China 1215 CE

The Southern Song dynasty has presided over one of the greatest periods of technological progress in China's history.

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What is happening in China in 1215CE

The centuries of Song dynasty rule have seen unprecedented economic growth and population expansion for China. A revolution in farming, based largely on wet-rice cultivation, has greatly increased crop yields, and has been accompanied by dramatic commercial and industrial expansion, both within China itself and throughout South East Asia. This has been the great age of Chinese technological innovation, with printing, gunpowder, shipbuilding techniques, the compass, paper money and porcelain all either appearing for the first time or seeing great advances.

In their internal policies, the Song emperors have expanded the examination system as a means of recruiting officials, and China is now administered largely by a class of professional scholar-officials. This class now professes a reformed Confucianism which modern scholars label “Neo-Confucianism”. This has borrowed elements from Buddhism and Taoism to provide a more emotionally satisfying form of the ancient ideology. It will be the dominant belief-system of China’s ruling class up to the 20th century.

The Song dynasty now only rules the south of the country, however. In 1135 a major invasion by the Jurchen, a people from central Asia, conquered the entire north of China from the Song and formed the Jin empire. Though ruled by a small minority of nomadic descent, this functions as a Chinese state.

The Song dynasty of this period is therefore give the label  “Southern Song”. It has been left with by far the richest and most populous part of China, and under them the advances which began under the early Song have continued.

Next map, China in 1453

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