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Southern and Northern Dynasties China


  • Confronting the Southern Dynasties (420-589) in the history of China, the Northern Dynasties (386-581) lasted for 150 years (from 439 to 589), and consisted of the North Wei (386-557), the East Wei (534-550), the West Wei (535-556), the North Qi (550-577) and the North Zhou (557-581) dynasties.
  • In the first half of the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534), the Xianbei steppe tribesmen who dominated northern China kept a policy of strict social distinction between them and their Chinese subjects.
  • The Eastern Jin dynasty fell not because of external invasion, however, but because General Liu Yu seized the throne from Emperor Gong and establishing himself as Emperor Wu of Liu Song (r. 420-422), which officially began the Northern and Southern dynasties.
  • All the Northern Dynasties (386-581) were established by the Xianbei people except for the North Qi Dynasty (this was established by the Sinicized barbarians).
  • Based on a wide variety of historical materials, A Buddhism History from the Han Dynasty to the Northern and Southern Dynasties describes the spread of Indian Buddhism in China from the Han Dynasty (221-206 BCE) to the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 CE) and concludes with the evolution of Buddhist thought in China during that period.
  • The first subperiod is bounded by the rise of Qin in the Warring States and the end of the last of the Six Dynasties in 589 C.E., the second by the consolidation of the Northern Wei in the fifth century and the final Mongol conquest of the Song in 1279, and the third by the Kitan conquest of part of north China in the tenth century and the fall of the imperial system as a whole in the twentieth century.
  • That usurpation ended the Jin dynasty and started the Liu Song Dynasty (AD 420-479), the first of 4 short-lived dynasties that controlled the unified southern part of China in succession.
  • The Song (aka Sung) dynasty ruled China from 960 to 1279 CE with the reign split into two periods: the Northern Song (960-1125 CE) and Southern Song (1125-1279 CE).
  • After capturing Kaifeng, the Jurchens went on to conquer the rest of northern China, while the Song Chinese court fled south.



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