Public Lecture

The Resilience of the Song Dynasty

The Resilience of the Song Dynasty

28.10.2021 - 28.10.2021

16:45 (Paris time)

Université de Paris - Bâtiment Olympe de Gouges - Amphithéâtre Gouges 1 (1er étage) - 8, Place Paul Ricoeur – 75013 Paris


EURICS and Université de Paris


How were the major Chinese dynasties able to control so much territory and last for centuries? The Song dynasty (960-1279) offers a good case for examining these issues because it faced formidable challenges but found ways to overcome them. Rather than ask what Song rulers and statesmen did wrong, in this talk Patricia Ebrey focuses on what they did right. She takes two cases. The first is how succession crises were solved, since a dynasty cannot survive unless heirs can be placed on the throne. The second is how the state survived the Jurchen invasion, which came close to destroying it in 1127-1131. Issues that get attention include the alliance of the monarchy and the official class, statecraft innovations, and a willingness to relocate the capital. The survival of the Song resulted in a period of division in Chinese history, so Patricia Ebrey ends by posing the question of how much the Song mattered in the long course of Chinese history.

Call to Order and Introduction: Stéphane Feuillas (Université de Paris)

Speaker: Patricia Ebrey (University of Washington)


Patricia Ebrey is a historian of China who has worked on many topics over the last forty-plus years, with her primary interests in social and cultural history, especially of the Song dynasty. Best-known books are The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Women in the Sung Period (1993), The Cambridge Illustrated History of China (1996, 2010, 2022), and Emperor Huizong (2014). She recently retired as professor of history at the University of Washington but continues to serve as editor of the Journal of Chinese History. She is currently a EURICS research fellow from September 1st till October 30th, 2021.

Image credits: Mi Youren - Cloudy Mountains - China - Southern Song Dynasty (1127 - 1279) - The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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