From the Period of Division to the Tang Dynasty

  • J. A. G. Roberts
Part of the Palgrave Essential Histories book series (EH)


Between 220 and 589, apart from a brief interlude between 280 and 316, no one dynasty ruled the whole of China. Between 220 and 280 the empire was divided into three kingdoms. The Western Jin then briefly and ineffectually reunited the country, but from 316 there was a prolonged division between the north and the south. In the south, six dynasties established their capital at Jiankang, that is modern Nanjing. In the north, until 384 there was a period of extreme fragmentation known as the time of the Sixteen Kingdoms. Then the Toba, a branch of the Xianbei, established the Northern Wei dynasty with its capital at Luoyang. In 534 the dynasty split and a further period of political fragmentation ensued until Yang Jian not only conquered the north but also subdued the south and in 589, having established the Sui dynasty, reunified China. In 618 this dynasty was replaced by the Tang, and one of the most glorious periods in Chinese history commenced.


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© J. A. G. Roberts 1999

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  • J. A. G. Roberts

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