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The Cambridge History of China
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Book description

This is the second of two volumes on the Sung Dynasty, which together provide a comprehensive history of China from the fall of the T'ang Dynasty in 907 to the Mongol conquest of the Southern Sung in 1279. With contributions from leading historians in the field, Volume 5, Part Two paints a complex portrait of a dynasty beset by problems and contradictions, but one which, despite its military and geopolitical weakness, was nevertheless economically powerful, culturally brilliant, socially fluid and the most populous of any empire in global history to that point. In this much anticipated addition to the series, the authors survey key themes across ten chapters, including government, economy, society, religion, and thought to provide an authoritative and topical treatment of a profound and significant period in Chinese history.

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Contents

  • Chapter 1 - Sung government and politics
    pp 19-138
  • Chapter 9 - Reconceptualizing the order of things in Northern and Southern Sung
    pp 665-726
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Modern research on Sung government and politics has lavished attention on Sung officialdom, its composition, its education, its ethos, and on the institutional structures that supported it. Literati refers to civil officials who served in the upper ranks of Sung government. Most Sung writings on political theory and practice, especially in the Northern Sung, emanate from this group of people. This chapter concentrates on how the full development of literati culture in the eleventh century generated a theory, if not a practice, of government that remained largely intact for the entire Sung period. It describes how an extreme application of the same values that first generated and sustained this theoretical model frustrated its practical implementation, which came near to realization only for a brief period in the mid-eleventh century and perhaps again under Hsiao-tsung in the Southern Sung.
  • Chapter 10 - Therise of theTao-hsüehConfucian fellowship in Southern Sung
    pp 727-790
  • View abstract

    Summary

    This chapter first outlines in general terms developments in fiscal administration over the course of the Sung period. From our much longer vantage point, it is quite clear that the Sung fiscal administration succeeded remarkably well in collecting the revenues needed to cover unprecedented government expenditures. The Sung government's success derived from the evolution of the fiscal administration in directions that enabled the government to extract with unique effectiveness large revenues from the flourishing non-agricultural, commercial sector of the economy. In addition to its efforts to make agricultural taxes more equitable, the government was also active in promoting agricultural production, both on ideological grounds that emphasized a healthy rural order where peasants could above all grow enough food to meet the needs of the whole population, and because of the recognition that agricultural taxes, even as they represented a declining portion of total revenue, were indispensable to the government's fiscal health.
  • Bibliography
    pp 791-884
  • View abstract

    Summary

    Sung dynasty managed weapons production through the Armaments Section of the Salt and Iron Monopoly Bureau of the State Finance Commission, which was in charge of financial administration. The use of gunpowder weapons increased during the middle and late periods of the Southern Sung. The Sung did not usually establish specialized organs for military logistics; for the most part the various administrative levels of the government were responsible for logistics and supply during times of both peace and war. At the start of the Southern Sung the most pressing task for the court was the reorganization of military forces for resisting the Chin armies. In examining the course of the Sung-Chin war it becomes clear that between 1127 and 1128 the Chin armies had only occupied between ten and twenty prefectures and military prefectures; not even the transportation and communication lines leading to the Yellow River were controlled by the Chin.

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