Feudalism In China

1354 Words 6 Pages
Alex Koinski
Professor McCoy
HIS 104
May 4, 2015 Imagine visiting a far, distant land where nearly everything is different from home; this is how a merchant would have felt travelling from the European West to the Chinese East and vice versa. Many merchants did not have to make such a long journey due to middlemen on the trade routes, so they would not have been exposed to such a stark change in cultures. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Europeans were not very open-minded when it came to foreign ideas about politics, philosophies, or religions. China, other than the time when foreign religions were attacked by the Tang dynasty in the 9th century, was generally accepting of different beliefs. The difference in tolerance would play a role in
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A Chinese merchant visiting medieval Europe would probably be very confused on how the feudal system worked. The Song dynasty was not as harsh as some previous dynasties such as the Qin or Sui when it comes to legalistic policies, but the legalism philosophy would be heavily contradicted by feudalism. Legalism is a Chinese philosophy which focuses on the government seizing power and ruling rather harshly, not trusting anyone other than oneself. Contrast this to feudalism, which is all about oaths and pledging service to another, and the two systems are almost polar opposites. This decentralized power caused the kings to be completely reliant on the loyalty of their lords to have any military force in the event of a foreign invasion. The Chinese merchant would probably not be pleased with all of the constant fighting each other within Europe rather than uniting to protect themselves from outsiders. China had its fair share of civil wars, such as the overthrowing of the Qin dynasty in 207-202 BCE, but a civil war like this was to overthrow a tyrannical dynasty, not just quarreling with other nobles for more power. The Chinese religions and philosophies promoted finding peace within oneself and finding harmony within life, and constant warfare was certainly not the path towards finding that harmony. Because of this, the Chinese merchant …show more content…
The Chinese merchant visiting Western Europe would probably be somewhat confused with the amount of power the Church had. In China, Buddhism was the closest to an organized religion, yet Buddhism did not have nearly as powerful authority as the Church did in Europe. For the most part, though, China was tolerant of other religions, with Christianity being accepted in China other than the attack on foreign religions between 840 and 846 CE. In 638 CE, an Imperial Rescript was instated claiming that, “(Heaven) caused a suitable religion to be instituted for every region and clime so that each one of the races of mankind might be saved. … This Teaching [Christianity] is helpful to all creatures and beneficial to all men. So let it have free course throughout the Empire" (The Human Record 273). This is a prime example of the tolerance that the Chinese had of different religions. In the 11th and 12th centuries, the amount of Christianity in China was probably significantly lower than before the attack on foreign religions, but there was likely still a trace. The Chinese merchant would probably be aware of its existence, but probably would not know too much about it. What the Chinese merchant might not be happy about is the European intolerance of foreign

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