Imperial Rome and Han China
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Imperial Rome and Han China had some similarities and differences in their foundation. In the eight century B.C.E., Rome began as a small city-state on the western side of Italy. Originally they were a monarchy but in 509 B.C.E. they knocked off the monarchy and made themselves republic. In their republic system, the wealthy class, known as patricians, dominated. The lower class was called plebeians. The Romans had laws that protected the lower class form abuse. The Romans took great pride in their system, believing it gave them more freedom. With this political system, the Romans launched their empire, a process that took more than 500 years. The Chinese were not building a new empire yet they were restoring the old.
The Chinese empire started as early as 2200 B.C.E. By 5oo B.C.E. the Chinese state was in shambles which they considered as the warring states, which were seven kingdoms within the Chinese government fighting against each other. China finally reunified in 221 B.C.E. Han China and Imperial Rome are similar because they both flourished at about the same time (200 B.C.E. – 200 C.E.), conquered about the same amount of land (about 1.5 million square miles), and had about the same population (50 to 60 million). The reason for the similarities and differences in the foundation in both of the empires was because Rome was a new empire while the Han dynasty was just restoring the old but they were still the dame due to their similarity in the time era both empires flourished, they occupied a similar area, and they contained a similar population.
Both empires established effective centralized governmental control over their vast regions and huge populations. But the Chinese, in opposition to the Romans, developed an elaborate bureaucracy to hold their empire together. Han emperor Wudi established an imperial academy for training officials for an emerging bureaucracy with a curriculum based on writings of Confucius. The major difference is that Roman administration was very dilapidated affair, relying on regional aristocratic elites and an army to provide cohesion.
Romans developed an elaborate body of law, dealing with matters such as justice, property, business, and family life. The definition of a “good government” differed for the Romans and the Chinese. The Romans thought that you’d have a good government if you had “good laws” while the Chinese government thought that “good men” meant a good government. The reason for the similarities and differences in the governmental control over both empires was because they had different emperors and laws and were ruled differently.
Han China and Imperial Rome collapsed for some similar and different reasons. A similarity between the collapse between Han China and Imperial Rome was that they both had rivalry in elite factions that weakened the system. In China, tension between court officials that were loyal to the emperor and Confucian-educated scholar-bureaucrats weakened the state. In Rome, 26 individuals claimed that they were emperor. Only 2 died of natural causes. The population of Rome declined by 25% in 250 C.E. which meant less revenue for Rome.
Another similarity in the collapse of both empires was that they were both threatened by nomadic people. China was threatened by the Xiongnu and other nomadic people in the north. Rome was threatened by Germanic-speaking people that also lived on their northern frontiers. The biggest similarity for their collapse was that they both got overextended and too expensive into where they were not able to be sustained by their available resources. The reason for the similarities in the collapse in both empires was because they both witnessed similar events that weakened their empire.