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Harry Styles - Sign of the Times
Emperor Taizu of Song r. The establishment of this capital marked the start of the Northern Song period. He ensured administrative stability by promoting the civil service examination system of drafting state bureaucrats by skill and merit instead of aristocratic or military position and promoted projects that ensured efficiency in communication throughout the empire. In one such project, cartographers created detailed maps of each province and city that were then collected in a large atlas. From its inception under Taizu, the Song dynasty alternated between warfare and diplomacy with the ethnic Khitans of the Liao dynasty in the northeast and with the Tanguts of the Western Xia in the northwest. The Song dynasty used military force in an attempt to quell the Liao dynasty and to recapture the Sixteen Prefectures , a territory under Khitan control since that was traditionally considered to be part of China proper Most parts of today's Beijing and Tianjin. The Song were forced to provide tribute to the Khitans, although this did little damage to the Song economy since the Khitans were economically dependent upon importing massive amounts of goods from the Song. During the 11th century, political rivalries divided members of the court due to the ministers' differing approaches, opinions, and policies regarding the handling of the Song's complex society and thriving economy. The idealist Chancellor , Fan Zhongyan — , was the first to receive a heated political backlash when he attempted to institute the Qingli Reforms , which included measures such as improving the recruitment system of officials, increasing the salaries for minor officials, and establishing sponsorship programs to allow a wider range of people to be well educated and eligible for state service. With the backing of Emperor Shenzong — , Wang Anshi severely criticized the educational system and state bureaucracy. Seeking to resolve what he saw as state corruption and negligence, Wang implemented a series of reforms called the New Policies. These involved land value tax reform, the establishment of several government monopolies , the support of local militias , and the creation of higher standards for the Imperial examination to make it more practical for men skilled in statecraft to pass. The Jurchen , a subject tribe of the Liao, rebelled against them and formed their own state, the Jin dynasty — A Liao dynasty polychrome wood-carved statue of Guan Yin , Shanxi Province , China, — However, the poor performance and military weakness of the Song army was observed by the Jurchens, who immediately broke the alliance, beginning the Jin—Song Wars of and In the Jingkang Incident during the latter invasion, the Jurchens captured not only the capital, but the retired emperor Huizong, his successor Emperor Qinzong , and most of the Imperial court. The Jurchen conquest of North China and shift of capitals from Kaifeng to Lin'an was the dividing line between the Northern and Southern Song dynasties. After their fall to the Jin, the Song lost control of North China. Now occupying what has been traditionally known as "China Proper," the Jin regarded themselves the rightful rulers of China. The Jin later chose earth as their dynastic element and yellow as their royal color. According to the theory of the Five Elements wuxing , the earth element follows the fire, the dynastic element of the Song, in the sequence of elemental creation. Therefore, their ideological move showed that the Jin considered Song reign in China complete, with the Jin replacing the Song as the rightful rulers of China Proper. The western and southern borders remain unchanged from the previous map, however the north of the Qinling Huaihe Line was under control of the Jin dynasty. The Xia dynasty's territory generally remain unchanged. In the southwest, the Song dynasty bordered by a territory about a sixth its size, Dali dynasty. Although weakened and pushed south beyond the Huai River , the Southern Song found new ways to bolster its strong economy and defend itself against the Jin dynasty. It had able military officers such as Yue Fei and Han Shizhong. The government sponsored massive shipbuilding and harbor improvement projects, and the construction of beacons and seaport warehouses to support maritime trade abroad, including at the major international seaports , such as Quanzhou , Guangzhou , and Xiamen , that were sustaining China's commerce. During these battles the Song navy employed swift paddle wheel driven naval vessels armed with traction trebuchet catapults aboard the decks that launched gunpowder bombs. A century after the navy was founded it had grown in size to 52, fighting marines. A head sculpture of an arhat , 11th Century. A seated wooden Bodhisattva statue, Jin dynasty — A wooden Bodhisattva statue from the Song dynasty — The Song government confiscated portions of land owned by the landed gentry in order to raise revenue for these projects, an act which caused dissension and loss of loyalty amongst leading members of Song society but did not stop the Song's defensive preparations. The Mongols , led by Genghis Khan r. The Mongols were allied with the Song, but this alliance was broken when the Song recaptured the former imperial capitals of Kaifeng, Luoyang , and Chang'an at the collapse of the Jin dynasty. Although Hulagu was allied with Kublai Khan , his forces were unable to help in the assault against the Song, due to Hulagu's war with the Golden Horde. In , a Song force of , troops under Chancellor Jia Sidao was defeated by Kublai's newly appointed commander-in-chief, general Bayan. The last remaining ruler, the 8-year-old emperor Emperor Huaizong of Song , committed suicide, along with Prime Minister Lu Xiufu  and members of the royal clan. On Kublai's orders, carried out by his commander Bayan, the rest of the former imperial family of Song were unharmed; the deposed Emperor Gong was demoted, being given the title 'Duke of Ying', but was eventually exiled to Tibet where he took up a monastic life. The former emperor would eventually be forced to commit suicide under the orders of Kublai's great-great grandson, Gegeen Khan , out of fear that Emperor Gong would stage a coup to restore his reign. Society and culture[ edit ] Main articles: Society of the Song dynasty and Culture of the Song dynasty A city gate of Shaoxing , Zhejiang province, built in during the Song Dynasty The Song dynasty  was an era of administrative sophistication and complex social organization. Some of the largest cities in the world were found in China during this period Kaifeng and Hangzhou had populations of over a million. Although women were on a lower social tier than men according to Confucian ethics , they enjoyed many social and legal privileges and wielded considerable power at home and in their own small businesses. As Song society became more and more prosperous and parents on the bride's side of the family provided larger dowries for her marriage, women naturally gained many new legal rights in ownership of property. Tansen Sen asserts that more Buddhist monks from India travelled to China during the Song than in the previous Tang dynasty — There were entertainment quarters in the cities providing a constant array of amusements. There were puppeteers, acrobats, theatre actors, sword swallowers, snake charmers, storytellers , singers and musicians, prostitutes, and places to relax, including tea houses, restaurants, and organized banquets. Civil service examinations and the gentry[ edit ] Main article: Society of the Song dynasty Clockwise from upper left: During this period greater emphasis was laid upon the civil service system of recruiting officials; this was based upon degrees acquired through competitive examinations , in an effort to select the most capable individuals for governance. Selecting men for office through proven merit was an ancient idea in China. The civil service system became institutionalized on a small scale during the Sui and Tang dynasties, but by the Song period it became virtually the only means for drafting officials into the government.
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