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A History of China by Wolfram Eberhard

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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

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

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

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

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

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

(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

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

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

[Illustration: 12 Ancient tiled pagoda at Chengting (Hopei). _Photo H.

[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


(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

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

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