The Song dynasty was the second great “medieval” period of China. But unlike the Tang, it coexisted uneasily with powerful rivals to the north. These rivals were the Khitan Tartars of Manchuria and Mongolia, kept at bay only through costly bribes, and the Jurchen people of Central Asia, who were intent on conquering China but could not be influenced by payoffs.
who started the song dynasty?
when did the song dynasty start and Who created the Song Dynasty?The Song dynasty was, founded by the Later Zhou general Zhao Kuangyin (927-976 CE) who was endorsed as emperor by the army in 960 CE. His reign title would be Taizu (‘Grand Progenitor’).
How did the Song dynasty start?
The Song dynasty was founded by a general named Zhao Kuangyin. Legend has it that his troops no longer wanted to serve the current emperor and begged Zhao to wear the yellow robe. After refusing three times eventually he took the robe and became Emperor Taizu, establishing the Song dynasty.
Emperor Taizu reunited much of China under his rule. However, he also appointed scholars to lead his army. This weakened his army and eventually caused the fall of the Northern Song to the Jin peoples.
What did zhao kuangyin do?
The task of unification had not been easy, and in parts of China revolts of local autonomists further complicated it. Yet the Song founder had also turned his mind to ways of avoiding the dangers that had been fatal to the Tang and to encourage the success of his dynasty. The Taizu emperor’s policies no doubt owed much to his personality, a striking combination of qualities that inspired in his generation and later a multitude of anecdotes about him. Though some of these may include fictional elements, they convey the impression he made on his countrymen. A highly skilled archer and horseman in his youth, Zhao survived daredevil equestrian exploits unscathed. As emperor he said that destiny had given him the throne and would determine his life or death; man could not deflect it. Despite remonstrances of his advisers, he persisted in going about incognito to observe conditions among the people. He rejected indignantly the gift of a sword stick for protection in emergency. His tastes were simple; when shown the inlaid urinals captured from the former Sichuan princeling, he had them destroyed. He visited his ministers informally and frankly admitted to them his chagrin over his own errors. In his last year he declined the title of unifier and pacifier that was offered him.
The Taizu emperor was strict in holding his officials to account in important matters; his councillors held him in awe. On the other hand, he accepted minor faults or impertinences with a laugh. He was slow to entertain suspicion. He sometimes acted impetuously, and some have suggested, on rather limited evidence, that he indulged in wine to excess. On occasion, when severely provoked by a presumptuous official or subject, he was given to outbursts of violent rage. At such times, however, his temper cooled quickly, and he then softened penalties he had given in anger and even compensated the unfortunate culprit for abuses suffered.
Taizu was active by nature. Even as emperor he conducted military campaigns personally from time to time. Rather than simply approving governmental papers in finished form, as Tang emperors had done, he let his ministers submit rough drafts to him for preliminary criticism.
The functional arrangements of Taizu’s government reflected both his active disposition and his refusal to pretend infallibility. He continued the existing system by which three ministers were directly responsible to him for different aspects of administration (fiscal, military, and general), thus limiting the power of each. By generously granting them consideration and responsibility, however, he encouraged a certain balance between the functions of ruler and minister. The control of the central government over the local was also strengthened. Beginning in 963, the administration of the prefectures was cautiously but steadily transferred from the unruly military to civil officials. Court officials were sent to govern subprefectures. From 965 taxes were remitted directly to the national treasury. The first fiscal intendants—forerunners of the Song “circuit” system—were established to supervise local functionaries. To counter the military threat to the state’s integrity, Taizu transferred the best troops to the capital and on suitable opportunities induced the most powerful commanders to accept retirement.
Reform Of The Examination
The Taizu emperor’s policies were clearly directed toward the creation of a bureaucracy based on demonstrated abilities rather than birth or favour. This is evident in his steps to strengthen the examination system. By 963 he had forbidden court officials to recommend candidates and had forbidden graduates to consider examiners their patrons. He ordered reexaminations on the petition of a rejected candidate or on even a hint of favour in the selection of graduates. By 973 he had established the final examination in the imperial palace to verify the rankings and had ordered the list of successful competitors to be announced publicly. He began to award larger numbers of degrees.
how did zhao kuangyin die?
Zhao reigned for 16 years and died in 976 at the age of 49. His younger brother unexpectedly succeeded him, even though he had four living sons. In the traditional historical accounts his mother, the Dowager Empress Du, warned him that just as he rose to power because if Zhou Shizong left an infant on the throne, someone else might usurp power if he did not name an adult as his heir.
His brother ruled as Song Taizong (976-997 C.E.). In China’s folk memory, Song is said to have murdered his brother and invented his mother’s advice as justification.
In folklore, the story known as “shadows by the candle and sounds from an axe” is very popular and suggests that Emperor Taizu was murdered by his brother, who was after the throne.