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Why was China able to reunite under new dynastiescountless times after breaking apart but Europe wasn't?



WhatAnArtist 澳大利亚
After the fall of the WesternRoman Empire in 476, there were arguably only three times when Europe (or atleast most of it) was reunited under the sovereignty of a single monarch -Charlemagne in the 9th century, Charles V in the 16th century, and Napoleon inthe 19th century. Obviously none of them quite reached the extent of theRomans, but they came pretty close at the height of their power. But inevitablytheir empires fell apart and Europe was fragmented before truly reuniting theempire of old. Yet the history of China shows an almost unbelievable trend ofreuniting after disaster and collapse from almost two thousand years. Were thevarious regions of China simply closer in culture, religion and language toeach other than the various European states were?

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There are a variety oftheories.
1. The Chinese language:Chinese writing do not depend on the alphabet, how the word is written have nodirect bearing on how the word is pronounced (albeit this is not the caseindirectly). This means there is greater ability for the Chinese language toaccommodate significant differences in regional dialects. Even if two groups ofpeople couldn't understand each other by speaking to each other, they couldstill understand each other through their written language. Language becomes aunifying factor.
2. The Yellow River: Otherwiseknown as China's sorrow. This great river that so much of the populationdepends on changes course when left to its own devices. Massive flooding andfamine ensues whenever this happens. Expensive construction projects need to bebuilt to insure that the river stays its course. This gives greater incentivefor the various regions to pool their resources.
3. Steppe Nomads: Similar inconcept to point 2. The most populated areas of ancient China shared arelatively close and long border with steppe nomads with few natural defenses.This meant sedentary states had a more serious common foe besides each other.There is also the reverse of this theory which states that it was because Chinaoften unified that made eastern steppe nomads to often form powerfulconfederations. Only by forming powerful confederation would they be able tomatch the power of their southern sedentary neighbors.
4. Regional spending: The Handynasty directly collects taxation and spends the tax money locally. The Romanempire allocates most of its government revenue (excluding military upkeep and governmentpersonnel upkeep) to Italy. Regions have less incentive to stay a part of theempire if the tax money they provide to the empire isn't being spent on theirown regions.
Population in top tier Hancities (assuming 5 people per family)​
1) Chang'an: 404,000​
2) Chengdu: 381,280​
3) Maoling: 305,435​
4) Luoyang: 264,195​
5) Lu: 260,000​
6) Changling: 250,285​
7) Yanling: 245,505​
8) Wan: 237,735​
9) Yangdi: 208,250​
10) Pengcheng: 200,950​
Population in top tier Romancities​
1) Rome: 1,250,000​
2) Alexandria: 600,000​
3) Antioch: 500,000​
4) Carthage: 400,000​
5) Ephesus: 350,000​
6) Apamea: 200,000​
7) Pergamon: 150,000​
8) Lugdunum: 100,000​
9) Jerusalem: 100,000​
10) Cesarea: 100,000​



5. 自我实现预言【译注:一个心理学理论,请各位百度了解,因为实在不知道咋解释,大概就是大家都想统一,所以最终一定会统一】:秦汉帝国统一中国后,统一中国本身就成为一个目标。
6. 人口分布:古代人口的很大一部分集中在一个相对较小的区域。无论谁控制了该地区,都将获得巨大的人力和产业优势。

Bart Dale
Even having a common languagedidn't guarantee the unity of Germany and Austria, or that of America andBritain, or US and Canada, or the medi Italian city states so I am not surethat the Chinese writing is a complete answer.
Although the Chinese writinghelped, in the past only a relatively small percentage of the population couldread and write, and many business transactions were done face to face.
Even if two groups of peoplecouldn't understand each other by speaking to each other, they could stillunderstand each other through their written language. Language becomes aunifying factor.
But was the resources tomaintain the require the resources of all the regions? While the center ofChina was along the Yellow river, I don't think all of it was. Regions thatdidn't benefit directly from the Yellow River might resent the expense of itsupkeep.
But it would promote largerunits that were easier to reconnect and forge into a common empire. I can seethat playing a major role, if not the whole answer.
Also, would not the YellowRiver provide an easy transport path, which would promote interconnections. Nota factor by itself, but it could aid unity?
The Romans had a lot ofinfrastructure projects throughout their empire, roads and bridges, lighthouses,baths, aquaducts, and a variety of other items, so I am not certain this istrue.​
​Rome did suck up a lot moreresources of the Empire than the Chinese capitals did to maintain, but theother too cities like Alexandria were big before they became part of theEmpire, and were so due to regional support and trade.​
​And when the Roman Empire didbreak up, it was because regions were overrun by outsiders, not so much becauseof concentration of spending. Britain ceased to be a part of the empire becauseit was abandoned by the Empire, and was later overrun by outside barbarians.
An unified Europe was the goalof a number of famous European leaders, like Napoleon, and Charlemange, butthey did not achieve it.
I haven't seen data thatproves China was more urbanized than the Roman empire. The data does seem toshow population that is actually spread out fairly uniformly in some regionsand not too far from rivers that could act as transport routes. Control therivers, and you control the population




Mrbsct 美国
Culture and language. Eversince the Warring States, factions had a rather similar cultural principles.Europe was united by religion, but after the Fall of Western Rome, nobodywanted to go out and conquer besides the Eastern Roman Empire. The Popepromoted peace in West Europe, so nobody would have be at eachother's throats.
Now the Hasburg Kingdoms,controlling Austria, the Holy Roman Empire, Netherlands and Spain did attemptto to make Europe under a Catholic Empire but that failed.


Ruckeroberung2083 匈牙利
Europe is geographicallyfragmented, much moreso than China - it is easier to conquer and rule thelatter from a central base of power than the former.


Olleus 英国
That's part of the answer. Orrather, shows we we're asking the wrong question. The Roman empire andantiquity before it wasn't centred around Europe, but around the Mediterranean.In part, because it is vastly easier to trade across a relatively benign seathan across mountains and forests.
So instead we should probablybe asking: "Why was China able to reunite under new dynasties countlesstimes after breaking apart but the Mediterranean basin wasn't?"
And, in this case, I thinkreligion is one of the principal factors. Christianity and paganism didn't playalong too well or too badly, but Christianity and Islam were never going towork peacefully together. Even the different heresies of Christianity wouldn'twork together and caused the East to lose vast amounts of importantterritories. China didn't have this problem. It was more culturally homogeneous(as stated above), and the differences were more reconcilable. Buddhism, Taoismand Confucianism were not as violently opposed to each others existence asChristianity and Islam were to each other, and to their own internal divisions.




Emperor of Wurttemburg 43 美国
Europe had obstacles tocentralization the Chinese didn't have.
1)Decentralization, where theKings ended up ceding so much power to smaller land owners they becamedependent on their support despite being the titular King. It was in theinterests of most powers that be to not let a Roman Empire rise again and for alarger King to make any large acquisitions of land he needed support.
2)The Church also shared thesame interest with the smaller lords of there not being a strong centralauthority. While supportive of the Carolingian Empire, the Carolingians helpedthe Church out, afterwards the Church and most powerful secular King whether itto be the Holy Roman Emperor or the King of France tended to be in a powerstruggle. The Church also made it hard to justify fighting other Christians andis why we see very few large scale wars of expansion(compare that to the afterthe Reformation where we got one every generation until Napoleon), wars tendedto be over settling competing claims for a title not outright conquest thoughsometimes nonsensical claims were a pretext. The most successful empires of theMiddle Ages not just Charles V but the smaller ones usually didn't conqueranything rather they just inherited a bunch of stuff due to their own marriagesor their relatives marriages. This is part of why European nobles jumped at thechance to go Crusading, after centuries of relative peace, it was a chance atviolence that the Church said wouldn't put them in hell.
It was in simply everyone'sinterest that the Roman Empire not be restored except those aspiring to do therestoring. Most people with a moderate amount of power were just really happywith the way things were, the Church dominated society, feudal lords and evenKnights got to play King to an extent(they'd have their castle, they'd have thelocal church and they'd have people who lived on their land making their food,wars were relatively rare, it would be very easy to delude yourself intothinking you were the center of the universe because for practical purposes youwere, now imagine hundreds of these people). This didn't even really end upwith the Middle Ages(at least on a larger scale), even when the Middle Agesended and a system of great powers came to pass, everyone still ganged up onthe most powerful one that could possibly dominate Europe to prevent a unifiedEurope. Up until the United Nations and(depending on the party, the League ofNations), it's arguable the main reason there was an international system wasspecifically to prevent a Roman Empire from rising again and seems to be a throwbackto the Middle Ages and the feudal lords all dragging each others ambitions downon a larger scale.



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