The Song Dynasty (960-1276) was an economic and cultural flourishing period in ancient Chinese history. The Song Dynasty achieved a number of achievements and had a profound impact on subsequent generations. The Song Dynasty is not only new peak of traditional economy, but also most modern dynasty in antiquity. The commodity economy of Song Dynasty was highly developed, level of urbanization reached its highest level in antiquity, world's earliest banknotes appeared, and trade taxation became country's main source of finance. Under such circumstances, Song Dynasty's policy of emphasizing agriculture and suppressing business weakened, and situation of industrial and commercial people improved. Historians call them "commercial revolutions".
Politically, Song Dynasty divided local powers in military, financial and administrative aspects, which led to fact that settlements lost power of separate regimes. Since then, centralization has finally defeated individual regimes, and China has entered an era of stability and unity. . Through decentralization of power, Northern Song dynasty limited power of prime minister and strengthened imperial power. The Ming and Qing dynasties continued this trend and continued to increase centralization of power, which eventually made Chinese society a stable society. Thus, Song Dynasty has status of a turning point in history. Historians have "The Theory of Change of Tang and Song Dynasty" to discuss this topic.
So, at what stage did other civilizations simultaneously develop? In Western Asia, Arab empire collapsed, and Turkic peoples of Central Asia seized opportunity to rush into Western Asia and establish such empires as Khorezm and Seljuk empires. This indicates that a great empire may arise in future, founded by Turkic peoples in Western Asia. History has proven that this empire is Ottoman Empire.
In South Asia, traditional Indian civilization declined, and Islamic forces from Western Asia poured into Indian subcontinent and established Delhi Sultanate (1206–1526). The entry of Islamic forces changed religious, cultural and ethnic structure of India, and later Mughal Empire was a further development of this trend.
It can be seen that traditional Asian civilizations began to undergo a shift, and all these shifts are associated with collapse of order of old civilizations. These shifts laid foundation for a model for development of Asian region in next hundreds of years, which affects present and even today. At same time, Europe is also quietly undergoing changes, and these changes will affect whole world after 16th century, that's what needs to be paid most attention.
The Asian continent during Southern Song Dynasty
In 476, Western Roman Empire fell, marking entry of Europe into Dark Ages. In this era, European society returned to feudal era, that is, to era of enfeoffment. In their place came princes, great and small, and Pope, who stood above princes. The prosperous economy of past is gone forever, and Western Europe has returned to a manorial economy, similar to era of commune. The magnificent Greco-Roman culture was destroyed and replaced by Germanic barbarian customs and Christian ignorance.
However, despite fact that Western European civilization has entered lowland, some new civilizational factors are also growing. In 843, Frankish kingdom split, and Western Europe began to develop towards a single nation-state, and then such nation-states as England, France and Germany gradually formed. And Spanish Portugal on Iberian Peninsula finally completed revival movement, expelled Arabs and created an independent country. We can say that prototype of modern European countries was mainly formed in Middle Ages.
Because these nation-states were feudal, power of king was limited to local princes and nobles. While China is on path of centralization, Western Europe is on path of decentralization. The Magna Carta is also called Magna Carta. One of important constitutional documents of British feudal period. In 1215, British aristocrats united to force king to sign Magna Carta. This is probably first legal document in history of mankind that publicly limited power of king. It had a great impact on Britain and even on entire modern history of Europe. The British parliamentary system was soon formed.
Signing of Magna Carta
In fact, early parliaments appeared in almost all European countries. This type of parliament, i.e., an assembly consisting of main nobles of country, is intended to discuss state affairs. The advent of Parliament severely limited royal power. Hundreds of years later, European nobility and royalty vied for right to rule country. The emergence of parliament is origin of representative system in modern European and American countries.
From an economic point of view, Mediterranean and Baltic trade developed from 10th to 12th centuries, and capitalist operating models emerged in Italy, Netherlands and other countries. Because of Crusades, Eastern Roman Empire was plundered and fell into decay, and Italy replaced Eastern Rome and became a staging post between East and West. Among them, Venice became largest port in West, and Florence became financial center of Europe. Some cities in Italy even developed a republican system similar to modern one. This is actually a legacy of Greek city-state model, but it had a great influence on development of Italian civilization.
At that time, it can be said that “crusades”, jointly launched by Western European countries, became a turning point in Western European civilization. Politically, it hit power of church and contributed to expansion of royal power of country; economically, it strengthened connection between Europe, Asia and Africa, accelerated economic development of Italy and other places. The cultural impact of Crusades was even more profound.
Florence - holy land of Renaissance
After Crusaders destroyed Byzantium, a large number of Byzantine documents were brought to Western Europe, especially to Italy. The Italians were drawn to classical culture created by their ancestors and began to reconsider Greco-Roman era. In 1088, world's earliest university, University of Bologna, was founded, which mainly studies Roman civil law and is center of European legal studies. Shortly thereafter, University of Salerno was founded in Italy, which mainly studied Greco-Roman and Arabic medicine. These two universities are progenitors of European universities and universities have since spread throughout Europe. This actually set stage for the Renaissance.
Early dissemination among European universities
Summarizing, we can say that when economy and culture of China reached peak of antiquity, Western European civilization imperceptibly underwent a transformation. In this process, both Chinese and Western civilizations are hatching some new civilizational factors. But in general, strength of Chinese tradition is stronger, which greatly limits growth of new civilizational factors. In West, things are different, because in Europe there is no centralization of power, and social administration is relatively loose, which makes it less of an obstacle to new civilizational factors. In next few hundred years, China increased its centralization and adhered to its own traditions, and West became strong and prosperous under leadership of modern civilization.