The History of Tibet Timeline
Tibet has a history of thousands of years. It is the highest region on Earth, with an average altitude of 4,900 meters. It is the homeland of the Tibetan people and other ethnic groups such as qiang, lhoba and monba. A region that has suffered several invasions, but its essence has always survived.
According to legend, the first Tibetans come from the union of the ogra Sinmo and a monkey, reincarnation of the bodhisattva Chenresi, on the mountain of Gangpo Ri, near Tsetang. However, ethnographers believe it is likely that Tibetans will descend from the Chiang nomads, who wandered between eastern Central Asia and northwestern China several thousand years ago. The first Tybetan king, Nyatri Tsenpo, believed to have arrived on Earth through a magical “heavenly cord”, was the first of a long lineage of 27 kings, who ruled during the pre-Buddhist era, when the indigenous shamanic religion, the bon, dominated the territory.
These first kings dominated a very small area, and it was not until the times of King Songtsen Gampo, the 33rd sovereign of the dynasty, born in 617 AD, the most powerful and intelligent tube king, conquered other tribes and founded the first dynasty of this land, the Yarlung dynasty (Kingdom of Tubo). Songtsen Gampo also made great contributions to the culture, economy, technology, religion, etc. of the region through communicating with the outside world.
The exceptional king of the Kingdom of Tubo in 632 married Princess Bhrikuti (also known as Tritsun) of Nepal, and in 641 Princess Wencheng, from the Tang court, sent by his father Emperor Taizong. The princesses brought with them advanced technology, exotic culture, tea, silk. Most important of all, both carried with them their Buddhist faith and magnificent Buddha images, which are now the centerpieces of Ramoche Temple and Lhasa’s Jokhang.
Religion in Tibet
Tibet Origin and Antiquity
The first humans to inhabit the Tibetan Plateau made them more than 20,000 years ago. These early settlers were replaced by Neolithic nomads from northern Tibet around 3,000 BC. However, there is a partial genetic continuity between the inhabitants of the Paleolithic and the current Tibetan population.
The oldest Tibetan texts ever found belong to the Zhang Zhung culture. A village from the Amdo region, in the present-day Guge region of western Tibet. In addition, it is known that in the Zhang Zhung culture the Bön religion was born. history of Tibet.
While during the thirteenth century, the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan extended west to Europe and east to China, tibetan leaders of the powerful Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, concluded an agreement with the Mongol leaders in order to avoid the conquest of Tibet. The Tibetan lama promised political loyalty, blessing, and religious teaching in exchange for sponsorship and protection. Religious ties became really important when decades later, Kublai Kahn conquered China and established the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), he proposed to the Sakya Lama to become Imperial Preceptor and Supreme Pontiff of his Empire.
The relations that developed and continued to exist until the 20th century between the Mongols and the Tibetans were a reflection of a close racial, cultural and religious affinity between the two peoples of Central Asia. The Mongol Empire was a world empire and whatever the relationship between its rulers and the Tibetans, the Mongols never integrated the administration of Tibet and China, nor united Tibet with China. history of Tibet.
Tibet severed its political ties with Emperor Yan in 1350 before China regained its independence. Tibet again fell under some degree of foreign influence only during the eighteenth century. history of Tibet.
MANCHUS, GORKHAS AND ENGLISH
Tibet developed no connection with the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Moreover, the Dalai Lama, who had established his sovereign government over Tibet with the help of a Mongol protector in 1642, developed close religious ties with the Manchu emperors who conquered China and established the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Dalai Lama agreed to become the spiritual guide of the Manchu emperor, and in exchange accepted his sponsorship and protection. This “priest-patron” relationship, which the Dalai Lama also maintained with some Mongolian princes and Tibetan nobles, was the only formal link between Tibetans and Manchus during the Qing Dynasty and did not initiate Tibetan independence.
Politically, some powerful Manchu emperors managed to exert a degree of influence on Tibet. Thus, from 1720 to 1792, the Kangxi, Yong Zhen and Qialong emperors sent imperial troops to Tibet four times to protect the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people from Mongol invasions, gorkhas, but also from possible internal unrest. These expeditions gave the emperors the means to establish their influence over Tibet. history of Tibet.
They sent representatives to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, who exerted their influence on the Tibetan government, particularly with regard to the conduct of foreign relations. At the height of Manchu power, the situation was no different from that which can exist between a superpower and a satellite country or protectorate, i.e. a situation that did not nullify the political independence of the weak state. Tibet was never annexed to the Manchu Empire, or even to China, and continued to conduct its relations with neighboring states mostly autonomously.
Manchu influence did not last long: it was quite ineffective at the time when the British invaded Lhasa for a brief period and concluded a bilateral treaty with Tibet, the Lhasa Convention. Despite this loss of influence, the imperial government in Beijing continued to claim some authority over Tibet, especially in international relations, an authority that the British government referred to as “suzerainty” in its talks with Beijing and St. Petersburg. The Imperial Army sought to reassert effective influence in 1910 by invading the country and occupying Lhasa. After the Chinese Revolution of 1911 and the overthrow of the Manchu Empire, the Chinese army surrendered to Tibetan troops and was repatriated on the basis of a Sino-Tibetan peace agreement.
The Dalai Lama again affirmed the complete independence of Tibet, internally through a declaration and externally through communications to foreign governments and a treaty with Mongolia. history of Tibet.
The History of Tibet Buddhism
History of Tibetan Buddhism: From 640 AD onwards, a large kingdom dominated by Tibetans was formed on the Asian High Plateau: theKingdom of the Tubo, or Kingdom of Yarlung (617-838). The Tubo clan, originally from present-day central Tibet, subdued the other populations of the High Plateau.
This kingdom disintegrated in 838, following the assassination of the last king, then because of the slave insurrections that started from the “Gansu corridor” and extended to Lhasa, at the end of the 9th century. In the centuries that followed, this “Greater Tibet” would never again be politically reconstituted. Buddhism, already present in Tibet under the Tubo, is persecuted from 838. The monks took refuge towards the ends of the High Plateau (North, West and East). As a result, Tibetan Buddhism settled outside the borders of present-day Tibet and constituted what the 14th Dalai Lama currently calls the independent “Greater Tibet”.
The whole of this immense territory (five times the France) is then ruled by multiple rival clans, each with their own army. From the social point of view, a slow transition is taking place: the status of “slave” is replaced by that of “serf”. Indeed, some peasant families have enriched themselves and employ other peasants to make them work on a set of lands belonging to the lords who become “rentiers”. history of Tibet.
Under the influence of tantric gurus who fled Indi , Buddhism regained vigor in Tibet and reached its final form in the 10-11th centuries. Large Tantric monasteries were linked to the local lords. These monasteries own many lands and many serfs.
In the 13th century, the entire current territory of Tibet was annexed by the Chinese Empire, which at that time was ruled by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Tibetan monasteries accepted submission to the Mongols to avoid the massacre. The Mongols entrusted the Tibetan administration (in a Tibet the size of the current province) mainly to members of the clergy of the Sakya school.
The Chinese Ming Dynasty (14-17th century) redistributed the posts to administer Tibet to representatives of different schools of the clergy, among others, the brand new school of the “Yellow Hats”, the Gelugpa. The founder of the Gelug school, Tsongkapa (1357-1419), had two main disciples, each of whom was in charge of an important monastery. These two disciples of Tsongkapa will become the initiators of the two lineages of the famous reincarnations: the Dalai Lamas, on the one hand, and the Panchen Lamas, on the other hand. history of Tibet.
It was in 1642 that the 5th Dalai Lama took political power over a territory corresponding to present-day Tibet (and not “Greater Tibet”), with the help of a Mongol army (the Qoshot), and in rivalry with another Buddhist school (the karma-kagyu). The Karma-kagyupa are supported by the Phagmodrupa and Tsangpa clans, in turn helped by another Mongol army (the Chogtu), rivals of the former. In 1652, during the visit of the 5th Dalai Lama to the imperial court in Beijing, the new Chinese Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) confirmed its power over Tibet.
Following the death of the 5th Dalai Lama, Tibet is going through a difficult period. Several Dalai Lamas were assassinated before the age of majority, wars were declared between different regions, and Tibet was invaded by Nepalese and Turkish-Mongol armies. On several occasions, theQing emperors sent their army to restore peace. At the same time, they strengthen the legislation and administration of the region. The borders are defined more clearly and Tibet (in its current form) becomes a “province” of China.
In 1904, the British army invaded Tibet and forced it to follow British rules regarding trade, military aid, and the choice of political advisers, but, officially, Tibet was still part of China. The 13th Dalai Lama accepted British tutelage and took advantage of the fall of the Chinese Qing Dynasty (in 1911, the beginning of the Republic) to eradicate any Han presence on Tibetan territory. The Chinese army is expelled. Thissituation lasted until the death of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1933. Then, in line with the Western crisis, English influence diminished. Republican China renewed some ties with Tibet, but it itself was soon invaded by the Japanese and weakened. history of Tibet.
After the war and the victory of the Chinese Revolution, Communist China sent its army to Tibet to redefine China’s borders. China agreed to leave the feudal system of serfdom in place and not to touch the property of the monasteries. This applies to Tibet (present-day province), as long as the clergy and nobles do not wish to launch social reform. The convention is respected for Tibet, but in the neighboring regions where Tibetans also live (with their monasteries), mixed with other populations, the Chinese state launches the “agrarian reform”, as everywhere else in China. history of Tibet.
He confiscated the land of the big landowners to distribute to the peasants, including those of the monasteries, hence the revolt of 1956 in the Tibetan area of Sichuan province, a revolt that would spread to the heart of Tibet. Fromits beginning, the revolt will be supported by the UNITED States, which considers it an element of the “Cold War”. history of Tibet.
As a result, the 14th Dalai Lama went into exile in 1959, following a proposal made to him by the United States in 1950, and repeated several times. Many nobles and high lamas also went into exile (70,000 in total). The Tibetan population at that time was 2 million people, half of whom lived in Tibet itself, and the other half in the neighboring provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan. (Population of Lhasa at the same time: 25,000 people). history of Tibet.
TIBET IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.
The status of Tibet following the expulsion of Manchu troops is not the subject of serious dispute. Whatever the links between the Dalai Lama and the Manchu emperors and the Qiung dynasty, they had broken with the fall of that empire and that dynasty. From 1911 until 1950, Tibet managed to avoid undue foreign interference and conducted itself in all aspects as a completely independent state. history of Tibet.
In the summer of 1950, the Chinese military entered Tibet. Then began the Chinese policy of forced integration with the Tibetans, who would oppose it. This resistance will become symbolic on March 10, 1959 in Lhasa, during the popular uprising that will be repressed in blood the following days.
Tibet maintained diplomatic relations with Nepal, Bhutan, Great Britain and, later, with independent India. Relations with China remained tense. The Chinese began a border war against Tibet, while inviting it to join the Chinese Republic and arguing to the rest of the world that Tibet was already one of China’s “five races.” history of Tibet.
In an attempt to reduce Sino-Tibetan tensions, the British convened a three-way conference in 1913 in Simla, where the three states met at the same level. As the British delegate reminded his Chinese counterpart, Tibet participated in this conference as an “independent nation” that recognized no obedience to China. The conference failed because it did not lead to the resolution of the dispute between China and Tibet. It was useful, however, because the Anglo-Tibetan friendship was reaffirmed by the conclusion of bilateral agreements in the areas of trade and borders. history of Tibet.
In a Joint Declaration, Britain and Tibet pledged not to organize Chinese suzerainty or any other special Chinese rights in Tibet.
Invasion of the People’s Republic of China
Why Tibet is part of China and when was Tibet occupied by china? Following the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950. Tibetan appeals to the United Nations were ignored. The country was forced by the non-interventionist policy of the great powers to submit to Chinese dictates. history of Tibet.
Popular resistance was crushed and it is estimated that the Chinese killed some 90,000 Tibetans between 1951 and 1959. Large numbers of Tibetans were expatriates, and instead numerous communities were brought from China to colonize Tibet.
By 1956 the Khambas revolted again, in 1958 guerrillas began to operate in Central Tibet and in March 1959 the fighting spread to Lhasa itself. The Dalai-Lama fled with his entourage to India, allowing the Chinese to intervene in the government through the Panchen-Lama.
The Tibetan government and society were completely restructured and Tibetan officials were excluded from the administration, replaced by Chinese personnel. The first goal of the Chinese was to put an end to the monasteries and the Tibetan system of priestly feudalism.
In the mid-1960s decrees were issued suppressing the authority of the Dalai-Lama and the Panchen-Lama. The economy underwent a drastic reorganization.
In 1965 Tibet became an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China. Between 1959 and 1985 the number of monasteries went from 2,711 to only 9, and that of monks, from 120,000 to just a thousand. history of Tibet.
- History of Tibet, China: Chronology, Tibetan Origin with Legend (viajechinaexperto.com)
- Origin and History of Tibet | Curiosphere-History (curiosfera-historia.com)
- History of Tibet – Friends of Tibet Luxembourg (amisdutibet.org)
- History of Tibet, in brief (tibetdoc.org)