By Denis Twitchett

This primary of 2 volumes at the Sung Dynasty (960-1279) and its 5 Dynasties and Southern Kingdoms precursors offers the political heritage of China from the autumn of the T'ang Dynasty in 907 to the Mongol conquest of the Southern Sung in 1279. Its twelve chapters survey the personalities and occasions that marked the increase, consolidation, and death of the Sung polity in the course of an period of profound social, financial, and highbrow ferment. The authors position specific emphasis at the emergence of a politically awake literati type through the Sung, characterised through the expanding significance of the exam process early within the dynasty and at the upward push of the tao-hsueh (Neo-Confucian) circulate towards the top. additionally, they spotlight the destabilizing impression of factionalism and ministerial despotism on Sung political tradition and the effect of the strong steppe empires of the Khitan Liao, Tangut Hsi Hsia, Jurchen Chin, and Mongol Y?an at the form and pace of Sung dynastic occasions.

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Additional resources for The Cambridge History of China, Volume 5, Part 1: The Sung Dynasty And Its Precursors, 907-1279 AD

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During the first millennium of the imperial era, Inner Asian states slowly progressed from a dependence on tribute during Han times to a combination of tribute and the systematic control of intercontinental and border trade during the Sui and T’ang. 19 But by developing increasingly effective techniques of dual administration, the Liao were able to supplement trade and tribute with an increasing proportion of revenues from the direct taxation of sedentary peoples, which helped finance the successful occupation and defense of the state of Po-hai and the Sixteen Prefectures of north China.

Mote, Imperial China, pp. 39–40. Mote, Imperial China, p. 71. ” Di Cosmo, “State formation and periodization,” p. 33. 21 As ¨ (1271–1368) took the process of Inner Di Cosmo argues, the Mongol Yuan Asian state formation one step further, by circumventing tribute (though not trade) as a source of revenue and extracting their resources from the conquered territories through a system of direct taxation. 23 Even the Tangut Hsi Hsia, a tribute-trade empire (to follow Di Cosmo’s formulation) occupying the largely unproductive lands of the Ordos bend and the Kansu Corridor, was able to match the Sung in military power and confront it as a de facto diplomatic equal, as the chapters in this volume show.

Clark documents a shift from military prowess to political effectiveness as the chief measure of prestige and governance, as once-itinerant bandit chieftains formed stable demilitarized regimes based on political acumen, alliances with local elites, and the support of refugee literati in search of security and employment. In fact, state building in the regionalized south was even more robust than in the wartorn north. For (as both chapters 2 and 3 show) the greater stability of the south enabled the new regimes to initiate agrarian projects – especially water control – that enhanced agricultural productivity, and to sponsor internal, interregional, and international trade over land and by sea.

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