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Song-Yuan Chronology and Table of Song Emperors

Map of the Song Dynasty

Map of the Yuan Dynasty



Chronological survey of political and military events during the Song Dynasty (960-1279)


960            Zhao Kuangyin founds the Song dynasty.

965            Sichuan becomes part of the Song territory.

971            The Song army occupies Guangzhou (Canton) in south China.

973             The first civil service examinations are held under the Song.

979            China is unified under the Song.

983            Reform of government institutions: Creation of three bureaus in charge of

the Song economy: Monopolies, land taxation, state budget.

986            Victory of the Qidan (Khitan, dynastic name after 1066: Liao) over the Song. The Qidan expand their territory into the territory of Manchuria.

983            The Qidan hold civil service exams in the style of Chinese exams.

994            Korea becomes a vassal to the Qidan.

1004            Peace negotiations between Qidan and Song lead to the Peace of Shangyuan. China ‘buys peace’ at a high price of annual deliveries of silk and silver. Diplomatic missions between Song and Qidan are documented by Chinese emissaries.

1007            A general map of Song territory is produced by artists for taxation and military purposes.

1012            First imports of Champa rice (from the area of contemporary Cambodia) to the Song. Hybridization with Champa rice improves rice production in China. Multiple crops become possible.

Ca. 1020 the Buddhist Canon is printed from woodblocks in Korea.

1024            In Sichuan, paper money in form of promontory notes is issued.

1038              Founding of the Tangut Xixia empire

1040     Military attacks of the Xixia against the Song in the northwest.

1041            The high official Fan Zhongyan (-1053) organizes the Song defense against the Xixia.

1041-48  First printing attempts with movable types

1044            Peace treaty between Song and Xixia. Again, the Song pay a high price of indemnities in form of annual deliveries of silk, silver, and tea.

1050            The Qidan are victorious over the Xixia, who have to make annual deliveries of horses and camels to the Qidan.

1066            The Qidan call their dynasty Liao dynasty.

1067            Reformer Wang Anshi (-1086) is called to serve as prime minister. He reforms the laws for taxation, administration, and the military.

1071             Wang Anshi reforms the civil and military service examinations.

1076            Wang Anshi is removed from the government, reformers are exiled.

1077            Dams of the Yellow River break east of Kaifeng.

1080            The Song attack the Xixia without success.

1083            The Xixia attack the Song.

1085            The conservative official Sima Guang (-1086) is called to office and abolishes Wang Anshi’s new laws.

1086             Death of Sima Guang and Wang Anshi.

1094            Wang Anshi’s laws are reinstated continuously, reformers return from exile.

1097   Song victory over Xixia.

1106            Conservative opponents of Wang Anshi rehabilitated.

1114            Ruzhen (after 1115: Jin) attack the Liao.

1115             Founding of the Jin dynasty.

1118             Song emissaries visit the Jin in the attempt to make them allies against the Liao.

1120            Treaty between Song and Jin.

1122            Jin attack Liao and occupy Beijing.

1124            The Xixia become Jin vassals.

1125            The Liao empire is defeated by the Jin, who invade large areas of northern China.

1126               The Jin occupy the Song capital, Kaifeng. Song emperor Huizong and his wife, his designated successor, and his mother are abducted to Jin territory.

1127            The Song flee south beyond the Yangzi and found the Southern Song dynasty.

1133            First diplomatic missions between Jin and Song.

1134            Song attacks against the Jin army on Song territory.

1135            Hangzhou becomes the Southern Song capital.

1138            Peace treaty between Jin and Song.

1139            The Mongols attack the Jin.

1141            Renewed peace treaties between Song and Jin. Death of the imprisoned General Yue Fei, who had opposed the peace treaties between Song and Jin.

1142            Peace treaty with Jin. Emperor Huizong’s casket is returned to the Song.

1148            The Yellow River changes its current.

1151            The Jin make Beijing their main capital.

1159            The Jin prepare to attack the Southern Song. Uprisings by Chinese subjects in the territories occupied by the Jin increase.

1161            Attacks of the Jin against the Song. The Jin make Kaifeng one of their capitals.

1162            In Caishi, Anhui province, the Song army defeats the Jin army.

1164            Peace negotiations between Song and Jin.

1198            The Jin fortify the defense system of the Long Wall against Mongol attacks.

1201            The fire of Hangzhou destroys 53 000 houses.

1205-1207 Song attempts to re-conquer territory from the Jin fail.

1206             Chinggis Khan becomes the leader of the Mongols.

1214            Following military pressure from the Mongols, the Jin transfer the capital from Beijing to Kaifeng.

1215            The Mongols occupy Beijing.

1217            While the Song attack the Jin, Chinggis Khan attacks the Xixia.

1221            Alliance of the Song and Mongols against the Jin.

1227            The Mongols destroy the Xixia empire. Death of Chinggis Khan.

1229            The Mongols make Yelü Chucai (a Liao descendant) leader of the administration of Northern China.

1230             Successful attack of the Jin against the Mongols.

1233            The Mongols occupy Kaifeng.

1234            A Mongol-Song alliance destroys the Jin.

1236            The Mongols issue paper money for the first time.

1239            As the Mongols make Muslim administrators responsible for tax collection in Northern China, the Song attack the Mongols.

1251            The Mongols plan to invade Sichuan.

1253            The Mongols occupy Sichuan and Yunnan, and destroy the Tibetan-Burmese empire of Dali.

1254            The Mongols attack Korea.

1254-1269 The Polo’s travel to Mongolia.

1259            The Song army fails to rid Sichuan of the Mongol occupation.

1260            Khubilai Khan become Great Khan of the Mongols.

1264            Khubilai makes Beijing his capital. Sayyid Ajall is made governor of Sichuan.

1267            Fortification of Beijing.

1271            The Mongols call their dynasty ‘Yuan’ (Origin) dynasty.

1275            The Mongol army reaches the Yangzi.

1276            Mongol invasion of Hangzhou. The Song emperor flees to Fujian province.

1279            The Song emperor commits suicide. The Mongols occupy all of China.

1979-1294            The Mongols complete the last section of the Grand Canal and link Beijing with the rice producing centers of the south.

Table of Song emperors

Personal name and dates: Temple name and reign period

Northern Song

Zhao Kuangyin (927-976): Taizu, reigned 960-976

Zhao Kuangyi (939-997): Taizong, reigned 976-997

Zhao Heng (968-1022): Zhenzong, reigned 998-1003

Zhao Zhen (1010-1063): Renzong, reigned 1023-1032

Zhao Shu (1032-1067): Yingzong, reigned 1063-1067

Zhao Xu (1048-1085): Shenzong, reigned 1067-1085

Zhao Xu (1077-1100): Zhezong, reigned 1085-1100

Zhao Ji (1082-1135): Huizong, reigned 1100-1126

Zhao Huan (1100-1161): Qinzong, reigned 1126-1127

Southern Song

Zhao Gou (1107-1187): Gaozong, reigned 1127-1162

Zhao Shen (1127-1194): Xiaozong, reigned 1162-1189

Zhao Dun (1147-1200): Guangzong, reigned 1189-1194

Zhao Kuo (1168-1224): Ningzong, reigned 1194-1224

Zhao Yun (1205-1264): Lizong, reigned 1224-1264

Zhao Qi (1240-1274): Duzong, reigned 1264-1274

Zhao Xian (1271-1323): Gongzong, reigned 1274-1276

Zhao Shi (c.1268-1278): Duanzong, reigned 1276-1278

Zhao Bing (1272-1279): Dibing, reigned 1278-1279