History KS2: The Rise and Fall of the Shang

Michael Wood explores the reasons behind the rise and fall of the Shang dynasty, from around 3,500 years ago.

He explains how agricultural wealth was the basis of the dynasty, which remained stable as long as people thought the kings were strong enough to defeat their enemies.

They also had to be just and look after the people.

Ultimately, a cruel and wicked king called Di Xin was judged to have lost the 'Mandate of Heaven' and thus, the people joined to defeat him, leading to the end of the Shang dynasty.

This clip is from the BBC series The Story of China. A series of videos exploring the stories, people and landscapes that have helped create China's distinctive character and genius over four thousand years.

Teacher Notes

You could think about why was King Tang, and the Shang, were able to set up a successful dynasty?

You could discuss the reasons it was justified to overthrow Di Xin?

You might think about how we know with such accuracy the date the Shang dynasty ended and why is this so unusual?

Finally you could discuss how you might sum up the achievements of the Shang dynasty in China? What was their significance? What have they left us? What makes something significant?

Curriculum Notes

This clip is relevant for teaching history at Key Stage 2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at Second Level in Scotland.

More from The Story of China

How People Were Created
How Humans Got Fire
How the Shang Invented Writing
How King Yu Controlled the Flood
How the Early Chinese Made Bronzes
How We Know About the Shang