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Beijingfuturesdreams, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

China's Dynastic History -- Turbulence, Part II

The Song and Liao Dynasties, and all the king's men

After the Tang dynasty, and very briefly lived Second Zhou Dynsty (690-705AD), China was once again divided into a number of separate regional disputes. Two major powers were to arise and overlap each other in this portion of China’s timeline: the Liao dynasty and the Song Dynasty.

The Song dynasty ruled over the Eastern Seaboard of modern day China proper from the years 960-1279 AD. The Song rulers arose victorious from the ashes of the 5 Dynasties & Ten Kingdoms era, a 53 year long contest for power. Though the Song Dynasty was forced to migrate its capital south, during the later part of its tenure, it was economically healthy, and contained over 60 percent of China’s now mammoth population of over 100 million.

A new economic technology to the world, the banknote, was first introduced by the Song Dynasty. The first paper currency promoted trade both within China and amongst their growing maritime partnerships with Egypt, Japan, Korea, and India. Their naval strength also prompted the building of the world’s first standing navy.

The Liao Dynasty was born from the loss of Chinese influence in the northern provinces due to the internal strife of the Tang, and a regional power structure with closer ties to Khitan heritage lines. Though steppe warriors and peoples were leading the formation of this new dynasty, its territories still contained a number of ethnic Chinese, and subsequently two separate forms of governance and law were applied to its North and South Chancelleries.

There is currently little known about the development of new technologies with a lasting impact from the Liao dynasty. Their tendency to adhere to the mobile and rigorous lifestyles of nomads left little time for innovation. Meanwhile their political system, while intriguing for its ability to assuage both the nomadic Khitan, and the sedentary Chinese, was not be needed in the times to come and was lost.

For more information concerning these two Major Dynasties of the period, or the consortium of smaller dynasties that ushered in or out these two powers, please see the following articles.

Wikipedia Entry – Song Dynasty

Wikipdia Entry – Liao Dynasty
China History Forum

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