The Song Dynasty was a special dynasty in Chinese history. The economy and culture of Song Dynasty reached peak of ancient society, but political and military power was very weak. The Song Dynasty not only failed to defeat Liao Kingdom, regained sixteen prefectures of Yanyun, but also failed to defeat Xixia, Jiaozhi, etc., so Song Dynasty could not become a unified dynasty. Why is combat capability of Song Dynasty so low? This article analyzes this issue from perspective of weapons.
Judging by weapons and equipment of Song Dynasty, they were very advanced. The army of Song dynasty had to deal with nomadic cavalry such as Liao, Jinxia and others, so it paid special attention to improvement of long-barreled and throwing weapons. As for long weapons, Song army often used spears, long-handled knives, axes, etc. These weapons were mainly refined in Song dynasty and continued to be used in Ming and Qing dynasties. The weapons of Song army had a certain limiting effect on cavalry. For example, Song general Wang De once used 10,000 long axes to defeat 100,000 wushu cavalry. Wanyan Wushu of Jin Kingdom once said: "The martial weapon used in Song Dynasty is nothing but a bow with a god's hand, and second is a heavy ax that is fearless on outside."< /p>
Song Dynasty long-barrelled iron pistol
Shooting weapons are an excellent weapon against cavalry and developed more rapidly during Song Dynasty. Speaking of throwing weapons, one cannot fail to mention bows and arrows. During Song Dynasty, there were many types of iron arrows, more advanced and specialized. The Song Dynasty improved previous arrows. For example, Fengyu arrow appeared during Song Dynasty. The arrow was hollowed out on both sides of arrow tail and used a recessed hollow groove to create eddy current resistance to keep arrow in flight. balance, thereby increasing range of shooter. During Song Dynasty, there were also wooden feather arrows, Dosey crossbows, and advancing arrows. Dosey crossbows can shoot dozens of arrows at same time, "the arrows fly like crows." A serrated arrow can be driven firmly into a wall so besiegers can use it to scale wall.
When it comes to crossbows, Song dynasty made great strides. For example, range of Song Dynasty false crossbows can reach 1,000 paces, which is about 1,500 meters, longest in history. At Battle of Changzhou, Song army shot Liao army trainer Xiao Talan with a bedside crossbow. The bedside crossbow has a long range, but it is too bulky, it takes 70 people to deploy three-bow bedside crossbow. In early years of Emperor Shenzong of Song Dynasty, he began to popularize crossbow (divine bow) invented by Li Hong. The crossbow has a range of 240 paces and only requires one person to launch it, so it has great practical value.
A Song Dynasty catapult could throw a stone bullet weighing 90 jin, setting a new record for weight of a catapult. In addition to edged weapons, Song army was also equipped with gunpowder weapons. During Southern Expedition of Southern Tang Dynasty, Song army was equipped with rockets, artillery and other firearms. More than 10 types of gunpowder weapons, such as artillery, fireballs, spiky fireballs, were recorded in Wu Jing Zongyao. , iron maw firearms and bamboo firearms, lightning fireball, smoke ball, poison smoke ball, etc., some of which are already explosive firearms with especially high lethality. Some firearms can be fired with crossbows and catapults.
Although weapons of Song Dynasty were advanced, they were repeatedly defeated in wars abroad. Why? From an institutional point of view, this is due to implementation by Northern Song dynasty of strategy of governing country "emphasis on literature over military affairs" and "defending internal while ignoring external" and military strategy of "separating soldiers and generals." ". However, this article does not discuss content of system, but only discusses it in terms of weapons. In terms of weapons, there are three main reasons for low combat capability of Sung army.
Firstly, quality of weapons is low. Weapons in Song Dynasty were mainly produced by official workshops, and manufacturers were mainly military masters, prisoners of war, criminals, pawns, etc. Among them, military masters were main ones. Migrant workers Due to inaccuracy of personnel involved in production, it is difficult to guarantee quality of weapons. In addition, supervision of production of weapons at that time was very weak, coupled with prevalence of corruption, quality of weapons was unsatisfactory. It was not without reason that Ouyang Xiu said: “There is a false name for equipment, but there is no practical application of equipment”.
Wang Anshi's reform, he introduced Military Weapons Supervision Law, established military weapons supervision to supervise production of weapons, strictly manage and improve quality of weapons. With reform of Wang Anshi in middle and late Northern Song Dynasty, many new weapons were introduced, quality of weapons also improved, and military strength of Song Dynasty also increased greatly. However, after reversal of Wang Anshi's reform, combat effectiveness of Song army declined again.
The second is lack of strategic resources - horses. Although Song Army's weaponry is highly developed, it lacks strategic resource of horses. The Song Dynasty did not occupy Hexi Corridor, so there was no natural horse farm. The Song Dynasty could only obtain horses through private horse breeding and trade, as horses were very scarce and of poor quality. Cavalry in Song army was only one-seventh, and three out of ten cavalrymen had no horses. On contrary, Liao Jinxia can quickly muster tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of cavalry, and gap between two sides is very large.
This made Song army's mobility very poor, and it was at a disadvantage in war with northern peoples. To counter Liao Jinxia, the Song Dynasty had no choice but to develop heavy infantry and carry out helpless move of "foot braking". The infantry is more suitable for defense of city and defense of city, and it is very unprofitable to fight in wilderness and in meadows. Therefore, Song Dynasty was always on side of passive defense militarily and rarely took initiative in attack. During Xining Reform Period, Wang Anshi enacted "Horse Protection Law" to increase production of horses in Song Dynasty, but this could not fundamentally solve shortage of horses in Song Dynasty.
Song dynasty infantry armor
Third, promoting and using gunpowder is not enough. The appearance of gunpowder marks transition of human warfare into era of hot weapons. If Song Dynasty could make extensive use of gunpowder, it could destroy advantages of nomads. The Song Dynasty was concerned that gunpowder formula would end up in other places and other countries, so it restricted production of gunpowder weapons and allowed only special departments in capital to produce them. Therefore, gunpowder weapons equipped by army of Song Dynasty were also very limited and did not occupy a dominant position.
After fall of Northern Song Dynasty, gunpowder makers in Tokyo were taken over by Jin Dynasty, so gunpowder spread north, where it was studied, modified by nomads, and even made better firearms. . Later, in process of destroying Jin Dynasty and Southern Song Dynasty, Mongolia used a large amount of artillery and muskets, which caused Southern Song Dynasty to lose its advantage. Later, with Mongol conquest, gunpowder spread to Western countries.
While weapons play a very important role in warfare, they cannot decide outcome of a war. For example, during War of Resistance to US Aggression and Aid to Korea, Volunteer Army used extremely backward weapons to compete with "United Nations Army". Although weapons of Song Dynasty were very advanced, due to system's resistance, emperor's poor military ability, and officials' timidity, army's combat capability was low and it could not successfully resist foreign aggression. and eventually died among northern nomads. This is very worthy of comprehension of people.