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EAST 211 Lecture Notes - Emperor Taizu Of Song, Emperor Jingzong Of Western Xia, Emperor Zhezong

Asian Language & Literature
Course Code
EAST 211
Rebecca Doran

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A. The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms
- After the fall of the Tang and before the foundation of the Song, five different dynasties came and went in a
period of fifty years: Later Liang (907-923); Later Tang (923-936); Later Jin (936-947); Later Han (947-
951); Later Zhou (951-960)
- The rest of the former Tang empire was also divided into ten independent kingdoms.
- A period of disunity, frequent successions, and warfare, which can be seen as a continuation of the
divisions of the later Tang.
B. The Song and Border States
Northern Song 北宋, 960-1127 Southern Song 南宋, 1127-1279
- Founding Figure: Zhao Kuangyin (928-976) - Capital: Hangzhou
- Capital: Kaifeng
Liao (Khitan), 907-1125 Jin (Jurchen), 1115-1234
- Founded by: Abaoji (872-926) - Founded by: Aguda (1069-1123)
Xi Xia (Tangut), 1032-1227 Yuan (Mongol), (1279-1368)
- Founding Figure: Li Yuanhao (1003-1048) - Founded by: Khubilai Khan (1215-1294)
A. Founding the Song
- Founding figure: Zhao Kuangyin (928-976), general of the Later Zhou (951-960)
- When the Later Zhou emperor died, a child emperor was put on the throne. Zhao Kuangyin took this
opportunity to seize control with the help of his army. He established the Song dynasty (960-1279) and
became Emperor Taizu (r. 960-976).
- Policy of wen (civil principle) over wu (military)
- Warfare continued under Emperor Taizu and his successor Emperor Taizong (r. 976-997) to conquer
neighboring kingdoms and consolidate power.
- The Song army remained very large and technologically advanced (gunpowder, incendiary weapons,
superor navy)
- Emperors Taizu and Taizong established precedents for learning and civil government, including
sponsoring publications and encouraging the growth of the civil government
B. Demographic Changes in the Song
Tang: power held by land-owning aristocrats in the North
Song: emergence of educated gentry class concentrated around the Yangzi delta in the Southeast
Reasons behind demographic changes:
1. Warfare and dynastic shifts caused migration to the South, loss of aristocratic power base
2. Developments in rice cultivation around the Yangzi delta
- improvements in fertilizer, varieties, water control, tools
3. Development of printing technology
- woodblock printing and paper
- first extant printed books are Buddhist materials from the Tang
- government sponsored printing of Confucian classics, Buddhist canon, and other works
- Confucian classics available to greater number of people
- invention of moveable type in the 11th C. (400 years before the West)
- emergence of independent, commercial publishing

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4. Civil Service Examination:
- accessible to more diverse and greater number of families than in the Tang.
- Very few candidates passed and received the jinshi 進士 degree
- Preparing for the exam was a major financial and time commitment: Average age of recipient: mid 30‟s.
- Reasons for supporting male family members to prepare for the exam: Local marriage alliances; office also
obtained through “protection”; status; other careers
C. Song Economic and Technological Changes
1. Growth in Urbanization and Commercialization
- Tang Chang‟an: grid layout; strict regulation and supervision of trade; curfew
- Song Kaifeng and Hangzhou: populations overflowing outside the city walls; market economies; more fluid
layout; lively, night markets, entertainment
- Increased economic specialization and mercantile activity; Less division between elite and merchants at
odds with Confucian ideals
2. Technological Innovations: printing; gunpowder; compass and shipbuilding; rice cultivation; paper money;
improvements in ceramics (porcelain)
D. Northern Song Politics and Reform
1. Increase of Factionalism
- remaining tension between Northern elite large landowners and emergent Southeast families
- new willingness to reinterpret the Confucian tradition and make institutional changes
- imperial support of factions would strengthen Emperor‟s power
2. Reformers v. Conservatives
Wang Anshi (1021-1086): Major reformer of the period under Emperor Shenzong (r. 1067-1085) who
instituted the “New Policies”:
- Primary goal was to provide greater bureaucratic efficiency and increase funds to the central government in
order to manage its large military spending
- Economic: special finance commission to oversee trade; stabilize price of grains and other commodities
- Education: emphasis on statecraft in civil service exams over mastery of literature and Confucian virtues
- Military: organization of households into groups of ten to serve as militia and police force
- Agricultural: Green Shoots Program lent loans to farmers (at 20% interest) at the beginning of the growing
season, to be paid back during the harvest (Confucian ideal to benefit the people; centralized v. private
3. Difficulties of Reform
- Too much, too fast
- Opposition from conservatives: specialization, government involvement in trade, increasing debt of people
4. The Fate of Reform
- After Emperor Shenzong died, he was succeeded by Empress Dowager Gao who acted as regent from the
young Emperor Zhezong (r. 1085-1100) and placed the aging and ill leader of the Conservatives Sima
Guang (1019-1086) in power, rescinding all reform measures.
- Emperor Huizong (r. 1100-1126), son of Emperor Shenzong, brought reformers back into power and under
the control of chief councilor Cai Jing (1046-1126) eliminated all opposition from the Conservatives.
- Because the Jin defeated the Song under Emperor Huizong, reformers became blamed for the political and
military failures of the Song, despite the fact that both Emperors Shenzong and Huizong wished to increase
military strength to regain former Tang territory from the Liao and Xi Xia.

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E. Border States in the Song
- Unlike the Tang, the Song had politically and militarily powerful neighbors who were formally recognized
as equals or superiors.
- Mostly nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples who adopted Chinese customs and institutions: including
Chinese dress, language and writing, administrative system, civil service examinations, etc.
- Often tension exists between people‟s ethnic culture and adoption of Chinese traditions
- Policy of coexistence and wen over wu
1. Liao (Khitan), 907-1125
- Founding Figure: Abaoji (872-926)
- The most powerful neighbor in the N. Song, located in the Northeast
- Like Xiongnu in the Han, nomadic people who were skilled horsemen and warriors
- Controlled the “Sixteen Prefectures” inside of the Great Wall since the Five Dynasties period
- Treaty of Shanyuan in 1005 under Emperor Zhenzong (r. 997-1022) initiated policy of coexistence; Instead
of pursue costly warfare, Song agreed to pay annual tribute in silk and silver to the Liao and formally
recognize them as equals
2. Xi Xia (Tangut), 1032-1227
- Founding Figure: Li Yuanhao (1003-1048)
- Located to the Northeast
- After unsuccessful campaigns against the Xi Xia, the Song agreed to a similar treaty as with the Liao in
1042 and paid an annual tribute to the Xi Xia.
3. Jin (Jurchen), 1115-1234
- Founding Figure: Aguda (1068-1123)
- Not originally nomadic but agricultural and fishing people North of the Liao; people divided into “civilized”
and “wild” Jurchens
- Developed skill in horsemanship and rose to power rapidly defeating the Liao in 1115 and establishing the
Jin dynasty.
- The Song originally were glad to have an ally against the Liao and underestimated the power of the Jin.
- The Jin eventually attacked the Song and besieged the capital Kaifeng in 1126, looting the city, and
demanding a very large annual tribute. Emperor Huizong abdicated the throne in favor of his son who
became Emperor Qinzong
- The Jin took the capital again in 1127 and took Emperors Huizong and Qinzong and many other elites and
members of the imperial family as prisoners, marking the end of the Northern Song
- Zhao Gou (1107-1187), an imperial prince, escaped to the South, declared himself Emperor Gaozong (r.
1127-1162), establishing the Southern Song capital in Hangzhou
F. The Southern Song (1127-1279)
1. Relationship with Jin
- Fighting continued with the Jin for many years, yet neither side could defeat the other; the Jin were highly
mobile and effective fighters; the Song had a massive army, superior navy, and sophisticated military
- Treaty in 1142, Song agreed to pay an annual tribute and to recognize the Jin as superiors.
- Great embarrassment for the Song
2. Southern Song Politics
- Very powerful Chief Councilors: Qin Guei (1090-1155) and Jia Sidao (1213-1275)
- Very negative image, especially for maintaining peace with the Jin: Qin Guei was responsible for the
execution of patriotic general Yue Fei who was determined to fight the Jin and regain the North
- Successful at consolidating power, eliminating factionalism
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