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Redefining Good Government: Shifting Paradigms in Song Dynasty (960-1279) Discourse on "Fengjian"

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This article describes changing political visions of the Chinese literati during the two halves of the Song dynasty, as reflected in their discourse on the fengjian (classical enfeoffment) system of antiquity. In the aftermath of the An Lushan rebellion (755-763), a group of political thinkers criticized that system as an ungrounded historical anachronism. This idea gained currency among a majority of the Northern Song statesmen and literati who supported the centralization project of the founding emperors. With the fall of the Northern Song, the ancient fengjian doctrine resurfaced as a sustained constitutional discourse on government. Contesting the imperial vision of centralization and interventionism, Southern Song literati redefined good government for their time.

Affiliations: 1: McMaster University


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