The Northern Song 960–1127

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Map Code: Ax01825

In 960, military general Zhao Kuangyin led a military coup to overthrow the Later Zhou dynasty (the last of the Five Dynasties), enabling him to establish both the Song dynasty and himself as Emperor Taizu. The first era of the Song, known as Northern Song, was a prosperous time of reunification and leadership. Neo-Confucianism was introduced, along with new governmental structures. There was rapid population growth and a growth in cities, all supported by progression in rice cultivation and agriculture. The Song also saw the custom of foot binding, advanced printing techniques, paper money, tea ceremony rituals and the invention of gunpowder. However, the Song was under threat from the northern Liao Empire, which had been founded by the nomadic Khitan in 907. The Buddhist Xixia Empire (1038–1227), founded by Tangut nomads, maintained an uneasy truce with the Song and Liao. The balance of power was toppled when the Song allied with the northern Jurchen tribe, a nomadic group from the north, to overthrow the Liao. The Jurchen then turned on the Song to invade and push them into territories south of the Yangtze River, establishing the Jin dynasty in the north. This marked the beginning of the Southern Song era.

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