A feudalistic political theory formulated to defend monarchy. The Mandate of Heaven, or Tian Ming in Chinese, was developed in the Zhou Dynasty in China around 1000 BC as a method to legitimize their rule. In the words of Confucius, the emperor, the Son of Heaven, has the blessing of the Heavens to rule the Middle Kingdom (China), and his son will inherit that right of rule as they are also blessed by Heaven.

However, when things start to go wrong, that means he has lost the favor of the Gods and no longer has the mandate to rule, and is liable to be overthrown. To keep the mandate of heaven, a ruler must possess yi (righteousness), and jin (benevolence). When he loses either or both, Heaven is angry. Things that indicate an emperor no longer has the decree of Heaven include crippling famines, floods, or earthquakes, and if the emperor becomes tyrannical to the people or immoral in his personal life. With the change of each dynasty, Heaven has withdrawn its mandate and gave it to a more worthy soul.

Developed seperately in Europe much later to defend the rise of monarchy there, but it bears a similar name, the Divine Right of Rule. The ruler is blessed by God in his birth, hence is rightful in his rule. However, that theory had no provisions on God withdrawing his mandate once given, so tyrannical rulers were still legitimate rulers.

In China, if you become a despot, the people will usually rise up and kick you out. Examples include the death of just about every dynastic era, the prime examples being the Qin Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, and of course, the Kuomintang.

Even though at that point in time the dynasties were no longer in power, some people view the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) to be similar to old imperial rule, calling it the Soong Dynasty, after the powerful, Westernized family which produced several daughters. They all married high ranking leaders in the Kuomintang, giving this family substantial power in that era of time. They were corrupt and power-hungry. In the end, they lost the Mandate of Heaven.


An interesting sidenote to "Heaven's Wrath" is the death of Mao Zedong. Just before his death, a massive earthquake hit the city of Tangshan, killing some 300,000 people, making it the most deadly earthquake in recorded history. Heaven must have been really angry.

Heaven shook in rage and rained death and destruction on the cursed people of the Middle Kingdom ...... Signalling the despot has lost his mandate of heaven.

The European version of the Mandate of Heaven is really an interesting creature. While there is not direct means of withdrawing the mandate in the event of a tyrannical ruler, the assumption is that the Church would step in at the appropriate time and wield Divine Justice.

It is really a catch 22. The Divine Right of Kings was mostly codified by St. Thomas Aquinas and was used in an effort to reign in the would be Holy Roman Emperors. It seems the Church had to chain themselves to the lion in order to control it.

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