49 Facts About Song Dynasty


The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou.

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The Song Dynasty conquered the rest of the Ten Kingdoms, ending the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.

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The Song Dynasty often came into conflict with the contemporaneous Liao, Western Xia and Jin dynasties in northern China.

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The Southern Song refers to the period after the Song lost control of its northern half to the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty in the Jin–Song Wars.

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At that time, the Song Dynasty court retreated south of the Yangtze and established its capital at Lin'an.

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The Song dynasty was the first in world history to issue banknotes or true paper money and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy.

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Economically, the Song dynasty was unparalleled with a gross domestic product three times larger than that of Europe during the 12th century.

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Song Dynasty ensured administrative stability by promoting the civil service examination system of drafting state bureaucrats by skill and merit and promoted projects that ensured efficiency in communication throughout the empire.

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Song Dynasty court maintained diplomatic relations with Chola India, the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt, Srivijaya, the Kara-Khanid Khanate in Central Asia, the Goryeo kingdom in Korea, and other countries that were trade partners with Japan.

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From its inception under Taizu, the Song dynasty alternated between warfare and diplomacy with the ethnic Khitans of the Liao dynasty in the northeast and with the Tanguts of the Western Xia in the northwest.

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The Song dynasty used military force in an attempt to quell the Liao dynasty and to recapture the Sixteen Prefectures, a territory under Khitan control since 938 that was traditionally considered to be part of China proper.

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Song Dynasty forces were repulsed by the Liao forces, who engaged in aggressive yearly campaigns into Northern Song Dynasty territory until 1005, when the signing of the Shanyuan Treaty ended these northern border clashes.

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The Song Dynasty created an extensive defensive forest along the Song Dynasty-Liao border to thwart potential Khitan cavalry attacks.

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The Song Dynasty fought against the Vietnamese kingdom of Ðai Viet twice, the first conflict in 981 and later a significant war from 1075 to 1077 over a border dispute and the Song Dynasty's severing of commercial relations with Ðai Viet.

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Song Dynasty revived the New Policies and pursued political opponents, tolerated corruption and encouraged Emperor Huizong to neglect his duties to focus on artistic pursuits.

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However, the poor performance and military weakness of the Song Dynasty army was observed by the Jurchens, who immediately broke the alliance, beginning the Jin–Song Dynasty Wars of 1125 and 1127.

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Mongols were allied with the Song, but this alliance was broken when the Song recaptured the former imperial capitals of Kaifeng, Luoyang, and Chang'an at the collapse of the Jin dynasty.

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Kublai continued the assault against the Song Dynasty, gaining a temporary foothold on the southern banks of the Yangtze.

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In Kublai's absence, the Song Dynasty forces were ordered by Chancellor Jia Sidao to make an immediate assault and succeeded in pushing the Mongol forces back to the northern banks of the Yangtze.

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On Kublai's orders, carried out by his commander Bayan, the rest of the former imperial family of Song Dynasty were unharmed; the deposed Emperor Gong was demoted, being given the title 'Duke of Ying', but was eventually exiled to Tibet where he took up a monastic life.

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The Song Dynasty government supported social welfare programs including the establishment of retirement homes, public clinics, and paupers' graveyards.

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The Song dynasty supported a widespread postal service that was modeled on the earlier Han dynasty postal system to provide swift communication throughout the empire.

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Song Dynasty judges specified the guilty person or party in a criminal act and meted out punishments accordingly, often in the form of caning.

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Song Dynasty Ci stressed the importance of proper coroner's conduct during autopsies and the accurate recording of the inquest of each autopsy by official clerks.

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Song Dynasty military was chiefly organized to ensure that the army could not threaten Imperial control, often at the expense of effectiveness in war.

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At its height, the Song Dynasty military had one million soldiers divided into platoons of 50 troops, companies made of two platoons, battalions composed of 500 soldiers.

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Song Dynasty cavalry employed a slew of different weapons, including halberds, swords, bows, spears, and 'fire lances' that discharged a gunpowder blast of flame and shrapnel.

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Song Dynasty navy was of great importance during the consolidation of the empire in the 10th century; during the war against the Southern Tang state, the Song Dynasty navy employed tactics such as defending large floating pontoon bridges across the Yangtze River in order to secure movements of troops and supplies.

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Visual arts during the Song dynasty were heightened by new developments such as advances in landscape and portrait painting.

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Emperor Huizong was the eighth emperor of the Song dynasty and he was a renowned artist as well as a patron of the art and the catalogue of his collection listed over 6, 000 known paintings.

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In 1011, Emperor Zhenzong of Song Dynasty introduced Champa rice to China from Vietnam's Kingdom of Champa, which sent 30, 000 bushels as a tribute to Song Dynasty.

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Song Dynasty Chinese invested their funds in joint stock companies and in multiple sailing vessels at a time when monetary gain was assured from the vigorous overseas trade and domestic trade along the Grand Canal and Yangtze River.

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The Song Dynasty economy was stable enough to produce over a hundred million kilograms of iron product a year.

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The most notable advancement in the Song Dynasty economy was the establishment of the world's first government issued paper-printed money, known as Jiaozi.

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Song Dynasty wrote, "People along the coast are on intimate terms with the merchants who engage in overseas trade, either because they are fellow-countrymen or personal acquaintances.

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Song Dynasty'sn theorized that geographical climates gradually shifted over time.

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Song Dynasty created a theory of land formation involving concepts accepted in modern geomorphology.

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Song Dynasty performed optical experiments with camera obscura just decades after Ibn al-Haytham was the first to do so.

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Song Dynasty improved the designs of astronomical instruments such as the widened astronomical sighting tube, which allowed Shen Kuo to fix the position of the pole star.

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Song Dynasty Chinese observed supernovae, including SN 1054, the remnants of which would form the Crab Nebula.

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The enhancement of widespread printing and print culture in the Song Dynasty period was thus a direct catalyst in the rise of social mobility and expansion of the educated class of scholar elites, the latter which expanded dramatically in size from the 11th to 13th centuries.

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The Song Dynasty used crossbeams to brace the ribs of ships in order to strengthen them in a skeletal-like structure.

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The Song Dynasty arranged the protruding teeth of anchors in a circular pattern instead of in one direction.

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Song Dynasty addressed the standard methods of construction, design, and applications of moats and fortifications, stonework, greater woodwork, lesser woodwork, wood-carving, turning and drilling, sawing, bamboo work, tiling, wall building, painting and decoration, brickwork, glazed tile making, and provided proportions for mortar formulas in masonry.

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Song Dynasty outlined the standard units of measurement and standard dimensional measurements of all building components described and illustrated in his book.

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Many of the pagoda towers built during the Song Dynasty period were erected at heights that exceeded ten stories.

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Scholar-officials of the Song period claimed to have discovered ancient bronze vessels that were created as far back as the Shang dynasty, which bore the written characters of the Shang era.

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Song Dynasty'sn objected to the idea of his peers that ancient relics were products created by famous "sages" in lore or the ancient aristocratic class; Song Dynasty'sn rightfully attributed the discovered handicrafts and vessels from ancient times as the work of artisans and commoners from previous eras.

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Song Dynasty disapproved of his peers' pursuit of archaeology simply to enhance state ritual, since Shen not only took an interdisciplinary approach with the study of archaeology, but he emphasized the study of functionality and investigating what was the ancient relics' original processes of manufacture.

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