Since ancient times, the army has been the pillar and life gate of the feudal dynasty.
since ancient times, the army has been the pillar and life gate of the feudal dynasty. For emperors, only by holding military power can they expand their borders and make decisions to kill and cut down internally. If military power falls into the hands of others, it will become a string puppet in the hands of powerful ministers, and it will directly become a "background board" for others to counterattack. Therefore, how to firmly and effectively grasp the military power and prevent others from getting involved has always been the primary issue considered by emperors, and successive dynasties have also adopted a variety of political strategies and countermeasures.
among them, the Song Dynasty established a complex and complete system, through the establishment of the Privy Council, Sanya, the Ministry of the Army, and other military institutions that bear their responsibilities and are not subordinate to each other, implemented extremely effective checks and balances and constraints on military power in the way of "three points of military power". Its thoughtfulness, complex means, and far-reaching influence are unparalleled in all previous dynasties and can be called the "ceiling" of ancient military power control.
it is not difficult to see that the military department carries out some management of the local troops with insufficient combat effectiveness, such as the Xiang army and the militia, as well as some logistical support, surveying and mapping, and so on, it is impossible to get their hands on the real "800000 forbidden army" of the central army in the Song Dynasty, let alone command operations and deploy troops. It can be said that the sense of existence is extremely low.
not only can it not be compared with the military department of the Ming Dynasty, which gradually grasped the main military power (after the Civil Engineering Revolution of the Ming Dynasty, in the face of the Wali army that invaded the capital, the then military ministry Yu Qian concentrated the main military power in the army department with the support of the Ming Dynasty, to make unified command and dispatch, which was continued by later generations of the Ming Dynasty), he even worked for the south study and the military aircraft department, but the military department of the Qing Dynasty was also far inferior to the military department of the Qing Dynasty.
Privy Council: high and powerful, but not dealing with the army
the Privy Council should only be a department in charge of important documents. However, from the beginning of the five dynasties, the Privy Council began to take charge of the military power gradually. by the Northern Song Dynasty, the Privy Council had become the military institution in charge of the court, which was called "the second government" with the Zhongshu door in charge of administration, which showed its prominent status.
its supreme officer called it a "secret envoy." the Privy Council is not only in charge of military aircraft, but also personnel power, recruitment power, mobilization power (with the permission of the emperor, of course), and so on, which can be said to be a department with considerable real power, in sharp contrast to the false power of the Ministry of War.
however, although the Privy Council is so powerful, the Privy Council is not omnipotent, simply because not a single soldier in his hand is under his command.
Sanya: holding heavy troops, they are unable to dispatch and command
following the military system of the Zhou Dynasty after the five dynasties, with the forbidden army as the central force and the main force of the empire. On the other hand, the forbidden army is managed by three departments, namely, the Dianqian Department, the Guard pro-Army Ma Army Department, and the Guard Pro-military Infantry Department, which are collectively referred to as "Sanya."
the highest officers of Sanya are all commanders and "three marshals". They are not subordinate to each other and are only responsible to the emperor. During the Zhou period after the five dynasties, the forbidden army once set up the post of commander-in-chief of the forbidden army in front of the temple, which was very powerful, similar to the "commander-in-chief of the forbidden army". Zhao Kuangyin succeeded by relying on the "convenience of the position" of this post and relying on the army to rise to the top. For this reason, Zhao Kuangyin, after taking office, revoked the post of inspection in front of the temple and set up Sanya to manage the forbidden army.
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Sanya is directly responsible for the daily management and training of the forbidden army and deals directly with the army. However, although it seems to have a large number of troops, on the one hand, it is the responsibility of three departments that are not subordinate to each other, so that there will not be a dominant phenomenon; on the other hand, Sanya does not transfer the power to send troops, which is just the opposite of the Privy Council.
to sum up, the Privy Council has the power to deploy troops, but not the weight of unifying troops, while Sanya has the weight of unifying troops, but it does not have the right to transfer troops. As for the military department, it has completely become a "background board" and can only be responsible for some relatively insignificant daily affairs. Through this set of complex and strict institutional setup and division of labor, the Song Dynasty realized the "three points of military power". This also had a vital impact on the historical trend and outcome of the whole Song Dynasty.
Origin: the Northern Song Dynasty founders' distrust of military instincts
the separation and restriction of military power in the Song Dynasty reached an unprecedented level in Chinese history. The two emperors in the early Northern Song Dynasty, the founders of Song Taizu Zhao Kuangyin and Song Taizong Zhao Guangyi, were both professional soldiers, especially Zhao Kuangyin, who relied on his relatively independent military power in troubled times, using the forbidden army in his hands to counterattack and turn the Chai family of later Zhou into the Zhao Song world.
from the current point of view, the establishment of the Song Dynasty smacks of a "military junta" when it came to power in a military coup. It is this special experience that makes Zhao Kuangyin enjoy the fruits of the army's support for coming to power, but at the same time, he is also full of instinctive mistrust of the army.
therefore, while carrying out a series of concrete measures such as "the right to release soldiers with a cup of wine" to remove the rights of many generals (of course, the means are moderate, and there is no bloodshed), the army has been thoroughly reformed in terms of institutional setup and system building. On the other hand, Zhao Guangyi perfected it on this basis, thus formally determining the situation of "attaching importance to culture rather than military power" due to the extreme restriction and division of military power in the Song Dynasty.
has achieved the expected effect, but the negative effect is even more inestimable
objectively speaking, this set of complex and exquisite means of military separation in the Song Dynasty has indeed achieved the desired goal. In the Song Dynasty, although it was harassed and invaded by the nomadic peoples of the north from beginning to end (and, of course, died in the end), there were no warlords who claimed that the system had a heavy army. let alone the local separatist regime of the late Tang Dynasty and the five dynasties and the Ten Kingdoms.
although famous generals such as Di Qing, Zhi Shidao, Zong Ze, and Yue Fei emerged from time to time in the Song Dynasty, they no longer had the bearing and independence of "not accepting the orders of the foreign monarchs." they only existed as senior beaters in the military of the Song Dynasty, and they were also suspicious and rejected by the emperors and the civil service system that had the right to speak, losing power in the light and dying in grievances.
the status of the army throughout the Song Dynasty was also unprecedentedly low, and even soldiers had to be treated with tattoos on their faces to prevent them from escaping. The soldiers who were supposed to defend the country were completely prisoners. We can see how contemptuous and even contemptuous the military was in the Song Dynasty. No matter how developed the economy, culture, and urban construction are, what is the use?. As for the "shame of Jingkang" at the end of the Northern Song Dynasty and the "Cliff Mountain change" at the end of the Southern Song Dynasty, it is not surprising.