Military Deterrence in History: A Pilot Cross-Historical Survey

By Raoul Naroll; Vern L. Bullough et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
DETERRENCE FAILURE, DEFENSE SUCCESS: SUNG CHINA VERSUS THE TANGUTS
1076-1085 : Conspicuous State, Sung China; Conspicuous Rival, the Tanguts.

PART 1: SKETCH OF HISTORICAL SETTING (CHIEFLY AFTER DE MAILLA)

THE LEADING EVENT of the decade from 1076 to 1085 in China was the inability to wrest from the Tanguts lands which the Tanguts (also referred to as Tartars and Hsia) had taken earlier from China during the Sung dynasty. The Tanguts' eastern neighbors, the Khitans, had already been harassing the borders of the Chinese empire when the Tanguts of northern Kansu also began their raids on Sung China earlier in the eleventh century. The Tanguts had begun to make their presence known to the Sung in 1040 when the Tangut ruler sent the emperor a request that he be recognized as the emperor of the Hsia. Since the emperor considered himself the ruler of everything under heaven he was reluctant for anyone else to use the title emperor. The Tanguts attacked and defeated the Chinese forces, and in 1043 the emperor decided to conciliate them; he promised them a yearly payment of valuables: one hundred thousand pieces of silk and three hundred thousand pounds of tea. In 1044 the Tanguts defeated the Khitans as well.

The economy in China during the Sung dynasty was weakened by the cost of defending their territory against the barbarians. At this time a social reformer, Wang An-shih, tried to improve social conditions in China. He was concerned not only with the economic situation but also with threats of invasion from the Khitans and Tanguts. He instituted reforms which lowered the interest rate to farmers, regulated crop prices, lowered the tax on

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