Southern and Northern Dynasties

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The time of the Southern and Northern Dynasties ( Chinese  南北朝 , Pinyin Nanbeichao ) is after the Chinese historiography the period from the end of the Jin Dynasty to the beginning of the Sui Dynasty , ie the period of 420 to 581 .


The eastern imperial residence of Luoyang was destroyed by a raid by the Xiongnu under Liu Cong in 311 . All of China north of the Yangzi was overrun by 316, but the Jin princes gathered in Nanjing and recaptured the Yangzi Valley. China was now divided between the foreign dynasties that ruled in the north and the Chinese Empire in the south. For 273 years, China remained divided into a north and a south. Theoretically, both sides aimed for reunification. Wars between North and South broke out sporadically, but remained limited.

There were constant clashes between the nomadic peoples who had annexed northern China , and a total of sixteen kingdoms had emerged. After 70 years (around 386) an invasion brought the whole north under a single rule, namely that of the (Northern) Wei dynasty . The people of the tuoba made use soon the Chinese administrative structure, and it did not take long, went up in the Chinese culture to them.

The rule of the nomadic peoples over northern China reopened the trade routes to the west, and Buddhism from India invaded northern China via Turkestan .

While the north was united, six short-lived Chinese dynasties alternated in the south . But despite the unstable political situation, Chinese culture continued to be cultivated in the south. Especially under the Liang dynasty of Emperor Liang Wu Di (r. 502-549) there was a peaceful time, a generous promotion of Buddhism and a cultivation of the fine arts (at least until a general named Hou Jing rose up, the Conquered the capital and starved the emperor).


Southern Dynasties

There are four southern dynasties :

Northern Dynasties

There are five northern dynasties :


  • Albert E. Dien, Keith N. Knapp (Eds.): The Cambridge History of China . Volume 2: The Six Dynasties, 220-589. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2019.
  • Mark Lewis: China between Empires. The Northern and Southern Dynasties. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.) 2009, ISBN 978-0-674-02605-6 .
  • Kai Vogelsang : History of China. 3rd, revised and updated edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-15-010933-5 .