World Axis: China in the Middle Ages, 1000 to 1350



In the history of China’s relationship to the outside world, the period of the middle ages, 1000 to 1350 — in China the periods of the Sung and Yüan dynasties — was doubly important. First, in the outside world in the sense of the other primary civilizations, 1000 to 1350 saw the emergence in Latin Christendom of a unique, radically new form of society which was eventually to make western Europe and its prolongation in America, the centre of the world. No doubt such a future was unimaginable in 1350. Western Europe was still the least civilized of the four regions of Western Eurasia and Western Eurasia as a whole was still less civilized than East Asia. No doubt much progress was still needed, whereas instead of advancing, in the fourteenth century Latin Christendom suffered disasters unparalleled since the ninth century. Nevertheless, take any of the major elements of European predominance — territorial states, capitalist cities, supranational church, parliamentary government, the conjugal family, a high level of education — and one finds its origin in the middle ages. An outer part of China’s environment had therefore undergone a major mutation.


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Copyright information

© S. A. M. Adshead 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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