c.1500 BC: The Shang kingdom existed in the area of modern-day Henan province.
1100 BC-221 BC: Period of the Zhou dynasty.
c.800 BC: The feudal system instituted at the foundation of the Zhou dynasty disintegrated and China became a land of contending kingdoms.
6th-3rd centuries BC: Various schools of philosophy (Confucian, Daoist, Moist and Legalist) arose.
479 BC: The philosopher Confucius (K’ung Fu-tzu) died.
221 BC: The western state of Qin won the struggle between China’s kingdoms; its ruler assumed the title of Huang Di (‘emperor’), imposing a harsh Legalist code of laws and administration.
206 BC-AD 221: During the rule of the Han dynasty, the new empire was expanded to include the Guangzhou (Canton) region and the feudal system was replaced by a civil service. Confucianism became the established orthodoxy.
316-589: Following the invasion of Tartar tribes, China was divided, with Tartar rulers holding the north and Chinese dynasties the south (Yangtze valley). Literature flourished and Buddhism was introduced and disseminated widely.
618: The foundation of the Tang dynasty (618-907) reunited the empire on a lasting basis. The aristocratic military class gave way to a bureaucracy recruited by public examination open to all literates.
960: T’ai-tsu, the Inspector-General of the imperial forces, carried out a coup d’état and founded the Song dynasty (960-1279). Whereas other dynastic founders had eliminated threatening generals, Emperor T’ai-tsu (960-976) offered them honorary titles and pensions in exchange for their positions of command, and developed a civil service system. During Song rule gunpowder was developed and maritime trade with southern and western Asia expanded.
1127: The Song lost northern China to an invasion of the Jin Tartars who established the Chin dynasty. The Song continued to rule their lands in southern China.
1211: Mongol forces under Temujin (Chinghiz or Genghis Khan) began their invasion of the Chin territories.