2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

The Conflict between Military enterprise and Confucian identity:
The Zhao family in Hengshan and the Scholar-General Families in the late Southern Song

Cheng-hua Fang

Department of History, National Taiwan University

In the late Southern Song, while the invasion of the Jurchen and Mongol armies triggered consistent military crises for sixty years, a group of Song bureaucrats became military commanders on the board. Being military commanders with Confucian background, these civil officials’ careers matched the traditional idea of “scholar-generals” (rujiang). The emergence of a number of scholar-generals not only changed the leadership and organization of the Song armies, but also deeply influenced the politics of the Song court, because these civil officials often promoted to high level court positions after accomplished feats on the battlefields. As the war lasting, some scholar-generals recruited their relatives to the armies to assist their command, which caused their descendants later succeeded their military profession and civil official titles. Thus, scholar-generals families established at the first time in Chinese history.

Among these scholar-generals families, the Zhao family of Hengshan was most important. Since the Ningzong’s reign (1195-1224), the Zhao members had conducted military leadership for three generations until the end of the Southern Song. Although they achieved significant feats in the battlefield and enjoyed great political power, the members of Zhao failed to earn wide support from bureaucrats, due to their involvements in political frictions, their close relationship with military men and the long-term separation between civil and military professions. Moreover, while the Neo-Confucianism widely spread in the Lizong period (1224-1264), most literati concentrated their attention on philosophical scholarship, so their interest in military enterprise diminished. Because the ethos of civil elite disfavored military career, even though the members of Zhao family were ambitious to accomplish military feats, they still tried to arrange their sons to pass the civil service examination and engaged in civil administrations. This fact reveals the difficult situations which scholar-generals confronted, and explains the reasons why there were so few scholar-general families in the late Southern Song.


Keywords: civil-military relationship, scholar-general, literati, the Southern Song dynasty, the Zhao family of Hengshan, military leadership, Neo-Confucianism