Basic features of Chines geography
To understand the history of China from the Tang to the Song dynasty, these features are necessary: area of influence or the land ruled, capital cities or the central seat of power, prevailing culture, and political and social environment - Basic features of Chines geography introduction. The Tang Dynasty, with central power located in Chang’an, was considered to be the period in Chinese history as its golden age in terms of cosmopolitan culture. Land under the rule of the imperial family consisted mostly of provinces in the east, north, south, and some parts in interior China.
There was political hegemony and spread of cultural influence to Japan and Korea. Chinese poetry flourished, marked with famous, historical names like Li Bai and Du Fu. Artists and scholars also thrived during the Tang period. During this period, urban settlers dwelt along the route of the Grand Canal of China. This increased the trade among the mainland Chinese markets. The population in this period was estimated to be at 50 million, giving the imperial government the ability to have large armies comprised of conscripted and professional soldiers.
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With a strong military force, the Tang dynasty dominated the lucrative Silk Road. Many kingdoms and nations bowed to the Tang emperors, some of which were under China’s protectorate system. It was also during the Tang Dynasty that Chinese maritime presence strengthened in Mesopotamia, Persia, the Red Sea, Arabia, Somalia, Ethiopia and Egypt in Africa. After the decline of the Tang Dynasty, China experienced a short period of political upheaval wherein five dynasties and 10 kingdoms made successions.
The five dynasties ruled the north provinces, while the the ten kingdoms ruled the south. The divisive and weak nature of the five dynasties and ten kingdoms gave rise to Song Dynasty, which unified the kingdom once more. The Song rulers controlled mostly inner China, with the capital in Kaifeng. During the Northern Song, detailed maps of provinces and cities were made. Technological and scientific breakthroughs were supported by the imperial power.
During the Southern Song, the ruling family had to retreat south after losing its place in the Yellow River to the Jin Dynasty. Despite the loss, the region prospered because of agriculture. Its naval forces were strong and the military developed gun powder to repeal its enemies. The social life of people during this period was vibrant. Artworks, festivals, clubs and many entertainment venues existed. Literature and knowledge spread. Along with these, the civil service exam became more prominent and first paper money or bank notes were issued.