Southern Song Dynasty , 1127–1279

Although weakened and pushed south along the Huai River, the Southern Song Dynasty found new ways to bolster its strong economy and defend its own state against the jin dynasty.

They had able military officers such as Yue Fei and Han Shizhong. The government sponsored massive shipbuilding and harbor improvement projects, and the construction of beacons and seaport warehouses in order to support maritime trade abroad and the major international seaports, such as Quanzhou, Guangzhou, and Xiamen , that were sustaining China's commerce. To protect and support the multitudes of ships sailing for maritime interests into the waters of the East China Sea and Yellow Sea (to Korea and Japan), Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea, it was a necessity to establish an official standing navy. The song dynasty therefore established China's first permanent navy in 1132, with a headquarters at Dinghai.

With a permanent navy, the Song were prepared to face the naval forces of the Jin on the Yangtze River in 1161, in the Battle of Tangdao and the Battle of Caishi. During these battles the Song navy employed swift paddle wheel driven naval vessels armed with trebuchet catapults aboard the decks that launched gunpowder bombs. Although the Jin forces boasted 70,000 men on 600 warships, and the Song forces only 3,000 men on 120 warships, the song dynasty forces were victorious in both battles due to the destructive power of the bombs and the rapid assaults by paddle wheel ships. The strength of the navy was heavily emphasized after that. A century after the navy was founded it had grown in size to 52,000 fighting marines.

The Song government confiscated portions of land owned by the landed gentry in order to raise revenue for these projects, an act which caused dissension and loss of loyalty amongst leading members of Song society but did not stop the Song's defensive preparations. Financial matters were made worse by the fact that many wealthy, land-owning families—some which had officials working for the government—used their social connections with those in office in order to obtain tax-exempt status.

Although the song dynasty was able to hold back the Jin, a new considerable foe came to power over the steppe, deserts, and plains north of the jin dynasty. The Mongols, led by Genghis Khan (r. 1206–1227), initially invaded the jin dynasty in 1205 and 1209, engaging in large raids across its borders, and in 1211 an enormous Mongol army was assembled to invade the Jin. The jin dynasty was forced to submit and pay tribute to the Mongols as vassals; when the Jin suddenly moved their capital city from Beijing to Kaifeng, the Mongols saw this as a revolt.

Under the leadership of Ögedei Khan (r. 1229–1241), both the jin dynasty and Western xia dynasty were conquered by Mongol forces. The Mongols also invaded Korea, the Abbasid Caliphate of the Middle East, and Kievan Rus'. The Mongols were at one time allied with the Song, but this alliance was broken when the Song recaptured the former imperial capitals of Kaifeng, Luoyang and Chang'an at the collapse of the jin dynasty. The Mongol leader Möngke Khan led a campaign against the Song in 1259, but died on August 11 during the Battle of Fishing Town in Chongqing .

Möngke's death and the ensuing succession crisis prompted Hulagu Khan to pull the bulk of the Mongol forces out of the Middle East where they were poised to fight the Egyptian Mamluks (who defeated the Mongols at Ain Jalut). Although Hulagu was allied with Kublai Khan, his forces were unable to help in the assault against the Song, due to Hulagu's war with the golden horde.

Kublai continued the assault against the Song, gaining a temporary foothold on the southern Banks of the Yangtze. Kublai made preparations to take Ezhou, but a pending civil war with his brother Ariq Böke—a rival claimant to the Mongol Khaganate—forced Kublai to move with the bulk of his forces back north. In Kublai's absence, the Song forces were ordered by Chancellor Jia Sidao to make an opportune assault, and succeeded in pushing the Mongol forces back to the northern Banks of the Yangzi. There were minor border skirmishes until 1265, when Kublai won a significant battle in Sichuan . From 1268 to 1273, Kublai blockaded the Yangzi River with his navy and besieged Xiangyang, the last obstacle in his way to invading the rich Yangzi River basin.

Kublai officially declared the creation of the yuan dynasty in 1271. In 1275, a Song force of 130,000 troops under Chancellor Jia Sidao was defeated by Kublai's newly appointed commander-in-chief, general Bayan. By 1276, most of the Song territory had been captured by Yuan forces. In the Battle of Yamen on the Pearl River Delta in 1279, the Yuan army, led by the general Zhang Hongfan, finally crushed the Song resistance. The last remaining ruler, the 8-year-old emperor Emperor Huaizong of Song committed suicide, along with Prime Minister Lu Xiufu and 800 members of the royal clan. On Kublai's orders, carried out by his commander Bayan, the rest of the former imperial family of Song were unharmed; the deposed Emperor Gong was demoted, being given the title 'Duke of Ying', but was eventually exiled to Tibet where he took up a monastic life.

Southern Song Dynasty Emperors

temple names

posthumous names

birth names

period / reigns

era name

gaozong (高宗 gāozōng)

shòumìng zhōngxīng quángōng zhìdé shèngshén wǔwén zhāorén xiànxiào huángdì

zhao gou (趙構 zhào gòu)


jingyan (靖炎 jìngyán) 1127–1130

shaoxing (紹興 shàoxīng) 1131–1162

xiaozong (孝宗 xiàozōng)

shàotǒng tóngdào guāndé zhāogōng zhéwén shénwǔ míngshèng chéngxiào huángdì

zhao shen (趙昚 zhào shèn)


longxing (隆興 lóngxīng) 1163–1164

qiandao (乾道 qiándào) 1165–1173 chunxi (淳熙 chúnxī) 1174–1189

guangzong (光宗 guāngzōng)

xúndào xiànrén mínggōng màodé wēnshùn wǔshèng zhécí xiào huángdì

zhao dun (趙惇 zhào dūn)


shaoxi (紹熙 shàoxī) 1190–1194

ningzong (寧宗 níngzōng)

fǎtiān bèidào chúnquán démào gōngrén wénzhé wǔshèng ruìgōng xiào huángdì

zhao kuo (趙擴 zhào kuó)


qingyuan (慶元 qìngyuán) 1195–1200

jiatai (嘉泰 jiātài)

kaixi (開禧 kāixǐ)

jiading (嘉定 jiādìng) 1208–1224

lizong (理宗 lǐzōng)

jiàndào bèidé dàgōng fùxīng lièwén rénwǔ shèngmíng ān xiào huángdì

zhao yun (趙昀 zhào yún)


baoqing (寶慶 bǎoqìng) 1225–1227

shaoding (紹定 shàodìng)

duanping (端平 duānpíng) 1234–1236

jiaxi (嘉熙 jiāxī)

chunyou (淳祐 chúnyòu) 1241–1252

baoyou (寶祐 bǎoyòu) 1253–1258

kaiqing (開慶 kāiqìng)

jingding (景定 jǐngdìng) 1260–1264

duzong (度宗 dùzōng)

duānwén míngwǔ jǐng xiào huángdì

zhao qi
(趙祺 zhào qí)


xianchun (咸淳 xiánchún) 1265–1274

gongzong (恭宗 gōngzōng)

xiàogōng yìshèng huángdì

zhao xian (趙顯 zhào xiǎn)


deyou (德祐 déyòu) 1275–1276

duanzong (端宗 duānxōng)

yùwén zhāowǔ mǐn xiào

zhao shi (趙昰 zhào shì)


jingyan (景炎 jǐngyán) 1276–1278

huaizong (懷宗)

gōng wén níng wǔ āi xiào huángdì

zhao bing (趙昺 zhào bǐng)


xiangxing (祥興 xiángxīng) 1278–1279

Site Search


Random Articals


Join Our Newsletter



Send This Page to Friend

To Email this page to a friend

1. Use Your Default Email Client
2. Use Our Recommend Page

Online Contact



+ 86 158 00 323 707

+ 86 158 00 323 707

Go back to the previous page

Missing / Incorrect

If you like this article please feel free to share it to your favorite site listed below:

Choose A Style:

Font Family


Courier New

Sans MS

New Roman



Font Colors
black blue green purple red white
Font Size
Site Options Help | Admin Login
control panel