History of Tibet
Humans inhabited the Tibetan Plateau at least 21,000 years ago. This population was largely replaced around 3,000 BP by Neolithic immigrants from northern China, but there is a partial genetic continuity between the Paleolithic inhabitants and contemporary Tibetan populations.
The earliest Tibetan historical texts identify the Zhang Zhung culture as a people who migrated from the Amdo region into what is now the region of Guge in western Tibet. Zhang Zhung is considered to be the original home of the Bön religion. By the 1st century BCE, a neighboring kingdom arose in the Yarlung valley, and the Yarlung king, Drigum Tsenpo, attempted to remove the influence of the Zhang Zhung by expelling the Zhang’s Bön priests from Yarlung. He was assassinated and Zhang Zhung continued its dominance of the region until it was annexed by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. Prior to Songtsen Gampo, the kings of Tibet were more mythological than factual, and there is insufficient evidence of their existence.
Map of the Tibetan Empire at its greatest extent between the 780s and the 790s CE
The history of a unified Tibet begins with the rule of Songtsen Gampo (604–650 CE), who united parts of the Yarlung River Valley and founded the Tibetan Empire. He also brought in many reforms, and Tibetan power spread rapidly, creating a large and powerful empire. It is traditionally considered that his first wife was the Princess of Nepal, Bhrikuti, and that she played a great role in the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. In 640 he married Princess Wencheng, the niece of the powerful Chinese emperor Taizong of Tang China.
Under the next few Tibetan kings, Buddhism became established as the state religion and Tibetan power increased even further over large areas of Central Asia, while major inroads were made into Chinese territory, even reaching the Tang’s capital Chang’an (modern Xi’an) in late 763. However, the Tibetan occupation of Chang’an only lasted for fifteen days, after which they were defeated by Tang and its ally, the Turkic Uyghur Khaganate.
The Kingdom of Nanzhao (in Yunnan and neighbouring regions) remained under Tibetan control from 750 to 794, when they turned on their Tibetan overlords and helped the Chinese inflict a serious defeat on the Tibetans.
In 747, the hold of Tibet was loosened by the campaign of general Gao Xianzhi, who tried to re-open the direct communications between Central Asia and Kashmir. By 750, the Tibetans had lost almost all of their central Asian possessions to the Chinese. However, after Gao Xianzhi’s defeat by the Arabs and Qarluqs at the Battle of Talas (751) and the subsequent civil war known as the An Lushan Rebellion (755), Chinese influence decreased rapidly and Tibetan influence resumed.
At its height in the 780’s to 790’s the Tibetan Empire reached its highest glory when it ruled and controlled a territory stretching from modern day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan.
In 821/822 CE Tibet and China signed a peace treaty. A bilingual account of this treaty, including details of the borders between the two countries, is inscribed on a stone pillar which stands outside the Jokhang temple in Lhasa. Tibet continued as a Central Asian empire until the mid-9th century, when a civil war over succession led to the collapse of imperial Tibet. The period that followed is known traditionally as the Era of Fragmentation, when political control over Tibet became divided between regional warlords and tribes with no dominant centralized authority. An Islamic invasion from Bengal took place in 1206.
The Mongol Yuan dynasty, c. 1294.
The Mongol Yuan dynasty, through the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs, or Xuanzheng Yuan, ruled Tibet through a top-level administrative department. One of the department’s purposes was to select a dpon-chen (‘great administrator’), usually appointed by the lama and confirmed by the Mongol emperor in Beijing. The Sakya lama retained a degree of autonomy, acting as the political authority of the region, while the dpon-chen held administrative and military power. Mongol rule of Tibet remained separate from the main provinces of China, but the region existed under the administration of the Yuan dynasty. If the Sakya lama ever came into conflict with the dpon-chen, the dpon-chen had the authority to send Chinese troops into the region.
Tibet retained nominal power over religious and regional political affairs, while the Mongols managed a structural and administrative rule over the region, reinforced by the rare military intervention. This existed as a “diarchic structure” under the Yuan emperor, with power primarily in favor of the Mongols. Mongolian prince Khuden gained temporal power in Tibet in the 1240s and sponsored Sakya Pandita, whose seat became the capital of Tibet. Drogön Chögyal Phagpa, Sakya Pandita’s nephew became Imperial Preceptor of Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty.
Yuan control over the region ended with the Ming overthrow of the Yuan and Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen’s revolt against the Mongols. Following the uprising, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen founded the Phagmodrupa Dynasty, and sought to reduce Yuan influences over Tibetan culture and politics.
Between 1346 and 1354, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen toppled the Sakya and founded the Phagmodrupa Dynasty. The following 80 years saw the founding of the Gelug school (also known as Yellow Hats) by the disciples of Je Tsongkhapa, and the founding of the important Ganden, Drepung and Sera monasteries near Lhasa. However, internal strife within the dynasty and the strong localism of the various fiefs and political-religious factions led to a long series of internal conflicts. The minister family Rinpungpa, based in Tsang (West Central Tibet), dominated politics after 1435. In 1565 they were overthrown by the Tsangpa Dynasty of Shigatse which expanded its power in different directions of Tibet in the following decades and favoured the Karma Kagyu sect.
Tibet in 1734. Royaume de Thibet (“Kingdom of Tibet”) in la Chine, la Tartarie Chinoise, et le Thibet (“China, Chinese Tartary, and Tibet”) on a 1734 map by Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville, based on earlier Jesuit maps.
Tibet in 1892 during the Qing dynasty.
In 1578, Altan Khan of the Tümed Mongols gave Sonam Gyatso, a high lama of the Gelugpa school, the name Dalai Lama, Dalai being the Mongolian translation of the Tibetan name Gyatso “Ocean”.
The 5th Dalai Lama is known for unifying the Tibetan heartland under the control of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, after defeating the rival Kagyu and Jonang sects and the secular ruler, the Tsangpa prince, in a prolonged civil war. His efforts were successful in part because of aid from Güshi Khan, the Oirat leader of the Khoshut Khanate. With Güshi Khan as a largely uninvolved overlord, the 5th Dalai Lama and his intimates established a civil administration which is referred to by historians as the Lhasa state. This Tibetan regime or government is also referred to as the Ganden Phodrang.
Qing dynasty rule in Tibet began with their 1720 expedition to the country when they expelled the invading Dzungars. Amdo came under Qing control in 1724, and eastern Kham was incorporated into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728. Meanwhile, the Qing government sent resident commissioners called Ambans to Lhasa. In 1750 the Ambans and the majority of the Han Chinese and Manchus living in Lhasa were killed in a riot, and Qing troops arrived quickly and suppressed the rebels in the next year. Like the preceding Yuan dynasty, the Manchus of the Qing dynasty exerted military and administrative control of the region, while granting it a degree of political autonomy. The Qing commander publicly executed a number of supporters of the rebels and, as in 1723 and 1728, made changes in the political structure and drew up a formal organization plan. The Qing now restored the Dalai Lama as ruler, leading the governing council called Kashag, but elevated the role of Ambans to include more direct involvement in Tibetan internal affairs. At the same time the Qing took steps to counterbalance the power of the aristocracy by adding officials recruited from the clergy to key posts.
For several decades, peace reigned in Tibet, but in 1792 the Qing Qianlong Emperor sent a large Chinese army into Tibet to push the invading Nepalese out. This prompted yet another Qing reorganization of the Tibetan government, this time through a written plan called the “Twenty-Nine Regulations for Better Government in Tibet”. Qing military garrisons staffed with Qing troops were now also established near the Nepalese border. Tibet was dominated by the Manchus in various stages in the 18th century, and the years immediately following the 1792 regulations were the peak of the Qing imperial commissioners’ authority; but there was no attempt to make Tibet a Chinese province.
In 1834 the Sikh Empire invaded and annexed Ladakh, a culturally Tibetan region that was an independent kingdom at the time. Seven years later a Sikh army led by General Zorawar Singh invaded western Tibet from Ladakh, starting the Sino-Sikh War. A Qing-Tibetan army repelled the invaders but was in turn defeated when it chased the Sikhs into Ladakh. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Chushul between the Chinese and Sikh empires.
As the Qing dynasty weakened, its authority over Tibet also gradually declined, and by the mid-19th century its influence was minuscule. Qing authority over Tibet had become more symbolic than real by the late 19th century, although in the 1860s the Tibetans still chose for reasons of their own to emphasize the empire’s symbolic authority and make it seem substantial.
This period also saw some contacts with Jesuits and Capuchins from Europe, and in 1774 a Scottish nobleman, George Bogle, came to Shigatse to investigate prospects of trade for the British East India Company. However, in the 19th century the situation of foreigners in Tibet grew more tenuous. The British Empire was encroaching from northern India into the Himalayas, the Emirate of Afghanistan and the Russian Empire were expanding into Central Asia and each power became suspicious of the others’ intentions in Tibet.
In 1904, a British expedition to Tibet, spurred in part by a fear that Russia was extending its power into Tibet as part of The Great Game, invaded the country, hoping that negotiations with the 13th Dalai Lama would be more effective than with Chinese representatives. When the British-led invasion reached Tibet on December 12, 1903, an armed confrontation with the ethnic Tibetans resulted in the Massacre of Chumik Shenko, which resulted in 600 fatalities amongst the Tibetan forces, compared to only 12 on the British side. Afterwards, in 1904 Francis Younghusband imposed a treaty known as the Treaty of Lhasa, which was subsequently repudiated and was succeeded by a 1906 treaty signed between Britain and China.
In 1910, the Qing government sent a military expedition of its own under Zhao Erfeng to establish direct Manchu-Chinese rule and, in an imperial edict, deposed the Dalai Lama, who fled to British India. Zhao Erfeng defeated the Tibetan military conclusively and expelled the Dalai Lama’s forces from the province. His actions were unpopular, and there was much animosity against him for his mistreatment of civilians and disregard for local culture.
After the Xinhai Revolution (1911–12) toppled the Qing dynasty and the last Qing troops were escorted out of Tibet, the new Republic of China apologized for the actions of the Qing and offered to restore the Dalai Lama’s title. The Dalai Lama refused any Chinese title and declared himself ruler of an independent Tibet. In 1913, Tibet and Mongolia concluded a treaty of mutual recognition. For the next 36 years, the 13th Dalai Lama and the regents who succeeded him governed Tibet. During this time, Tibet fought Chinese warlords for control of the ethnically Tibetan areas in Xikang and Qinghai (parts of Kham and Amdo) along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. In 1914 the Tibetan government signed the Simla Accord with Britain, ceding the South Tibet region to British India. The Chinese government denounced the agreement as illegal.
When in the 1930s and 1940s the regents displayed negligence in affairs, the Kuomintang Government of the Republic of China took advantage of this to expand its reach into the territory.
From 1950 to present
Emerging with control over most of mainland China after the Chinese Civil War, the People’s Republic of China incorporated Tibet in 1950 and negotiated the Seventeen Point Agreement with the newly enthroned 14th Dalai Lama’s government, affirming the People’s Republic of China’s sovereignty but granting the area autonomy. Subsequently, on his journey into exile, the 14th Dalai Lama completely repudiated the agreement, which he has repeated on many occasions. The Chinese used the Dalai Lama to be able to have control of the military’s training and actions.
The Dalai Lama had a strong following as many people from Tibet looked at him as their leader from not just a political point of view but, also from a spiritual perspective. After the Dalai Lama’s government fled to Dharamsala, India, during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion, it established a rival government-in-exile. Afterwards, the Central People’s Government in Beijing renounced the agreement and began implementation of the halted social and political reforms. During the Great Leap Forward, between 200,000 and 1,000,000 Tibetans died, and approximately 6,000 monasteries were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, thus the vast majority of historic Tibetan architecture was destroyed. In 1962 China and India fought a brief war over the disputed South Tibet and Aksai Chin regions. Although China won the war, Chinese troops withdrew north of the McMahon Line, effectively ceding South Tibet to India.
In 1980, General Secretary and reformist Hu Yaobang visited Tibet and ushered in a period of social, political, and economic liberalization. At the end of the decade, however, before the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, monks in the Drepung and Sera monasteries started protesting for independence, and so the government halted reforms and started an anti-separatist campaign. Human rights organisations have been critical of the Beijing and Lhasa governments’ approach to human rights in the region when cracking down on separatist convulsions that have occurred around monasteries and cities, most recently in the 2008 Tibetan unrest.
Source From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibet#History