By Ling-Ling Shih from chinesehistoryandcultureblog.wordpress.com
(Note: This article is written by Ling-Ling Shih, but all graphs and maps were drawn from the internet.)
三国到魏晋南北朝 （Historical Overview from ChinaX): https://www.pinterest.com/llshih/wei-jin-and-southern-and-northern-dynasties-%E9%AD%8F%E6%99%8B%E5%8D%97%E5%8C%97%E6%9C%9D-/
Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties魏晋南北朝（220年—589年）
- Three Kingdoms (三国）
- Wei 魏 （220-265 C.E.）
- Shu 蜀（221-263 C.E.）
- Wu 吴 （229-280 C.E.）
- Jin Dynasty 265-420 C.E.
- Western Jin 西晋 265 – 316 C.E；
- –>North: Overtaken by Sixteen Kingdoms 五胡十六国 304-436 C.E.
- –> Moved South: Eastern Jin 东晋 317-419 C.E.
- Southern and Northern Dynasties 南北朝
- Southern Dynasties （南朝）（420-589 C.E.）
- （Liu）Song （刘）宋 420 – 479 C.E.
- （Southern） Qi 齐 479 – 502 C.E.
- Liang 梁 502 – 557 C.E.
- Chen 陈 557 ~589 C.E.
- Northern Dynasties （北朝）（386-581 C.E.）
- Northern Wei 北魏 386 – 534 C.E.
- Eastern Wei 东魏 534 – 550 C.E. –》Northern Qi 北齐 550 – 577 C.E.
- Western Wei 西魏 535 – 556 –》Northern Zhou 北周 557 ~581
- Northern Wei 北魏 386 – 534 C.E.
- Southern Dynasties （南朝）（420-589 C.E.）
Three General Periods can be divided between Han Dynasty and Sui Dynasty. It is a period known as an age of disunity or division. It can be divided into three periods.
- Three Kingdoms 三国 (220 AD- 280 AD)
- Jin Dynasty 晋朝 (265 AD – 420 AD): It includes Western Jin and Eastern Jin.
- Northern and Southern dynasties 南北朝 (420 AD – 589 AD)
1st Period: Three Kingdoms:
Towards the end of Han dynasty, the widespread Yellow Turban uprising, the natural disasters of flooding and famine, the widespread corruption and incessant internal power struggles between the eunuchs and consorts’ families and strifes between the scholar officials and eunuchs all contributed to the downfall of the dynasty. As the local governors were authorized to build their armies to put down the widespread rebellions, they emerged as powerful warlords and significantly undermined the central authorities of the Han dynasty. These warlords fought each other for supremacy and three persons emerged as the winners: Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Sun Quan. Cao Cao’s son Cao Pi (in 220 C.E.). The country was eventually divided into three kingdoms: Wei 魏, Shu 蜀, and Wu 吴. Cao Cao’s son Cao Pi 曹丕, Liu Bei 刘备 (221 C.E.) and Sun Quan 孙权 (229 C.E.) subsequently enthroned themselves and these three kingdoms continued to compete with one another in an attempt to unify China. However none of them succeeded in unifying China. Instead, after almost half a century the Sima clan 司马氏 had risen to power in the Wei Kingdom and overthrown the powerful Wei kingdom. After Sima Zhao 司马昭 defeating the rival kingdom Shu in 263 C.E., his eldest son, Sima Yan 司马炎 (later known as Jin Wu Di 晋武帝–Emperor Wu of JIn ), usurped the throne of the Wei kingdom in 265 C.E. and renamed “Wei” to “Jin” (晋). Fifteen years after firmly establishing the Jin empire, Emperor wu of Jin 晋武帝 went on defeating the last rival kingdom, Wu Kingdom 吴国 in 280 C.E.
2nd Period: Jin Dynasty and Sixteen Kingdoms
Jin Dynasty is divided into two periods:
- Western Jin Dynasty (265 C.E.-317 C.E.)
- －－》North： Overtaken by Sixteen Kingdoms 五胡十六国 304-436 C.E.
- －－》Move South： Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 C.E.-420 C.E.)
Jin dynasty unified China in 280 after defeating Wu Kingdom, but the period of unification only lasted for about half a century long. Soon after its establishment, the Jin dynasty was plagued by internal strife, as eight imperial princes fought one another for power (so-called “The Rebellion of Eight Princes”–八王之乱). These internal struggles between different princes significantly weakened the dynasty, providing the breeding ground for foreign invasion. The five northern nomadic tribes （Xianbei 鲜卑，Xiongnu 匈奴，Jie 羯，Di 氐 , Qiang 羌) took advantage of this opportunity to overtake different regions in northern China. The encroachment of Northern nomadic tribes forced a large population (one eighth of the Jin population) including the leading clans of the Jin) to flee south.
One of the princes Sima Rui 司马睿 reestablished the dynasty at Nanjing, later called the Eastern Jin dynasty (to be distinguished from the earlier Jin dynasty–the Western Jin dynasty.
As Professor Peter K. Bol pointed out, one important feature of this period during the Jin dynasty is that the government lost control of the very elite it tried to recruit to service. It developed a special recruitment system, called “Nine Ranks System” (九品 中正制 “Jiu Pin” for short), which laid out the nine-rank system of eligibility for office based on one’s family and clan’s background; this system resulted in the political monopoly by a few limited leading clans.
After Sima Rei 司马睿 established the Eastern Jin, China was divided into the North and the South. The North was overtaken by different nomadic tribes and it was eventually divided into sixteen different kingdoms.
Fu Jian, the emperor of Former Qin, united the North under his rule. He then invaded the Jin dynasty with a huge army in an attempt to unify China. However, he was defeated by much smaller Jin troops in the battle at Fei river. This was one of the decisive battles of China. （See
Former Qin collapsed soon after that defeat, the North disintegrated once again. Finally, the Tuoba clan 拓跋氏 of the Xianbei tribe managed to unify the North under their rule, and founded the Northern Wei dynasty 北魏, while in the South, Liu Yu (劉裕) (363–422) usurped the Jin throne, and founded the Liu Song dynasty.
Northern-Southern Dynasties period thus began.
3rd Period, Southern and Northern dynasties 南北朝:
The Northern Dynasties began with the establishment of Northern Wei Dynasty in 368，which was ruled by the nomadic tribe called Xianbei. It conquered small kingdoms in north China and was able to successfully rule a considerable area of China as a result of integrating policies, adopted by its sixth Emperor Xiaowen. Emperor Xiaowen implemented a comprehensive policy of sinicization (汉化政策). In order to reduce the conflicts in the multi-ethnic state, he implemented these policies: 1) Forced the officials and the population to speak the Han language and wear Han clothes; 2) Compelled Xianbei people and other nomadic tribes to adopt Chinese surnames; 3) Encouraged intermarriage between Xianbei and Han.
However, due to internal division, Northern Wei split into two parts–Eastern Wei Dynasty & Western Wei Dynasty in 534 C.E. after a civil war. However, both Eastern Wei and Western Wei were both controlled by politically-powerful ministers. They were respectively replaced by Northern Qi Dynasty and Northern Zhou Dynasty. Northern Zhou Dynasty eventually conquered Northern Qi Dynasty after a series of wars. Northern Zhou Dynasty became the last dynasty of Northern Dynasties.
In 420 C.E., the Eastern Jin Dynasty 东晋 was subsequently overtaken by four successive regimes, together called the Southern Dynasties 南朝. These four sequential dynasties are（Liu） Song （刘）宋, （Southern） Qi 齐, Liang 梁 and Chen 陈. As the maps illustrate below, the Liu Song & Southern Qi ruled in the south while Northern Wei Dynasty was ruling in the north; Liang Dynasty ruled in the south at the time when the north was ruled by Eastern and Western Wei dynasties; when the time Chen Dynasty ruled the south, the north was under the rule of the Northern Qi and Northern Zhou dynasties.
In 581the Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Han Chinese in China.
The Sui Dynasty was established in 581 C.E. and finally reunified China from the north by conquering Chen Dynasty in 589 C.E. However, it was short lived and ended its rule in 618 C.E.
Emperor Wen of Sui 隋文帝 541 – 13 August 604