The Three Kingdoms, the Jin, the Southern and Northern Dynasties, the Sui and the Tang: the Earlier Period of Ascendancy of Chinese Feudalism

The Three Kingdoms

Feudal society developed through a period of disunity in China in the Three Kingdoms, Western Jin and Eastern Jin, the Southern and northern Dynasties, and the short-lived Sui Dynasty to the reunification of the country in the 289-year-old Tang Dynasty, one of the most glorious eras in Chinese history. The Three Kingodms period, in which the rival states of Wei, Shu and Wu existed side by side, dates approximately from 220 to 266 (or as far back as 196 if calculated from the time that the Wei rose as a political entity). The Western Jin, ruled by four emperors of three generations, lasted 51 years, from 266 to 316; the Eastern Jin, ruled by 11 emperors of four generations, extended over 103 years, from 317 to 420. The Southern and Northern Dynasties period, 420-589, covers 169 years, starting from the two rival dynasties of Song and Northern Wei and ending with the conquest of the Cheng by the Sui, and going through the interwining period of the Qi and the Liang in the south and the Eastern Wei, the Western Wei, the Northern Qi and the Northern Zhou in the north. The dynasty of Sui, 581-618, had just two emperors of two generations on the throne for only 37 years. The 289-year-old Tang Dynasty, 618-907, was ruled by 20 emperors and 1 empress belonging to 14 generations. The Western and Eastern Jin dynasties also saw a number of independent local regimes, known in Chinese history as the Sixteen States.

The defeat of the Yellow Turban uprising at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty was followed by a tangled warfare of more than ten years between the various local feudal lords which was to end with the country divided and ruled by three of them. Cao Cao, who had been building up his political and military strength in the middle and lower Huanghe River valley, forced Emperor Xian Di to move his capital to Xuchang(in present-day Henan Province) in 196 and, in the emperor’s name, continued to expand his influence. However, Cao Cao found a formidable obstacle in Yuan Shao who had grown strong in Jizhou and Youzhou, both in present-day Hebei Province. Cao Cao and Yuan Shao fought a decisive battle in 200 at Guandu (now Zhongmou County, Henan Province), where Cao Cao’s smaller forces bested those of Yuan Shao, In the two or three years that followed, Cao Cao cleared off Yuan Shao’s remaining forces and brought the entire middle and lower Huanghe River valley under his control.

Around the time of the Battle of Guandu, the southern-based Sun Quan, who had carried on the cause pioneered by his father and elder brother, was ruling in the lower Changjiang River valley. Liu Bei, who claimed to be connected with the Han royal house, was also preparing for a bid for power. He had in his brain-trust the great statesman and military stategist Zhuge Liang and the services of the renowned generals Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun. However, without a stable political base, Liu Bei had to bide his time by seeking the patronage of Liu Biao, the Prefect of Jingzhou(the greater parts of modern Hubei and Hunnan provinces and southwestern Henan Province).

In 208, Cao Cao led a massive force southward to capture Jingzhou, chase Liu Bei around, and pose a direct menace to Sun Quan. At Zhuge Liang’s instance, Liu Bei and Sun Quan decided to put up joint resistance to Cao Cao. Sun Quan’s army, led by its field marshal Zhou Yu, set fire to scores of Cao Cao’s war vessels on the Changjiang River at Chibi1. Taking advantage of the ensuing confusion, the allied forces of Sun Quan and Liu Bei, totalling less than50,000, launched an allout attack and crushed the hostile army thal boasted more than 200,000 men. After Cao Cao pulled back to his northern base, Sun Quan consolidated his position in the south while Liu Bei seized part of the regions under the jurisdiction of Jingzhou Prefecture and later took Yizhou (mostly in present-day Sichuan Province ) in the west. And so a situation arose in which the country was divided and ruled by the three feudal lords.

After Cao Cao’s death in 220, his son, Cao Pi, deposed the Eastern Han emperor Xian Di and proclaimed himself Emperor of Wei with Luoyang as his capital. The following year, Liu Bei declared himself Emperor of Han, historically known as the Kingdom of Shu oi Shu Han, and made Chengdu his capital. In 229, following the examples of Cao Pi and Liu Bei, Sun Quan called himself Emperor of Wu with the capital at Jianye (now Nanjing City , Jiangsu Province). These kingdoms—Wei, Shu and Wu—are known as the Three Kingdoms in Chinese history.

Before the Battle of Guandu, Cao Cao had introduced a land reclamation system1 in the Xuchang area with excellent results. Aftet setting up the Kingdom of Wei , Cao Pi enforced the system on a largei scale, had large numbers of water conservancy works built and many paddy fields opened up, quickly reviving and developing the wartorn economy in the Huanghe River valley. Politically, the Wei had many more talented people in its service than the two other states because Cao Cao promoted people to important posts on their merit rather than on their family background.

In the Kingdom of Wu the land reclamation system was also introduced extensively in the Changjiang and Huaihe river valleys. Irrigation works were built in what is now Zhejiang Province and advanced production technique was brought from the north to develop the lower Changjiang River areas. The Kingdom of Wu was also enthusiastic about forging ties with the outside world. Under orders fromSun Quan in 230, Wei Wen and Zhuge Zhi led a large fleet with10,000 soldiers aboard to Yizhou (now Taiwan ). Three years later, another Wu fleet of the same size called at Liaodong along the northeastern coast and brought back some of the local fine-breed horses. Sun Quan also sent Kang Tai and Zhu Ying as his envoys to various states on the South China Sea . Upon their return, Kang Tai and Zhu Ying wrote books on their travels. Merchants from the Roman Empire came by the South China Sea route to trade in Wu, some of them staying as long as seven or eight years.

As Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Shu , Zhuge Liang worked hard to develop agricultural production in Sichuan . He appointed special officials in charge of the ancient Dujiang Weir and hadmany more water works built. To secure a peaceful environment for the kingdom, he took care to improve relations with the ethnic minorities inhabiting presentday Guizhou and Yunnan provinces and to strengthen the political, economic and cuttural ties between the HarL people and these ethnic minorities.

The Wei reached a higher level of cultural development than the other two states. A new sect appeared in the realm of philosophy, called xuan xue (a school of Taoism) which took the three books—Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi and the Book of Changes—as its “Three Classics”. The founder of this school was Wang Pi (226-49), a native of Shanyang (now Jiaozuo City , Henan ) and author of Annotations to “Lao Zi”, Notes on the “Book of Changes” and A Brief Exposition of the “Book of Changes”. Wang Pi preached that Nonbeing was more important than Being and the world of Being took Nonbeing as its substance. This theory of objective idealism boiled down to “acting without striving” or “letting things take their natural courses”. In other words, it aimed to relegate feudal moral codes to a secondary position and provided members of the feudal upper strata with excuses for their greediness and indulgence. An ideological reflection of the depraved life of the upper strata at that time, Wang Pi’s works nevertheless had extensive influence in the history of Chinese philosophy. Cao Cao (155-220) and his sons Cao Pi (187-226) and Cao Zhi (192-232) were all great names in literature. Cao Cao’s poems, A Short Song and A Stroll Out of Summer Gate, written in a plaintive style at once virile and unrestrained, rank among the most famous in Chinese poetry. The Historical Allusions and Essays by Cao Pi is the earliest piece of literary criticism extant in China . The poems of Cao Zhi have left their mark on the development of the wu yan shi (poems with five characters to a line).

The relationship between the three states began with Wu and Shu joining hands against Wei. Later the two allies fell out in their scramble over Jingzhou. In 220, when Guan Yu, commander of the Shu garrison in Jingzhou, was locked in battle with the Wei forces, Wu sprang a surprise attack, captured Jingzhou and killed Guan Yu. In 222, Liu Bei led a huge force out of Shu in an expedition against Wu. A decisive battle was fought at Yiling (north of Yidu County , Hubei Province), in which the Shu troops were routed. Liu Bei died the following year, and his son, Liu Chan, succeeded to the throne with the help of Prime Minister Zhuge Liang. Zhuge Liang switched back to the earlier policy of alliance with Wu against Wei, his aim being to drive north to occupy the Central Plains and re-cover the cause of the Han house. But the several northern expedi-tions he did undertake failed. In the last expedition in 234, Zhuge Liang died on his sickbed at the front at a time when his army was fighting to a stalemate with the Wei forces under the command of Field Marshal Sima Yi at Wuzhangyuan (southwest of Meixian County , Shaanxi Province). The Shu troops then pulled back to Sichuan . From then on, Shu declined while the state power of Wei gradually passed into the hands of the Sima family. After the death of Sima Yi, his sons, Sima Shi and Sima Zhao, successively held the reins of the Wei government, relegating the Wei emperor to the status of a figurehead.

In 263, Wei vanquished Shu. Three years later, Sima Yan de-throned the Wei emperor and established the Jin Dynasty (historically known as the Western Jin), with the capital remaining at Luoyang as during the Wei Dynasty. In 280, Sima Yan, later known as Emperor Wu Di of Jin, defeated Wu and unified though only for a short pe-riod-the China that had remained divided for scores of years after the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty.

The Western Jin, the Eastern Jin and the Sixteen States

The 25-year reign (266-290) of Emperor Wu Di was a compara-tively quiet period in the Western Jin Dynasty. His measures, such as relief for refugees, lessening of and exemption from corvée and compulsory marriage between men and women of age, led to a rapid in-crease in the country’s population. In the 15 years from 266, both the number of households and population in the north rose by more than 100 per cent—an important indicator of social stability at the time. Another indicator was the wholesale migration to the hinterland of the people of the ethnic minorities in the frontier regions, such as the Xiongnu, Xianbei, Jie, Di and Qiang.

The changes in the throne in the Wei-Jin period had beer brought about through palace coups. Emperor Wu Di believed he could avoid this by building up the influence of the royal family in the localities as reliable force to shore up the court. He enfeoffed large numbers of the members of the Jin house, 27 of them with princely titles and their own principalities, armed forces and the power to appoint and remove their civil and military officers. This practice of Wu Di did change the situation prevailing in the kingdom of Wei , in which the various prin-ces were mere figureheads. But he had not foreseen that it would the way for new power struggles.

During Wu Di’s time, the Jia and Yang families—both relatives of court ladies gradually came into political prominence. After Emperor Hui Di succeeded to the throne, Empress Dowager Yang and her father, Yang Jun, took over state power by a joint scheme and so set the stage for a great turmoil that was to sweep across the cc291, Empress Jia, the wife of Emperor Hui Di, ganged up Prince of Chu, Sima Wei, and killed Yang Jun, his family r relatives and followers several thousand all told and appo Prince of Runan, Sima Liang, as regent. Shortly afterwards press Jia’s order, Sima Liang was murdered by Sima Wei whc turn, was put to death by the Empress. Largescale intemec then ensued, involving, one time or another, eight princes of family for a period of 16 years (291-306). These wars, known as the “Disturbances of the Eight Princes”, dislocated the social economy and devastated the nation’s population, rending millions homeless. The Western Jin government was paralysed.

The last few years of the “Disturbances of the Eight Princes” saw refugees and immigrants of the ethnic minorities rising against g Jin regime in one rebellion after another. In 301, the officials of Yizhou aroused a storm of protest when they ordered refugees to return to their home towns and villages. Led by Li Te, a Di immigrant, the refugees rebelled and occupied Guanghan (in modern Sichuan Province ). In 304, Li Xiong; Li Te’s son, captured Chengdu and declared himself King of Chengdu. Two years later, he proclaimed him-self emperor and called his domain Kingdom of Dacheng. The Xiongnu (Hun) noble, Liu Yuan, also assumed the title of king in the same year Li Xiong claimed himself King of Chengdu. Four years later, he declared himself emperor and called his domain Kingdom of Han, with the capital at Pingyang (southwest of present-day Linfen City , Shanxi ). The two independent regimes were the earliest of the Sixteen States. Beginning in 309, Liu Yuan and his son Liu Cong, launched a series of unsuccessful attacks on Luoyang , the Western Jin capital. In 311 Liu Cong occupied Luoyang , and in 316 captured Chang’an. He took prisoner both Emperor Huai Di and his successor, Emperor Min Di, which spelled the end of the Western Jin Dynasty.

Subsequently, the Kingdom of Dacheng was renamed Han, his-torically known as the Cheng Han. The Kingdom of Han established by Liu Yuan moved its capital to Chang’an and was renamed Zhao, historically known as the Former Zhao. In the north, there were the Later Zhao, Former Liang, Former Yan, Former Qin and other inde-pendent regimes. In the south, an Eastern Jin Dynasty was set up by Sima Rui, a member of the Jin royal house.

The Later Zhao was set up in 319 by Shi Le, a Jie tribesman and previously general in Liu Yuan’s service, its capital being first at Xiangguo (southwest of present-day Xingtai City , Hebei ) and then at Ye (southwest of present-day Linzhang County , Hebei ). At its height, the Later Zhao occupied present-day Hebei , Shanxi , Shandong , Shaanxi and Henan provinces as well as parts of Gansu , Jiangsu , Anhui , Hubei and Liaoning provinces, making itself the largest of the Sixteen States.

The Former Liang, founded by Zhang Mao, a Han, in 320, cov-ered northwestern Gansu , southern Xinjiang and a part of Qinghai , with its capital at Guzang (now Wuwei County , Gansu Province).

The Former Yan, established by the Xianbei noble Murong Huang in 337, dominated Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan and a part of Liaoning, with its capital first at Longcheng (now Chaoyang County, Liaoning Province) and then at Ye. A powerful state in the north the Former Yan enjoyed political stability for a time.

The Former Qin was founded in 351, with its capital in Chang’ an, by the Di tribesman Fu Jian who was succeeded by Fu Jian a year later, in 352. Fu Jian’s prime minister Wang Meng, a Han statesman, adopt-ed a policy of restraining the big landlords and easing the burden of the people, which enabled the Former Qin to enjoy a stability virtually denied to China since the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. Over the years, Fu Jian annexed the lands of the Later Zhao, Former Liang and Former Yan to unify the greater part of northern China .

In 317, Sima Rui proclaimed himself emperor of Eastern Jin (known in history as Emperor Yuan Di), making Jiankang (previously called Jianye, now Nanjing City ) his capital. As he had little to start out with, he enlisted the support of the statesman Wang Dao, who brought together the big immigrant northern landlords and the south- ern landholders in a joint effort to prop up the Eastern Jin regime in southern China . Of the ranking Eastern Jin officials, Zu Di was the most insistent on a northern expedition to recover the Central Plain. With little backing from the court, he led a small expeditionary force north which, after eight years’ bitter fighting, regained some of the lost territories. The expedition stopped in 321 after Zu Di’s death. Twenty-six years later, the Eastern Jin general Huan Wen vanquished Cheng Han. In 354, he led a force against the Former Qin and fought his way straight to Bashang at the doorstep of its capital, Chang’an. In369, he drove as far north as Fangtou (southwest of present-day Junxi-an County, Henan ) in an expedition against the Former Yan. These victories, though unprecedented in the military history of the Eastern Jin, were soon followed by a series of setbacks. This, combined with Huan Wen’s anabition to usurp the throne, gave rise to sharp contra-dictions and power struggles within the Eastern Jin ruling clique. Af-ter Huan Wen’s death in 373, Xie An became the chief minister. Alt-hough peace reigned in Eastern Jin, the menace of Former Qin loomed.

In 383, the ruler of the Former Qin, Fu Jian, led an infantry force of 600,000 and a cavalry force of 270,000 in a march on the Eastern Jin. Obsessed with the desire to swallow up the Eastern Jin, Fu Jian boasted, “We can stop the flow of any river by throwing our riding whips into it!” The opposing army was much smaller, with only80,000 men under the command of Xie Shi and Xie Xuan. But the Qin army, outwardly strong, was actually a force with low morale. Many of its men had been conscripted against their will; the Han officers and men in the ranks were half-hearted about the war and the Xianbei and Liang tribal chiefs each had his own axe to grind. Liu Laozhi, a sub- ordinate general of Xie Xuan, led a 5,00Q-strong crack force in a skirmish against the Qin vanguard unit at Luojian (east of present-day Huainan County , Anhui ). The Qin unit suffered 15,000 casualties. When the Jin army advanced to the east bank of the Feishui (now Feihe River south of Shouxian County , Anhui ), it asked the Qin troops to move back a little for it to cross the river for a decisive battle. Fu Jian complied, hoping to strike his blow home when the Jin troops were half-way across. But when the order of withdrawal was issued, the Qin troops panicked and ran. Jumping at the opportunity, the Eastern Jin troops launched a full-scale offensive, scattering the en-emy. By the time Fu Jian reached Luoyang , his army was down to only a little more than 100,000 men.

The Battle of Feishui was followed by a great change in the situ-ation in northern China . Between 384 and 385, a number of states appeared in what had been the Former Qin’s territory, such as the Later Qin set up by the Qiang tribesman Yao Chang, the Later Yan by the Xianbei tribesman Murong Chui, the Western Qin by another Xi-anbei tribesman Qifu Guoren, and the Later Liang by the Di tribesman Lti Guang. Fu Jian was captured and killed by Yao Chang in 385. In the 12 years between 397 and 409, six more states emerged as the Northern Liang, the Southern Liang and the Western Liang split off from the Later Liang; the Southern Yan and Northern Yan from Later Yan; and the Xia from Later Qin. These ten states were the last inde-pendent regimes to emerge among the sixteen states. Plagued by inter-necine wars among these states, northern China was thrown into con-fusion which ended only in 439 when the Northern Wei reunified that part of the country.

Exploiting its victory in the Battle of Feishui, the Eastern Jin launched a northern expedition and regained some of the lost terri-tories. Genreal Liu Laozhi fought all the way to the city of Ye, the former capital of Later Zhao and Former Yan. These victories, however, failed to resolve the internal contradictions of the Eastern Jin regime. After Xie An died in 385, Sima Daozi, a member of the royal house, and his son, Sima Yuanxian, were placed in power, setting off a struggle within the ruling house as well as between the royal house and the influential households. In 389, Huan Xuan, General Huan Wen’s son, rebelled against the Simas and carved out his sphere of influence in Jiangzhou Prefecture (now Jiujiang City, Jiangxi), not far upstream from the Eastern Jin capital Jiankang. In399, the people of Guiji (now Shaoxing County, Zhejiang), unable to bear the misrule of the Simas, rebelled in force and, led by Sun En, inflicted one defeat after another on the government forces. After Sun En died in 402, his cause was carried on by Lu Xun. That same year, Huan Xuan stormed into Jiankang and killed the Simas. In 404, Huan Xuan deposed Emperor An Di and proclaimed him-self emperor. But three or four months later, Liu Yu, Liu Laozhi’s subordinate general, drove him out of Jiankang and placed Emperor An Di back on the throne. Then Liu Yu sent an expeditionary force north against the Southern Yan and the Later Qin and another to suppress the insurgents led by Lu Xun. Having built up his own prestige, Liu Yu decided in 420 to take over the throne. He dis- missed the emperor and replaced the Eastern Jin with his Song Dynasty.

During the tumultuous years from the Western Jin to the Sixteen States, the ruling classes needed something to take their minds off the harsh realities and to lull the will of the people. Buddhism with its tenets of reincarnation and transmigration enabled people to find an escape from their cares by pinning their hopes for happiness on a next life. For the time, its doctrines were more attractive than those of Con-fucianism and the Xuan Xue School . Famous Buddhist monks in this period included Zhu Fa Hu of the Western Jin and Fo Tu Cheng, Dao An, Hui Yuan and Jiu Mo Luo Shi of the Eastern Jin. Jiu Mo Luo Shi (Kumarajiva) was a well-known Buddhist author and translator. In 399, the monk Fa Xian went west in search of-Buddhist scriptures. When he returned to China 14 years later, he wrote of his travels in A Record of the Buddhist Countries in which he described the Buddhist devel-opments, natural landscapes and customs in India , Pakistan , Nepal and Sri Lanka . The book is the earliest detailed account of China ‘s sea and land communications with the outside world and provides important material for historical studies. While it was an appendage to the Xuan Xue School during the Western Jin period, Buddhism enjoyed greater influence in the Eastern Jin Dynasty, and more so in the north than in the south.

The Western and Eastern Jin period also witnessed the spread of the Xuan Xue School . Its principal exponent in this period, Pei Wei (267-300), author of On the Importance of Being, opposed Wang Bi’s doctrine of Non-being. He argued that Non-being could not produce Being, by which he meant the feudal ethical code, which was indis- pensable to the landlord class for maintaining its rule. Guo Xiang (252-312), author of Annotations to “Zhuang Zi”, identified Being (the feudal ethical code) with Non-being (real nature). According to him, the feudal distinctions between the high and the low and between the rich and the poor are only natural, and the different classes should accept things as they are. It followed that it should be taken for grant- ed that people of rank were free to enjoy a dissipated life while the poor should suffer under feudal exploitation.

In the world of literature, Lu Ji (261-303) and Zuo Si (c. 250-305) of the Western Jin excelled in poetry. Lu Ji’s special treatise, On Po-etry Writing, contributed to the development of China ‘s literary thought. The Ode to the Three Capitals (of the Three Kingdoms), written by Zuo Si in a vigorous style, created such a stir among the men of lettres that it was copied and passed from hand to hand, causing a shortage of paper supply in the capital city of Luoyang. Tao Yuanming (365-427), the poet and prose writer of the Eastern Jin, was famous for his five-character poems full of poetic imagination and the flavor of rustic life. Formerly an Eastern Jin official, Tao Yuanming resigned after becoming disillusioned with the corrupt government to lead a secluded life in the countryside. His outstanding prose piece, Peach Blossom Stream, a description of a Chinese Arcadia, expressed his longing for a society without power struggle, cut-throat competi-tion, lying and cheating. During the Western and Eastern Jin period, the pian ti wen (a flowery antithetic style of writing) was very popular. It was gorgeous in form but lacked depth.

Calligraphy and painting reached a high level of development in the Eastern Jin. Wang Xizhi (321-379 or 306-61) absorbed the essence of calligraphy of the Han-Wei period and created a style of his own to earn his fame as the “Sage Calligrapher”. Gu Kaizhi (345-406) was noted for his portraits of human figures with highly expressive eyes. The mural painting of Vimalakirti, a lay Buddhist, done for the Waguan Temple of Jiankang, impressed art-lovers with its brightly coloured and finely drawn lines. His work, On the Art of Painting, was a masterpiece on painting techniques.

The Western and Eastern Jin period turned out more historical works than ever. There were an outpouring of history books on the Eastern Han, the Three Kingdoms, the Jin and the Sixteen States, no- tably the History of the Three Kingdoms by Chen Shou (233-297), An Extension of the History of the Han Dynasty by Sima Biao ( ?-c. 306 ) and Records of the Later Han Dynasty by Yuan Hong (328-376). The History of the Three Kingdoms enjoys a fame only next to that of Re-cords of the Historian and History of the Han Dynasty. Written in biographical form, it describes the rise, growth and fall of the Three Kingdoms. An Extension of the History of the Han Dynasty originally had 80 juan but only 30, about the institutions and statutes of the Eastern Han Dynasty, survive. Records of the Later Han Dynasty, annals of the Eastern Han, shows innovation in the preservation and compilation of historical material.

The period from the Western Jin to the Sixteen States, though a period of turmoil in Chinese history, established the preliminary con-ditions for the re-unification of China –conditions which further de-veloped during the Southern and Northern Dynasties.

Both the construction of Luoyang and the digging of the Grand Canal took a heavy toll among the builders. When the Yongji Channel was being cut, the shortage of able-bodied men was made up by women. After the canal was completed, Yang Guang repeatedly went on pleasure trips to Jiangdu by boat, imposing a heavy strain on the nation’s manpower and material resources.

Yang Guang was an emperor with a craze for the grandiose. To punish the Korean king for his refusal to pay respects to the Sui court, he launched three successive wars against Korea in the three years 612-14. A great deal of manpower, material and financial resources were wasted on these wars, bringing the class contradictions at home fever pitch.

Popular uprisings had been brewing prior to the wars against Ko-rea, when millions of peasants were pressed into military and labour service. Many of the warship builders along the coast at Donglai in present-day Shandong ‘Province had maggots below their waisflines from working days and nights in water. Three or four out of every ten of the labourers were literally worked to death.

The stage for the late Sui peasant revolts was set in 611, when the peasant leader Wang Bo started an uprising in the Changbai Moun-tains (in modem Zhangqiu County , Shandong ). He rallied the peasants around him by composing a song, “Don’t Go and Die in Liaodong” Wang Bo’s uprising inspired others led by Dou Jiande, Du Fuwei, Fu Gongshi and Zhai Rang in Shandong, Hebei, Shaanxi, Guangdol Zhejiang and Ningxia. These peasant forces, some of them tens of thousands while others more than a hundred thousand strong, captured towns and cities and killed corrupt officials and local tyrants.

The outbreak of the peasant rebellions caused divisions within the ruling clique. Seeing that the bulk of the government troops were pinned down by the fast-expanding peasant forces, Yang Xuangan, a Sui noble, also rose against the court in 613 with an army which quickly grew to some 100,000. He was soon defeated, but many of the rebels under him went over to swell the ranks of the peasant insur-gents.

The unit led by Zhai Rang operated in Henan Province , with Wa-gang (near Hlaaxian County , Henan ) as its base. In 616, Li Mi, another Sui noble who had been with Yang Xuangan in his rebellion, joined the Wagang army. He won over many lesser armed bands to the Wa-gang side, which swiftly expanded to become the most formidable peasant force. In 617, the Wagang army captured the Xingluo Granary and distributed the grain among the poor and destitute. This won en-thusiastic mass support for the Wagang army, which by now had grown to hundreds of thousands until finally Luoyang was completely isolated from the greater part of Henan .

Meanwhile, the insurgent force led by Dou Jiande, which had been active at Gojibo (northwest of Enxian County, Shandong), fought its way to Hebei Province where, in 617, it wiped out the Sui main force under General Xue Shixiong and captured many towns and cit-ies.

The band that had been manoeuvring in the Changjiang and Huaihe river valleys under the leadership of Du Fuwei and Fu Gong-shi also defeated repeated Sui attacks and incorporated many lesser hands. By early 618, its influence had reached the areas along the Changjiang, posing a direct menace to Jiangdu where Yang Guang was enjoying himself on one of his pleasure trips.

The flames of peasant uprisings continued to rage until they en-gulfed the greater part of the Sui domain, leaving only Luoyang , Jiangdu and a few other secluded cities unscorched. Seeing that the situation had grown out of hand, many local officials, landlords and nobles began to look around for ways to preserve themselves or to expand their own influence in the turmoil. Some even renounced their allegiance to Sui and proclaimed themselves king or emperor. In 617, Li Yuan, an aristocrat, led an army revolt in Taiyuan and captured Chang’an. In spring the following year, Yang Guang was assasinated in Jiangdu. Soon afterwards, Li Yuan declared himself emperor of Tang, historically known as Emperor Gao Zu of the Tang Dynasty.

The Southern and Northern Dynasties

The Song established by Liu Yu and the three successive dynasties of Southern Qi , Liang and Chen are known as the Southern Dynasties. They all had their capital at Jiankang. In its early days Song controlled a domain much larger than the other three, its northern territory stretching from Tongguan in Shaanxi in the west to Qingzhou (now Yidu County , Shandong Province) in the east. Liu Yu, later known as Emperor Wu Di, was the most powerful ruler of the South since the Eastern Jin period. After he ascended the throne in 424, Emperor Wen Di continued Liu Yu’s policy and concentrated on strengthening the court, so that the economy in the Changjiang River valley enjoyed relative stability during his 30-year reign.

In the early Song period, there were five states in the north, the Western Liang, Northern Liang, Northern Yan , Western Qin and Xia. In 386, Tuoba Gui, a member of the Tuoba clan of the Xianbei tribe, set up the state of Northern Wei. In 398, he made Pingcheng (east of present Datong City , Shanxi ) has capital and, the following year, proclaimed himself emperor, later known as Dao Wu Di. In 423, Emperor Ming Yuan Di of the Northern Wei crossed the Huanghe River in a march on the Song and seized Luoyang and other places south of the river. In 439, Emperor Tai Wu Di of the Northern Wei conquered Northern Liang and unified the north that had been divided and ruled by the Sixteen States.

The more than 30 years after 420 marked the early, golden period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. In 450, a largescale war broke out between the Song and the Northern Wei. The following year, although the Northern Wei troops had swept all the way to Guabu (now Liuhe County , Jiangsu ), many of the towns and cities on the route of their march remained in the Song’s hands. The war ended with tremendous losses to both sides. In 452, Emperor Tai Wu Di of the Northern Wei was murdered by the eunuch Zong Ai and the following year Emperor Wen Di of Song was killed by Liu Shao, the heirapparent. These events were harbingers of constant turmoil and gradual decline for both the southern and northern states and marked the beginning of the middle period of the Southern and Northern Dy In the 26 years after Emperor Wen Di’s death Song went through the reign of six sovereigns, three of whom were murdered. In 479, Xiao Daocheng, Commander of the Imperial Guards, usurped the power of the Song and changed its name to Qi, or the Southern Qi as historians call it. Xiao Daocheng was later known as Emperor Gao Di of Qi. The Southern Qi was the most unstable of the Southern Dynasties. In 22 years, it was ruled by seven emperors, three of whom were either deposed or murdered. In 486, Tang Yuzhi led an uprising J Fuyang (in present-day Zhejiang ), which touched off a series of other uprisings. In 501, Xiao Yan, Garrison Commander of Xiangyang (near presentday Xiangfan City , Hubei Province), who had long been on the lookout for his chances, took advantage of disturbances in the Southern Qi to seize power. In one fell swoop, he renamed the dynasty Liang. Xiao Yan, later known as Emperor Wu Di, reigned for 48 years without embroiling his state in sizable wars. However, the rule of Liang, while outwardly stable, rested on a weak foundation as the peasants, ground down by ruthless exploitation, started one riot after another.

After Emperor Tai Wu Di’s murder, the Northern Wei was torn by even sharper conflicts between classes and ethnic groups as well torn by contradictions within the ruling class and the ruling tribe of Xianbei. In 471, when Xiao Wen Di ascended the throne as a baby, sta power fell into the hands of Empress Dowager Feng. The Empress Dowager adopted a policy a policy carried on after her death Emperor Xiao Wen Di that helped fuse the Xianbei with the Han people. Between 484 and 486, Emperor Xiao Wen Di carried out a number of political reforms geared to the social customs of the Han people, including the introduction of regular salaries* for government officials and the system of land equalization for peasants. After moving his capital from Pingcheng to Luoyang in 493, the emperor issued an order banning tribal languages and the wearing of tribal dress and
encouraging the Xianbeis to adopt Han surnames and marry the Hans. This policy helped to win the support of the Han landlords for the Northern Wei regime and consequently to consolidate the foundation of its rule. But for the Xianbei, the policy created a gap in political treatment and material benefits between the Xianbei nobles who had moved south to the Huanghe River valley and the Xianbei garrison commanders in the northern frontiers. A process of impoverishment was going on among the Xianbei soldiers guarding the northern frontiers. This, coupled with the compulsory nature of the policy of the assimilation of Han culture, sharpened the contradictions within the Xianbei tribe and tended to weaken the foundation of the Northern Wei regime. Incessant uprisings of the people took place during the reign of Emperor Xiao Wen Di and, after 497, unsuccessful wars were waged against the Southern Qi . All this showed the instability of the political situation and the flabbiness of the government.

In 523, mutinies were staged by the garrison soldiers of Woye, Huaishuo, Wuchuan, Fuming, Rouxuan (all in modern Inner Mongolia) and Huaifang (north of Zhangjiakou, Hebei), followed by many others in present-day Hebei, Shandong, Shaanxi and Gansu. The insurgent leaders included Poliuhanbaling, Du Luozhou, Xianyuxiuli and Ge Rong. Taking advantage of the turmoil, frontier commanders seized control of the Northern Wei government. In 534, Northern Wei was divided into the eastern and western parts. The Eastern Wei came un- der the control of General Gao Huan, a Han who had adapted himself to Xianbei customs and practices, while power in the Western Wei fell into the hands of General Yuwen Tai, a member of the Yuwen clan of the Xianbei tribe. In 550, Gao Huan’s son, Gao Yang, declared him- self emperor and changed the Eastern Wei to the Northern Qi . In 557, Yuwen Tai’s son, Yuwen Jue, deposed the Western Wei emperor and set up the Northern Zhou. Both the Eastern Wei and the Northern Qi had their capital at Ye while both the Western Wei and the Northern Zhou had their capital at Chang’an. The areas east of Luoyang were successively held by the Eastern Wei and the Northern Qi which both controlled Luoyang itself, while those west of it by the Western Wei and the Northern Zhou.

The split of Northern Wei which marked the beginning of the later period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties, tipped the scale in favour of the south. The rulers of the Liang Dynasty could have seized this golden opportunity to launch an expedition against the north, but they let it slip through their fingers. In 547, the Eastern Wei general Hou Jing, who was stationed south of the Huanghe River and had a personal grudge against Gao Cheng, another son of General Gao Huan, surrendered to the Liang. Emperor Wu Di of the Liang then ordered him to attack the Eastern Wei with a supporting force dis-patched by the court. Defeated by the Eastern Wei, Hou Jing saw an opportunity to turn this situation to his own advantage as he pulled his army back in a southward drive. The following year, he marched on Jiankang, and laid siege to the palace city of Taicheng , where Emperor Wu Di starved to death. Hou Jing’s troops ravaged Jiankang and some of the other richest places in the south, looting or burning much of t[ wealth accumulated from the time of the Eastern Jin. In 552, General Chen Baxian defeated Hou Jing, recovered Jiankang and, in 555 placed Xiao Fangzhi on the throne of the Liang. In 557, Chen Baxian deposed the emperor and established the Chen Dynasty. He was later known as Emperor Wu Di of the Chen. Rising from the ruins of Liang, the Chen government directed all its efforts towards the rehabilitation of the social economy in its early period. The Chen was the smallest of the Southern Dynasties, its domain smaller than all its precursors—the Song, the Qi and the Liang, and its northern border reaching only the southern bank of the Changjiang River. However, it was stror enough to resist the incursions of the Northern Qi and the Northern Zhou. In 573, it allied with the Northern Zhou in a successful expedi-tion against the Northern Qi .

Generally speaking, neither the Liang nor the Chen of the south was in a position to make anything out of the divisions in the north. In the north, there was a negligible gap in strength between the Eastern and the Western Wei and between the Northern Qi and the NortheJ Zhou. But the Northern Zhou rested on sounder political ground and its military strength had grown steadily. On the other hand, the North- ern Qi after the reign of Gao Yang had been ruled by tyrants, each worse than the previous one, until finally not even the ruling clique could close its own ranks. The north was reunified in 577 when Em- peror Wu Di of the Northern Zhou conquered Northern Qi . Emperor Wu Di died in 578, and was succeeded by Emperor Xuan Di, a corrupt and fatuous monarch. When his son, Emperor Jing Di, succeeded to the throne at the age of eight, power fell into the hands of Yang Jian, a royal relative on the female line. In 581, Yang Jian proclaimed himself emperor and set up the Sui Dynasty in place of the Northern Zhou. In589, Yang Jian, later known as Emperor Wen Di of the Sui, wiped out the Chen in the south and brought the whole of China under his uni- fied control.

From the time of Emperor Wen Di of Song, many venerable Buddhist monks came to China from the west, and Buddhism of vari- ous sects flourished during the Southem and Northern Dynasties. Large numbers of Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures were translated into Chinese. Among the emperors and princes, the most devout Buddhists were Xiao Ziliang, Prince of Jingling of the Qi, and Emperor Wu Di of the Liang. Emperor Wu Di many times retired to a Buddhist temple to become a novice and each time had to be bought out of the temple by his ministers. At one time, Jiankang alone boasted more than 500 Buddhist monasteries housing upwards of 100,000 monks and nuns. Famous Buddhist monks were held in awe by people of rank and title. Monks such as Fa Yun, Zhi Cang and Seng Min drew large audiences of nobles and scholars whenever they preached Buddhist teachings.

During the Sixteen States period, the Former Liang and the Northern Liang were the Buddhist centres in the north. Buddhism lost ground for a time under Emperor Tai Wu Di of the Northern Wei, who suppressed Buddhism in favour of Taoism. But after Emperor Xiao Wen Di of the Northern Wei moved his capital to Luoyang , the Em-presses Dowager of several generations believed in Buddhism, and the religion began to catch on again. During the reign of Emperor Xuan Wu Di the Venerable Bodhidharma came to Northern Wei from south-em India to teach Buddhism in the north after preaching in south China . He advocated meditating, cultivating the mind, and getting rid of wishful thinking for the salvation of the soul and opposed the way famous Buddhist monks in the south lumped Buddhism and Xuan Xue together in their preachings. The Chan sect founded by him was an influential one, popular first in the north and later spreading to the south. Large numbers of Buddhist monasteries were built in the north, with over 1,300 in Luoyang alone and more than 30,000 throughout the domain of the Northern Wei. The rulers of the Northern Dynasties expended fabulous amounts of money, manpower and material suppli-es on the digging of grottoes at Yungang in Datong, Shanxi Provin~ and at Longmen in Luoyang, Henan Province. Each of these grottoes was bejewelled with exquisitely executed Buddhist images. The 53 existing Yungang Grottoes, completed before the Northern Wei moved its capital to Luoyang, contain over 51,000 Buddhist images, the tallest of which is 17 metres. Digging of the Longmen Grottoes started around the time when the Northern Wei made Luoyang its capital a continued down to the Tang period. During the Northern and Western Wei dynasties, work continued on the Dunhuang Grottoes dug in the Sixteen States period in Gansu Province and a host of Buddhist statu were added. Yungang, Longmen and Dunhuang are all world-famous for their engravings.

When Buddhism was gaining ground both in the south and the north, the outstanding atheist Fan Zhen (c. 450-515) voiced his oppo-sition in his On the Destructibility of the Soul written at the end of the Southern Qi Dynasty. He said that the soul and the body are interde-pendent. According to him, the soul is to the body as sharpness is to the blade; as sharpness cannot exist independently of the blade, ne-ither can the soul exist independently of the body. If the body dies, the soul dies too, he said. The professions about the undying soul, rein-carnation, transmigration and retribution, he contended, are absurdities pure and simple. Fan Zhen’s theories came as a shock to the Buddhist believers. Prince Xiao Ziliang of the Southern Qi summoned many learned Buddhist monks to debate Fan Zhen, but they were unable to demolish his arguments. In 507, Emperor Wu Di of the Liang organ-ized more than 60 dignitaries and learned monks for another deba and again they failed to bring Fan Zhen to his knees. During the rei of Emperor Wu Di of the Northern Zhou, the Buddhist monasteries had become a heavy drain on the sources of state revenue and soldiery The emperor was forced to summon his ministers for a series of de-bates with Buddhist monks. Finally, he dealt a heavy blow to Buddhist influence by resorting to a policy of “recruiting soldiers from among Buddhist monks and requisitioning land around Buddhist pagodas and temples”.

The Southern Dynasties laid greater claim to fame in literature and historical studies than did the Northern Dynasties. In literature, poetry enjoyed popularity in the south. Xie Lingyun (385-433) was famous for his nature poems. Ban Zhao (c. 412-466) wrote many po-ems which gave free flow to his aspirations and longings for a better life and exerted some influence on the renowned Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai. The Critique of Poetry written by Zhong Rong (?-552) of the Qi-Liang period comments on 122 poets from the Han to the Liang period, at the same time analysing the various poetic trends and their origins. The 30-juan Anthology Through the Ages, compiled by famed scholars under the auspices of the Liang crown prince Xiao Tong(501-531), a literary enthusiast, contains the cream of literature since the pre-Qin period and exerted far-reaching influence on the literature of later generations. The 50-chapter Wen Xin Diao Long by Liu Xie (c.466-c. 520) of the Liang Dynasty, one of China ‘s famous works of literary criticism, presents a comprehensive and systematic study of literary questions and contains the author’s original ideas on the rela-tionships between content and form in literature and between the de- velopment of literature and its time. Of the literary works of the Northern Dynasties, the best-known is The Song ofMu Lan. This nar-rative poem, about a girl who disguises herself as a man to take her aging father’s place in the army, was supposed to have been adapted from a folk ballad. The author, Yu Xin (513-581), who had been de-tained in the north during a diplomatic mission there from the south- ern regime of Liang, was an accomplished poet. Most of his works, notably A Lament for the South, expressed his nostalgia for his home-land. The 20-chapter Family Admonitions by Yan Zhitui (c. 531-590), covering a wide range of subjects–political, economic, cultural and educational–is notable among literary works for its easy and smooth style of writing. Readers in the old days, however, were mainly inter-ested in its teachings about social conduct, looking upon it as a guide to the philosophy of life in feudal society. Yang Xuanzhi’s Temples and Monasteries in Luoyang , in five juan, gives some idea of the po-litical, economic, cultural and social aspects of the Northern Wei Dynasty. Apart from their value to historical research, these two works are also of a high literary quality.

The Western Jin, the Eastern Jin And the Sixteen States

The Establishment of the Sui Dynasty and the Peasant Uprisings in Its Closing Years

Like the Qin Dynasty which united China in 221 B.C., the Sui established another feudal dynasty for the whole country, only to fall in a few decades. The Sui Dynasty had only two sovereigns. Yang Jian, later known as Emperor Wen Di of Sui, ruled for 23 years beginning with his conquest of Northern Zhou in 581, before he was slain by the heir-apparent, Yang Guang, in 604. His reign lasted only 15 years if counted from the year of the fall of the Chen Dynasty. Yang Guang, later known as Emperor Yang Di, was on the throne for only 13 years.

Immediately after the proclamation of his new state, Yang Jian reorganized his central government into three key departments—the Secretariat in charge of confidential, highly important matters and the enactment of imperial decrees; the Grand Council which examined and approved these decrees; and the Chancery responsible for the administration of the whole country. The chiefs of the three depart-ments were equivalent to the prime minister of the Qin-Han whose powers and functions were now divided among thes officials who were directly accountable to the emperor. Local admin-istrative divisions were also changed from the three-level system (prefectures, sub-prefectures and counties) of the Northern Dynasties to a two-level system (prefectures and counties). Local officials from the ninth grade up were appointed or removed by the court and their work was reviewed and appraised annually by the Board of Civil Ofrice. Chief local officials were transferred every three years, their deputies every four years. All these measures helped strengthen the rule of absolute monarchy.

Yang Jian also abolished the system practised since the Wei-Jin period, by which local officials were selected by prefects. He set up institutions of learning in prefectures and counties, from which candidates with fine academic records were nominated for yearly court examinations and for appointment according to the results. This opened a new channel for more people to enter upon an official career and so helped enlarge the class basis of feudal rule.

A new penal code, based on but much simpler than that of Northern Wei and Northern Qi, was adopted. It consisted of only 12 chapters, omitting more than 1,000 articles of the old code. Only rive kinds of punishment were provided for death, exile, imprisonment, heavy flogging and light flogging. Whoever considered the verdict unjust had the right to rile his appeal level by level up to the emperor himself. Persons guilty of treason and other “monstrous crimes” were not to be pardoned.

Yang Jian also adopted measures to prevent persons from avoid-ing conscription and the payment of taxes. In 585, two strict general censuses were taken in the prefectures and counties, through which the exact ages of the inhabitants were checked on the spot and recorded in government register. Some 600,000 adult males were discovered. In the same year, measures aimed at lightening the burden of taxation ferent categories according to property and size. Every year taxes were collected and labour service recruited accordingly. These meas-ures increased the labour force available to the government by encouraging the peasant proteges of manorial lords to break away from them and entering these peasant households into the state register.

After conquering the Chen in 589, Yang Jian cracked down on the local forces in the south. This aroused a storm of protests from the influential landlords there, who, in 590, rose in rebellions, captured towns and cities and killed government officials. General Yang Su was sent to suppress the rebels and the tense situation was taken in hand.

The political reforms initiated by Yang Jian and the quelling of the rebellions in the south created political stability in the early period of Sui and, consequently, a speedy economic growth. Abundant harvests were reaped in the first dozen years and both handicrafts and commerce flourished. Many state granaries were built, notably the Hanjia Granary at Luoyang with a capacity of 480,000 piculs (133.33 pounds to a picul); the Xingluo Granary at Luokou (modern Gongxian County, Henan) with a capacity of 24,000,000 piculs; and the Huiluo Granary north of Luoyang with a capacity of 2,400,000 piculs. During his later reign, Yang Jian reportedly had a grain reserve large enough to see the whole nation through several years.

The Sui court paid great attention to its relations with the frontier peoples. Since the Wu fleet led by Wei Wen and Zhuge Zhi called at Taiwan , an increasing number of people had migrated there from the mainland to join the local Gaoshan people in their pioneering efforts. In 607, Zhu Kuan, a cavalry commander, and He Man, a naval officer, were sent by Emperor Yang Di on an inspection tour of the island, then known as Liuqiu. The following year, Zhu Kuan again visited Taiwan , this time on a good-will mission. In 610, a Sui fleet set sail for Taiwan from Yi’an (now Chaozhou City, Guangdong Province). Mistaking the fleet for merchant ships, the Gaoshans poured out onto the waterfront bringing local products for trade. From that time, the ties between Taiwan and the mainland became closer.

The Sui Dynasty had contacts with the states set up by the ethnic minorities, such as the Qidan, Shiwei and Mohe in the Liaohe, Hei-longjiang and Ergun river valleys in the Northeast; the Turks (the Tu jue) south of the Altay Mountains; the Tuyuhun south of the Qilian Mountains and north of the Xueshan Mountains; as well as those in-habiting Gaochang, Quici, Yanqi and Yutian in present-day Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. People from these states often came to the hinterland to barter for local products. The Sui married daughters of the royal house to the tribal chiefs of the Turks and Tuyuhun and to the king of Gaochang and had Pei Ju based in Zhangye (in modem Gansu Province ) to take care of the commercial and other ties with the Western Regions.

There were three trade routes to the West during the Sui Dynasty: the northern route, from Yiwu (modem Hami, Xinjiang) via Puleihai (now Lake Barkol) and the region of the Tiele tribe to the state of Fulin (Syria); the central route, from Gaochang (now Turpan, Xinjiang) via Yanqi, Quici and Congling Range to Persia (now Iran); and the southern route, from Shanshan (near present-day Lake Lop Nur, Xin-jiang) via Yutian and Congling Range to north “Poluomen” (a translit-eration of the word “Brahman”, now north India and Pakistan). Of the three routes, the central and the south extended even farther west.

Two major events in the Sui period were the construction of the capital Luoyang and the digging of the Grand Canal . To tighten his control of the rich middle-lower Huanghe River valley and the areas south of the Changjiang River , Yang Guang (Emperor Yang Di) launched the large-scale construction of his capital in 605, in the early period of his reign. The project involved tens of thousands of workers and craftsmen for a duration of 12 months. The inner part of the city consisted of palace buildings, the intermediate part of govemment institutions, and the outer part of official residences and the dwelling houses of common people. The outer part also served as the commer-cial district, with well over 100 streets and alleys and three market centres. When the project was completed, the emperor ordered large numbers of the influential households and wealthy merchants to move to Luoyang . The Grand Canal project was launched at the same time as the construction of Luoyang with the participation of hundreds of thousands of workers. The canal had three sections. The first, the Tongji Channel, directed water from the Gushui and Luoshui rivers at Luoyang ‘s West Park all the way to the Huanghe River and from the Huanghe at Banzhu east of Luoyang through the old Langdang Ditch to Shanyang (now Huai’an County, Jiangsu Province) on the south bank of the Huaihe. From Shanyang the Huaihe River water was guid-ed through the old Han Canal dug in the time of King Fu Chai of Wu in the Spring and Autumn Period to empty into the Changjiang River at Jiangdu (now Yangzhou City, Jiangsu ). The whole section, from Luoyang to Jiangdu, was more than 1,000 kilometres long. The second section, the Yongji Channel, directed water from the Qinshui at Luokou south to the Huanghe River and north to Zhuojun (now Beijing)–also a total of more than 1,000 km. The third section, the 400-km-long Jiangnan Channel, drew its water from the Changjiang River at Jingkou to join the Qiantang River at Yuhang (now Hangzhou City , Zhejiang). In brief, the Grand Canal , totalling 2,500 km in length, extended to Zhuojun in the north and to Yuhang in the south, with Luoyang as its centre. A water transport artery, the Canal helped pro-mote economic development and unify the country.

Both the construction of Luoyang and the digging of the Grand Canal took a heavy toll among the builders. When the Yongji Channel was being cut, the shortage of able-bodied men was made up by women. After the canal was completed, Yang Guang repeatedly went on pleasure trips to Jiangdu by boat, imposing a heavy strain on the nation’s manpower and material resources.

Yang Guang was an emperor with a craze for the grandiose. To punish the Korean king for his refusal to pay respects to the Sui court, he launched three successive wars against Korea in the three years 612-14. A great deal of manpower, material and financial resources were wasted on these wars, bringing the class contradictions at home fever pitch.

Popular uprisings had been brewing prior to the wars against Ko-rea, when millions of peasants were pressed into military and labour service. Many of the warship builders along the coast at Donglai in present-day Shandong ‘Province had maggots below their waisflines from working days and nights in water. Three or four out of every ten of the labourers were literally worked to death.

The stage for the late Sui peasant revolts was set in 611, when the peasant leader Wang Bo started an uprising in the Changbai Moun-tains (in modem Zhangqiu County , Shandong ). He rallied the peasants around him by composing a song, “Don’t Go and Die in Liaodong” Wang Bo’s uprising inspired others led by Dou Jiande, Du Fuwei, Fu Gongshi and Zhai Rang in Shandong, Hebei, Shaanxi, Guangdol Zhejiang and Ningxia. These peasant forces, some of them tens of thousands while others more than a hundred thousand strong, captured towns and cities and killed corrupt officials and local tyrants.

The outbreak of the peasant rebellions caused divisions within the ruling clique. Seeing that the bulk of the government troops were pinned down by the fast-expanding peasant forces, Yang Xuangan, a Sui noble, also rose against the court in 613 with an army which quickly grew to some 100,000. He was soon defeated, but many of the rebels under him went over to swell the ranks of the peasant insur-gents.

The unit led by Zhai Rang operated in Henan Province , with Wa-gang (near Hlaaxian County , Henan ) as its base. In 616, Li Mi, another Sui noble who had been with Yang Xuangan in his rebellion, joined the Wagang army. He won over many lesser armed bands to the Wa-gang side, which swiftly expanded to become the most formidable peasant force. In 617, the Wagang army captured the Xingluo Granary and distributed the grain among the poor and destitute. This won en-thusiastic mass support for the Wagang army, which by now had grown to hundreds of thousands until finally Luoyang was completely isolated from the greater part of Henan .

Meanwhile, the insurgent force led by Dou Jiande, which had been active at Gojibo (northwest of Enxian County, Shandong), fought its way to Hebei Province where, in 617, it wiped out the Sui main force under General Xue Shixiong and captured many towns and cit-ies.

The band that had been manoeuvring in the Changjiang and Huaihe river valleys under the leadership of Du Fuwei and Fu Gong-shi also defeated repeated Sui attacks and incorporated many lesser hands. By early 618, its influence had reached the areas along the Changjiang, posing a direct menace to Jiangdu where Yang Guang was enjoying himself on one of his pleasure trips.

The flames of peasant uprisings continued to rage until they en-gulfed the greater part of the Sui domain, leaving only Luoyang , Jiangdu and a few other secluded cities unscorched. Seeing that the situation had grown out of hand, many local officials, landlords and nobles began to look around for ways to preserve themselves or to expand their own influence in the turmoil. Some even renounced their allegiance to Sui and proclaimed themselves king or emperor. In 617, Li Yuan, an aristocrat, led an army revolt in Taiyuan and captured Chang’an. In spring the following year, Yang Guang was assasinated in Jiangdu. Soon afterwards, Li Yuan declared himself emperor of Tang, historically known as Emperor Gao Zu of the Tang Dynasty.

The Golden Age of the Tang

After his ascension, with the help of his second son, Li Shimin, Li Yuan drew Li Mi and Du Fuwei into his service, suppressed Dou Jiande, wiped out the landlords’ independent regimes in various places and, in 623, unified the whole of China . In 626, Li Yuan gave up the throne to Li Shimin, who became the famous Emperor Tai Zong of the Tang Dynasty.

As an outstanding statesman and military strategist, Li Shimin was exceptional among all the Chinese emperors. His assistants, such as Li Jing, Fang Xuanling, Du Ruhui, Zhangsun Wuji and Wei Zheng, were all talented administrators. Li Shimin believed that he had an important historical lesson to learn from the rapid fall of the once powerful Sui Dynasty. He often discussed with his ministers the mer-its and demerits of Sui politics to find better ways to consolidate his regime. He encouraged his ministers to come out with whatever dif-fering opinions they had in mind on political questions. This style of work enhanced his political prestige and strengthened the unity of the court.

Political reforms were carried out on the basis of the Sui institu-tions. The three key departments of the Sui regime remained the prin-ciple organs of the central government–the Secretariat through which the emperor issued his orders, and which handled memorials to the emperor, the formulation of policies and the drafting of edicts and decrees; the Grand Council which offered advice to the emperor and examined and approved the imperial edicts and decrees; and the Chancery which was in charge of national administration and which had the Six Boards under it: the Board of Civil Office, of Revenue, of Rites, of War, of Justice and of Works. The three departments were binding on and supplementary to one another in their functions and powers. Local administrative divisions were the prefectures and coun-ties. In important frontier regions, governors’ offices were established to take care of military and civil affairs there. In addition, the country was divided into 10 circuits (dao). A circuit was not an administrative division and had no administrative office; it was rather an inspection area where imperial commissioners went from time to time to examine the work of local officials and learn about the grievances of the peo-ple.

In the military system, the Tang regime inherited the compulsory service of Northern Zhou and Sui. A total of 634 commanderies were set up throughout the country, each in command of 1,000 soldiers. The soldiers engaged in farming in peace time and in drills in slack sea- sons. They were exempted from corv6e and tax but had to rotate for regular guard duties in the capital. In case of war, they responded to the call-up, taking their own weapons, clothing and provisions. When the war ended, they retumed to their work behind the plough. Later, to meet the needs of massive warfare a supplementary, mercenary system was instituted, which in time outstripped the computsot5, system in importance.

A new penal code was worked out under the supervision of Fang Xuanling and others. The Tang code was based on that of Sui but was simpler and shorter and contained lighter punishments. It was clarified by Zhangsun Wuji and others in the 30-juan Exposition of the Tang Penal Code. The Tang code together with the Exposition was the most complete feudal statute in Chinese history, and its influence large on all the later feudal codes.

Li Shimin was anxious to enlist talented people into his service. In the foundation period of Tang, he had won over many qualified personnel both civil and military–from hostile political groups. After his ascension to the throne, he paid great attention to the selection of competent local officials, which he considered the key to peace and order across the land. The imperial civil examination initiated

under the Sui was extended during Li Shimin’s reign as an important system in selecting people of ability. During the Tang Dynasty, there were two main degrees for examination candidates, the Ming Jing (Senior Licentiate) and the Jing Shi (Advanced Scholar). Confucian classics were a must in the examination for the first degree, poetry for the second. In the course of time, the Jing Shi became the favoured degree.

After Li Shimin’s death, Emperor Gao Zong succeeded him. His empress, Wu Ze Tian was a capable woman with political ambition. In 655, she began to participate in court affairs and, in 660, took all powers in her hands. In 690, she ascended the throne and called herself Emperor Sheng Shen. She made a point of drawing talented people into her service and successively appointed the outstanding statesmen Li Zhaode, Di Renjie and Yao Chong as prime ministers to help herself run state affairs. At the same time, she befriended some wicked and treacherous courtiers and appointed tyrannical officials notorious for their injustices, although she would not let them go too far or invest them with too much power. Wu Ze Tian’s reign lasted for half a century, during which the royal power of the ruling Li house was greatly impaired, but the political situation created by Li Shimin did not end and the social economy continued to develop.

The Tang regime reached the height of its power and prosperity during the reign of Emperor Xuan Zong (712-756), who ascended the throne after seven or eight years of turmoil following the death of Empress Wu Ze Tian. Bent on making the country prosperous, he carried out political reforms and promoted competent people to pre- miership. He was receptive to criticism and advice from his ministers. In the first 30 years or more of his reign, the country became strong and prosperous and the population grew tremendously–a phenome-non never known before.

A number of palace coups and local peasant uprisings took place after the founding of the Tang Dynasty. In 653, a woman peasant leader, Chen Shuozhen, staged an uprising at Muzhou (modern Jiande County, Zhejiang), declared herself Emperor Wen Jia and captured some of the places in Zhejiang . These incidents, however, had no vital bearing on the country as a whole. The social economy developed continuously for over 120 years, from 618 to 741, at the height of Tang, longer than in any of the previous dynasties.

The golden age of Tang also witnessed closer relations between the various ethnic groups within China ‘s borders, although there were also wars between them.

In the early Sui period, the Turks in the northwest split into the eastern and western branches, controlling regions north and south of the Gobi Desert and the Central Asian areas east of the Caspian Sea . In 626, the Khan of the Eastern Turks, Xieli, harassed Wugong (in modem Shaanxi Province ) and pushed on to the neighbourhoods of Chang’ an. In 629, on orders from Li Shimin, Xu Shiji and Li Jing led a massive counter-attack. An internal split and a sharp decrease in the livestock population after several years of blizzards weakened the fighting strength of the Eastern Turks. In 630, the Tang army won a decisive victory, conquering the Eastern Turks and capturing Xieli Khan. The Tang government resettled the officers and men of the Eastern Turks, who had pledged allegiance to the Tang, in the areas starting from Youzhou (modem Beijing ) in the east to Lingzhou (modem Lingwu County , Ningxia) in the west. Four governors’ of-rices were established there, while the Dingxiang and Yunzhong gov-ernors’ offices were set up in the former territories of the Eastern Turks. The Eastern Turks rose again during the reign of Emperor Gao Zong. Ashinaguduolu, an Eastern Turki aristocrat, rebelled and made war on Tang for many years. After Pijia Khan assumed power in 716, he sued for peace, and the Tang government promised to trade with the Eastern Turks and exchange it silk for their horses. Subsequently, friendly ties were forged between the two sides. When the Khan’s elder brother, Queteqin, died in 731, Emperor Xuan Zong sent an envoy to express his condolences and had a monument erected to honour his memory, which bore an inscription in both the Han and Turki languages.

The Western Turks under the rule of Shaboluo Khan broke off relations with ‘Fang in 651. In 657, the Tang generals Su Dingfang and Xiao Siye defeated Shaboluo Khan and conquered the Western Turks. And with the states of Tuyuhun, Gaochang, Yanqi and Quici yielding their allegiance to Tang, the Tang was able to maintain its rule over the areas north and south of the Tianshan Mountains . The Tang gov-ernment established the Beiting Protector-General’s Office north of the Tianshan and 16 governors’ offices to its south to take charge of the political and military affairs there. From then on, the economic and cultural contacts between China ‘s hinterland and the areas north and south of the Tianshan Mountains became increasingly closer and sate traffic was ensured along the route leading to West Asia through the Tianshan Mountain area.

Tile Uygurs (Hui-he), a nomadic tribe inhabiting the north of the Gobi Desert , had paid allegiance successively to the Xiongnu, the Xianbei and the Turks. They had grown strong gradually in the Sui period and, in 627, made their might felt north of the Gobi when they defeated 100,000 Turki troops with a crack force of 5,000. The Uygurs had aided the Tang in its wars to conquer the Eastern and Western Turks.

The Tang Dynasty maintained close ties with the ethnic groups living in the northeast. It set up the Heishui Governor’s Office there, with the chieftain of the Mohe tribe living in the lower Heilongjiang River valley as the governor, assisted by officials sent by the Tang court. The ruler of the state of Bohai established by the Sumo tribe in the Wusuli River valley was given the title Prince of Bohai by the Tang government and trade contacts were frequent between the two sides.

The Tufans, the ancestors of modern Tibetans, had made the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau their home from time immemorial. In the early Tang period, Tibet witnessed its height of prosperity under the rule of King Songzan Gambo. When Li Shimin married Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang house to Songzan Gambo, she took with her large quanti-ties of silk fabrics, handicrafts and farm tools to Tibet . During the reign of Emperor Zhong Zong, the Tibetan king Chide Zugdan mar-fled another member of the Tang royal house, Princess Jin Cheng, who also took with her many silk fabrics and artisans as well as Confucian classics such as the Book of Odes, Book of Rites and Zuo Qiuming’s Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals. These two marriages made it possible for the technology and culture of the Han people to find their way into Tibet .

From ancient times, many tribes had lived in present-day Yunna Province . They were known as the Six Zhao’s. In the early Tang pe-riod, the southernmost Meng She Zhao, otherwise called the Southern Zhao , grew strong. Its chieftain often sent envoys to pay his respects to the Tang court. During the reign of Emperor Xuan Zong, the chief-tain of the Southern Zhao , Piluoge, secured the permission of the Tang emperor to unify the five other tribes into one state. The Tang court conferred upon him the title King Gui Yi of Yunnan . Tang culture also found its way into the Southern Zhao as bilateral trade contacts increased.

At its height, the Tang empire developed extensive ties with many countries and regions in Asia, including Korea, Japan, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Arabia . Japanese envoys had come to China during the Three Kingdoms and the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Many more–joined by educated monks and students–came to China in the Sui and Tang dynasties. During the reign of Em-peror Gao Zong, large Japanese missions were sent to China, the big-gest including some 500 members

The growing domestic and foreign contacts made the Tang capi-tal Chang’ an not only the nation’s leading city but a cosmopolitan city as well. People of the ethnic minorities in China as well as foreign emissaries, ecclesiastics and merchants came to Chang’an en masse, bringing with them exotic products, music, dance, acrobatics, customs and religions. Some of them got married and settled down in Chang’an.

With its vivid foreign flavour, culture in the golden age of the Tang Dynasty surpassed the achievements of previous dynasties. Po-etry, prose, historical studies and religion all flourished. As in the Qi- Liang period, prose in early ‘rang emphasized parallelisms while po-etry was flowery. During the reign of Emperor Gao Zong and the early period of Empress Wu Ze Tian, the famous poets Wang Bo (649-76) and Luo Binwang (C. 640-84) began to break away from the poetic style of the Qi-Liang period. By broadening subject matter and probing new rhyming schemes they were behind the development of the unique style of Tang poetry. Their prose pieces, however, remained bound by parallelisms. Chen Zi’ang (661-702) was firmly opposed in theory and in practice to the bombasts and embellishments in Qi-Liang literature. Representative of his works was Random Thoughts, a collection of 38 poems. He also wrote many prose pieces without par-allelisms, contributing to the creation of new forms. Not long after-wards, Tang poetry attained its peak in the celebrated poets Li Bai (Li Po ) and Du Fu (Tu Fu). The change in writing style in the Tang period brought further achievements through great writers like Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan.

History books compiled in biographical style were the major ac-complishments in the historical studies of this period. In the first years Of the Tang Dynasty, histo17 boo~s ~bout the post Kindoms period were not complete. There were none about the Liang, Chen, Northern Qi, Zhou and gui dynastieg although there were as many as18 about the Jin Dynasty. On orders from Li Shimin, special people were assigned to compile a number of history books: the 56-juan History of the Liang Dynasty and the 36-juan History of the Chen Dynasty, both by Yao Silian; the 50-juan History of the Nothern Qi Dynasty by Li Baiyao; the 50-juan History of the Zhou Dynasty by Linghu Defen and others; the 85-juan History of the Sui Dynasty by Wei Zheng and others; the Historical Records of the Five Dynasties (of the Liang, Chen, Zhou, Northern Qi and Sui) by Yu Zhining and others; and the revised, 130-juan History of the Jin Dynasty by Fang Xuanling and others. In addition, Li Yanshou condensed the historical records of the Southern Dynasties of Song, Qi, Liang and Chen into an 80-juan History of the Southern Dynasties and the historical records of the Northern Dynasties of Wei, Qi, Zhou and Sui into a lO0-juan History of the Northern Dynasties. These completed the histories of the dynasties that came after the Three Kingdoms. In 710, the histori-an Liu Zhiji (661-721) completed his famous 20-juan Critique of Historical Works, the first of its kind in Chinese history. The book reviewed the previous historical works, analysed the merits and de-merits of the different styles of history writing, especially the biog-raphical style, and pointed out the importance of historical studies. According to Liu Zhiji, a historian must have talent, knowledge and judgement in his field–a view-point much valued by contemporary and later historians

A number of religious faiths were introduced into China during the height of Tang, such as Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism and Nestori-anism from Persia and Islam from Arabia . Followers of Zoroastrian-ism, founded by the Persian Zoroaster, were called Fire-worshippers because they made a cult of fire as the good light spirit in the cosmic conflict between light, the good spirit, and darkness, the evil spirit. Zoroastrianism spread to north China during the Southern and North-ern Dynasties. Zoroastrian temples could be found both in Chang’an and Luoyang . Manichaeism, whose followers were later known as Light-worshippers, was introduced to China in 694 and was granted permission to build temples in Chang’an in 768. Founded by another Persian named Mani, Manichaeism also revered light in the struggle between light and darkness in the world, and so the places of worship were called the Brightness Temple . Nestorianism, or Nestorian Chris-tianity, spread to China in 635, and its first temple was built in Chang’an in 638. Muhammad, founder of Islam, was interested in Chinese culture. “Though China is far, far away,” he said, “we should go there in quest of knowledge.” The Islamic religion was introduced into China in 651 when an Arabian mission came to this country. From then on, religious services were frequently held by Arabian and Persian Muslims in Chang’ an, Luoyang , Yangzhou and Guangzhou .

Buddhism was the most popular religion in this period. Chang’ an and Luoyang were among many places where Buddhist monasteries could be formed. Among the famous Buddhist monks were Xuan Zhuang (Hsuan Tsang or Tripitaka), Dao Xuan, Yi Jing, Fa Zang, Shen Xiu and Hui Neng. Xuan Zhuang (602-64) was a learned monk. He surmounted all kinds of difficulty to go to India in search of Bud- dhist scriptures. After his return to China , he translated 75 Buddhist books running to 1,335 juan. His translations were far better than all previous ones in faithfulness and fluency. He also wrote, with the help of his disciple Bian Ji, the 12-juan Records of Western Travels, in which he described the geographical features, customs and religious myths of the 111 states he had visited as well as those of the 28 other states he had heard about: The book provides valuable material for the study of the history and geography of Southwest and Central Asia. In recognition of his translation of Buddhist classics, Li Shimin espe-cially wrote “An Introduction to the Sacred Teachings of Monk Tripi-taka of the Great Tang Dynasty”, followed by Emperor Gao Zong’s”Notes on ‘An Introduction to the Sacred Teachings of Monk Tripita- ka of the Great Tang Dynasty’ “. Xuan Zhuang founded the Dhar- malaksana sect, but it declined after a short time. Based on his inte-pretation of the Avatamsaka-sutra, Fa Zang (642-712) founded the Avatamsaka sect, which existed for a considerable length of time in China and spread to Korea and Japan . Shen Xiu (606-706) and Hui Neng (638-713) were founders respectively of the northern and south-ern branches of the Chan sect. The southern branch first gained ground in a few southern regions and gradually spread to the north to take the place of the northern branch and attain nationwide influence. Later, the southern branch also found its way abroad. The fourth major Buddhist sect of Tang was the Tiantai sect, named because it had originated in the Sui period from the area of Tiantai Mountain in Zhe-jiang Province . By the late Tang period, the Chan sect had grown so influential that it virtually became the only Buddhist sect in China Monk Oao Xuan (596-6673 was a leanaed Buddbist histofiau, who joined Xuan Zhuang in translating Buddhist scriptures and compiled the books Extensive Teachings and Sequel to Biographies of Venerable Monks. Monk Yi Jing (635-713) also made a pilgrimage to India , where he stayed for 25 years and coW, coted 4()0 Sanskrit Budhist books. On his homeward journey he wrote The Record of the Budd Practices Sent Home from the Southern Sea and Biographies of the Venerable Monks of the Great Tang Dynasty Who Studied Budhist Classics in the Western Regions. After returning to China , he trans-lated 56 Buddhist books with a total of 230juan.

As a religious faith which, encouraged by royalty, had a mass following, Buddhism left a deep mark in the political, economic and cultural spheres during the height of Tang. To pray and to propagate Buddhist doctrines to fortify its own rule, the royal house had many pagodas and temples erected and grottoes dug. These were invariably embellished with sculptures and paintings, which explains the 1arge member of Tang engravings and graphic arts to be found in Tang Dy-nasty temples and grottoes. Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang have 1,352 caves, 750 niches and 97,000 Buddhist images, more than half of which belong to the height of Tang. Of the carved stone statues most famous are housed in Fengxian Temple . In Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang , Gansu Province, there are 492 caves with more than 2coloured sculptured figures and murals covering more than 45,000 square metres, many of which date back to the golden age of Tang. These artistic gems at Longmen and Dunhuang are executed by a per-fect combination of the Indian and traditional Chinese methods. Tang sculptures and paintings were not confined to Buddhist architecture alone; many of them were also found in imperial palaces and mauso-leums. Great names in Tang sculpture and painting included Wu Daozi, the “sage painter”; Yang Huizhi, the “sage sculptor”; and Song Fazhi and Wu Zhimin, both of the early Tang period. The figure paintings by Yan Lide, the landscapes by Wang Wei (699-759) and Li Shixun (648-713), the portraits of women of noble birth by Zhang Xuan (early 8th century) and Zhou Fang, and the paintings of horses by Cao Ba and Han Gan (early 8th century) are all masterpieces of the golden age of Tang or a little later.

Taoism, which came into its own as a religious faith during the Southern and Northern Dynasties, won special royal favour in the Tang period, because Li Er, who was supposed to be its founder, had the same family name as the ruling house. Taoist priests were invited by Tang emperors to imperial palaces to make elixir pills for immortal life. In one of his edicts, Li Shimin explicitly said that Taoist priests and nuns should be given priority over Buddhist monks and nuns. Emperor Gao Zong conferred on Li Er the posthumous title of the Supreme Emperor of the Profound Heavens. During the reign of Em-peror Xuan Zong, many temples were erected to Li Er’s memory on royal order, and the Taoist classics Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi were desig- nated as musts in imperial civil examinations. Still, Buddhism had far more influence than Taoism.

Fu Yi (555-639), an atheist scholar, and Lii Cai (600-665), a phi-losopher, were vocal in their opposition to religious superstition in the thick religious atmosphere of the early Tang period. In 624, Fu Yi appealed to Emperor Gao Zu to abolish Buddhism. He pointed out that life and death were natural phenomena and that it was the sovereign’s business to impose penalties or act with compassion. He considered it the height of absurdity to give these powers to Buddha and argued that by doing so, Buddhism was usurping the powers of the sovereign. According to him, Buddhist monks and nuns just sat around doing nothing but evading rent and tax payment, and should be ordered to return to the laity, engage in productive efforts, get married and bear children to increase the nation’s revenue and military strength. Knowledgeable about divination, astrology and astronomy, Lu Cai took advantage of Emperor Tai Zong’s assigning him to collate and systematize books on divination and astrology to voice his opposition to fatalism and other superstitious beliefs. He cited a wealth of histori-cal facts to show that one’s life or death, longevity or premature death, proverty or wealth, and high or low position are determined more by one’s own action than by one’s horoscope or the location of one’s ancestral tombs. These ideas of Fu Yi and Lti Cai are invaluable, espe-cially in view of the context of their time.

Confucianism remained as a weapon used by the court to control people’s ideology. Li Shimin authorized Yan Shigu to collate and edit the texts of the “Five Classics”–the Book of Changes, Book of His-tory, Book of Odes, Book of Rites and Zuo Qiuming’s Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals. Later, he entrusted Kong Yinda and others with writing explanatory notes for the Five Classics. These notes were circulated throughout the country under the title chosen by Emperor Gao Zong himself, Annotations to the Five Classics. With uniform interpretations stipulated by royalty of the Confucian classics, little change has ever been made in Confucian doctrines.

Turmoil in the Mid-Tang Period

The middle period of the Tang Dynasty, the years 742-820, was a period of disorderly government, strife between the court and independent local forces, and discord among ethnic groups. But despite the constant turmoil which brought suffering to the people and damaged the social economy, culture managed to advance.

The disorder was caused by the corrupt policies of Emperor Xuan Zong (712-56), which fostered the eight-year An Lushan-Shi Siming Rebellion. Though the rebellion was quelled in 763, it seriously hurt the rule of the Tang Dynasty. As an example of his perverted practices, Emperor Xuan Zong in 742 changed his reign title to “Tian Bao” and at the same time called himself “Emperor with Sage Literary Attain-ment and Godly Prowess.” He also invented a story about Heaven favouring him with a divine list of attributes to hint that he enjoyed sacred protection, was deft with the writing brush and with the sword, and was both a sage and a deity. The emperor’s odd behaviour indicated that he was so politically detached he believed nothing could inter-fere with his rule. However, inherent in his pipedreams were latent contradictions—contradictions which, when they surfaced, pounded the Tang regime.

Several of Emperor Xuan Zong’s most trusted men began to appear in the political arena in 742 to help dig the grave of the Tang Dynasty. His prime minister, Li Linfu, was an insidious man, who used his power to persecute those with talent, who had performed meritorious services, who enjoyed high prestige or who crossed his path. He went even further to implicate his enemies’ family members, relatives, friends, colleagues and subordinates. Yang Guozhong, a worse villain, took over after Li Linfu’s death in 752. Also in Emperor Xuan Zong’s good graces was An Lushan, who took advantage of the emperor’s stupidity to acquire influence and power to the point where he was able to mount a successful rebellion against the throne in 755. An Lushan steadily came into the limelight by currying royal favour and through the good words put in for him by Li Linfu and the emperor;s close attendants and favourite concubines. In 742, he was appointed the military satrap of Pinglu, which had its seat at Yingzhou(west of modem Jingzhou , Liaoning ). In the following 10 years, he was concurrently appointed the military satrap of Fanyang, which had its seat at Youzhou (now Beijing ), the inspector of the Hebei Circuit, and the military satrap of Hedong, which had its seat at presentday Taiyuan City , Shanxi Province. His jurisdiction covered modem Beijing, Hebei and Shanxi and parts of Liaoning , Shandong and Henan , and he had a strong, large force under his command. His political ambitions kept pace with his increasing power. Yang Yuhuan, the most favoured in Emperor Xuan Zong’s harem, was connected with both Yang Guozhong, who was her cousin, and An Lushan, who was her adopted son. Her family members and relatives all held important posts and were so influential that they made no bones about openly taking bribes. Gao Lishi, a longtime eunuch close to the emperor, was also an influential personage, to whom both Li Linfu and An Lushan owed their support.

In late 755, An Lushan led a force of 150,000 in a southward march. Hebei and other places were a shambles and yet the muddle-headed Emperor Xuan Zong refused to believe army reports of An Lushan’s rebellion. In early 756, the rebels crossed the Huanghe River and captured Chenliu, Xingyang and Luoyang . Having proclaimed himself Emperor of Great Yan at Luoyang . An Lushan sent a force to attack Tongguan, the gateway to the Tang capital Chang’an. After the fall of Tongguan, Emperor Xuan Zong, Yang Yuhuan and Yang Guozhong fled in panic towards Chengdu , accompanied by the heirapparent, a small number of officials and the Imperial Guards. When the royal party reached Maweiyi west of modern Xingping County , Shaanxi Province, the soldiers in his retinue refused to go any farther unless the emperor put Yang Guozhong and Yang Yuhuan to death. Only after Yang Guozhong had been beheaded and Yang Yuhuan hanged did the party resume its trek west. Soon afterwards, Chang’an fell easily to the rebels.

The heir-apparent, Li Heng, stayed at Maweiyi to take care of military affairs. Then he went to Lingwu (northwest of present Ling-wu County, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region), where he ascended the throne to be known in history as Emperor Su Zong. Meanwhile, Li Mi, who had been on Li Heng’s staff while he was heir-apparent, also arrived at Lingwu, to be followed by General Guo Ziyi with a crack force of 50,000. Both Li Mi and Guo Ziyi were great statesmen and military strategists of the mid-Tang period. Although Emperor Su Zong was not always ready to take their advice, they managed later to help him recapture Chang’an. Another military strategist, Li Guangbi, also distinguished himself in quelling the rebellion.

In 757, An Lushan was killed by his son, An Qingxu who set himself up as emperor. That same year, Guo Ziyi defeated An Qingxu and recaptured Chang’an and Luoyang . In 759, An Lushan’s subordi-nate general, Shi Siming, murdered An Qingxu and usurped the throne of Great Yan. In his turn, Shi Siming was killed by his son, Shi Chaoyi, in 76t. Two years later, Shi Chaoyi hanged himself after being de-feated. This brought to an end the eight-year An Lushan-Shi Siming Rebellion.

After the rebellion was quelled, the former subordinates of An Lushan and Shi Siming outwardly accepted court mandates while actually preserving their independent forces. From then on, it was customary for officers and men of the frontier commanderies to choose their own commanding generals, and the positions of military satraps became hereditary–a practice which the Tang court dared not change. Emperor De Zong tried to change this situation by bringing pressure to bear on the local independent forces, but to no avail.

In 805, Li Chun, historically known as Emperor Xian Zong, as-cended the throne to become a politically alert sovereign. Assisted by his competent prime ministers Li Jiang and Pei Du, he succeeded in healing the splits that had lasted for long years since the An Lushan-Shi Siming Rebellion. In 806, he put down a rebellion by the Chengdu-based Liu Pi and, in 807, another by Li Qi in the areas around Zhenjiang . Beginning in 807, he changed the practice of local independent forces’ choosing their own commanding generals in fa-vour of the emperor’s direct appointment of military satraps. From815 to 817, he suppressed a rebellion by Wu Yuanji, military satrap of Zhangyi based in Caizhou (now Runan County , Henan ). In 818, the satraps of Henghai (based in Cangzhou) and Youzhou filed petitions pledging their allegiance to the court. That same year, Emperor Xian Zong launched a punitive campaign against the disloyal Li Shidao, satrap of Ziqing. The following year, the expeditionary force killed Li Shidao and recovered Ziqing satrapy, which was the most powerful of all, covering almost the whole of modern Shandong Province and small parts of Henan , Anhui and Jiangsu provinces. This put an end to the separatist regimes of the military satraps and brought about a tem-porary national unification. At the same time, however, the power of palace eunuchs had steadily grown so that even Emperor Xian Zong himself was murdered by them the year after he suppressed the Ziqing rebellion.

The attainment of power by palace eunuchs started in the reign of Emperor Xuan Zong when he entrusted Gao Lishi with the handling of the memorials presented by his officials. Emperor Su Zong con-tinued this policy and, on his return to Chang’an, set a precedent for giving eunuchs access to military power by putting the eunuch Li Fuguo in charge of the Imperial Guards. Li Fuguo had earlier sided with the supporters of the emperor when he acceded to the throne at Lingwu. The emperor also appointed another eunuch, Yu Chao’en, as army supervisor, for fear that he might not be able to control Guo Ziyi, Li Guangbi and other generals who had distinguished themselves in quelling the An Lushan-Shi Siming Rebellion. Emperor Su Zong died of shock in 762 when Li Fuguo and another eunuch, Cheng Yuanzhen, killed Empress Zhang Liangdi and put Heir-apparent Li Yu on the throne. Li Yu, historically known as Emperor Dai Zong, took advanta- ge of the conflicts between the eunuchs and killed Li Fuguo. He con- tinued, however, to place confidence in Cheng Yuanzhen and Yu Chao’en. Only because of strong opposition from his ministers did he dismiss the two eunuchs and stop appointing eunuchs as army super-visors. But palace eunuchs regained their power during the reign of Emperor De Zong when the emperor survived a mutiny with their protection, and once again appointed them as Imperial Guards super-intendents and army supervisors. Emperor Xian Zong, who had as-cended the throne through eunuch support, was murdered by eunuchs because he refused to allow them to manipulate him.

Discord among ethnic groups figured prominently in the mid-Tang turmoil. The Tufans stormed into Chang’an in 763, at a time when the Tang military strength was depleted by the An Lushan-Shi Siming Rebellion. After their evacuation of Chang’ an under the pres-sure of Guo Ziyi’s troops, the city was in a terrible state with many of its buildings reduced to rubble. Constant wars continued between the Tang and the Tufans until both sides were too weak to carry on.

The Southern Zhao had been on good terms with Tang during the early period of Xuan Zong’s reign, and its ruler had accepted titles of honour conferred on him by the Tang emperor. During the last years of Emperor Xuan Zong, when King Geluofeng of the Southern Zhao came to the Tang Empire on a return visit, he was humiliated by a subordinate of Xianyu Zhongtong, military satrap of Jiannan, and so he shifted his allegiance to the Tufans in confrontation with the Tang. Although he had helped the Tufans attack Chang’ an, King Geluofeng believed that he had done so against his original intention, and ex- pressed his warm feelings for Tang in an inscription on a stele erected at Taihe (now Dali County, Yunnan Province). During the reign of Emperor De Zong, thanks to the good offices of Wei Gao, military satrap of Jiannan, the Southern Zhao renounced its allegiance to the Tufans and reconciled with Tang. Then it joined the Tang troops led by Wei Gao in a succession of victorious battles against the Tufans.

Poetry flourished in the mid-Tang period, with Li Bai and Du Fu as the two greatest poets of the time. Li Bai (701-762), a romanticist master, has been known for more than 10 centuries as a “poetimmortal”. And Du Fu (712-70), was a master of realism whose po-etry has been described as “poetic history”. Li Bai liked to travel, and many of his poems sing of the beauty of the scenic areas he visited. In 742, he was summoned at the age of 42 to the capital where held in esteem by Emperor Xuan Zong and the courtiers his fame as a poet spread far and wide. Three years in court service broadened his poetic vision although it also brought him in touch with the corruption and decadence of official circles.

Many of his works survive today, the best-known being “The Steep Road to Shu”, “An Exhortation”, “An Elegy” and “His Dream of the Sky-Land: A Farewell Poem”. With their unrestrained feeling, rich imagination and unique style, Li Bai’s poems often strike a responsive chord in readers’ hearts. Speaking of Li Bai’s accomplishments at the time, his contemporary Du Fu said:”His writing brush sweeps like a thunderstorm, his lines touch the hearts of ghosts and spirits.” Du Fu, an erudite man of letters, lived in Chang’an around the time of An Lushan’s rebellion where he was an eye-witness to the corruption of the Tang ruling group and the barbar-ity of the rebels. Later, his life as a wartime refugee gave him a better understanding of the sufferings of the common people with whom he was thrown during those harsh years. His poetry mirrored the times in which he lived and truthfully reflected his own concern for the destiny of his country and the plight of his people. Du Fu had a lasting influ-ence on the development of realist Chinese poetry. Many of his poems are also extant, of which the most famous are “The Xin’an Official”,”The Officer at Tongguan”, “The Shihao Official”, “Lament of the New Wife”, “The Homeless” and “The Old Man Returns to War”. Of these two great masters Li Bai and Du Fu, another noted Tang poet, Han Yu, wrote: “The writings of Li and Du never lose their charm, radiating rays of light a hundred thousand feet high”.

Han Yu (768-824) and Bai Juyi (Pai Chu-yi) (772-846) were great poets in the latter part of the mid-Tang period, each with a style of his own. Carrying on the realist tradition characteristic of Du Fu, Bai Juyi wrote a great number of satirical poems in which he drew on typical instances to expose the corruption of the official circles and the tribulations of the common people. Easy to understand and filled with realism, many of his poems were also histories in verse and filled in omissions in history books. His ten “Shaanxi Songs” and fifty “New Folk Songs” were written with realistic brushstrokes. His two narra-tive poems, “The Eternal Grief” and “A Singsong Girl”, gained popu-larity for their high artistic merits. His Anthology of Bai Juyi is still read today. The noted poets Yuan Zhen and Wang Jian shared Bai Juyi’s approach to creative writing, and the three together formed a distinguished school in their time. Yuan Zhen was as famous as Bai Juyi, their names often being mentioned at the same time. The Anthol-ogy of Yuan Zhen has been handed down to posterity. The poems of Han Yu are marked by profundity and compactness, quite unlike Bai Juyi’s, and owe their attractiveness to a fresh and virile style. Han Yu as well as Meng Jiao, Lu Tong, Jia Dao and Li He represented another school in Tang poetry. Liu Zongyuan and Liu Yuxi were contemporaty poets with Han Yu but with a different style. Both Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan (773-819) enjoyed a greater fame as prosaists than as poets.

As great prose writers, Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan contributed to changing the rhythmical prose style current since the Jin period, which was marked by parallelism and ornateness and a jumbling together of allusions and set phrases. Han Yu stood for carrying on the fine tradi-tions of ancient prose writing, primarily substantiality and originality in content, and opposed following set rules and patterns. His prose and essays were forceful, digressive and yet lucid, the best-known being “Esteem Teachers”, “On Slanders”, “In Refutation of Avoidance of Using the Personal Names of People in Superior Stations”, “The Scholar’s Apology”, “Memorial of Remonstrance Against the Worship of Buddha’s Bones” and “In Memory of My Nephew”. Liu Zongyuan was second in importance only to Han Yu in the reform of writing style. His prose pieces were much on the theoretical exposition side, while his travelogues were fresh and minutely descriptive, often with his gloomy mood thrown in. The work of both Han Yu and Liu Zong-yuan have been in circulation to this day.

The new style of writing encouraged by Han Yu and Liu Zong-yuan was closer to the vernacular than the rhythmical style. As it pro-moted relating events and expressing thoughts and feelings, it exerted an extensive influence over literary and cultural developments. For instance, under the new style, the chuan qi (tales and romances about marvels and strange phenomena, mainly love stories), which had ap-peared in the early Tang period, began to flourish. Many of these tales and romances were contained in the Taiping Miscellany. The best-known were The Story of Liu Yi by Li Chaowei, The Story of Huo Xiaoyu by Jiang Fang, The Story of a Singsong Girl by Bai Xinjian and The Story of Yingying by Yuan Zhen. The Story of Yingying was to be widely adapted by later writers. Some scholars believe that the new style of writing also promoted the appearance of bian wen. While preaching Buddhist doctrines, Buddhist monks in the Tang period often told mystic stories from Buddhist classics, which were called bian wen (telling a story in a popular version). Folk story-tellers at the time also adopted the bian wen in recounting folk tales and historical stories. Viewed in the development chuan qi and bian wen were the of literary and artistic forms, both precursors of the later hua ben (prompt books), popular tales, drama and fiction.

Though they were important partners in the practice and promotion of creative prose writing, Han Yu and Liu Zongyuan differed in phi-losophy. Han Yu held idealist philosophical concepts, much as he had opposed the worship of Buddha’s bones and the preaching of Buddhist doctrines at a time when Buddhism was in full glory. Calling for the need of defending orthodox Confucianism, he spared no effort to preach the Confucian doctrines of benevolence and righteousness. He believed in the will of Heaven and held that feudal rule was dictated by Heaven. As a materialist philosopher, Liu Zongyuan believed that the universe was made of dynamic original matter and that there was nothing myste-rious about heaven, earth or original matter, which were all products of natm’e. He held that objective trends or conditions led to human devel- opment from men’s inability to feed and defend themselves at first to their being able to use certain tools for survival and then to set up sover-eigns, leaders and government. Liu Zongyuan’s evolutionary view of history was quite progressive in his time.

Liu Yuxi (772-842) was close to Liu Zongyuan in his thinking. In his article “On Heaven” he tried to explore the relationship between heaven and human beings and held that while both were capable of many feats, neither was omnipotent. Heaven could produce many things, he said, while humans could control many things. According to him, the relationship between heaven and human beings was that of “mutual struggle” and “mutual use”. Some of Liu Yuxi’s worksare still available today.

There were great scholars in historical studies in the mid-Tang pe-riod, including Du You (734-813). His 200-juan Encyclopaedia contained data and reviews on finance, economy, selection of officials, government, military and judiciary systems, and administrative divisions of the various dynasties. Focusing on finance and economy, he chronicled the important political developments from the dawn of history a significant innova-tion in Chinese historiography. Some of his views are penetrating and incisive even by modern standards. The book provides a well-documented history of the Tang Dynasty in its earlier periods. Du You gained rich experience through his service as an administrative and financial official in both central and local government. This, combined with his deep learning, made it possible for him to complete this voluminous work in little more than 30 years, ending in 801.

The Tang Dynasty produced a galaxy of calligraphers, of whom the most influential was Yan Zhenqing. Yan Zhenqing (709-785) won fame for his zheng kai (regular script), which was marked by elegance and majesty a new style considered by later generations as the or-thodox school in Chinese calligraphy.

The Decline of the Tang Empire and the Late-Tang Peasant Uprisings

The lateTang period, or the period of decline of the Tang empire, covered 87 years, 820-907, during which palace eunuchs held sway at the court and courtiers formed coteries, the two conspiring with and struggling against each other. On the local level, each frontier com-mander tried to carve out his own sphere of influence, while the fron-tier districts themselves were each torn by internal strife. Finally, large-scale peasant uprisings brought down the Tang regime amid a continuous growth of the power of the eunuchs and frontier commanders.

After the murder of Emperor Xian Zong by eunuchs, seven out of the next eight emperors were brought to the throne through eunuch support. The only exception, Emperor Jing Zong, was killed by eunuchs. Before putting a new emperor on the throne, eunuchs invariably deposed or assassinated the legitimate successor, dismissed or murdered some of the courtiers, and killed those eunuchs who were against them. Eunuchs had gained power over the Imperial Guards since the mid-Tang period and had become a special force in the palaces. They often had their own way with the emperor, controlling him by encouraging him to indulge in dissipation and pleasure-seeking and to shun the company of his wise ministers.

In 831, Prime Minister Song Shenxi plotted to get rid of the eunuch Wang Cheng but was demoted to a local official when his scheme was exposed. Four years later, the eunuch Chou Shiliang killed the courtiers Li Xun and Zheng Zhu, who had conspired to as-sassinate him, as well as several thousand people who were found guilty by association. In 854, a secret plan proposed by Prime Minister Linghu Tao to the emperor for restricting eunuch power was discov-ered by eunuchs and further aroused their hatred for courtiers. Each setback sustained by courtiers only served to increase the power of the eunuchs and further undermine the foundation of the Tang regime.

The courtiers’ coterie strife was mainly the strife between one faction headed by Niu Sengru and Li Zongmin and another headed by Li Deyu. It began when Li Deyu, out of personal grudge, tried to squeeze out Li Zongmin who then joined with Niu Sengru to attach themselves to eunuchs for protection. Li Deyu won Emperor Wu Zong’s confidence in the years 840-846 when he was Prime Minister. With his help, the emperor freed the northwestern regions from har- assment by certain Uygur tribes, put down a rebellion by the militar satrap of Zhaoyi, weakened direct eunuch interference with certain military moves, demolished or closed down large numbers of Buddhist, Taoist, Nestorian, Zoroastrian and Manichaean temples and monasteries, and cut down unnecessary local officials. The Tang court during the reign of Emperor Wu Zong’s owed its rejuvenation largely to the political and military talent of Prime Minister Li Deyu. Wu Zong successor, Emperor Xuan Zong, did exactly the opposite and removed Li Deyu to put members of the Niu Sengru faction in important post After being demoted four times, Li Deyu died at Yazhou (model Qiongshan County , Guangdong ) in 849. The defeat of Li Deyu’s fac-tion hastened the decline of the Tang regime.

Most prominent in the scramble for spheres of influence were the three frontier commands in modern Hebei Province , namely, Youzhou (now Beijing ), Chengde (now Zhengding), and Weibo (now Darning whose rulers were actually successors to An Lushan. They all offerd their allegiance to the court during the reign of Emperor Xian Zong but declared their independence immediately after the emperor’s death. The three frontier commands were themselves torn by incessant power plays involving the murder of commanding generals and the appoint-ment of new ones of their own choice. The Tang court, being on its last legs, recognized each new general and did nothing to reassert its authority over these frontier regions. The people there fared ever wor- se as did those under the direct rule of the Tang court. Driven to des-peration, they rose in rebellion.

In January 860, when Qiu Fu led a hundred people in revolt in eastern Zhejiang , impoverished peasants flocked to join him by the thousand. After they had taken Xiangshan and Yanxian (modern Shengxian County , Zhejiang ), their ranks quickly swelled to well over 30,000. Qiu Fu was chosen as the Generalissimo Under Heaven, with Luo Ping as his reign title. The insurgent army fought for six months before it was defeated.

In 868, led by Pang Xun, the frontier guards at Yongzhou (around modern Nanning City , Guangxi) staged a mutiny and captured some prefectures and counties. On their way to Xuzhou , where they origi-nally had come from, they were joined by poverty-stricken peasants, many of them women, to become a massive force of more than 200,000. They fought bitterly for fourteen months until they too were defeated.

These two peasant uprisings were preludes to a yet larger one in874, when Wang Xianzhi, a native of Puzhou, rose in revolt with sev-eral thousand men at Changyuan (northeast of modern Changyuan County , Henan ). Shortly after, Huang Chao, a native of Caozhou (north of modern Caoxian County , Shandong ), responded by rising with several thousand men. The insurgents defeated Tang troops, took Caozhou and Puzhou and grew into a force several tens of thousands strong. From Shandong they swept into Henan , where they captured many towns and cities, extending their influence south of the Huaihe River .

After Wang Xianzhi was killed in battle in 878, Huang Chao took over the command under the name of Heaven-Storming General and led the peasant army across the Changjiang River to Zhejiang, Fujian and then to Guangzhou in the far south. In 879, under the name of Heaven-Ordained Equalization General, Huang Chao issued a procla- mation denouncing the misrule of the Tang court and led his men in a northward drive. He captured many towns on his way, fighting from Guangdong , Guangxi , Hunan , Hubei , Jiangxi and Anhui to Zhejiang and swelling his ranks to hundreds of thousands.

In 880, the peasant forces took Luoyang . Marching west from Luoyang , they captured first the strategic pass of Tongguan and then Chang’ an, the Tang capital. The people of Chang’ an lined the streets in welcome as the well-disciplined peasant rebels marched into the city. They were told that Huang Chao had revolted to save the com- mon people unlike the Li royal house who cared nothing about their well-being and that they should go about their business as usual and settle down to a peaceful life. Huang Chao proclaimed himself em-peror at Chang’an and called his new regime the Great Qi.

However, being always on the move and without base areas of support, the insurgents had not been able to consolidate their gains from their many victories, nor had they wiped out the main forces of the Tang regime. Around the time of the inauguration of Huang Chao’s new dynasty, the Tang government mustered reinforcements from all parts of the country to throw a tight cordon around Chan’s and cut off its food supplies.

Meanwhile, disorganization took place among the insurgent army and each of its influential commanders began to fight on his own in defiance of Huang Chao’s orders. One of them, Zhu Wen, tumed his back on Huang Chao and went over to the Tang side. In its fight against the peasant forces, the Tang court enlisted the support of the Shatuo under Li Keyong. In 883, Li Keyong crossed the Huanghe River in northem Shanxi and fought his way to the vicinity of Chang’an. Huang Chao led his remnant forces east to Henan and then to Shandong . He killed himself in 884 after being comered near Mount Taishan . The peasant war had lasted 10 solid years and had engulfed half of China , exceeding all previous peasant wars in scale. In calling himself Heaven-ordained Equalization General, Huang Chao—although not expressing this in any official slogan did voice the insurgents’ demand for equality be-tween high and low and tween rich and poor. In this sense, Huang Chao’s uprising can be con- sidered a cut above all previous peasant revolts that aimed only at opposing enslavement and striving for survival.

Both the eunuchs and frontier commanders took advantage of the chaotic situation arising from the peasant war to expand their own influence. After the peasant army had taken Tongguan, the eunuch in power, Tian Lingzi forced Emperor Xi Zong to flee to Chengdu . He took arbitrary power over everything in defiance of the emperor and put his numerous adopted sons in command of the armed forces. At the same time, he sent many of his trusted followers to spy on local officials and trumped up charges against those who refused to do his bidding. The new frontier commanders, Zhu Wen and Li Keyong, who had built up-their power in the process of suppressing the peasant rising, were more ambitious than the others who drew the line at carving out local spheres of influence.

After the defeat of Huang Chao, the frontier commanders in their scramble for independent domains began to embroil themselves in a tangled warfare, while the eunuchs and courtiers, with the sharpening of the contradictions between them, each tried to court the frontier commanders in the hope of gaining external support. The frontier commanders, on their part, all struggled to lay hold of the emperor as their political capital, and even scrambled several times for the person of Emperor Zhao Zong. Beginning in 896, Zhu Wen banded together with the prime minister Cui Yin to form a coterie. The influence of the palace eunuchs were wiped out to the last vestige in 903, when Zhu Wen and Cui Yin started a massacre of the eunuchs at Fengxiang (in modem Shaanxi Province ) and Chang’an and of those sent to the vari- ous places as army supervisors. In 904, Zhu Wen murdered Emperor Zhao Zong and put Li Zhu on the throne, who was later known as Emperor Zhao Xuan Di. Three years later, he deposed Zhao Xuan Di and proclaimed himself emperor of the Liang Dynasty, ushering in the period of the Five Dynasties and Ten States. Li Keyong and a few other frontier commanders still held their own spheres of influence at the time.
In the late Tang period, when the Tufan was on the decline, it ceased to pit itself against the Tang empire. In 822, the Tufan ruler met with the emissary of the Tang emperor Mu Zong at Lhasa to dis-cuss the alliance between the Tufan and the Tang, and a Monument of Unity was erected in front of the Jokhan Monastery the following year. Later, the Tufan was torn by a prolonged split, which ended only in the second half of the 13th century when it accepted the rule of the Yuan empire. After the Uygur Khanate was conquered by its subordi-nate tribe Xiajiasi in 840, the Uygurs moved west to the Tianshan Mountains area and became the ancestors of the Uygur people in pres-ent-day Xinjiang. During the late Tang period, the Southern Zhao was on very bad terms with the Tang as it frequently raided the empire’s southwestern frontiers. In 830, the Southern Zhao troops stormed into Chengdu and kidnapped tens of thousands of people, many of them handicraftsmen. In 861, they attacked Yongzhou and carried off many of its inhabitants. In 870, they laid siege to Chengdu once again. In875, the Tang government appointed Gao Pian Military Satrap of Xichuan, who, after a bitter fight, drove the Southern Zhao troops across the Dadu River . In 902, the state of the Southern Zhao was lost to one of its powerful ministers. After more than 30 years of turmoil, a noble named Duan of the Baiman tribe established the Dali Kingdom in the former domain of the Southern Zhao .

With the weakening of the empire, late Tang culture was also on the decline, with only a sprinkling of poets, notably Du Mu and Li Shangyin, lamenting over their personal misfortunes and the plight of the empire. Du Mu (803-53) was a grandson of Du You, author of The Encyclopaedia. Some of his poetic works reflected his worry and an-ger over the misrule of the government and the decline of the empire. His famous work, “Ode to the Epang (Efang) Palace”, expressed his disapproval of the late Tang emperors’ depraved life by castigating the misdeeds of an ancient emperor. His equally well-known poems. Spring Comes to the South” and “Lying at Anchor on the Qinhuai River “, revealed his concern for events of his day between the lines of landscape description. In his earlier days, Li Shangyin (813-58) had written a number of poems giving free flow to his personal aspirations and his discontent with the way eunuchs scrambled for power and frontier commanders for spheres of influence. In his later years, many of his poems breathed his disappointment over his unsuccessful offi-cial career. His achievements served as an epilogue of the golden age of Tang poetry.

There rose to prominence a new verse form, the ci, in the late Tang period when the traditional type of poetry, shi, was losing ground. The ci is a lyric with lines of irregular length set to a certain melody. The number of sentences, the number of words in each sentence, the rhyming and the tonal pattern are all.governed by definite rules. The ci first appeared approximately in the early Tang period. Judging from the ci set to music in Dunhuang Grottoes, it might have developed from folk ballads. The mid-Tang poets, Liu Yuxi and Bai Juyi, were great ci writers, whose ci verses, “Yi Jiang Nan” (“Recollections of the South”) and “Chang Xiang Si” (“Everlasting Love”), have become well-known ci melody names. Wen Tingjun (c. 812-c. 870) and Wei Zhuang (c. 836-910) were famous ci writers of the later Tang period, whose works, together with those of the well-known ci writers of the Five Dynasties and Ten States period, were contained in the Collection of Flowers, and they were known as the “Flowery School”. The ci writers of this school were given to florid descriptions of love and the appearance and costumes of women at a time when society was in chaos. They left to posterity nothing but some technique of ci writing. As far as content and message were concerned, their ci verses were far inferior to those by the noted ci writers of the Song Dynasty.

The Development of Social Productive Forces

Agriculture leapt forward from the Three Kingdoms through the Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties and Sui to the Tang period. As a whole, agricultural production was more advanced in the north than in the south as shown in The Manual of Important Arts for the People, a systematic summing-up of farming in the north written by Jia Sixie of the Northern Wei Dynasty. The book covers a wide range of subjects, including sowing, cultivation, farm tools, tree planting, animal husbandry, veterinary science, sericulture (production of raw silk through the raising of silk worms), fish farming and the processing and preservation of farm produce. It emphasizes the need to adapt agricultural production to local conditions and to do farm work in the fight season, arguing that this is the key to more gains with less effort. It also points out the need to strive for high yields per unit area. “Better reap good harvests over small areas than poor harvests over large areas,” it says. Agricultural production in the north, as shown in the book, continued to grow despite the havoc wrought by successive wars during the Southern and Northern Dynasties.

Farm tools improved both in quality and variety. During the Three Kingdoms period, Cao Cao appointed Han Ji to popularize iron smelting by hydropower blowers, resulting in the massproduction of iron farm tools. Animaldrawn ploughs were widely used during the Southern and Northern Dynasties. In the SuiTang period, a new type of plough was popularized, whose beam was designed to facilitate the mobility of the implement. It could be adjusted to work at varying depths and had 11 parts, its iron mould-board capable of depositing big earth clods on either side to make deep-ploughing easier. During the Northern Wei Dynasty, a new type of seeder was introduced, complete with a tool for covering the seeds with earth to promote their germination and growth. There were several kinds of implements for hoeing. By the Tang Dynasty, crescent-shaped sickles were used; they were better than the old ones which were slender at one end and thick at the other.

Progress was made in water conservation. Famous irrigation works were repaired or built during the Three Kingdoms, the Eastern Jin, the Southern Dynasties and the Sui period. According to rough estimates, 270 irrigation projects were built in the Tang period. A canal dug in the early Tang period served 40,000 hectares and another dug during the reign of Emperor Xuan Zong brought water to 20,000 hectares. The Tang government set up a special bureau for water conservation administration and promulgated decrees on river and canal control, irrigation, shipping and bridge engineering.

At the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, a man named Bi Lan invented the fan che (water lifting device) and ke wu (pump). Ma Jun of the state of Wei in the Three Kingdoms period improved the fan che so that even children could handle it. During the Tang Dynasty, watercarts with wooden pails attached to them for drawing water from wells appeared in the north. In the Changjiang River valley, there were water-wheels shaped like spinning wheels, with bamboo pails attached that were turned by force of water-flow to raise water from lower to higher points.

In agricultural production, emphasis was placed on intensive farming, prevention of drought, retention of moisture, preservation and improvement of soil fertility, and the selection of seed. Cultivating was done according to the four seasons with primary and secondary ploughings in each season and vertical or transverse ploughings for different depths. Measures were developed to prevent dryness and waterlogging of the soil. One of these was constant hoeings in the course of crop growth which was considered important for increasing crop yields by preventing dryness and retaining moisture. New experience and information were gained about manure application, crop rotation and multiple cropping to preserve and raise the fertility of the soil. Farmers of the Sui and Tang periods also paid special attention to the selection of good seed strains, which was partly responsible for the many good harvests reaped at that time. During the Northern Wei Dynasty, there were 86 varieties of millet, the major food crop in the north, and 24 varieties of rice, the merits and demerits of which were well understood by the experienced peasants.

The development of handicrafts also made swift progress. Ma Jun of the Three Kingdoms period made the old damask weaving loom easier to operate by changing the number of pedals from 50 and60 to only 12. Silk weaving was fairly well developed in the state of Shu which found brisk demand for its silk fabrics in many other parts of the country. The weft patterning technique was introduced from Persia into China during the Tang Dynasty, which was then used on silk fabrics made for export to cater to foreign tastes. There was a wide range of textiles during the Tang dynasty. Silk fabrics included brocade, pongee, gauze, damask and satin. In variety, the damask ranked first, brocade second and satin third. There was cloth made of kohemp, hemp, ramie and abaca (Manila hemp). In the northwest, woolen fabrics were woven from animal hair. In Gaochang in present-day Xinjiang, fine cloth was woven from cotton, which was not yet grown in the hinterland at that time.

The salt industry expanded swiftly during the Tang Dynasty under the patronage of the court, and the salt tax was an important source of government revenue in the midTang period and afterwards.

During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, a new steel-making method was introduced, in which molten pig iron was poured on wrought iron to smelt it into good-quality steel by quenching with animal urine and grease. The steel produced by this process was hard but pliable, much better than that made by the previous repeated tem-pering method. This advanced method, which had a vital bearing on later generations, was mentioned by Tao Hongiing (456-536), a scholar in the south, and used by Qiwu Huaiwen, a metallurgist in the north, in making swords and knives which shows that the method was adopted in both southern and northern China at the time.

Tea-making was a new industry developed in this period, al-though tea-growing dated back much earlier. During the Tang Dynasty, tea was grown in all the provinces in the south, with more than 20 famous varieties. The present Qimen County in Anhui Province and Huzhou City in Zhejiang Province were major tea-growers, and the tea tax was an important source of state revenue. The Book of Tea by Lu Yu (733-804) of the Tang Dynasty, the world’s first special primer of its kind, deals s2lstematically with the cultivation of tea bushes and methods of tea-processing.

Porcelain-making, an important Chinese invention, reached maturity in this period. (Primitive celadon, a green porcelain, appeared as early as the Shang Dynasty.) Different kinds of porcelain ware were produced in present-day Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Anhui, Hunan, Sichuan, Fujian, Guangdong, Hebei and Henan provinces, the best-known be-ing the celadon from the Yue Kilns in modern Shaoxing County, Zhe-jiang, and the white porcelain from the Xing Kilns in modern Neiqiu County, Hebei. Besides ordinary articles for daily use, porcelain was used during the Tang Dynasty to make exquisite art objects, such as the lively tribesmen on horse or camel backs and the different kinds of animals unearthed in various parts of China . The present porcelain city of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province was already the leading pro-ducer at that time, whose high quality products were much sought after both at home and abroad.

Paper-making technique had improved by the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, and in the period from 220 to 907 paper was used as writing material instead of bamboo and silk. It was widely used for many other purposes, such as the paper money burned at funeral services. Paper-naaking reached a high level of development in the Tang period, when paper of different types and colours were produced from an abundant choice of materials, such as bast fibres, the bark of paper mulberry, common mulberry and rattan, bamboo, and stalks of wheat and rice. The paper made during the Tang Dynasty was internationally known for its even and fine texture, neatness and smoothness. The fine, white, high-quality Yu Ban Xuan paper made in Xuanzhou (modern Jingxian County, Anhui), now known as the Xuan paper, is still treasured by traditional Chinese painters and calligraphers today.

Printing from engraved wood blocks appeared in the first years of the Tang Dynasty, or even earlier. Its forerunners were oracle bone engravings of the Shang-Zhou period, the seal and stone engravings of the pre-Qin period and the brick engravings of the Jin Dynasty. These engravings usually bore inscriptions (some of which were carved in the reverse direction) and sometimes pictures. At first, wood-block printing was used in printed matter that was less voluminous but en-joyed wider circulation, such as Buddhist images and scriptures, al-manacs and arithmetic booklets. Later, even the anthologies of poets like Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen were printed by this method. There were bookshops dealing specially in printed books in Chengdu in the late Tang period. The earliest extant printed book is the Diamond Sutra of868, which is 16 feet long and one foot wide and made up of seven sheets of paper to form a juan (roll). Both printing from engraved blocks and paper-making are great inventions attributed to China .

New advances were made in architecture and city planning. Con-struction of Buddhist temples and pagodas became an important ar-chitectural occupation with the spread of Buddhism. Buddhist build-ings in China , which bore an Indian stamp in the beginning, quickly blended with the traditional style of Chinese architecture. The plans of the Buddhist temples, including their pavilions, eaves and embellished walls, were all eloquent with Chinese flavour, as were the tower-like wooden pagodas and multi-eave brick pagodas.

Chang’ an, the capital of both the Sui and Tang dynasties and the largest city in the world at that time, is among the masterpieces of city planning in the history of Chinese architecture. Yuwen Kai (555-612), a famous architect of his time, was responsible for the city planning of Chang’an in the Sui period. Municipal construction continued during the Tang Dynasty. Chang’ an in the Tang period covered an area of 84 square kilometres and consisted of a Palace City and an Imperial City . There were 14 main streets running parallel from north to south and another 11 main streets running parallel from west to east, dividing the entire urban district into 108 neighbourhoods. The Great Brightness Palace atop the Dragon Head Hill on the northeastern outskirts provided a commanding view of the city. Water supply was conven-ient, with four canals flowing through it from south to north. Chang’an furnished for posterity a brilliant example of city planning.

The Anji Bridge , the world’s oldest open-spandrel bridge built in the early Sui period by Li Chun and other craftsmen over the Xiaohe River at Zhaozhou (now Zhaoxian County , Hebei Province) is one of the engineering feats of China. The structure, spanning 37.37 metres and made up of 28 component arches placed side by side, is 50.82 metres long and 9 metres wide, with a gentle slope to facilitate traffic. It has two minor arches at each of its two spandrels, which help lighten the weight of the main body, provide spillways for the water in time of flood and lend added majesty and grace to the bridge itself. The Anji Bridge , also known as the Zhaozhou Bridge , remains serviceable today despite the impact of the many serious floods and earthquakes of the past 1,300 years.

Shipbuilding grew with the development of transport and com-munications. From the Tang Dynasty onward, Chinese-built ships constantly plied between Guangzhou and the Persian Gulf .

Commerce flourished in Chang’an, Luoyang , Yangzhou , Chengdu , Guangzhou , Youzhou, Bianzhou (now Kaifeng , Henan ) and Mingzhou (now Ningbo , Zhejiang ). Guangzhou and Mingzhou were foreign trade ports during the Sui and Tang dynasties. Chinese com- modities found a ready market in Japan , Arabia and a number of South China Sea countries, and its silk fabrics and porcelain wares were favourite luxuries of the aristocrats and rich people there. An ancient form of bill of exchange, known as fei qian (“flying money”), appeared during the Tang Dynasty. Merchants who sold their goods to commercial firms at Chang’an could get fei qian drafts with which they could draw money in other places, saving them the trouble of carrying large amounts of money with them on their trips.

New successes were achieved in fields connected with productive endeavours, such as astronomy, recording of calendar time, hydrology and health and medicine. Yu Xi, an astronomer of the Eastern Jin Dy-nasty, discovered the precession of the equinoxes. He held that the sun moved somewhat west from the winter solstice of one year to the winter solstice of the next, instead of returning to its original position. According to his calculations based on historical records, the sun moved one degree west every 50 years. Although his calculations missed being completely accurate. Yu Xi was the first in Chinese his-tory to study tile precession of the equinoxes. His study was carried on by He Chengtian of the Song period and Zu Chongzhi of the Song and Qi periods during the Southern Dynasties. The precession as calculat- ed by He Chengtian was one degree every 100 years, a little less than the true figure. Zu Chongzhi (429-500) was the first to apply the pre- cession to the recording of calendar time. The Daming Calendar worked out by him was more accurate than all previous ones, the length of its tropical year being only 50 seconds wide of the length of the modern Gregorian Calendar. What distinguished Zu Chongzhi most was that he worked out the precise figure of π to be between3.1415926 and 3.1415927, well over one thousand years earlier than did European mathematicians. The Tang Dynasty astronomer, Monk Yi Xing (683-727), organized and directed a survey of the height of North Pole and the length of the shade of the sun or the length of the meridian line at 12 work centres in the country. He was the first in the world to carry out a scientific survey of the meridian.

In hydrological studies, the Waterways Classic written by an unknown author of the Three Kingdoms period gives a brief account of the country’s 137 major waterways. During the Northern Wei Dynasty, Li Daoyuan (465-or 472-527) wrote a commentary on it, Commentary on “Waterways Classic”, in which he quotes from more than 430 ancient books and draws on data based on his own on-the-spot inves-tigations. Apart from explaining the waterways mentioned in the Wa-terways Classic he filled in an outline of 1,252 others, making his book 21 times as big as the Waterways Classic. Written with ease and grace, the Commentary is also a literary work.

In medical science, A Treatise on Fevers by Zhang Zhongjing (Zhang Ji), a noted physician of the Three Kingdoms period, describes methods of treatment for different kinds of fevers and contains more than 100 prescriptions. His Gold Chest Dissertations deals with the symptoms of illnesses and ailments other than fevers as well as methods of treatment for them. Hua Tuo, a celebrated surgeon living at about the same time as Zhang Zhongjing, used an anaesthetic for abdominal operations. He also attached great importance to physical exercise as a means to keep fit and devised a set of health-building exercises called “Five Animals’ Games” which consisted of imitating the movements of a tiger, deer, bear, ape and bird. During the Jin and the Southern and Northern Dynasties, Chinese medicine embraced eight branches: medical theory, acupuncture, diagnosis, pathology, herbal medicine, prescription, dietetics and veterinary science. Historical records show that surgical operations such as amputation and harelip repair were performed. The l0-juan Treatise on the Pulse, the earliest extant treatise of its kind in China by the noted physician of the Jin Dynasty, Wang Shuhe, analyses twenty-four types of pulse and lays the theoretical basis for diagnosis by pulse-feeling. The Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion by Huangfu Mi (215-282). The earliest treatise on this subject, still remains in use today. The Prescriptions for Emergencies by Ge Hong (c. 284-364) is a collection of the tested prescriptions by celebrated doctors. As a specialist in refining elixir pills for immortality, he contributed to the development of pharma-ceutical science through his knowledge about the chemical properties of mercury, suphur, lead, copper and iron. The Treatise on the Prepa-ration and Dispensing of Medicines and Drugs by Lei Xiao, a famous pharmacologist of the Southern and Northern Dynasties, has earned its place in China’s pharmaceutic history through its presentation of 17 methods of preparing medicines. Tao Hongjing contributed to the progress of pharmacology with his Supplement to “Prescriptions for Emergencies” and Annotations to “‘Emperor Shen Nong’s Materia Medica”, a book which added 365 drugs to the same number listed in Emperor Shen Nong’s Materia Medica and proposed methods for pharmacological classification. The Sui government established and the Tang Dynasty further expanded an Academy of Imperial Physi-cians and an Imperial Medical Institution to take care of court medical and health affairs and the training of medical personnel. A special work in the history of Chinese medicine, the Treatise on the Causes and Symptoms of Diseases which runs to 50 juan with 1,720 articles covering 67 disciplines, written by the Sui medical academician Chao Yuanfang in 610, discusses with thorough documentation the causes, pathological changes and symptoms of the diseases as viewed within such disciplines as internal medicine, surgery, gynecology, pediatrics and the “five sense organs” (ear, eye, mouth, nose and tongue). On orders from the Tang emperor Gao Zong in 657, Su Jing, Zhangsun Wuji and others started work on the first government-authorized pharmacopoeia in the world, A New Compendium of Materia Medica, for which they had collected specimens and illustrations of medicines from various parts of the country. The 54-juan book, completed in 659, consists of a catalogue of 844 drugs, including 400 corrected and 100 added after research. The Precious Prescriptions and Supplement to “Precious Prescriptions” by the outstanding Tang pharmacologist Sun Simiao (581-682) deal exhaustively with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases, especially gynecological diseases and child care They record the collection and preparation of over 800 common drugs. Sun Simiao was honoured as “Master of Pharmacology” and temples were erected to cherish his memory. The Pharmacopoeia in Four Divisions, compiled by the celebrated Tufan medical scientist Yutuo Yuandangongbu during the mid-Tang period based on Tibetan folk experience with reference to medical works by Han authors, was an important work in Tibetan medicine. It was introduced to Mongolia and contributed greatly to the development of both Tibetan and Mon-golian medicines.

The Development of Feudal Relations and the Feudalization of Regions Inhabited by Several Ethnic Group

Feudal relations developed in the period from the Three King-doms through the Tang Dynasty as private landowner ship expanded within the feudal hierarchical system and changes took place in the status of both the landlords and the peasants, while the process of feudalization began in areas where several ethnic groups lived to-gether.

The landed aristocrats with hereditary titles of the Qin-Han peri-od which had been decimated during the Yellow Turbans Uprising were replaced by landlords from privileged families who, like the landed aristocrats, enjoyed hereditary social status as well as economic and political privileges. But they were different in that they owned land which was not enfeoffed by the state but was handed down from generation to generation; they had under their control peasants and family servants who were not listed in government reg-ister and were therefore immune from tax payment and labour service; and the land rent they managed to squeeze out was not part of the state tax.

Landlords from privileged families were those which developed over time from the hereditary landed aristocracy of the late-Han peri-od or from powerful local landlords. Those who rendered meritorious service to the new dynasty also became privileged landlords, but it had taken their families a considerable length of time to build up their prestige before joining this privileged class. In 220, the kingdom of Wei created a law establishing prestigious persons in various places as zhong zheng to recommend talented people for classification into nine grades for government appointment. Soon, landlords from the privileged families seized this method of selecting talented people to consolidate and expand their privileges during a time of social up- heaval. At the end of the Western Jin Dynasty, many of these land- lords went south from the Central Plain together with their family members, relatives, family servants and fellow-villagers. Politically, they became an important force supporting the Eastern Jin court in the south, while economically they seized large tracts of land any way they could. The big native landlords also joined their ranks. After Emperor Xiao Wen Di of the Northern Wei moved his capital to Luoyang , the nobles of the different clans and branches of the Xianbei tribe settled down at Luoyang as privileged families and gradually merged with the Han people. Later, when the Northern Wei split into the eastern and western parts, the privileged families in the Central Plain were divided into the Shandong and Guanzhong groups. Among the country’s privileged families, the Shandong group enjoyed high prestige for a long time. With the introduction of the civil examination system during the Sui and Tang dynasties, although the old privileged families remained a force to be reckoned with, their social status was weakened as more and more people entered into political competition with them. Both Li Shimin and Wu Ze Tian tried to rear-range the genealogical ranks of the landlord class, so as to play down landlords from the privileged families and play up the new bigwigs, but without much success.

Buddhist monks also become powerful in the landlord class. They owned large monasteries, huge amounts of monastic land and other assets, all of which passed from master to disciple. Large num-bers of workers were at their service. These monasterial landlords were exempt from taxation and labour service. Each of them set up on his own account and each had his own system of imparting Buddhist learning. They did not have to respect the sovereign, and were bound by no secular laws. When Monk Xuan Zhuang (Hsuan Tsang) fell ill in 664, Emperor Gao Zong sent imperial physicians to treat him. After his death, the emperor stopped giving audience for several days and had the monk’s body put in an inner coffin of gold with an outer cof-fin of silver. It was recorded that 1,000,000 people attended the funer- al service and 30,000 mourners kept vigil around the graveyard. In the words of a memorial of the early 8th century, “Seven or eight-tenths of the wealth under the sun belong to Buddha.” Much as this might ex-aggerate, these records throw a revealing light on the wealth and pres-tige enjoyed by the monasterial landlords. They were actually privileged landlords in Buddhist robes, and some of them had even more land and wielded more influence than their secular counterparts.

During the Three Kingdoms and later, so-called landlords of humble origin landlords other than those from the privileged fami-lies, such as bureaucrat landlords, powerful local landlords and mer-cantile landlords also gained status. Speaking of the compilation of the Clan and Family Gazette, Li Shimin gave the instruction: “Grade according to the present official ranks, with no regard to the situation generations ago.” This regard only for present official ranks was pre-cisely what set the bureaucrat landlords apart. After the kingdom of Wei made the law on classifying talented people into nine grades for government appointment, officials not from the privileged families– most of them low-ranking also received both land and labourers from the state. With the introduction of the civil examination during the Sui and Tang dynasties, this social stratum grew to become a poli-tical rival of the landlords from privileged families, and some of its members even became prime ministers. Eunuchs grew increasingly powerful after the mid-Tang period. They held high official ranks and commandeered vast tracts of land in the metropolitan area. Being dif-ferent from ordinary officials, they belonged to another category of bureaucrat landlords.

Another great local feudal force neither from the officials nor from the privileged familiesĄŞwas the powerful local landlords. Some of the powerful local landlords might turn into bureaucrat landlords or privileged landlords. Each of these three kinds of landlords had its own characteristics although they were not much different in some cases. In times of social stability, powerful local landlords often tyrannized the common people; in times of social upheaval, they often mustered their own forces for self-protection or for setting up inde-pendent regimes. During the Three Kingdoms period, Li Dian, a subordinate general of Cat Cat, moved his 13,000 family servants and clansmen to the city of Ye; and Xu Chu got together neighbourhood youngsters and thousands of clansmen to resist peasant insurgent ar-mies before he joined Cat Cat to become one of his subordinate gen-erals. Both Wei Yan and Hut Jun, Liu Bei’s subordinate generals, were powerful local landlords who took their own family servants with them when they joined Liu Bei. When peasant rebellions broke out at the end of the Sui Dynasty, many of the powerful local landlords took advantage of the situation to seize towns and cities.

Some of the bureaucrat landlords and privileged landlords used their position and power to conduct commercial activities despite the repeated imperial edicts which forbade them to do so. Officials in Guangzhou and other foreign trade ports stood a greater chance of making fabulous profits than those in other places. During the mid-Tang period and afterwards, shops were opened by military comman-ders in Yangzhou and other cities, which, being run in the military’s name, enjoyed far greater success than others. But these people were different from the plutocrat landlords who, coming from among ordi-nary landlords, raked in large amounts of money from regular business deals. A man named Mi Zhu in the Three Kingdoms period boasted10,000 servants and a fabulous fortune accumulated over generations by his merchant-ancestors. Once, he made Liu Bei a present of 2,000 servants and a large amount of gold and silver to make up his shortage of military supplies. A certain Zheng Fengzhi in the Sui-Tang pe-riod so influential that even men of rank vied to associate with him had warehouses, manors and residences in many parts of the country. He bragged to Emperor Gao Zu of the Tang Dynasty that he had enough pongee to go around even if each of the trees on Zhong-nan Mountain was hung with one bolt. People like Mi Zhu and Zheng Fengzhi could be counted as bigshots among the plutocrat landlords. There were many specialized merchants in the Three Kingdoms peri-od and afterwards. But none of them from wealthy merchants to small pedlars, especially salt and tea merchants–could avoid being dependent on feudal forces.

Both the monasterial landlords and the landlords of humble origin, like those from the privileged families, had their own protrgrs not listed in the government register, which indicated a scramble between the landlords and the feudal state for labourers. The feudal state adopted specific measures to rebind the drifting peasants to the land. One of these was to increase the number of households in government register by a general check-up. Another was to institute a land equalization system favourable for the rebinding.

The land equalization system was practised in several forms from the Three Kingdoms period onward. In 196, Cao Cao introduced a system at Xuchang, whereby drifters were organized along military lines and given land for cultivation. Those who used government oxen in farming had to turn over six-tenths of their harvests to the govern- ment as rent while the rate was only half for those who used their own oxen. In 280, during the Western Jin Dynasty, peasants of both sexes became entitled to two types of land, the zhan tian ( possessed field ) which was rent-free, and the ke tian (tax field) for which land tax had to be paid, mainly in grain, pongee and cotton. In 485, under the land equalization programme of the Northern Wei Dynasty, peasants of both sexes were given a certain amount of lu tian (open field) for growing food grain, which could not be sold and had to be returned to the government when the recipient reached the age of 70; and a certain amount of sang tian (mulberry field) for growing mulberry, elm and date trees, which could be kept for good and could be sold in part. The peasants in turn were required to pay the government land rent in grain and silk. In 624, during the Tang Dynasty, land was distributed according to sex, age and health status. The lu tian was then known as kou fen tian (per capita field), which was generally unsalable and had to be returned to the government when the recipient died. The sang tian was called yong ye tian (perpetual field), which could be inherited by the recipient’s heirs. Both kinds were salable in given conditions. Each adult male or female peasant was required to pay the govern-ment in grain, pongee, cotton, cloth or bast fibres and perform 20 days’ labour service annually. Two points demonstrated the height-ened social status of peasants under the feudal state: the classification into the tax field and possessed field, then into the open field and mulberry field, and then into the per capita field and perpetual field with their salability in given conditions which affirmed the private owner-ship of the peasants over part of the land they received; and, secondly, the specific number given for annual labour service days which clearly defined this burden on the peasants. Other signs of the development of the land equalization system were that, unlike the prot6g6s of the landlords from the privileged families, the peasants had to pay land rent which formed part of the state tax, and, also, the feudal state de-manded grain and pongee for the open field and mulberry field it gave the peasants, which showed government efforts to strengthen the combination of agriculture and household handicrafts to preserve the structure of the natural economy characterized by the men working on the land and the women working at the looms.

The laws and decrees of feudal states were seldom carried out to the letter. The early Tang provisions on land equalization were violat-ed in the mid-Tang period with constant land annexations and wars. In780, the Tang court issued a decree providing for a tax levy according to the needs of state expenditure and tax payment in proportion to the amount of one’s property and land. No mention was made of the per-petual field and per capita field, nor of government distribution of land and its return to the government which meant extensive state recognition of the private ownership of land and the existence of state tax independent of land rent. This great change pointed to the economic development of Chinese feudal society. The new decree benefited only the feudal state and the landlords, who could increase taxes or annex land at will. Consequently, from the end of the Tang Dynasty onward, the peasants rising against enslavement also had to fight for the possession of land.

The various areas where several ethnic groups lived together began their process of feudalization at one time or another from the Three Kingdoms to the Tang period. Ethnic minorities like the Xiongnu, Xianbei, Jie, Di and Qiang, who inhabited the northwestem and northem frontier regions, were at different stages of social devel-opment, some in primitive clan society and others in slave society. In the closing years of the Western Jin Dynasty, they immigrated to the Huanghe River valley where, mixing with the Han, they experienced a leap forward in their social development. During the Sixteen States period, most of the states established by ethnic minorities such as the Han and the Former Zhao of the Xiongnu, the Later Zhao of the Jie, the Former Qin of the Di and the Later Qin of the Qiangwspeeded up their process of feudalization by appointing officials of Han ethnic group, adopting the forms of government of the Han people and im-plementing feudal political and economic policies.

After unifying the northern part of China , the Northern Wei es-tablished by the Xianbei pressed ahead with this process in regions where several ethnic groups lived together. The process developed even further during the reign of Emperor Xiao Wen Di.

Feudalization also took place in the southern regions where sev-eral ethnic groups lived together. The chaos caused by frequent wars forced the labouring people in the north to move south en masse to Jingzhou and Yangzhou which were largely inhabited by the Shanyue and Man peoples. The Shanyues and Mans gradually accepted the advanced production techniques and social system from the north, which helped accelerate their process of feudalization.

Feudalization in regions inhabited by several ethnic groups was significant in the development of Chinese history in that the Han peo-ple and the ethnic minorities absorbed each others’ positive attributes to activate the productive forces of society and bring about prosperity in the social economy.