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Mandate of Heaven
The first great Dynasty to rule China was the Shang Dynasty. The Shang Dynasty ruled China from approximately 1700 B.C. until around 1000 B.C. The Shang Dynasty was eventually overthrown by an individual named Wu, who established the Zhou (JOH) Dynasty. This new Dynasty would rule China for the next eight centuries.
The Chinese people believed that their rulers could rule because they had a mandate from heaven. So long as they retained their mandate, they could continue to rule the empire. However, if this mandate was lost due to poor crops or losses in battle, then the right to rule could be given to a new dynasty.
As a result, for the next several thousand years China would be ruled by a succession of powerful dynasties.