Song Dynasty | Definition, Dates, & Facts

Latest Applications Open 2023:



From 960 to 1279, the Song dynasty ruled over Ancient China. It came after the time of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. When the Song dynasty ruled over ancient China, it was the most developed civilisation on earth. Although it is renowned for its numerous innovations and advancements, it finally fell and was subjugated by the savage Mongols to the north.

The Northern Song and the Southern Song make up the majority of the Song dynasty’s history.

Northern Song (960 to 1127)

Zhao Kuangyin, a general, started the Song dynasty. According to legend, Zhao was begged by his warriors to don the yellow robe since they no longer desired to serve the reigning emperor. After turning it down three times, he eventually accepted the robe and ascended to the throne as Taizu, founding the Song dynasty.

Much of China was united under the leadership of Emperor Taizu. But he also chose professors to command his army. As a result, his army was weaker, which ultimately led to the Jin peoples taking control of the Northern Song.

Southern Song (1127 to 1279)

The last emperor’s son fled to the south after the Jin captured the Northern Song. In southern China, he founded the Southern Song. The Jin received an annual fee from the Southern Song in exchange for keeping the peace. The Southern Song joined up with the Mongols to conquer the Jin after paying the Jin for more than 100 years. But this strategy didn’t work out. After defeating the Jin, the Mongols turned their attention to the Southern Song and occupied the entirety of China.

Technology and Inventions

The Song dynasty ruled during a time of significant development and advancement. During this time, the magnetic compass, moveable type, and gunpowder were among the most significant inventions in the history of Ancient China.

The development of moveable type made it possible to publish books and documents in large quantities. Some well-known novels were published in millions of copies, making them accessible to everyone. Numerous other items were printed on paper, such as calendars, playing cards, and paper money.

Numerous advancements in navigation and watercraft were made possible by the magnetic compass. The first standing navy in human history was during the Song dynasty. They constructed massive vessels exceeding 300 feet in length with waterproof chambers and catapults on board that could launch enormous rocks at their foes.

On combat, gunpowder has a long-lasting effect. The Song discovered ways to employ gunpowder in battle as well as for pyrotechnics. Different explosives, rockets, and fire arrows were created by them. Unluckily for the Song, the Mongols stole their designs and used these weapons against them in the end.


The Song dynasty saw a flourishing of the arts. With the development of movable type and the wide distribution of books, poetry and literature gained particularly widespread popularity. The theatrical arts and painting were also highly well-liked. Education was highly valued, and many of the nobles had excellent educations.

Tea and Rice

Rice only became such a significant crop for the Chinese during the Song era. Rice that grows quickly and is resistant to drought was introduced to southern China. With the help of this novel rice, farmers were able to double their yield by having two harvests in a single year.

Emperor Huizong, a tea enthusiast, worked hard to spread the popularity of tea throughout this period as well. In his renowned “Treatise on Tea,” he elaborated on the tea ritual.

Conquered by the Mongols

When they joined forces with the Mongols to fight their longtime adversaries, the Jin, the Song dynasty came to an end. While aiding in their conquest of the Jin, the Mongols later turned against the Song. Kublai Khan, the Mongol leader, ruled over all of China and founded the Yuan dynasty, his own empire.

Facts worth knowing about the Song Dynasty

Hangzhou served as the Southern Song’s capital. With a population of well over a million, it was the largest city in the world at the time.

The practice of women’s foot binding spread widely during the Song period.

Yue Fei, one of the most renowned warriors and generals of Ancient China, lived at this time. The emperor executed him because he was envious of his fan base.

The lofty pagodas that are a hallmark of Song era architecture are renowned worldwide.

You cannot copy content of this page