THE SUI, TANG AND SONG DYNASTIES 7
In the Chinese history, there were a number ofdynasties that marked different historical times. Among the dynastiesinclude the Sui dynasty, Tang dynasty and the Song dynasty. In eachone of these dynasties there were political, social and economicchanges that took place in china. Among the three, the Sui dynastywas the oldest, and existed from 581 to 618 AD while the Tangfollowed from 618AD to 907AD. The last one was the Song Dynasty thatstarted from 960AD to 1279AD. Each reign had its different political,economic and social developments that defined its existence. Tounderstand the three dynasties, this paper will explore each of thedevelopments in the three dynasties.
The Sui Dynasty
Sui dynasty started in 581 to 618 lasting for38 years. This dynasty had three emperors Sui Wendi, Sui Yangdi andSui Gongdi(Gascoigne, 2003). Sui Wendi wasfather-in-law of Northern Zhou’s last emperor, Sui Yangdi was thesecond son of Sui Wendi and Sui Gongdi was the last emperor of Suidynasty. This dynasty unified the people after long division duringthe Northern and Southern dynasty(Gascoigne, 2003). DuringNorthern and Southern dynasty people had gone through suffering inwar which had created a division between them. Thus Sui was foundedto bring peace and unity among the people.
The capital was moved to Kaifeng due to threatsfrom nomadic in North China which later lead to the fall of thedynasty. In Sui dynasty there was establishment of three departmentsand six ministries. This was a new political system in china thatbrought division of work and enhanced royal power. In this dynastythe way of choosing talents was in-depth examined and this system wasreplaced by civil service examination system where talent wereselected through studying, doing an exam and getting an officialposition(Gascoigne, 2003).
The population continued increasing and tradeadvanced. There was exportation of products, manufacturing, andcreation of items like gunpowder, paper money and printing. Theemperor of this dynasty Sui Yangdi built Grand Canal which broughtabout improvement of transportation, trade, communication andadvanced military in southern China(Gascoigne, 2003). In agriculturesector crop yield increased due to improved systems of farming.Technology also advanced with the development of shipbuilding,prosperous in commerce, tax modification and division of labor.
Socially, Buddhism reigned during Sui dynasty.Buddhism was the major factor that unified the people of China andthere culture. It was encourage and spread widely through out theempire to unify different Chinese culture(Gascoigne, 2003). Emperor Wenbecame a Buddhist in order to have authority and power over Chinesepeople. This encouraged Buddhism which reduced the gap between therich and the poor.
The Tang Dynasty
After the collapse of Sui dynasty in 618, theTang dynasty that was founded by Li Yuan was formed. After a shortperiod he was succeeded by his son who under great leadership led tointernal expansion of the emperor making Tang dynasty one of greatestdynasty in Chinese history (Wolfram,2005). Under this reign the emperor expanded in the north and west.Although this dynasty was prospering and uniting Chinese people someof the rulers brought corruption and injustices in court leading todestruction of the dynasty.
During the Tang dynasty Chinese expanded theirterritory including Korea and Tibet. It is in this dynasty when thetaxes of Chinese increased as result of increased population with thecapital city of Chang’na only holding about 2 million people(Gascoigne, 2003). Trade got moreadvanced with the introduction of credits and paper money. Theemperors during this dynasty favored Buddhism and spread fast and gotdeeper and united Chinese people.
The capital city was still in Chang’an and itcontinued to expand and grow fast. However later in the middle of theTang era Chang’an was attacked several times and the dynasty wasweakened (Wolfram,2005). This resulted to lose of power by the Chinese centralgovernment and increased political instability in the north andwestern of China. In addition, the emperor suffered several attackswars including Muslim Arabs from north and Tibetans from south whichdiminish power of the Tang dynasty(Gascoigne, 2003). Tang sufferedmany natural calamities like famine and floods that led to lose ofcontrol of the dynasty.
There was growth in the economy with increasedpopulation making Chang,an one of the biggest cities in the world(Wolfram,2005). In this reign there was flourished urbanization, wealth andarts. Nanzhoa emperor took control of southern Silk Road, Tibet andSoutheast Asia which brought a lot of wealth from sale of silk, teaand many other products. There was development of foreign trade thatled to growth of cities with foreign merchants settling in large andrich cities like hang Zhou. Private trade and private industries weredeveloped with large farms and plantations leading to increasedrevenue. At middle and last part of the dynasty the economydeteriorated due to massive flooding of Grand Canal, drought andfamine which led to low production.
During this dynasty the culture of Asians washighly spread throughout the emperor. The Koreans and Japanesestarted to practice Buddhism and tang philosophy as while as adoptingdressing mode, literary styles and architectural styles (Wolfram,2005). In the tang society they honored the Confucianism mode ofsociety where the emperor is at the top of the hierarchy. Buddhismspread allover the emperor and became dominated religion in Asia.Nestorian Christianity was also believed by many and churches werebuilt in many parts of the emperor.
The Song Dynasty
This dynasty started in 960AD and ruled overthe land until 1279AD. Divided into the northern and southernempires, this dynasty introduced the capital city at Lin`an,the present day Hangzhou, after losing the control of the traditionalChinese civilization regions (Gascoigne, 2003). Another politicalchange was the strengthening of its military power. According toGascoigne (2003), the naval base was expanded during this dynastywhile the military adopted the use of gunpowder for the very firsttime. As a result, the dynasty expanded in terms of territory byconquering neighboring kingdoms including the Jin Empire and theMongols.
Economically,the song dynasty controlled over 60% of the Chinese productionthrough significant developments in Agriculture, especially in thesouthern empire (Gascoigne, 2003). Rice cultivation formed the maintype of farming that gave people food and trading commodities.Regarded as the most prosperous dynasty in medieval period, the songdynasty had strong trading networks and promoted joint trade ventures(Wolfram,2005). Thedynasty facilitated economic activities through a well structuredtransport system with better sailing vessels and caravans. Moreover,the iron industry developed to increase trade, especially with theintroduction of copper minting to produce currency.
Socially, thepopulation of the Chinese in the kingdom developed due to thecultivation of rice. As a result of population increase, the maincities of the time were densely populated and led to the introductionof entertainment spots. Schools were introduced and people builtreligious places such as temples for religious gratification(Gascoigne, 2003). During this dynasty, the government was moresocially responsible than the previous dynasties. This was evidentthrough the provision of social welfare programs like graveyards,retirements, postal services and support to education and religion.
Gascoigne, B.(2003), TheDynasties of China: A History,New York: Carroll & Graf
Wolfram, E.(2005), AHistory of China,New York: Cosimo Publishing