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China, a History

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Author Topic: China, a History  (Read 8654 times)
Bee Cha
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« Reply #135 on: December 08, 2007, 04:57:33 pm »

When the Northern Zhou Dynasty defeated the Northern Qi Dynasty in 577 AD, this was the culminating moment and ultimate advantage for the northern Chinese to face south. The southern dynasties had lost hope in conquering the north, and the situation of conquest from north-to-south was only delayed in 523 with civil war.

The Sui Dynasty began when Wendi's daughter became the Empress Dowager of Northern Zhou, with her stepson as the new emperor. After crushing an army mutiny in the eastern provinces as the prime minister of Zhou, Wendi took the throne by force and claimed himself to be emperor. In a bloody purge, Wendi had fifty-nine princes of the Zhou royal family eliminated, yet nonetheless was known as the 'Cultured Emperor' (581 - 604 AD).[2] He abolished the anti-Han policies of Zhou and reclaimed his Han surname of Yang. Having won the support of the Confucian scholars that had powered previous Han dynasties (abandoning the nepotism and corruption of the Nine-rank system), Wendi initiated a series of reforms aimed at strengthening his empire for the war that would reunify China.

In his campaign for southern conquest, Wendi assembled thousands of boats to confront the naval forces of the Chen Dynasty on the Yangtze River. The largest of these ships were very tall, having five layered decks, the capacity of holding 800 passengers, and were outfitted with six 50-foot-long booms that were used to swing and damage enemy ships, or to pin them down so that Sui marine troops could use grapple-and-board techniques.[3] Besides employing Xianbei and Chinese ethnicities for the fight against Chen, Wendi also employed the service of aborigines from southeastern Sichuan, peoples that Sui had recently conquered.[4]

In 588 AD, the Sui had amassed 18,000 troops along the northern bank of the Yangtze River, stretching from Sichuan to the Pacific Ocean.[5] The Chen Dynasty was meanwhile collapsing, and could not withstand such an assault. By 589 AD, Sui troops entered Jiankang (Nanjing) and the last emperor of the southern Chen dynasty surrendered. The city was razed to the ground, while Sui troops escorted Chen nobles back north, where the northern aristocrats became fascinated with everything the south had to provide culturally and intellectually.

Although Wendi was famous for bankrupting the state treasury with warfare and construction projects, he made many improvements to infrastructure during his early reign. He established granaries as sources of food and as a means to regulate market prices from the taxation of crops, much like the earlier Han Dynasty.

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