The Song dynasty was a period when the accumulation of new wealth and the spread of printing made educational resources more widely accessible outside the traditional heartland of Chinese civilization. Did these new economic and cultural conditions inspire new forms of government? Did they change the composition and behavior of the political elite?
Relying both on data from the China Biographical Database (CBDB) and those collected through direct research, this lecture will explore the geographic origins of Song civil officials, patterns of their bureaucratic assignments, and their kinship networks. It will show that over the course of the Song period, proximity to the capital as a catalyst to political success was supplanted by residence in more diverse zones of economic prosperity and high educational investment. It will also demonstrate that the practice of giving civil officials assignments all over the empire gave way to a preference for employing officials close to their homes.
In the midst of these changes, the political elite transformed from a capital-centered group into one which maintained ever closer connections to their native communities. This talk illustrates how a wide range of digital tools may be combined and lead to new findings in historical inquiry.
Free and Open to the Public