The rise and fall of the Sung Dynastyby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time essay
Describe how the Sung Dynasty came into power, their contributions, and the "domino effect" that they had on the successive power.
The Sung Dynasty lasted for more than 300 years, due to major advancements in the society. The culture brought rise to a new religion. Education furthered the growth of literature and the arts. Positions in government were no longer held by aristocrats; instead they were given to people with degrees and years of education. Those people made the government stronger and produced new ideas. The only problem that rose in this dynasty was the one of military power. Besides that one point the Sung Dynasty would have made the long lasting dynasty. The Sung dynasty was divided into two periods called the Northern Sung and the Southern Sung.
The Northern Sung was the first, most advanced, and longest period of the Sung history. The increase in education carried the literature advancements from the Tang Dynasty into the Sung period. With this rise in culture came a new religion, called Neo-Confucianism. This religion was thought of by a scholar named Chu Hsi. He combined three religions from the Tang period and put them into the Neo-Confucianism that became the orthodox state doctrine. Governmental positions were based on exams over the teachings of Confucius. This was much better than the aristocrats ruling due to family linage rather than knowledge. The economy rose by putting these newly educated people into positions of authority.
The only bad part of the period was the weak military directly under the emperor's control. He feared that power hungry generals might want to rebel. When small barbarian tribes or nations would attack then the Sung would try to sign treaties with them. The offering was usually a tribute causing a nearly bankrupt nation. Emperor Shen Tsung appointed Wang An-shih as chief minister. Wang straightened out the economy and had many ideas and laws to be put in place that are still used today by many nations. From Wang's studies of the different dynasties, he realized that the peasants were the main income for the government instead of the rich. Therefore he gave allotments of land to farmers to grow crops to support the population. He also implemented a regimental tax depending on how much income the peasant made. After Wang’s death most of his work was repealed, until after the Mongols took over. The Juchens, who had made an alliance with the Sung, rebelled and forced the Sung to flee south. This was the beginning of the Southern Period.
Wang’s death came at the end of the Northern Sung period. When the Southern period started, reformers and antireformers fought for power making this government unstable for a short time. Most of Wang’s laws and ideas were not carried on. However, views were constantly changing which eventually caused the work of the Northern period to carry over. The new Sung government was able to survive due to the roots that had been made in the Northern Period. What flourished in the Southern Period was the maritime society. During this period there were no trade routes by land that could be used due to hostile patrols by opposing forces. This made shipbuilding a booming business. The creation of a ship called a junk was what people used for their trading ventures. Gunpowder was created and the pottery industry advanced with the creation of porcelain with a celadon glaze. With these new creations came dramatic increases in agriculture and production based economies.
Unfortunately, the increase of wealth led the upper classes to demonstrate that they did not need the labor of a woman by crippling her. Foot binding and concubines came into the Chinese society during the Sung dynasty by treating the female as a possession to be displayed. The foot binding process was a horrid thing that was carried on for hundreds of years. The foot was broken and bound by a bandage. (For the full process visit http://www.yutopian.com/arts/five/FB.html). The introduction of concubines was one that had come from other societies and migrated over to the Chinese culture.
The Sung Dynasty ended when a group of Mongols under the command of Kublai Khan overthrew the Sung. The Sung did not have much of a military to defend themselves against the Mongol force that was sweeping across the Asia. The “domino effect” continued as the Yuan Dynasty was started by Kublai Khan. It too grew wealthy and lazy only to collapse like many dynasties before and after.
“Sung Dynasty.” Bergen. 14 January. 2004.
“Foot Binding.” Yutopian Online. 14 January. 2004.
“Chinese Cultural Studies.” Brooklyn College. 14 January. 2004.
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