Comparing the Tang and Song Dynasties

9 September 2016

The Tang and Song Dynasties in Ancient China were similar, yet different. They had varying aspects politically, socially, and economically. They varied the most politically, while they were very similar economically. Socially, they did not have opposite views or actions, but different views. Although they both controlled roughly the same areas in Ancient China, the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty had different political, economic, and social views. The Tang and Song Dynasties had different political views.

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As mentioned before, this is where they disagreed the most. The lone comparison between the two was that both dynasties were hereditary, meaning that there was a line of succession to the throne. However, the Tang Dynasty was divided into over 300 subdivisions, or prefectures, while the Song was centralized. The emperors that unified the Song were Emperors Taizong and Taizu. Also, the Tang political system had four forms: Lu, Ling, Ge, and Shi. Lastly, the Song Dynasty fell due to political corruption and outside invaders, things that the Tang Dynasty avoided.

This is how the two dynasties had different political aspects. The Tang and Song Dynasties had fairly similar economic policies. The lone difference was that during the Tang Dynasty, trade occurred in the city, while in the Song Dynasty, there was only trade with India along the Silk Road. In terms of similarities, they both utilized the Grand Canal for trade and transport. They both had a strong military and made and utilized gunpowder, and they contained an elaborate tax system, which featured the use of paper money. Lastly, both dynasties had a well-educated bureaucracy.

This was because both dynasties required civil service exams for people trying to enter the bureaucracy. This ensured that the bureaucracy would be composed of knowledgeable citizens. This is how the economic policies of the Tang and Song Dynasties compared. The Tang and Song Dynasties had similar social aspects. The Tang Dynasty is where Buddhism first started to be persecuted, and the Song Dynasty kept it going. The philosophers during the Song Dynasty therefore took further interest in Confucianism. In the Tang Dynasty, many monasteries were built, and many monks and nuns were employed.

Many Buddhist sculptures, reaching two or three stories made of bronze, were then destroyed due to a coin shortage. This really started the anti-Buddhist backlash. In both dynasties, religion played a big factor in people’s lives, and there were many public festivals and events. Both dynasties also had many advances in astronomy, literature, medicine, and painting. However, one difference was the social classes; In the Song Dynasty, most people were even in terms of class, including women, while in the Tang Dynasty, the social rankings went as followed: The emperor, eunuchs, clergy, peasants, artisans, traders, and slaves.

This was how the Tang and Song Dynasties matched up in terms of their social aspects. The Tang and Song Dynasties had differing views when it came to their political, economic, and social views. They had radically different political views, very similar economic views, and fairly similar social views. Major similarities included the civil service exam and the use of the Silk Road and the Grand Canal. Major differences included the social classes and the structure of the government, in terms of it being unified or scattered.

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