The Tang Dynasty II (756–907)

Authored by: Anthony DeBlasi

Routledge Handbook of Imperial Chinese History

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138847286
eBook ISBN: 9781315726878
Adobe ISBN:


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The 750s initiated a series of complex changes with profound implications for China’s developmental arc in subsequent centuries. As one would expect, characterizing the period from 755 to the end of the dynasty in 907 raises tricky historiographical challenges. The most important of those is how to deal with a period of “transition.” As the discussion here shows, the final century and a half of the Tang laid the foundations for the emergence of a new economic, social, cultural, and political order in the Chinese imperium. But for all the drama of its beginning during the An Lushan Rebellion, it was not a radical break with what came before. It is necessary then to recognize that the late eighth and ninth centuries were simultaneously the culmination of one set of developments and the beginning of a new set. In emphasizing the latter, it is important to acknowledge the former. The simple fact is that Tang officials and elites remained committed to the continuity of Tang power, looked back to its earlier reigns for guidance, and were unaware of the future to come.

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