Rolesof great families
Afterthe collapse of the Han dynasty, leaders from the military group wereable to split China into kingdoms that were competing against eachother. This period was referred to as the disunion period because itwas marked with warfare and disorders (Edward, 2000). Northern chinawas invaded by nomads who had the capability of forming their ownkingdoms, a big number of Northern Chinese fled south near YangziRiver. This led to some of the southern dynasties rising and othersfalling. Chinese civilization developed despite of the witnessedevents. The nomads, in north, were also able to fit in the Chinesecivilization.
Accordingto Wang (2003), the Tang dynasty (618BC-906AD) revived the best ofthe Han dynasty (202-220) and marked the highest point of culture andpower in the history of China. Ideas and cultural influences wereable to get into China very easily during this era. Tang was foundedby a military leader known as Li Yuan. Li Yuan and his son took overand controlled the Sui government since it was weak at that time. Hisson killed both his rivals who happened to be his elder brothers andother rivals. Therefore, he became the most superior emperor who wasable to lead a stable, influential, and strong state. The capital wasfull of foreign merchants and markets were full of individuals fromsouthern China. Traders from nearby countries were welcomed in thesouthern ports. During the Tang period, military and civil positionswere held by powerful families and passed from one family member toanother. The positions ranked in the middle level, were held byindividuals who passed well in the examinations formulated by theTang dynasty. Moreover, these men were from families from theprovincial gentry. Artisans, farmers, craftsmen, and traders formedthe greatest population of the Tang (Yinan, 2005). The northernborders were guarded by the large armies while the local armies andmilitias were peasant farmers. Tang carried out military campaignsthat were against Korean and Turks who lived in the northwest. Due tothis action, Tang was able to create a special relation with theShilla kingdom.
Edward(2000) suggests that during the beginning of the Tang dynasty, landbrought so many issues that called for land reforms. Land was laterdivided among farmers and each of them got an equal share. Peasantfarmers had an advantage to till the land but also suffered fromlabor cover and taxes. This system made many of them to move to thesouth thus the tax base became eroded. A system that involvedcollective households was later tried. Farmers were divided intogroups of five families and their responsibility was to submit theirannual labor quotas and taxes. The system proved ineffective and theland reform plans diminished gradually making the gentry to acquirepower over lands.
Therewere a number of rulers during the Tang dynasty. One of them wasEmpress Wu Zetian who was Li Shimin concubine. She later succeeded tohave a relationship with Li Shimin son who divorced his wife for her.Women at that time had freedom of movement and due to this she wasable to place her son on the throne and later disposed him and becamethe emperor. She was able to move the capital to the east and came upwith reforms that made success based on family connections difficult.The reforms focused on the government and the examination systems Inaddition, women got an opportunity to take exams and become courtofficers (Wang, 2003). She also supported Buddhists. The Tang dynastyended when lands in north and central Asia were lost due to militarydefeats, decline began in seven hundred and fifty, nomadic invasions,and rebellion.
Afterthe fall of Tang dynasty, China split apart and stayed until ninehundred and sixty when she reunified with the dynasty of Song(960BC-1279AD) (Yinan, 2005).Song brought prosperity, achievement,and also made advances in Chinese civilization. Furthermore, thisdynasty restored the government control that was centralized, madereforms in examination system, and enlarged government bureaucracy.In this era, neo-Confucianism was preferred and Confucian ethics,spiritual matters were emphasized. Not only were civil exams madeopen to everyone, but also became the medium of acquiring wealth.Passing exams was not based on heredity matters (Wang, 2003).
Duringboth the Song and Tang dynasties, achievements in cultural activitieswere obtained. Science and technology flourished. Yinan (2005)suggests that literature and art developed. Tang dynasty produced thegreatest China’s poet and Song made an excellent job in makingporcelain.
Politicaland social transformations
Accordingto Wang (2003), the Tang dynasty emphasized on powerful gentryfamilies while the Song dynasty marked an era where all men had theright of social mobility. The freedom that people had during the Tangperiod was replaced by a system that emphasized on household and clanmanagement. This system gave men more power than women. The Songdynasty ruled over a small territory thus making it weaker than theTang one. Song faced regimes that were strong and that caused amilitary threat. To avoid these threats, Song paid them with giftscausing financial constraints for the dynasty.
Roleand differences of the three authors
WangAnshi was appointed as the chief councilor in charge of military,education and finances (Wang, 2003). He was supposed to do reforms onthese areas to curb the problems of tax and expenses in the army. Hiscall for reforms focused on land tax equalization for all, tax graintransportation, establishment of local militias, and also crop loans.His plan was to relieve peasants of their debts by inventinggranaries, which could give loans to the farmers and repaid afterharvest. Su Shi stressed that education purposes were based on moralself cultivation rather than the position of the government (Edward,2000). Yinan (2005) suggests that Sima Guang reversed variouspolicies formulated by Wang Anshi because he termed them as immoraland failed to improve the living standards of people. He argued thatWang’s policies should be replaced with his own policies. Headvocated for incremental reforms.
Edward,L. (2000). China:Empire and Civilization.Oxford: Oxford
Wang,k. (2003). TheSouthern Song Dynasty.Columbia: Columbia University press
Yinan,L. (2005). A Study of the Changes in the Tang-Song Transition Model.Journalof Song- Yuan Studies, 35,1, 99-127.