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Ancient China: Period of Disunion

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Ancient China: Period of Disunion



Period of Disunion

History >> Ancient China

The Period of Disunion began with the fall of the Han Dynasty in 220 AD. It continued for over 350 years until China was once again united under the Sui Dynasty in 589 AD.

The history of the Period of Disunion is often divided up into three different time periods: the Three Kingdoms, the Jin Dynasty, and the Southern and Northern Kingdoms.

Three Kingdoms

Painting of Liu Beiby Yan Liben [Public Domain]
After the Han Dynasty fell in 220 AD, three different warlords rose to power. Each of them claimed to be emperor and took control of a different region of China. These three kingdoms were called Wei (north), Shu (west), and Wu (south). This period was marked by wars between different warlords and millions of Chinese people died in battle.

The period of the Three Kingdoms has become a popular part of Chinese history in many stories, movies, and legends. Leaders such as Cao Cao (founder of the Kingdom of Wei), Liu Bei (founder of the Kingdom of Shu), and Sun Quan (founder of the Kingdom of Wu) are household names in China and popular characters in stories and plays.

Jin Dynasty

In 265 AD, a general named Sima Yan took control of the kingdom of Wu and established the Jin Dynasty. The Jin became the strongest dynasty in China ruling much of southern China from 265 AD to 420 AD. At one point they managed to unite all of China in 280, but this didn’t last long. Northern China soon rebelled and broke up into a number of smaller states ruled by warlords.

Southern and Northern Dynasties

The final stage of the Period of Disunion is called the Southern and Northern Dynasties. This period lasted from 420 to 589 AD. During this time, China remained divided with different dynasties ruling in the north and in the south. It came to an end when the Sui Dynasty came into power and unified China in 589 AD.


Although China was not united during this time, the Period of Disunity saw many advancements and accomplishments. New inventions include the stirrup for horses, the wooden ox (like a wheelbarrow), and the kite. There were also advances in astronomy, mathematics, and medicine.


The Period of Disunion saw a rise in the power of warlords and leading families. The government was less organized than under the Han Dynasty. Local warlords were often the main source of power.


Despite the constantly changing kings and emperors, the arts continued to flourish during this time. The period produced brilliant and innovative artists in areas such as poetry, calligraphy, sculpture, and painting. Outside influences and the integration of nearby peoples also impacted the Chinese culture. Perhaps the most significant of these was the spread of Buddhism as a major religion.


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Timeline of China's "Period of Disunity," 220-589 CE

Timeline of China's "Period of Disunity," 220-589 CE – Timeline of China's "Period of Disunity," 220-589 CE * The Period of Disunity is also often referred to as the Six Dynasties Period. The "six dynasties" refer to the five southern dynasties (Chen, Liang, Southern Qi, Liu Song, and Eastern Jin), plus the kingdom of Wu from the Three Kingdoms Period. All had their capital at Jiankang (Nanjing).It forms a separate chapter in the long period of disunion from the fall of the Hans to the rise of the Sungs. After the Tangs came five ephemeral and insignificant dynasties, with the fate ofPeriod of Disunion 220-589 After the fall of the Han Dynasty China split in to rival kingdoms—one in the north, one in the south. This period was filled with war and constant changes in leadership. Many nomadic people settled in Northern China.

China Chapter III – A Long Period Of Disunion eText – Thus, a period of disunion is a lapse of the cosmic order, an anomaly that must be put right as soon as possible. The most notorious of the historical periods of disunion was that of the Warring…During the period of disunion, the general consensus suggests, Buddhist translators wrestled with the problem of conveying Indian ideas in a language their Chinese audience could understand; after many false starts Chinese philosophers were finally able to comprehend common Buddhist terms as well as the complexities of the doctrine of emptiness.Summary In the last quarter of the sixth century, China had been politically fragmented for nearly three hundred years – the longest period of disunion in Chinese history.

China Chapter III - A Long Period Of Disunion eText

PPT Period of Disunion – WPUSD – Why did Buddhism spread more easily during the Period of Disunion? Answer Save. 1 Answer. Relevance. Nelson. Lv 7. 9 years ago. Favorite Answer. The power of the (Anglican) Church of England was impinged upon and there were fewer Rectors to discourage the spread of Buddhism. 1 0. Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.Buddhism's status changed during the Period of Disunion. During this troubled time, many people turned to Buddhism. Period: 589 to Jan 1, 618. Sui Dynasty The man who finally ended the peroid of Disunion was a northern ruler named Yang Jian. In 589, he conqured the south, unified China, and created the Sui Dynasty.Six Dynasties (Chinese: 六朝; Pinyin: Liù Cháo; 220 or 222-589) is a collective term for six Han-ruled regimes in China during the periods of the later phase of Three Kingdoms era (220-280 AD), the Jin dynasty (265-420), and the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589), around the same time of the early half of the late antiquity period in Europe.

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