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their families. In the eleventh century private genealogies began to be kept, so that any claim against the clan could be checked. Clans set up rules of behaviour and procedure to regulate all affairs of the clan without the necessity of asking the state to interfere in case of conflict. Many such “clan rules” exist in China and also in Japan which took over this innovation. Clans set apart special pieces of land as clan land; the income of this land was to be used to secure a minimum of support for every clan member and his own family, so that no member ever could fall into utter poverty. Clan schools which were run by income from special pieces of clan land were established to guarantee an education for the members of the clan, again in order to make sure that the clan would remain a part of the _elite_. Many clans set up special marriage rules for clan members, and after some time cross-cousin marriages between two or three families were legally allowed; such marriages tended to fasten bonds between clans and to prevent the loss of property by marriage. While on the one hand, a new “clan consciousness” grew up among the gentry families in order to secure their power, tax and corvee legislation especially in the eleventh century induced many families to split up into small families.

It can be shown that over the next centuries, the power of the family head increased. He was now regarded as owner of the property, not only mere administrator of family property. He got power over life and death of his children. This increase of power went together with a change of the position of the ruler. The period transition (until _c_. A.D. 1000) was followed by a period of “moderate absolutism” (until 1278) in which emperors as persons played a greater role than before, and some emperors, such as Shen Tsung (in 1071), even declared that they regarded the welfare of the masses as more important than the profit of the gentry. After 1278, however, the personal influence of the emperors grew further towards absolutism and in times became pure despotism.

Individuals, especially family heads, gained more freedom in “Modern Times”. Not only the period of transition, but also the following period was a time of much greater social mobility than existed in the Middle Ages. By various legal and/or illegal means people could move up into positions of power and wealth: we know of many merchants who succeeded in being allowed to enter the state examinations and thus got access to jobs in the administration. Large, influential gentry families in the capital protected sons from less important families and thus gave them a chance to move into the gentry. Thus, these families built up a clientele of lesser gentry families which assisted them and upon the loyalty of which they could count. The gentry can from now on be divided into two parts. First, there was a “big gentry” which consisted of much fewer families than in earlier times and which directed the policy in the capital; and secondly, there was a “small gentry” which was operating mainly in the provincial cities, directing local affairs and bound by ties of loyalty to big gentry families. Gentry cliques now extended into the provinces and it often became possible to identify a clique with a geographical area, which, however, usually did not indicate particularistic tendencies.

Individual freedom did not show itself only in greater social mobility. The restrictions which, for instance, had made the craftsmen and artisans almost into serfs, were gradually lifted. From the early sixteenth century on, craftsmen were free and no more subject to forced labour services for the state. Most craftsmen in this epoch still had their shops in one lane or street and lived above their shops, as they had done in the earlier period. But from now on, they began to organize in guilds of an essentially religious character, as similar guilds in other parts of Asia at the same time also did. They provided welfare services for their members, made some attempts towards standardization of products and prices, imposed taxes upon their members, kept their streets clean and tried to regulate salaries. Apprentices were initiated in a kind of semi-religious ceremony, and often meetings took place in temples. No guild, however, connected people of the same craft living in different cities. Thus, they did not achieve political power. Furthermore, each trade had its own guild; in Peking in the nineteenth century there existed over 420 different guilds. Thus, guilds failed to achieve political influence even within individual cities.

Probably at the same time, regional associations, the so-called “_hui-kuan”_ originated. Such associations united people from one city or one area who lived in another city. People of different trades, but mainly businessmen, came together under elected chiefs and councillors. Sometimes, such regional associations could function as pressure groups, especially as they were usually financially stronger than the guilds. They often owned city property or farm land. Not all merchants, however, were so organized. Although merchants remained under humiliating restrictions as to the colour and material of their dress and the prohibition to ride a horse, they could more often circumvent such restrictions and in general had much more freedom in this epoch.

Trade, including overseas trade, developed greatly from now on. Soon we find in the coastal ports a special office which handled custom and registration affairs, supplied interpreters for foreigners, received them officially and gave good-bye dinners when they left. Down to the thirteenth century, most of this overseas trade was still in the hands of foreigners, mainly Indians. Entrepreneurs hired ships, if they were not ship-owners, hired trained merchants who in turn hired sailors mainly from the South-East Asian countries, and sold their own merchandise as well as took goods on commission. Wealthy Chinese gentry families invested money in such foreign enterprises and in some cases even gave their daughters in marriage to foreigners in order to profit from this business.

We also see an emergence of industry from the eleventh century on. We find men who were running almost monopolistic enterprises, such as preparing charcoal for iron production and producing iron and steel at the same time; some of these men had several factories, operating under hired and qualified managers with more than 500 labourers. We find beginnings of a labour legislation and the first strikes (A.D. 782 the first strike of merchants in the capital; 1601 first strike of textile workers).

Some of these labourers were so-called “vagrants”, farmers who had secretly left their land or their landlord’s land for various reasons, and had shifted to other regions where they did not register and thus did not pay taxes. Entrepreneurs liked to hire them for industries outside the towns where supervision by the government was not so strong; naturally, these “vagrants” were completely at the mercy of their employers.

Since _c_. 780 the economy can again be called a money economy; more and more taxes were imposed in form of money instead of in kind. This pressure forced farmers out of the land and into the cities in order to earn there the cash they needed for their tax payments. These men provided the labour force for industries, and this in turn led to the strong growth of the cities, especially in Central China where trade and industries developed most.

Wealthy people not only invested in industrial enterprises, but also began to make heavy investments in agriculture in the vicinity of cities in order to increase production and thus income. We find men who drained lakes in order to create fields below the water level for easy irrigation; others made floating fields on lakes and avoided land tax payments; still others combined pig and fish breeding in one operation.

The introduction of money economy and money taxes led to a need for more coinage. As metal was scarce and minting very expensive, iron coins were introduced, silver became more and more common as means of exchange, and paper money was issued. As the relative value of these moneys changed with supply and demand, speculation became a flourishing business which led to further enrichment of people in business. Even the government became more money-minded: costs of operations and even of wars were carefully calculated in order to achieve savings; financial specialists were appointed by the government, just as clans appointed such men for the efficient administration of their clan properties.

Yet no real capitalism or industrialism developed until towards the end of this epoch, although at the end of the twelfth century almost all conditions for such a development seemed to be given.

2 _Political situation in the tenth century_

The Chinese call the period from 906 to 960 the “period of the Five Dynasties” (_Wu Tai_). This is not quite accurate. It is true that there were five dynasties in rapid succession in North China; but at the same time there were ten other dynasties in South China. The ten southern dynasties, however, are regarded as not legitimate. The south was much better off with its illegitimate dynasties than the north with the legitimate ones. The dynasties in the south (we may dispense with giving their names) were the realms of some of the military governors so often mentioned above. These governors had already become independent at the end of the T’ang epoch; they declared themselves kings or emperors and ruled particular provinces in the south, the chief of which covered the territory of the present provinces of Szechwan, Kwangtung and Chekiang. In these territories there was comparative peace and economic prosperity, since they were able to control their own affairs and were no longer dependent on a corrupt central government. They also made great cultural progress, and they did not lose their importance later when they were annexed in the period of the Sung dynasty.

As an example of these states one may mention the small state of Ch’u in the present province of Hunan. Here, Ma Yin, a former carpenter (died 931), had made himself a king. He controlled some of the main trade routes, set up a clean administration, bought up all merchandise which the merchants brought, but allowed them to export only local products, mainly tea, iron and lead. This regulation gave him a personal income of several millions every year, and in addition fostered the exploitation of the natural resources of this hitherto retarded area.

3 _Monopolistic trade in South China. Printing and paper money in the north_

The prosperity of the small states of South China was largely due to the growth of trade, especially the tea trade. The habit of drinking tea seems to have been an ancient Tibetan custom, which spread to south-eastern China in the third century A.D. Since then there had been two main centres of production, Szechwan and south-eastern China. Until the eleventh century Szechwan had remained the leading producer, and tea had been drunk in the Tibetan fashion, mixed with flour, salt, and ginger. It then began to be drunk without admixture. In the T’ang epoch tea drinking spread all over China, and there sprang up a class of wholesalers who bought the tea from the peasants, accumulated stocks, and distributed them. From 783 date the first attempts of the state to monopolize the tea trade and to make it a source of revenue; but it failed in an attempt to make the cultivation a state monopoly. A tea commissariat was accordingly set up to buy the tea from the producers and supply it to traders in possession of a state licence. There naturally developed then a pernicious collaboration between state officials and the wholesalers. The latter soon eliminated the small traders, so that they themselves secured all the profit; official support was secured by bribery. The state and the wholesalers alike were keenly interested in the prevention of tea smuggling, which was strictly prohibited.

The position was much the same with regard to salt. We have here for the first time the association of officials with wholesalers or even with a monopoly trade. This was of the utmost importance in all later times. Monopoly progressed most rapidly in Szechwan, where there had always been a numerous commercial community. In the period of political fragmentation Szechwan, as the principal tea-producing region and at the same time an important producer of salt, was much better off than any other part of China. Salt in Szechwan was largely produced by, technically, very interesting salt wells which existed there since _c_. the first century B.C. The importance of salt will be understood if we remember that a grown-up person in China uses an average of twelve pounds of salt per year. The salt tax was the top budget item around A.D. 900.

South-eastern China was also the chief centre of porcelain production, although china clay is found also in North China. The use of porcelain spread more and more widely. The first translucent porcelain made its appearance, and porcelain became an important article of commerce both within the country and for export. Already the Muslim rulers of Baghdad around 800 used imported Chinese porcelain, and by the end of the fourteenth century porcelain was known in Eastern Africa. Exports to South-East Asia and Indonesia, and also to Japan gained more and more importance in later centuries. Manufacture of high quality porcelain calls for considerable amounts of capital investment and working capital; small manufacturers produce too many second-rate pieces; thus we have here the first beginnings of an industry that developed industrial towns such as Ching-te, in which the majority of the population were workers and merchants, with some 10,000 families alone producing porcelain. Yet, for many centuries to come, the state controlled the production and even the design of porcelain and appropriated most of the production for use at court or as gifts.

The third important new development to be mentioned was that of printing, which since _c_. 770 was known in the form of wood-block printing. The first reference to a printed book dated from 835, and the most important event in this field was the first printing of the Classics by the orders of Feng Tao (882-954) around 940. The first attempts to use movable type in China occurred around 1045, although this invention did not get general acceptance in China. It was more commonly used in Korea from the thirteenth century on and revolutionized Europe from 1538 on. It seems to me that from the middle of the twentieth century on, the West, too, shows a tendency to come back to the printing of whole pages, but replacing the wood blocks by photographic plates or other means. In the Far East, just as in Europe, the invention of printing had far-reaching consequences. Books, which until then had been very dear, because they had to be produced by copyists, could now be produced cheaply and in quantity. It became possible for a scholar to accumulate a library of his own and to work in a wide field, where earlier he had been confined to a few books or even a single text. The results were the spread of education, beginning with reading and writing, among wider groups, and the broadening of education: a large number of texts were read and compared, and no longer only a few. Private libraries came into existence, so that the imperial libraries were no longer the only ones. Publishing soon grew in extent, and in private enterprise works were printed that were not so serious and politically important as the classic books of the past. Thus a new type of literature, the literature of entertainment, could come into existence. Not all these consequences showed themselves at once; some made their first appearance later, in the Sung period.

A fourth important innovation, this time in North China, was the introduction of prototypes of paper money. The Chinese copper “cash” was difficult or expensive to transport, simply because of its weight. It thus presented great obstacles to trade. Occasionally a region with an adverse balance of trade would lose all its copper money, with the result of a local deflation. From time to time, iron money was introduced in such deficit areas; it had for the first time been used in Szechwan in the first century B.C., and was there extensively used in the tenth century when after the conquest of the local state all copper was taken to the east by the conquerors. So long as there was an orderly administration, the government could send it money, though at considerable cost; but if the administration was not functioning well, the deflation continued. For this reason some provinces prohibited the export of copper money from their territory at the end of the eighth century. As the provinces were in the hands of military governors, the central government could do next to nothing to prevent this. On the other hand, the prohibition automatically made an end of all external trade. The merchants accordingly began to prepare deposit certificates, and in this way to set up a sort of transfer system. Soon these deposit certificates entered into circulation as a sort of medium of payment at first again in Szechwan, and gradually this led to a banking system and the linking of wholesale trade with it. This made possible a much greater volume of trade. Towards the end of the T’ang period the government began to issue deposit certificates of its own: the merchant deposited his copper money with a government agency, receiving in exchange a certificate which he could put into circulation like money. Meanwhile the government could put out the deposited money at interest, or throw it into general circulation. The government’s deposit certificates were now printed. They were the predecessors of the paper money used from the time of the Sung.

4 _Political history of the Five Dynasties_

The southern states were a factor not to be ignored in the calculations of the northern dynasties. Although the southern kingdoms were involved in a confusion of mutual hostilities, any one of them might come to the fore as the ally of Turks or other northern powers. The capital of the first of the five northern dynasties (once more a Liang dynasty, but not to be confused with the Liang dynasty of the south in the sixth century) was, moreover, quite close to the territories of the southern dynasties, close to the site of the present K’ai-feng, in the fertile plain of eastern China with its good means of transport. Militarily the town could not be held, for its one and only defence was the Yellow River. The founder of this Later Liang dynasty, Chu Ch’uean-chung (906), was himself an eastern Chinese and, as will be remembered, a past supporter of the revolutionary Huang Ch’ao, but he had then gone over to the T’ang and had gained high military rank.

His northern frontier remained still more insecure than the southern, for Chu Ch’uean-chung did not succeed in destroying the Turkish general Li K’o-yung; on the contrary, the latter continually widened the range of his power. Fortunately he, too, had an enemy at his back–the Kitan (or Khitan), whose ruler had made himself emperor in 916, and so staked a claim to reign over all China. The first Kitan emperor held a middle course between Chu and Li, and so was able to establish and expand his empire in peace. The striking power of his empire, which from 937 onward was officially called the Liao empire, grew steadily, because the old tribal league of the Kitan was transformed into a centrally commanded military organization.

To these dangers from abroad threatening the Later Liang state internal troubles were added. Chu Ch’uean-chung’s dynasty was one of the three Chinese dynasties that have ever come to power through a popular rising. He himself was of peasant origin, and so were a large part of his subordinates and helpers. Many of them had originally been independent peasant leaders; others had been under Huang Ch’ao. All of them were opposed to the gentry, and the great slaughter of the gentry of the capital, shortly before the beginning of Chu’s rule, had been welcomed by Chu and his followers. The gentry therefore would not co-operate with Chu and preferred to join the Turk Li K’o-yung. But Chu could not confidently rely on his old comrades. They were jealous of his success in gaining the place they all coveted, and were ready to join in any independent enterprise as opportunity offered. All of them, moreover, as soon as they were given any administrative post, busied themselves with the acquisition of money and wealth as quickly as possible. These abuses not only ate into the revenues of the state but actually produced a common front between the peasantry and the remnants of the gentry against the upstarts.

In 917, after Li K’o-yung’s death, the Sha-t’o Turks beat off an attack from the Kitan, and so were safe for a time from the northern menace. They then marched against the Liang state, where a crisis had been produced in 912 after the murder of Chu Ch’uean-chung by one of his sons. The Liang generals saw no reason why they should fight for the dynasty, and all of them went over to the enemy. Thus the “Later T’ang dynasty” (923-936) came into power in North China, under the son of Li K’o-yung.

The dominant element at this time was quite clearly the Chinese gentry, especially in western and central China. The Sha-t’o themselves must have been extraordinarily few in number, probably little more than 100,000 men. Most of them, moreover, were politically passive, being simple soldiers. Only the ruling family and its following played any active part, together with a few families related to it by marriage. The whole state was regarded by the Sha-t’o rulers as a sort of family enterprise, members of the family being placed in the most important positions. As there were not enough of them, they adopted into the family large numbers of aliens of all nationalities. Military posts were given to faithful members of Li K’o-yung’s or his successor’s bodyguard, and also to domestic servants and other clients of the family. Thus, while in the Later Liang state elements from the peasantry had risen in the world, some of these neo-gentry reaching the top of the social pyramid in the centuries that followed, in the Sha-t’o state some of its warriors, drawn from the most various peoples, entered the gentry class through their personal relations with the ruler. But in spite of all this the bulk of the officials came once more from the Chinese. These educated Chinese not only succeeded in winning over the rulers themselves to the Chinese cultural ideal, but persuaded them to adopt laws that substantially restricted the privileges of the Sha-t’o and brought advantages only to the Chinese gentry. Consequently all the Chinese historians are enthusiastic about the “Later T’ang”, and especially about the emperor Ming Ti, who reigned from 927 onward, after the assassination of his predecessor. They also abused the Liang because they were against the gentry.

In 936 the Later T’ang dynasty gave place to the Later Chin dynasty (936-946), but this involved no change in the structure of the empire. The change of dynasty meant no more than that instead of the son following the father the son-in-law had ascended the throne. It was of more importance that the son-in-law, the Sha-t’o Turk Shih Ching-t’ang, succeeded in doing this by allying himself with the Kitan and ceding to them some of the northern provinces. The youthful successor, however, of the first ruler of this dynasty was soon made to realize that the Kitan regarded the founding of his dynasty as no more than a transition stage on the way to their annexation of the whole of North China. The old Sha-t’o nobles, who had not been sinified in the slightest, suggested a preventive war; the actual court group, strongly sinified, hesitated, but ultimately were unable to avoid war. The war was very quickly decided by several governors in eastern China going over to the Kitan, who had promised them the imperial title. In the course of 946-7 the Kitan occupied the capital and almost the whole of the country. In 947 the Kitan ruler proclaimed himself emperor of the Kitan and the Chinese.

[Illustration: Map 6: The State of the later T’ang dynasty]

The Chinese gentry seem to have accepted this situation because a Kitan emperor was just as acceptable to them as a Sha-t’o emperor; but the Sha-t’o were not prepared to submit to the Kitan regime, because under it they would have lost their position of privilege. At the head of this opposition group stood the Sha-t’o general Liu Chih-yuan, who founded the “Later Han dynasty” (947-950). He was able to hold out against the Kitan only because in 947 the Kitan emperor died and his son had to leave China and retreat to the north; fighting had broken out between the empress dowager, who had some Chinese support, and the young heir to the throne. The new Turkish dynasty, however, was unable to withstand the internal Chinese resistance. Its founder died in 948, and his son, owing to his youth, was entirely in the hands of a court clique. In his effort to free himself from the tutelage of this group he made a miscalculation, for the men on whom he thought he could depend were largely supporters of the clique. So he lost his throne and his life, and a Chinese general, Kuo Wei, took his place, founding the “Later Chou dynasty” (951-959).

A feature of importance was that in the years of the short-lived “Later Han dynasty” a tendency showed itself among the Chinese military leaders to work with the states in the south. The increase in the political influence of the south was due to its economic advance while the north was reduced to economic chaos by the continual heavy fighting, and by the complete irresponsibility of the Sha-t’o ruler in financial matters: several times in this period the whole of the money in the state treasury was handed out to soldiers to prevent them from going over to some enemy or other. On the other hand, there was a tendency in the south for the many neighbouring states to amalgamate, and as this process took place close to the frontier of North China the northern states could not passively look on. During the “Later Han” period there were wars and risings, which continued in the time of the “Later Chou”.

On the whole, the few years of the rule of the second emperor of the “Later Chou” (954-958) form a bright spot in those dismal fifty-five years. Sociologically regarded, that dynasty formed merely a transition stage on the way to the Sung dynasty that now followed: the Chinese gentry ruled under the leadership of an upstart who had risen from the ranks, and they ruled in accordance with the old principles of gentry rule. The Sha-t’o, who had formed the three preceding dynasties, had been so reduced that they were now a tiny minority and no longer counted. This minority had only been able to maintain its position through the special social conditions created by the “Later Liang” dynasty: the Liang, who had come from the lower classes of the population, had driven the gentry into the arms of the Sha-t’o Turks. As soon as the upstarts, in so far as they had not fallen again or been exterminated, had more or less assimilated themselves to the old gentry, and on the other hand the leaders of the Sha-t’o had become numerically too weak, there was a possibility of resuming the old form of rule.

There had been certain changes in this period. The north-west of China, the region of the old capital Ch’ang-an, had been so ruined by the fighting that had gone on mainly there and farther north, that it was eliminated as a centre of power for a hundred years to come; it had been largely depopulated. The north was under the rule of the Kitan: its trade, which in the past had been with the Huang-ho basin, was now perforce diverted to Peking, which soon became the main centre of the power of the Kitan. The south, particularly the lower Yangtze region and the province of Szechwan, had made economic progress, at least in comparison with the north; consequently it had gained in political importance.

One other event of this time has to be mentioned: the great persecution of Buddhism in 955, but not only because 30,336 temples and monasteries were secularized and only some 2,700 with 61,200 monks were left. Although the immediate reason for this action seems to have been that too many men entered the monasteries in order to avoid being taken as soldiers, the effect of the law of 955 was that from now on the Buddhists were put under regulations which clarified once and for ever their position within the framework of a society which had as its aim to define clearly the status of each individual within each social class. Private persons were no more allowed to erect temples and monasteries. The number of temples per district was legally fixed. A person could become monk only if the head of the family gave its permission. He had to be over fifteen years of age and had to know by heart at least one hundred pages of texts. The state took over the control of the ordinations which could be performed only after a successful examination. Each year a list of all monks had to be submitted to the government in two copies. Monks had to carry six identification cards with them, one of which was the ordination diploma for which a fee had to be paid to the government (already since 755). The diploma was, in the eleventh century, issued by the Bureau of Sacrifices, but the money was collected by the Ministry of Agriculture. It can be regarded as a payment _in lieu_ of land tax. The price was in the eleventh century 130 strings, which represented the value of a small farm or the value of some 17,000 litres of grain. The price of the diploma went up to 220 strings in 1101, and the then government sold 30,000 diplomas per year in order to get still more cash. But as diplomas could be traded, a black market developed, on which they were sold for as little as twenty strings.

(B) Period of Moderate Absolutism

(1) The Northern Sung dynasty

1 _Southward expansion_

The founder of the Sung dynasty, Chao K’uang-yin, came of a Chinese military family living to the south of Peking. He advanced from general to emperor, and so differed in no way from the emperors who had preceded him. But his dynasty did not disappear as quickly as the others; for this there were several reasons. To begin with, there was the simple fact that he remained alive longer than the other founders of dynasties, and so was able to place his rule on a firmer foundation. But in addition to this he followed a new course, which in certain ways smoothed matters for him and for his successors, in foreign policy.

This Sung dynasty, as Chao K’uang-yin named it, no longer turned against the northern peoples, particularly the Kitan, but against the south. This was not exactly an heroic policy: the north of China remained in the hands of the Kitan. There were frequent clashes, but no real effort was made to destroy the Kitan, whose dynasty was now called “Liao”. The second emperor of the Sung was actually heavily defeated several times by the Kitan. But they, for their part, made no attempt to conquer the whole of China, especially since the task would have become more and more burdensome the farther south the Sung expanded. And very soon there were other reasons why the Kitan should refrain from turning their whole strength against the Chinese.

[Illustration: 10 Ladies of the Court: clay models which accompanied the dead person to the grave. T’ang period. _In the collection of the Museum fuer Voelkerkunde, Berlin_.]

[Illustration: 11 Distinguished founder: a temple banner found at Khotcho, Turkestan. _Museum fuer Voelkerkunde, Berlin, No. 1B_ 4524, _illustration B_ 408.]

As we said, the Sung turned at once against the states in the south. Some of the many small southern states had made substantial economic and cultural advance, but militarily they were not strong. Chao K’uang-yin (named as emperor T’ai Tsu) attacked them in succession. Most of them fell very quickly and without any heavy fighting, especially since the Sung dealt mildly with the defeated rulers and their following. The gentry and the merchants in these small states could not but realize the advantages of a widened and well-ordered economic field, and they were therefore entirely in favour of the annexation of their country so soon as it proved to be tolerable. And the Sung empire could only endure and gain strength if it had control of the regions along the Yangtze and around Canton, with their great economic resources. The process of absorbing the small states in the south continued until 980. Before it was ended, the Sung tried to extend their influence in the south beyond the Chinese border, and secured a sort of protectorate over parts of Annam (973). This sphere of influence was politically insignificant and not directly of any economic importance; but it fulfilled for the Sung the same functions which colonial territories fulfilled for Europeans, serving as a field of operation for the commercial class, who imported raw materials from it–mainly, it is true, luxury articles such as special sorts of wood, perfumes, ivory, and so on–and exported Chinese manufactures. As the power of the empire grew, this zone of influence extended as far as Indonesia: the process had begun in the T’ang period. The trade with the south had not the deleterious effects of the trade with Central Asia. There was no sale of refined metals, and none of fabrics, as the natives produced their own textiles which sufficed for their needs. And the export of porcelain brought no economic injury to China, but the reverse.

This Sung policy was entirely in the interest of the gentry and of the trading community which was now closely connected with them. Undoubtedly it strengthened China. The policy of nonintervention in the north was endurable even when peace with the Kitan had to be bought by the payment of an annual tribute. From 1004 onwards, 100,000 ounces of silver and 200,000 bales of silk were paid annually to the Kitan, amounting in value to about 270,000 strings of cash, each of 1,000 coins. The state budget amounted to some 20,000,000 strings of cash. In 1038 the payments amounted to 500,000 strings, but the budget was by then much larger. One is liable to get a false impression when reading of these big payments if one does not take into account what percentage they formed of the total revenues of the state. The tribute to the Kitan amounted to less than 2 per cent of the revenue, while the expenditure on the army accounted for 25 per cent of the budget. It cost much less to pay tribute than to maintain large armies and go to war. Financial considerations played a great part during the Sung epoch. The taxation revenue of the empire rose rapidly after the pacification of the south; soon after the beginning of the dynasty the state budget was double that of the T’ang. If the state expenditure in the eleventh century had not continually grown through the increase in military expenditure–in spite of everything!–there would have come a period of great prosperity in the empire.

2 _Administration and army. Inflation_

The Sung emperor, like the rulers of the transition period, had gained the throne by his personal abilities as military leader; in fact, he had been made emperor by his soldiers as had happened to so many emperors in later Imperial Rome. For the next 300 years we observe a change in the position of the emperor. On the one hand, if he was active and intelligent enough, he exercised much more personal influence than the rulers of the Middle Ages. On the other hand, at the same time, the emperors were much closer to their ministers as before. We hear of ministers who patted the ruler on the shoulders when they retired from an audience; another one fell asleep on the emperor’s knee and was not punished for this familiarity. The emperor was called “_kuan-chia_” (Administrator) and even called himself so. And in the early twelfth century an emperor stated “I do not regard the empire as my personal property; my job is to guide the people”. Financially-minded as the Sung dynasty was, the cost of the operation of the palace was calculated, so that the emperor had a budget: in 1068 the salaries of all officials in the capital amounted to 40,000 strings of money per month, the armies 100,000, and the emperor’s ordinary monthly budget was 70,000 strings. For festivals, imperial birthdays, weddings and burials extra allowances were made. Thus, the Sung rulers may be called “moderate absolutists” and not despots.

One of the first acts of the new Sung emperor, in 963, was a fundamental reorganization of the administration of the country. The old system of a civil administration and a military administration independent of it was brought to an end and the whole administration of the country placed in the hands of civil officials. The gentry welcomed this measure and gave it full support, because it enabled the influence of the gentry to grow and removed the fear of competition from the military, some of whom did not belong by birth to the gentry. The generals by whose aid the empire had been created were put on pension, or transferred to civil employment, as quickly as possible. The army was demobilized, and this measure was bound up with the settlement of peasants in the regions which war had depopulated, or on new land. Soon after this the revenue noticeably increased. Above all, the army was placed directly under the central administration, and the system of military governors was thus brought to an end. The soldiers became mercenaries of the state, whereas in the past there had been conscription. In 975 the army had numbered only 378,000, and its cost had not been insupportable. Although the numbers increased greatly, reaching 912,000 in 1017 and 1,259,000 in 1045, this implied no increase in military strength; for men who had once been soldiers remained with the army even when they were too old for service. Moreover, the soldiers grew more and more exacting; when detachments were transferred to another region, for instance, the soldiers would not carry their baggage; an army of porters had to be assembled. The soldiers also refused to go to regions remote from their homes until they were given extra pay. Such allowances gradually became customary, and so the military expenditure grew by leaps and bounds without any corresponding increase in the striking power of the army.

The government was unable to meet the whole cost of the army out of taxation revenue. The attempt was made to cover the expenditure by coining fresh money. In connection with the increase in commercial capital described above, and the consequent beginning of an industry, China’s metal production had greatly increased. In 1050 thirteen times as much silver, eight times as much copper, and fourteen times as much iron was produced as in 800. Thus the circulation of the copper currency was increased. The cost of minting, however, amounted in China to about 75 per cent and often over 100 per cent of the value of the money coined. In addition to this, the metal was produced in the south, while the capital was in the north. The coin had therefore to be carried a long distance to reach the capital and to be sent on to the soldiers in the north.

To meet the increasing expenditure, an unexampled quantity of new money was put into circulation. The state budget increased from 22,200,000 in A.D. 1000 to 150,800,000 in 1021. The Kitan state coined a great deal of silver, and some of the tribute was paid to it in silver. The greatly increased production of silver led to its being put into circulation in China itself. And this provided a new field of speculation, through the variations in the rates for silver and for copper. Speculation was also possible with the deposit certificates, which were issued in quantities by the state from the beginning of the eleventh century, and to which the first true paper money was soon added. The paper money and the certificates were redeemable at a definite date, but at a reduction of at least 3 per cent of their value; this, too, yielded a certain revenue to the state.

The inflation that resulted from all these measures brought profit to the big merchants in spite of the fact that they had to supply directly or indirectly all non-agricultural taxes (in 1160 some 40,000,000 strings annually), especially the salt tax (50 per cent), wine tax (36 per cent), tea tax (7 per cent) and customs (7 per cent). Although the official economic thinking remained Confucian, i.e. anti-business and pro-agrarian, we find in this time insight in price laws, for instance, that peace times and/or decrease of population induce deflation. The government had always attempted to manipulate the prices by interference. Already in much earlier times, again and again, attempts had been made to lower the prices by the so-called “ever-normal granaries” of the government which threw grain on the market when prices were too high and bought grain when prices were low. But now, in addition to such measures, we also find others which exhibit a deeper insight: in a period of starvation, the scholar and official Fan Chung-yen instead of officially reducing grain prices, raised the prices in his district considerably. Although the population got angry, merchants started to import large amounts of grain; as soon as this happened, Fan (himself a big landowner) reduced the price again. Similar results were achieved by others by just stimulating merchants to import grain into deficit areas.

With the social structure of medieval Europe, similar financial and fiscal developments which gave new chances to merchants, eventually led to industrial capitalism and industrial society. In China, however, the gentry in their capacity of officials hindered the growth of independent trade, and permitted its existence only in association with themselves. As they also represented landed property, it was in land that the newly-formed capital was invested. Thus we see in the Sung period, and especially in the eleventh century, the greatest accumulation of estates that there had ever been up to then in China.

Many of these estates came into origin as gifts of the emperor to individuals or to temples, others were created on hillsides on land which belonged to the villages. From this time on, the rest of the village commons in China proper disappeared. Villagers could no longer use the top-soil of the hills as fertilizer, or the trees as firewood and building material. In addition, the hillside estates diverted the water of springs and creeks, thus damaging severely the irrigation works of the villagers in the plains. The estates (_chuang_) were controlled by appointed managers who often became hereditary managers. The tenants on the estates were quite often non-registered migrants, of whom we spoke previously as “vagrants”, and as such they depended upon the managers who could always denounce them to the authorities which would lead to punishment because nobody was allowed to leave his home without officially changing his registration. Many estates operated mills and even textile factories with non-registered weavers. Others seem to have specialized in sheep breeding. Present-day village names ending with -_chuang_ indicate such former estates. A new development in this period were the “clan estates” (_i-chuang_), created by Fan Chung-yen (989-1052) in 1048. The income of these clan estates were used for the benefit of the whole clan, were controlled by clan-appointed managers and had tax-free status, guaranteed by the government which regarded them as welfare institutions. Technically, they might better be called corporations because they were similar in structure to some of our industrial corporations. Under the Chinese economic system, large-scale landowning always proved socially and politically injurious. Up to very recent times the peasant who rented his land paid 40-50 per cent of the produce to the landowner, who was responsible for payment of the normal land tax. The landlord, however, had always found means of evading payment. As each district had to yield a definite amount of taxation, the more the big landowners succeeded in evading payment the more had to be paid by the independent small farmers. These independent peasants could then either “give” their land to the big landowner and pay rent to him, thus escaping from the attentions of the tax-officer, or simply leave the district and secretly enter another one where they were not registered. In either case the government lost taxes.

Large-scale landowning proved especially injurious in the Sung period, for two reasons. To begin with, the official salaries, which had always been small in China, were now totally inadequate, and so the officials were given a fixed quantity of land, the yield of which was regarded as an addition to salary. This land was free from part of the taxes. Before long the officials had secured the liberation of the whole of their land from the chief taxes. In the second place, the taxation system was simplified by making the amount of tax proportional to the amount of land owned. The lowest bracket, however, in this new system of taxation comprised more land than a poor peasant would actually own, and this was a heavy blow to the small peasant-owners, who in the past had paid a proportion of their produce. Most of them had so little land that they could barely live on its yield. Their liability to taxation was at all times a very heavy burden to them while the big landowners got off lightly. Thus this measure, though administratively a saving of expense, proved unsocial.

All this made itself felt especially in the south with its great estates of tax-evading landowners. Here the remaining small peasant-owners had to pay the new taxes or to become tenants of the landowners and lose their property. The north was still suffering from the war-devastation of the tenth century. As the landlords were always the first sufferers from popular uprisings as well as from war, they had disappeared, leaving their former tenants as free peasants. From this period on, we have enough data to observe a social “law “: as the capital was the largest consumer, especially of high-priced products such as vegetables which could not be transported over long distances, the gentry always tried to control the land around the capital. Here, we find the highest concentration of landlords and tenants. Production in this circle shifted from rice and wheat to mulberry trees for silk, and vegetables grown under the trees. These urban demands resulted in the growth of an “industrial” quarter on the outskirts of the capital, in which especially silk for the upper classes was produced. The next circle also contained many landlords, but production was more in staple foods such as wheat and rice which could be transported. Exploitation in this second circle was not much less than in the first circle, because of less close supervision by the authorities. In the third circle we find independent subsistence farmers. Some provincial capitals, especially in Szechwan, exhibited a similar pattern of circles. With the shift of the capital, a complete reorganization appeared: landlords and officials gave up their properties, cultivation changed, and a new system of circles began to form around the new capital. We find, therefore, the grotesque result that the thinly populated province of Shensi in the north-west yielded about a quarter of the total revenues of the state: it had no large landowners, no wealthy gentry, with their evasion of taxation, only a mass of newly-settled small peasants’ holdings. For this reason the government was particularly interested in that province, and closely watched the political changes in its neighbourhood. In 990 a man belonging to a sinified Toba family, living on the border of Shensi, had made himself king with the support of remnants of Toba tribes. In 1034 came severe fighting, and in 1038 the king proclaimed himself emperor, in the Hsia dynasty, and threatened the whole of north-western China. Tribute was now also paid to this state (250,000 strings), but the fight against it continued, to save that important province.

These were the main events in internal and external affairs during the Sung period until 1068. It will be seen that foreign affairs were of much less importance than developments in the country.

3 _Reforms and Welfare schemes_

The situation just described was bound to produce a reaction. In spite of the inflationary measures the revenue fell, partly in consequence of the tax evasions of the great landowners. It fell from 150,000,000 in 1021 to 116,000,000 in 1065. Expenditure did not fall, and there was a constant succession of budget deficits. The young emperor Shen Tsung (1068-1085) became convinced that the policy followed by the ruling clique of officials and gentry was bad, and he gave his adhesion to a small group led by Wang An-shih (1021-1086). The ruling gentry clique represented especially the interests of the large tea producers and merchants in Szechwan and Kiangsi. It advocated a policy of _laisser-faire_ in trade: it held that everything would adjust itself. Wang An-shih himself came from Kiangsi and was therefore supported at first by the government clique, within which the Kiangsi group was trying to gain predominance over the Szechwan group. But Wang An-shih came from a poor family, as did his supporters, for whom he quickly secured posts. They represented the interests of the small landholders and the small dealers. This group succeeded in gaining power, and in carrying out a number of reforms, all directed against the monopolist merchants. Credits for small peasants were introduced, and officials were given bigger salaries, in order to make them independent and to recruit officials who were not big landowners. The army was greatly reduced, and in addition to the paid soldiery a national militia was created. Special attention was paid to the province of Shensi, whose conditions were taken more or less as a model.

It seems that one consequence of Wang’s reforms was a strong fall in the prices, i.e. a deflation; therefore, as soon as the first decrees were issued, the large plantation owners and the merchants who were allied to them, offered furious opposition. A group of officials and landlords who still had large properties in the vicinity of Loyang–at that time a quiet cultural centre–also joined them. Even some of Wang An-shih’s former adherents came out against him. After a few years the emperor was no longer able to retain Wang An-shih and had to abandon the new policy. How really economic interests were here at issue may be seen from the fact that for many of the new decrees which were not directly concerned with economic affairs, such, for instance, as the reform of the examination system, Wang An-shih was strongly attacked though his opponents had themselves advocated them in the past and had no practical objection to offer to them. The contest, however, between the two groups was not over. The monopolistic landowners and their merchants had the upper hand from 1086 to 1102, but then the advocates of the policy represented by Wang again came into power for a short time. They had but little success to show, as they did not remain in power long enough and, owing to the strong opposition, they were never able to make their control really effective.

Basically, both groups were against allowing the developing middle class and especially the merchants to gain too much freedom, and whatever freedom they in fact gained, came through extra-legal or illegal practices. A proverb of the time said “People hate their ruler as animals hate the net (of the hunter)”. The basic laws of medieval times which had attempted to create stable social classes remained: down to the nineteenth century there were slaves, different classes of serfs or “commoners”, and free burghers. Craftsmen remained under work obligation. Merchants were second-class people. Each class had to wear dresses of special colour and material, so that the social status of a person, even if he was not an official and thus recognizable by his insignia, was immediately clear when one saw him. The houses of different classes differed from one another by the type of tiles, the decorations of the doors and gates; the size of the main reception room of the house was prescribed and was kept small for all non-officials; and even size and form of the tombs was prescribed in detail for each class. Once a person had a certain privilege, he and his descendants even if they had lost their position in the bureaucracy, retained these privileges over generations. All burghers were admitted to the examinations and, thus, there was a certain social mobility allowed within the leading class of the society, and a new “small gentry” developed by this system.

Yet, the wars of the transition period had created a feeling of insecurity within the gentry. The eleventh and twelfth centuries were periods of extensive social legislation in order to give the lower classes some degree of security and thus prevent them from attempting to upset the status quo. In addition to the “ever-normal granaries” of the state, “social granaries” were revived, into which all farmers of a village had to deliver grain for periods of need. In 1098 a bureau for housing and care was created which created homes for the old and destitute; 1102 a bureau for medical care sent state doctors to homes and hospitals as well as to private homes to care for poor patients; from 1104 a bureau of burials took charge of the costs of burials of poor persons. Doctors as craftsmen were under corvee obligation and could easily be ordered by the state. Often, however, Buddhist priests took charge of medical care, burial costs and hospitalization. The state gave them premiums if they did good work. The Ministry of Civil Affairs made the surveys of cases and costs, while the Ministry of Finances paid the costs. We hear of state orphanages in 1247, a free pharmacy in 1248, state hospitals were reorganized in 1143. In 1167 the government gave low-interest loans to poor persons and (from 1159 on) sold cheap grain from state granaries. Fire protection services in large cities were organized. Finally, from 1141 on, the government opened up to twenty-three geisha houses for the entertainment of soldiers who were far from home in the capital and had no possibility for other amusements. Public baths had existed already some centuries ago; now Buddhist temples opened public baths as social service.

Social services for the officials were also extended. Already from the eighth century on, offices were closed every tenth day and during holidays, a total of almost eighty days per year. Even criminals got some leave and exiles had the right of a home leave once every three years. The pensions for retired officials after the age of seventy which amounted to 50 per cent of the salary from the eighth century on, were again raised, though widows did not receive benefits.

4 _Cultural situation (philosophy, religion, literature, painting_)

Culturally the eleventh century was the most active period China had so far experienced, apart from the fourth century B.C. As a consequence of the immensely increased number of educated people resulting from the invention of printing, circles of scholars and private schools set up by scholars were scattered all over the country. The various philosophical schools differed in their political attitude and in the choice of literary models with which they were politically in sympathy. Thus Wang An-shih and his followers preferred the rigid classic style of Han Yue (768-825) who lived in the T’ang period and had also been an opponent of the monopolistic tendencies of pre-capitalism. For the Wang An-shih group formed itself into a school with a philosophy of its own and with its own commentaries on the classics. As the representative of the small merchants and the small landholders, this school advocated policies of state control and specialized in the study and annotation of classical books which seemed to favour their ideas.

But the Wang An-shih school was unable to hold its own against the school that stood for monopolist trade capitalism, the new philosophy described as Neo-Confucianism or the Sung school. Here Confucianism and Buddhism were for the first time united. In the last centuries, Buddhistic ideas had penetrated all of Chinese culture: the slaughtering of animals and the executions of criminals were allowed only on certain days, in accordance with Buddhist rules. Formerly, monks and nuns had to greet the emperor as all citizens had to do; now they were exempt from this rule. On the other hand, the first Sung emperor was willing to throw himself to the earth in front of the Buddha statues, but he was told he did not have to do it because he was the “Buddha of the present time” and thus equal to the God. Buddhist priests participated in the celebrations on the emperor’s birthday, and emperors from time to time gave free meals to large crowds of monks. Buddhist thought entered the field of justice: in Sung time we hear complaints that judges did not apply the laws and showed laxity, because they hoped to gain religious merit by sparing the lives of criminals. We had seen how the main current of Buddhism had changed from a revolutionary to a reactionary doctrine. The new greater gentry of the eleventh century adopted a number of elements of this reactionary Buddhism and incorporated them in the Confucianist system. This brought into Confucianism a metaphysic which it had lacked in the past, greatly extending its influence on the people and at the same time taking the wind out of the sails of Buddhism. The greater gentry never again placed themselves on the side of the Buddhist Church as they had done in the T’ang period. When they got tired of Confucianism, they interested themselves in Taoism of the politically innocent, escapist, meditative Buddhism.

Men like Chou Tun-i (1017-1073) and Chang Tsai (1020-1077) developed a cosmological theory which could measure up with Buddhistic cosmology and metaphysics. But perhaps more important was the attempt of the Neo-Confucianists to explain the problem of evil. Confucius and his followers had believed that every person could perfect himself by overcoming the evil in him. As the good persons should be the _elite_ and rule the others, theoretically everybody who was a member of human society, could move up and become a leader. It was commonly assumed that human nature is good or indifferent, and that human feelings are evil and have to be tamed and educated. When in Han time with the establishment of the gentry society and its social classes, the idea that any person could move up to become a leader if he only perfected himself, appeared to be too unrealistic, the theory of different grades of men was formed which found its clearest formulation by Han Yue: some people have a good, others a neutral, and still others a bad nature; therefore, not everybody can become a leader. The Neo-Confucianists, especially Ch’eng Hao (1032-1085) and Ch’eng I (1033-1107), tried to find the reasons for this inequality. According to them, nature is neutral; but physical form originates with the combination of nature with Material Force (_ch’i_). This combination produces individuals in which there is a lack of balance or harmony. Man should try to transform physical form and recover original nature. The creative force by which such a transformation is possible is _jen_, love, the creative, life-giving quality of nature itself.

It should be remarked that Neo-Confucianism accepts an inequality of men, as early Confucianism did; and that _jen_, love, in its practical application has to be channelled by _li_, the system of rules of behaviour. The _li_, however, always started from the idea of a stratified class society. Chu Hsi (1130-1200), the famous scholar and systematizer of Neo-Confucian thoughts, brought out rules of behaviour for those burghers who did not belong to the gentry and could not, therefore, be expected to perform all _li_; his “simplified _li_” exercised a great influence not only upon contemporary China, but also upon Korea and Annam and there strengthened a hitherto looser patriarchal, patrilinear family system.

The Neo-Confucianists also compiled great analytical works of history and encyclopaedias whose authority continued for many centuries. They interpreted in these works all history in accordance with their outlook; they issued new commentaries on all the classics in order to spread interpretations that served their purposes. In the field of commentary this school of thought was given perfect expression by Chu Hsi, who also wrote one of the chief historical works. Chu Hsi’s commentaries became standard works for centuries, until the beginning of the twentieth century. Yet, although Chu became the symbol of conservatism, he was quite interested in science, and in this field he had an open eye for changes.

The Sung period is so important, because it is also the time of the greatest development of Chinese science and technology. Many new theories, but also many practical, new inventions were made. Medicine made substantial progress. About 1145 the first autopsy was made, on the body of a South Chinese captive. In the field of agriculture, new varieties of rice were developed, new techniques applied, new plants introduced.

The Wang An-shih school of political philosophy had opponents also in the field of literary style, the so-called Shu Group (Shu means the present province of Szechwan), whose leaders were the famous Three Sus. The greatest of the three was Su Tung-p’o (1036-1101); the others were his father, Su Shih, and his brother, Su Che. It is characteristic of these Shu poets, and also of the Kiangsi school associated with them, that they made as much use as they could of the vernacular. It had not been usual to introduce the phrases of everyday life into poetry, but Su Tung-p’o made use of the most everyday expressions, without diminishing his artistic effectiveness by so doing; on the contrary, the result was to give his poems much more genuine feeling than those of other poets. These poets were in harmony with the writings of the T’ang period poet Po Chue-i (772-846) and were supported, like Neo-Confucianism, by representatives of trade capitalism. Politically, in their conservatism they were sharply opposed to the Wang An-shih group. Midway between the two stood the so-called Loyang-School, whose greatest leaders were the historian and poet Ss[)u]-ma Kuang (1019-1086) and the philosopher-poet Shao Yung (1011-1077).

In addition to its poems, the Sung literature was famous for the so-called _pi-chi_ or miscellaneous notes. These consist of short notes of the most various sort, notes on literature, art, politics, archaeology, all mixed together. The _pi-chi_ are a treasure-house for the history of the culture of the time; they contain many details, often of importance, about China’s neighbouring peoples. They were intended to serve as suggestions for learned conversation when scholars came together; they aimed at showing how wide was a scholar’s knowledge. To this group we must add the accounts of travel, of which some of great value dating from the Sung period are still extant; they contain information of the greatest importance about the early Mongols and also about Turkestan and South China.

While the Sung period was one of perfection in all fields of art, painting undoubtedly gained its highest development in this time. We find now two main streams in painting: some painters preferred the decorative, pompous, but realistic approach, with great attention to the detail. Later theoreticians brought this school in connection with one school of meditative Buddhism, the so-called northern school. Men who belonged to this school of painting often were active court officials or painted for the court and for other representative purposes. One of the most famous among them, Li Lung-mien (ca. 1040-1106), for instance painted the different breeds of horses in the imperial stables. He was also famous for his Buddhistic figures. Another school, later called the southern school, regarded painting as an intimate, personal expression. They tried to paint inner realities and not outer forms. They, too, were educated, but they did not paint for anybody. They painted in their country houses when they felt in the mood for expression. Their paintings did not stress details, but tried to give the spirit of a landscape, for in this field they excelled most. Best known of them is Mi Fei (ca. 1051-1107), a painter as well as a calligrapher, art collector, and art critic. Typically, his paintings were not much liked by the emperor Hui Tsung (ruled 1101-1125) who was one of the greatest art collectors and whose catalogue of his collection became very famous. He created the Painting Academy, an institution which mainly gave official recognition to painters in form of titles which gave the painter access to and status at court. Ma Yuean (_c_. 1190-1224), member of a whole painter’s family, and Hsia Kui (_c_. 1180-1230) continued the more “impressionistic” tradition. Already in Sung time, however, many painters could and did paint in different styles, “copying”, i.e. painting in the way of T’ang painters, in order to express their changing emotions by changed styles, a fact which often makes the dating of Chinese paintings very difficult.

Finally, art craft has left us famous porcelains of the Sung period. The most characteristic production of that time is the green porcelain known as “Celadon”. It consists usually of a rather solid paste, less like porcelain than stoneware, covered with a green glaze; decoration is incised, not painted, under the glaze. In the Sung period, however, came the first pure white porcelain with incised ornamentation under the glaze, and also with painting on the glaze. Not until near the end of the Sung period did the blue and white porcelain begin (blue painting on a white ground). The cobalt needed for this came from Asia Minor. In exchange for the cobalt, Chinese porcelain went to Asia Minor. This trade did not, however, grow greatly until the Mongol epoch; later really substantial orders were placed in China, the Chinese executing the patterns wanted in the West.

5 _Military collapse_

In foreign affairs the whole eleventh century was a period of diplomatic manoeuvring, with every possible effort to avoid war. There was long-continued fighting with the Kitan, and at times also with the Turco-Tibetan Hsia, but diplomacy carried the day: tribute was paid to both enemies, and the effort was made to stir up the Kitan against the Hsia and vice versa; the other parties also intrigued in like fashion. In 1110 the situation seemed to improve for the Sung in this game, as a new enemy appeared in the rear of the Liao (Kitan), the Tungusic Juchen (Jurchen), who in the past had been more or less subject to the Kitan. In 1114 the Juchen made themselves independent and became a political factor. The Kitan were crippled, and it became an easy matter to attack them. But this pleasant situation did not last long. The Juchen conquered Peking, and in 1125 the Kitan empire was destroyed; but in the same year the Juchen marched against the Sung. In 1126 they captured the Sung capital; the emperor and his art-loving father, who had retired a little earlier, were taken prisoner, and the Northern Sung dynasty was at an end.

The collapse came so quickly because the whole edifice of security between the Kitan and the Sung was based on a policy of balance and of diplomacy. Neither state was armed in any way, and so both collapsed at the first assault from a military power.

(2) The Liao (Kitan) dynasty in the north (937-1125)

1 _Social structure. Claim to the Chinese imperial throne_

The Kitan, a league of tribes under the leadership of an apparently Mongol tribe, had grown steadily stronger in north-eastern Mongolia during the T’ang epoch. They had gained the allegiance of many tribes in the west and also in Korea and Manchuria, and in the end, about A.D. 900, had become the dominant power in the north. The process of growth of this nomad power was the same as that of other nomad states, such as the Toba state, and therefore need not be described again in any detail here. When the T’ang dynasty was deposed, the Kitan were among the claimants to the Chinese throne, feeling fully justified in their claim as the strongest power in the Far East. Owing to the strength of the Sha-t’o Turks, who themselves claimed leadership in China, the expansion of the Kitan empire slowed down. In the many battles the Kitan suffered several setbacks. They also had enemies in the rear, a state named Po-hai, ruled by Tunguses, in northern Korea, and the new Korean state of Kao-li, which liberated itself from Chinese overlordship in 919.

In 927 the Kitan finally destroyed Po-hai. This brought many Tungus tribes, including the Jurchen (Juchen), under Kitan dominance. Then, in 936, the Kitan gained the allegiance of the Turkish general Shih Ching-t’ang, and he was set on the Chinese throne as a feudatory of the Kitan. It was hoped now to secure dominance over China, and accordingly the Mongol name of the dynasty was altered to “Liao dynasty” in 937, indicating the claim to the Chinese throne. Considerable regions of North China came at once under the direct rule of the Liao. As a whole, however, the plan failed: the feudatory Shih Ching-t’ang tried to make himself independent; Chinese fought the Liao; and the Chinese sceptre soon came back into the hands of a Sha-t’o dynasty (947). This ended the plans of the Liao to conquer the whole of China.

For this there were several reasons. A nomad people was again ruling the agrarian regions of North China. This time the representatives of the ruling class remained military commanders, and at the same time retained their herds of horses. As early as 1100 they had well over 10,000 herds, each of more than a thousand animals. The army commanders had been awarded large regions which they themselves had conquered. They collected the taxes in these regions, and passed on to the state only the yield of the wine tax. On the other hand, in order to feed the armies, in which there were now many Chinese soldiers, the frontier regions were settled, the soldiers working as peasants in times of peace, and peasants being required to contribute to the support of the army. Both processes increased the interest of the Kitan ruling class in the maintenance of peace. That class was growing rich, and preferred living on the income from its properties or settlements to going to war, which had become a more and more serious matter after the founding of the great Sung empire, and was bound to be less remunerative. The herds of horses were a further excellent source of income, for they could be sold to the Sung, who had no horses. Then, from 1004 onward, came the tribute payments from China, strengthening the interest in the maintenance of peace. Thus great wealth accumulated in Peking, the capital of the Liao; in this wealth the whole Kitan ruling class participated, but the tribes in the north, owing to their remoteness, had no share in it. In 988 the Chinese began negotiations, as a move in their diplomacy, with the ruler of the later realm of the Hsia; in 990 the Kitan also negotiated with him, and they soon became a third partner in the diplomatic game. Delegations were continually going from one to another of the three realms, and they were joined by trade missions. Agreement was soon reached on frontier questions, on armament, on questions of demobilization, on the demilitarization of particular regions, and so on, for the last thing anyone wanted was to fight.

Then came the rising of the tribes of the north. They had remained military tribes; of all the wealth nothing reached them, and they were given no military employment, so that they had no hope of improving their position. The leadership was assumed by the tribe of the Juchen (1114). In a campaign of unprecedented rapidity they captured Peking, and the Liao dynasty was ended (1125), a year earlier, as we know, than the end of the Sung.

2 _The State of the Kara-Kitai_

A small troop of Liao, under the command of a member of the ruling family, fled into the west. They were pursued without cessation, but they succeeded in fighting their way through. After a few years of nomad life in the mountains of northern Turkestan, they were able to gain the collaboration of a few more tribes, and with them they then invaded western Turkestan. There they founded the “Western Liao” state, or, as the western sources call it, the “Kara-Kitai” state, with its capital at Balasagun. This state must not be regarded as a purely Kitan state. The Kitan formed only a very thin stratum, and the real power was in the hands of autochthonous Turkish tribes, to whom the Kitan soon became entirely assimilated in culture. Thus the history of this state belongs to that of western Asia, especially as the relations of the Kara-Kitai with the Far East were entirely broken off. In 1211 the state was finally destroyed.

(3) The Hsi-Hsia State in the north (1038-1227)

1 _Continuation of Turkish traditions_

After the end of the Toba state in North China in 550, some tribes of the Toba, including members of the ruling tribe with the tribal name Toba, withdrew to the borderland between Tibet and China, where they ruled over Tibetan and Tangut tribes. At the beginning of the T’ang dynasty this tribe of Toba joined the T’ang. The tribal leader received in return, as a distinction, the family name of the T’ang dynasty, Li. His dependence on China was, however, only nominal and soon came entirely to an end. In the tenth century the tribe gained in strength. It is typical of the long continuance of old tribal traditions that a leader of the tribe in the tenth century married a woman belonging to the family to which the khans of the Hsiung-nu and all Turkish ruling houses had belonged since 200 B.C. With the rise of the Kitan in the north and of the Tibetan state in the south, the tribe decided to seek the friendship of China. Its first mission, in 982, was well received. Presents were sent to the chieftain of the tribe, he was helped against his enemies, and he was given the status of a feudatory of the Sung; in 988 the family name of the Sung, Chao, was conferred on him. Then the Kitan took a hand. They over-trumped the Sung by proclaiming the tribal chieftain king of Hsia (990). Now the small state became interesting. It was pampered by Liao and Sung in the effort to win it over or to keep its friendship. The state grew; in 1031 its ruler resumed the old family name of the Toba, thus proclaiming his intention to continue the Toba empire; in 1034 he definitely parted from the Sung, and in 1038 he proclaimed himself emperor in the Hsia dynasty, or, as the Chinese generally called it, the “Hsi-Hsia”, which means the Western Hsia. This name, too, had associations with the old Hun tradition; it recalled the state of Ho-lien P’o-p’o in the early fifth century. The state soon covered the present province of Kansu, small parts of the adjoining Tibetan territory, and parts of the Ordos region. It attacked the province of Shensi, but the Chinese and the Liao attached the greatest importance to that territory. Thus that was the scene of most of the fighting.

[Illustration: 12 Ancient tiled pagoda at Chengting (Hopei). _Photo H. Hammer-Morrisson_.]

[Illustration: 13 Horse-training. Painting by Li Lung-mien. Late Sung period. _Manchu Royal House Collection_.] The Hsia state had a ruling group of Toba, but these Toba had become entirely tibetanized. The language of the country was Tibetan; the customs were those of the Tanguts. A script was devised, in imitation of the Chinese script. Only in recent years has it begun to be studied.

In 1125, when the Tungusic Juchen destroyed the Liao, the Hsia also lost large territories in the east of their country, especially the province of Shensi, which they had conquered; but they were still able to hold their own. Their political importance to China, however, vanished, since they were now divided from southern China and as partners were no longer of the same value to it. Not until the Mongols became a power did the Hsia recover some of their importance; but they were among the first victims of the Mongols: in 1209 they had to submit to them, and in 1227, the year of the death of Genghiz Khan, they were annihilated.

(4) The empire of the Southern Sung dynasty (1127-1279)

1 _Foundation_

In the disaster of 1126, when the Juchen captured the Sung capital and destroyed the Sung empire, a brother of the captive emperor escaped. He made himself emperor in Nanking and founded the “Southern Sung” dynasty, whose capital was soon shifted to the present Hangchow. The foundation of the new dynasty was a relatively easy matter, and the new state was much more solid than the southern kingdoms of 800 years earlier, for the south had already been economically supreme, and the great families that had ruled the state were virtually all from the south. The loss of the north, i.e. the area north of the Yellow River and of parts of Kiangsu, was of no importance to this governing group and meant no loss of estates to it. Thus the transition from the Northern to the Southern Sung was not of fundamental importance. Consequently the Juchen had no chance of success when they arranged for Liu Yue, who came of a northern Chinese family of small peasants and had become an official, to be proclaimed emperor in the “Ch’i” dynasty in 1130. They hoped that this puppet might attract the southern Chinese, but seven years later they dropped him.

2 _Internal situation_

As the social structure of the Southern Sung empire had not been changed, the country was not affected by the dynastic development. Only the policy of diplomacy could not be pursued at once, as the Juchen were bellicose at first and would not negotiate. There were therefore several battles at the outset (in 1131 and 1134), in which the Chinese were actually the more successful, but not decisively. The Sung military group was faced as early as in 1131 with furious opposition from the greater gentry, led by Ch’in K’ui, one of the largest landowners of all. His estates were around Nanking, and so in the deployment region and the region from which most of the soldiers had to be drawn for the defensive struggle. Ch’in K’ui secured the assassination of the leader of the military party, General Yo Fei, in 1141, and was able to conclude peace with the Juchen. The Sung had to accept the status of vassals and to pay annual tribute to the Juchen. This was the situation that best pleased the greater gentry. They paid hardly any taxes (in many districts the greater gentry directly owned more than 30 per cent of the land, in addition to which they had indirect interests in the soil), and they were now free from the war peril that ate into their revenues. The tribute amounted only to 500,000 strings of cash. Popular literature, however, to this day represents Ch’in K’ui as a traitor and Yo Fei as a national hero.

In 1165 it was agreed between the Sung and the Juchen to regard each other as states with equal rights. It is interesting to note here that in the treaties during the Han time with the Hsiung-nu, the two countries called one another brothers–with the Chinese ruler as the older and thus privileged brother; but the treaties since the T’ang time with northern powers and with Tibetans used the terms father-in-law and son-in-law. The foreign power was the “father-in-law”, i.e. the older and, therefore, in a certain way the more privileged; the Chinese were the “son-in-law”, the representative of the paternal lineage and, therefore, in another respect also the more privileged! In spite of such agreements with the Juchen, fighting continued, but it was mainly of the character of frontier engagements. Not until 1204 did the military party, led by Han T’o-wei, regain power; it resolved upon an active policy against the north. In preparation for this a military reform was carried out. The campaign proved a disastrous failure, as a result of which large territories in the north were lost. The Sung sued for peace; Han T’o-wei’s head was cut off and sent to the Juchen. In this way peace was restored in 1208. The old treaty relationship was now resumed, but the relations between the two states remained tense. Meanwhile the Sung observed with malicious pleasure how the Mongols were growing steadily stronger, first destroying the Hsia state and then aiming the first heavy blows against the Juchen. In the end the Sung entered into alliance with the Mongols (1233) and joined them in attacking the Juchen, thus hastening the end of the Juchen state.

The Sung now faced the Mongols, and were defenceless against them. All the buffer states had gone. The Sung were quite without adequate military defence. They hoped to stave off the Mongols in the same way as they had met the Kitan and the Juchen. This time, however, they misjudged the situation. In the great operations begun by the Mongols in 1273 the Sung were defeated over and over again. In 1276 their capital was taken by the Mongols and the emperor was made prisoner. For three years longer there was a Sung emperor, in flight from the Mongols, until the last emperor perished near Macao in South China.

3 _Cultural situation; reasons for the collapse_

The Southern Sung period was again one of flourishing culture. The imperial court was entirely in the power of the greater gentry; several times the emperors, who personally do not deserve individual mention, were compelled to abdicate. They then lived on with a court of their own, devoting themselves to pleasure in much the same way as the “reigning” emperor. Round them was a countless swarm of poets and artists. Never was there a time so rich in poets, though hardly one of them was in any way outstanding. The poets, unlike those of earlier times, belonged to the lesser gentry who were suffering from the prevailing inflation. Salaries bore no relation to prices. Food was not dear, but the things which a man of the upper class ought to have were far out of reach: a big house cost 2,000 strings of cash, a concubine 800 strings. Thus the lesser gentry and the intelligentsia all lived on their patrons among the greater gentry–with the result that they were entirely shut out of politics. This explains why the literature of the time is so unpolitical, and also why scarcely any philosophical works appeared. The writers took refuge more and more in romanticism and flight from realities.

The greater gentry, on the other hand, led a very elegant life, building themselves magnificent palaces in the capital. They also speculated in every direction. They speculated in land, in money, and above all in the paper money that was coming more and more into use. In 1166 the paper circulation exceeded the value of 10,000,000 strings!

It seems that after 1127 a good number of farmers had left Honan and the Yellow River plains when the Juchen conquered these places and showed little interest in fostering agriculture; more left the border areas of Southern Sung because of permanent war threat. Many of these lived miserably as tenants on the farms of the gentry between Nanking and Hangchow. Others migrated farther to the south, across Kiangsi into southern Fukien. These migrants seem to have been the ancestors of the Hakka which in the following centuries continued their migration towards the south and who from the nineteenth century on were most strongly concentrated in Kwangtung and Kwangsi provinces as free farmers on hill slopes or as tenants of local landowners in the plains.

The influx of migrants and the increase of tenants and their poverty seriously threatened the state and cut down its defensive strength more and more.

At this stage, Chia Ssu-tao drafted a reform law. Chia had come to the court through his sister becoming the emperor’s concubine, but he himself belonged to the lesser gentry. His proposal was that state funds should be applied to the purchase of land in the possession of the greater gentry over and above a fixed maximum. Peasants were to be settled on this land, and its yield was to belong to the state, which would be able to use it to meet military expenditure. In this way the country’s military strength was to be restored. Chia’s influence lasted just ten years, until 1275. He began putting the law into effect in the region south of Nanking, where the principal estates of the greater gentry were then situated. He brought upon himself, of course, the mortal hatred of the greater gentry, and paid for his action with his life. The emperor, in entering upon this policy, no doubt had hoped to recover some of his power, but the greater gentry brought him down. The gentry now openly played into the hands of the approaching Mongols, so hastening the final collapse of the Sung. The peasants and the lesser gentry would have fought the Mongols if it had been possible; but the greater gentry enthusiastically went over to the Mongols, hoping to save their property and so their influence by quickly joining the enemy. On a long view they had not judged badly. The Mongols removed the members of the gentry from all political posts, but left them their estates; and before long the greater gentry reappeared in political life. And when, later, the Mongol empire in China was brought down by a popular rising, the greater gentry showed themselves to be the most faithful allies of the Mongols!

(5) The empire of the Juchen in the north (1115-1234)

1 _Rapid expansion from northern Korea to the Yangtze_

The Juchen in the past had been only a small league of Tungus tribes, whose name is preserved in that of the present Tungus tribe of the Jurchen, which came under the domination of the Kitan after the collapse of the state of Po-hai in northern Korea. We have already briefly mentioned the reasons for their rise. After their first successes against the Kitan (1114), their chieftain at once proclaimed himself emperor (1115), giving his dynasty the name “Chin” (The Golden). The Chin quickly continued their victorious progress. In 1125 the Kitan empire was destroyed. It will be remembered that the Sung were at once attacked, although they had recently been allied with the Chin against the Kitan. In 1126 the Sung capital was taken. The Chin invasions were pushed farther south, and in 1130 the Yangtze was crossed. But the Chin did not hold the whole of these conquests. Their empire was not yet consolidated. Their partial withdrawal closed the first phase of the Chin empire.

2 _United front of all Chinese_

But a few years after this maximum expansion, a withdrawal began which went on much more quickly than usual in such cases. The reasons were to be found both in external and in internal politics. The Juchen had gained great agrarian regions in a rapid march of conquest. Once more great cities with a huge urban population and immense wealth had fallen to alien conquerors. Now the Juchen wanted to enjoy this wealth as the Kitan had done before them. All the Juchen people counted as citizens of the highest class; they were free from taxation and only liable to military service. They were entitled to take possession of as much cultivable land as they wanted; this they did, and they took not only the “state domains” actually granted to them but also peasant properties, so that Chinese free peasants had nothing left but the worst fields, unless they became tenants on Juchen estates. A united front was therefore formed between all Chinese, both peasants and landowning gentry, against the Chin, such as it had not been possible to form against the Kitan. This made an important contribution later to the rapid collapse of the Chin empire.

The Chin who had thus come into possession of the cultivable land and at the same time of the wealth of the towns, began a sort of competition with each other for the best winnings, especially after the government had returned to the old Sung capital, Pien-liang (now K’ai-feng, in eastern Honan). Serious crises developed in their own ranks. In 1149 the ruler was assassinated by his chancellor (a member of the imperial family), who in turn was murdered in 1161. The Chin thus failed to attain what had been secured by all earlier conquerors, a reconciliation of the various elements of the population and the collaboration of at least one group of the defeated Chinese.

3 _Start of the Mongol empire_

The cessation of fighting against the Sung brought no real advantage in external affairs, though the tribute payments appealed to the greed of the rulers and were therefore welcomed. There could be no question of further campaigns against the south, for the Hsia empire in the west had not been destroyed, though some of its territory had been annexed; and a new peril soon made its appearance in the rear of the Chin. When in the tenth century the Sha-t’o Turks had to withdraw from their dominating position in China, because of their great loss of numbers and consequently of strength, they went back into Mongolia and there united with the Ta-tan (Tatars), among whom a new small league of tribes had formed towards the end of the eleventh century, consisting mainly of Mongols and Turks. In 1139 one of the chieftains of the Juchen rebelled and entered into negotiations with the South Chinese. He was killed, but his sons and his whole tribe then rebelled and went into Mongolia, where they made common cause with the Mongols. The Chin pursued them, and fought against them and against the Mongols, but without success. Accordingly negotiations were begun, and a promise was given to deliver meat and grain every year and to cede twenty-seven military strongholds. A high title was conferred on the tribal leader of the Mongols, in the hope of gaining his favour. He declined it, however, and in 1147 assumed the title of emperor of the “greater Mongol empire”. This was the beginning of the power of the Mongols, who remained thereafter a dangerous enemy of the Chin in the north, until in 1189 Genghiz Khan became their leader and made the Mongols the greatest power of central Asia. In any case, the Chin had reason to fear the Mongols from 1147 onward, and therefore were the more inclined to leave the Sung in peace.

In 1210 the Mongols began the first great assault against the Chin, the moment they had conquered the Hsia. In the years 1215-17 the Mongols took the military key-positions from the Chin. After that there could be no serious defence of the Chin empire. There came a respite only because the Mongols had turned against the West. But in 1234 the empire finally fell to the Mongols.

Many of the Chin entered the service of the Mongols, and with their permission returned to Manchuria; there they fell back to the cultural level of a warlike nomad people. Not until the sixteenth century did these Tunguses recover, reorganize, and appear again in history this time under the name of Manchus.

The North Chinese under Chin rule did not regard the Mongols as enemies of their country, but were ready at once to collaborate with them. The Mongols were even more friendly to them than to the South Chinese, and treated them rather better.

Chapter Ten

THE PERIOD OF ABSOLUTISM

(A) The Mongol Epoch (1280-1368)

1 _Beginning of new foreign rules_

During more than half of the third period of “Modern Times” which now began, China was under alien rule. Of the 631 years from 1280 to 1911, China was under national rulers for 276 years and under alien rule for 355. The alien rulers were first the Mongols, and later the Tungus Manchus. It is interesting to note that the alien rulers in the earlier period came mainly from the north-west, and only in modern times did peoples from the north-east rule over China. This was due in part to the fact that only peoples who had attained a certain level of civilization were capable of dominance. In antiquity and the Middle Ages, eastern Mongolia and Manchuria were at a relatively low level of civilization, from which they emerged only gradually through permanent contact with other nomad peoples, especially Turks. We are dealing here, of course, only with the Mongol epoch in China and not with the great Mongol empire, so that we need not enter further into these questions.

Yet another point is characteristic: the Mongols were the first alien people to rule the whole of China; the Manchus, who appeared in the seventeenth century, were the second and last. All alien peoples before these two ruled only parts of China. Why was it that the Mongols were able to be so much more successful than their predecessors? In the first place the Mongol political league was numerically stronger than those of the earlier alien peoples; secondly, the military organization and technical equipment of the Mongols were exceptionally advanced for their day. It must be borne in mind, for instance, that during their many years of war against the Sung dynasty in South China the Mongols already made use of small cannon in laying siege to towns. We have no exact knowledge of the number of Mongols who invaded and occupied China, but it is estimated that there were more than a million Mongols living in China. Not all of them, of course, were really Mongols! The name covered Turks, Tunguses, and others; among the auxiliaries of the Mongols were Uighurs, men from Central Asia and the Middle East, and even Europeans. When the Mongols attacked China they had the advantage of all the arts and crafts and all the new technical advances of western and central Asia and of Europe. Thus they had attained a high degree of technical progress, and at the same time their number was very great.

2 “_Nationality legislation_”

It was only after the Hsia empire in North China, and then the empire of the Juchen, had been destroyed by the Mongols, and only after long and remarkably modern tactical preparation, that the Mongols conquered South China, the empire of the Sung dynasty. They were now faced with the problem of ruling their great new empire. The conqueror of that empire, Kublai, himself recognized that China could not be treated in quite the same way as the Mongols’ previous conquests; he therefore separated the empire in China from the rest of the Mongol empire. Mongol China became an independent realm within the Mongol empire, a sort of Dominion. The Mongol rulers were well aware that in spite of their numerical strength they were still only a minority in China, and this implied certain dangers. They therefore elaborated a “nationality legislation”, the first of its kind in the Far East. The purpose of this legislation was, of course, to be the protection of the Mongols. The population of conquered China was divided into four groups–(1) Mongols, themselves falling into four sub-groups (the oldest Mongol tribes, the White Tatars, the Black Tatars, the Wild Tatars); (2) Central Asian auxiliaries (Naimans, Uighurs, and various other Turkish people, Tanguts, and so on); (3) North Chinese; (4) South Chinese. The Mongols formed the privileged ruling class. They remained militarily organized, and were distributed in garrisons over all the big towns of China as soldiers, maintained by the state. All the higher government posts were reserved for them, so that they also formed the heads of the official staffs. The auxiliary peoples were also admitted into the government service; they, too, had privileges, but were not all soldiers but in many cases merchants, who used their privileged position to promote business. Not a few of these merchants were Uighurs and Mohammedans; many Uighurs were also employed as clerks, as the Mongols were very often unable to read and write Chinese, and the government offices were bilingual, working in Mongolian and Chinese. The clever Uighurs quickly learned enough of both languages for official purposes, and made themselves indispensable assistants to the Mongols. Persian, the main language of administration in the western parts of the Mongol empire besides Uighuric, also was a _lingua franca_ among the new rulers of China.

In the Mongol legislation the South Chinese had the lowest status, and virtually no rights. Intermarriage with them was prohibited. The Chinese were not allowed to carry arms. For a time they were forbidden even to learn the Mongol or other foreign languages. In this way they were to be prevented from gaining official positions and playing any political part. Their ignorance of the languages of northern, central, and western Asia also prevented them from engaging in commerce like the foreign merchants, and every possible difficulty was put in the way of their travelling for commercial purposes. On the other hand, foreigners were, of course, able to learn Chinese, and so to gain a footing in Chinese internal trade.

Through legislation of this type the Mongols tried to build up and to safeguard their domination over China. Yet their success did not last a hundred years.

3 _Military position_

In foreign affairs the Mongol epoch was for China something of a breathing space, for the great wars of the Mongols took place at a remote distance from China and without any Chinese participation. Only a few concluding wars were fought under Kublai in the Far East. The first was his war against Japan (1281): it ended in complete failure, the fleet being destroyed by a storm. In this campaign the Chinese furnished ships and also soldiers. The subjection of Japan would have been in the interest of the Chinese, as it would have opened a market which had been almost closed against them in the Sung period. Mongol wars followed in the south. In 1282 began the war against Burma; in 1284 Annam and Cambodia were conquered; in 1292 a campaign was started against Java. It proved impossible to hold Java, but almost the whole of Indo-China came under Mongol rule, to the satisfaction of the Chinese, for Indo-China had already been one of the principal export markets in the Sung period. After that, however, there was virtually no more warfare, apart from small campaigns against rebellious tribes. The Mongol soldiers now lived on their pay in their garrisons, with nothing to do. The old campaigners died and were followed by their sons, brought up also as soldiers; but these young Mongols were born in China, had seen nothing of war, and learned of the soldiers’ trade either nothing or very little; so that after about 1320 serious things happened. An army nominally 1,000 strong was sent against a group of barely fifty bandits and failed to defeat them. Most of the 1,000 soldiers no longer knew how to use their weapons, and many did not even join the force. Such incidents occurred again and again.

4 _Social situation_

The results, however, of conditions within the country were of much more importance than events abroad. The Mongols made Peking their capital as was entirely natural, for Peking was near their homeland Mongolia. The emperor and his entourage could return to Mongolia in the summer, when China became too hot or too humid for them; and from Peking they were able to maintain contact with the rest of the Mongol empire. But as the city had become the capital of a vast empire, an enormous staff of officials had to be housed there, consisting of persons of many different nationalities. The emperor naturally wanted to have a magnificent capital, a city really worthy of so vast an empire. As the many wars had brought in vast booty, there was money for the building of great palaces, of a size and magnificence never before seen in China. They were built by Chinese forced labour, and to this end men had to be brought from all over the empire–poor peasants, whose fields went out of cultivation while they were held in bondage far away. If they ever returned home, they were destitute and had lost their land. The rich gentry, on the other hand, were able to buy immunity from forced labour. The immense increase in the population of Peking (the huge court with its enormous expenditure, the mass of officials, the great merchant community, largely foreigners, and the many servile labourers), necessitated vast supplies of food. Now, as mentioned in earlier chapters, since the time of the Later T’ang the region round Nanking had become the main centre of production in China, and the Chinese population had gone over more and more to the consumption of rice instead of pulse or wheat. As rice could not be grown in the north, practically the whole of the food supplies for the capital had to be brought from the south. The transport system taken over by the Mongols had not been created for long-distance traffic of this sort. The capital of the Sung had lain in the main centre of production. Consequently, a great fleet had suddenly to be built, canals and rivers had to be regulated, and some new canals excavated. This again called for a vast quantity of forced labour, often brought from afar to the points at which it was needed. The Chinese peasants had suffered in the Sung period. They had been exploited by the large landowners. The Mongols had not removed these landowners, as the Chinese gentry had gone over to their side. The Mongols had deprived them of their political power, but had left them their estates, the basis of their power. In past changes of dynasty the gentry had either maintained their position or been replaced by a new gentry: the total number of their class had remained virtually unchanged. Now, however, in addition to the original gentry there were about a million Mongols, for whose maintenance the peasants had also to provide, and their standard of maintenance was high. This was an enormous increase in the burdens of the peasantry.

Two other elements further pressed on the peasants in the Mongol epoch–organized religion and the traders. The upper classes among the Chinese had in general little interest in religion, but the Mongols, owing to their historical development, were very religious. Some of them and some of their allies were Buddhists, some were still shamanists. The Chinese Buddhists and the representatives of popular Taoism approached the Mongols and the foreign Buddhist monks trying to enlist the interest of the Mongols and their allies. The old shamanism was unable to compete with the higher religions, and the Mongols in China became Buddhist or interested themselves in popular Taoism. They showed their interest especially by the endowment of temples and monasteries. The temples were given great estates, and the peasants on those estates became temple servants. The land belonging to the temples was free from taxation.

We have as yet no exact statistics of the Mongol epoch, only approximations. These set the total area under cultivation at some six million _ch’ing_ (a _ch’ing_ is the ideal size of the farm worked by a peasant family, but it was rarely held in practice); the population amounted to fourteen or fifteen million families. Of this total tillage some 170,000 _ch’ing_ were allotted to the temples; that is to say, the farms for some 400,000 peasant families were taken from the peasants and no longer paid taxes to the state. The peasants, however, had to make payments to the temples. Some 200,000 _ch’ing_ with some 450,000 peasant families were turned into military settlements; that is to say, these peasants had to work for the needs of the army. Their taxes went not to the state but to the army. Moreover, in the event of war they had to render service to the army. In addition to this, all higher officials received official properties, the yield of which represented part payment of their salaries. Then, Mongol nobles and dignitaries received considerable grants of land, which was taken away from the free peasants; the peasants had then to work their farms as tenants and to pay dues to their landlords, no longer to the state. Finally, especially in North China, many peasants were entirely dispossessed, and their land was turned into pasturage for the Mongols’ horses; the peasants themselves were put to forced labour. On top of this came the exploitation of the peasants by the great landowners of the past. All this meant an enormous diminution in the number of free peasants and thus of taxpayers. As the state was involved in more expenditure than in the past owing to the large number of Mongols who were its virtual pensioners, the taxes had to be continually increased. Meanwhile the many peasants working as tenants of the great landlords, the temples, and the Mongol nobles were entirely at their mercy. In this period, a second migration of farmers into the southern provinces, mainly Fukien and Kwangtung, took place; it had its main source in the lower Yangtze valley. A few gentry families whose relatives had accompanied the Sung emperor on their flight to the south, also settled with their followers in the Canton basin.

The many merchants from abroad, especially those belonging to the peoples allied to the Mongols, also had in every respect a privileged position in China. They were free of taxation, free to travel all over the country, and received privileged treatment in the use of means of transport. They were thus able to accumulate great wealth, most of which went out of China to their own country. This produced a general impoverishment of China. Chinese merchants fell more and more into dependence on the foreign merchants; the only field of action really remaining to them was the local trade within China and the trade with Indo-China, where the Chinese had the advantage of knowing the language.

The impoverishment of China began with the flow abroad of her metallic currency. To make up for this loss, the government was compelled to issue great quantities of paper money, which very quickly depreciated, because after a few years the government would no longer accept the money at its face value, so that the population could place no faith in it. The depreciation further impoverished the people.

Thus we have in the Mongol epoch in China the imposing picture of a commerce made possible with every country from Europe to the Pacific; this, however, led to the impoverishment of China. We also see the rising of mighty temples and monumental buildings, but this again only contributed to the denudation of the country. The Mongol epoch was thus one of continual and rapid impoverishment in China, simultaneously with a great display of magnificence. The enthusiastic descriptions of the Mongol empire in China offered by travellers from the Near East or from Europe, such as Marco Polo, give an entirely false picture: as foreigners they had a privileged position, living in the cities and seeing nothing of the situation of the general population.

5 _Popular risings: National rising_

It took time for the effects of all these factors to become evident. The first popular rising came in 1325. Statistics of 1329 show that there were then some 7,600,000 persons in the empire who were starving; as this was only the figure of the officially admitted sufferers, the figure may have been higher. In any case, seven-and-a-half millions were a substantial percentage of the total population, estimated at 45,000,000. The risings that now came incessantly were led by men of the lower orders–a cloth-seller, a fisherman, a peasant, a salt smuggler, the son of a soldier serving a sentence, an office messenger, and so on. They never attacked the Mongols as aliens, but always the rich in general, whether Chinese or foreign. Wherever they came, they killed all the rich and distributed their money and possessions.

As already mentioned, the Mongol garrisons were unable to cope with these risings. But how was it that the Mongol rule did not collapse until some forty years later? The Mongols parried the risings by raising loans from the rich and using the money to recruit volunteers to fight the rebels. The state revenues would not have sufficed for these payments, and the item was not one that could be included in the military budget. What was of much more importance was that the gentry themselves recruited volunteers and fought the rebels on their own account, without the authority or the support of the government. Thus it was the Chinese gentry, in their fear of being killed by the insurgents, who fought them and so bolstered up the Mongol rule.

In 1351 the dykes along the Yellow River burst. The dykes had to be reconstructed and further measures of conservancy undertaken. To this end the government impressed 170,000 men. Following this action, great new revolts broke out. Everywhere in Honan, Kiangsu, and Shantung, the regions from which the labourers were summoned, revolutionary groups were formed, some of them amounting to 100,000 men. Some groups had a religious tinge; others declared their intention to restore the emperors of the Sung dynasty. Before long great parts of central China were wrested from the hands of the government. The government recognized the menace to its existence, but resorted to contradictory measures. In 1352 southern Chinese were permitted to take over certain official positions. In this way it was hoped to gain the full support of the gentry, who had a certain interest in combating the rebel movements. On the other hand, the government tightened up its nationality laws. All the old segregation laws were brought back into force, with the result that in a few years the aim of the rebels became no longer merely the expulsion of the rich but also the expulsion of the Mongols: a social movement thus became a national one. A second element contributed to the change in the character of the popular rising. The rebels captured many towns. Some of these towns refused to fight and negotiated terms of submission. In these cases the rebels did not murder the whole of the gentry, but took some of them into their service. The gentry did not agree to this out of sympathy with the rebels, but simply in order to save their own lives. Once they had taken the step, however, they could not go back; they had no alternative but to remain on the side of the rebels.

In 1352 Kuo Tz[)u]-hsing rose in southern Honan. Kuo was the son of a wandering soothsayer and a blind beggar-woman. He had success; his group gained control of a considerable region round his home. There was no longer any serious resistance from the Mongols, for at this time the whole of eastern China was in full revolt. In 1353 Kuo was joined by a man named Chu Yuean-chang, the son of a small peasant, probably a tenant farmer. Chu’s parents and all his relatives had died from a plague, leaving him destitute. He had first entered a monastery and become a monk. This was a favourite resource–and has been almost to the present day–for poor sons of peasants who were threatened with starvation. As a monk he had gone about begging, until in 1353 he returned to his home and collected a group, mostly men from his own village, sons of peasants and young fellows who had already been peasant leaders. Monks were often peasant leaders. They were trusted because they promised divine aid, and because they were usually rather better educated than the rest of the peasants. Chu at first also had contacts with a secret society, a branch of the White Lotus Society which several times in the course of Chinese history has been the nucleus of rebellious movements. Chu took his small group which identified itself by a red turban and a red banner to Kuo, who received him gladly, entered into alliance with him, and in sign of friendship gave him his daughter in marriage. In 1355 Kuo died, and Chu took over his army, now many thousands strong. In his campaigns against towns in eastern China, Chu succeeded in winning over some capable members of the gentry. One was the chairman of a committee that yielded a town to Chu; another was a scholar whose family had always been opposed to the Mongols, and who had himself suffered injustice several times in his official career, so that he was glad to join Chu out of hatred of the Mongols.

These men gained great influence over Chu, and persuaded him to give up attacking rich individuals, and instead to establish an assured control over large parts of the country. He would then, they pointed out, be permanently enriched, while otherwise he would only be in funds at the moment of the plundering of a town. They set before him strategic plans with that aim. Through their counsel Chu changed from the leader of a popular rising into a fighter against the dynasty. Of all the peasant leaders he was now the only one pursuing a definite aim. He marched first against Nanking, the great city of central China, and captured it with ease. He then crossed the Yangtze, and conquered the rich provinces of the south-east. He was a rebel who no longer slaughtered the rich or plundered the towns, and the whole of the gentry with all their followers came over to him _en masse_. The armies of volunteers went over to Chu, and the whole edifice of the dynasty collapsed.

The years 1355-1368 were full of small battles. After his conquest of the whole of the south, Chu went north. In 1368 his generals captured Peking almost without a blow. The Mongol ruler fled on horseback with his immediate entourage into the north of China, and soon after into Mongolia. The Mongol dynasty had been brought down, almost without resistance. The Mongols in the isolated garrisons marched northward wherever they could. A few surrendered to the Chinese and were used in southern China as professional soldiers, though they were always regarded with suspicion. The only serious resistance offered came from the regions in which other Chinese popular leaders had established themselves, especially the remote provinces in the west and south-west, which had a different social structure and had been relatively little affected by the Mongol regime.

Thus the collapse of the Mongols came for the following reasons: (1) They had not succeeded in maintaining their armed strength or that of their allies during the period of peace that followed Kublai’s conquest. The Mongol soldiers had become effeminate through their life of idleness in the towns. (2) The attempt to rule the empire through Mongols or other aliens, and to exclude the Chinese gentry entirely from the administration, failed through insufficient knowledge of the sources of revenue and through the abuses due to the favoured treatment of aliens. The whole country, and especially the peasantry, was completely impoverished and so driven into revolt. (3) There was also a psychological reason. In the middle of the fourteenth century it was obvious to the Mongols that their hold over China was growing more and more precarious, and that there was little to be got out of the impoverished country: they seem in consequence to have lost interest in the troublesome task of maintaining their rule, preferring, in so far as they had not already entirely degenerated, to return to their old home in the north. It is important to bear in mind these reasons for the collapse of the Mongols, so that we may compare them later with the reasons for the collapse of the Manchus.

No mention need be made here of the names of the Mongol rulers in China after Kublai. After his death in 1294, grandsons and great-grandsons of his followed each other in rapid succession on the throne; not one of them was of any personal significance. They had no influence on the government of China. Their life was spent in intriguing against one another. There were seven Mongol emperors after Kublai.

6 _Cultural_

During the Mongol epoch a large number of the Chinese scholars withdrew from official life. They lived in retirement among their friends, and devoted themselves mainly to the pursuit of the art of poetry, which had been elaborated in the Later Sung epoch, without themselves arriving at any important innovations in form. Their poems were built up meticulously on the rules laid down by the various schools; they were routine productions rather than the outcome of any true poetic inspiration. In the realm of prose the best achievements were the “miscellaneous notes” already mentioned, collections of learned essays. The foreigners who wrote in Chinese during this epoch are credited with no better achievements by the Chinese historians of literature. Chief of them were a statesman named Yeh-lue Ch’u-ts’ai, a Kitan in the service of the Mongols; and a Mongol named T’o-t’o (Tokto). The former accompanied Genghiz Khan in his great campaign against Turkestan, and left a very interesting account of his journeys, together with many poems about Samarkand and Turkestan. His other works were mainly letters and poems addressed to friends. They differ in no way in style from the Chinese literary works of the time, and are neither better nor worse than those works. He shows strong traces of Taoist influence, as do other contemporary writers. We know that Genghiz Khan was more or less inclined to Taoism, and admitted a Taoist monk to his camp (1221-1224). This man’s account of his travels has also been preserved, and with the numerous European accounts of Central Asia written at this time it forms an important source. The Mongol Tokto was the head of an historical commission that issued the annals of the Sung dynasty, the Kitan, and the Juchen dynasty. The annals of the Sung dynasty became the largest of all the historical works, but they were fiercely attacked from the first by Chinese critics on account of their style and their hasty composition, and, together with the annals of the Mongol dynasty, they are regarded as the worst of the annals preserved. Tokto himself is less to blame for this than the circumstance that he was compelled to work in great haste, and had not time to put into order the overwhelming mass of his material.

The greatest literary achievements, however, of the Mongol period belong beyond question to the theatre (or, rather, opera). The emperors were great theatre-goers, and the wealthy private families were also enthusiasts, so that gradually people of education devoted themselves to writing librettos for the operas, where in the past this work had been left to others. Most of the authors of these librettos remained unknown: they used pseudonyms, partly because playwriting was not an occupation that befitted a scholar, and partly because in these works they criticized the conditions of their day. These works are divided in regard to style into two groups, those of the “southern” and the “northern” drama; these are distinguished from each other in musical construction and in their intellectual attitude: in general the northern works are more heroic and the southern more sentimental, though there are exceptions. The most famous northern works of the Mongol epoch are _P’i-p’a-chi_ (“The Story of a Lute”), written about 1356, probably by Kao Ming, and _Chao-shih ku-erh-chi_ (“The Story of the Orphan of Chao “), a work that enthralled Voltaire, who made a paraphrase of it; its author was the otherwise unknown Chi Chuen-hsiang. One of the most famous of the southern dramas is _Hsi-hsiang-chi_ (“The Romance of the Western Chamber”), by Wang Shih-fu and Kuan Han-ch’ing. Kuan lived under the Juchen dynasty as a physician, and then among the Mongols. He is said to have written fifty-eight dramas, many of which became famous.

In the fine arts, foreign influence made itself felt during the Mongol epoch much more than in literature. This was due in part to the Mongol rulers’ predilection for the Lamaism that was widespread in their homeland. Lamaism is a special form of Buddhism which developed in Tibet, where remnants of the old national Tibetan cult (_Bon_) were fused with Buddhism into a distinctive religion. During the rise of the Mongols this religion, which closely resembled the shamanism of the ancient Mongols, spread in Mongolia, and through the Mongols it made great progress in China, where it had been insignificant until their time. Religious sculpture especially came entirely under Tibetan influence (particularly that of the sculptor Aniko, who came from Nepal, where he was born in 1244). This influence was noticeable in the Chinese sculptor Liu Yuean; after him it became stronger and stronger, lasting until the Manchu epoch.

In architecture, too, Indian and Tibetan influence was felt in this period. The Tibetan pagodas came into special prominence alongside the previously known form of pagoda, which has many storeys, growing smaller as they go upward; these towers originally contained relics of Buddha and his disciples. The Tibetan pagoda has not this division into storeys, and its lower part is much larger in circumference, and often round. To this day Peking is rich in pagodas in the Tibetan style.

The Mongols also developed in China the art of carpet-knotting, which to this day is found only in North China in the zone of northern influence. There were carpets before these, but they were mainly of felt. The knotted carpets were produced in imperial workshops–only, of course, for the Mongols, who were used to carpets. A further development probably also due to West Asian influence was that of cloisonne technique in China in this period.

Painting, on the other hand, remained free from alien influence, with the exception of the craft painting for the temples. The most famous painters of the Mongol epoch were Chao Meng-fu (also called Chao Chung-mu, 1254-1322), a relative of the deposed imperial family of the Sung dynasty, and Ni Tsan (1301-1374).

(B) The Ming Epoch (1368-1644)

1 _Start. National feeling_

It was necessary to give special attention to the reasons for the downfall of Mongol rule in China, in order to make clear the cause and the character of the Ming epoch that followed it. It is possible that the erroneous impression might be gained that the Mongol epoch in China was entirely without merits, and that the Mongol rule over China differed entirely from the Mongol rule over other countries of Asia. Chinese historians have no good word to say of the Mongol epoch and avoid the subject as far as they can. It is true that the union of the national Mongol culture with Chinese culture, as envisaged by the Mongol rulers, was not a sound conception, and consequently did not endure for long. Nevertheless, the Mongol epoch in China left indelible traces, and without it China’s further development would certainly have taken a different course.

The many popular risings during the latter half of the period of Mongol rule in China were all of a purely economic and social character, and at first they were not directed at all against the Mongols as representatives of an alien people. The rising under Chu Yuean-chang, which steadily gained impetus, was at first a purely social movement; indeed, it may fairly be called revolutionary. Chu was of the humblest origin; he became a monk and a peasant leader at one and the same time. Only three times in Chinese history has a man of the peasantry become emperor and founder of a dynasty. The first of these three men founded