Song Chinese

Historical Overview Section

The Song Dynasty is divided into two distinct periods: the Northern Song and Southern Song. During the Northern Song (960-1127), the Song capital was in the northern city of Bianjing (now Kaifeng) and the dynasty controlled most of inner China. The Southern Song (1127-1279) refers to the period after the Song lost control of northern China to the Jin Dynasty. During this time, the Song court retreated south of the Yangtze River and established their capital at Lin'an (now Hangzhou).

The Song military was chiefly organized to ensure that the army could not threaten Imperial control, often at the expense of effectiveness in war. Northern Song's Military Council operated under a Chancellor, who had no control over the imperial army. The imperial army was divided among three marshals, each independently responsible to the Emperor. Since the Emperor rarely led campaigns personally, Song forces lacked unity of command. The imperial court often believed that successful generals endangered royal authority, and relieved or even executed them! Military strategy and military training were treated as science that could be studied and perfected; soldiers were tested in their skills of using weaponry and in their athletic ability. The troops were trained to follow signal standards to advance at the waving of banners and to halt at the sound of bells and drums, making them "drilled".

At its height, the Song military claimed some one million soldiers (and the Emperor had a Mini-me too!) divided into platoons of 50 troops, companies made of two platoons, and one battalion composed of 500 soldiers. Crossbowmen were often separated from the regular infantry and placed in their own units as they were prized combatants, providing effective missile fire against cavalry charges. The government was eager to sponsor new crossbow designs that could shoot at longer ranges, while crossbowmen were also valuable when employed as long-range snipers. Song cavalry employed a slew of different weapons, including halberds, swords, bows, spears, and 'fire lances' that discharged a gunpowder blast of flame and shrapnel. In a battle on January 23, 971, a mass of arrow fire from Song Dynasty crossbowmen decimated the war elephant corps of the Late Tang to Five Dynasties Chinese Southern Han army. This defeat not only marked the eventual submission of the Late Tang to Five Dynasties Chinese Southern Han to the Song Dynasty, but also the last instance where a war elephant corps was employed as a regular division within a Chinese army. To repel the Jin, and later the Mongol Conquest, the Song also 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. Mongke Khan, the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, died in 1259 while besieging a city in Chongqing. His younger brother Kublai Khan was proclaimed the new Great Khan, though his claim was only partially recognised 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. China was once again unified, under the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

The popular TV series (an Classic of Chinese Literature of course) The Water Margin records the exploits of a band of outlaws in Song China. Not sure how useful it is for uniform guides though.

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Sample army lists for this army
BHGS Challenge 2019
1 Heavy Art
4 Mixed XB/Sw
1 LH Bw Elite
1 LF Bow
1 LF Gun
2 XBow Elite Pavise
1 MCv Bow
1 LH Bow Elite
1 LF Gun
1 LF Bow
1 Bowmen
1 LH Bow (O)
1 Heavy Art
1 MCv Bow
1 LH Bow
4 Mixed XBow/Sw
1 LF Gun
1 LF XBow

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