Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
the remnants of the Song dynasty endured until 1279 and the
Mongols' complete conquest of China. This period of Chinese history
is usually called Southern Song, reflecting the dynasty's move to the
south. (The period of Song history before this was eventually called
Northern Song.)
The Southern Song initially was not prepared to give up all of the
territory it lost to the Jurchens without another fight. The majority
opinion in Southern Song seems to have favored an attempt at recon-
quest of the lost territories, but there was some opposition to this. In
the late 1130s and early 1140s, the two main principals of this disagree-
ment were a general named Yue Fei, who favored reconquest, and the
emperor's chief councilor, named Qin Gui, who opposed it. (These
two men have been called, respectively, the greatest patriot and the vil-
est villain in all of Chinese history.) Yue Fei launched his attack but
was recalled by Qin Gui and thrown into prison, where he died. The
Jurchens were so angry at being attacked that they demanded formal
recognition of their claim to the Chinese territory they had already
conquered, an increase in the annual silver and silk payments over
and above what used to be paid to the Kitans, and, most humiliating
of all, China's acceptance of “vassal” status vis-`-vis the Jurchens' Jin
dynasty. Acting very much against prevailing public opinion, the
Southern Song government accepted these demands in 1142. Sub-
sequently, Yue Fei was celebrated as a hero who had died fighting in
the noble cause to recover lost territory for the motherland, and Qin
Gui was almost universally vilified. Even today there are temples to
Yue Fei's memory in Taiwan, and on the mainland, crowds of Chinese
patriots have been known to show their contempt for Qin Gui's “capit-
ulationist” policies by spitting on a statue of him and making demean-
ing gestures to the statue of his wife.
The national humiliation of being a vassal to the Jin did not last long.
In the 1160s fighting broke out again between Jin and Southern Song,
but this time the Song acquitted itself well on the battlefield and
agreed to end the hostilities only after the Jin assented to eliminating
China's vassal status.
After this, life dragged on in the Southern Song. Being so far south,
the Song government and its people became more oriented to trade
along China's coastline, and soon Hangzhou emerged as a thriving
metropolis that engaged in maritime trade with many nations. Even
so, however, Hangzhou did not have the same open-minded attitudes
toward foreigners that Chang'an did during the Tang. China, by late
Southern Song times, had learned to fear foreigners and was not as
fascinated with their cultures as Tang China had been.
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