic, social, and military sense when unified. The Chinese being able to reunify is not much of a surprise, it had become a quasi-instinctive reaction of Chinese political cuture to prefer to unite.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,602
Florania
Why'd the Han descendants get treated well?

Also, by aristocracy, Yes, I meant the nobility. They wouldn't have to be related to any Chinese emperor, but they could be. I'm thinking in a European context where dukes, lords, et cetera pass on their titles.
And here I thought most fiats were bought with Lira...
People with any linkages to the Han royal house numbered from a few hundred thousands to a few millions; it only mattered when the linkage was relatively close.
China usually did not have inherited titles, and with regime change, even the inherited titles became obsolete.
 
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Feb 2014
322
Miami
Maybe the question should be why the Mediterranean wasn't reunited since Justinian. In this regard, the split between two large religious groups centered between two empires that couldn't conquer the other. The ottomans did try to conquer the Mediterranean. They were blunted at vienna in the north, by Spain in the west and were kept busy with Iran in the east.
 
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kazeuma

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
2,370
The other reason is Feudalism. As soon as the King of Qin conquered all the states, he did not hand them out to his loyal officals - knowing all too well that it will lead to the fuedal system that proceeded the establishment of the First Emperor's state. The following emperors did hand out titles, but they only lasted as long as the life-span of the bearer of the title (with some exceptions with the Descendants of Confucius and previous dynasties) then the title would revert to the Emperor, who would keep the fuedal system from establishing itself.
 
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Jun 2017
2,966
Connecticut
Hyper feudalsim chopped Europe into a great many pieces in the immediate aftermath of the Carolingian Empire. Europe did reunite step by step but that was going to be a long process when you look at Europe 800-900 years ago.

Carolingian Empire wasn't a unified Europe anyway and several rulers reached that level of control throughout the following centuries.
 

Dreamhunter

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
7,482
Malaysia
Maybe Asians just have a greater tolerance for centralisation, autocracy, authoritarianism & stuff like that. Whether that being something to be viewed as something positive or negative being debatable.

Even to this day, Asians tend to naturally focus more on the community interest, as opposed to the greater proclivity for individual expression that tends to prevail among European peoples.
 

Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,927
Yötebory Sveriya
It’s a cultural thing developed over more than a thousand years of history.

Romans to 8th Century - In the Carolingian time, it was still relatively easy for an Imperial power to come and take vast lands together as there was still the idea that the land belonged in an Empire - this benefitted the Goths, Franks, Byzantines, and Arabs. The world was still looking for an Imperial globalization system, but during this time the Manorial system of local economies began to thrive. It is an evolution of the Roman Villa estates. But they gained more power, more people became land tied in the former Empire.

9th century to 16th century - The expansion of the Manorial system continued to expand. Feudalism and Germanic Gavelkind succession divided the lands up further. Europe ended up with silos of independent populations and economies emerged, isolated from their nearby neighbours. Vikings, the Hanseatic League, Venetians, and the Genoese took over the trade routes while the Manorial system expanded and caused Europe’s isolated populations to thrive. By the end of this period, it was clear that there were many distinct nationalities who were ideologically and culturally divided. The failure of the Norman State was evidence of this. It is clear that the major cultural divides between Eastern and Western Europeans occur here, as well as the Arabic portions of the Empire. Three distinct mega culture groups.

16th century - Nationalism - saw the emergence of the modern states. Charles V, Henry 8, and Frances were powerful, but ruled over divided realms. The Germanic populations began adopting alternate forms of religion as a means of further dividing their people from others. We see the seeds of Germany here. The mega culture of the West fractures further here. The Hanseatic league and various trade republics deteriorate in favour of national trade Empires: Dutch, Germans, Spanish, French, British, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Russian, etc... all begin to emerge as separate nations, roughly 1000 years after the disintegration of the globalized Roman economy in the 6th century; which fell following the Eastern Roman invasion of the West.

In the latter modern era, we had industrialization and capitalism which further tied economies to national interests. Yet, capitalism itself has also led to globalization - so Europe is now in the middle of a reunification phase, 3-400 years (if we survive) we’ll look back on this as that period. At least the Western European mega-culture will almost certainly be unified into one state in Europe: I don’t think the UK is going anywhere for very long (even 150 years isn’t long in the scale of history). Hard to say about Pacific culture, they are very close to Western: arguably closer than East European culture.
 

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,501
China
europe lacks native philosophy when their civilizations begin.

many would trace europe history back to greece or even older civilizations. however, that does not actually stand in a sense of inherit with a stable population

the ancestors of modern european nations lack native philosophy when they started to grow
so it become easy and acceptable to borrow or learn from other older civilization's philosophies, introducing Christian for example.

one part of europe may learn A, another part learn B. or one par of europe learn from part A of ..say..roman, another part learn from part B of roman. they became different from the beginning.

yes, european nations developed lots of philosophies during their growing. however, that is too late, as their nations already divided by different thoughts, and in fact they keep getting into more branches.

china had traditions of recording very long time ago.
and it is china's core tradition to inherit what has been record by the own ancestors, and then make new developments.
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,375
Netherlands
europe lacks native philosophy when their civilizations begin.
Not sure what you mean here, but for the western Roman world that would mean the Greek philosophy for which the timing is similar to China (Confucius is about a century earlier than Socrates)
many would trace europe history back to greece or even older civilizations. however, that does not actually stand in a sense of inherit with a stable population
Most of western Europe is a mix of Roman/Greek, Christian and Germanic/barbaric culture and it is hard not to see that as a constant.
the ancestors of modern european nations lack native philosophy when they started to grow
so it become easy and acceptable to borrow or learn from other older civilization's philosophies, introducing Christian for example.
I have no real idea what you mean. I could point to Buddhism just as easily.

Plus what people tend to forget is that the current PRC is completely different from the Han or Qin. Ie only about half the Yang Tze river was part of it.
one part of europe may learn A, another part learn B. or one par of europe learn from part A of ..say..roman, another part learn from part B of roman. they became different from the beginning.
Yet we still all use the same alphabet, have a scientific community since the universities and were nominally subject to the pope.
Plus I would argue the same goes for China. Parts of the east are predominantly Muslim for example.
yes, european nations developed lots of philosophies during their growing. however, that is too late, as their nations already divided by different thoughts, and in fact they keep getting into more branches.
I still think it is a power thing and not a philosophy/culture thing. Chinese emperors like for example Roman emperors kept and controlled their territories by keeping big standing armies. Whether their citizens were Confucian or Legalists mattered less I think.
Plus I suspect people in branches picked up very much the same things.
china had traditions of recording very long time ago.
and it is china's core tradition to inherit what has been record by the own ancestors, and then make new developments.
Apart from the writing I think that is very much core for the more traditions as well. One of the reasons we have jury trials.


Apart from this, the whole Charlemagne empire wasn't an empire. It was a hodgepodge of assorted tribes and counties which were controlled by one man and his loyal army and nobles. As soon as the personal loyalty was gone it immediately went into civil war.
You could have this discussion about the HRE or the (western) Roman empire, but not about the Carolingian empire, since that never really was one. Same with Alexander's Macedonian empire.