East Asia

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East Asia

During the years between 1000 and 1400 the East Asian region saw extensive change and development concerning the nature of the elites that ruled respective countries. In China there was the growth of the examination culture, Japan experienced the emergence of the Samurai, Korea saw the growth of the Yangban, and Vietnam became content with a tribute system to China. Each of the respective countries grew and developed independently and for the most part were able to distance themselves from China and begin to form their own national identity along with their own system of ruling elites.

In China there is a definite beginning to the new political elite which stems from the transition from the Tang to Song dynasties culminating in 960. The Zhao Brothers, who are the leaders of the revolution and the only one's able to consolidate power, know that they are only military strong men and realize that they need a system that will help prevent them from loosing power. As a result they look away from the landed aristocracy, that had previously ruled China and in the fighting has been greatly weakened, and focus their attention on creating a new political structure to develop government officials. The Zhao brothers institute the Confucian Examination System (CES), which no longer relies on recommendation but is merit based. The provincial exams are held every three years, with the number of people passing the final exam (Jinshi) being around 100-150 out of the original 100,000. Around this examination system there was now a rise of a new elite, the Literati. With the beginning of the CES there began a steady decline of military power in China and the emergence of the Literati. During the Mongol invasion the exams we...

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In all, great transformations in East Asia's political power structure took place during this time. There are two things that tie all the changes in the region together, the desire for emerging dynasties to legitimize and consolidate there power and China primarily in the form of the Confucian Examination System. The emergence of so many new dynasties in this period inherently leads to new political systems to govern new dynasties. The CES began in China also, in countries that adopt it, directly starts the emergence of a the Confucian scholar as a political official and creates a whole culture around the examinations themselves. The last unifying trait between all of the changes is that they all remain individual to their respective nations borrowing heavily at times from China but imprinting their own cultural identity on them at the same time.
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