Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Ameck16, May 4, 2015.
The Song Dynasty followed a pacifist policy what would happen if it didn't.
It would die, I don't much of the specifics of Chinese history but they would obviously die. There is no turning the tide of the Mongols from the outside in, the Mongols have to break themselves and a militant Song will just bring more wrath upon themselves.
I think it's not right to call Song Dynasty policy 'pacifist', although it might seem like so without the proper context.
The previous dynasty, the Tang, devolved too much power to border garrisons, which eventually resulted in the latter becoming semi-independent and eventually contributing to the end of the Tang. That led to 50 years of 'anarchy' as both established and roving armies plundered the land in a bid to achieve dominance.
That's why Zhao Kuangyin, once he reunited the Song, wrested military power away from his local commanders and invested it in the central government, and sought to keep it that way with strong civilian oversight - even leadership - of armies. Obviously a different monarch could have done things differently, but to call Song Dynasty policy 'pacifist' is not correct - the Song wasn't opposed to military action, it was just very wary of giving military men too much independent power of their own.
In any case, a more militant Song would have ended quite badly, methinks. The Song had the 'misfortune' of ascending to power just as nomadic tribes to the north were beginning to coalesce into more organized polities. The Liao utilized the talents of Han refugees extensively to create its Liao state, a trend that would later be copied by the Western Xia and Jin. The Song, therefore, were confronted with powers that pretty much possessed both organizational ability and the military advantages traditionally given to nomadic hordes. Their societies were also more settled compared with what came before, which meant more extensive production capabilities, more military manpower, and so on.
As such, the Song would have had a much harder time subjugating them compared with the Tang Dynasty, with the most likely outcome being similar to OTL Taizong's campaign against the Liao (e.g. total defeat). Of course, military talents like Chai Rong or Yue Fei had the ability to achieve decisive victories against the Song's northern neighbors, but long-term the odds are stacked against the dynasty.
YOU know NOTHING about Chinese history.With the GDP Song has,if it was as martial as the Tang Dynasty,it would totally destroy the Jurchens,Tanguts and the Mongols.
A favourite quotation I've read about the Song Dynasty was basically this:It has the GDP(comparative) level of the United States,the military spending of Nazi Germany and the military prowess of Fascist Italy.
The odds were not stacked against the Song Dynasty. The problem with the Song Dynasty was that it prioritised civilian control over the military so much that they would generally place complete amateurs(bureaucrats) over the control of the army,who would sometimes try to command the army in battle miles away from the front as if they have invented radios.Successful generals,no matter how loyal they were,were executed or removed from power from baseless charges due the the bureaucrats' jealousy of military success.They generally see successful generals as competitors for power.Another problem the Song army had was that it's soldiers were so badly treated that morale and discipline was inevitably poor.This also meant that the brightest would serve as civil servants rather than join the military.A final problem is the so-called 'lack of cavalry'.Unlike what plenty of people have said,the Song Dynasty,while it has less horses than the Tang Dynasty,could have still formed reasonably large cavalry forces(smaller than the Tang of course),the problem however was that instead of making an independent cavalry force,they tend to intersperse their cavalry all over the army,mixing them with infantry(a bit like what the French did with their tanks during WWII). Organizationally,the entire Song army was a complete mess.
If the Song Dynasty wanted to prevent a military revolt,they could have used other means like separating military command from civil command over provinces.Instead,they used the dumbest methods possible.
The problem of the song was never economic. They always had the economic advantage over the Mongols. The question is if they are capable of fielding same quality of army, organization and leadership/generalship as the Mongols in the same time period. Assuming the Mongols field their best not unlike when they fought egypt.
The same can be said if you go further west to Iran. They would have economic advantage over Mongolia heartland but they weren't capable of beating the likes of subutai, etc.
So you tell me if the Song had genius level generals to stop the Mongols in the same time period.
I never said the problem was economical.I just said that they fail at translating their economic might into military might.They just weren't doing things efficiently.
The Mongols aren't invincible you know?If the Song Chinese were actually competent and got a well-trained large army to resist the Mongols,the Mongols won't be able to conquer China easily,if at all.In real life,it took decades for them to actually conquer China,one of the Khagans were even killed by the Song military.Even though Subutai also participated in some of the campaigns against the Song, Song only fell decades after he died.By the time Song actually fell,it was decades after the Mongols attempted their conquest.Take note that all of this was against a poorly organized,motivated and trained army that has very little cavalry and competent leadership.Most of the time,the civilian leadership in the capital basically said screw the army and had the army poorly supplied and paid.To prevent coups and mutinies,the best and brightest were discouraged from joining the military,and in the event that a genius level general like Yufei did arise,they would generally have them killed or dismissed from service due to jealousy.
Also take note that if the Song Dynasty was actually competent,it would have conquered Western Xia(which would have given them better cavalry) and reclaimed the Sixteen Prefectures of Yan and Yun(which would have provided a natural barrier against aggression from nomad invasions from the north).
the Mongols were the best in their craft of time period. By the time Song faced the Mongols, they weren't only facing Mongols and Mongolian resources.
the problem still lies on leadership. So I go back again. If you put more money in the military, how sure are you that the Song are capable of outsmarting the Mongols or even outmaneuver the Mongols?
This isn't the age of industrialization wherein logistics need more complicate skill set to produce weapons, That's why I ask you again, did song China produce a brilliant general in the time period? where the song more unified than Mongols? Meaning where there any court problems nor peasant problems in the song? Where they just fighting the resources of just Mongolia or the rest of the known world?
if the song goes on the offensive, can the song outmanuever the Mongol army or beat armies under the Mongol generals of time period?
I think the point he made was pretty clear from the outset: the Song military had poor leadership because the civilian government deliberately ensured that its leaders would be poor and remove the good ones because of the threat of a military coup, or feudal revolt like during the Tang era.
Chai Rong and Yue Fei are two examples.
We are talking about China here.The population of China outweighs the Mongol population drastically,the chance of getting a military genius is much higher than in Mongolia.If being a military was as respectable as it was back in the days of the Tang Dynasty,the best and brightest would have flocked to join the military instead of being a useless scholar-bureaucrat who knows only theory and not anything practical.
If it has the necessary military equipment(including horses),numbers and competent commanders,yes,Chinese militaries can definitely beat nomads like the Mongols.
Even if the Song commanders were less gifted than the Mongolian ones,but sufficiently competent,with sufficient numbers,any genius can be defeated,e.g. how Napoleon got defeated.
Well shit, if I know nothing have you any sources from which to learn?
Sorry,but what I've read is largely in Chinese.
I think you are a little bit unfair to the Song Dynasty.
What I mean... You see the Mongols defeated and conquered hundreds and hundreds countries and nations from Hungary and Poland to Korea and Vietnam. But that doesn't mean that all these countries happen to have bad armies headed by fools, organizational mess and things like that.
That's not it.
These all were good strong capable civilizations, but...
... but you cannot compare them with the Mongols military speaking.
I mean you and I and majority of the members of this forum are complete idiots if you compare us with Albert Einstein. So if we compete in a scientific test against Albert Einstein we are destined to loose. But that doesn't make all us dumb, you know.
So the Song had a good army and if there had been no Chengiz Khan the Song army would have stood against any invasion. For me there is no doubt about it.
But against the Mongols they had no chance (till the Mongols were more or less united).
Mmm. The Ming were also much more populous, but they had trouble with nomads as well. The Tang and Qing seem to be exceptions, and the Qing had a lot of advantages the Tang didn't...
What is your claim that the Song had a good army?This was an army that failed to defeat Tanguts and Jurchens.This was an army so miserable that it failed to defeat any of it's opponents(small exceptions at time) unless they outnumbered any of their opponents by several times their size.For all the reasons myself and others have listed,it was not a good army,but even then it withstood Ghenghis Khan and all his other 'geniuses' for decades.What do you think will actually happen if this army was to be properly trained,equipped,led and organised?Besides that, the Mongols most certainly did not and could not conquer Vietnam.They failed there.The Mameluks destroyed the Mongol army.The Mongols were far from invincible.
Conditions were different.The Ming Dynasty was much poorer than the Song.The Ming Dynasty was practically bankrupt,fighting what essentially became a civil against peasants and suffered heavily from the disloyalty of soldiers and generals who tends to defect en masse to serve Manchu/Jurchens armies.
The early Ming dynasty wasn't bankrupt, and it failed repeatdedly.
Strategically,it was more of a standstill than any significant losses.You are talking about the Battle of Tumu right?That was a case with major incompetence in part of the Ming.As long as a Chinese army doesn't fight the nomads in the steppe,it's hard for a sizeable army to be defeated if under proper leadership with good training,equipment and supply.
But it also didn't break the Mongols, and was ultimately defeated by other nomads. Well, sort of nomads; the Qing were pretty sophisticated. In any case, they didn't rival the Han and Tang with great oasis garrisons stretching to Persia...
Actually,they broke the Mongols bad,at least initially.Karakorum and Shandu were both sacked.The authority of the Ghenghisids went to oblivion and their role was usurped by the Oirats.No Chinese Empire actually retained permanent control over the steppes.It's difficult to do that.A Chinese army sent to pacify the steppes would have easily been cut off from supply by more mobile nomad armies and that's it for them.Even the Tang Dynasty and Han Dynasty,despite their initial triumph over the Turks and the Xiongnu,eventually lose control of the steppes due the the tribes' frequent rebellions.
As for why the Ming Dynasty didn't try to control the western areas,ask Zhu Yuanzhang.The guy believed that only countries/tribes/states to the north are a threat to his dynasty and made no effort to conquer other places.He even went as far as to instruct his descendants not to ever try and conquer certain countries like Japan.When the Ming Dynasty started to get raided by Wokou pirates,a suggestion was made to invade Japan,but all plans were terminated immediately after Zhu Yuanzhang's instruction was raised before the contemporary emperor.
Half of Chinese population. Mongols owned half of China when they started fighting the song and owned almost the rest of the known world.
Where do you think those siege weapons the broke down the chinese walls come from? Half a world away or from grazing grounds. Where the Mongol engineers purely Mongols or had chinese engineers as well?
The song were fighting a mirror of themselves when it comes to resoures.
You are talking apples and oranges. anyone can be defeated if given the right situation like how egyp beat the Mongols at their peak. the question is if the song is able to put up the same capabilities to defeat the Mongols at specific point in time. Not any point in time, at that specific point in time considering there were internal problems in the song at that time.
If for example the song beat the Mongol armies at their gates, what happens if the Mongol armies in Europe and iran called? Can the song beat them as well in Iran and in Europe? That is the question I'm putting because to beat the Mongols you have to beat them at every ground they currently hold or every army spread far and wide.
If the Song Dynasty had a competent army,the Mongols wouldn't be owning half of China to begin with.They lost over half of China to the Jurchens and the Tanguts due to their incompetence.They were so pathetic that they couldn't even conquer land from the Khitans who were at the same time getting badly mowed by the Jurchens.If the Song Dynasty was at least competent,they'd be able to reconquer the Sixteen Prefectures of Yan and Yun from the Khitans,and from there get a natural boundary to easily defend against northern nomads.There's also the fact that if they didn't lose half of China to the Jurchens and the Tanguts the Mongols wouldn't be able to get any of their engineers.We are not talking about the Song suddenly becoming militarized when the Mongols invaded,but when they first began the dynasty.
Even if we are talking about what would happen when they militarized when the Mongols started invading,chances are that with reforms they could have weathered the Mongol storm.Southern China isn't really particularly favorable to horses.There's also the fact that the Song did resist for decades successfully in the south,and that's with a leadership and army that's widely known as incompetent.Just think about the possibilities of what would happen if the leadership was in fact competent.
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