Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mandarin vs. Cantonese: Not a struggle for dominance

Mandarin or Cantonese? It might seem like a tough choice, but this blog post will help you narrow down the decision very quickly.

Cantonese Dialect Map
An ignorant map of China divided on dialect:
Blue is Cantonese, while red is Mandarin
For example, Dorothy Feng at Brainscape argues that for foreigners seeking to learn a Chinese language, Mandarin is better. But I don't think that this question even needs to be asked - unless you plan on living in Guangzhou forever, Cantonese is as good as useless.

After years of hearing Cantonese in a Chinatown, maybe you now believe that the ratio of Mandarin to Cantonese speakers isn't that big - there are certainly many websites that believe so. Or maybe the recent attempts by the Chinese governments to bring more Mandarin into Guangzhou has aroused your suspicion. Maybe you want to know which language you should learn.

Despite popular perception of Cantonese as the 'second largest dialect' or 'second largest language' in China, this is definitely not true. The only fact that can be remotely similar is that Cantonese is one of the biggest Chinese 'dialects or languages' spoken overseas. In fact, both Wu (90-100 million speakers) and Hakka (around 80 million) are the second and third biggest dialects respectively, Cantonese taking the backseat as the fourth biggest dialect with only 60 million speakers.

There are several questions that this post seeks to answer.

  1. What is Cantonese?
  2. What is a dialect?
  3. Why are there so many southern dialects or languages?
  4. Why is the foreign view of these two dialects so distorted?
  5. Which dialect or language is better for business in China?

What is Cantonese?

Cantonese is a Chinese dialect (or language), with all of its Chinese speakers mostly in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Macau, and Hong Kong. Elsewhere, many Cantonese speakers live in Malaysia and in Chinatowns - the Chinatown in New York and Massachusetts are especially infamous for their preference of Cantonese over Mandarin.

In China, Cantonese is called Yue. In the same fashion, the Fujian dialect is called Min, not Fujianese. The dialects of Jiangsu, Anhui, and Zhejiang are called Wu, not Jiangsu-Anhui-Zhejiangese.

Further, these dialects are called dialects because they use almost the exact same written script in Standard Chinese. The official pronunciation of Mandarin is actually based off of the Beijing-dialect - and it is universal, with Singapore, Taiwan, and China all using the Beijing dialect.

What is a dialect?

The Oxford Dictionaries define a dialect as a particular form of a language that is peculiar to a specific region or social group. Using such a definition of dialect, Cantonese would definitely be a dialect of the Chinese language.

Here are several reasons why:
  1. Cantonese, as mentioned before, uses the same exact written script - the Standard Chinese script. In other words, the only difference between Cantonese and Min and Mandarin is pronunciation.
  2. Speaking Cantonese is like speaking English with an accent. Just because somebody speaks Texan English doesn't mean that they're speaking a different language.

    Or for a more accurate comparison, let's say you learned English from a teacher who probably didn't understand it either. And you talk with a person who learned English the exact same way. Both of you can't understand each other, though you technically learned the same language.
  3. Mandarin is a dialect of Chinese. So is Wu. And Min. And Hakka. And Cantonese. The latter four are all of equal status - namely, they aren't the official dialect. Even the first isn't the official dialect; more specifically, the Beijing dialect of the Mandarin dialect of Chinese is the official dialect.

Why are there so many Southern Dialects?

Chinese people were originally from the north - the area around Shandong, Shanxi, Henan, and Hubei. Because the North China Plain was relatively flat, it allowed for easy conquest within the plains; difficult mountains did not have to be crossed. The Chinese 'colonized' the North China Plain, driving previous languages extinct. Like German dialects before Standard German, even heavy interaction between different tribes spread around the North China Plain did not allow for the evolution of a single Chinese language.

Instead, there was a Northern Mandarin dialect, Southern Mandarin dialect, and a Western Mandarin dialect. The Northern dialect was around the areas of Gansu to Shandong. The Southern dialect comes from the Mandarin-speaking areas of northern Jiangsu. The Western dialect comes from the areas like Henan and Shaanxi.

In the first few dynasties, the Western dialect was the official dialect. This was true beginning with the Qin and Han and would end with the Yuan.

Meanwhile, the Han were the first dynasty to begin colonizing the south. They successfully conquered the Minyue (in present-day Fujian). Unfortunately for the colonizers, the southern areas are generally very very mountainous. You can't look outside a window in the South and not see a mountain. That means communities are more isolated from the capital.

As a result, southern dialects emerged - still Han Chinese, but different sounding. They didn't just separate from Mandarin - no, they diversified themselves, with each city and village having its own unique little dialect. For example, in the general 'Chinese language' category, there's a southern dialect called Min.

It has its own dialect called Minzhong - and that dialect has many of its own dialects, like Fuzhou-nese, and literally a dialect for each city.

Why is the foreign view on Mandarin and Cantonese so distorted?

Though I am of Chinese descent (not Cantonese or Mandarin, though), I speak Mandarin. And guess what? If a Cantonese and a non-Cantonese Chinese person meet, they talk in English (or the national language of the area).

But in New York City's Chinatown, the lingua franca is Cantonese, just like in Boston. It's because the Cantonese were the first to emigrate from China. And there's one reason why they're the first to emigrate from China - Hong Kong.

You're probably sitting there thinking, "This guy is nuts. How does some random previously-British city cause most of us to think that Cantonese speakers are around equal in number to Mandarin speakers?"

Hong Kong, a backwater part of Guangdong, was snatched by Britain after China's humiliating and crushing defeat in the first Opium War. Hong Kong was a trading factory for Brits to trade with China. It grew larger and larger, with more Cantonese speakers moving there in search of better economic opportunities (certainly better than on mainland China).

In addition, Hong Kong was actually British soil - and they had much more freedom of movement than on mainland China, where emigration was banned and blocked (but happened anyways). With greater freedom of movement, it seems inevitable for Cantonese speakers to naturally form a wider and larger diaspora.

On the other hand, Min speakers (mostly in Fujian, Hainan, and Taiwan) also form a large and wide diaspora, though not as big as Cantonese speakers. Most of us know them as Hokkiens and Teochew, though these are southern Min languages. Many Chinese restaurant owners across America are actually Min speakers who (illegally or legally, though normally leaning towards the former) emigrated to America and opened up a shop.

Which dialect is better for business in China?

Based on what you've heard so far, I'd guess you should know by now - but in case you skipped most of it, here's the gist of it all. Mandarin is better for business in China, even if you're going to the Guangzhou or Hong Kong provinces. Why? You can travel literally anywhere in China and talk to people; English is taught, but outside the well-educated urban elite in the cities, you won't find any good English speakers. Cantonese is useful only in Guangzhou or Hong Kong, and good luck if you want to be in Macau. Min is useful only on Taiwan, Fujian, and Hainan, and even then, its own dialects can't understand each other. Wu is the same; the Hangzhou dialect is completely different from the rest, including the Shanghainese dialect.

In addition, the dialects are all fading with better communication - especially Shanghainese, which is under assault by hordes of Mandarin speakers from the north. Without any reason to learn the local dialect, Mandarin is becoming the lingua franca across all of China. Even my little cousin from Fujian never understood any Min dialect. It's a shame that all these dialects are either fading, dying out, or doing both, and I hope the Chinese government tries to preserve them. But considering the current trend of the Chinese government, they seem to be gleeful that the dialects are slowly disappearing, so I wouldn't count on it.

On the other hand, if your question was "Which dialect is better for business in Guangzhou and Hong Kong?" Well then, there's also only one answer. Cantonese would be better if you plan on sticking to those two only, of course.

If you have a different opinion about this subject than us, feel free to comment and explain why. But please remain cordial.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Chapter One - Alternate History: Song Chinese Modernization

Throughout my years as a member of the large Alternate History forum, as well as a (formerly) frequent visitor to the Alternate History Wikia, I found myself bemused by the chauvinism of many when they write anti-Western timelines in which China, Japan, or some Eastern (especially East Asian) nation manages to colonize A) the World, B) Europe, or C) All of the Above.

Before I begin this timeline, which is just a vigorous exercise of my mind, I'd like to point out a few reasons why any of the above options would never have happened.

  1. No offense, Europe, but you're terribly lacking in terms of natural resources. Back in the day of the Ming, all China wanted (and needed) was silver. Silver, silver, silver - something both Japan, and eventually Spain, would provide in ample amounts, fueling rampant inflation. This, above all, is the biggest reason why China would never ever colonize Europe. As for India, one of the biggest products they export is mica, something used in computers. Yeah...I don't think China really needs that.

    Again, in the Song, what would China need? Evidently, Europe would have nothing to provide, so there's no impetus for colonization or imperialism.
  2. We're really ignoring the super-influential bureaucratic imperial examinations systems on China. They were especially important in the Ming, where emperors often did not participate in the government. Instead, a free-trade economy developed with the governmental laissez-faire policies. Unfortunately for the Ming, while this definitely adds a plus in my book, the reason why was because taxes remained low, even when inflation brought normal prices up, drying up the imperial coffers significantly.

    Many also forget that the Song and Ming were the peak of Chinese culture - namely, long novels and writings were being made in China at this time. Bureaucrats played an important role in the dissemination of these writings - notably, ships to trade and travel with nations farther than Malaysia would be hugely expensive, and there's no benefit to going further - anything further is already in China. The bureaucrats would be the biggest opposition, and that's not considering what Confucius says about trade - he argues that trade is horrible because merchants don't 'make' anything.
These reasons are why this timeline will not showcase a China that colonizes everything from Nanjing to Portugal and Rio de Janeiro. If that's what you came here for, feel free to turn around. If not, please read on.

Issues to clarify:
  1. The Butterfly Effect refers to the fact that different patterns in this timeline will mean that the same people born in our timeline will not - and I repeat, not, be born in this timeline. Sorry, no 20th century Mao Zedong or Mikhail Gorbachev. As much fun as it is to have these people pop up, different trading patterns mean that Mao might be born to an urban couple in Fuzhou instead of Hunan, and Mikhail might be an Ukrainian living in Kiev.
  2. Timelines are just...timelines. The history we know is our timeline, while this timeline is a different history.
  3. The change that causes this different timeline is the Point of Divergence. In this timeline, the change is going to be something that's very surprising.
Without further to do, let the timeline...begin!

Chapter One:

A History of Early Modern China, by Lin Xixing, published by the National Academy at Fujian:
"Wang Anshi is a very controversial history in modern history. Born on December 8, 1021, in Linchuan, modern-day Wangdi, Wang was from one of the southern provinces who was in favor of what we in modern times call Wangism. When he was 21, he earned his jinshi (advanced scholar) degree in the exams, and he spent around 20 years in the south as a local administrator. He decided that the continuous taking of land from peasants was hurting the economy, and submitted his "Ten Thousands Word Memorial" to the Emperor in 1058. He entered the central government around two years later, in 1060.

The Renzong Emperor died after a long illness, replaced by the Yingzong Emperor. Unfortunately, the Yingzong Emperor died quickly too, reigning until around 1063, and he was replaced by his son, the Emperor Shenzong.

Shenzong became interested in Wang Anshi's theories relatively quickly, and Wang catapulted up the rankings, eventually occupying the position of 2nd privy councilor. The three reforms he proposed in this position were 1) state finance and trade, 2) defense and social order, and 3) education and improving of governance.

To do this, he paid cash for labor instead of corvee labor. He minted more copper coins, improved management of trade, gave government loans to farmers for planting seasons for repayment by harvest. To stop speculation and monopolies, he brought price control and set wages and pensions. Public orphanages, hospitals, dispensaries, hospices, cemeteries, and reserve granaries were set up.

His military reforms included supplying militias and making them better organized.

Most importantly, he added law, military affairs, medicine, and mathematics to the examination system. There was large resistance to this by the old bureaucrats, and Wang was forced to form a coalition of free-thinkers he labeled the 'Imperials' (we call them Southerners because many of them came from the South) in response to conservatives like Su Dongpo and Ouyang Xiu. Further, the National Academy became a state-sponsored school, and Wang sought to make education available further.

His coalition managed to occupy the level of high officials. Wang was the Grand Counselor, and Shen Kuo became the Vice Grand Counselor. Reformists now occupied the heads of all three departments of the state financial commission - the Census Bureau, Tax Bureau, and Salt and Iron Monopoly Bureau. The Censorate and Remonstrance Bureau were expanded with more Reformists - something that would prove a thorn in the Song's side later on.

By this point, Wang's reforms were finally kicking in, and the economy was booming. Finally, Emperor Shenzong decided that it was the perfect time to attempt to pacify some of the barbarians on China's borders."

Note: The difference between this timeline and our timeline is that Shenzong comes to power earlier, bringing Wang up with him. Wang also creates a coalition, unlike in our timeline. Finally, Wang, with the support of his coalition, attempts more reforms.

If you're wondering, the 'textbook' is something from this alternate history. I hope you enjoyed it!

On the Origin of the National Language

“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." 
- George Orwell in his book 1984.
In recent years, the Gujarat High Court has been the champion of the anti-Hindi cause throughout India, arguing that Hindi was a foreign language in parts of Gujarat [1] and arguments that Hindi was merely an official language. This article seeks to delve into the issue at hand - what is a national language? Do we need a national language? Furthermore, what is a standard language?

What is a National Language?

Saint Petersburg is on the far Northwest red circle in Russia.
Vladivostok is on the far Southeast area, Primorsky.
To anybody reading this from parts of the world like Europe or China, the answer is obvious. It's obvious the language people from one part of a country can use to speak to those from another part. For example, a person from Saint Petersburg would be able to talk to a person in Vladivostok in Russian. A person from China's Fujian province would presumably be able to speak to a person from China's Heilongjiang province in Mandarin.

But while the concept of a national language is very new, it has existed for more than two millenia in the past. Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty in China, after reuniting the wartorn country, had established a single unified national script - somebody from Luoyang, China, could read the writing of someone from Suzhou, China. Qin had intended to keep his dynasty ruling forever - in fact, he died because he wanted to be the ruler forever and drank chemicals advertised as 'immortality potions'. However, in order to do this, he created a unified script specifically to unify China. Though he failed in keeping China, the succeeding dynasty, the Han, would continue his script.

Then what do I mean when I say that the concept of a national language is new? If China has had one language for millenia, it can't be new! Not so, actually.

Hanzi (汉字), the unified Chinese script

China, such a large and vast nation, inevitably has more than one language. Heck, languages like Tibetan, Uighur, Manchu, Mongolian, and Zhuang are official languages in many places - though it is important to note that Manchu speakers are definitely a minority in the three northeast provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning. Mongolians consist of half of those in Inner Mongolia, etc. The point is that China has many languages.

In addition, China's unified script has many different pronunciations and writing styles. These pronunciations are so diverse that many linguistic experts describe 'Chinese' as diverse a 'language family', akin to the Indo-European language family. These 'languages' (or dialects, if you ask someone from China) are mutually non-intelligible - traditionally, the seemingly homogeneous Mandarin speakers wouldn't understand each other if one came from Xinjiang and the other came from Shandong.
This is a map of China by dialect. 
Please note that the white areas
do not speak a Chinese language. [2]

Think about it this way - some linguists argue that Cantonese and Northern Mandarin are as similar as Gujarati and Russian. Personally, I call them different languages, so my resume looks much better. For example, speaking three Chinese languages sounds so much better than speaking three Chinese dialects. Further, these languages have their own dialects: consider Min Chinese (the medium-light blue one on the map at the right).

It has many dialects of itself, including Central Min (闽中, or Minzhong), Southern Min (闽南, or Minnan), and Northern Min (闽北, or Minbei). These three are only the cherry on the cake, with dozens of dialects spread around the world. After attempts to make up a language, the Chinese government gave up and forced the Beijing dialect of Mandarin on all students, though they weren't completely successful. Some of the students were unable to speak Mandarin accurately either.

SPQR - The Senate and People of Rome,
a motto of the Roman Empire

Other than China, you can find the examples of 'national languages' of a sort elsewhere, though normally not as early as China. Rome is a good example, though they didn't institute Latin entirely for the purpose of stopping their nation from civil war. From Britain to Egypt, Romans were generally taught either Latin or Greek, Latin being the language used by both the military and the courts. Later, though, Latin developed separately in different provinces - the examples being Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian.

For a long time, the concept of a national language disappeared and almost went extinct. To visit modern-day Germany under the Holy Roman Empire, you would need to know five different dialects of German - just to be able to travel between five neighboring villages. Standard languages began to appear, with one of the first Finnish languages being created by Mikael Agricola in the 15th century,

What is a Standard Language?

According to Wikipedia, a standard language is a language variety used by a group of people in their public discourse. Personally, I'd say that standard languages are languages that eventually became the dominant language of a region larger than its origin. That's a pretty broad definition, so let me give some examples.
  1. Standard English is just the form of English used in English-speaking nations.
  2. Standard Italian was actually the Tuscan dialect, but became widely used after the (Italian) government instituted it.
  3. Standard Mandarin is the only official language of China, and almost everybody can speak it (or think they speak it).

Do we need a National Language?

And now, for the answer most of you have been looking for...I argue NO.

Why? There's so many reasons.
  1. Linguistic Diversity: National languages severely reduce linguistic diversity and have forced many dialects and languages extinct. Some argue that this is a good thing, but it's always a shame when a group's culture or language has been lost. Others argue that this is not true - but it is.

    Consider the long brought-up reason of China. I know I've mentioned it a lot this time, but it's very useful. Shanghainese, the largest Wu Chinese dialect, is on the decline already, with Mandarin quickly replacing it. The reason? Migrants to Shanghai both don't need to learn Shanghainese to survive and have the internet to maintain their Mandarin skills. Assimilation is very rare now.

    A better example would be Germany, which is often ignored. Standard German has forced dialects practically extinct in Hanoverian, which is never a good thing.
  2. International Languages: The biggest reason why people argue in favor of a single national language is because they believe that one language is needed to communicate between other languages. For example, as mentioned since the beginning of this post, many Indians support Hindi. On the other hand, many African nations have adopted French as their national language.

    Why is a national language needed at all when you have international languages, like English or Spanish (or Esperanto, which has proven to be a slow success)? A huge job provider for thousands in India and the Philippines are customer service call centers. Indeed, one of the biggest reason these jobs aren't outsourced to China like almost every other job is because of skilled English proficiency in both nations. And skilled English proficiency, especially in India, is because of the need to communicate between different languages. With the replacement of Hindi, English would become unnecessary. Jobs could be completely outsourced to the Philippines, which would be more than happy to accept them.

    Also, unlike Hindi or Mandarin, English would never be able to replace the local provincial language. International languages have always served as a cause for bilingualism, though they have never managed to replace individual languages. For example, in ancient East Asia, China was the hegemon over much of the land. Nations in Korea and Japan have noted linguistic similarities to China, though their languages are obviously different.
  3. Adjustment: For those already speaking the language, it's easy to simply argue in favor of replacing provincial dialects or languages with the language you can speak. When Mao Zedong forced Beijing-Mandarin on everybody, nobody in Beijing complained. In China, the difference isn't big, either - grammatically, Mandarin and Cantonese would be identical.

    But in India, languages like Malayalam and Hindi don't have similar grammar structures. Further, they aren't even in the same language family - Hindi is derived from the Indo-European language family, while Malayalam is a Dravidian language. Hindi, influenced by centuries of Muslim conquest, is much closer to Arabic, Persian, and Turkic languages than Malayalam is.
  4. Finally, the biggest issue is what is this national language replacing? In Germany, it replaced dialects - which is bad, but not pressing. But in India (Hindi), the battle is at the edge of the cliff - will India finally lose its motto, "United in Diversity"? Pakistan has forced Urdu on all of its people, causing a large rebellion in Baluchistan. What would happen to India?

    Further, dialectal extinction is bad enough. Why should we further encourage the destruction of millenia-old languages like Tamil and ruin the cultural heritage of future generations?
The numerous languages on the Indian subcontinent:
forcing one language is difficult
But why would you want a national language? Below, I will discuss the implications for India.

India: In Favor or Not?

To clarify the issue in India, the Constitution puts forth Hindi in Devangiri Script and English as the two official languages of India. Originally, English would eventually be dropped in 1965, but massive protests in Tamil Nadu stopped the government from quitting English. Furthermore, the states are allowed to have their own official languages, so there's 22 official languages in India.

I'll be playing the Devil's Advocate now. Here are 2 reasons in favor of a national language in India.
  1. In addition to people who prefer English as a national language (which, to be honest, just probably isn't going to happen), there are those who prefer Hindi as the national language. The biggest and most obvious reason in favor of a national language is inter-regional communications - how is a Punjabi going to talk to a Malayali? Either English or Hindi could  theoretically work as a national language, and the current system is obviously pretty flawed.

    With either Hindi or English being taught, Hindi learners in Kolkata would not be able to communicate with English learners in Bangalore. Further, even when both are taught, it places further educational burdens on non-Hindi natives. Hindi natives merely have to learn Hindi and maybe English. Those originally speaking Telegu, Bengali, Marathi, or literally any other language would (in order to maintain their language) have to learn three completely different languages - Telegu/Bengali/Marathi/other, English, AND Hindi (some call it the Three Language Policy). Who gets the advantage in exams when the people in one place have to study more material? This is a clear cut reason for one national language, not two - and it's a reason I certainly understand.

    In the article “It is actually Hindi vs English, not Hindi vs Tamil”, Nagarajan from Centre Right India proposes that "Hindi is just another regional language for us. Majority of us don’t see a reason to learn Hindi, until we are forced to migrate to a Hindi heartland for education or job. It can be my third Language after Tamil and English. My Hindi speaking fellow Indians should be happy that we acknowledge Hindi’s importance ahead of our neighbouring languages such as Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam."
  2. National Unity is another big reason people often bring up. India's national bird is a peacock, and its national animal is a tiger. The majority of Indians can speak Hindi, those in favor of Hindi explain, so Hindi should become the national language of India. Europe has its national anthem (Ode to Joy; India has one too), while its individual countries have their own anthems.

    Britain has one, France has one, Germany has one, Russia has one, Finland has one, Sweden has one - in other words, all of them have one. Looking further west (or east, if you want to look at it from another way), one can notice quickly that America has no official language, very unlike India, much less a national language.

    China has one, Japan has one, the Koreas have one, Taiwan has one - even Bangladesh and Pakistan have one. India is surrounded by nations with an national language (or only one official language), yet it does not have one. Right now, it is the shining beacon of diversity and democracy in the middle of oppressive mono-lingualism. Who wishes to change that?
What do you think about national languages? Do you think it's necessary? If you have any other reasons why or why not national languages should be used, feel free to comment below! Please, remain cordial. :D 

  1. "Hindi Is a Foreign Language for Gujaratis, Says Gujarat High Court" The Times of India. India Times, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 28 Aug. 2015.
  2. Chinese Maps for Dialects. Digital image. Dartmouth College. Dartmouth, n.d. Web.
  3. "Languages of South Asia." Emory University. Emory, 2014. Web.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Standardized Testing: Birth of a Newborn or Not?

We've all gone through it at least once in school, no matter where we live. Whether we're in America, Ukraine, China, France, Israel, Russia, Argentina, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, Egypt, or India, we've all met this creature face-to-face.
Polish students in an exam
Polish students taking an exam

I'm talking about standardized testing, of course. In America, we call these the SAT, the ACT, or the AP Tests. In Ukraine, we called them the IGTs. In most nations, which I've heard applies to both China and India, among others, the students will take the exam, and based on how successful they are, they will enter a university. If I'm wrong, please correct me in the comments! Thanks :D

Are these standardized tests a modern creation made to test students and give parents heart attacks? Though the current multiple-choice standardized test is a modern creation, standardized tests are, in fact, not new.

But in that case, there are several questions we have to ask. Why would anybody ever think up a standardized test? Who was the first to push students through this test? And of course, are standardized tests even worth it? Should they be replaced?

Let's begin.

Why would anybody ever think up a standardized test?

The quickest answer that comes to my mind is that in meritocratic societies, positions and social hierarchies are based on merit, not connections. But how is it possible to do this when your society has tens or hundreds of millions of people?

Obviously, to reduce the amount of effort bureaucrats had to do to find a smart individual (I promise you, that's hard), the exam system provided an easy way to  find a successor. Indeed, it's actually hard to find an official who wouldn't be biased. Obama, if he could, would choose a Democrat to be the next president. Any Republican would do the same. 

An issue more pressing at the time would be aristocracy. I bet you that if Indira Gandhi could choose her successor, it'd be one of her sons. Indeed, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that heads the Indian Congress Party is just like a monarchy - power passes along from father to daughter to son to wife to son.

That's why these standardized tests are pretty important, especially to ensure unbiased governance of a nation.

Who was the first to push students through testinf?

The Imperial Examination Systems of one country is the reason for the worldwide standardized tests. And that one country is China.

Confucius was a scholar who lived in ancient China who wrote about ethics and good governance. His philosophy is known as Confucianism. Though he was not influential - and never was in his whole lifetime, he got his revenge on the kings who refused to obey him from the grave - his philosophy became the state ideology of China for more than two millennia.

The first emperor of the Han Dynasty was dismissive of Confucianism. However, one scholar influenced him greatly, and he respected it a little more. Its influence grew more and more, and by the mid-Han, it had become the state philosophy of China.

Still, they didn't have exam systems - yet. The governors of provinces were still military, aristocratic governors descended from the founder of the dynasty.

For centuries, ideas floated around a China that would go through dynastic cycles, with each dynasty being replaced. Even in the Tang, often considered the best Chinese dynasty, the military was prioritized above the civil service. It was fundamentally an aristocracy. Still, major civil service exams were introduced in the middle of the Tang.

The following dynasty, the Song, changed all of that. The founder of the Song had been a military man and believed that the military was one of the only institutions that would have the power to overthrow his dynasty. Civil servants were placed in charge of 'equal ranked' military officers, leading to many defeats.

The military aristocracy had been wiped out in the decades-long civil war that had characterized Song's rise. With no opponents, the aristocracy was phased out, to be replaced by...

Bureaucrats! Yes, these people would have to write essays to get a good position. More specifically, they were locked in a small room for three days to write essays about how to treat people.

In modern China, more than a million people jostle for a mere 14,000 civil service jobs. Though they don't have to write essays to get the job, it's still very competitive and difficult.

The good times of the Song were abruptly brought to an end by the invading nomads. Despite all the money the Song had, their structural flaws allowed the Khitans to expand into China first, only for the Khitans to be absorbed into the rapidly growing Jurchen nation of the Jin Dynasty.

Even after the Mongols conquered the Jurchens, the Southern Song held out for around thirty years - certainly better than most of Eurasia. At any rate, the Mongols blocked the imperial exams, though later in the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, it was reintroduced on a limited scale.

After their overthrow by Han rebels, China unified into the Ming, which kept much of the same civil exams as the Yuan. However, it gradually expanded, and in the later Ming, the eight legged essay was a requirement for civil positions. It was passed on to the Qing, too.

Finally, the imperial civil service exams ended in 1911, when the empire was finally overthrown. Woohoo! The evil empires with their evil exams are gone! Freedom from tyranny! Party!

Don't celebrate yet, though. Sun Yatsen quickly created a replacement standardized test for the Republic of China, called the Examination Yuan.

Furthermore, the exams had spread from China already. Korea had adopted them for several centuries, since they were also Confucian. Vietnam had them for almost a millennia, too, and Japan had a brief foray with it. More importantly for modern standardized tests, the English East India Company adopted them for their employees - and it was a success.The exams had finally spread west to Europe...

In 1855, the exams began to be used for the British civil service as well. The hydra had jumped from continent to continent again. Eventually, it became entrenched . Now, we all take it.

Are standardized tests even worth it?

I'd say yes. As I've stated before, having subjective tests risks bias. If a particular teacher is jealous of a student, then the teacher might have the student take a harder test. If the parents of a student are friendly with a particular teacher, the teacher might give the student an easier test. If the test results are not accurate, colleges would possibly choose the student with less capability over the student with more capability.

Besides, it's the global standard now. If you dislike it, well, tough luck. It's much harder to change the world than it is to change yourself.

Should they be replaced?

If you look on any article about education, at least in America, you'll find hordes of parents and grandparents complaining about standardized tests and universal standards for everybody. These universal standards are called the Common Core, something that tries to give all students a way to measure themselves. After the failed No Child Left Behind attempt under the Bush administration, the Obama administration rolled out the Common Core.

The reason why Common Core was instituted is obvious. Maybe, like some claim, it's to turn our children into 'a new generation of socialist worker drones', as Mother Jones says. But Bill Gates explains it better - a lot better. "If you were from Maryland, you didn't have to learn trigonometry, but your neighbors in Virginia did. Maybe they have less triangles," he said.

The Common Core, unlike No Child Left Behind, put the burden on states to increase their standards. But lots of these states had no money to implement these education changes. A Department of Education program called Race to the Top would provide more than $4 billion - if schools increased their standards. Forty eight (out of fifty) states signed up, with Sarah Palin's Alaska and Rick Perry's Texas staying out of 'the race'.

In late 2011, the Common Core began taking effect. Backlash against the Common Core spread rapidly. Conservatives especially disliked the new standards, arguing that the 'old ways' without 'tests' were 'better'.

The whole purpose of Common Core was to come up with universal standards for all schoolchildren in America, where standards have been slipping. The United States pays the most money per student than any other nation in the world - a whopping $115,000. Unfortunately, the Slovak Republic, which pays around $53,000 per student, performs at around the same level. American educational standards are obviously dropping, with countries everywhere skipping ahead of us. There's obviously a problem - Obama has tried a solution. Maybe it's worked, maybe it hasn't.

Right now? I'd say that the Common Core is a sad failure. Let me repeat it again.

The Common Core is a sad, sad failure.


Just in case you ask, it's not because President Obama was the one to bring it into the United States. No, of course not. The reason is because the Common Core has proven to be a sad, sad failure. Let me explain why.

  1. Though the Common Core initially had bipartisan support, the bipartisan support stemmed from the bribes of Race to the Top. Now, with widespread opposition, states are withdrawing from it - take, for example, Missouri. Without the most underperforming states in the Common Core, it is doomed to failure. Sorry, Obama.
  2. While some type of education reform is needed, Common Core is not the solution. Comparing standards between Utah and California is tough, not just because the two have two different curriculum, but also because the quality of teachers. With Race to the Top, states now have motivation to encourage lower academic standards for the purpose of getting that $4 billion. That way, they easily fulfill it and grab the money.
But I'm still waiting for anyone to propose a good, sound education plan. Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians - anybody! All that matters is the future. Does anybody have any ideas? Until that day, I will continue to oppose Common Core.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

San Guo Yan Yi and The War of the Three Kingdoms

When one of your enemies declares that your family to no longer control the house, the only way to answer is by arguing that you're the head of your family now. At least, that's what Liu Bei thought he should do when Cao Pi declared that the Han Dynasty was over.

The Three Kingdoms period was a period in Chinese history, part of an period of disunity called the "Six Dynasties". It was written about in a book called the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, or San Guo Yan Yi, which was written in the Ming Dynasty. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms period occurred after the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty rulers. 

In a way, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms refers to the period of time between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 AD and the conquest of the state Wu by the Jin Dynasty
 in 280.  However, many historians claim the starting point of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms period back to the Yellow Turban Rebellion in 184.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Romance of the 3 Kingdoms
The earlier, "unofficial" part of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms period, from 184 to 220, was marked by chaotic infighting between warlords in various parts of China.

The middle part of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms period, from 220 and 263, was marked by a more militarily stable arrangement between three rival states, Wei, Shu, and Wu.

The later part of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms period was marked by the collapse of the tripartite situation: first the conquest of Shu by Wei (263), then the overthrow of Wei by the Jin Dynasty, 265, and the destruction of Wu by Jin , 280.
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms period was one of the bloodiest in Chinese history.  A population census during the late Eastern Han Dynasty reported a population of approximately 50 million, while a population census during the early Western Jin Dynasty reported a population of approximately 16 million. However, the Jin Dynasty's census was far less complete than the Han census, so these numbers are in question.

This is a cartoon (Chinese) version of the War of the Three Kingdoms. While you may not understand it, there are no English versions yet - if there are, please comment to let us know.

The Three Kingdoms of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms period were Wei (魏), Shu (蜀), and Wu (吳). Wei is also known as Cao Wei (曹魏), Shu is also known as Shu Han (蜀漢), and Wu is also known as Dong Wu or Eastern Wu (東吳). Wu traded with Japan, and formed the Japanese language.

Wei used to be one of the smallest country, controlled by Warlord Cao Cao. Cao Cao seized power by "protecting" the Emperor, and because the Emperor was in his control, Cao Cao could do whatever he wanted, with the Emperor's approval.

Cao Cao died, and his son forced the Emperor to abdicate power to him. Cao Cao's son created the Wei Dynasty, which was soon followed by Warlord Liu Bei's declaration of Independence, and he created the Shu Han dynasty, named after the original Han Dynasty. Liu Bei created his dynasty after starting a coup d'etat to kick out the current warlord. The Wu Dynasty had also expanded, like the Wei Dynasty.

In the end, the Wei Dynasty sended troops to Shu, which surrendered, despite having an advantage of 7 to 1, and having better equipped troops. The reason for this, was that their tactician, Zhuge Liang, had died; the general in charge has simply defend several forts on the border, yet the Wei sacrificed soldiers to get across. With the combined amount of troops from the Shu Dynasty and the Wei Dynasty, they overwhelmed the Wu Dynasty, and formed the Jin Dynasty, ending the Romance of the Three Kingdoms period.
  1. Map of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Digital image. Stmartin.edu. Saint Martin's University, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
  2. Luo, Guanzhong. Romance of the Three Kingdoms. N.p.: n.p., 1321. Print.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chinese Civil War

Taiwan's Flag
Original Republic of China Flag
Two cousins fight for their uncle's inheritance, after they both killed their uncle. One's called Chiang and the other is called Mao - and they continued to fight each other, even when their aunt, Japan, has been taking the uncle's inheritance. After a year of their aunt taking many valuables do the two cousins finally try to fight Japan off - but the Mao spends much of his effort throwing kicks and punches. Chiang, on the other hand, takes the opportunity to lie down and rest.

In the beginning, since the 1911 Xinhai Revolution, the Kuomintang (KMT), known in Chinese as the Guo Min Dang (GMD) (国民党), had been allied to the Communist Party of China (CPC). This was because Sun Yatsen (孙逸仙, or better known as 孙中山 in China) believed that all Chinese revolutionaries should band together to form a better China.

Why did the KMT lose?

However, an anti-communist faction emerged in the KMT, led by Chiang Kaishek (called Jiang Jieshi in Chinese). Chiang oversaw the purge of both leftists in the KMT and an attempted purge of the CPC throughout the parts of China that he controlled. In fact, one of the biggest problems with the KMT was that it didn't control all of China - warlords controlled many parts.

The parts that the KMT controlled were further oppressed by corruption in the KMT, which proved to be the ultimate reason for the downfall of Chiang for several reasons:
  1. Corruption in the military was far reaching. Common soldiers often sold their equipment on the black market and would require new ones. Corruption by generals and higher ups was less common but much worse for the war effort. Generals would claim that 'whole shipments of weapons' were lost - and would require new ones, also selling the equipment on the black market. Imagine a thousand weapons disappearing - and having to pay for them, with prices ranging from several hundred to more than a thousand. In addition, this meant that the troops often had no weapons against either the Japanese during World War II or against the Communists.
  2. Corruption among the bureaucrats was a lot more common. Already in the late Qing dynasty, bureaucrats had attempted to save money by sabotaging important operations. Some replaced gunpowder for artillery with sawdust to save money. Other tore up railway tracks and sold them. In addition to these forms of corruption, the bureaucrats were the ones expected to enforce laws. In exchange for a hefty bribe or two, these often looked the other way when the common people were exploited.
  3. Corruption among the KMT elite was the worst part of the KMT. Though most of the high elite was idealistic and abhorred corruption, they just didn't fight corruption as well as they should have. In addition, several members of the influential Soong family were corrupt in particular. TV Soong is generally regarded to not be corrupt, especially after balancing China's budget and deficit, extremely difficult considering China's economy, inability of taxation, and how much money was required for the military.
  4. Plain moral corruption among the landlords that controlled China's agrarian sector is the biggest reason why the KMT failed. Unlike the Communists, the KMT co-opted the landlords - bringing them into the administration. These landlords weren't all rotten and corrupt, but they were one of two reasons why the agricultural economy was not able to sustain itself. Their exploitation of the peasants that tilled the land for them (and made them rich) was not sustainable. The other reason was that China didn't have the industrial tools to mechanize agriculture. With peasants being more than 90% of China's population, it was a mistake to disenfranchise them. The Communists killed the landlords and redistributed the land to everyone, which solved one of the immediate problems at hand.
While corruption and disenfranchisement of the peasants were the biggest problems confronting the KMT, there were other problems.
  1. Chiang Kaishek sacrificed his best, German-trained troops in the Battle of Shanghai and threw everything he had at the Japanese in conventional warfare, which he had to do since the KMT was the conventional government (until the later months of the war, when it was clear the Japanese were going to lose). On the other hand, Mao Zedong had no such 'best troops', and his pockets of guerilla resistance all around China were able to resist with less losses.
  2. In addition, TV Soong negotiated with Stalin for a Soviet withdrawal and turning over of Manchuria to China. Unfortunately for the KMT, Stalin chose to turn over Manchuria to Mao Zedong. By this point in time, Manchuria was a heaven compared to wartorn China. Manchuria had reached steel production higher than that of all of Japan during the war and was generally a lot more prosperous, but the Soviets dismantled all $2 billion of it and shipped it back to the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the Soviets turned weapons over to the CPC.

The Chinese Civil War begins!

The conflict between the CPC and KMT began when the KMT was purged on April 12 of 1927 in Shanghai. Led by General Bai Chongxi, the Shanghai Massacre arrested and killed hundreds of CPC members, who were based in Shanghai. At the time, the CPC was like the Russian Soviets - they believed they any socialist revolution would have to come from the cities.

The communist rebellions first started on August 1, 1927, in Nanchang, Jiangxi, and created a Communist rebel army. A few days later, the KMT recaptured Nanchang. A Guangzhou commune controlled Guangzhou for three days.

The Central Plains War started in 1930 to try to attempt to kill the last Communists, with four early campaigns that all failed. In the fifth one, the Jiangxi Soviet region was surrounded with fortified blockhouses, which cut off their supplies and food sources. Unfortunately for the KMT, the warlords that manned the blockhouses did not pursue Mao when his forces fled in the Long March starting in December 1934 because they didn't want to lose troops. The Long March ended when they finally reached Shaanxi.

Zhang Guotao, who tried to flee through another route, was destroyed by Chiang. The Communist army confiscated property and weapons along its way while still recruiting peasants. Out of the hundred thousand who started from Jiangxi, only around seven or eight thousand made it to Shaanxi. Mao became the leader of the CPC.

Second United Front against Japan:

Japan first took over parts of China in 1931, where they occupied Manchuria, which had been previously controlled by warlord Zhang Xueliang (northeast China which includes the present-day provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, as well as eastern Inner Mongolia). Japan created the puppet state of Manchukuo, ruled by former Qing Emperor Puyi (who had abdicated). Unfortunately for them, Han Chinese were already the dominant majority in Manchukuo, and Manchus were in the minority already.

Chiang ordered his generals Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng to suppress the Communists. Disgruntled with Chiang's senseless (and stupid) priorities, Zhang and Yang rebelled against his authority and arrested him in the Xi'an Incident, forcing him to form the Second United Front against the Japanese invaders. After Chiang was released, Chiang tried Zhang in a military court, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison. Chiang granted amnesty to Zhang, but he was kept in custody for almost fifty years - almost half of his whole life. In fact, Zhang was likely susceptible to CPC influences (who supported his actions), considering that he applied for membership in CPC, which Stalin opposed because he was a warlord. In 1941, the Second United Front broke apart again when KMT forces attacked a CPC army leaving Jiangsu and Anhui.

Japan was ordered to surrender to the KMT in its unconditional surrender to the U.S. However, since the KMT wasn't in Manchuria, they surrendered to the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the Double Tenth Agreement 'agreed' in supporting peace negotiations, but battles between the two continued. Then the Soviets dismantled Manchuria's factories (almost $2 billion) and shipped it back to their country. Stalin handed over Japanese weapons to the CPC.

The Civil War begins and ends:

The CPC grew with more than 3.2 martial supporters. The Soviets turned over all of northern Manchuria before withdrawing. Meanwhile, the KMT conscripted troops and hoarded troops in industrialized areas, hurting people in the cities too. Shanghai's unemployment rate became 37.5%. America supported the KMT, with more than 150,000 US troops send to China. They trained more than 500,000 KMT troops, transported KMT to newly liberated areas by airlift, and $4.43 billion was sent to the KMT.

Chiang Kaishek sent a large force to assault Communist territory, with more than 1.6 million people. The CPC chose to wear out the KMT - after a year, they had wiped out 1.12 million KMT troops, while they had around 2 million men. In March 1947, the KMT took Yan'an, the CPC capital, but the Commmunists counterattacked. CPC troops crossed the Yellow River on June 30, 1947. By late 1948, the CPC captured Shenyang and Changchun, and many KMT troops surrendered, providing the CPC with tanks, heavy artillery, and many arms. The Pingjin Campaign meant a Communist northern China, which lasted from November 21, 1948 to January 31, 1949 (64 days). They had wiped out 1.54 million KMT veteran soldiers.

On April 21, the CPC crossed the Yangtze. Two days later, they captured Nanjing, the KMT capital. The KMT retreated to Guangzhou until October 15, Chongqing (until November 25), ending up in Chengdu for a while. On December 10, Taiwan was established as their last retreat. Only Tibet was left (which the KMT didn't really control either). On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China - the present form of government. On December 1949, Chiang declared Taipei, Taiwan, to be the temporary capital of the Republic of China. The Republic proclaimed the war to be over in 1991.
Red is nations voting against the PRC's entrance.
Green is nations voting for the PRC's entrance.
Blue is nation's that abstained and did not vote.

Expulsion of the Republic:

On October 25, 1971, despite resistance from the U.S., the UN General Assembly voted to admit the People's Republic of China and kick out the Republic of China by Resolution 2758. Mao got China's permanent status on the UN Security Council. The Republic of China has tried to admit itself into the UN under various names, but all were defeated. The Republic of China is recognized by 21 UN member states and the Holy See. The United States stopped recognizing the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the official government of China in 1979.

Nowadays, Taiwan is a successful nation with limited resources. It depended on manufacturing before, but it has since switched to more service related industries. Many people argue that it would benefit China if the Republic of China won. I find that I must disagree.

Considering Chiang's beliefs, he dislike corruption - but he believed that communism was a greater threat. He didn't realize that corruption fueled the growth of Mao's forces and served to weaken his own forces. Even if he won, it would only be temporary. Since then, Communism has served to allow for China's tremendous economic surge.

Before communism landed in China, there was no such thing as eminent domain - you would have to manually buy each strip of land from each individual person in order to build a railroad. Industrialization would be difficult in China without a dictatorship precisely for this reason. That's not to say that Mao Zedong was good for China - the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward obviously were not, considering how many people died and suffered (including several of my family members). But other officials, like Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai, definitely helped China along.

This is all open to debate, however. If you believe that China would have been better with the KMT, feel free to explain why in the comments below!

South African Border War

South Africa
Southwest Africa/Namibia
The South African Border War, was a conflict that took place from 1966 to 1989 in South-West Africa and Angola between South Africa and its allied forces on one side and the Angolan government, South-West Africa People's Organization, and their allies on the other.
The war was largely an extension of the Cold War, because it placed China and the United States against the Soviet Union, and since South Africa was one of the non-Communist Africa Nations, the United States supported South Africa. But China encouraged South Africa to ally with the United States because of the Sino-Soviet Split.

It was related to the Angolan Civil War and the Namibian War of Independence. When South Africa began implementing apartheid in Southwest Africa, the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) formed the People's Liberation Army of Namibida (PLAN). Portugal was in the war against Angola already, but on November 11, 1975, Portugal granted independence to Angola. The three militant groups in Angola began to try to control Luanda. From 1966-1988, the UN declared South Africa's occupation of Namibia to be illegal. Finally, on 1989, Namibia began its transition for independence.

Red stands for Angola and Zimbabwe, while blue is South Africa.
This event occurred after Europe receded from the African continent, especially after Portugal left Angola, and Great Britain left South Africa.

The Frankish Kingdom

What do you do when an angry tribal warrior is upon you? Of course, your "flight or flight" response activates, and you run away. But when you're the Pope? You name them the Roman Emperor, of course!

Establishment of a Frankish Nation:

In the beginning, the Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes that lived east of the Rhine River. Beginning around 257 AD, the Franks started raiding Roman settlements. Considering how many Germanic tribal confederations tore up Roman settlements after the third century, the Romans had an extremely difficult time on such a wide front. On the other hand, the Franks helped Rome a bit by providing soldiers for Rome. A Frankish tribe received permission to live on Roman land between the Schelde and Meuse Rivers as a Roman ally in 358 AD. They got complete autonomy but still had to provide troops for Rome and became known as the Salian Franks.

Frankish territory after Julian grants land.
Purple is Roman, red is Frankish.
The map shows modern boundaries too.

Beginning the reign of the Frankish King!

Around the year of 430 AD, Franks began to live west of the Salian Franks. Those living east of the Salian Franks were the Ripuarians between the Meuse and Rhine Rivers. The original Franks east of the Rhine were the Eastern Franks. The Salians Kings united all Franks in the second half of the fifth century and were called Merovingians since Merovech was claimed to be their ancestor.
Map of Europe after Justinian (484)

 Clovis comes to power!

Clovis became King at around the year 482 AD. From the start, he fought and killed Frankish rivals. The last independent West Roman territory was conquered in 486 when Clovis crushed Syagrius in northern Gaul, which became known as Neustria (the New Land). The original Frankish territory was Austrasia, the Eastern Land. He went on to conquer Alemanni in around 496 AD, a German tribal confederation. Clotilda, his Burgundian queen, encouraged Clovis to convert to Catholicism, since neighboring Catholic kingdoms began to support him. In 502, the rest of the Alemanni were under Frankish control, and Brittany became a vassal with a little freedom. Clovis ended his wars with a conquest of Aquitaine from the Visigoths in 507 AD. The Eastern Roman Emperor appointed Clovis to become the Roman Consul.

Death of Clovis:

Clovis died in 511 AD, and the Frankish nation was split up between his four sons. As a result, the Franks were unified under one king only once in a long time. On the other hand, the Merovingians often fought each other and many died before they had heirs.
As time went on, the Merovingians battled other Merovingians, not Ostrogoths or Visigoths. The exception were the years from 531 to 537, when the Frankish nations took large territories. Thuringia was crushed and a part was annexed in 531 AD. Burgundy was taken from 532 to 534. The East Roman war against the Ostrogoths forced them to give the rest of Alemannia and Provence to the Franks in 537 and 537. Bavaria and Aquitaine continued to live under Frankish supremacy.

Mister Major Domus!

The Frankish nation split into three different kingdoms - Neustria (west), Austrasia (east), and Burgundy (south). Brittany, Aquitaine, Alemannia, Thuringia and Bavaria were lost and gained in a cycle, which the inter-Frankish conflicts allowed. The
Thuringia won its freedom when Dagobert I died in 639. Acquitaine became independent after Childeric II's murder in 675. Brittany and Bavaria were lost to the Franks in the second half of the seventh century, while Alemannia won independence in 709-712. Small parts of the Alps were ceded from the Lombards in 575. Western Friesland was taken in 689, but it also sought freedom. Meanwhile, kings who rose to power when they were mere children needed a regent - the Major Domus. Eventually, it became permanent and hereditary, and the Major Domus ruled the kingdoms. The kingdom was unified after the Battle of Tertry in 687 where the Austrasian Major Domus Pepin of Heristal crushed Neustria and Burgundy.

 Death of the Merovingians:

After Pepin died in 714, his six year old grandson Theudoald become the new Major Domus. Pepin's illegitimate son, Charles Martel, disagreed by declaring that he was the Major Domus. The Carolingian dynasty began.
In the next few decades, the Carolingians were plunged into constant wars, where they had to both reconquer territories that had become independent and repel the Arabs, who had invaded in 732 at Poitiers. Thuringia, Alemmania, and Bavaria were all reconquered by 744. Aquitaine was taken back in 768, and before that, the Balearic islands were taken in 754, with Septimania conquered from the Arabs in 759. After an alliance with the pope, the Lombards were driven back in 754 and 756. Finally, Pepin the Short deposed the last Frankish king in 751. He became the new king.

Peak and Collapse:

Pepin died in 768, and the nation was split between Charlemagne and Carloman, but Carloman died in three years anyways. Charlemagne invaded Italy in 774, becoming the King of the Lombards. He conquered the Saxons, but it took 32 years from 772 to 804. Thousands were deported and replaced by Franks and Slavs. Bavaria was annexed (it had been a vassal before) in 788. The Avar Empire was defeated in a five year campaign from 791 to 796 AD, and Brittany became a Frankish vassal again in 799. Eastern Friesland was taken in 784 and 785, while Charlemagne pushed the Arabs back to the Ebro river in 812, having lost the Balearic Islands 14 years ago in 798. Finally, the pope coronated Charlemagne to emperor in 800. However, when the kingdom was divided, the nation was split apart, having only been held together by the riches of plunder. After 814, the Frankish Empire dissolved into small feudal nations.