The History of the GreatWall
The Great Wall is a greatmiracle created by the ancient Chinese people,and is also the witness of China’slong history.According to historical records,the Great Wall was firstconstructed in the war torn Warring States period,and the state of Qi built thefirst section of the Great Wall in the Chinese history,subsequently gonethrough nearly two thousand years of construction and expansion by eightdynasties,such as the Qin ,the Han,the Beichao(Northern Dynasties),the Sui,theSong,the Liao,the Jin and the Ming Dynasty.The Great Wall built by each dynastyhas its own unique charm,embracing a rich history and stories.But because ofthe long time span,most of the Great Wall built in different times of the earlyera has mutilated.The sections now preserved relatively intact are the MingGreat Wall,first built in the 14th century,stretching from the Yalu River in theeast to Jiayuguan in the west with a history of over 600 years.
The Origin of the GreatWall
The Spring and Autumn andWarring States Periods(770B.C-221B.C)were the transitional period for Chinafrom the slave society to the feudal society.With the strengthening of thepolitical and the economic relations among the ducal states of the CentralPlains,the trend of unification was increasingly strong.The war among the ducalstates occurred frequently,and the tools of the war were unceasingly evolvingfrom a single spear and shield to a more advance form.At that time the most powerful and lethal weapon was thechariot.The chariot was usually pulled by four horses in combat,and there wereabout three people on board,respectively responsible for driving ,archery andfighting.The rampage chariot was unstoppable in the plain.Therefore,all statesregarded the production of more upgraded chariots as the most important measurein the battlefield.In order to resist the chariot,the military strategistsbuilt lookout posts,beacon tower, and military fortresses which could be usedto enhance vigilance as well as to withstand assault,and then it was developedto build tall,wide and heavy walls connecting the beacon towers and thefortresses,constituting the military defense project which was easy for defensebut difficult to attack and was insurmountable for the cavalry and thechariots.
While the ducal states inthe Central Plains in constant conflicts,some north nomadic groups werebecoming powerful,continuously looting the northern border areas of theQin,Zhao,Yan and others states.There ethnic groups had a very strong fightingcapacity as they were good at riding,shooting and field operations,movingswiftly from place to place,often initiating a sudden attack.The combat troopsof the ducal states in the Central Plains were mainly infantry and chariotswhich moved slowly in combat and it was very difficult for them to stop theattacks and the lootings of those ethnic groups.
Facing this passivesituation,the ducal states carried out the reform of the military system oneafter another,and built the Great Wall in the north.The Qi GreatWall,constructed by the state of Qi,was the earliest of the Great Wall inChinese history,known as “One-Thousand-Li Great Wall”’the Father of the GreatWall”and the “First-Rate Barrier of the World”,The Qi Great Wall was one of themost influential defense line in the Chinese history as it had built a completemilitary defense system with walls.passes,forts and beacon towers.many majorevents and important battles in history occurred on both sides of the Qi GreatWall.
The section of the GreatWall constructed by the Stated of Chu was known as “Fang Cheng”(Square wall) or“Wan Cheng”at the time it was built.Among the ducal states of the WarringStates period,the territory of the state of Chu was the largest,includingtoday’s Hubei,the northern part of Hunan,Jiangxi and Anhui,most of Jiangsu andthe southern part of Henan,as well as the southeast of Shannxi province,allwithin its territory.For the purpose of initiating offensive and defensiveoperations against other ducal states,particularly guar against the attackslaunched by the state of Jin and the state of Qi,the state of Chu started tobuild a series of forts in the northern border areas.The Chu Great Wall wasoriginally developed from Lie Cheng.Lie Cheng were a series of defensive smallforts built in a line according to the terrain.Between the forts,some placeswere difficult terrains,while some other places walls were built to link the fortstogether,forming a solid defense system.The general outline of the Chu GreatWall was similar to the square,there were irregular changes in some fort passesdue to terrain restrictions.
Since the state of Qinstarted to pursuit a policy of making the country rich and building up themilitary might,its army had gradually changed into infantry and cavalry.At thesame time by giving rewards and promotions according to military merits,thearmy’s combat effectiveness greatly enhanced,and had become invincible.In orderto prevent the south sweep of the Huns,King ZhaoWang of Qin ordered to buildthe Great Wall along the border of Longxi,Beidi,and the northern part ofShangjun,and sent troops to station there.
After carrying out thereform of the military system,the military strength of the state of Zhao hadalso gradually strengthened,and began building the Great Wall so as to preventthe Huns from looting down into the south.The state of Zhao constructed twoGreat Wall respectively in different periods.Located in the southern territoryof the State of Zhao,the first Zhao Great Wall was built from 330B.C. toprevent invasion and harassment from the state of Wei and Qi.The second ZhaoGreat Wall was built from 300B.C. to 299B.C.runing towards the north and the south.
The strength of the stateof Yan was a weaker state in the Warring States period.It was facing thepowerful state of Qi and the newly emerged state of Zhao,as well as the rapidriding of the state of Qin in the south and under great pressure from theDonghu in the north.Starting from 311B.C.,the king of the state of Yan exerteddetermined efforts to make the state strong by inviting men of virtue andwisdom from varies states and carried out reform.It gradually became strong andprosperous.At that time,the Donghu was powerful and often looted the northernpart of Yan.In order to resist foreign aggression ,the state of Yan constructedtwo Yan Great Walls,the Southern Great Wall and the Northern Great Wall.
At that time,the states ofZhongshan,Zheng,Han and other small ducal states also built the Great Wallalong their borders in order to guard against the invasion of the bigpowers.But because of their weak strength and small size,the sections of theGreat Wall constructed by them were destroyed reconstructed after the demise oftheir states.At present the number of the remaining sites available forinvestigation is rather limited.