The Northen Sung Dynasty
969 AD - 1126 AD
To avoid the problems the Tang government faced, the Northern
Sung made the military subordinate to the civil government. Every
aspect of government and society was dominated by the civil government.
The civil service test was expanded so that the government would have a
constant flow of young talent. The Sung re-organized the imperial government,
centralizing the control of the dynasty at the capital. The local
government was left pretty much the same. Education flourished and the
economy also continued to expand. The literature that was being created in
the late Tang dynasty continued to flourish as well. However, even with
such improvements, there was one major flaw, a weak military.
The Sung's military was not very powerful, and they frequently signed
treaties to end fighting. Usually included in the treaties were stipulations
requiring the Sung to pay tributes to the enemies they were
fighting. With the population growth came greater economic growth.
The military was a large portion of the annual income due to border defenses.
The Northern Sung fell apart due to differences in opinions by the civil
In 1069, a young Sung emperor appointed Wang An-shih as his
chief counselor. Wang brought about great change in the government. He
proposed plans to increase government income, decrease spending, and
strengthen military forces. Wang An-Shih realized that the government's wealth
came from the peasants, and that the wealthier the peasants were, the
wealthier the government would be. So, Wang implemented land reforms
to give equal allotments of land to farmers, loans to cultivators to
assist planting and harvesting, and a graduated tax on wealth. Parts
of Wang's plan were adopted, but some were not used due to bureaucratic
The Southern Sung Dynasty
Due to their weakness, the Sung made an alliance with a
Chin dynasty (1122-1234) of northern Manchuria. After all their mutual
enemies were defeated, the Chin turned on the Sung. This forced them to
retreat and form a new capital in the South in 1135. This new Sung
dynasty far surpassed that of the old one. The economic and intellectual
achievements increased while the former Sung dynasty to the north slowly
decayed. The dynasty showed no internal sign of collapse, but its downfall
was many years of bitter fighting against a superior force.
In 1206, all the Mongol tribes convened at Karakorum in Outer Mongolia
to confirm Mongol unity under the command of Genghis Khan.
Soon, the mongols started to conquer the surrounding land to form the
largest empire of that time. First, Genghhis Khan captured the manchurian
Chin dynasty. This was the dynasty that had pushed the Sung out of the
North. The Southern Sung was not captured until 1279, when Genghis Khan's
grandson, Kublai Khan, took control.
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