Southern Dynasties 南朝


Chinese Name: 南朝

English Name: Southern Dynasties, Nan Chao

Duration: About 420 AD – 589 AD

King: Liu Yu 刘裕、Xiao Daocheng 萧道成、Xiao Yan 萧衍、Chen Baxian 陈霸先

Dynasties: Liu Song (420 – 479) 刘宋, Nan Qi (479-502) 南齐, Nan Liang (502-557) 南梁, Chen Dynasty (557-589) 陈朝

Southern Dynasties 南朝
Territory Map of Southern Dynasty 南朝疆域图

Brief Introduction

The Southern Dynasties 南朝 (420-589) is a general term for the four dynasties established by the Han nationality in Chinese history. There are twenty-four emperors, with a calendar of 169 years.

In 420, Emperor Wu of Song Dynasty Liu Yu 宋武帝刘裕 abolished Emperor Gong of Jin 晋恭帝 and established Liu Song 刘宋. With the demise of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Chinese history entered the Northern and Southern Dynasties. Later, the Qi Dynasty齐, Liang Dynasty 梁, and Chen Dynasty 陈 were successively replaced. The Song, Qi, Liang, and Chen dynasties were collectively referred to as the Southern Dynasties, and Jiankang 建康 (now Nanjing, Jiangsu 江苏南京) was the capital.

Southern Dynasties 南朝

The Southern Dynasties faced off with the Northern Wei 北魏, Eastern Wei 东魏, Western Wei 西魏, Northern Qi 北齐, Northern Zhou 北周, and other Northern Dynasties 北朝 established by the Xianbei nationality 鲜卑族. They are collectively known as the Northern and Southern Dynasties 南北朝.

The Southern Dynasties were established by the Han nationality after the Eastern Jin Dynasty. It has an extremely important position in Chinese history. It has made indelible contributions to the continuation, development, and dissemination of Chinese civilization.

Major Historical Events

Liu Song Dynasty 刘宋

Liu Yu, the founding emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty, was an emerging force developed in the late Eastern Jin Dynasty. He won the battle with the four families of the Eastern Jin Dynasty. And in 420 he abolished the Jin emperor.

Southern Dynasties 南朝
Liu Yu 刘裕

Self-established as emperor and the country was named the Song. In order to distinguish it from the Song Dynasty established by Zhao Kuangyin 赵匡胤, historians often call it “Liu Song” in the Southern Dynasties. Liu Yu implemented a series of recuperation policies before and after his accession to the throne.

In the early Song Dynasty, the emperors were wise, but in the late Song Dynasty, they gradually became arrogant and complacent. Successive tyrants and tyrants led to chaos in the government. During this period, Xiao Daocheng formed a powerful force and finally replaced Liu Song in 479.

Southern Qi Dynasty 南齐

The Southern Qi Dynasty is the shortest of the four southern dynasties, with only 23 years remaining. Xiao Daocheng, the emperor of Qi, learned the lessons of the fall of the Song Dynasty. Based on generosity, he advocated frugality.

Southern Dynasties 南朝
Xiao Daocheng 萧道成

He reigned for four years. Before he died, he asked his son, Emperor Wu of Qi 齐武帝, to continue to rule his policy. And don’t hurt each other. Emperor Wu complied with his will and continued to rule the country, which led to a relatively stable stage of development in the Southern Dynasties. After the death of Emperor Wu, the emperor of the state of Qi embarked on the old road of the demise of the Song Dynasty.

The Emperor Ming of Qi slaughtered the clan surnamed Xiao crazily so that the territory of Qi was shaken again. In 501, Xiao Yan 萧衍, the governor of Yongzhou 雍州, set up troops to attack Jiankang. Soon he abolished the emperor and ended the rule of Qi.

Southern Liang Dynasty 南梁

Xiao Yan, the founder of Liang in the Southern Dynasties, was a clan of the Southern Qi Dynasty. He was good at literature. He was appointed governor of Yongzhou in 499. He took advantage of the civil strife of the Qi court, sent troops to seize the throne, and established the Liang Dynasty.

Southern Dynasties 南朝
Debauchery and pleasure 荒淫作乐

This should have been a great opportunity for the development of the south. But Xiao Yan was fatuous and incompetent and superstitious about Buddhism. He connived in the minister’s exploitation of the people. He also ignored the suggestions of some loyal ministers under the excuse of his frugality.

In 548, Hou Jing 侯景, a general of the Eastern Wei Dynasty who surrendered to Liang, defected. In 549, he captured the capital of the Liang Dynasty and starved Xiao Yan to death. Hou Jing controlled the military and political power of the Liang Dynasty.

After eliminating other clan forces, Xiao Yi 萧驿 sent troops to crusade against Hou Jing. The war situation gradually reversed. Liang soldiers joined forces with Chen Baxian 陈霸先, who was stationed in Lingnan岭南. They recovered Jiankang in 552. Hou Jing fled by boat and was killed by his subordinates. The rebellion finally subsided.

Southern Dynasties 南朝
The chaos of Hou Jing 侯景之乱

Chen Dynasty 陈朝

In 557, Chen Baxian 陈霸先, developed in the war against Hou Jing, destroyed Liang and established Chen. At this point, Liang was declared downfall.

At this time, after years of war in southern China, the economy was seriously damaged. The country established on this basis is doomed to be short-lived. Chen Baxian and his successors successively eliminated the opposition forces such as Wang Sengbian 王僧辩 and Wang Sengzhi 王僧智. Then he defeated the Northern Qi army, which consolidated Chen’s rule to a certain extent.

Southern Dynasties 南朝
Chen Baxian 陈霸先

But after all, due to the decline of national power, the Northern Dynasty took advantage of the weakness and occupied a large area of land. Chen’s rule was limited to the south of the Yangtze River 长江 and the east of Yichang 宜昌. In 583, the north had been unified by the Sui Dynasty, and the reunification of the whole country was just around the corner.

In 589, Emperor Wen of Sui Dynasty Yang Jian 隋文帝杨坚 destroyed Chen, ending the separatist situation in China since the Eastern Jin Dynasty 东晋.

Important Influences

Many temples have been built

Buddhism flourished in the Southern Dynasty. From the emperor down to the people, even some Confucian scholars began to believe in Buddhism. Therefore, building temples and towers is naturally particularly popular.

Southern Dynasties 南朝
480 temples in the Southern Dynasty 南朝四百八十寺

However, most of the temples have disappeared in the long river of history. Later generations collected books and found that there were only more than 200 Buddhist temples in the Southern Dynasty.

An important period in the history of Chinese poetry

The emergence of landscape poetry 山水诗 not only made landscape an independent aesthetic object, added a theme to Chinese poetry, but also opened a new generation of poetry styles in the Southern Dynasties. After TaoYuanming’s 陶渊明 pastoral poetry, landscape poetry marks the further communication and harmony between man and nature. It marks the emergence of a new natural aesthetic concept and aesthetic taste.

Literary criticism has been fully developed

With the prosperity of literary creation, the discrimination of the literary system and the discussion of literary nature are more systematic and in-depth.

Southern Dynasties 南朝
Wen Xin Diao Long 文心雕龙

Liu Xie’s 刘勰The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons 文心雕龙” is an epoch-making masterpiece in the history of literary criticism. It is systematic, complete, rigorous, and comprehensively discusses all aspects of literary creation.

History of Southern Dynasties (China): Every Year

Chinese Dynasties

Three Kingdoms Period 三国时期

2022-5-18 18:11:58

Chinese Dynasties

Eastern Jin Dynasty 东晋

2022-7-14 10:55:16

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