The Division of China Once More and the Intermingling of Ethnic Groups - The Three Kingdoms, the Two Jin Dynasties and the Southern and Northern Dynasties
The period of the Three Kingdoms, the Western and Eastern Jin dynasties and the Southern and Northern dynasties is also called the period of Wei, Jin and the Southern and Northern dynasties. It started in 220 AD, when Cao Pi claimed himself emperor of the Kingdom of Wei, and ended in 589, when the Sui Dynasty wiped out Chen and united the whole country once more.
In 221, the year after the setting up of the Kingdom of Wei, Liu Bei established the Kingdom of Shu, and in 222 Sun Quan founded the Kingdom of Wu, which formed a situation of tripartite confrontation. The capitals of these three kingdoms were located in today's Luoyang, Chengdu and Nanjing, respectively.
In 263, Wei wiped out Shu. In 265, Sima Yan, a Wei minister, seized the throne of Wei, declared founding of the Jin Dynasty and chose Luoyang as his capital. This is known as the Western Jin Dynasty. In 280, Sima Yan conquered Wu, ending the Three Kingdoms Period, but the Jin Dynasty itself was overrun by nomadic people in 316.
In 317, Sima Rui, a descendant of the royal family of the Jin Dynasty, proclaimed himself emperor of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, whose capital was today's Nanjing. At the same time, several minority ethnic groups in the Yellow River basin also established many states. For more than 130 years, northern China was chaotically divided, in a period called the "era of the sixteen states".
In 439, Northern Wei, established by a minority people, united the north. Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei effected reforms, decreeing the adoption of native Chinese institutions, language and costume. This resulted in a great intermixing of different ethnic groups in the north. Later, Northern Wei split into Eastern and Western Wei, and then Northern Qi replaced Eastern Wei, and Northern Zhou replaced Western Wei. The above five northern dynasties are known as the Northern Dynasties. During the 170 years from 420 to 589 AD, following the fall of Eastern Jin, there appeared four dynasties in succession, namely, Song, Qi, Liang and Chen, whose capitals were all situated in today's Nanjing. These four dynasties are called the Southern dynasties. The period when the Southern dynasties and the Northern Dynasties co-existed is called the Southern and Northern dynasties.
During the Three Kingdoms Period there emerged a great number of outstanding statesmen and generals, the foremost of whom were Cao Cao and Zhuge Liang. And the two Jin dynasties and the Northern and Southern dynasties produced many famous strategists, scientists, literary figures, painters and calligraphers. Also, a large number of famous works were produced which had a positive influence on the development of the social and natural sciences. These scientific and cultural achievements are gems of the Chinese cultural heritage.