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

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,501
China
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)
i am not comparing whether east or west is early in philosophy
let along confucius is not the person created chinese philosophy, he is just the one collected the classics and formed an unique school at his time.
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.
exactly i have talked
the modern (western) europe nations, which can be traced back to various germanic tribes, are not roman or greek themselves.
they are not the native population who give birth to the original philosophies rule their society

I have no real idea what you mean. I could point to Buddhism just as easily.
it is not matter, for chinese already had native philosophy before buddhism.

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.
what are you talking about?
geography? then you are wrong on yang tze river.

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.
the alphabet might origin from a same source, however as i argued, for example, the alphabet is not native to the germanic tribes of europe.

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.
you are mistaking the result as reasons.
military is important, but none of the chinese emperors keep territories with armies, for the military never is that useful
confucious said administration of society is to let king to be king, subjects to be subjects, father to be father and son to be son. this philosophy is the root reason emperors can assemble forces in the first place, for there should not be numerous kings, that is disobeying the rites
and confucious did not create the idea from air, because he learnt from the more elders, but expressed in his unique way.

(his words was not talking about the importance of houses or blood line or classes, btw)

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.
i am arguing the ancestors of modern europe nations does not have native philosophy when their nation started to begin. not they lack philosophies when their nation in forming progress.
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.
Charlemagne empire was a good example about how ancestors of modern european nations borrowing philosophies of ruling the society from populations that are not their own.
 
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Theodoric

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Mar 2012
2,927
Yötebory Sveriya
I have no idea what this “lack of native philosophy” thing means. Or even if it were true what level of impact (if any) it had on division since we can fairly easily see where the divisions occurred, and why.


1. Europe was settled by Indo-Europeans, this culture covered nearly the entire continent. Germanic, Latin/Celtic, Baltic/Slavic, Greco, groups are all Indo-European.

2. Socrates was from Europe, as was Aristotle, and a whole slew of Western philosophers.

3. Classical Europe was largely unified in ancient times with a globalized economy. Charlemagne was able to capture so much of it due to the acceptance of a European Empire still engrained in the culture - similar to the Goths and Byzantines before them, and the Arabs through most of the rest of the former Roman Empire.

4. Economic and political factors - Manorialism and Feudalism, largely divided Europe into more regional based economies and political unions following the age of Charlemagne (though this change, in reality, began hundreds of years earlier developing from Late Roman Villa economics).

6. After the middle ages came nationalism, which came about due to the number of distinct cultures which had arisen in the middle ages, and the disintegration of the globalized economy - there were the trade leagues: Hanseatic, Venetian, and Genoese - but they were independent powers.

7. Due to nationalism, it became impossible for Empires to sustain themselves. The 20th century brought on different ideas on how to do that and the European Union appears to be the best idea (as opposed to the totalitarian Soviet and Nazi/fascist empires).


In short: the reason was nationalism in modern times: before that it was the roughly 1000 years of Manorialism that divided Europe on a cultural level and also led to nationalism which the Medicis catalyzed by setting the stage for the breaking of the last bonds of Roman ownership across much of the continent.
 

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,501
China
it was an integrated sentence "lacks native philosophy when their civilizations begin"
that is the nations formed from germanic tribes learnt philosophy from greek and roman.

Aristotle's people are not those prevail today. their culture persevered by other people, but not a same group of people

later europe did develop a lot magnificent philosophy, but that is a different story
 

MAGolding

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Aug 2015
2,933
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
I say that the main reason why China reunited several times after years, decades, or centuries of division was that the main part of China was a very large fertile region that developed a high population density and high level of civilization and relatively advanced forms of government during the Shang Dynasty which spread to the rest of the china plains during the following Zhou Dynasty.

At the same time Europe had a few centers of civilization but was largely still at the stage of barbarism. Europe was mostly divided into thousands of small tribal states or city states. Then the city of Rome gradually united Italy and then gradually united all the region around the Mediterranean, including European regions near the Mediterranean, and eventually conquered a few European areas outside of the Mediterranean region including Northern Gaul and Britain, etc. During the Roman Empire, civilization spread from the civilized areas to the less advanced regions within the Empire. But that civilization was new and rather artificial, and began to decline during the later Roman period. When the western part of the Roman Empire was taken over by various barbarian tribes civilization there declined even more, until by the time of Charlemagne society in the former western Roman Empire was half barbaric and half civilized. And of course the majority of Europe beyond the former Roman Empire was still mostly barbarian.

So after the dazzling success of the State of Qin in conquering and uniting all of China in 221 BC, a precedent was set which every Chinese leader remembered, even during the periods when China was divided into several kingdoms and empires. During periods of disunion, every leader of a major state in China knew that if he built up the power of his state enough and built up a powerful enough army, he might conquer all the other states in China and rule all of China. And every leader of a major state in China also knew that the leaders of other major states also had a chance to do that which would result in deposing and possibly executing him or his heir. So the leaders of states that ruled part of China during periods of disunion would often strive to build up the military power of their states in hope of conquering other states and in fear of being conquered by those other states if they failed.

So during a period of Chinese disunion sooner or later a state in China would become more powerful than any state in Europe except maybe the eastern section of the Roman Empire , the "Byzantine Empire", or the Holy Roman Empire, and would fight gigantic wars of conquest, far larger than any wars happening in Europe at the time, and would conquer the other states in China and reunify Chine, often after millions of people were killed in the wars.

But Western Europe was less civilized than China for a long time and had much lower population density and much less powerful forms of government and as governments gradually became more powerful no government had a monopoly on that power to quickly overwhelm its neighbors. The geography of Europe is unlike that of China, with large peninsulas like the Balkans, Italy, & Spain separated from the main body of Europe by mountains, and a giant island, Great Britain, separated by ocean, and many other geogrpahic features that separate various regions.
 

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,501
China
it is not exact that china's unification is based on an annexing competition.
first of all, the human world is not a RPG game that one builds military power if one wants to, nor that actually helps to a state.
second, that cannot explain why china's sphere basically is fixed like qin and han. if one can conquer this land why not that land?

additionally, europe is not actually so geographically cut off compared with china. take the taihang mountain that covers a large area of china for example, only eight routes are actually capable to transport, and some are made by man. then the lingnan area, covering fujian and further guangdong, is blocked by mountains that only few paths are good for transport. unlike the sea transport, when a mountain stands there, you just simply cannot bypass it. the same goes for the big rivers of the yellow river and yang tze river. let along, mediterranean ocean is so nice to human transport, so peaceful.
 
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Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,375
Netherlands
i am not comparing whether east or west is early in philosophy
let along confucius is not the person created chinese philosophy, he is just the one collected the classics and formed an unique school at his time.
Me neither, just stating that there was quite the philosophical tradition. It is not like Confucius or Socrates came out of thin air.
exactly i have talked
the modern (western) europe nations, which can be traced back to various germanic tribes, are not roman or greek themselves.
they are not the native population who give birth to the original philosophies rule their society
Well in a sense that is correct, but in a sense that goes for a lot of China as well, which conquered and incorporated a lot of land as well.
it is not matter, for chinese already had native philosophy before buddhism.
Same with Christianity. That only took real hold after 2nd century and itself incorporated a lot of philosophy. You could argue (though I wouldn't agree) that Christianity's largest part is Greek Philosophy.
Only for the regions that weren't part of the Roman empire (north east of the Danube-Rhine line) that argument applies. Problem is we don't know much of their philosophies (if any) since they didn't write anything down. However you can see some of it passed through to eras in which things were written down. One of the reasons the political organization looks quite different when comparing UK and France.
what are you talking about?
geography? then you are wrong on yang tze river.
Probably my mistranslation, it is the lowest river in the map.
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the alphabet might origin from a same source, however as i argued, for example, the alphabet is not native to the germanic tribes of europe.
Were Chinese characters native to western Chinese? Honest question as I have no idea. I do know that the northern steppes didn't adopt it for example.
you are mistaking the result as reasons.
military is important, but none of the chinese emperors keep territories with armies, for the military never is that useful
confucious said administration of society is to let king to be king, subjects to be subjects, father to be father and son to be son. this philosophy is the root reason emperors can assemble forces in the first place, for there should not be numerous kings, that is disobeying the rites
and confucious did not create the idea from air, because he learnt from the more elders, but expressed in his unique way.

(his words was not talking about the importance of houses or blood line or classes, btw)
I am not so sure. The standing armies of the Tang would dwarf those of the Carolingians.
i am arguing the ancestors of modern europe nations does not have native philosophy when their nation started to begin. not they lack philosophies when their nation in forming progress.

Charlemagne empire was a good example about how ancestors of modern european nations borrowing philosophies of ruling the society from populations that are not their own.
Well actually Charlemagne is a really bad example and which is why the comparison is a bit irrelevant. The Saxons lived under Saxon laws, the Frisians lived under Frisian laws etc.
I think if you look at eastern China that the history is quite "constant". Culturally quite homogenous and oftentimes under the same ruler. For the area that Charlemagne ruled, none of that applies. However if you were to look at certain European areas it often is quite culturally homogenous. Ie Italy, despite not being a country for over a millenium, unified quite spontanuously.
 

heylouis

Ad Honorem
Apr 2013
6,501
China
Well in a sense that is correct, but in a sense that goes for a lot of China as well, which conquered and incorporated a lot of land as well.
no, it goes not for china.
here i must repeat
germanic tribes, are not roman or greek themselves
they are not the native population who give birth to the original philosophies rule their society
these kind of thing has nothing to do with incorporation of lands, but just which population survived. and did the population themselves inherit the philosophy.

Same with Christianity. That only took real hold after 2nd century and itself incorporated a lot of philosophy. You could argue (though I wouldn't agree) that Christianity's largest part is Greek Philosophy.
Only for the regions that weren't part of the Roman empire (north east of the Danube-Rhine line) that argument applies. Problem is we don't know much of their philosophies (if any) since they didn't write anything down. However you can see some of it passed through to eras in which things were written down. One of the reasons the political organization looks quite different when comparing UK and France.
but i don't want to repeat it, those ruled europe long time ago are NOT those who formed the proto-types of modern european nation.
UK and France people definitely are not the descendants of greeks or roman.
in fact, most of greek philosophy was re-introduced back to europe after interactions with arab. the arabs preserved most of the greek philosophy record.

Probably my mistranslation, it is the lowest river in the map.
the upper reaches are not called yangtze river, anyway
the map is mistaken for it does not understand how rivers are named in china.
(and that is irrelevant)
Were Chinese characters native to western Chinese? Honest question as I have no idea. I do know that the northern steppes didn't adopt it for example.
it is not about incorporation.
why is it difficult?
it is about a group of people having direct link with those who create the original philosophies.

in china, the link is direct.
in europe, to knowledge, direct link with greek is unrevealed, indirect link via arab recording is known due to renaissance.

I am not so sure. The standing armies of the Tang would dwarf those of the Carolingians.
don't know what it means
Well actually Charlemagne is a really bad example and which is why the comparison is a bit irrelevant. The Saxons lived under Saxon laws, the Frisians lived under Frisian laws etc.
I think if you look at eastern China that the history is quite "constant". Culturally quite homogenous and oftentimes under the same ruler. For the area that Charlemagne ruled, none of that applies. However if you were to look at certain European areas it often is quite culturally homogenous. Ie Italy, despite not being a country for over a millenium, unified quite spontanuously.
each of them learn partially from the land and people they conquered, mostly roman, and mixed with their traditions, causing various division from the beginning.
again only prove my opinion.


you should not introduce so much on conquering or incorporation of xinjiang or tibet as you are implying, for when people talking about re-unification events of china, spanning thousands of years, those are minor topics.
 
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Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,375
Netherlands
@heylouis I think we are talking past one another. My argument is twofold:
-Taking the Carolingian empire under Charlemagne as some sort of unity, is not a good one (and I think we 100% agree on that one). There are other European entities that are much better examples, although with the possible exception of Russia are not on such a geographical scale ass China.
-China, while it has a fairly "constant" history does have its regional differences. Since a lot of your argument is that the philosophy and related things was native (as in prior to becoming a state), I think that argument doesn't hold for areas and peoples that were incorporated later (that would be similar to Gaul getting Latinized).


As to the Yang Tze river, I am not sure what you mean exactly. However I can explain one of the big problems I have with Chinese history (and culture). Here we have a tendency to "Dutchify" geographical names (ie Paris-->Parijs). With Chinese that obviously gives some problems, so we get all kinds of variations on the same name. I think we now follow the standard (English) ones, but I am not sure. So for the Yang Tze I have seen the following in serious books I read throughout the years:
-Yang Tze
-Jang Tse Kiang
-Yangtse
-Jangtse Kiang
And I probably left some other variations out:)