1902 Encyclopedia > China > Chinese History (cont.) - Three Kingdoms (220-280); Jin Dynasty (265-420); Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589).

(Part 29)


Imperial Era (221 BC - 1911 AD)

Three Kingdoms (220-280 AD). Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD). Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 AD).

Three Kingdoms (220-280 AD)

He was, however, opposed and defeated by Tsaou, another aspirant to imperial; honours whose son, Tsaou Pei, on the death of Heen-te (220 A.D.), proclaimed himself emperor, adopting the title of Wei as the appellation of his dynasty. But at the Same time there two other Richmonds in the the field, Lew Pei and Sun Keuen, and the strength of these three adventurers were so nearly equal that they agreed to divide the empire between them. Tsaou Pei, under the title of Wan-te, ruled oiver the kingdom of Wei (220), which occupied the whole of the central and northern portion of China. Lew Pei established the Shuh Han dynasty in the modern province of Sze-chuen (221), and called himself Chaou-lëe-te; and to Sun Jeuen Khan fell the southern provinces of the empire, from the Yang-tsze Keang south-wards, including the modern Tonguin, which he formed into the kingdom of Woo with Nan-king for his capital, and adopted for himself the imperial style of Ta-te (222 A.D.)

But China during the period of the "Three Kingdom" was a house divided against itself. Rivalries, the seeds of which had been sown at the time of the partition of territory, broke out more fiercely as soon as the courts were established. Lew Pei, as a descendant of the house of Han, looked upon himself as the rightful sovereign of the whole empire, and a despathched an army under the command of the celebrated general Choo-Leang to support his claims. This army met by an opposing force under the Wei commander Sze-ma E, of whom Chinese historians say that "he led armies like a god," and who, by adopting a Fabian policy, completely discomfited his adversary. But the close of this campaign brought no peace to the country. Wars became chronic, and by degrees the reins of power slipped out of the hands of emperors into those of their generals. Foremost among these were the members of the Sze-ma family of Wei.

Jin Dynasty (265-420 AD)

Sze-ma E left a son, Sze-ma Chaou scarcely less distinguished than he was himself, and when Sze-ma yen, who, finding the country ripe for a change, deposed the ruling sovereign of Wei, and proclaimed himself emperor of china (265 A.D.) His dynasty he styled the Western Tsin dynasty, and he adopted for himself the title of Woo-te. The most noticeable event in this reign was the advent of the ambassadors of the emperor Theodosius in 284. For some years the neigbouring states appear to have transferred their allegiance from the House of Wei to that of Tsin. But the condition of China at this time was such that no government could stand unless administered by an able and powerful chief. Woo-te’s successors failing to fulfill these conditions, the country soon fell again into disorder. The Heung-noo, encouraged by the decadence of the Chinese power, renewed incursions into the empire at the beginning of the 4th century, and in the confusion which followed on these attacks from without as well as those that were distracting the country from within, an adventurer named Lew Yuen established himself (in 311) as emperor, first at Ping-yang in Shan-se and afterwards in Lo-yang and Chang-gan. The history of this period is every chaotic. Numerous states sprung up into existence, some founded by the Heung-noo, and others by the Seen-pe tribe, a Tungusic clan inhabiting a territory to the north of China, and who afterwards establishing the Leaou dynasty in China. The hand of every man was against his neighbour. Nothing was lasting; and in 419 the Eastern Tsin dynasty, which had dragged on a chequered existence for nearly a century, came to an end, and with it disappeared for close on two hundred years all semblance of united authority.

Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 AD)

The country became divided into two parts, the north and the south. In the north four families reigned successively, two of which were of Seen-pe origin, viz., the Wei and the How Chow, the other two, the Pih Tse and the How Leang, being Chinese. In the south five different houses applied rulers, who were all the Chinese descent.

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