In 221 BCE, the Qin state conquered its neighbours and created the first unified Chinese empire in history. So began the imperial era, where dynasties claiming divine assent ruled for more than 2,000 years.
Borders shifted and emperors struggled to exert control over every region of their diverse territories. Elites held that they were inheritors of a rich, pre-imperial culture, while their society produced world-changing inventions such as the compass, printing, gunpowder and the gun. And imperial China itself was altered as it came into contact with others through trade, exploration and war.
For anyone curious about this fascinating period, Peter Lorge introduces imperial China's major ruling dynasties, religions, arts, thinkers, inventions, military advancements, economic developments and historians.