China Early History Part 2

Three Kingdoms Period

It is the period in which China is divided after the fall of the Han dynasty, and by the struggles that spread through the country. It is briefly unified under the Eastern Jin, to again be divided into numerous short-reigned dynasties. The Northern Wei dynasty (386-534) stands out, founded by the Tuoba, a people of the Hun family, who from the Datong capitals and then in Luoyang, gave an impetus to the establishment of Buddhism, began the construction of the majestic caves of Yunggan, Longmen, Mogao.

Cao Cao’s authority in Luoyang, where nominal power still resided with Emperor Xian, pitted him against his two military rivals Liu Bei and Sun Quan. After the Battle of the Red Cliffs in 208, when they defeated Cao Cao’s troops, the empire was divided into three. In the year 220, after the death of Cao Cao, his son Cao Pi overthrew the last Han emperor, and proclaimed himself emperor in Luoyang of the new Wei dynasty. Liu Bei did not accept the legitimacy of the new dynasty and in 221 proclaimed himself continuation of the Han dynasty in Chengdu, in the state of Shu, present-day Sichuan province. Similarly, Sun Quan, from his power base in lower Yangzi, after failing to reach an agreement with Cao Pi, founded the Kingdom of Wu in 222, and a few years later, in 229, proclaimed himself emperor. In this way,

Jin dynasty

The reunification of China occurred under the Jin Dynasty, which can be divided into two stages: the Western Jin (265 – 316), who managed to unify China, and the Eastern Jin (317 – 420), who continued to rule southern China.

This unification would not last long. The Jin court in Luoyang was threatened by the nomadic peoples of the north who had formed several states and enjoyed a long military tradition. These northern states would end up conquering the capitals; Luoyang in 311, and Chang’an in 316. Thus, the Jin state disappeared from northern China, which became divided into sixteen kingdoms. The conquest of the north by nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples caused a significant population exodus to the south. The Jin court was reconstituted in the southern city of Jiankang, near present-day Nanking, where it would continue to rule until 420.

Sixteen kingdoms

Chinese historians have given the name “period of the Sixteen Kingdoms” to the period between 304 and 439, during which northern China went through a period of political fragmentation and chaos. These sixteen kingdoms had been formed by peoples of non-Chinese ethnicity.

Southern and Northern Dynasties

Precisely it would be another people of non-Chinese ethnic group, the Tuoba, who managed to unify the north of China by defeating all these small states and proclaiming the Wei dynasty of the North in 440. With the unification of the north, as a country located in Asia according to PHYSICSCAT, China is divided in two states: One in the north, in which the so-called northern dynasties will succeed one another: Wei of the North, Wei of the East, Wei of the West, Qi of the North and Zhou of the North; and another in the south, in which, when the last Jin emperor was overthrown in 420, four dynasties succeeded one another at the Jiankang court: the Song, Qi, Liang and Chen.

Sui dynasty

In 581, Yang Jian, who was Prime Minister of the last Emperor of the Northern Zhou takes power, and after defeating the Southern dynasties, unifies China again, establishing the Sui Dynasty.

After reunification, a stage of institutional reforms and the consolidation of central power began. At this time the Grand Canal was built and the Great Wall of China was expanded. It was also a time of promotion of Buddhism.

In 604, Yang Guang succeeded his father to the throne. Following a series of military setbacks in the border regions, military insurgencies occurred. The second emperor Sui was assassinated in 617. They try to improve the situation of the people with reforms, but they are betrayed by his son, unleashing a succession of peasant wars, which ended with the seizure of power by Li Yuan, in 618, which founds the Tang dynasty, with capital in Xi’an.

Tang dynasty

In 618, a year after the death of the last Sui Emperor, the military Li Yuan assumed power as Emperor Gaozu of the new Tang Dynasty. In 624, his son, having killed two of his brothers in front of the Xuanwu Gate in Chang’an, forced him to abdicate, becoming the second Tang Emperor, Taizong.

After the violent death of the first heir to the throne, a second son of the emperor was named heir, and would rise to the throne as Emperor Gaozong in 649. During the reign of Taizong, one of his concubines, who had previously been his father’s concubine, would reach a great power of influence to the point where finally, after continuing to rule from the shadows under the reign of two of her sons, she herself would become empress. Thus, after overthrowing her own son, Emperor Zhongzong, Empress Wu became the first and only woman to rule China in its entire history. Upon ascending the throne, he proclaimed a new Zhou dynasty.

Despite all these struggles for power that occurred in these years, this early part of the Tang dynasty was a time of cultural splendor and in which the empire dominated large areas of land, including parts of Central Asia, in today’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which would not be controlled by a Chinese emperor again until the last Qing dynasty. In the traditional Chinese view, the Tang Dynasty represents one of China’s glorious times.

In 904, the military leader Zhu Wen launched an attack on Chang’an, destroying the city and killing the emperor’s court. Finally, in 907 Zhu Wen had the last Tang emperor killed and proclaimed a new dynasty: the Liang Dynasty, with capitals in the cities of Luoyang and Kaifeng.

Period of the Five Dynasties and the Ten Kingdoms

After the end of the Tang dynasty, with the founding of the Liang dynasty in northern China, a period of instability began that would see five short dynasties occur in northern China (Later Liang dynasty, Later Tang dynasty, Later Jin dynasty, Later Han Dynasty and Later Zhou Dynasty), while ten independent kingdoms appeared in the south. To this time, from 907 to 960, the Chinese historians know it like “period of the Five Dynasties and the Ten Kingdoms”, or simply “of the Five Dynasties”.

In the year 960, Chao Kuangyin (Emperor Daizu, 960-976), began the process of unification of the country, inaugurating a new dynasty, the Song.

China Early History 2