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"The Reach of the Military: Tang" Topic


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463 hits since 28 Jun 2022
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2022 8:07 p.m. PST

"During the Tang period (618907), war and the preparations for war significantly influenced the shape of the Chinese empire and the lives of its people. That influence can be found on at least four levels. The first of these is the state's demand for military service, which imposed a variety of burdens upon a significant percentage of the population. The second is the state's demand for cash, fabric, grain and other financial and material resources to meet the needs of the military establishment, a demand that affected the whole of the taxpaying population. Third is the loss and destruction caused directly by warfare, especially massive internal conflicts such as the rebellions of An Lushan and Huang Chao. Fourth, and most far-reaching and diffuse, is the range of cultural reactions to military affairs, from the emphatic embrace of martial attitudes and behaviors to their emphatic rejection.

Although most Chinese dynasties were established through the application of armed force, it has been suggested that during the Tang dynasty (618907) the role of the military loomed especially large.


1 In the early Tang, this martial aspect was on display in a bellicose expansionism that played out in military expeditions as far afield as Mongolia, Turkestan, the Korean Peninsula, and the Tibetan borderlands. In the dynasty's second half, it took the form of chronic warlordism in the interior of the empire as provincial military commanders asserted varying degrees of autonomy from the imperial court. Setting aside the probably hopeless task of defending the comparative claim that the Tang was somehow more martial than China's other major dynasties against the assaults of Song and Ming partisans, the purpose of the current essay is to assay the extent of military influences during the Tang period. It is divided into four sections, which will survey in turn 1) the state's demand for military service, 2) its extraction of financial and other resources needed for the support of the military, 3) the manifold damage done by military activities in times of peace as well as war, and 4) the influence of the military on Tang society and culture. The picture that emerges is, perhaps surprisingly, a mixed one. Although the impact of war and the preparations for war on the shape of the empire and the lives of its people was certainly substantial, it was nevertheless far from universal. There were long periods when most of the Tang territories were at peace and the burden of military service, taxation, and other forms of resource extraction was relatively light…"


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