The Song dynasty was an era of Chinese history that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou, ending the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period; the Song came into conflict with the contemporary Liao and Western Xia dynasties in the north. It was conquered by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty; the Song government was the first in world history to issue banknotes or true paper money nationally and the first Chinese government to establish a permanent standing navy. This dynasty saw the first known use of gunpowder, as well as the first discernment of true north using a compass; the Song dynasty is divided into two distinct periods and Southern. During the Northern Song, the Song capital was in the northern city of Bianjing and the dynasty controlled most of what is now Eastern China; the Southern Song refers to the period after the Song lost control of its northern half to the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty in the Jin–Song Wars.
During this time, the Song court retreated south of the Yangtze and established its capital at Lin'an. Although the Song dynasty had lost control of the traditional "birthplace of Chinese civilization" along the Yellow River, the Song economy was still strong, as the Southern Song Empire contained a large population and productive agricultural land; the Southern Song dynasty bolstered its naval strength to defend its waters and land borders and to conduct maritime missions abroad. To repel the Jin, the Mongols, the Song developed revolutionary new military technology augmented by the use of gunpowder. In 1234, the Jin dynasty was conquered by the Mongols, who took control of northern China, maintaining uneasy relations with the Southern Song. Möngke Khan, the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, died in 1259 while besieging the mountain castle Diaoyucheng, Chongqing, his younger brother Kublai Khan was proclaimed the new Great Khan, though his claim was only recognized by the Mongols in the west.
In 1271, Kublai Khan was proclaimed the Emperor of China. After two decades of sporadic warfare, Kublai Khan's armies conquered the Song dynasty in 1279; the Mongol invasion led to a reunification under the Yuan dynasty. The population of China doubled in size during the 10th and 11th centuries; this growth was made possible by expanded rice cultivation in central and southern Song, the use of early-ripening rice from south-east and southern Asia, the production of widespread food surpluses. The Northern Song census recorded double of the Han and Tang dynasties, it is estimated that the Northern Song had a population of some 120 million people, 200 million by the time of the Ming dynasty. This dramatic increase of population fomented an economic revolution in pre-modern China; the expansion of the population, growth of cities, the emergence of a national economy led to the gradual withdrawal of the central government from direct involvement in economic affairs. The lower gentry assumed a larger role in local affairs.
Appointed officials in county and provincial centers relied upon the scholarly gentry for their services and local supervision. Social life during the Song was vibrant. Citizens gathered to view and trade precious artworks, the populace intermingled at public festivals and private clubs, cities had lively entertainment quarters; the spread of literature and knowledge was enhanced by the rapid expansion of woodblock printing and the 11th-century invention of movable-type printing. Technology, philosophy and engineering flourished over the course of the Song. Philosophers such as Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi reinvigorated Confucianism with new commentary, infused with Buddhist ideals, emphasized a new organization of classic texts that brought out the core doctrine of Neo-Confucianism. Although the institution of the civil service examinations had existed since the Sui dynasty, it became much more prominent in the Song period; the officials who gained power by succeeding in the exams became a leading factor in the shift from a military-aristocratic elite to a bureaucratic elite.
After usurping the throne of the Later Zhou dynasty, Emperor Taizu of Song spent sixteen years conquering the rest of China, reuniting much of the territory that had once belonged to the Han and Tang empires and ending the upheaval of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. In Kaifeng, he established a strong central government over the empire; the establishment of this capital marked the start of the Northern Song period. He ensured administrative stability by promoting the civil service examination system of drafting state bureaucrats by skill and merit and promoted projects that ensured efficiency in communication throughout the empire. In one such project, cartographers created detailed maps of each province and city that were collected in a large atlas. Emperor Taizu promoted groundbreaking scientific and technological innovations by supporting such works as the astronomical clock tower designed and built by the engineer Zhang Sixun; the Song court maintained diplomatic relations with Chola India, the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt, the Kara-Khanid Khanate of Central Asia, the Goryeo kingdom in Korea, other countries that were trade partners with Japan.
Chinese records mention an embassy from the ruler of "Fu lin", Michael VII Doukas, its arrival in 1081. However, China's closest neighbouring states had the greatest impact on its domestic and foreign policy. From its
Jin dynasty (1115–1234)
The Jin dynasty known as the Great Jin, lasted from 1115 to 1234 as one of the last dynasties in Chinese history to predate the Mongol invasion of China. Its name is sometimes written as Kin, Jurchen Jin or Jinn in English to differentiate it from an earlier Jìn dynasty of China whose name is identical when transcribed without tone marker diacritics in the Hanyu Pinyin system for Standard Chinese, it is sometimes called the "Jurchen dynasty" or the "Jurchen Jin", because its founding leader Aguda was of Wanyan Jurchen descent. The Jin emerged from Taizu's rebellion against the Liao dynasty, which held sway over northern China until the nascent Jin drove the Liao to the Western Regions, where they became known as the Western Liao. After vanquishing the Liao, the Jin launched an over hundred-year struggles against the Chinese Song dynasty, based in southern China. Over the course of their rule, the Jurchens of Jin adapted to Chinese customs, fortified the Great Wall against the rising Mongols.
Domestically, the Jin oversaw a number of cultural advancements, such as the revival of Confucianism. The Mongols invaded the Jin under Genghis Khan in 1211 and inflicted catastrophic defeats on their armies. Though the Jin seemed to suffer a never-ending wave of defeats, revolts and coups, they proved to have tenacity; the Jin succumbed to Mongol conquest 23 years in 1234. The Jin dynasty was known as the "Great Jin" at that time. Furthermore, the Jin emperors referred to their state as Zhongguo like some other non-Han dynasties. Non-Han rulers expanded the definition of "China" to include non-Han peoples in addition to Han people whenever they ruled China. Jin documents indicate that the usage of "China" by dynasties to refer to themselves began earlier than thought; the Jin dynasty was created in modern Jilin and Heilongjiang by the Jurchen tribal chieftain Aguda in 1115. According to tradition, Aguda was a descendant of Hanpu. Aguda adopted the term for "gold" as the name of his state, itself a translation of "Anchuhu" River, which meant "golden" in Jurchen.
This river known as Alachuke in Chinese, was a tributary of the Songhua River east of Harbin. The Jurchens' early rival was the Khitan-led Liao dynasty, which had held sway over modern north and northeast China and Mongolia, for several centuries. In 1121, the Jurchens entered into the Alliance Conducted at Sea with the Han Chinese-led Northern Song dynasty and agreed to jointly invade the Liao dynasty. While the Song armies faltered, the Jurchens succeeded in driving the Liao to Central Asia. In 1125, after the death of Aguda, the Jin dynasty broke its alliance with the Song dynasty and invaded north China; when the Song dynasty reclaimed the southern part of the Liao where Han Chinese lived, they were "fiercely resisted" by the Han Chinese population there, under Liao rule, while when the Jurchens invaded that area, the Han Chinese did not oppose them at all and handed over the Southern Capital to them. The Jurchens were supported by the Beijing-based noble Han clans; the Han Chinese who worked for the Liao were viewed as hostile enemies by the Song dynasty.
Song Han Chinese defected to the Jin. One crucial mistake that the Song made during this joint attack was the removal of the defensive forest it built along the Song-Liao border; because of the removal of this landscape barrier, in 1126/27, the Jin army marched across the North China Plain to Bianjing. On 9 January 1127, the Jurchens ransacked Kaifeng, the capital of the Northern Song dynasty, capturing both Emperor Qinzong and his father, Emperor Huizong, who had abdicated in panic in the face of the Jin invasion. Following the fall of Bianjing, the succeeding Southern Song dynasty continued to fight the Jin dynasty for over a decade signing the Treaty of Shaoxing in 1141, which called for the cession of all Song territories north of the Huai River to the Jin dynasty and the execution of Song general Yue Fei in return for peace; the peace treaty was formally ratified on 11 October 1142. Having conquered Kaifeng and occupied North China, the Jin deliberately chose earth as its dynastic element and yellow as its royal color.
According to the theory of the Five Elements, the earth element follows the fire, the dynastic element of the Song, in the sequence of elemental creation. Therefore, this ideological move shows that the Jin regarded the Song reign of China was over and themselves as the rightful ruler of China Proper. After taking over Northern China, the Jin dynasty became sinicised. About three million people, half of them Jurchens, migrated south into northern China over two decades, this minority governed about 30 million people; the Jurchens were given land grants and organised into hereditary military units: 300 households formed a moukecode: zho promoted to code: zh and 7–10 moukescode: zho promoted to code: zh formed a meng-ancode: zho promoted to code: zh. Many married Han Chinese, although the ban on Jurchen nobles marrying Han Chinese was not lifted until 1191. After Emperor Taizong died in 1135, the next three Jin emperors were grandsons of Aguda by three different princes. Emperor Xizong wrote Chinese poetry.
He adopted Han Chinese cultural traditions. In life, Emperor Xizong became an alcoholic and executed many officials for criticising him, he had Jurchen leaders who opposed him murdered those in the Wanyan clan. In 1149 he was murdered by a cabal of relatives and nobles, who made his cous
Spring and Autumn period
The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history from 771 to 476 BC which corresponds to the first half of the Eastern Zhou Period. The period's name derives from the Spring and Autumn Annals, a chronicle of the state of Lu between 722 and 479 BC, which tradition associates with Confucius. During this period, the Zhou royal authority over the various feudal states started to decline, as more and more dukes and marquesses obtained de facto regional autonomy, defying the king's court in Luoyi, waging wars amongst themselves; the gradual Partition of Jin, one of the most powerful states, marked the end of the Spring and Autumn period, the beginning of the Warring States period. In 771 BC, the Quanrong invasion destroyed the Western Zhou and its capital Haojing, forcing the Zhou king to flee to the eastern capital Luoyi; the event ushered in the Eastern Zhou dynasty, divided into the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods. During the Spring and Autumn period, China's feudal system of fengjian became irrelevant.
The Zhou court, having lost its homeland in the Guanzhong region, held nominal power, but had real control over only a small royal demesne centered on Luoyi. During the early part of the Zhou dynasty period, royal relatives and generals had been given control over fiefdoms in an effort to maintain Zhou authority over vast territory; as the power of the Zhou kings waned, these fiefdoms became independent states. The most important states came together in regular conferences where they decided important matters, such as military expeditions against foreign groups or against offending nobles. During these conferences one vassal ruler was sometimes declared hegemon; as the era continued and more powerful states annexed or claimed suzerainty over smaller ones. By the 6th century BC most small states had disappeared and just a few large and powerful principalities dominated China; some southern states, such as Chu and Wu, claimed independence from the Zhou, who undertook wars against some of them. Amid the interstate power struggles, internal conflict was rife: six élite landholding families waged war on each other inside Jin, political enemies set about eliminating the Chen family in Qi, the legitimacy of the rulers was challenged in civil wars by various royal family members in Qin and Chu.
Once all these powerful rulers had established themselves within their respective dominions, the bloodshed focused more on interstate conflict in the Warring States period, which began in 403 BC when the three remaining élite families in Jin – Zhao and Han – partitioned the state. After the Zhou capital was sacked by the Marquess of Shen and the Quanrong barbarians, the Zhou moved the capital east from the now desolated Zongzhou in Haojing near modern Xi'an to Wangcheng in the Yellow River Valley; the Zhou royalty was closer to its main supporters Jin, Zheng. In Chengzhou, Prince Yijiu was crowned by his supporters as King Ping. However, with the Zhou domain reduced to Chengzhou and nearby areas, the court could no longer support the six army groups it had in the past; the Zhou court would never regain its original authority. Though the king de jure retained the Mandate of Heaven, the title held little actual power. With the decline of Zhou power, the Yellow River drainage basin was divided into hundreds of small, autonomous states, most of them consisting of a single city, though a handful of multi-city states those on the periphery, had power and opportunity to expand outward.
A total of 148 states are mentioned in the chronicles for this period, 128 of which were absorbed by the four largest states by the end of the period. Shortly after the royal family's move to Chengzhou, a hierarchical alliance system arose where the Zhou king would give the title of hegemon to the leader of the state with the most powerful military; this political framework retained the fēngjiàn power structure, though interstate and intrastate conflict led to disregard for feudal customs, respect for the Ji family, solidarity with other Zhou peoples. The king's prestige legitimized the military leaders of the states, helped mobilize collective defense of Zhou territory against "barbarians". Over the next two centuries, the four most powerful states—Qin, Jin, Qi and Chu—struggled for power; these multi-city states used the pretext of aid and protection to intervene and gain suzerainty over the smaller states. During this rapid expansion, interstate relations alternated between low-level warfare and complex diplomacy.
Duke Yin of Lu ascended the throne in 722 BC. From this year on the state of Lu kept an official chronicle, the Spring and Autumn Annals, which along with its commentaries is the standard source for the Spring and Autumn period. Corresponding chronicles are known to have existed in other states as well, but all but the Lu chronicle have been lost. In 717 BC, Duke Zhuang of Zheng went to the capital for an audience with King Huan. During the encounter the duke felt he was not trea
The Longxing Monastery or Longxing Temple is an ancient Buddhist monastery located near the town of Zhengding in Hebei Province, China 15 kilometers north of the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang. It has been referred to as the "First Temple south of Beijing"; the monastery was first built during the Sui Dynasty. Its original name was Longcang monastery. One of the oldest stelae on the grounds of the monastery, the "Longcangsi Stele", dates from the year the monastery's foundation. Much of it was reconstructed during the Song Dynasty. Following a common pattern, the monastery complex features a central axis along which a sequence of buildings and focal points is arranged; the first building is the Hall of the Heavenly Kings. At the opposite end of the axis is the Main Hall, a 33-meter-high wooden structure, which houses a bronze statue of Guan Yin; this bronze was built during the early years of the Song Dynasty. Inside the hall, a staircase leads around the statue. Other notable artworks of the monastery are a colorful wooden carving of Guanyin sitting in a grotto and statues of Buddha sitting on a lotus throne.
A unique piece of wood architecture from the Song Dynasty in the Longxing Monastery is the Pavilion of the Rotating Library, restored in the 20th century. The pavilion houses a rotating bookshelf, used to store holy texts and Buddhist sutras; this rotating book case archive dates back to the 12th century, is the oldest existent rotating repository of its kind. Today, the Longxing Monastery is open to the public as a museum. List of Buddhist temples Chinese Buddhism
The Qing dynasty the Great Qing, was the last imperial dynasty of China. It was established in 1636, ruled China proper from 1644 to 1912, it was succeeded by the Republic of China. The Qing multi-cultural empire lasted for three centuries and formed the territorial base for modern China, it was the fifth largest empire in world history. The dynasty was founded by the Manchu Aisin Gioro clan in Manchuria. In the late sixteenth century, Nurhaci a Ming Jianzhou Guard vassal, began organizing "Banners", military-social units that included Manchu and Mongol elements. Nurhaci formed the Manchu clans into a unified entity. By 1636, his son Hong Taiji began driving Ming forces out of the Liaodong Peninsula and declared a new dynasty, the Qing. In an unrelated development, peasant rebels led by Li Zicheng conquered the Ming capital, Beijing, in 1644. Rather than serve them, Ming general Wu Sangui made an alliance with the Manchus and opened the Shanhai Pass to the Banner Armies led by the regent Prince Dorgon.
He seized the capital. Resistance from the Southern Ming and the Revolt of the Three Feudatories led by Wu Sangui delayed the Qing conquest of China proper by nearly four decades; the conquest was only completed in 1683 under the Kangxi Emperor reign. The Ten Great Campaigns of the Qianlong Emperor from the 1750s to the 1790s extended Qing control into Inner Asia; the early Qing rulers maintained their Manchu customs, while their title was Emperor, they used "Bogd khaan" when dealing with the Mongols and they were patrons of Tibetan Buddhism. They governed using Confucian styles and institutions of bureaucratic government and retained the imperial examinations to recruit Han Chinese to work under or in parallel with Manchus, they adapted the ideals of the tributary system in dealing with neighboring territories. During the Qianlong Emperor reign the dynasty reached its apogee, but began its initial decline in prosperity and imperial control; the population rose to some 400 millions, but taxes and government revenues were fixed at a low rate guaranteeing eventual fiscal crisis.
Corruption set in, rebels tested government legitimacy, ruling elites failed to change their mindsets in the face of changes in the world system. Following the Opium Wars, European powers imposed "unequal treaties", free trade, extraterritoriality and treaty ports under foreign control; the Taiping Rebellion and the Dungan Revolt in Central Asia led to the deaths of some 20 million people, most of them due to famines caused by war. In spite of these disasters, in the Tongzhi Restoration of the 1860s, Han Chinese elites rallied to the defense of the Confucian order and the Qing rulers; the initial gains in the Self-Strengthening Movement were destroyed in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1895, in which the Qing lost its influence over Korea and the possession of Taiwan. New Armies were organized, but the ambitious Hundred Days' Reform of 1898 was turned back in a coup by the conservative Empress Dowager Cixi; when the Scramble for Concessions by foreign powers triggered the violently anti-foreign "Boxers", the foreign powers invaded China, Cixi declared war on them, leading to defeat and the flight of the Imperial Court to Xi'an.
After agreeing to sign the Boxer Protocol, the government initiated unprecedented fiscal and administrative reforms, including elections, a new legal code, abolition of the examination system. Sun Yat-sen and other revolutionaries competed with constitutional monarchists such as Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao to transform the Qing Empire into a modern nation. After the deaths of Cixi and the Guangxu Emperor in 1908, the hardline Manchu court alienated reformers and local elites alike by obstructing social reform; the Wuchang Uprising on 11 October 1911, led to the Xinhai Revolution. General Yuan Shikai negotiated the abdication of Puyi, the last emperor, on 12 February 1912. Nurhaci declared himself the "Bright Khan" of the Later Jin state in honor both of the 12th–13th century Jurchen Jin dynasty and of his Aisin Gioro clan, his son Hong Taiji renamed the dynasty Great Qing in 1636. There are competing explanations on the meaning of Qīng; the name may have been selected in reaction to the name of the Ming dynasty, which consists of the Chinese characters for "sun" and "moon", both associated with the fire element of the Chinese zodiacal system.
The character Qīng is associated with the water element. This association would justify the Qing conquest as defeat of fire by water; the water imagery of the new name may have had Buddhist overtones of perspicacity and enlightenment and connections with the Bodhisattva Manjusri. The Manchu name daicing, which sounds like a phonetic rendering of Dà Qīng or Dai Ching, may in fact have been derived from a Mongolian word "ᠳᠠᠢᠢᠴᠢᠨ, дайчин" that means "warrior". Daicing gurun may therefore have meant "warrior state", a pun, only intelligible to Manchu and Mongol people. In the part of the dynasty, however the Manchus themselves had forgotten this possible meaning. After conquering "China proper", the Manchus identified their state as "China", referred to it as Dulimbai Gurun in Manchu; the emperors equated the lands of the Qing state as "China" in both the Chinese and Manchu languages, defining China as a multi-ethnic state, rejecting the idea that "China" only meant Han areas. The Qing emperors proclaimed that bo
Hebei is a province of China in the North China region. The modern province was established in 1911 as Chihli Province, its one-character abbreviation is "冀", named after Ji Province, a Han dynasty province that included what is now southern Hebei. The name Hebei means "north of the river", referring to its location to the north of the Yellow River; the modern province "Chili Province" was formed in 1911, when the central government dissolved the central governed area of "Chihli", which means "Directly Ruled" until it was renamed as "Hebei" in 1928. Beijing and Tianjin Municipalities, which border each other, were carved out of Hebei; the province borders Liaoning to the northeast, Inner Mongolia to the north, Shanxi to the west, Henan to the south, Shandong to the southeast. Bohai Bay of the Bohai Sea is to the east. A small part of Hebei, Sanhe Exclave, consisting of Sanhe, Dachang Hui Autonomous County, Xianghe County, an exclave disjointed from the rest of the province, is wedged between the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin.
A common alternate name for Hebei is Yānzhào, after the state of Yan and state of Zhao that existed here during the Warring States period of early Chinese history. Plains in Hebei were the home of Peking man, a group of Homo erectus that lived in the area around 200,000 to 700,000 years ago. Neolithic findings at the prehistoric Beifudi site date back to 7000 and 8000 BC. During the Spring and Autumn period, Hebei was under the rule of the states of Yan in the north and Jin in the south. During this period, a nomadic people known as Dí invaded the plains of northern China and established Zhongshan in central Hebei. During the Warring States period, Jin was partitioned, much of its territory within Hebei went to Zhao; the Qin dynasty unified China in 221 BC. The Han dynasty ruled the area under two provinces, You Prefecture in the north and Ji Province in the south. At the end of the Han dynasty, most of Hebei came under the control of warlords Gongsun Zan in the north and Yuan Shao further south.
Hebei came under the rule of the Kingdom of Wei, established by the descendants of Cao Cao. After the invasions of northern nomadic peoples at the end of the Western Jin dynasty, the chaos of the Sixteen Kingdoms and the Northern and Southern dynasties ensued. Hebei in North China and right at the northern frontier, changed hands many times, being controlled at various points in history by the Later Zhao, Former Yan, Former Qin, Later Yan; the Northern Wei reunified northern China in 440, but split in half in 534, with Hebei coming under the eastern half, which had its capital at Ye, near modern Linzhang, Hebei. The Sui dynasty again unified China in 589. During the Tang dynasty, the area was formally designated "Hebei" for the first time. During the earlier part of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, Hebei was fragmented among several regimes, though it was unified by Li Cunxu, who established the Later Tang; the next dynasty, the Later Jin under Shi Jingtang, posthumously known as Emperor Gaozu of Later Jin, ceded much of modern-day northern Hebei to the Khitan Liao dynasty in the north.
During the Northern Song dynasty, the sixteen ceded prefectures continued to be an area of hot contention between Song China and the Liao dynasty. The Southern Song dynasty that came after abandoned all of North China, including Hebei, to the Jurchen Jin dynasty after the Jingkang Incident in 1127 of the Jin–Song wars; the Mongol Yuan dynasty did not establish Hebei as a province. Rather, the area was directly administrated by the Secretariat at capital Dadu; the Ming dynasty ruled Hebei as "Beizhili", meaning "Northern Directly Ruled", because the area contained and was directly ruled by the imperial capital, Beijing. When the Manchu Qing dynasty came to power in 1644, they abolished the southern counterpart, Hebei became known as "Zhili", or "Directly Ruled". During the Qing dynasty, the northern borders of Zhili extended deep into what is now Inner Mongolia, overlapped in jurisdiction with the leagues of Inner Mongolia; the Qing dynasty was replaced by the Republic of China. Within a few years, China descended with regional warlords vying for power.
Since Zhili was so close to Peking, the capital, it was the site of frequent wars, including the Zhiwan War, the First Zhifeng War and the Second Zhifeng War. With the success of the Northern Expedition, a successful campaign by the Kuomintang to end the rule of the warlords, the capital was moved from Peking to Nanking; as a result, the name of Zhili was changed to Hebei to reflect the fact that it had a standard provincial administration, that the capital had been relocated elsewhere. During the Second World War, Hebei was under the control of the Reorganized National Government of the Republic of Japan, a puppet state of Imperial Japan; the founding of the People's Republic of China saw several changes: the region around Chengde, previo
The Tang dynasty or the Tang Empire was an imperial dynasty of China spanning the 7th to 10th centuries. It was followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Historians regard the Tang as a high point in Chinese civilization, a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Tang territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivaled that of the Han dynasty; the Tang capital at Chang'an was the most populous city in the world in its day. The Lǐ family founded the dynasty, seizing power during the collapse of the Sui Empire; the dynasty was interrupted when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, proclaiming the Second Zhou dynasty and becoming the only Chinese empress regnant. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records estimated the population by number of registered households at about 50 million people, yet when the central government was breaking down and unable to compile an accurate census of the population in the 9th century, it is estimated that the population had grown by to about 80 million people.
With its large population base, the dynasty was able to raise professional and conscripted armies of hundreds of thousands of troops to contend with nomadic powers in dominating Inner Asia and the lucrative trade-routes along the Silk Road. Various kingdoms and states paid tribute to the Tang court, while the Tang conquered or subdued several regions which it indirectly controlled through a protectorate system. Besides political hegemony, the Tang exerted a powerful cultural influence over neighboring East Asian states such as those in Japan and Korea; the Tang dynasty was a period of progress and stability in the first half of the dynasty's rule, until the An Lushan Rebellion and the decline of central authority in the half of the dynasty. Like the previous Sui dynasty, the Tang dynasty maintained a civil-service system by recruiting scholar-officials through standardized examinations and recommendations to office; the rise of regional military governors known as jiedushi during the 9th century undermined this civil order.
Chinese culture further matured during the Tang era. Two of China's most famous poets, Li Bai and Du Fu, belonged to this age, as did many famous painters such as Han Gan, Zhang Xuan, Zhou Fang. Scholars of this period compiled a rich variety of historical literature, as well as encyclopedias and geographical works; the adoption of the title Tängri Qaghan by the Tang Emperor Taizong in addition to his title as emperor was eastern Asia's first "simultaneous kingship". Many notable innovations occurred including the development of woodblock printing. Buddhism became a major influence with native Chinese sects gaining prominence. However, in the 840s the Emperor Wuzong of Tang enacted policies to persecute Buddhism, which subsequently declined in influence. Although the dynasty and central government had gone into decline by the 9th century and culture continued to flourish; the weakened central government withdrew from managing the economy, but the country's mercantile affairs stayed intact and commercial trade continued to thrive regardless.
However, agrarian rebellions in the latter half of the 9th century resulted in damaging atrocities such as the Guangzhou massacre of 878–879. The Li family belonged to the northwest military aristocracy prevalent during the Sui dynasty and claimed to be paternally descended from the Daoist founder, Laozi the Han dynasty General Li Guang and Western Liang ruler Li Gao; this family was known as the Longxi Li lineage. The Tang Emperors had Xianbei maternal ancestry, from Emperor Gaozu of Tang's Xianbei mother, Duchess Dugu. Li Yuan was Duke of Tang and governor of Taiyuan, modern Shanxi, during the Sui dynasty's collapse, caused in part by the Sui failure to conquer the northern part of the Korean peninsula during the Goguryeo–Sui War, he had prestige and military experience, was a first cousin of Emperor Yang of Sui. Li Yuan rose in rebellion in 617, along with his son and his militant daughter Princess Pingyang, who raised and commanded her own troops. In winter 617, Li Yuan occupied Chang'an, relegated Emperor Yang to the position of Taishang Huang or retired emperor, acted as regent to the puppet child-emperor, Yang You.
On the news of Emperor Yang's murder by General Yuwen Huaji on June 18, 618, Li Yuan declared himself the emperor of a new dynasty, the Tang. Li Yuan, known as Emperor Gaozu of Tang, ruled until 626, when he was forcefully deposed by his son Li Shimin, the Prince of Qin. Li Shimin had commanded troops since the age of 18, had prowess with bow and arrow and lance and was known for his effective cavalry charges. Fighting a numerically superior army, he defeated Dou Jiande at Luoyang in the Battle of Hulao on May 28, 621. In a violent elimination of royal family due to fear of assassination, Li Shimin ambushed and killed two of his brothers, Li Yuanji and Crown prince Li Jiancheng, in the Xuanwu Gate Incident on July 2, 626. Shortly thereafter, his father abdicated in his favor and Li Shimin ascended the throne, he is conventionally known by his temple name Taizong. Although killing two brothers and deposing his father contradicted the Confucian value of filial piety, Taizong showed himself to be a capable leader who listened to the advice of the wisest members of his council.
In 628, Emperor Taizong held a Buddhist memorial service for the casualties of war, in 629 he ha