Han China vs. Imperial Rome Essay

Imperial Rome vs. Han China

There are many similarities and differences between Imperial Rome and Han China that connect and divide them; in the sense of political control. Although both were seen as two of the strongest empires of their time, they differed on methods of achieving such a title. While there are key differences between both empires, such as form of government, their social structures and causes of external collapse unite them. Although both empires have similarities, they also have differences in the means of political control. The first major difference between the methods of political control was the structure of government in each empire. Confucianism through the Mandate of Heaven dominated in China; on the other hand, there was a Monarchy in Rome, which eventually led into a Republic. In China, people were ruled by an emperor who took strongly into consideration the Mandate of Heaven. The Mandate of Heaven was the political theory in ancient China that those in power were given their power from a divine source. Alternatively, Roman society had a more centralized structure of political control.

The Romans operated under a Monarchy, which was insinuated to be a Republic, and was headed by Augustus Caesar (Octavian). There is also a difference in the internal collapse of each empire. The decline of the Han dynasty was mostly due to their corrupt bureaucracy and inability to defend themselves against the Hun invaders. The fall of Imperial Rome was due to the internal weakening of the economy and political power. As the empire grew, it required the use of more soldiers which brought on tax troubles and led to plague and poverty. During that time, there was an increase of detestation between middle and upper classes. The upper classes led overgenerous lifestyles and soon neglected their social and political responsibilities.

The Emperor Diocletian tried to stop the decline by prosecuting Christians, as he believed they were the cause of the decline. Christianity challenged the views of the already existing religious views in Rome; therefore, it was considered blasphemy to convert to such a controversial religion. After Diocletian’s reign, Constantine, who later converted to Christianity, used his religion to try to unify the Empire. However, neither of the emperors could save the empire; the last of the Roman Empire was brought to a close by the Hun invaders.

Though they may differ on type and structure of government, there are similarities between the two empires/dynasties. The main similarity between the two was their ability to adapt to and adopt a strong centralized bureaucracy. Another similarity was the social structure. In each empire, the eldest man headed the household and could hold office or own property while women were not given many privileges or powers. Unless a woman was of high social status, she couldn’t control who she married, she couldn’t own property, or even hold office. Lastly, although they differed by their collapse within, both empires eventually succumbed to the external advances of the Hun invaders.

In conclusion, while both the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty had similarities, they also widely differed. In the sense of social structure and eventual external collapse, they were similar. On the other hand, the internal cause of collapse and form of government is what sets them apart.