Factional Conflict in Late Northern Song China


Between 1044 and 1104, ideological disputes divided China’s sociopolitical elite, who organized into factions battling for control of the imperial government. Advocates and adversaries of state reform forged bureaucratic coalitions to implement their policy agendas and to promote like-minded colleagues. During this period, three emperors and two regents in turn patronized a new bureaucratic coalition that overturned the preceding ministerial regime and its policies. This ideological and political conflict escalated with every monarchical transition in a widening circle of retribution that began with limited purges and ended with extensive blacklists of the opposition. Divided by a Common Language: Factional Conflict in Late Northern Song China, by Ari Daniel Levine, is the first English-language study to approach the political history of the late Northern Song in its entirety and the first to engage the issue of factionalism in Song political culture.

“This study is important for the clarity with which it presents a critical period in the development of Chinese imperial history and government. It is entirely original, well written, and the scholarship is very sound. Levine is deeply grounded in the texts and debates he is examining, and his command of the language of the sources, both primary and secondary, is excellent. Divided by a Common Language provides a significant contribution to Chinese, and especially Song, historiography.” —Hugh P. Clark, Ursinus College

September 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3266-7 / $55.00 (CLOTH)