In 960 AD the Song (an able ruling family) seized control of China, united the many factions, and reestablished central rule once again. The Song dynasty rule can be split up into two parts: The Northern and Southern. This division occurred because the Song were forced to flee their Northern lands from nomadic invaders.
The early Song Emperors built a robust bureaucracy by placing well-educated people of the Scholar-official class in charge. The Song replaced the old time vassals and warlord rulers with centrally appointed officials. This regime led to a more powerful central Empire. The Song dynasty saw the development of cities not only for Imperial business, but as centers of trade, social life and entertainment. The Scholar-officials lived in these cities close to the lands that they ruled along side of the artisans, shopkeepers, and merchants. The merchants recently came to be wealthy common people. As the printing press and education spread, private trade also did. Trade became essential to linking the coastal port cities and inland China. Merchants grew wealthy and gained prestige, a feat that had been impossible for a commoner as much as two hundred years before.
The Song improved on the culture of the Tang dynasty, including the standard for the universal man, who was to have the qualities of scholar, poet, painter, and statesman. The arts of historical writings, painting, calligraphy, and hard-glazed porcelain were also embraced. This, coupled with a renewed interest in Confucian ideology, led to the decline of Buddhism. Buddhism was considered foreign and the Chinese did not think it offered any solutions to political and other problems. With this in mind, Song scholars began to create a new ideology to guide the Empire. The most notable of these philosophers was Zhu Xi. Zhu Xi combined Confucian teachings with those of Buddhism, Taoism and other ideas. This synthesis is exactly what became the official guiding ideology of the Song Empire. This new order promoted the Confucian principles of obligation of obedience of subject to ruler. These ideas took hold and an era of stability followed. This era of stability featured strong tradition and an unwillingness to incorporate new ideas. This era lasted until the nineteenth century.