This article is a pioneering effort to analyze the establishment and consolidation of the T'ang dynasty in processual and systemic terms. The author argues that the extension of dynastic power over the North China Plain was a much more gradual process than hitherto thought, and he reinterprets early T'ang policies in this light. He then examines the structure of the dynasty, using the analytical framework developed by Amitai Etzioni. In the final section, the author considers the mature dynasty under Hsüan-tsung and suggests comparisons with the Roman Empire.

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