Northern Song 北宋


Chinese Name: 北宋

English Name: Song Chao, Northern Song

Duration: About 960 AD – 1127 AD

Other Name: Song Dynasty, Zhao Song

King:Zhao Kuangyin 赵匡胤, Zhao Guangyi 赵光义, Zhao Heng 赵恒

Northern Song 北宋
Territory Map of Northern Song Dynasty 北宋疆域图

Brief Introduction

The Northern Song Dynasty 北宋 (960-1127) is a dynasty in Chinese history after five dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. It is said that the Nine Emperors enjoyed the country for 167 years. Together with the Southern Song Dynasty, it is called the Song Dynasty. Because the royal family’s surname is Zhao, it is also called Zhao song.

The political system of the Song Dynasty generally followed that of the Tang Dynasty 唐朝. The Northern Song Dynasty adopted the way of dividing powers. The position of prime minister is held by many people, and the official appointment system of separating official titles from actual positions is also implemented.

Northern Song 北宋
Capital of Song Dynasty 宋朝都城

This has played an important role in safeguarding national unity. But at the same time, it also caused a situation of poverty and weakness.

Some people believe that the Northern Song Dynasty was the most prosperous era of economy and culture in ancient Chinese history. Confucianism has been revived, science and technology have developed by leaps and bounds, and politics are also more enlightened.

Major Historical Events

Military Coup at Chenqiao 陈桥兵变

The Chenqiao mutiny was launched by Zhao Kuangyin 赵匡胤 to replace the Later Zhou Dynasty and establish the Song Dynasty. This allusion is also called yellow robe plus body 黄袍加身.

Northern Song 北宋
Zhao Kuangyin 赵匡胤

After 959 ad, Emperor Shizong of Later Zhou 后周世宗 died. Emperor Gong, who succeeded to the throne, was only seven years old. Therefore, politics was unstable at that time.

On the first day of the first month of 960 A.D., suddenly came the news that the Liao kingdom 辽国 united with the Northern Han Dynasty 北汉 to invade on a large scale. At that time, Empress Dowager Fu 符太后, who was in charge of politics, had no idea. Hearing about this, she was at a loss. Finally, she asked prime minister Fan Zhi 范质 for help.

Fan Zhi said that only Zhao Kuangyin could save the crisis. Unexpectedly, Zhao Kuangyin asked that there were few major generals and he could not go to war. Fan Zhi had to give Zhao Kuangyin the highest military power, which could mobilize the troops of the whole country.

Northern Song 北宋
Military Coup at Chenqiao 陈桥兵变

Zhao Kuangyin led the army out of Dongjing City 东京城 (now Kaifeng, Henan Province 河南开封) and marched to Chenqiao 陈桥 post station. The mutiny plan began.

Some of Zhao Kuangyin’s cronies spread the comments of the court among the soldiers, and the soldiers’ mutiny mood was soon stirred up. At this time, Zhao Guangyi 赵光义, Zhao Kuangyin’s younger brother, and Zhao Pu, a confidant, felt that the time was ripe. They instructed the soldiers to put the prepared yellow robe on Zhao Kuangyin, who pretended to be drunk and just woke up. They all bowed to the court and shouted long live, so they embraced him as the emperor.

The soldiers of Chenqiao mutiny took control of Kaifeng, the capital of the Later Zhou Dynasty, without bloodshed. On the fourth day of January, Zhao Kuangyin led his army back to Kaifeng. He forced Emperor Gong to abdicate and easily seized the power of the Later Zhou Dynasty.

Northern Song 北宋
Zhao Guangyi 赵光义

He made Kaifeng the capital and established the Northern Song Dynasty.

A Glass of Wine Releases Military Power 杯酒释兵权

This refers to the allusion to Zhao Kuangyin, the emperor Taizu of the Northern Song Dynasty, in order to strengthen the centralization of power.

In order to prevent subordinate generals from following his example and usurping the new regime, Zhao Kuangyin threatened and lured senior generals to surrender their military power through a banquet. Later, “drinking wine to release military power” evolved into an idiom, which was extended to easily remove the generals’ military power.

Northern Song 北宋
A Glass of Wine Releases Military Power 杯酒释兵权

Emperor Taizu of Northern Song easily removed the power threat of the minister by peaceful means. It not only did not hurt the harmony between monarchs and ministers but also successfully prevented military change. This is a famous strategy in history with far-reaching influence.

Chanyuan Treaty 澶渊之盟

In the Later Jin Dynasty 后晋 of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, the Later Jin emperor Shi Jingtang 石敬瑭 ceded sixteen prefectures of Youyun to the Liao state 辽国 established by the Qidan nationality 契丹族. In order to recover the sixteen prefectures of Youyun, the Northern Song Dynasty waged a long-term war with the Liao state.

Northern Song 北宋
Chanyuan Treaty 澶渊之盟

The Northern Song Dynasty fought against Liao for many times, but failed to recover the lost land. In 1004, Song defeated Liao. Eemperor Zhenzong of Song and Liao state settled the armistice and peace negotiation in Chanzhou 澶州, and agreed that the Northern Song Dynasty and Liao state were friendly countries. After this alliance, due to the lifting of the border war crisis in the Northern Song Dynasty, the domestic economic development has made considerable progress.

Jingkang Incident 靖康之变

The incident of Jingkang refers to the Jin 金 Dynasty’s invasion of Dongjing, the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, in 1127. And abducted the Emperors Huizong 徽宗and Emperor Qinzong 钦宗, which led to the demise of the Northern Song Dynasty.

Northern Song 北宋
Wanyan Aguda 完颜阿骨打

The Nuzhen nationality 女真族 Wanyan Aguda 完颜阿骨打 established the Jin State on January 28, 1115. He was the king Taizu of Jin 金太祖. The Northern Song Dynasty and the Jin united against the Liao. After the collapse of the Liao, the Jin took advantage of the victory to invade the Northern Song Dynasty.

The Jin army captured more than 3000 people, including the emperor and his concubines, princes, clans, nobles and relatives. The Royal treasures of the Song Dynasty were also collected and returned with a full load. This is the change of Jingkang in history, and the Northern Song Dynasty perished.

Important Influences

Rapid development of science and technology

Gunpowder was gradually used in war from the late Tang Dynasty. In the Northern Song Dynasty, special institutions were established to manufacture firearms. Later, it was introduced into Europe through West Asian countries.

Northern Song 北宋
Block printing 雕版印刷术

The compass was gradually used in navigation in the Northern Song Dynasty. At that time, we had mastered the technology of artificial magnetization with natural magnets. The magnetism of artificial magnets is much more stable than that of natural magnets.

Block printing 雕版印刷术 developed rapidly in the Northern Song Dynasty and was widely used to engrave books.

The earliest paper money “Jiaozi 交子” appeared in the Northern Song Dynasty.

Further development of foreign relations

Foreign relations in the Northern Song Dynasty developed further on the basis of the Tang Dynasty. There are close relations and exchanges with North Korea and Japan in East Asia. In Southeast Asia, it has also strengthened ties with Vietnam and Indonesia, and also affected West Asia and Africa.

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