The Mandate of Heaven (Tianming) is the divine authority given China's early emperors. These individuals were seen as being selected by god and given the right to rule on behalf of this divine entity. Although this right was god given, it could also be taken away. The Mandate of Heaven decreed that rulers have a moral responsibility to act for the good of the people, or the Mandate could be lost. In this way, the early Emperors of China were seen as gaining and losing the favor of Heaven with the rise and fall of their Dynasties. If an Emperor was seen as acting against the good of the people, it was almost as if the people had a divine right (and still obligation) to act to overthrow their leader. The recognition that the Emperor had both broken the Mandate and lost favor of the people, reinforced that he had lost the favor of Heaven as well. This cycle defined the rise and fall of Dynasties in early China.


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