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SPA World History
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5. Decline of the Classical World
Islam and the Spread of Islam
Postclassical Europe: A New Civilization Emerges in Europe
Postclassical Americas The Americas on the Eve of Invasion
Postclassical China. Reunification and Renaissance in Chinese Civilization: The Era of the Tang and Song Dynasties
Mongols! The Last GreatThe Last Great Nomadic Challenges: From Chinggis Khan to Timur
The World in 1450
Geography: The Locations from World History that you need to know.
Compare and Contrast Post-Classical Chinese Dynasties
Post-Classical China is broken up into the two dynasties of the time: the earlier Tang and the later Song; the latter being the most advanced. The most prominent difference between the two, however, is the difference in religious values.In the Tang, Buddhism was basically the universal religion in China, as almost everyone practiced it. The most popular form of Buddhism was the Chan or “Zen” Buddhism that was more focused on natural beauty. Buddhism was persecuted after a while because the Daoists and Confucianists envied Buddhism’s success, and so they convinced the administration that Buddhism needed to be outlawed. This carried through in the Song, where there were very few Buddhists. The main religious (and intellectual) focus of the Song was Confucianism, deemed Neo-Confucianism because it had almost all the properties of the original Confucian ideals, with some omitted and new ones added.
Political organization played a large part in these two dynasties. The leaders of the Tang included Empress Wu, who attempted to make Buddhism the main religion of China, and Li Yuan, the initiator of the Tang Dynasty. The Tang leaders worked hard to conquer the extent of their empire (from Korea to Turkestan), but it fell into disarray when the dynasty fell apart. The Song was established by a renowned general named Zhao Kuangyin, later renamed Taizu. Taizu could not defeat his northern enemies, the Khitan peoples, much unlike the Tang, who easily defeated almost all their enemies (the one they couldn't were those in Korea). This turned out to be fatal later on. The Tang's scholar-gentry class dominated the bureaucracy, as their education prepared them for the examination system they were required to go through to get into the bureaucracy. This carried through to the Song, where the scholar-gentry completely dominated the bureaucracy.
Their economic systems were completely different. The Tang used their junks to ship their goods around, whereas the Song used riverboats on the Great Canal to ship their supplies upstream. Buddhist monasteries in the Tang had less inflow of goods due to the fact that they were beginning to be persecuted. The goods shipped upstream during the Song were distributed to monstrous open markets that were not usually seen in the Tang.
The Song and Tang dynasties had quite a few commonalities in their social hierarchy. The scholar-gentry were the highest due to Confucian thinking that was re-initiated when the Song's officials took out Buddhism. Chinese families were patriarchal, so women were generally lower in the hierarchal spectrum. Women in the Tang were actually more free than those in the Song, when not binding your feet (which greatly reduces mobility) was frowned upon.
There are very few similarities between the Tang and the Song, due to the fact that each of their intellectual ways of thinking were completely different. The Tang's artists and intellectual minds focused on Buddhist ideals, whereas those of the Song focused on Confucian ideals. The Tang's bureaucracy was almost completely dominated by the scholar-gentry, who had attained the title "jinshi" and did not have to deal with corporal punishment. The Song was focused on the revival of old texts, around which a new type of education was born: the study of classical texts. Thanks to the scholar-gentry, the artistic and literary ideals experienced in the Han were revived. Literature was focused on the commoners during the Song, giving them some attention.
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