The River, the Plain, and the State: An Environmental Drama in Northern Song China, 1048-1128

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On July 19, 1048, the Yellow River breached its banks, drastically changing its course across the Hebei Plain and turning it into a delta where the river sought a path out to the ocean. This dramatic shift of forces in the natural world resulted from political deliberation and hydraulic engineering of the imperial state of the Northern Song Dynasty. It created eighty years of social suffering, economic downturn, political upheaval, and environmental changes, which reshaped the medieval North China Plain and challenged the ...

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