The Great Walls of China

The Great Walls of China :: The Great Walls of ChinaThe Great Wall of China is famous in North America, and many tourists would like to travel there. However, most North Americans don’t know very much about Chinese history. That is changing now, as China is becoming an important subject for study in the West.

The settled communities of China were targets for nomadic raids since earliest times. For much of its early history, China was not fully unified. However, Shih Huang, who died in 210 B.C., united the whole country. Then he set about defending China from the northern nomads. It seems likely that there had been defensive walls in the north before. However, Shih Huang had a wall constructed across the entire north of China. This defensive wall extended for almost 2,000 miles and had 25,000 towers. Such walls were very expensive to build. They also required huge numbers of men to construct them, and later to defend them.

Even so, the Great Wall did not stop nomadic invasions altogether. Not long after Shih Huang’s death, a tribe called the Huns crossed the wall. The Emperor Hu Ti, who expanded Chinese power beyond the Wall, defeated them.

Centuries later, the Mongols to the north of China were united under Genghis Khan. The Mongols attacked China, and Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis, became the first non-Chinese emperor of China in 1279. Eventually, the Chinese rebelled and overthrew their Mongol rulers. Nonetheless, the Mongols remained a threat. In 1449, they destroyed a Chinese army and captured the Emperor.

A new Great Wall was begun to keep the Mongols out. This is the wall which tourists visit today and which is pictured on Chinese stamps. Construction continued for 200 years. While some parts were built of packed earth, much of the wall was built of stone, brick and rubble. This is why it took so long. Stones had to be quarried, and bricks baked and carried to the site. Labourers, peasants, soldiers and criminals were forced to work on the wall. Large and small forts and watchtowers carefully guarded the wall. Nearly a million soldiers were stationed along it.

The Chinese defenders lit fires when the enemy was sighted. Plumes of smoke and cannon shots told that the enemy was advancing and how many there were. By 1644, the new wall was almost completed.

That same year, however, an internal uprising overthrew the Emperor. This revolt was partly caused by the high taxes demanded to pay for the wall. The Emperor’s men invited the nomadic Manchu tribe to come through the gates in the wall to help put down the revolt. The Manchus came; but they stayed, and ruled China for several hundred years.

Since the Manchus ruled both north and south of the wall, they did not care about maintaining it. Many parts fell into disrepair, and some completely disappeared. Today the parts that remain are a major tourist attraction. The Great Wall of China is one of the wonders of the world. Even if it didn’t really succeed in its purpose of keeping the northern nomads out of China.

1 thought on “The Great Walls of China

  • Nomadic

    Source 1
    A member of a community that moves with its animals from place to place
    Nomadic tribes
    The nomadic life of a foreign correspondent

    If someone leads a nomadic life, they travel from place to place and do not live in any one place for very long:
    The son of an airforce pilot, he had a somewhat nomadic childhood

    Set about doing something

    Source 1
    Set about something| set about doing something[no passive]
    To start doing something
    She set about the business of cleaning the house.
    We need to set about finding a solution.

    To start doing or dealing with something, especially something that needs a lot of time and effort:
    A team of volunteers set about the task with determination.
    Set about doing somethingHow do senior managers set about making these decisions?


    Source 1
    Extend something To make something longer or larger
    To extend a fence/road/house
    There are plans to extend the no-smoking area.

    Source 2
    To make a room, building, road etc bigger or longer:
    We plan to extend the kitchen by six feet.


    Source 1
    The act of an army entering another country by force in order to take control of it
    The German invasion of Poland in 1939
    The threat of invasion
    An invasion force/fleet

    Usage note: War and peace

    Starting a wardeclare/make/wage war (on somebody/something)
    go to war (against/with somebody)
    cause/spark/provoke/foment/quell unrest
    incite/lead/crush/suppress a revolt/rebellion
    launch/mount/carry out a surprise/terrorist attack
    prevent/halt/represent an escalation of the conflict
    be torn apart by/be on the brink of civil war
    enter/invade/occupysomebody’s territory
    lead/launch/resist/repel an invasion

    Military operationsadopt/develop/implement/pursue a military strategy
    carry out/execute/perform military operations/manoeuvres/(especially US) maneuvers
    send/deploy/station/pull back/withdraw troops
    go on/fly/carry out a reconnaissance/rescue mission
    train/equip/deploy army/military/combat units
    lead/launch/conduct a raid/a surprise attack/an (air/airborne/amphibious) assault (on somebody)
    employ/use guerrilla tactics
    conduct/wage biological/guerrilla warfare
    fight/crush/defeat the rebels/the insurgency
    suffer/inflict a crushing defeat
    achieve/win a decisive victory
    halt/stop the British/German/Russian advance
    order/force a retreat

    Fightingjoin/serve in the army/navy/air force
    be/go/remain/serve on active duty
    serve/complete/return from a tour of duty
    be sent to the front (line)
    attack/strike/engage/defeat/kill/destroy the enemy
    see/report/be engaged in heavy fighting
    call for/be met with armed resistance
    come under heavy/machine-gun/mortar fire
    fire a machine-gun/mortar shells/rockets (at somebody/something)
    shoot a rifle/a pistol/bullets/missiles
    launch/fire a cruise/ballistic/anti-tank missile
    use biological/chemical/nuclear weapons
    inflict/suffer/sustain heavy losses/casualties
    be hit/killed by enemy/friendly/artillery fire
    become/be held as a prisoner of war

    Civilians in warharm/kill/target/protect innocent/unarmed civilians
    cause/avoid/limit/minimize civilian casualties/collateral damage
    impose/enforce/lift a curfew
    engage in/be a victim of ethnic cleansing
    be sent to an internment/a concentration camp
    accept/house/resettle refugees fleeing from war
    fear/threaten military/violent reprisals
    commit/be accused of war crimes/crimes against humanity/genocide

    Making peacemake/bring/win/achieve/maintain/promote peace
    call for/negotiate/broker/declare a ceasefire/a temporary truce
    sign a ceasefire agreement
    call for/bring/put an end to hostilities
    demand/negotiate/accept the surrender of somebody/something
    establish/send (in) a peacekeeping force
    negotiate/conclude/ratify/sign/accept/reject/break/violate a peace treaty

    Source 2
    When the army of one country enters another country by force, in order to take control of it
    Invasion of The invasion of Normandy

    AltogetherSource 1
    (used to emphasize something) completely; in every way
    The train went slower and slower until it stopped altogether.
    I don’t altogether agree with you.
    I am not altogether happy (= I am very unhappy) about the decision.
    It was an altogether different situation.

    Usage note:Altogether / all togetherAltogether and all together do not mean the same thing. Altogether means ‘in total’ or (in British English) ‘completely’:
    We have invited fifty people altogether.
    I am not altogether convinced by this argument.
    All together means ‘all in one place’ or ‘all at once’:
    Can you put your books all together in this box?
    Let’s sing ‘Happy Birthday’. All together now!

    Source 2
    Used to emphasize that something has been done completely or has finished completely:
    An old custom that has vanished altogether
    Congress could ban the procession altogether.


    Source 1
    To go across; to pass or stretch from one side to the other
    Cross (over)I waved and she crossed over (= crossed the road towards me).
    Cross (over) (from…) (to/into…)We crossed from Dover to Calais.
    Cross something to cross a/the roadTo cross the sea/mountains
    To cross France by train
    The bridge crosses the River Dee.
    A look of annoyance crossed her face.
    They crossed the finishing line together (= in a race).
    Cross over somethingHe crossed over the road and joined me.

    Source 2
    To go or stretch from one side of something such as a road, river, room etc to the other
    Cross to He crossed to the window.
    Cross (over) the road/street/river etcIt’s easy to have an accident just crossing the road.
    He was hit by a car when he tried to cross over the road near Euston station.
    Cross the Atlantic/the Channel etc The first steamship to cross the Atlantic
    An old bridge crosses the river.
    Cross overShe crossed over to sit beside Dot.


    Source 1
    Rebel (against somebody/something) to fight against or refuse to obey an authority, for example a government, a system, your parents, etc
    He later rebelled against his strict religious upbringing.
    Most teenagers find something to rebel against

    Source 2
    Someone who opposes or fights against people in authority: Anti-government rebels attacked the town.
    Rebel forces/soldiers
    The rebel leader


    Source 1
    overthrow somebody/something to remove a leader or a government from a position of power by force
    The president was overthrown in a military coup.

    Source 2
    To remove a leader or government from power, especially by force [= oust]:
    Rebels were already making plans to overthrow the government.


    Source 1
    Pack something (down)To press something such as snow or soil to form a thick hard mass
    Pack the earth down around the plant.
    A patch of packed snow

    Po press snow, soil, sand etc down so that it becomes hard and firm
    pack something down Pack the soil down firmly.


    Broken stones or bricks from a building or wall that has been destroyed or damaged
    The bomb reduced the houses to rubble.
    There were piles of rubble everywhere.


    A place where large amounts of stone, etc. are dug out of the ground
    A slate quarry
    The site of a disused quarry


    Source 1
    A farmer who owns or rents a small piece of land
    Peasant farmers
    A peasant family
    Peasant revolts

    Source 2
    A poor farmer who owns or rents a small amount of land, either in past times or in poor countries:
    Most villagers are peasant farmers.


    Source 1
    A building or buildings built in order to defend an area against attack
    The remains of a Roman fort

    Source 2
    A strong building or group of buildings used by soldiers or an army for defending an important place


    Source 1
    A tall tower from which soldiers, etc. watch when they are guarding a place

    Source 2
    A high tower used for watching and guarding a place


    Source 1
    Station somebody + adverb/prepositionTo send somebody, especially from one of the armed forces, to work in a place for a period of time
    Troops stationed abroad

    Source 2
    To send someone in the military to a particular place for a period of time as part of their military duty [= post]:
    I was stationed overseas at the time.


    Source 1
    past tense, past participle of light
    To start to burn
    The fire wouldn’t light.

    Source 2
    Past tense and past participle lit or lighted
    [intransitive and transitive] to start to burn, or to make something start to burn: He stopped to light a cigarette.
    I lit the fire and poured a drink.
    I couldn’t get the candles to light.


    Source 1
    A cloud of something that rises and curves upwards in the air
    A plume of smoke
    A radioactive plume could reach the city within hours.

    Source 2
    A cloud of smoke, dust etc which rises up into the air
    plume of smoke/dust/gas/spray etcA black plume of smoke rose above the city.


    Source 1
    An old type of large heavy gun, usually on wheels, that fires solid metal or stone balls
    Three cannon opened fire.
    A burst of cannon fire

    Source 2
    A large heavy powerful gun that was used in the past to fire heavy metal balls


    Source 1
    A situation in which a group of people join together in order to fight against the people who are in power
    Synonym: rebellion, revolt
    An armed uprising against the government
    A popular uprising (= by the ordinary people of the country)
    To crush/suppress an uprising

    Source 2
    An attempt by a group of people to change the government, laws etc in an area or country [= rebellion]: 
    A popular uprising (=by the ordinary people in a country)
    An armed uprising


    Source 1
    A protest against authority, especially that of a government, often involving violence; the action of protesting against authority
    Synonym: uprising
    The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381
    To lead/stage a revolt
    The army quickly crushed the revolt.
    The biggest back-bench revolt this government has ever seen
    Attempts to negotiate peace ended in armed revolt.
    (formal) The people rose in revolt.

    Source 2
    A refusal to accept someone’s authority or obey rules or laws [= rebellion]:
    The prime minister is now facing a revolt by members of his own party.
    Revolt against A revolt against authority
    Revolt overA revolt over the proposed spending cuts
    In revoltFrench farmers are in revolt over cheap imports.

    Put something down

    Source 1
    To stop something by force
    Synonym: crush
    To put down a rebellion
    The military government is determined to put down all opposition.


    Source 1
    A building, road, etc. that is in a state of disrepair has not been taken care of and is broken or in bad condition
    The station quickly fell into disrepair after it was closed.

    Source 2
    Buildings, roads etc that are in disrepair are in bad condition because they have not been cared for:
    Buildings allowed to fall into disrepair
    The castle is in a state of disrepair.

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