Northern Wei Dynasty

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The Northern Wei Dynasty ( Chinese  北魏 , Pinyin Běi Wèi , W.-G. Pei3 Wei4 ) was a foreign rule in northern China (385-535), which was essentially founded by the Tabgatsch (Tuoba) people .


The dynasty had to deal with the Rouran in the north , who had threatened China's northern border since the early 5th century. In the south one faced the national Chinese Early Song Dynasty (420-479), which was followed by the Southern Qi Dynasty (479-501) and the Liang Dynasty (502-557). In 423 Tuoba Si (409-423) wrested the song from the city of Luoyang .

The most important Tuoba ruler was Tuoba Tao (423–452). His cavalry successfully dealt with the Rouran in 424/25, 429, 443, 449 and 458, where he reportedly caused a great bloodbath. He also seized other pieces of China; this time from the Xiongnu clan Ho-lien (Tung-wan / Shaanxi 426/27), the Bei Yan (also Xianbei , in Jehol 436) and the Bei Liang (Kan-chou / Gansu 439). With that all of northern China was united under the Wei Dynasty.

But the state soon found itself in a destructive tension between Chinese culture and administration and that of Turkish, Mongolian or Tibetan nomads . It must be borne in mind, however, that the Tabgatsch practiced an unusually extreme Sinization , adopted the Chinese language and pushed the high-ranking Tabgatsch members to marry Han Chinese . Most of the nomadic elements in Tabgatsch were quickly lost. The high-ranking tabgatsch took on Chinese names such as Yuan (元) and Li (李).

Tuoba Tao had z. B. 446 pursued Buddhism in China so that its nomads would not effeminate and refused to move to the old imperial cities of Chang'an and Luoyang . Nevertheless, the Chinese increasingly set the tone, as their administrative experience was essential to supply the population.

The Tuoba rulers tried from the beginning to reclaim new land and let it cultivate it. They kept the peasants and the craftsmen under strict military control. With the increasing number of settled people in the empire at the time of Tuoba Tao, this tough policy had to become more flexible. The leading person here was the counselor Cui Hao (381-450), who introduced Chinese administrative methods and Chinese criminal law.

Ultimately, the penchant for luxury and the then pervasive influence of Buddhism changed the mentality of a large part of the Tabgatsch aristocracy. Tuoba Jun (452–465) had given up the persecution of the Buddhists again, since an estimated nine out of ten families adhered to this belief. Tuoba Hongyan (Xiaowendi, 471–499) moved the capital to Luoyang in 494, banned the clothing of the nomads, their language, their family names and encouraged marriages with the large Chinese families. This led to the final Sinization of the Tabgatsch nobility.

From 523 onwards there was an uprising of the anti-Chinese Tabgatsch camp, which led to some civil war-like clashes (524–34) in which the nomadic economy perished. After that, the empire was divided between two generals in 534/35 ( Eastern Wei and Western Wei ) and finally replaced by two short-lived partial dynasties, which were then replaced by the Sui dynasty .

Ruler of the Northern Wei Dynasty 385-535

Posthumous name (Shi Hao, 諡 號) Birth Name Reign Era names (Nian Hao, 年號) and respective time periods
Northern dynasty
Chinese convention: "Wei" + posthumous name + "di"
The Tuoba family changed their family name to 元 ( yuan2 ) under the rule of Xiao Wen (496), which is why it is adopted here.
Dao Wu (道 武帝 dao4 wu3 di4) Tuoba Gui (拓拔 珪 tou4 ba2 gui1) 386 - 409 Dengguo (登 國, deng1 guo2 ) 386- 396
Huangshi (皇 始, huang2 shi3 ) 396– 398
Tianxing (天 興, tian1 xing1 ) 398– 404
Tianci (天賜, tian1 ci4 ) 404–409
Ming Yuan (明 元帝, ming2 yuan2 di4 ) Tuoba Si (拓拔 嗣, tou4 ba2 si4 ) 409- 423 Yongxing (永興, yong3 xing1 ) 409- 413
Shenrui (神瑞, shen2 rui4 ) 414 - 416
Taichang (泰常, tai4 chang2 ) 416-423
Tai Wu (太 武帝, tai4 wu3 di4 ) Tuoba Tao (拓拔 燾, tou4 ba2 tao2 ) 424 - 452 Shiguang (始 光, shi3 guang1 ) 424- 428
Shenjia (神 (鹿 下 加), shen2 jia1 ) 428– 431
Yanhe (延 和, yan2 he2 ) 432 - 434
Taiyan (太 延, tai4 yan2 ) 435 - 440
Taipingzhenjun (太平 真君, tai4 ping2 zhen1 jun1 ) 440– 451
Zhengping (正 平, zheng4 ping2 ) 451–452
Nan An Wang (南安 王, nan2 an1 wang2 ) Tuoba Yu (拓拔 余, tou4 ba2 yu2 ) 452 Yongping (永平, yong3 ping2 ) or Chengping (承平, cheng2 ping2 ) 452
Wen Cheng (文 成帝, wen2 cheng2 di4 ) Tuoba Jun (拓拔 濬, tou4 ba2 jun4 ) 452- 465 Xingan (興安, xing1 an1 ) 452- 454
xingguang (興光, xing1 guang1 ) 454-455
Taian (太安, tai4 an1 ) 455 - 459
Heping (和平, he2 ping2 ) 460 -465
Xian Wen (獻 文帝, xian4 wen2 di4 ) Tuoba Hong (拓拔 弘, tou4 ba2 hong2 ) 466 - 471 Tianan (天安, tian1 an1 ) 466- 467
Huangxing (皇興, huang2 x ING1) 467-471
Xiao Wen (孝文帝, xiao4 wen2 di4 ) Yuan Hong (元 宏, yuan2 hong2 ) 471- 499 Yanxing (延興, yan2 xing1 ) 471- 476
Chengming (承明, Cheng2 ming2 ) 476
Taihe (太和, tai4 he2 ) 477 -499
Xuan Wu (宣武帝, xuan1 wu3 di4 ) Yuan Ke (元 恪, yuan2 ke4 ) 500 - 515 Jingming (景 明, jing3 ming2 ) 500– 503
Zhengshi (正始, zheng4 shi3 ) 504 - 508
Yongping (永平, yong3 ping2 ) 508– 512
Yanchang (延昌, yan2 chang1 ) 512–515
Xiao Ming (孝 明帝, xiao4 ming2 di4 ) Yuan Xu (元 詡, yuan2 xu3 ) 516 - 528 Xiping (熙平, xi1 ping2 ) 516– 518
Shengui (神龜, shen2 gui1 ) 518– 520
Zhengguang (正光, zheng4 guang1 ) 520– 525
Xiaochang (孝昌, xiao4 chang1 ) 525– 527
Wutai (武 泰, wu3 tai4 ) 528
Xiao Zhuang (孝莊 帝, xiao4 zhuang1 di4 ) Yuan Zi You (元子 攸, yuan2 zi5 you1 ) 528- 530 Jianyi (建 義, jian4 yi4 ) 528
Yongan (永安, yong3 an1 ) 528-530
Chang Guang Wang (長 廣 王, chang2 guang3 wang2 )
Jing (敬 帝, jing4 d i4)
Yuan Ye (元 曄, yuan2 ye4 ) 530- 531 Jianming (建 明, jian4 ming2 ) 530-531
Jue Min (節 閔 帝 ´, jie2 min3 di4 ) Yuan Gong (元 恭, yuan2 gong1 ) 531- 532 Putai (普泰, pu3 tai4 ) 531-532
An Ding Wang (安定 王, an1 ding4 wang2 )
Chu Di (出 帝, chu1 di4 )
Yuan Lang (元朗, yuan2 lang3 ) 531-532 Zhongxing (中興, zhong1 xin g1) 531-532
Xiao Wu (孝 武帝, xiao1 wu3 di4 ) Yuan Xiu (元 脩, yuan2 xiu1 ) 532- 535 Taichang (太 昌, tai4 chang1 ) 532
Yongxing (永興, yong3 x ing1) 532
Yongxi (永熙, yong3 xi1 ) 532-535


  • Mark Lewis: China between Empires. The Northern and Southern Dynasties. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA 2009.
  • Kai Vogelsang : History of China. 3rd revised and updated edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2013.

Web links

Commons : Northern Wei Dynasty  - collection of pictures, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rubie S. Watson, Patricia Buckley Ebrey: Marriage and Inequality in Chinese Society . University of California Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-520-07124-7 ( [accessed September 6, 2018]).
  2. ^ Rene Grousset: The Empire of the Steppes . 1970, pp. 60-65.