A Short Historical Overview
The Tang Dynasty was led by Li Yuan’s son, Tang Taizong, and was known as one of the greatest Chinese dynasties. China was the greatest power in East Asia during this time as it controlled Tibet and the southern provinces below the Yangtze. As well as controlling these areas the, “emperor demanded fealty and tribute from all his fellow rulers beyond the frontier.” (Spielvogel & Duiker, 2013) During this dynasty, China reached a height in its cultural creativity, specifically through poetry and sculpture. Buddhism played a large role in the cultural progression and influenced art, literature, philosophy, as well as religion, and politics (Spielvogel & Duiker, 2013).
By China — Song Dynasty — cs.svg: User:Mozzanderivative work: Kanguole — China 11a.jpg: User:LiDaobingChina — Song Dynasty — cs.svg: User:Mozzan, CC BY-SA 3.0
After the Tang Dynasty collapsed, the Chinese Empire fell into chaos and was subjected to foreign invasions. However, in 960 the Song Dynasty rose to power with the founding emperor being Song Taizu. The military power of this dynasty was not as powerful as the former and encountered trouble defending their territory. The capital was moved south due to pressure from the nomads in the north (Spielvogel & Duiker, 2013) but the dynasty was prosperous in other ways and gave way to cultural advancements. The development of Confucianism reached its height during the Song Dynasty. The Civil Service examination, which chose powerful officials in the empire, was affected by the rise of Confucianism in several ways. The evaluations became based completely on Confucian classics and which, “guaranteed that successful candidates — and therefore officials — would have received a full dose of Confucian political and social ethics.” (Spielvogel & Duiker, 2013) Although there were complaints about this system they were largely ignored.
Although largely powerful and important dynasties, there were similar reasons for the decline and collapse of the Song and Tang dynasties. Both dynasties are thought to have faced corruption and possible environmental factors may have played a part as well. Both dynasties were conquered by the Mongols and the Song dynasty made the fatal mistake of allying themselves with the Mongols. Although they had become allies, the nomadic peoples of the north, eventually turned on the Chinese Empire and attacked, successfully defeating both dynasties. The Tang dynasty however, was more plagued by internal corruption and it is observed that a severe drought may have had a major effect of the decline of the dynasty.
Spielvogel, J. J., & Duiker, W. J. (2013). The Essential World History. Cengage Learning.
Photo Tang Dynasty by Louis le Grand~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). — Harvard University Press, 《History and Commercial Atlas of China》, 1935, Atlas of China, CC BY-SA 2.5