Foundations to 600 CE // Mandate of Heaven 

Zhou dynasty was a dynasty in China that ruled from 1046 to 221 B.C. After overthrowing the Shang dynasty, the Zhou stated an idea about their rulers called the “Mandates of Heaven”. This theory is concerned about ruling and the approval of divine, or the heavenly gods. The Chinese believed that the heaven is the one who decides who should rule the dynasty. It is an ancient Chinese belief that affected later dynasties such as the Qin dynasty.

Chinese emperors were considered as the Mandate of Heaven because people believed that the emperors were rulers who were sent from heaven. Mandate of Heaven is the belief that dynasties of China revolved on. It was believed that Zhou dynasty took over because the “gods of heaven” weren’t pleased of the emperor of the Shang dynasty. Heaven grants the emperor the right to rule China. When a person is a king or emperor, they have all the power. Since there is one heaven, there is one ruler. He must please the heaven to stay and keep his power. If he fails to do so, the king will be overthrown and the Mandate of Heaven will put a new emperor in place. The idea of being the emperor is to benefit its people. If the king/emperor is not ruling wisely or justly and is, instead, ruling for his own interests, he will then be removed, and power will be passed to another family.

Being the one were Chinese dynasties revolved around, Mandates of Heaven had affected how the rulers symbolized while they were in power. They gave emperors their rights as long as they follow what they are supposed to do, and that is to benefit his people. Having a Mandate of Heaven gave people security. It affected the government system of the dynasties, as well. For example, the change of dynasties was depended on the gods and how well the emperor is contributing for his people and his performance. The new rulers were known as heroes because the previous emperor caused the people to struggle.

Since the Zhou dynasty lasted for centuries, it surely affected future dynasties or rulers of China. The only weakness of Mandate of Heaven is that people don’t really have a say on what emperors are doing. People were under a government that is similar to monarchy. Even though the civilians weren’t able to state their opinions or ideas, the emperors are required give people their safety. Emperors, Mandates of Heaven, offered favorable things to its people. If they are unable to follow them, they will be replaced by a dynasty. This dynastic cycle lasted for quite a while since China followed this belief even after the Zhou dynasty’s decline. When emperor fails, the effects are getting into wars, famine, floods, and many more. 

Ever since the dynastic rule of the Zhou, Chinese have followed and believed of Mandates of Heaven for quite a while. The gods in heaven played a huge role in classical China. It is an important change in China’s system during its early civilizations, because they protected and emperors did what they could have done to benefit their people. Heaven replaced emperors if they are not helping its people. Mandates of Heaven were valuable throughout the development of China.