The Jin Dynasty
The Jin Kingdom that was led by the Cao and Sima clans succeeded in conquering the two other states in their region that emerged from the fall of the Han Dynasty. Three kingdoms emerged from the Han Empire: Cao Wei in the north, Shu Han in the southwest around Sichuan, and Dong Wu in the southeast. In 263, Cao Wei conquered Shu Han. Then in 265, Sima Yan forced Cao Huan of Wei to abdicate. This started the Jin Empire and the Jin Dynasty. In 280, the Jin Empire conquered Dong Wu. The Jin Dynasty faced conflicts during a civil war and then an invasion of the Xiongnu in the year 304. Some of the ruling clan fled south and established a capital in Jiankang (today's Nanjing) in 317. This started the Eastern Jin Dynasty. The reign of the Jin Dynastic clan lasted until 420 and is divided into two periods, the Western Jin and Eastern Jin periods.
Beginnings of the Jin Empire (220-265)
The Han Empire broke up into three kingdoms that fought in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-263). Three rival regional leaders led the three kingdoms. They were Cao Cao (155–220 CE) who controlled the area north of the Yangtze River, Liu Bei (161-223) who controlled an inland area including Sichuan in the southwest, and Sun Quan (182-252) who controlled the southeast. The north was called Cao Wei (曹魏), the southwest was called Shu Han (蜀漢), and the southeast was called Dong Wu (東吳) that means Eastern Wu.
At first, the Cao clan ruled the kingdom. After the 230s, they were threatened by the Sima clan that held a lot of land. Sima Yi was a great general in Cao Wei. In 238, Sima Yi took over the capital of Luoyang. In 263, Wei launched a three-pronged attack against the Shu Han, and the Shu army was forced into a general retreat. In 263, Liu Shan surrendered, and Jin took over the territory of Shu Han. This marks the end of the Three Kingdoms Period.
In Cao Wei, the Cao clan still claimed the dynastic throne. Sima Yan forced Cao Huan to abdicate. This established the Jin Dynasty in 265.
Western Jin Empire (265-316)
The last state of the former Han Empire was Dong Wu in the southeast. In 269, the Jin Dynasty started construction of a navy to control the Yangtze River and ferry troops across to attack Dong Wu. This invasion came in 279 after ten years of preparation. In 280, Emperor Sun Hao of Dong Wu surrendered. In this way, the Jin Dynasty controlled the territory of the former Han Empire.
In 290, Emperor Wu died. There was a struggle for succession among the princes and a major civil war among the member of the ruling Sima clan that lasted until the year 307. During the civil war, their empire north of the Yangtze River was devastated. It is said that the battles depopulated the north and greatly weakened the Jin Dynasty and the Jin Empire.
The winner of these battles was the surviving prince named Sima Yue. Then a surprising event happened. During the Three Kingdoms Period, Xiongnu tribes who had been a major threat for centuries since the Qin Empire were brought into the region during the Three Kingdoms Period and conscripted as laborers. They rebelled in 304 while the Jin Dynasty was still weak from the civil war. With comparatively few troops, they killed millions of the people and forced many more to move south. In 316, some remaining clan members fled south to Jiankang (today's Nanjing). The Yangtze River was a natural barrier against further tribal attacks. The region north of the Yangtze became a number of tribally controlled regions, and the tribes fought a lot.
Eastern Jin Empire (317-420)
Sima Rui founded the Eastern Jin at Jiankang in 317. During this period, huge numbers of people moved south and developed it. The royal court was weak and regional rulers started to rebel.
A major treat to the Eastern Jin Empire was Former Qin. In the north, when the Jin army fled south in 317, there were about 16 tribally held regions, but one of them called Former Qin (351-394) conquered all the others in 376. In 383, their army attacked with perhaps about 300,000 troops that faced about 100,000 Jin troops. It is thought that perhaps half of their army was destroyed. This destabilized their government, and Former Qin ended in rebellions and attacks from other tribes in 394. This is considered one of the most important victories in the history of the region because the smaller Jin force killed a lot of the troops and dispersed the others. The south wasn't conquered by the tribal peoples.
This was a major victory, but the Eastern Jin Dynasty didn't last long after this. The ruling clan was toppled from power. The last Jin Dynasty emperor was Emperor Gong (386-421). He was given the throne when his brother was assassinated by the regent Liu Yu. He then abdicated to Liu Yu in 420. So Liu Yu became the first emperor of the Liu Song Dynasty.
- Chinese Dynasties
- The Xia Dynasty
- The Shang Dynasty
- The Zhou Dynasty
- Spring and Autumn Period
- Warring States Period
- The Qin Dynasty
- The Han Dynasty
- Three Kingdoms
- The Jin Dynasty
- The Sui Dynasty
- The Tang Dynasty
- The Western Xia Dynasty
- The Song Dynasty
- The Yuan Dynasty
- The Ming Dynasty
- The Qing Dynasty
- The Kingdom of Dali