The Song Dynasty

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The Song Dynasty

The Song dynasty lasted over 300 years, from 960 to 1279. Their history is divided into two periods of Northern and Southern Song. The Song period was one of China's most peaceful and prosperous era. However the Song government was corrupt and weak.

The Song Dynasty, or Sung Dynasty was a period in which the Chinese government was very weak. In the beginning General Chao K'uang-yin, also known as Sung T'ai Tsu, was forced to become emperor in order to unify China. Sung T'ai Tsu created a national army under his direct control. He, and only he had control of the military. Once he had passed away his less competent successors were unable to keep the military under control, the military increasingly lost prestige. The weakening of China's military, coincided with the rise of strong nomadic nations on the boarders.

During the same time of the military's loss of prestige, the civil service rose in dignity. This was an examination system that had been restored in Sui and T'ang and was further elaborated and regularized. Selection examinations were help every three years at the district, provincial, and metropolitan levels.

Only 200 out of thousands of applicants were granted the jinshi degree. This was the highest degree and appointed on government posts. From this time on, civil servants became China's most envied elite, replacing the hereditary nobles and landlords.

The Song dynasty only extended over to the parts of earlier Chinese empires. The Khitans controlled the northeastern territories and the His Hsia controlled the northwestern territories. The Song emperors were unable to recover these lands so they were forced to make peace with the Khitans and the Hsi Hsia. They gave massive amounts of payments to the barbarians, under these peace terms, it depleted the state treasury and cause heavy payments on taxpaying peasants.

About 100 years after the Songs first started ruling over China, their government...
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