Song dynasty

The Song dynasty ([sʊ̂ŋ]; Chinese: 宋朝; pinyin: Sòng cháo; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. The Song often came into conflict with the contemporaneous Liao, Western Xia and Jin dynasties in northern China. After decades of armed resistance defending southern China, it was eventually conquered by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty.

Song
960[1]–1279
The Song dynasty at its greatest extent in 1111
CapitalBianjing (960–1127)
Jiangning (1129–1138)
Lin'an (1138–1276)
Common languagesMiddle Chinese
Religion
Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion, Islam, Chinese Nestorian Christianity
Emperor 
 960–976
Emperor Taizu (founder of Northern Song)
 1127–1162
Emperor Gaozong (founder of Southern Song)
 1278–1279
Zhao Bing (last)
History 
 Established
4 February 960[1]
 Signing of the Chanyuan Treaty with Liao
1005
1115–1125
1127
 Beginning of Mongol invasion
1235
 Fall of Lin'an
1276
 Battle of Yamen (end of dynasty)
19 March 1279
Area
958 est.[2]800,000 km2 (310,000 sq mi)
980 est.[2]3,100,000 km2 (1,200,000 sq mi)
1127 est.[2]2,100,000 km2 (810,000 sq mi)
1204 est.[2]1,800,000 km2 (690,000 sq mi)
Population
 1120s
Northern: 80-110,000,000[3]
Southern: 65,000,000[4]
GDP (nominal)estimate
 Per capita
26.5 taels[5]
CurrencyJiaozi, Guanzi, Huizi, Chinese cash, Chinese coin, copper coins, etc.
Succeeded by
Yuan dynasty
Today part ofChina
Song dynasty
"Song dynasty" in Chinese characters
Chinese宋朝
ANCIENT
Neolithic c. 8500 – c. 2070 BC
Xia c. 2070 – c. 1600 BC
Shang c. 1600 – c. 1046 BC
Zhou c. 1046 – 256 BC
 Western Zhou
 Eastern Zhou
   Spring and Autumn
   Warring States
IMPERIAL
Qin 221–207 BC
Han 202 BC – 220 AD
  Western Han
  Xin
  Eastern Han
Three Kingdoms 220–280
  Wei, Shu and Wu
Jin 266–420
  Western Jin
  Eastern Jin Sixteen Kingdoms
Northern and Southern dynasties
420–589
Sui 581–618
Tang 618–907
Five Dynasties and
Ten Kingdoms

907–979
Liao 916–1125
Song 960–1279
  Northern Song Western Xia
  Southern Song Jin Western Liao
Yuan 1271–1368
Ming 1368–1644
Qing 1636–1912
MODERN
Republic of China on the mainland 1912–1949
People's Republic of China 1949–present
Republic of China in Taiwan 1949–present

The Song dynasty is divided into two distinct periods: Northern Song and Southern Song. During the Northern Song (Chinese: 北宋; 960–1127), the Song capital was in the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) and the dynasty controlled most of what is now Eastern China. The Southern Song (Chinese: 南宋; 1127–1279) refers to the period after the Song lost control of its northern half to the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty in the Jin–Song Wars. During this time, the Song court retreated south of the Yangtze and established its capital at Lin'an (now Hangzhou). Although the Song dynasty had lost control of the traditional Chinese heartlands around the Yellow River, the Southern Song Empire contained a large population and productive agricultural land for maintaining a robust economy. In 1234, the Jin dynasty was conquered by the Mongols, who took control of northern China, maintaining uneasy relations with the Southern Song. Möngke Khan, the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, died in 1259 while besieging the mountain castle Diaoyucheng, Chongqing. His younger brother Kublai Khan was proclaimed the new Great Khan and in 1271 proclaimed himself Emperor of China, establishing the Yuan dynasty.[6] After two decades of sporadic warfare, Kublai Khan's armies conquered the Song dynasty in 1279, after the Southern Song suffered military defeat in the Battle of Yamen. The Mongol invasion eventually led to a Chinese reunification under the Yuan dynasty.[7]

Technology, science, philosophy, mathematics, and engineering flourished during the Song era. The Song dynasty was the first in world history to issue banknotes or true paper money and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy. This dynasty saw the first recorded chemical formula of gunpowder, the invention of gunpowder weapons such as fire arrows, bombs, and the fire lance. It also saw the first discernment of true north using a compass, first recorded description of the pound lock, and improved designs of astronomical clocks. Economically, the Song dynasty was unparalleled with a gross domestic product three times larger than that of Europe during the 12th century.[8][9] China's population doubled in size between the 10th and 11th centuries. This growth was made possible by expanded rice cultivation, use of early-ripening rice from Southeast and South Asia, and production of widespread food surpluses.[10][11] The Northern Song census recorded 20 million households, double of the Han and Tang dynasties. It is estimated that the Northern Song had a population of 90 million people,[12] and 200 million by the time of the Ming dynasty.[13] This dramatic increase of population fomented an economic revolution in pre-modern China.

The expansion of the population, growth of cities, and emergence of a national economy led to the gradual withdrawal of the central government from direct involvement in economic affairs. The lower gentry assumed a larger role in local administration and affairs. Social life during the Song was vibrant. Citizens gathered to view and trade precious artworks, the populace intermingled at public festivals and private clubs, and cities had lively entertainment quarters. The spread of literature and knowledge was enhanced by the rapid expansion of woodblock printing and the 11th-century invention of movable-type printing. Philosophers such as Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi reinvigorated Confucianism with new commentary, infused with Buddhist ideals, and emphasized a new organization of classic texts that established the doctrine of Neo-Confucianism. Although civil service examinations had existed since the Sui dynasty, they became much more prominent in the Song period. Officials gaining power through imperial examination led to a shift from a military-aristocratic elite to a scholar-bureaucratic elite.