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The Song Dynasty (960-1280)
The history of the Song Dynasty is an interesting period in Chinese history. During this time, the Song (960-1280) reduced the power of the viceroys and built a strong central government that relied on the civil service exam system for its officials. Barbarians on the northern boundaries of China were causing a costly war so instead of fighting them the Song tried compromising with the northern barbarians.
More land was cleared during the Song period than any other before. Water control projects and improvements in farming increased the food supply. In turn, the population doubled to 100 million by the end of the dynasty. Although farming improved, peasant life was still miserable. Like rulers before them, the Song passed new laws to help the common people. But they were soon repealed, and the familiar pattern repeated itself.
In 1126 Barbarian Kin armies captured Kaifeng, the Song capital . The emperors son fled south to Hangcho, and finally made peace with the Kin. During the Five Dynasties period (907-960), warlords took over the country. South China split into ten states, and a series of barbarian families ruled the north. For a brief period of time the country unified. But once again under the Song dynasty China was divided into North and South. The Kin ruled from the Huai River northward. The Song held on to the Yangtze Valley and the southern regions.
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If you feel like expanding your knowledge of ancient China further, check out Brooklyn College's help site. It's designed for students taking their class, but it has great information on all cultures.