The earliest Chinese dynasty is believed to have begun as far back as 2000 B.C.E. and continued on through about 1911 when China became the Republic of China and was no longer under the rule of emporers.
Throughout the times different dynasties had different styles of ruling, some burned books because they felt the people would "get ideas" and think they would overthrow their government, some changed the religions, some were just war-fiends. Each had their good points though and helped China evolve to what it has today.
Here is a tree/heirarchy of the dynasties and their timeframes.
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