Liu Song

Liu Song Dynasty

The Song Dynasty (宋朝, Pinyin: Sòng cháo Wade-Giles: Sung) (420479) was first of the four Southern Dynasties in China, followed by the Southern Qi Dynasty.

It was founded by Liu Yu 劉裕 (363–422), whose surname together with "Song" forms the most commonly used name for the dynasty, the Liu Song 劉宋. This appellation is used to distinguish it from a later dynasty of the same name, the Song Dynasty 宋 (9601279), which is much more famous and significant. The Liu Song is also at times referred to as the "Southern Song Dynasty" (南宋), as it is one of the Southern Dynasties of the early medieval period, i.e., one of those with its capital at Jiankang (modern Nanjing). However, the later Song Dynasty, after 1127, when it moved its capital south to Lin'an (modern Hangzhou, Zhejiang), is most commonly referred to as "Southern Song Dynasty" (南宋). Thus, for the shorter dynasty which is the subject of this article, "Liu Song" has become the term preferred in most contexts.

The Liu Song was a time when there was much internal turmoil. A number of emperors were incompetent and/or tyrannical, which at least partially led to many military revolts. These rulers include Liu Shao, Emperor Xiaowu, Emperor Qianfei, Emperor Ming, and Emperor Houfei. Emperor Ming was especially vicious, murdering a large number of his brothers, nephews, and other male relatives — many of them children. Such internal instability eventually led to the dynasty's destruction. However, its founder Emperor Wu was considered one of the greatest generals during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period, and the reign of its third emperor, Emperor Wen, is known for its political stability and capable administration, not only of its emperor but its strong and honest officials. This is known as the Reign of Yuanjia (425–453) and one of the relative golden ages for the Southern Dynasties.

Literature and Culture

Despite, and certainly to some extent because of, this bloodbath, the Liu Song produced much great poetry (shi 詩) and other poetic genres, notably the rhapsody, fu 賦. The imperial house sponsored many literary works, and many wrote themselves. The court of Emperor Wen was especially active in literary circles, with Liu supporting the compilation of a large collection of short prose anecdotes, A New Account of Tales of the World (Shishuo xinyu). The "Three Giants of Yuanjia," Bao Zhao 鮑照 (d.466), Xie Lingyun 謝霊運 (385–422), and Yan Yanzhi 顏延之 (384–456) are perhaps the most famous poets of the Song, each of them being credited as the originators of the three major literary trends to follow.

Scientists and astronomers were also active during periods of relative peace. Buddhism also began to be better understood and more widely practised at this time, and some officials such as Xie Lingyun, were Buddhists.

Table of Successions

Sovereigns of Liu Song Dynasty (420–479)
Posthumous Name Temple Name Family name and given names Period of Reigns Era names and their according range of years
Chinese convention: (Liu) or (Nan) Song + posthumous name +"dia". "Song Wudi was also referred to as Liu Yu.
Wu, ch. 武, py. wǔ Gaozu, 高祖 Liu Yu, ch. 劉裕 py. liú yù 420422 Yongchu (永初 yǒng chū) 420422
Shao, ch. 少, py. shaò Liu Yifu|劉義符 liú yì fú 423424 Jingping (景平 jǐng píng) 423424
Wen, ch. 文, py. wén Taizu 太祖 or Zhongzong 中宗 Liu Yilong|劉義隆 liú yì lóng 424453 Yuanjia (元嘉 yuán jiā) 424453
Yuanxiong, 元凶 Liu Shao|劉劭 liú shào 453 Taichu (太初 taì chū) 453
Xiaowu, ch.孝武, py. xiaò wǔ Shizu 世祖 Liu Jun|劉駿 liú jùn 453464 Xiaojian (孝建 xiaō jiàn) 454456
   Daming   (大明 dà míng)   457464
(Qian) Fei, ch. (前)廢, py. qián feì Liu Ziye|劉子業 liú zǐ yè 465 Yongguang (永光 yǒng guāng) 465
   Jinghe    (景和 jǐng hé)    465
Ming, ch. 明, py. míng Taizong 太宗 Liu Yu|劉彧 liú yù 465472 Taishi (泰始 taì shǐ) 465471
   Taiyu  (泰豫 taì yù) 472
{Hou} Fei, ch. (後)廢, py. (hoù) feì or Cangwu Wang ch. 蒼梧王, py. cāng wú wáng Liu Yu|劉昱 liú yù 473477 Yuanhui (元徽 yuán huī) 473477
Shun, ch. 順, py. shùn Liu Zhun|劉準 liú zhǔn 477479 Shengming (昇明 shēng míng) 477479



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