Great Wall of China (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Protected northern China from pastoral nomads.
The construction of the Great Wall was the result of the historical tension that existed between the pastoral people of northern Asia and the sedentary society of ancient China. Pastoral societies evolved from the groups that were driven from the river valley systems during the Neolithic Revolution. With the domestication of the horse, these societies became more mobile. Migration became a way of life because of the constant search for food and water for their herds. During periods of severe weather, especially drought, these groups collided with sedentary societies, and these collisions often resulted in warfare.
The armies of these pastoral nomads were formidable and gave rise to what are known as “courage cultures.” The warrior was the most respected member of the society, and the personal characteristics of bravery, courage, aggression, and strength eventually evolved into cultural values. This militaristic mind-set made these nomadic people a military force to respect.
This historical fact was well known to Qin Shihuangdi, the emperor and absolute ruler of the Qin dynasty. China’s first great dynasty, the Zhou, was severely weakened by repeated raids by these warriors. This resulted in the Zhou emperor eventually losing the respect and control of his vassals, and the dynasty fell in 403 b.c.e.
(The entire section is 376 words.)
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