A comprehensive and engaging guide to Imperial China
Imperial China, dating from the Qin conquest of China in 221 BCE until the final abdication of the last Qing emperor on 12 February 1912, maintained many consistent threads over its two millennia but was neither static nor unchanging. This introduction will examine both the changes and the consistencies of imperial Chinese history, spanning centuries and dynasties to examine what was characteristic of this period. The contradictions and tensions inherent in the imperial system were solved in some periods before subsequent changes undermined that solution. Yet the history of imperial China remains important because many of those tensions remain until this day.