Written by Mignon Olivier
Subsequent to the collapse of the Han dynasty in 220, China was at a loss for leadership. For approximately 400 years the north and south remained estranged until Sui Wendi of the brief Sui dynasty once again unified the two halves of the country. However the Sui dynasty did not last long and wasn’t able to re-establish China’s grandeur. It wasn’t until 618 when the Tang dynasty emerged that China was reinstated back to its full splendor.
Li Yuan, China’s most admired emperor took the name Tank Tai after establishing the Tang dynasty. Li Yuan was a former general under the Sui dynasty, but later he and his son lead the revolt against Sui to establish their own dynasty. The Tang system strengthened the central government and increased government revenues. Tang ruled until 907 when the last Tang emperor was overthrown by a rebel general. Tang weakened slowly as emperors lost territories and fell to corruption. Rebellions, high taxes, drought and famine all lead up to Tang’s down fall.
The Song dynasty was established in 960 when a well-educated general reunited much of China. This dynasty ruled somewhat longer than the Tang dynasty as it lasted for 319 year. Through out the Song ruling Chinese government expanded. The central focus of farming for wheat was shifted to farming for rice. This movement expanded the Chinese economy. As food was plentiful, more people had the opportunity to pursue commerce or learn the art. As a result of this higher learning, the economy expanded even further as new trades and arts were developed.
In both the Song and Tang dynasties women often enjoyed a higher status then they would in later years. Both dynasties were well-ordered and foreign trade flourished. The Song dynasty lasted longer than that of the Tang, however their circumstances differed. Song controlled less territory due to the losing of territories in the last half of the Tang dynasty; however Song faced the constant threat of invaders in the north and eventually was forced to retreat even further south. Tang was faced with more internal conflict with corrupt leaders and rebellion armies.
After the Han dynasty collapsed China was with out leadership. The Sui dynasty was essential to China’s development as it reunited the north and south. Nevertheless the Sui dynasty wasn’t strong enough to maintain power on this vast nation. Then came Li Yuan with the Tang dynasty and restored order as well as the people’s respect for authority. This also was a fundamental step China needed to take in order to catch up to the more developed nations of that time in Europe. Finally the Song dynasty came and boosted China’s agriculture, economy, foreign trade and government revenues. The song dynasty made higher learning available for the first time to thousands of people who otherwise would have remained farmers. Arts, literature and learning spread through the country like wild fire. New idea’s and developments had the country booming and history was changed forever as traditional ways of life and farming were challenged.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 New Zealand License.
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