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Dynasty: China Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD)
Ruler: Emperor Shen Zong
Reigned: 1068 - 1085 AD
Denomination: Iron 2 Cash
Obverse: "yuan Feng tong bao" running c/wise. Running script.
Reverse: Blank
Reference: Hartil 16.254
Weight: 13.5 gms
Diameter: 34.3 mm

Northern Sung Dynasty

After the collapse of the Tang Empire in 907 AD, China plunged into chaos. This period of Chinese history is called the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period.

In the north there arose the five dynasties, all of whom tried but were unsuccessful at unifying China. They were the Later Liang (907 - 923), the Later Tang(923 - 936), the Later Jin (936 - 946), the Later Han (947 - 950) and the later Zhou (950 - 960). In the south the Ten Kingdoms, coexisted but warred with each other continually. In 960, General Zhao Kuangyin, an officer in the army of the Later Zhou Dynasty, was elected emperor by his disgruntled soldiers. He marched on the capital and deposed the last emperor of Later Zhou, establishing the Sung Dynasty, taking the title Taizu. The Sung Dynasty is initially known as the Northern Sung (969-1126 A.D.).

Sung Taizu died in 976 AD, having laid the foundations of a strong empire. He was succeeded by his son Taizong, who consolidated his father's gains and finally unified all of China.

The later Northern Sung era saw a flowering of the arts. Gunpowder was used in war for the first time, but usually only to frighten the horses of the enemy, and an accurate mechanical clock was said to have been built in Kaifeng.

However the military was never as strong as it was in previous dynasties, and Sung armies frequently lost in confrontations with Liao to the west. Due to their weakness, the Sung made an alliance with the Chin Dynasty (1122-1234) of northern Manchuria. After all their mutual enemies were defeated, the Chin turned on the Sung. This forced them to retreat and form a new capital in the South in 1135. This new (Southern) Sung dynasty far surpassed that of the old one. The economic and intellectual achievements increased while the former Sung dynasty to the north slowly decayed.

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