Song dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; pinyin: Sòng cháo; 960–1279) was an era of Chinese history that began in 960 and continued until 1279. It was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.


After the fall of Tang dynasty in 907, China was briefly disunited for about 53 years. During this disunited time, five dynasties ruled the north while ten kingdoms ruled the south. A general under one of the five dynasties, Zhao Kuangyin, usurped the throne and quickly reunited China. Under the Song dynasty, the first paper currency and methods of rich farming were introduced. The Song improved a series of waterways and created a fairer system for awarding officials so that revolts were less likely in their bureacracy system. In 1068, the emperor, Shenzong, ordered his minister, Wang Anshi, with implementing radical reforms. He hoped to gain a monopoly on tea and to gain more money by charging higher taxes on the rich families. This unpopular act caused Wang Anshi to be dismissed from his position, weakening the dynasty. In 1125, the Jurchen, a nomadic group to the north, invaded northern China and even took the city of Chang'an and the capital of Kaifeng for themselves. Eventually, in 1234, the Jin dynasty of the north (the Jurchen) were overthrown by the Mongols and the Song dynasty finally fell in 1279 to the brutal conquerors.

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