HIST 4618 Study Guide - Spring 2019, Comprehensive Final Exam Notes - Qing Dynasty, Song Dynasty, History Of China

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HIST 4618
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Northern Song
The rulers of China were nomadic conquerors. The Song economy was the world’s economic
engine, no economy was even close to as powerful. The two dominant philosophies at this time
were Buddhism and Confucianism.
In 907, the Liao Dynasty began its rise. Song was emerging at this time but did not become a
true dynasty until 960. Both dynasties became rivals but never actually fought one another.
Before Song and Liao, the Tang Dynasty was the powerful empire but it fell. China was then
divided into ten different countries ruled by five different failed dynasties. There were also
independent kingdoms ruled by warlords from the former Tang Dynasty.
The goal for Song was to unify China for a long time. He invaded China and conquered all of its
rivals. Then, he made the emperor the most powerful military ruler by establishing the Palace
Army. The Palace Army was a professional army that was personally loyal to the emperor and
nobody else. Over the years, the army steadily increased in size. By Song’s death, the army had
doubled in size but would eventually reach 1 million soldiers. The Palace Army proved to be the
most important element to the dominance of the Song Dynasty. The emperor paid soldiers with
land taxes from the Chinese people and tariffs from trade.
Song then completely reformed the government by removing all provincial governments forcing
all provinces to report directly to the emperor. Song then removed all military leaders of local
administrators and appointed ONLY civilians. Song believed military men were dangerous
because they were capable of leading a revolution to overthrow the government. Song now
held all the power and there were no threats of revolution. To ensure this would not change, he
reformed the central government by giving all the power to himself by removing all power from
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the prime ministers (who were second in command). These prime ministers became advisors
but had no real power in Chinese politics. Song was a very hands-on ruler. He would form
commissions to help him resolve issues but would immediately disband them once the issue
had been resolved. In the Song Dynasty, all of the rulers never would relinquish this power.
They wanted absolute authority on all matters.
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