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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

Chapter 7 - China: The Golden Age of the Song, the Mongol Conquest, and the Ming Revival

from Part II - Globalization during the Song and Mongol Periods (Tenth–Fourteenth Century), and the Downturn of the Fourteenth Century


The new dynasty of the Song, founded in 960 by a general, Zhao Kuangyin, reunified China in about twenty years. The first Song emperor took the name Taizu (960–976). The bureaucracy actively promoted unity and the growth of the empire. Regional military governors were replaced by high officials who were appointed by the central power. The Song set up an efficient administration by recruiting officials through competitive examinations. They created public schools, as well as hospital and charitable institutions, which took charge of services that had previously been provided by Buddhist monasteries. Links between the central government and the provinces led to the writing of the world’s first “official gazette” (Elvin 1973: 134). Defense was secured by large armies, partly settled in “military colonies,” hosting soldier-farmers or soldiers sensu stricto (Elvin 1973: 98). In addition, the state sought to favor the productive sector – not only that of armament – and trade.

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