History of the Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty (Chinese: ;
pinyin: Sòng cháo; 960- 1279) of Chinawas a ruling dynastythat controlled China proper and southern China from the middle of the 10th century into the last quarter of the 13th century. The Song Dynastyis considered a height of classical Chinese innovation in science and technology, with figures such as Shen Kuoand Su Song, and revolutionary new use of gunpowderweapons ( catapult-projected bombs, fire lances, flamethrowers, and land mines). However, it was also a period of political and military turmoil. There were opposing and often aggressive political factions formed at court, which in many ways impeded progress. The frontier management policies of the Chancellor Wang Anshiexacerbated hostile conditions along the Chinese- Vietnamese border, sparking a border war with the Lý Dynasty. Although this conflict was fought to a mutual draw, there was an enormous military defeat at the hands of invading Jurchensfrom the north in 1127, forcing the remnants of the Song court to flee south from Kaifengand establish a new capital at Hangzhou. It was there that new naval strength was built to combat the Jurchen's Jin Dynasty formed in the north. Although the Song Dynasty was able to defeat further Jurchen invasions, the Mongols led by Genghis Khan, Ögedei Khan, Möngke Khan, and finally Kublai Khangradually conquered China, until the fall of the Song Dynasty in 1279.
Founding of the Song
Later Zhou Dynastywas the last of the Five Dynastiesthat had controlled northern China after the fall of the Tang Dynastyin 907. Zhao Kuangyin, later known as Emperor Taizu (r. 960–976), usurped the throne with the support of military commanders, initiating the Song Dynasty. Upon taking the throne in 960, his first goal was the reunification of Chinaafter half a century of political division. This included the conquests of Nanping, Wu-Yue, Southern Han, Later Shu, and Southern Tangin the south as well as the Northern Hanand the Sixteen Prefecturesin the north. With capable military officers such as Yang Ye(d. 986), Liu Tingrang(929—987), Cao Bin(931—999) and Huyan Zan(d. 1000), the early Song military became the dominant force in China. Techniques of warfare such as defending supply lines across floating pontoon bridges led to success in battle; such was the case in the Song assault against the Southern Tang state while crossing the Yangzi Riverin 974. [Graff, 87.] Using a mass of arrow fire from crossbowmen, Song forces were able to defeat the renowned war elephantcorps of the Southern Hanon January 23, 971, thus gaining the submission of Southern Han while terminating the first and last elephant corps that would make up a regular division within a Chinese army. [Schafer, 291.]
Consolidation in the south was completed in 978 with the conquest of
Wu-Yue. Song military forces then turned north in a campaign to conquer the Northern Han, which fell to Song forces in 979. However, efforts to take the Sixteen Prefectureswas never accomplished, as they were incorporated earlier into the Liao state based in Manchuriato the immediate north.Ebrey et al., 154.] To the far northwest, the Tanguts had been in power over northern Shaanxisince 881. This came about when the earlier Tang court appointed a Tangut chief as a military governor(" jiedushi") over the region, a seat that became hereditary (forming the Xi-Xia Dynasty).Ebrey et al., 155.] Although the Song state would find its military match with the Liao Dynasty, the Song gained significant military victories against the Western Xia (who would eventually fall to the Mongol conquest of Ghengis Khan in 1227).Needham, Volume 1, 133.] After political consolidation through military conquest, Emperor Taizu held a famous banquet inviting the many high-ranking military officers that had served him in Song's various conquests. As his military officers drank wine and feasted with Taizu, he spoke to them about the potential of a military coup against him like seen in the previous era. His military officers protested against this notion, and that none were as qualified as him to lead the country. The passage of this account in the "Song Shi" follows as such:
The emperor said, 'The life of man is short. Happiness is to have the wealth and means to enjoy life, and then to be able to leave the same prosperity to one's descendents. If you, my officers, will renounce your military authority, retire to the provinces, and choose there the best lands and the most delightful dwelling-places, there to pass the rest of your lives in pleasure and peace...would this not be better than to live a life of peril and uncertainty? So that no shadow of suspicion shall remain between prince and ministers, we will ally our families with marriages, and thus, ruler and subject linked in friendship and amity, we will enjoy tranquility'...The following day, the army commanders all offered their resignations, reporting (imaginary) maladies, and withdrew to the country districts, where the emperor, giving them splendid gifts, appointed them to high official positions.Needham, Volume 1, 132.]Emperor Taizu built an effective centralized
bureaucracystaffed with civilian scholar-officials. Regional military governors and their supporters were replaced by centrally appointed officials. This system of civilian rule led to a greater concentration of power in the emperor and his palace bureaucracy than had been achieved in the previous dynasties. In the early 11th century, there was some 30,000 men who took the prefectural exams (see imperial examination), which steadily increased to roughly 80,000 by the end of the century, and to a whopping 400,000 exam takers during the 13th century.Ebrey et al., 160.] Although new municipal governments were often established, the same number of prefectures and provinces were in place. This meant that although more people were taking exams, roughly the same number were being accepted into the government as in previous periods, making the civil service exams very competitive amongst aspiring students and scholars. There were also other benefits of Taizu's scholarly, merit-driven system of exam graduates staffed in and maintaining the central, provincial, and local bureaucracies.
Emperor Taizu also found other ways to consolidate and strengthen his power, including updated map-making (
cartography) so that his central administration could easily discern how to handle affairs in the provinces. In 971, he ordered Lu Duosunto update and 're-write all the Tu Jing [maps] in the world', which would seem to be a daunting task for one individual. Nonetheless, he was sent out and traveled throughout the provinces to collect illustrative gazetteers and as much data as possible.Needham, Volume 3, 518.] With the aid of Song Zhun, the massive work was completed in 1010, with some 1566 chapters.Hargett (1996), 413.] The later "Song Shi" historical text stated ( Wade-Gilesspelling):
Yuan Hsieh (d. +1220) was Director-General of governmental grain stores. In pursuance of his schemes for the relief of famines he issued orders that each pao (village) should prepare a map which would show the fields and mountains, the rivers and the roads in fullest detail. The maps of all the pao were joined together to make a map of the tu (larger district), and these in turn were joined with others to make a map of the hsiang and the hsien (still larger districts). If there was any trouble about the collection of taxes or the distribution of grain, or if the question of chasing robbers and bandits arose, the provincial officials could readily carry out their duties by the aid of the maps.
Taizu also displayed a venerable interest in science and technology. He employed the Imperial Workshop to support such projects as
Zhang Sixun's hydraulic-powered armillary sphere(for astronomicalobservation and time-keeping) that used liquid mercury instead of water to operate it (due to the fact that liquid mercury would not freeze during winter).Needham, Volume 4, Part 2, 469-471.] Emperor Taizu was also quite open-minded in his affairs, especially with those perceived as foreigners, since he appointed the Arab Muslim Ma Yize(910-1005) as the chief astronomer of the Song court. For receiving envoys from the Korean kingdom of Goryeoalone, the Song court had roughly 1,500 volumes written about the nuanced rules, regulations, and guidelines for their reception.Ebrey, "Cambridge Illustrated History of China", 138.] The Song also sent envoys abroad, such as Wang Yande (939–1006) who was sent as an official envoy to the Uyghur-Turkic city of Gaochangin 981,Brose (2008), 258.] then under Kara-Khanid control.
Relations with Liao and Western Xia
The Great Ditch and Treaty of Shanyuan
During the first couple decades of rule, relations between the Song and Liao (led by the
Khitans) were relatively peaceful, the two outstanding issues of the Northern Hanand Sixteen Prefecturesnotwithstanding. In 974, the two began exchanging embassies on New Years Day. However, this peace was an illusion as the Song was more concerned with consolidating the south. In 979, the Song moved against the Northern Han, long under the protection of the Liao Dynasty. The Song emperor succeeded in bringing the Northern Han into the fold, but when marching on the Liao Southern Capital (present-day Beijing,) in the Sixteen Prefectures, Song forces were defeated at the Battle of Gaoliang River.Mote, 69.] The defeat in this battle was very politically damaging to the prestige of Emperor Taizong of Song(r. 976–997), so much so that his top military commanders orchestrated an aborted coup to place his nephew Dezhao on the throne. [Lorge (2008), 67.]
Relations between the Song and Liao remained tense and hostile. In 986 the Song sent three armies against the Liao in an effort to take advantage of an infant emperor and recapture the Sixteen Prefectures, yet the Liao successfully repulsed all three armies sent against them.Lorge (2008), 60.] Following this, diplomatic relations were resumed.
However, relations between Song and Liao worsened in the 990s. From 993 to 1004, the Liao observed the Song as the latter built a 'Great Ditch' in northern
Hebeiprovince from the Taihang Mountainsin the west all the way to the Bohai Seain the east. [Lorge (2008), 59–61.] This was essentially a series of canals meant to block the advance of Liao cavalry far from the northern border line, although the Liao perceived this engineering project as a means for the Song to dispatch offensive forces more efficiently via new waterways. [Lorge (2008), 60–62.] In 999 the Liao began annual attacks on Song positions, though with no breakthrough victories. The Liao were interested in capturing the Guannan region of northern Hebei, both because the Song general Zhou Shizong had taken it from them and because it contained strategic passes.Lorge (2008), 65.]
In 1004 Liao forces managed to march deep into Song territory, camping out in
Shanyuan, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of the Song capital of Kaifeng. However, their forces were greatly overextended and any possible escape route was in danger of being blocked by Song forces.Lorge (2008), 70.] The completion of the 'Great Ditch' as an effective defensive blockade which slowed the advance of Liao cavalry also had much to do with the Liao desiring a truce.Lorge (2008), 71.] Following negotiations resulted in the Treaty of Shanyuan, signed in January 1005 (some sources cite 1004 due to the Chinese Lunar Calendar), which fixed the borders of the Song and Liao as they were before the conflict. The Khitan rulers also wanted to intermarry with the Zhao family line of the Song, an offer that the Song refused in favor of a nominal and figurative imperial kinship.Lorge (2008), 66.] However, the treaty required annual tributepayments to the Liao and recognition of Liao equality with the Song. [Mote, 70-71.] The tribute consisted of 283 kg (100,000 oz) of silver along with 200,000 bolts of silk, with an increased amount to 500,000 units by 1042. However, even with the increase in tribute by 1042, the Song Dynasty economy was not damaged extensively. The bullionholding of the Liao Dynasty did not increase with the tribute bearing, since the Song exported many goods annually to the Liao Dynasty, which usually dwarfed the amount of imported goods that Song purchased from Liao. This meant that much of the silver sent to Liao as tribute was used to pay for Song Chinese goods, hence the silver wound up back into the hands of Chinese merchants and the Song government.
Until the Song Dynasty took advantage of a large rebellion within the Liao Kingdom in 1125, the Liao Dynasty had to be dealt with somewhat cordially. Skilled ambassadors were sent on missions to court the Liao Dynasty and maintain peace, ambassadors such as the renowned
horologist, engineer, and state minister Su Song.Needham, Volume 4, Part 3, 446.] The Song also prepared for armed conflict if necessary, increasing the overall size of the armed forces to 1 million soldiers by 1022. By that time, however, the military was consuming three-quarters of the tax revenues gathered by the state, compared to a mere 2 or 3 percent of state income that would be consumed by just providing the Liao with tribute. Due to these circumstances, intense political rivalries would later arise in the Song court over how to handle these issues and others.
Conflict and diplomacy in the northwest
The Song came into conflict with the
Tanguts of the Western XiaDynasty as early as the 980s, when Song intended to retake the former Ordos prefectures of the late Tang Dynasty, then held by the Tanguts. [Dunnell (1996), xxi, 13, 91] . After the Tangut leader Li Jiqian died in 1004, the Tanguts under his successor Li Deming (r. 1005–1032) had attacked the Song, but they ultimately sought peaceful relations that fostered economic benefits until 1038.Lorge (2005), 44.] McGrath (2008), 152.]
The Tanguts under Li Yuanhao (1003–1048) retaliated against Song due to a non-Chinese Song patrol leader Li Jipeng (aka Zhao Baozhong) who raided Xia's territory and destroyed some fortified settlements.McGrath (2008), 155.] On
September 12, 1034the Tanguts raided Qingzhou in Huanqing Circuit, but later Li Yuanhao released Song officers and soldiers he had captured; by January 29, 1035relations were restored when Li Yuanhao sent tribute of fifty horses to the Song court and requested a copy of a Buddhist canon in return, which he received. Although he retained some unique Tangut customs and had a Tangut scriptcreated, Li's administration followed the traditional Chinese model of bureaus. [McGrath (2008), 154–156.] Li proclaimed himself the first imperial ruler of Western Xia, ruling as Emperor Jingzong (r. 1038–1048), and on November 10, 1038he sent an envoy to the Song capital in order to gain recognition for his new title as "Son of Blue Heaven" and to cease paying tribute to Song to affirm his new status.McGrath (2008), 157.] The Xia began attacks on Song's borders which were repulsed by Song commander Lu Shouqin (fl. 1030–1050), and on January 9, 1039the Song shut down its border markets and soon after a reward of 100,000 strings of cash was offered to anyone who could capture Emperor Jingzong.McGrath, 157–159.] Although he won impressive victories in the initial phase of the war, Jingzong gained no additional territory for Western Xia by war's end in 1044, while both sides had lost tens of thousands of troops.Lorge (2005), 44-45.] McGrath (2008), 152, 157–158] Emperor Jingzong also conceded to the Song demand that he refer to himself as an inferior subject when addressing the Song, and that he accept Song ritualists to perform official ceremonies at his court.McGrath (2008), 157–158.] Throughout the war, the Song had maintained a number of fortified military outposts stretching some 480 km (300 mi) from the westernmost prefectures of Shaanxito Hedong in what is now Shanxi.McGrath (2008), 153.] Since the Song could not rely on water obstacle defenses in this region—like the Great Ditch of Hebei used against Liao—they instead garrisoned the wide expanse with a recorded 200 imperial battalions and 900 provincial and militia battalions by 1043.
Relations broke down once more in 1067 with the ascension of
Emperor Shenzong of Song,McGrath (2008), 158.] and in the 1070s the Song gained considerable success in capturing Tangut territory. A mood of frontier adventurism permeated Shenzong's court, as well as a desire to reclaim territories he felt belonged to him, the rightful ruler of China; when a Song general led an unprovoked attack on a Western Xia border town, Shenzong appeared at the border to commend the general himself.Anderson (2008), 206.] To punish the Western Xia and damage their economy, Emperor Shenzong also shut down all commercial border markets along the Song-Western Xia border. The scientist and statesman Shen Kuo(1031-1095) was sent to Yanzhou (now Yan'an, Shaanxi province) in 1080 to stave off Tangut military invasion.Sivin, III, 8.] He successfully defended his fortified position, yet the new Grand Councillor Cai Que held him responsible for the death of a rival Song military officer and the decimation of that officer's forces; hence, Shen Kuo was ousted from office and the state abandoned the projected land that Shen was able to defend.Sivin, III, 9.]
When Empress Dowager Gao died in 1093,
Emperor Zhezong of Songasserted himself at court by ousting the political conservatives led by Sima Guang, reinstating Wang Anshi's reforms, and halting all negotiations with the Tanguts of the Western Xia. This resulted in the continued armed conflict between the Song Dynasty and the Western Xia. In 1099, the Northern Song launched a campaign into Xiningand Haidong(in modern Qinghaiprovince), occupying territory that was controlled by the Gusiluo regime since the 10th century. [Dunnell (1996), 75.] By 1116, Song managed to acquire all of its territory and incorporated it into prefectures; the area became the westernmost frontier against the Western Xia. [Wang (2001), 15.]
Relations with Lý of Vietnam and border conflict
Lý Dynastycontrolled areas seen in light blue on the map, then called Đại Việt, bordered by Champaand the Khmer Empire]
For roughly a millennium, a series of Chinese dynasties had controlled northern Vietnam until the independence of the
Ngô Dynasty(939–967). The early Song Dynasty had fought and lost to the Anterior Lê Dynasty(980–1009) of Vietnamat the Battle of Bạch Đằng in 981. The Vietnamese rebel Nùng Trí Cao (1025–1053) attempted to establish his own frontier kingdom in 1042, 1048, and 1052, a disturbance on Song's southern border that was not ignored. The Song launched an invasion against Nùng Trí Cao in the 1050s, resulting in their conquest of border regions inhabited by Tai peoplesand a border contention with the Lý Dynasty(1010–1225) that lasted from 1075 to 1077.Anderson (2008), 191.] The Song court's interest in maximizing economic benefits of new frontier zones came into conflict with the Lý, whose goal was to consolidate peripheral fiefdoms. In the aftermath of conflict a negotiation was reached by both sides to fix the borders; the resulting line of demarcation "would largely remain in place through to the present day," according to James A. Anderson. [Anderson (2008), 191–192.]
The Song general Di Qing (1008–1061) commanded the army which crushed the border rebellion of Nùng Trí Cao in 1053; during this, the Lý court did not intervene.Anderson (2008), 195.] Two decades of relative regional peace ensued, although Lý observed the looming threat of Song imperialism as more
Han Chinesesettlers moved into areas which the Lý relied upon for extraction of natural resources.Anderson (2008), 195–198.] A division of Di Qing's soldiers (originally from Shandong) had settled the region, followed by a wave of Chinese settlers from north of the Yangzi River.Anderson (2008), 198.]
The Guangnan West Circuit Fiscal Commissioner Wang Han (fl. 1043–1063) feared that Nùng Trí Cao's kinsmen Nùng Tông Đán intended to plunder the region after he crossed the Song border in 1057. Wang Han took a personal visit to Nùng Tông Đán's camp and spoke with Nùng Trí Cao's son, explaining that seeking "Interior Dependency" status would alienate them from the Lý court, but if they remained outside of
China properthey could safely act as loyal frontier militia. [Anderson (2008), 196.] Fearing that the Nùng clan would cause a border crisis, Wang Han sent a memorial to Emperor Renzong's (r. 1022–1063) court in 1060 with proposals for a new policy.Anderson (2008), 196.] The Song rejected his proposal and made the Nùng communities (along with other ethnic groups) official dependents of Song imperial authority. Nùng Tông Đán's request that the territories under his authority be incorporated into the Song Empire was granted in 1062. In 1059—six years before the Song court's New Policies under Chancellor Wang Anshi(1021–1086) would organize new self-sufficient militiaunits throughout the empire and along the border with Đại Việt—the Lý Dynasty ruler Lý Thánh Tôngreorganized northern frontier administrative units and had them raise new militias.Anderson (2008), 199.] This would help bolster his kingdom's strength in a time of conflict with Champa(located in southern Vietnam).
In the spring of 1060, Giap Đồng natives under the frontier prefectural leader Thàn Thiệu Thái—an imperial in-law to the Lý court through marriage alliance—raided the Song frontier for cattle and militia recruits. He succeeded in taking the Song military leader Yang Baocai hostage, and in autumn of 1060 Song troops were sent into the frontier to rescue Yang, but he was not found. The Song court appointed Yu Jing (1000–1064) as a new military commissioner of the Guangnan region and charged him with the task of quelling the unrest caused by Thàn Thiệu Thái. Yu Jing sent an agent to Champa to enlist Cham aid against the Song's enemies in Guangnan.Anderson (2008), 200.]
Tribute and intrigue
The Lý court discovered the Song's secret attempt to ally with Champa; while Lý sent a delegation to
Yongzhouto thank Song for putting down local rebellions and to negotiate terms of peace, Lý instructed its agents to gather intelligence on the alleged Champa alliance and the strength of Song's military presence in the Guangnan Western Circuit. Two Vietnamese envoys were permitted to offer tribute to the court of Renzong in Kaifeng, arriving on February 8, 1063to deliver gifts such as nine tamed elephants. On March 30, 1063, Emperor Renzong died and was succeeded by Emperor Yingzong (r.1063–1067); Vietnamese envoys arrived in Kaifeng again to congratulate Yingzong on his ascension, and on April 7, 1063, Yingzong sent gifts such as calligraphy works by Renzong to Vietnamese King Lý Thánh Tông. On the day that the Vietnamese envoy Lý Kế Tiên prepared to depart from Kaifeng back to Đại Việt, news arrived that Thàn Thiệu Thái had raided Song's Guangnan West Circuit again.Anderson (2008), 201.] Although a plea from a Guangnan official urged Kaifeng to take action, Yingzong left defenses up to local Guangnan forces and labeled Thàn Thiệu Thái as "reckless and mad" in an effort to disassociate him from the Lý court.
The minor Song official Lu Shen, a prefect in
Guizhou, memorialized the throne in 1065 with a report that Nùng Tông Đán had apparently switched allegiance from Song to Lý, as well as with the Quang Nguyên chieftain Luu Ký.Anderson (2008), 202.] When the now "mentally weak and distracted ruler" Yingzong—as Anderson describes him—received the report, he took no other action but to reassign Nùng Tông Đán with new honorific titles. The court took no actions to remedy this situation, and Nùng Tông Đán later played a key role in the Song-Lý war of 1075–1077. The Song also gave official titles to Vietnamese leaders despite their involvement in Nùng Trí Cao's rebellions and their pledged loyalty to Luu Ký, the latter employed as a tribal official under King Lý Thánh Tông.Anderson (2008), 202–203.]
Yingzong died on
January 8, 1067and was replaced by Emperor Shenzong (r. 1067–1085), who heaped rewards on Vietnamese leaders like his father did but was more keen and observant of the Vietnamese delegations. When Vietnamese envoys arrived in Kaifeng to congratulate Shenzong on his ascension, he sent lavish gifts to the Lý court, including a golden belt, silver ingots, 300 bolts of silk, two horses, a saddle inlaid with gold and silver plating, and on February 9, 1067bestowed the Vietnamese ruler Lý Thánh Tông with the official title "King of the Southern Pacified Region" ("Nanping Wang"). Shenzong also countered Nùng Tông Đán's defection by recognizing his kinsman Nùng Trí Hội as the Nùng clan leader in 1069, giving him a title similar to Tông Đán's and command over Guihua prefecture (also known as Wuyang grotto settlement).Anderson (2008), 203.]
Frontier policy and war
In his New Policies sponsored by Shenzong, Wang Anshi enhanced central authority over Song's frontier administrations, increased militia activity, increased troop levels and war horses sent to the frontiers (including the border areas with Đại Việt), and actively sought loyal supporters in border regions who could heighten the pace of extraction of local resources for the state's disposal. Officials at court debated the merits or faults of Wang's policies, yet criticism of his reforms could be heard even in Đại Việt, where the high officer Lý Thường Kiệt (1019–1105) publicly announced that Wang's policies were deliberate efforts to seize and control their border frontiers. [Anderson (2008), 206–207.] Tensions between Song and Lý were critical, and in these conditions any sign of hostility had potential to ignite a war.
The Quang Nguyên chieftain Luu Ký launched an unexpected attack against Yongzhou in 1075, which was repelled by the Song's Vietnamese officer Nùng Trí Hội in charge of Guihua.Anderson (2008), 207.] Shenzong then sought to cement an alliance with the "Five Clans" of northern Guangnan by issuing an edict which would standardize their once irregular tribute missions to visit Kaifeng now every five years. Shenzong had officials sent from the capital to supervise militiamen in naval training exercises. Shenzong then ordered that all merchants were to cease trade with the subjects of Đại Việt, another indication of heightened hostility that prompted the Lý court under
Lý Nhân Tông(r. 1072–1127) to prepare for war.
In the autumn of 1075, Nùng Tông Đán advanced into Song territory in
Guangxiwhile a naval fleet commanded by Lý Thường Kiệt captured Qinzhou and Lianzhou prefectures. [Anderson (2008), 207–208.] Lý Thường Kiệt soothed the fear of the local Chinese populace by claiming he was simply apprehending a rebel who took refuge in China and local Song authorities wouldn't cooperate in detaining him.Anderson (2008), 208.] In the early spring of 1076, Thường Kiệt and Nùng Tông Đán destroyed the Song militia of Yongzhou. During a battle at Kunlun Pass, their forces beheaded the Governor-General of Guangnan West Circuit, Zhang Shoujie (d. 1076). After a forty-two day siege, Yongzhou was breached and razed to the ground. When Song forces came to challenge Lý's forces, the latter retreated with spoils of war and thousands of prisoners.
Since Lý Thường Kiệt had fought the Cham in 1069, Song called on the
Khmer Empireand Champa to join the fight in 1076; meanwhile, the Song commander Guo Kui (1022–1088) led the combined Song force of some 100,000 against Lý. The Song quickly regained Quang Nguyên prefecture and in the process captured the resistance leader Luu Ký. By 1077, the Song destroyed two other Vietnamese armies and marched towards their capital at Thăng Long (modern Hanoi). Song forces halted at the Nhu Nguyệt River (in modern Bac Ninh Province), where Lý Thường Kiệt had defensive ramparts built on the southern banks. Despite this, Song forces broke through his defense line and rode cavalry within just several kilometers (miles) of the capital city.Anderson (2008), 209.]
However, the Vietnamese were able to push Song forces back across the river while coastal defenses distracted the Song navy. Lý Thường Kiệt made an offensive, but lost two Lý princes in the fighting at Kháo Túc River. Meanwhile, the tropical climate and rampant disease was severely weakening Song's military forces and the Lý court feared the result of a prolonged war so close to the capital. Thường Kiệt made peace overtures to the Song; after this, the Song commander Guo Kui agreed to withdraw his troops but kept five disputed regions of Quang Nguyên (renamed Shun'anzhou), Tu Lang Châu, Môn Châu, Tô Mậu Châu, and Quang Lang. These areas comprised most of modern Vietnam's
Cao Bang Provinceand Lang Son Province. After a long period of mutual isolation, in 1082 King Lý Nhân Tông of Đại Việt returned Yong, Qin, and Lian prefectures back to Song authorities, along with prisoners of war, and in return Song relinquished its control of four prefectures and one county of Đại Việt, including the Nùng clan's home of Quang Nguyên. Further negotiations took place from July 6to August 8, 1084and were held at Song's Yongping garrison in southern Guangnan, where Lý's Director of Military Personnel Lê Van Thình (fl. 1075–1096) convinced Song to fix the two countries' borders between Quang Nguyên and Guihua prefectures. [Anderson (2008), 210.]
Partisans and factions, reformers and conservatives
After students passed the often difficult, bureaucratic, and heavily-demanding Imperial Exams, as they became officials, they did not always see eye to eye with others that had passed the same examination. Even though they were fully-fledged graduates ready for government service, there was always the factor of competition with other officials. Promotion to a higher post, higher salary, additional honors, and selection for choice assignment responsibilities were often uncertain, as young new officials often needed higher-ranking officials to recommend them for service.Ebrey et al., 163.] Once an official would rise to the upper echelons of central administration based in the capital, they would often compete with others over influence of the emperor's official adoption of state policies. Officials with different opinions on how to approach administrative affairs often sought out other officials for support, leading to pacts of rivaling officials lining up political allies at court to sway the emperor against the faction they disagreed with.
Factional strife at court first became apparent during the 1040s, with a new state reform initiated by
Fan Zhongyan(989–1052). Fan was a capable military leader (with successful battles in his record against the Tangutsof Xi-Xia) but as a minister of state he was known as an idealist, once saying that a well-minded official should be one that was "first in worrying about the world's troubles and last in enjoying its pleasures".Ebrey et al., 163.] When Fan rose to the seat of chancellor, there was a growing opposition to him within the older and more conservative crowd. They disliked his pushing for reforms for the recruitment system, higher pay for minor local officials to discourage against corruption, and wider sponsorship programs to ensure that officials were drafted more on the basis of their intellect and character. However, his Qingli Reformswere cancelled within a year's time (with Fan replaced as chancellor), since many older officials halfway through their careers were not keen on making changes that could affect their comfortably-set positions.Ebrey et al., 163.]
After Fan Zhongyan, there was Chancellor
Wang Anshi(1021–1086). The new nineteen-year-old Emperor Shenzong (r. 1067–1085) had an instant liking of Wang Anshi when he submitted a long memorialto the throne that criticized the practices of state schools and the examination system itself. With Wang as his new chancellor, he quickly implemented Wang's New Policies, which evoked some heated reaction from the conservative base. Along with the Baojia systemof a community-based law enforcement, the New Policies included:
*Low-cost loans for farmers and replaced the labor service with a tax instead, hoping this would ultimately help the workings of the entire economy and state (as he directly linked state income to the level of prosperity of rural peasants who owned farms, produced goods for the market, and paid the land tax). These government loans replaced the system of landlords offering their
tenants private loans, which was prohibited under the new laws of Wang's reforms.Fairbank, 97.]
*Government monopolies on tea, salt, and wine in order to raise state revenues (although this would now limit the merchant class).
*Instituting a more up-to-date land survey system in order to properly assess the land tax.
*Introduction of a local militia in order to lessen the budget of expenses paid for upholding the official standing army, which had grown dramatically to roughly 1 million soldiers by 1022.
*The creation of a new government bureau in 1073 called the Directorate of Weapons, which supervised the manufacture of armaments and ensured quality control. [Peers, 130.]
*Introduction of the Finance Planning Commission, created in mind to speed up the reform process so that dissident Conservatives would have less time to react and oppose reforms.
*The poetry requirement of the civil service examination (introduced during the earlier Tang Dynasty) was scrapped in order to seek out men with more practical experience and knowledge.
In addition, Wang Anshi had his own commentaries on Confucian classics made into a standard and required reading for students hoping to pass the state examinations. This and other reforms of Wang's were too much for some officials to bear idly, as there were many administrative disagreements, along with many personal interests at stake. In any case, the rising conservative faction against the reformer Wang Anshi branded him as an inferior-intellect who was not up to par with their principles of governance (likewise, the reformers branded conservatives in the same labeled fashion). The conservatives criticized Wang's reforms as a means of curbing the influence of landholding families by diminishing their private wealth in favor of self-sufficient communal groups. The conservatives argued that the wealth of the landholding class should not be purposefully diminished by state programs, since the land holding class was the essential socio-economic group that produced China's scholar-officials, managers, merchants, and landlords.
Reminded of the earlier Fan Zhongyan, Wang was not about to allow ministers who opposed his reforms to have sway at court, and with his prowess (and perceived arrogance) was known as 'the bullheaded
premier'.Morton, 102.] He gathered to his side ministers who were loyal to his policies and cause, an elite social coalition known as the New Policies Group (新法, Xin Fa).Sivin, III, 3-4.] He had many able and powerful supporters, such as the scientist and statesman Shen Kuo. Ministers of state who were seen as obstructive to the implementation of Wang's reforms were not all dismissed from the capital to other places (since the emperor needed some critical feedback), but many were. A more extreme example would be "obstructionist" officials sent far to the south to administer regions that were largely tropical, keeping in mind that northern Chinese were often susceptible to malariafound in the deep south of China.Ebrey et al., 164.] The worst-case scenario of persecution, though, came with Su Shiin 1079, where he was arrested and forced into five weeks of interrogation. Finally, he confessed under guarded watch that he had slandered the emperor in his poems. One of them read:
This poem can be interpreted as criticizing the failure of the salt monopoly established by Wang Anshi, embodied in the persona of a hard-working old man who was cruelly denied his means to flavor his food, with the severity of the laws and the only salt available being charged at rates that were too expensive. After his confession, Su Shi was found guilty in court, and was summarily exiled to
HubeiProvince. More than thirty of his associates were also given minor punishments for not reporting his slanderous poems to authorities before they were widely circulated to the educated public.
Emperor Shenzong died in 1085, an abrupt death since he was in his mid 30s. His successor
Emperor Zhezong of Songwas only ten years old when he ascended to the throne, so his powerful grandmother served as regentover him. She disliked Wang's reforms from the beginning, and sought to appoint more Conservative officials at court who would agree to oppose the Reformists. Her greatest political ally was Sima Guang(1019–1086), who was made the next Chancellor. Undoing what Wang had implemented, Sima dismissed the New Policies, and forced the same treatment upon Reformers that Wang had earlier meted out to his opponents: dismissal to lower or frontier posts of governance, or even exile. However, there was still mounted opposition to Sima Guang, as many had favored some of the New Policies, including the substitution of tax instead of forced labor service to the state. Sure enough, when Emperor Zhezong's grandmother died in 1093, Zhezong was quick to sponsor the Reformists like his predecessor Shenzong had done. The Conservatives once more were ousted from political dominance at court. When Zhezong suddenly died in his twenties, his younger brother Emperor Huizong of Song(r. 1100–1125) succeeded him, and also supported the Reformers at court. Huizong banned the writing of Sima Guang and his lackeys while elevating Wang Anshi to near revered status, having a statue of Wang erected in a Confucian temple alongside a statue of Mencius.Ebrey et al., 165.] To further this image of Wang as a great and honorable statesman, printed and painted pictures of him were circulated throughout the country.Ebrey et al., 165.] Yet this cycle of revenge and partisanship continued after Zhezong and Huizong, as Reformers and Conservatives continued their infighting. Huizong's successor, Emperor Gaozong of Song, abolished once more the New Policies, and favored ministers of the Conservative faction at court.
From Northern Song to Southern Song
Before the arrival of the
Jurchensthe Song Dynasty was for centuries engaged in a stand-off against the Western Xiaand the Khitan Liao Dynasty. This balance was disrupted when the Song Dynasty developed a military alliancewith the Jurchens for the purpose of annihilating the Liao Dynasty. This balance of power disrupted, the Jurchens then turned on the Song Dynasty, resulting in the fall of the Northern Song and the subsequent establishment of the Southern Song.
During the reign of Huizong, the Jurchen tribe to the north (once subordinates to the Liao), revolted against their Khitan masters. The Jurchen community already had a reputation of great economic clout in their own region of the Liao and
Sungaririvers. They were positioned in an ideal location for horse raising, and were known to muster ten thousand horses a year to sell annually to the Khitans of the Liao Dynasty. They even had a martial history of being pirates, in the 1019 Toi invasionof the Heian Japanese islands in modern-day Iki Province, Tsushima Province, and Hakata Bay. From the Jurchen Wanyan clan, a prominent leader Wanyan Aguda(1068–1123) challenged Liao authority, establishing their own Jin Dynasty (or 'Golden Dynasty') in 1115. The Song government took notice of the political dissidence of the Jurchens in Liao's territory, as Council of State Tong Guan(1054–1126) suggested to the emperor that a military alliance with the Jurchens would be favorable in crushing the Liao once and for all. In a secret alliance and mission of envoys across the borders, an agreement was reached between the Jurchens and the Song government to divide Liao's territory (while the Song would ultimately obtain their coveted prize: the Sixteen Prefectures).
The Liao Dynasty was ultimately crushed by Jin and Song forces in 1125. However, the Jurchens discovered weaknesses about the Song military based in the north (as the Chinese for so long had been sending tribute to the Liao Dynasty instead of actually fighting them). Song forces had failed to make a joint attack in a siege with the Jurchens, who viewed the Song generals as incompetent. Banking on the possibility that the Song were weak enough to be destroyed, the Jurchens made a sudden and unprovoked attack against the Song Dynasty in the north. Soon enough, even the capital at Kaifeng was under siege by Jin forces, only staved off when an enormous bribe was handed over to them. There was also an effective use of Song Chinese war machines in the defense of Kaifeng in 1126, as it was recorded that 500
catapults hurling debris were used.Peers, 131.] During the siege of Taiyuan, the Jin employed 30 catapults and over fifty carts protected by rawhideand sheets of iron plating so that Jin troops could be ferried to the walls safely to fill in Taiyuan city's defensive moat.
However, the Jin returned soon after with enough siege machinery to scale Kaifeng's layer of walls defended by 48,0000 Song troops.Ebrey, "Cambridge Illustrated History of China", 168.] The Jin used
siege towers taller than Kaifeng's walls in order to lob incendiary bombs into the city. The besieged city was captured by the Jurchens in less than two months. Three thousand members of the Emperor's court were taken as captives,Gernet, 22.] including Huizong and many of his relatives, craftsmen, engineers, goldsmiths, silversmiths, blacksmiths, weavers and tailors, Daoistpriests, and female entertainers to label some.Needham, Volume 4, Part 2, 497.] The mechanical clock towerdesigned by Su Songand ereceted in 1094 was also disassembled and its components carted back north, along with many clock-making millwrights and maintenance engineers that would cause a set-back in technical advances for the Song court. According to the contemporary Xia Shaozeng, other war booty included 20,000 fire arrows that were handed over to the Jurchens upon taking the city. [Needham, Volume 5, Part 7, 154.]
After capturing Kaifeng, the Jurchens went on to conquer the rest of northern China, while the Song Chinese court fled south. They took up temporary residence at
Nanjing, where a surviving prince was named Emperor Qinzong of Songin 1127. The eunuch general and statesman Tong Guan, who had initially urged for an alliance with the Jurchens, was executed by Emperor Qinzong (seen as a better fate for a military man than being carted off into captivity by the Jurchens).Ebrey et al., 166.] Jin Dynasty forces halted at the Yangzi River, but staged continual raids south of the river until a later boundary was fixed at the Huai Riverfurther north. With the border fixed at the Huai, the Song government would promote an immigration policy of repopulating and resettling territories north of the Yangzi River, since vast tracts of vacant land between the Yangzi and Huai were open for landless peasants found in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, and Fujianprovinces of the south.Coblin, 533 & 536.]
A new capital and peace treaty
In 1129, Emperor Gaozong designated the site at
Hangzhou(known then as Lin'an) to be the temporary settlement of the court, but it was not until 1132 that it was declared the new Song capital.Coblin, 533.] Hangzhou and Nanjing were devastated by the Jin Dynasty raids; both cities were heavily repopulated with northern refugees who outnumbered the remaining original inhabitants. Hangzhou was chosen not only for its natural scenic beauty, but for the surrounding topographic barriers of lakes and muddy rice-fields that gave it defensive potential against northern armies comprised mostly of cavalry.Gernet, 22–23.] Yet it was viewed by the court as only a temporary capital while the Song emperors planned to retake Kaifeng. [Gernet, 23–25.] However, the rapid growth of the city from the 12th century to the 13th necessitated long term goals of residency. In 1133 the modest palatial residence of the imperial family was improved upon from a simple provincial lodging to one that at least accommodated strolls with new covered alleyways to deflect the rain.Gernet, 25.] In 1148 the walls of the small palace compound were finally extended to the southeast, yet this was another marginal improvement. The new triangular arrangement between the Southern Song, Jin, and Western Xia continued the age of division and conflict in China. The region of Huainan(between the Yangzi and Huai rivers) became a new borderland and battleground between Song and Jin from 1128 to 1141, displacing hundreds of thousands of families who had lived there for generations.Mostern (2008), 231.] The Southern Song deployed several military commanders, among them Yue Feiand Han Shizhong, to resist the Jin as well as recapture territory, which proved successful at times. Yue Fei in particular had been preparing to recapture Kaifeng(or Bianjing as the city was known during the Song period), the former capital of the Song dynasty and the then southern capital of the Jin Dynasty, after a streak of uninterrupted military victories.
However, the possible defeat of the Jurchens threatened the power of the new emperor of the Southern Song, Gaozong and his premier Qin Hui. The reason for this was that Qinzong, the last emperor of the Northern Song was living in Jin-imposed
exilein Manchuriaand had a good chance of being recalled to the throne should the Jin Dynasty be destroyed. Although Yue Fei had penetrated into enemy territory as far as Luoyang, he was ordered to head back to the capital and halt his campaign. Emperor Gaozong signed the Treaty of Shaoxingin 1141 that fixed the borders at the Huai River,Mostern (2008), 238.] as well as conceded territory regained through the efforts of Yue Fei, while Yue was killed during imprisonment. As part of the treaty, the Song were also forced to pay tribute to the Jin Dynasty, much how it did to the previous Liao Dynasty.Ebrey, "Cambridge Illustrated History of China", 150.] With the treaty of Shaoxing, hostilities ceased between the Jin and Song dynasties for the next two decades.Tillman, 3.] In the meantime, Emperor Gaozong negotiated with the Jin over his mother's ransom while he commissioned a symbolic art project about her, the " Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute", originally based upon the life of Cai Wenji(b. 177).Ebrey, "Cambridge Illustrated History of China", 151.] Gaozong's mother was eventually released and brought south, but Qinzong was never freed from his confinement in the north.
Decades after Yue's death, the later
Emperor Xiaozong of Songhonored Yue Fei as a national hero in 1162, providing him proper burial and memorial of a shrine.Giles, 950.] As a means to shame those who had pressed for his execution (Qin Hui and his wife), iron statues of them were crafted to kneel before the tomb of Yue Fei, located at the West Lakein Hangzhou.
China's first standing navy
As the once great Indian Ocean maritime power of the
Chola Dynastyin medieval Indiahad waned and declined, Chinese sailors and seafarers began to increase their own maritime activity in South East Asia and into the Indian Ocean. Even during the earlier Northern Song period, when it was written in Tamil inscriptions under the reign of Rajendra Chola Ithat Srivijayahad been completely taken in 1025 by Chola's naval strength, the succeeding king of Srivijaya managed to send tribute to the Chinese Northern Song court in 1028.Hall, 23.] Much later, in 1077, the Indian Chola ruler Kulothunga Chola I(who the Chinese called "Ti-hua-kia-lo") sent a trade embassy to the court of Emperor Shenzong of Song, and made lucrative profits in selling goods to China.Sastri, 173, 316.] There were other tributary payers from other regions of the world as well. The Fatimid-era Egyptian sea captain Domiyattraveled to a Buddhist site of pilgrimage in Shandongin 1008 , where he presented the Chinese Emperor Zhenzong of Songwith gifts from his ruling Imam Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, establishing diplomatic relations between Egypt and China that had been lost during the collapse of the Tang Dynastyin 907 (while the Fatimid state was established three years later in 910).Shen, 158.] During the Northern Song Dynasty, Quanzhouwas already a bustling port of call visited by a plethora of different foreigers, from MuslimArabs, Persians, Egyptians, HinduIndians, Middle-Eastern Jews, NestorianChristians from the Near East, etc. Muslims from foreign nations dominated the import and export industry (see Islam during the Song Dynasty). [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/history/china_1.shtml BBC page about Islam in China] ] To regulate this enormous commercial center, in 1087 the Northern Song government established an office in Quanzhou for the sole purpose of handling maritime affairs and commercial transactions.Wang, 14.] In this multicultural environment there were many opportunities for subjects in the empire of foreign descent, such as the (Arab or Persian) Muslim Pu Shougeng, the Commissioner of Merchant Shipping for Quanzhou between 1250 and 1275. [Needham, Volume 4, Part 3, 465.] Pu Shougeng had gained his reputable position by helping the Chinese destroy pirate forces that plagued the area, and so was lavished with gifts and appraisal from Chinese merchants and officials.Rossabi, 92.] Quanzhou soon rivaled Guangzhou(the greatest maritime port of the earlier Tang Dynasty) as a major trading center during the late Northern Song. However, Guangzhou had not fully lost its importance. The medieval Arab maritime captain Abu Himyaritefrom Yementoured Guangzhou in 993, and was an avid visitor to China.Shen, 157-158.] There were other notable international seaports in China during the Song period as well, including Xiamen(or Amoy).Sivin, III, 5.]
When the Song capital was removed far south to
Hangzhou, massive numbers of people from the north. Unlike the flat plains of the north, the mountainous terrain riddled with lakes and rivers in southern China is largely a hindrance and inhospitable to widespread agriculture. Therefore, the Southern Song took on a unique maritime presence that was largely unseen in earlier dynasties, grown out of the need to secure importation of foreign resources. Commercial cities (located along the coast and by internal rivers), backed by patronage of the state, dramatically increased shipbuildingactivity (funding harborimprovements, warehouseconstruction, and navigation beacons). Navigationat sea was made easier by the invention of the compassand Shen Kuo's treatise of the 11th century on the concept of true north(with magneticdeclination towards the North Pole).Sivin, III, 22.] With military defense and economic policy in mind, the Southern Song Dynasty established China's first standing navy. China had a long naval history before that point (example, Battle of Chibiin 208), and even during the Northern Song era there were concerns with naval matters, as seen in examples such as the Chinese official Huang Huaixinof the Xining Reign (1068–1077) outlining a plan of employing a drydockfor repair of 'imperial dragon boats' (see Technology section below).Levathes, 77.] Already during the Northern Song Dynasty, the Chinese had established fortified trade bases in the Philippines, a noted interest of the court to expand China's military power and economic influence abroad.Hall, 24.] Provincial armies in the Northern Song era also maintained naval river units.Lo, 490.] However, it was the Southern Song court that was the first to create a large, permanent standing naval institution for China in 1132.Paludan, 136.] The new headquarters of the Southern Song Chinese admiralty was based at Dinghai, the office labeled as the Yanhai Zhizhi Shisi (Imperial Commissariat for the Control and Organization of Coastal Areas).Needham, Volume 4, Part 3, 476.] Lo, 491.] Even as far back as 1129 officials proposed ambitious plans to conquer Korea with a new navy and use Korea as a base for launching invasions into Jin territory, but this scheme was never achieved and was of secondary importance to maintaining defense along the fluctuating border with Jin.
Capturing the essence of the day, the Song era writer Zhang Yi once wrote in 1131 that China must regard the Sea and the River as her
Great Wall, and substitute warships for watchtowers. Indeed, the court administration at Hangzhou lived up to this ideal, and were successful for a time in employing their navy to defend their interests against an often hostile neighbor to the north. In his "Science and Civilization in China" series, Joseph Needhamwrites:
From a total of 11 squadrons and 3,000 men [the Song navy] rose in one century to 20 squadrons totalling 52,000 men, with its main base near Shanghai. The regular striking force could be supported at need by substantial merchantmen; thus in the campaign of 1161 some 340 ships of this kind participated in the battles on the Yangtze. The age was one of continual innovation; in 1129 trebuchets throwing gunpowder bombs were decreed standard equipment on all warships, between 1132 and 1183 a great number of treadmill-operated paddle-wheel craft, large and small, were built, including stern-wheelers and ships with as many as 11 paddle-wheels a side (the invention of the remarkable engineer Kao Hsuan), and in 1203 some of these were armored with iron plates (to the design of another outstanding shipwright Chhin Shih-Fu)...In sum, the navy of the Southern Sung held off the [Jurchen Jin] and then the Mongols for nearly two centuries, gaining complete control of the East China Sea.
During the reign of
Emperor Xiaozong of Song, the Chinese increased the number of trade missions that would dock at ports throughout the Indian Ocean, where Arab and Hindu influence was once predominant. The Chinese sailed regularly to Korea and Japan in the Far East, westwards towards India and Sri Lanka, and into the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. The Chinese were keen to import goods such as rare woods, precious metals, gems, spices, and ivory, while exporting goods such as silk, ceramics, lacquer-ware, copper cash, dyes, and even books.Paludan, 142.] In 1178, the Guangzhou customs officer Zhou Qufeiwrote of an island far west in the Indian Ocean (possibly Madagascar), from where people with skin "as black as lacquer" and with frizzy hair were captured and purchased as slaves by Arab merchants.Levathes, 37.] As an important maritime trader, China appeared also on geographical maps of the Islamic world. In 1154 the Moroccan geographer Al-Idrisipublished his "Geography", where he described the Chinese seagoing vessels as having aboard goods such as iron, swords, leather, silk, velvet, along with textiles from Aden(modern-day Yemen), the Indus Riverregion, and Euphrates Riverregion (modern-day Iraq). He also commended the silk manufactured at Quanzhou as being unparalleled in the world for its quality, while the Chinese capital at Hangzhou was best known throughout the Islamic world for being a major producer of glasswares.Shen, 159-161.] By at least the 13th century, the Chinese were even familiar with the story of the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria.Needham, Volume 4, Part 3, 662.]
Jin Dynasty invasion and collapse
In 1153 the Jin Emperor Hailingwang, born as "Wányán Liàng" (完顏亮), moved the empire's capital from
Huining Fuin northern Manchuria (south of present-day Harbin) to Zhongdu (now Beijing). Four years later in 1157 he razed Beijing, including the nobles’ residences, and moved the Jin's southern capital from Beijing to Kaifeng. It was here at the former seat of the Song Dynasty that he began a large project of reconstruction (since the siege against it in 1127).Needham, Volume 1, 139.] For much of his reign there was peace between Jin and Song, while both states upheld an uninterrupted flow of commercial trade between each other. While amassing tribute from the Southern Song, the Jin Dynasty also imported large amounts of tea, rice, sugar, and books from the Southern Song. However, Hailingwang reopened the Jin Dynasty's armed conflict with the Song by the 1160s.
Emperor Wanyan Liang established a military campaign against the
Southern Songin 1161, with 70,000 naval troops aboard 600 warships facing a smaller Song fleet of only 120 warships and 3,000 men.Levathes, 43-47.] At the Battle of Tangdaoand the Battle of Caishialong the Yangtze River, Jin forces were defeated by the Southern Song navy. In these battles, the Jin navy was wiped out by the much smaller Song fleet because of their use of fast paddle-wheel crafts and gunpowder bombs launched from trebuchet catapults (since explosive grenades and bombs had been known in China since the 10th century).Needham, Volume 1, 134.] Meanwhile, two simultaneous rebellions of Jurchennobles, led by soon-to-be crowned Jin Emperor Wányán Yōng (完顏雍) and Khitan tribesman, erupted in Manchuria. This forced the reluctant court of the Jin Dynasty to withdraw its troops from southern China to quell these uprisings. In the end, Emperor Wányán Liàng failed in taking the Southern Song and was assassinated by his own generals in December of 1161.Tillman, 29.] Mostern (2008), 241.] The Khitan uprising was not suppressed until 1164, while the Treaty of Longxing(隆興和議) was signed in 1165 between Song and Jin, reestablishing the 1142 border line and ushering in four decades of peace between the two.
In the years 1205 and 1209 the Jin state was under raid attacks by
Mongolsfrom the north, and in 1211 the major campaign led by Genghis Khanwas launched.Ebrey et al., 235.] His army consisted of fifty thousand bowmen, while his three sons led armies of similar size. Patricia Ebrey writes that at this point the Mongol population could not have been greater than 1.5 million, yet they boosted their numbers by employing Khitans and Han Chinese "who felt no great loyalty to their Jurchen lords."Ebrey, "Cambridge Illustrated History of China", 171.] After a Jurchen general murdered Emperor Weishaowang of Jinin 1213 and placed Emperor Xuanzong of Jinon the throne, a peace settlement was negotiated between Jin and the Mongol forces in 1214, as Genghis made the Jin Dynasty a vassal state of the Mongol Empire.Ebrey et al., 236.] However, when the Jin court moved from Beijing to Kaifeng, Genghis saw this move as a revolt, and moved upon the old Jin capital at Beijing in 1215, sacking and burning it. Although the now small Jin state attempted to defend against the Mongols and even fought battles with the Song in 1216 and 1223, the Jin were attacked by the Mongols again in 1229 with the ascension of Ögedei Khan. According to the account of 1232, written by the Jin commander Chizhan Hexi, the Jurchens led a valiant effort against the Mongols, whom they frigthened and demoralized in the siege of the capital by the use of 'thunder-crash-bombs' and fire lance flamethrowers.Needham, Volume 5, Part 7, 225.] However, the capital at Kaifeng was captured by siege in 1233, and by 1234 the Jin Dynasty finally fell in defeat to the Mongols.
The Western Xia Dynasty met a similar fate, becoming an unreliable vassal to the Mongols by seeking to secure alliances with Jin and Song. Genghis Khan had died in 1227 during the 5 month siege of their capital city, and being held somewhat responsible for this, the last Xia ruler was hacked to death when he was persuaded to exit the gates of his city with a small entourage.
Mongol invasion and end of the Song Dynasty
Following the death of Gaozong and the emergence of the Mongols, the Song Dynasty formed a military alliance with the Mongols in the hope of finally defeating the Jin Dynasty. Several tens of thousands of carts full of grain were sent to the Mongol army during the siege. Following the destruction of the Jurchens in 1234, the Southern Song generals broke the alliance, proceeding to recapture the three historical capitals of
Kaifeng, Luoyangand Chang'an. However the cities, ravaged by years of warfare, lacked economic capacity and yielded little defensibility. This breaking of alliance meant open warfare between the Mongols and the Song Chinese. Ögodei Khan's forces conquered fifty-four out of Sichuan's fifty-eight total districts by 1236, while ordering the slaughter of over a million people that inhabited the city of Chengdu, which was taken by the Mongols with ease.Ebrey, "Cambridge Illustrated History of China", 170.]
Mongol Empirethroughout the 13th century until Kublai Khan's death in 1294. The bounds of the Yuan Dynastyof China is seen in purple in the final stage.] The Mongols eventually gained the upper hand under Mongke Khan, famed for his battles in Russiaand Hungaryin Eastern Europe, and ushered in the final destruction of the ruling Ch'oe family of Korea in 1258.Ebrey et al., 239.] In 1252 Mongke commissoined his younger brother Kublai to conquer the Kingdom of Daliin the southwest (modern Yunnanprovince), which was a successful campaign from the summer of 1253 to early 1254.Ebrey et al., 240.] [Rossabi, 24–27.] Mongke also sent a military campaign into northern Vietnam (which was a failure). Mongke sent his renowned general and brother Hulagueast to face Syriaand Egypt, after he had sacked and razed medieval Baghdadto the ground in 1258 during the sack of Baghdad, bringing an end to the Abbasid Caliphateand the Islamic Golden Age. Meanwhile, Mongke infiltrated Song territory further, until he died while battling the Song Chinese at Fishing Town, Chongqingon August 11, 1259. There are several different claims as to how he died; the causes of death include either an arrow wound from a Chinese archer during the siege, dysentery, or choleraepidemic.Rossabi, 46.] Whatever the cause, his death halted the invasion of the Southern Song, and sparked a succession crisis that would ultimately favor Kublai Khan as the new Khaghan of the Mongols. Mongke's death in battle also led to the recall of the main Mongol armies led by Hulagu campaigning in the Middle East. Hulagu had to travel back to Mongolia in order to partake in the traditional tribal meeting of the khuriltaito appoint a new successor of the Mongol Khanate. In Hulagu's absence, the emboldened Mamluksof Egypt were ready to face the Mongols. Mongol forces under Christian Kitbuqa's command were defeated in a decisive blow at Ain Jalut. [Rossabi, 47.] This marked the extent of Mongol conquests west, but in the east, the Song Dynasty had to be dealt with.
A fluctuating border
Although Mongke's forces stalled the war effort immediately after his death, his younger brother Kublai continued to fight the Southern Song along the Yangzi River for the next two months into the autumn of 1259.Rossabi, 49.] Kublai made a daring advance across the river during a storm, and assaulted the Southern Song troops on the other side. Both sides suffered considerable casualties, but Kublai's troops were victorious and gained a foothold south of the Yangzi. Kublai made preparations to take the heavily fortified city of
Ezhou. Meanwhile, the Song Dynasty chancellor Jia Sidaodispatched General Lü Wendeto lead the reinforcements in the defense of Ezhou, and on October 5Lü slipped past Kublai's ill-prepared forces and entered the city.Rossabi, 50.] Jia Sidao then sent his general and emissary Song Jing to negotiate a tributary settlement with Kublai. He offered Kublai annual tribute of silver like in the earlier treaty with the Khitans, in return for the territories south of the Yangzi that had been taken by the Mongols. Kublai rejected the proposal since he was already in a favorable strategic position on the other side of the Yangzi. However, Kublai had to suspend the war and travel north with the majority of his forces due to his rival brother Ariq Bökeleading a sudden movement of troops towards Kublai's home base of Xanadu. [Rossabi, 50–51.]
Kublai's absence from the war front was seen by Chancellor Jia Sidao as an opportune moment, so he ordered to resume armed conflict.Rossabi, 56.] The Song army routed the small armed detachment that Kublai had stationed south of the Yangzi, and the Song regained its lost territory. With his ally Hulagu busy fighting the
Golden Hordeand his own forces needed in the north against the rival Khagan claimant Ariq Böke, Kublai was unable to focus on hostilities in the south.Rossabi, 55–56.] On May 21, 1260, Kublai sent his envoy Hao Jing and two other advisors to negotiate with the Southern Song. Upon their arrival and attempts to solve the conflict through diplomatic means, Jia Sidao ordered Kublai's embassy to be detained. Although Kublai would not forget this slight of imprisoning his ambassadors, he nonetheless had to focus on more pressing affairs with the threat of his brother and rival Khan. From 1260 to 1262 the Song forces raided Kublai's southern border which forced Kublai to retaliate with some minor incursions until 1264, when his brother finally surrendered and ended the civil war.Rossabi, 82.] In 1265 the first major battle in five years erupted in Sichuan province, where Kublai gained a preliminary victory and considerable war booty of 146 Song naval ships.
While Kublai attended to other matters in the north, the Song court was mobilizing its populace for war and all available resources that could be rendered and drained into the war effort.Embree, 385.] In the mid 13th century, the Song government led by Jia Sidao began confiscating portions of estates owned by the rich in order to raise revenues in a land nationalization scheme.Adshead, 90–91.] This had the negative effect of alienating the wealthy landowners and hastening the collapse of the empire, as wealthy landlords and merchants favored what they deemed the inevitable Mongol conquest and rule than the other alternative of paying higher taxes for continual, exhaustive warfare.
There was also mounting political opposition against Chancellor Jia Sidao. Jia had purged several dissident officials who were opposed to his reforms aimed at limiting official corruption and personal profiteering.Rossabi, 80–81.] When he replaced some of these officials with his own cronies, however, political conditions were ripe for a schism at court and within the gentry class that would be favorable to a strong, unified force led by Kublai.Rossabi, 81.] Kublai used various ploys and gestures in order to entice defectors from the Southern Song to his side. Kublai Khan established Dadu (Beijing) as his new capital in 1264, catering to the likes of the Chinese with his advisor
Liu Bingzhongand the naming of his dynasty with the Chinese word for "primal" ("Yuan").Ebrey, 240.] He made it a policy to grant land, clothing, and oxen to Song Dynasty Chinese who defected to his side. Kublai Khan chose the moral high ground of releasing Song captives and prisoners while Jia Sidao refused to release Kublai's emissary Hao Jing. In 1261 Kublai personally released seventy-five Song merchants captured at the border; in 1263 he released fifty-seven merchants; in 1269 he released forty-five merchants. In 1264 he publicly reprimanded his own officers for executing two Song generals without trial or investigation. With these acts his reputation and legitimacy in the eyes of the Chinese were greatly enhanced.
Battle of Xiangyang
The siege of the city
Xiangyangwas a long, drawn out conflict from 1268 to 1273. [Rossabi, 82–87.] Xiangyang and the adjacent town of Fanchengwere located on the opposite bank of the Han River and were the last fortified obstacles in Kublai's way towards the rich Yangzi River basin. Kublai made an attempt to starve the city of its supply lines by gaining naval supremacy along the Han River in a gigantic blockade.Rossabi, 83.] It was the Song defector Liu Zheng who was the main proponent in advising Kublai Khan to expand the Yuan Dynasty's naval strength, which was a great factor in their success.Lo, 492.] On several occasions—August of 1269, March of 1270, August of 1271, and September of 1272—the Southern Song attempted to break the Yuan blockade with its own navy, yet each attempt was a costly failure of thousands of men and hundreds of ships.Rossabi, 85.] An international force — composed of Chinese, Jurchens, Koreans, Mongols, Uyghur Turks, and Middle Eastern Muslims— contributed to Kublai's siege effort in crafting ships and artillery. After the siege, in the summer of 1273, Kublai appointed the Chinese general Shi Tianze and Turkic general Bayan as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Shi Tianze however died in 1275; Bayan was then granted a force of 200,000 (mostly composed of Chinese) to face the Song.Rossabi, 87.]
In March of 1275 the forces of Bayan faced the army of Chancellor Jia Sidao, which was 130,000 strong; the end result was a decisive victory for Bayan, and Jia was forced to retreat after many deserted him.Rossabi, 88.] This was the opportune moment for his political rivals to smite him. Jia was effectively stripped of rank, title, and office and banished to
Fujianin exile from the court; while en route to Fujian, he was killed by the same commander that was appointed to accompany him.Rossabi, 88–89.] After his death many of his supporters and opposing ministers submitted to Bayan. By 1276 the Yuan army had conquered nearly all of the Southern Song's territory, including the capital at Hangzhou.
Meanwhile the rebel remnants of the Song court fled to
Fuzhou.Rossabi, 91.] Emperor Gong was left behind as the empress dowager submitted to Bayan, horrified by reports of the total slaughter of Changzhou.Ebrey et al., 241.] Before the capital was taken, Empress Dowager Xie (1208–1282) made attempts to negotiate with Bayan, promising annual tribute to the Yuan Dynasty, but he rejected these proposals. [Rossabi, 89–90.] After her attempts at diplomacy had failed, she handed over the Song Dynasty's imperial seal to Bayan, "an unambiguous symbol of capitulation."Rossabi, 90.] With the submission of Emperor Gong, Bayan ordered that the Song imperial family should be respected, and forbade the pillaging of their imperial tombs or treasuries. Kublai granted the deposed emperor the title "Duke of Ying," but he was eventually exiled to Tibetwhere he took up a monastic life in 1296.
Any hope of resistance was centered on two young princes, Emperor Gong's brothers. The older boy, Zhao Shi , who was nine years old, was declared emperor on
June 14, 1276, in Fuzhou. The court sought refuge in Quanzhou, seeking an alliance with the Superintendent of Maritime Shipping, the Muslim Pu Shougeng. However, he secretly formed an alliance with Kublai, so the Song court was forced to flee in 1277.Rossabi, 93.] The court then sought refuge in Silvermine Bay( Mui Wo) on Lantau Island(in later eras known as Kowloon City, Hong Kong; see also Sung Wong Toi). The older brother became ill and died on May 8, 1278at age ten, and was succeeded by the younger brother, Zhao Bing, aged seven. On March 19, 1279the Song army was defeated in its last battle, the Battle of Yamen, fought against the Yuan army led by the Chinese general Zhang Hongfanin the Pearl River Delta. A high official, Lu Xiufu, is said to have taken the boy emperor in his arms and jumped from his sinking ship into the sea, drowning both of them.Rossabi, 94.]
With the death of the last remaining emperor, Song China was eliminated, while Kublai Khan established the realm of the
Yuan Dynastyover China proper, Mongolia, Manchuria, Tibet, and Korea. For nearly a century to follow, the Chinese would live under a dynasty established by Mongols. However, a native Han Chinesedynasty would be established once more with the Ming Dynastyin 1368.
During the Song Dynasty, the "
Zizhi Tongjian" (Chinese: 資治通鑒/资治通鉴; Wade-Giles: "Tzu-chih t'ung-chien"; literally "Comprehensive Mirror for/to Aid in Government") was an enormous work of Chinese historiography, a written approach to a universal historyof China, compiled in the 11th century. The work was first ordered to be compiled by Emperor Yingzong of Songin 1065, the team of scholars headed by Sima Guang, who presented the completed work to Emperor Shenzong of Songin 1084. Its total length was 294 volumes containing roughly 3 million Chinese characters. The "Zizhi Tongjian" covers the people, places, and events of Chinese history from the beginning of the Warring States in 403 BC until the beginning of the Song Dynasty in 959. Its size, brevity, and scope has often been compared to the groundbreaking work of Chinese historiography compiled by the ancient historian Sima Qian(145 BC–90 BC), known as the " Shiji". This historical work was later compiled and condensed into fifty nine different books by the Neo-Confucianphilosopher Zhu Xiin 1189, yet his pupils had to complete the work shortly after his death in 1200.Partington, 238.] During the Manchu Qing Dynasty, the book was reprinted in 1708, while the European JesuitFather Joseph Anne Maria de Moyriac de Mailla(1679–1748) translated it shortly after in 1737. It was later edited and published by the Jesuit Abbé, Jean Baptiste Gabriel Alexandre Grosier (1743–1823), in part with Le Roux des Hauterays, where a thirteenth volume and a title page were added. It was also translated and published by the Jesuit astronomer Antoine Gaubilin 1759, whose pupils founded a Russian school of sinology.
Another historical source was the enormous encyclopedia "
Prime Tortoise of the Record Bureau" published by 1013, one of the Four Great Books of Song. Divided into 1000 volumes of 9.4 million written Chinese characters, this book provided important information on political essays of the period, extensive autobiographies on rulers and various subjects, as well as a multitude of different memorials and decrees brought forth to the imperial court. However, the official history of the Song Dynasty was the "Song Shi", compiled in 1345 during the Yuan Dynasty.Partington, 237.] The recorded history of the Jurchen Jin Dynasty, the "Jin Shi", was compiled in the same year. This historical book comprised one of the classic Twenty-Four Historiesof China.
Architecture of the Song Dynasty
Culture of the Song Dynasty
Economy of the Song Dynasty
History of China
Military history of China
Naval history of China
Society of the Song Dynasty
Technology of the Song Dynasty
Zhou Tong (archer)
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