Three Kingdoms
Posted 12/14/09 , edited 12/14/09
The Three Kingdoms period is a period in the history of China, part of an era of disunity called the Six Dynasties following immediately the loss of de facto power of the Han Dynasty emperors. In a strict academic sense it refers to the period between the foundation of the Wei in 220 and the conquest of the Wu by the Jin Dynasty in 280. However, many Chinese historians and laymen extend the starting point of this period back to the uprising of the Yellow Turbans in 184.

The three kingdoms were Wèi (魏), Shǔ (蜀), and Wú (吳). To help further distinguish these states from other historical Chinese states of the same name, historians add a relevant character: Wei is also known as Cáo Wèi (曹魏), Shu is also known as Shǔ Hàn (蜀漢), and Wu is also known as Dōng Wú or Eastern Wu (東吳). The term Three Kingdoms itself is somewhat of a mistranslation, since each state was eventually headed not by kings, but by an emperor who claimed legitimate succession from the Han Dynasty. Although the translation Three Empires is more contextually accurate,[1] the term Three Kingdoms has become standard among sinologists.

The earlier, "unofficial" part of the period, from 184 to 220, was marked by chaotic infighting between warlords in various parts of China. The middle part of the period, from 220 and 263, was marked by a more militarily stable arrangement between three rival states, Cao Wei, Shu Han, and Eastern Wu. The later part of this period was marked by the collapse of the tripartite situation: first the destruction of Shu by Wei (263), then the overthrow of Wei by the Jin Dynasty (265), and the destruction of Wu by Jin (280).

Although relatively short, this historical period has been greatly romanticised in the cultures of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. It has been celebrated and popularised in operas, folk stories, novels and in more recent times, films, television serials, and video games. The best known of these is undoubtedly the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, a fictional account of the period which draws heavily on history. The authoritative historical record of the era is Chen Shou's Sanguo Zhi, along with Pei Songzhi's later annotations of the text.

The Three Kingdoms period was one of the bloodiest in Chinese history. A population census during the late Eastern Han Dynasty reported a population of approximately 50 million,[2] while a population census during the early Western Jin Dynasty (after Jin re-unified China) reported a population of approximately 16 million.[2] However, the Jin dynasty's census was far less complete than the Han census, so these figures are in question. Even after taking into account the possible inaccuracies of these census reports, the fact a large percentage of the population was wiped out during this period of constant war is beyond doubt.

Technology advanced significantly during this period. Zhuge Liang invented the wooden ox, suggested to be an early form of the wheelbarrow. A brilliant mechanical engineer known as Ma Jun, in the Kingdom of Wei, is considered by many to be as brilliant as his predecessor Zhang Heng. He invented a hydraulic-powered, mechanical puppet theatre designed for Emperor Ming of Wei (Cao Rui), square-pallet chain pumps for irrigation of gardens in Luoyang, and the ingenious design of the South Pointing Chariot, a non-magnetic directional compass operated by differential gears.

Fall of Shu
Conquest of Shu by Wei

The decreasing strength of the Cao clan was mirrored by the decline of Shu. After Zhuge Liang's death, his position as Lieutenant Chancellor fell to Jiang Wan, Fei Yi and Dong Yun, in that order. But after 258, Shu politics became increasingly controlled by the eunuch faction and corruption rose. Despite the energetic efforts of Jiang Wei, Zhuge's protege, Shu was unable to secure any decisive achievement. In 263, Wei launched a three-pronged attack and the Shu army was forced into general retreat from Hanzhong. Jiang Wei hurriedly held a position at Jian'ge but he was outflanked by the Wei commander Deng Ai, who force-marched his army from Yinping through territory formerly considered impassable. By the winter of the year, the capital Chengdu fell due to the strategic invasion of Wei by Deng Ai who invaded Chengdu personally. The emperor Liu Shan thus surrendered. The state of Shu had come to an end after forty-three years.


Fall of Wei

Cao Huan succeeded to the throne in 260 after Cao Mao was killed by Sima Zhao. Soon after, Sima Zhao died and his title as Lord of Jin was inherited by his son Sima Yan. Sima Yan immediately began plotting to become Emperor but faced stiff opposition. However, due to advice from his advisors, Cao Huan decided the best course of action would be to abdicate, unlike his predecessor Cao Mao. Sima Yan seized the throne in 264 after forcing Cao Huan's abdication, effectively overthrowing the Wei Dynasty and establishing the successor Jin Dynasty. This situation was similar to the deposal of Emperor Xian of the Han Dynasty by Cao Pi, the founder of the Wei Dynasty.

Fall of Wu
Conquest of Wu by Jin

Following Sun Quan's death and the ascension of the young Sun Liang as emperor in 252, the kingdom of Wu went into a period of steady decline. Successful Wei suppression of rebellions in the Huainan region by Sima Zhao and Sima Shi reduced any opportunity of Wu influence. The fall of Shu signalled a change in Wei politics. After Liu Shan surrendered to Wei, Sima Yan (grandson of Sima Yi), overthrew the Wei emperor and proclaimed his own dynasty of Jin in 264, ending forty-six years of Cao dominion in the north. After Jin's rise, Emperor Sun Xiu of Wu died, and his ministers gave the throne to Sun Hao. Sun Hao was a promising young man, but upon ascension he became a tyrant, killing or exiling all who dared oppose him in the court. In 269 Yang Hu, Jin commander in the south, started preparing for the invasion of Wu by ordering the construction of a fleet and the training of marines in Sichuan under Wang Jun. Four years later, Lu Kang, the last great general of Wu, died leaving no competent successor. The planned Jin offensive finally came in the winter of 279. Sima Yan launched five simultaneous offensives along the Yangzi River from Jianye to Jiangling whilst the Sichuan fleet sailed downriver to Jing province. Under the strain of such an enormous attack, the Wu forces collapsed and Jianye fell in the third month of 280. Emperor Sun Hao surrendered and was given a fiefdom on which to live out his days. This marked the end of the Three Kingdoms era, and the beginning of a break in the forthcoming 300 years of chaos.

(Thank you, Wikipedia.)

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Posted 12/14/09
Wu
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27 / F / cali
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Posted 12/21/09
i thought you were talking about the kingdoms in biology... hahahaha i learned that practically all the kingdoms in china were evil. but they got work done soooo it doesn't matter... whichever.
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Posted 12/23/09
SHu~

we learned about them the most in class.
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Singapore
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Posted 12/26/09
Shu... Because of the drama ---> Ko3anguo
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27 / Nagoya-shi, Aichi...
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Posted 1/16/10
OP nuked, if anyone wants to recreate this thread, please do so

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