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The Three Kingdoms () from 220 to 280 AD was the tripartite division of China among the states of Wei,
Shu Shu may refer to: China * Sichuan, China, officially abbreviated as Shu (蜀) * Shu (state) (conquered by Qin in 316 BC), an ancient state in modern Sichuan * Shu Han (221–263) during the Three Kingdoms Period * Western Shu (405–413), also k ...
, and Wu. The Three Kingdoms period started with the
end End, END, Ending, or variation, may refer to: End *In mathematics: ** End (category theory) ** End (topology) ** End (graph theory) ** End (group theory) (a subcase of the previous) ** End (endomorphism) *In sports and games **End (gridiron footba ...
of the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...
and was followed by the Jin dynasty. The short-lived Yan kingdom in the
Liaodong Peninsula The Liaodong Peninsula (also Liaotung Peninsula, ) is a peninsula in southern Liaoning province in Northeast China, and makes up the southwestern coastal half of the Liaodong region. It is located between the river mouth, mouths of the Daliao ...
, which lasted from 237 to 238, is sometimes considered as a "4th kingdom". To distinguish the three states from other historical Chinese states of the same names, historians have added a relevant character to the state's original name: the state that called itself "Wei" () is also known as "
Cao Wei Wei (220–266), also known as Cao Wei or Former Wei, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms The Three Kingdoms () from 220 to 280 AD was the tripartite division of China among the ...
" (), the state that called itself "Han" () is also known as "
Shu Han Han (; 221–263), known in historiography as Shu Han ( ; often shortened to Shu ; pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland C ...
" () or just "Shu" (), and the state that called itself "Wu" () is also known as "
Eastern Wu Wu (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous count ...
" () or "Sun Wu" (). Academically, the period of the Three Kingdoms refers to the period between the foundation of the state of Wei in 220 AD and the
conquest Conquest is the act of military subjugation of an enemy by force of Weapon, arms. Military history provides many examples of conquest: the Gallic Wars, Roman conquest of Gaul, the Maurya Empire, Mauryan conquest of Afghanistan and of vast areas ...
of the state of Wu by the Jin dynasty in 280. The earlier, "unofficial" part of the period, from 184 to 220, was marked by chaotic infighting between
warlord A warlord is a person who exercises military, economic, and political control over a region in a country without a strong national government; largely because of coercive control over the armed forces. Warlords have existed throughout much of hi ...
s in various parts of China. The middle part of the period, from 220 to 263, was marked by a more militarily stable arrangement between three rival states of Wei, Shu, and Wu. The later part of the era was marked by the
conquest of Shu by Wei The Conquest of Shu by Wei was a military campaign launched by the state of Cao Wei ("Wei") against its rival Shu Han ("Shu") in late 263 during the Three Kingdoms The Three Kingdoms () from 220 to 280 AD was the tripartite division of Ch ...
(263), the usurpation of Wei by the Jin dynasty (265), and the conquest of Wu by the Jin (280). The Three Kingdoms period is one of the bloodiest in Chinese history. A nationwide census taken in 280 AD, following the reunification of the Three Kingdoms under the Jin shows a total of 2,459,840 households and 16,163,863 individuals which was only a fraction of the 10,677,960 households, and 56,486,856 individuals reported during the Han era. While the census may not have been particularly accurate due to a multitude of factors of the times, in 280, the Jin did make an attempt to account for all individuals where they could. Technology advanced significantly during this period. Shu
chancellor Chancellor ( la, links=no, cancellarius) is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the ' of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the ''cancelli'' or lattice work screens of ...
Zhuge Liang Zhuge Liang ( ; 181–234), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Ko ...

Zhuge Liang
invented the
wooden ox The wooden ox (木牛流馬; ''lit.'' wooden ox and flowing horse) was a single-wheeled cart with two handles (i.e., a wheelbarrow A wheelbarrow is a small hand-propelled vehicle, usually with just one wheel File:Roue primitive.png, An ea ...
, suggested to be an early form of the wheelbarrow, and improved on the
repeating crossbow The repeating crossbow () is a Chinese crossbow that was invented during the Warring States period, and remained in use until the late Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last History of China#Imperial Chi ...
. Wei mechanical engineer Ma Jun is considered by many to be the equal of his predecessor
Zhang Heng Zhang Heng (; AD 78–139), formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for ...

Zhang Heng
. He invented a hydraulic-powered, mechanical puppet theatre designed for Emperor Ming of Wei, square-pallet
chain pump The chain pump is type of a water pump A pump is a device that moves fluids (s or es), or sometimes , by mechanical action, typically converted from electrical energy into hydraulic energy. Pumps can be classified into three major groups accordin ...
s for irrigation of gardens in
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
, and the ingenious design of the
south-pointing chariot The south-pointing chariot (or carriage) was an ancient Chinese two-wheeled vehicle that carried a movable pointer to indicate the , no matter how the chariot turned. Usually, the pointer took the form of a or figure with an outstretched arm. T ...
, a non-magnetic directional compass operated by differential gears. Although relatively short, this historical period has been greatly romanticized in the cultures of China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. It has been celebrated and popularized in operas, folk stories, novels and in more recent times, films, television, and video games. The best known of these is
Luo Guanzhong Luo Ben (c. 1330–1400, or c.1280–1360), better known by his courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Ea ...
's ''
Romance of the Three Kingdoms ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms'' () is a 14th-century historical novel attributed to Luo Guanzhong. It is set in the turbulent years towards the end of the Han dynasty and the Three kingdoms (China), Three Kingdoms period in History of China, ...
'', a
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming dynasty
historical novel based on events in the Three Kingdoms period. The authoritative historical record of the era is
Chen Shou Chen Shou (; 233–297), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including Chin ...
's ''
Records of the Three Kingdoms The ''Records of the Three Kingdoms'' is a Chinese historical text which covers the history of the late Eastern Han dynasty (c. 184–220 CE) and the Three Kingdoms The Three Kingdoms () from 220 to 280 AD was the tripartite divisio ...
'', along with
Pei Songzhi Pei Songzhi (372–451), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including Chin ...
's later annotations of the text. The English-language term "Three Kingdoms" is something of a misnomer, since each state was eventually headed not by a
king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, queen, which title is also given to the queen consort, consort of a king. *In the context of prehistory, antiquity and contempora ...

king
, but by an
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...

emperor
who claimed
suzerainty Suzerainty () is a relationship in which one state or other polity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized socia ...
over all China. Nevertheless, the term "Three Kingdoms" has become standard among English-speaking
sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's ...
s.


Periodization

There is no set time period for the era. Strictly speaking, the Three Kingdoms, or independent states, only existed from the proclamation of the
Eastern Wu Wu (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous count ...
ruler to be emperor in 229 until the downfall of
Shu Han Han (; 221–263), known in historiography as Shu Han ( ; often shortened to Shu ; pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland C ...
in 263. Another interpretation of the period is that it began with the decline of the Han royal house. According to Mao Zonggang, a commentator on the ''
Romance of the Three Kingdoms ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms'' () is a 14th-century historical novel attributed to Luo Guanzhong. It is set in the turbulent years towards the end of the Han dynasty and the Three kingdoms (China), Three Kingdoms period in History of China, ...
'', in his commentary on Chapter 120 of the novel: Mao Zonggang suggests that the historiography of the Three Kingdoms began with the rise of the Ten Eunuchs. He further argues that the ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms'' defines the end of the era as 280, the downfall of Wu, justifying: Several other starting points for the period are given by Chinese historians: during the final years of the Han dynasty, such as the
Yellow Turban Rebellion The Yellow Turban Rebellion, also translated as the Yellow Scarves Rebellion, was a peasant revolt This is a chronological list of conflicts in which peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited l ...

Yellow Turban Rebellion
in 184; the year after the beginning of the rebellion, 185;
Dong Zhuo Dong Zhuo () (died 22 May 192), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...
deposing
Emperor Shao of HanEmperor Shao literally means "the young emperor". In Chinese history, this term was used - usually as a byname - to refer to either those who became emperor at a very young age, or those emperors who ruled briefly (generally for less than 5 years). T ...
and enthroning
Emperor Xian of Han Emperor Xian of Han (2 April 181 – 21 April 234), personal name Liu Xie (劉協), courtesy name Bohe, was the 14th and last Emperor of China, emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty in China. He reigned from 28 September 189 until 11 December 220. ...
in 189; Dong Zhuo sacking
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
and moving the capital to
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
in 190; or
Cao Cao Cao Cao (; ; ; – 15 March 220), courtesy name Mengde (), was a Chinese warlord, statesman and poet. He was the penultimate Grand chancellor (China), grand chancellor of the Eastern Han dynasty who rose to great power in the End of the Han ...
placing the emperor under his control in
Xuchang Xuchang (; Postal romanization, postal: Hsuchang) is a prefecture-level city in central Henan province of China, province in Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the northwest, Kaifeng to the northeast, Zhoukou to the ...

Xuchang
in 196.


History


Yellow Turban Rebellion

The power of the Eastern
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
went into depression and steadily declined from a variety of political and economic problems after the death of Emperor He in 105 AD. A series of Han emperors ascended the throne while still youths, and "de facto" imperial power often rested with the emperors' older relatives. As these relatives occasionally were loath to give up their influence, emperors would, upon reaching maturity, be forced to rely on political alliances with senior officials and
eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot ...

eunuch
s to achieve control of the government. Political posturing and infighting between imperial relatives and eunuch officials was a constant problem in Chinese government at the time. During the reigns of Emperor Huan (r. 146–168) and
Emperor Ling Emperor Ling of Han (156 – 13 May 189), personal name Liu Hong, was the 12th and last powerful Emperor of China, emperor of the Han dynasty#Eastern Han, Eastern Han dynasty. Born the son of a lesser Marquess, marquis who descended directly fro ...

Emperor Ling
(r. 168–189), leading officials' dissatisfaction with the eunuchs' usurpations of power reached a peak, and many began to openly protest against them. The first and second protests met with failure, and the court eunuchs persuaded the emperor to execute many of the protesting scholars. Some local rulers seized the opportunity to exert despotic control over their lands and citizens, since many feared to speak out in the oppressive political climate. Emperors Huan and Ling's reigns were recorded as particularly dark periods of Han dynasty rule. In addition to political oppression and mismanagement, China experienced a number of natural disasters during this period, and local rebellions sprung up throughout the country. In the third month of 184, Zhang Jiao, leader of the Way of Supreme Peace, a
Taoist Taoism (), or Daoism (), is a philosophical and spiritual tradition of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of c ...
movement, along with his two brothers Zhang Liang and Zhang Bao, led the movement's followers in a rebellion against the government that was called the
Yellow Turban Rebellion The Yellow Turban Rebellion, also translated as the Yellow Scarves Rebellion, was a peasant revolt This is a chronological list of conflicts in which peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited l ...

Yellow Turban Rebellion
. Their movement quickly attracted followers and soon numbered several hundred thousand and received support from many parts of China. They had 36 bases throughout China, with large bases having 10,000 or more followers and minor bases having 6,000 to 7,000, similar to Han armies. Their motto was:
"The
firmament The firmament, an element of biblical cosmology Biblical cosmology is the biblical writers' conception of the cosmos The cosmos (, ) is the Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, includi ...

firmament
has perished, the Yellow Sky will soon rise; in this year of '' jiazi'', let there be prosperity in the world!"
()
Emperor Ling dispatched generals
Huangfu Song Huangfu Song (died 195), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Korea, and ...
, Lu Zhi, and Zhu Jun to lead the Han armies against the rebels, and decreed that local governments had to supply soldiers to assist in their efforts. It is at this point that the historical novel ''
Romance of the Three Kingdoms ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms'' () is a 14th-century historical novel attributed to Luo Guanzhong. It is set in the turbulent years towards the end of the Han dynasty and the Three kingdoms (China), Three Kingdoms period in History of China, ...
'' begins its narrative. The Yellow Turbans were ultimately defeated and its surviving followers dispersed throughout China, but due to the turbulent situation throughout the empire, many were able to survive as bandits in mountainous areas, thus continuing their ability to contribute to the turmoil of the era. With the widespread increase in bandits across the Chinese nation, the Han army had no way to repel each and every raiding party. In 188, Emperor Ling accepted a memorial from
Liu YanLiu Yan may refer to: * Liu Yan (Xin dynasty) (died 23 AD), rebel leader against the Xin dynasty * Liu Yan (Han dynasty warlord) (died 194), Eastern Han nobleman and warlord * Liu Yan (Shu Han) (died 234), general of Shu Han during the Three Kingdom ...
suggesting he grant direct administrative power over feudal provinces and direct command of regional military to local governors, as well as promoting them in rank and filling such positions with members of the Liu family or court officials. This move made
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
(''zhou'') official administrative units, and although they had power to combat rebellions, the later intra-governmental chaos allowed these local governors to easily rule independently of the central government. Liu Yan was also promoted as governor of
Yi Province Yi Province or Yizhou (益州), was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level ...
. Soon after this move, Liu Yan severed all of his region's ties to the Han imperial court, and several other areas followed suit.


Dong Zhuo in power

In the same year, Emperor Ling died, and another struggle began between the court eunuchs for control of the imperial family. Court eunuch
Jian Shuo Jian Shuo (died 189) was the leader of the eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man who has been castration, castrated. Throughout history, castration often served a specific social function. The earliest records for intentional castration to produce e ...
planned to kill Regent Marshal
He Jin He Jin () (died 22 September 189), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...
, a relative of the imperial family, and to replace the
crown prince A crown prince or hereditary prince is the heir apparent An heir apparent is a person who is first in an order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high office when i ...

crown prince
Liu Bian Liu Bian (176 – 6 March 190), also known as Emperor Shao of Han and the Prince of Hongnong, was the 13th emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial ...
with his younger brother
Liu Xie Liu Xie (, fl. 5th century), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Korea, a ...
, the Prince of Chenliu (in present-day
Kaifeng Kaifeng () is a prefecture-level city in east-central Henan province, China. It is one of the Historical capitals of China, Eight Ancient Capitals of China, having been the capital seven times in history, and is best known for being the Chinese ...

Kaifeng
), though his plan was unsuccessful. Liu Bian took the Han throne as Emperor Shao, and He Jin plotted with warlord
Yuan Shao Yuan Shao (, ; died 28 June 202), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...

Yuan Shao
to assassinate the
Ten Attendants The Ten Attendants, also known as the Ten Eunuchs, were a group of influential eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man who has been castration, castrated. Throughout history, castration often served a specific social function. The earliest records for ...
, a clique of twelve eunuchs led by
Zhang Rang The Ten Attendants, also known as the Ten Eunuchs, were a group of influential eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can f ...
who controlled much of the imperial court. He Jin also ordered
Dong Zhuo Dong Zhuo () (died 22 May 192), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...
, the frontier general in Liang Province, and
Ding Yuan Ding Yuan () (died 189), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including Chin ...
, Inspector of Bing Province, to bring troops to the capital to reinforce his position of authority. The eunuchs learned of He Jin's plot, and had him assassinated before Dong Zhuo reached the capital
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
. When Yuan Shao's troops reached Luoyang, they stormed the palace complex, killing the Ten Attendants and 2,000 of the eunuchs' supporters. Though this move effectively ended the century-long feud between the eunuchs and the imperial family, this event prompted the invitation of Dong Zhuo to the outskirts of Luoyang from the northwest boundary of China. On the evening of 24 September 189, General Dong Zhuo observed that Luoyang was set ablaze—as a result of a power struggle between the eunuchs and civil service—and commanded his army forward to strike down the disorder. As the emperor had lost any remaining military or political power, Dong Zhuo seized the ''de facto'' control of the government located at Luoyang.. On 28 September, Dong Zhuo deposed Liu Bian from the imperial Han throne in favour of Liu Xie. In the following weeks, rebellions broke out throughout all of China. In East China, in an attempt to restore the power of the Han, a large coalition against Dong Zhuo began to rise, with leaders such as Yuan Shao, Yuan Shu, and Cao Cao.. Many provincial officials were compelled to join or risk elimination.. In 191, Sun Jian (Yuan Shu's subordinate) led an army against Dong Zhuo and drove him from Luoyang to Chang'an. In the following year (192),
Lü Bu Lü Bu () (died 7 February 199), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere T ...
, Dong Zhuo's former bodyguard, assassinated Dong Zhuo. It is said that Dong Zhuo's body was thrown into the street with a lit wick in his navel, which apparently burned with the same brilliance of the sun.


Collapse of central power

In 192, there was some talk among the coalition of appointing Liu Yu, an imperial relative, as emperor, and gradually its members began to fall out. Most of the warlords in the coalition, with a few exceptions, sought the increase of personal military power in the time of instability instead of seriously wishing to restore the Han dynasty's authority. The Han empire was divided between a number of regional warlords. As a result of the complete collapse of the central government and eastern alliance, the
North China Plain 200px, The North China Plain is shown in dark. The Yellow River is shown as "Río Amarillo". The North China Plain () is a large-scale downfaulted rift basin formed in the late Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; ...
fell into warfare and anarchy with many contenders vying for success or survival. Emperor Xian fell into the hands of various warlords in Chang'an. Dong Zhuo, confident in his success, was slain by his follower
Lü Bu Lü Bu () (died 7 February 199), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere T ...
, who plotted with minister Wang Yun. Lü Bu, in turn, was attacked by Dong Zhuo's former officers:
Li JueLi Jue may refer to: *Li Jue (Han Dynasty) (died 198), general of the Han Dynasty * Li Jue (Tang Dynasty) (c. 784–852), chancellor of the Tang Dynasty *Li Jue (Kuomintang) (1900–1987), general of the Republic of China {{hndis, Li, Jue , an administrator under Cao Cao, had established agricultural garrisons at Hefei and Shouchun to defend Cao's territory near the Huai river. Sun Quan resented the fact that Liu Bei, a weaker ally, had gained so much territory west of him and demanded a larger share of the Xiang River basin. In 215, Lü Meng (Sun Quan's officer) was sent to capture Jing province's southern commanderies, but Guan Yu (Liu Bei's general) launched a counterattack. Later that year, Liu Bei and Sun Quan reached a settlement that the Xiang River would serve as the border between their territories. In the south, Sun Quan had sent He Qin, Lu Xun, and others to expand and conquer territory in what are now southern
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
and
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, sub ...

Fujian
provinces. In 219, Liu Bei seized
Hanzhong Hanzhong (; abbreviation: Han) is a prefecture-level city in Southern Shaanxi, the southwest of Shaanxi, Shaanxi province, China, bordering the provinces of Sichuan to the south and Gansu to the west. As of the 2019 estimation, its population wa ...

Hanzhong
by defeating and killing General Xiahou Yuan, who served Cao Cao. Cao Cao sent reinforcements in an unsuccessful attempt to reclaim the territory. Liu Bei had now secured his territory against the north and declared himself the King of Hanzhong. In the east, Sun Quan attempted to capture Hefei from Cao Cao, but he did not succeed. While Lu Su had been chief commander for Sun Quan in Jing Province, their policy was to maintain the alliance with Liu Bei while Cao Cao was still a threat. This changed when Sun Quan appointed Lü Meng when Lu Su died in 217. In 219, Guan Yu sailed from Jiangling up the Han River towards the city of Fan (near Xianyang), but was unable to capture it.. In the autumn of 219, Lü Meng launched a
surprise attack Military deception (MILDEC) is an attempt by a military unit to gain an advantage during warfare War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a mo ...
by sailing up the Yangtze towards Jiangling, resulting in its capture.. Guan Yu was unable to hold his position as most of his army surrendered. He was captured and executed on Sun Quan's order. Cao Cao regained the Han valley, while Sun Quan captured all the territory east of the Yangtze Gorges.


Emergence of the three kingdoms

At the beginning of 220, Cao Cao died and was succeeded by his son Cao Pi. On 11 December, Emperor Xian abdicated and Cao Pi ascended the imperial throne by proclaiming the heavenly mandate as the Emperor of Wei. On 15 May 221, Liu Bei responded by proclaiming himself as the Emperor of Han. His state would become generally known as Shu Han. Sun Quan continued to recognize his ''de jure'' suzerainty to Wei and was enfeoffed as the King of Wu. At the end of 221, Shu invaded Wu in response for Guan Yu's killing and the loss of Jing Province by Wu. In the spring of 222, Liu Bei arrived at the scene to personally take command of the invasion. Sun Quan dispatched Lu Xun to command over the defence of Wu against the invasion by Shu. Against the advice of his subordinates, Lu Xun waited until Liu Bei was committed along the Yangtze below the Yangtze Gorges. Finally, in the sixth month of 222,
Lu Xun Zhou Shuren (25 September 1881 – 19 October 1936), better known by his pen name Lu Xun (or Lu Sun, Wade–Giles: Lu Hsün), was a Chinese writer, essayist, poet, and literary critic. He was a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Writ ...
launched a series of fire attacks against the flank of Liu Bei's extended position which caused disorder in the Shu army and Liu Bei's retreat to Baidi (near present-day
Fengjie Fengjie County () is a Counties of the People's Republic of China, county of Chongqing Direct-controlled municipalities of China, Municipality, China. It is on the Yangtze, Yangtze River; located within a couple hundreds kilometers upstream from ...
). Afterwards in 222, Sun Quan renounced his suzerainty to Wei and declared the independence of Wu. In 223, Liu Bei perished at Baidi. Zhuge Liang now acted as a regent for Liu Shan (aged 17) and held control of the Shu government.. Shu and Wu resumed their diplomatic relations by re-establishing peace and alliance in the winter of 223. On 23 June 229, Sun Quan proclaimed himself as the Emperor of Wu. Shu controlled the upper Han valley and the territory west of the Yangtze Gorges.. The Qinling Mountains divided Shu and Wei. Wei held control over the Wei and Huai valley, where agricultural garrisons were established at Shouchun and Hefei to defend Huai. Military sorties by Wu against Hefei and Shouchun would consistently end in failure, thereby confirming Wei's hold over Huai. Wu controlled all of the Yangtze valley. The territory between the Huai and Yangtze was a desolate area, where a largely-static frontier between Wei and Wu had formed at the lower Han valley.


The three states


Shu

In 223,
Liu Shan Liu Shan () (207–271), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere Th ...

Liu Shan
rose to the throne of
Shu Shu may refer to: China * Sichuan, China, officially abbreviated as Shu (蜀) * Shu (state) (conquered by Qin in 316 BC), an ancient state in modern Sichuan * Shu Han (221–263) during the Three Kingdoms Period * Western Shu (405–413), also k ...
following his father's defeat and death. From 224 to 225, during his southward campaigns, Zhuge Liang conquered the southern territories up to in Yunnan. In 227, Zhuge Liang transferred his main Shu armies to
Hanzhong Hanzhong (; abbreviation: Han) is a prefecture-level city in Southern Shaanxi, the southwest of Shaanxi, Shaanxi province, China, bordering the provinces of Sichuan to the south and Gansu to the west. As of the 2019 estimation, its population wa ...

Hanzhong
, and opened up the battle for the northwest with Wei. The next year, he ordered
Zhao Yun Zhao Yun ( ) (died 229), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere The East ...
to attack from Ji Gorge as a diversion while Zhuge himself led the main force to Mount Qi. The vanguard
Ma Su Ma Su (190–228), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere The East Asian cu ...

Ma Su
suffered a tactical defeat at Jieting and the Shu army was forced to withdraw. In the next six years Zhuge Liang attempted several more offensives, but supply problems limited the capacity for success. In 234, he led his last great northern offensive, reaching the
Battle of Wuzhang Plains The Battle of Wuzhang Plains was fought between the contending states of Cao Wei Wei (220–266), also known as Cao Wei or Former Wei, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period (2 ...
south of the
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course ...
. Due to the death of Zhuge Liang in 234, the Shu army was forced once again to withdraw, but were pursued by Wei. The Shu forces began to withdraw;
Sima Yi Sima Yi ( ; 179 – 7 September 251), courtesy name Zhongda, was a Chinese military general, politician, and regent of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He formally began his political career in 208 under the ...
deduced Zhuge Liang's demise and ordered an attack. Shu struck back almost immediately, causing Sima Yi to second guess and allow Shu to withdraw successfully.


Wu

Sun Quan Sun Quan (, Chinese: 孫權) (182 – 252), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sph ...

Sun Quan
turned to the aborigines of the southeast, whom the Chinese collectively called the "
Shanyue The Shanyue (山越) were an ancient conglomeration of upland Yue hill tribes living in what is today the mountainous regions of Southern China and Northern Vietnam during the Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chi ...

Shanyue
". A collection of successes against the rebellious tribesmen culminated in the victory of 224. In that year,
Zhuge Ke Zhuge in Chinese, Jegal in Korean, Gia Cát in Vietnamese or Morokuzu in Japanese is a compound surname in East Asia. It is ranked 314th in ''Hundred Family Surnames'' in China. The surname has often been synonymous with wisdom in Chinese culture, ...
ended a three-year siege of Danyang with the surrender of 100,000 Shanyue. Of these, 40,000 were drafted as auxiliaries into the Wu army. Meanwhile, Shu was also experiencing troubles with the indigenous tribes of their south. The southwestern
Nanman The Man, commonly known as the Nanman or Southern Man (), or the Southern Barbarians, were ancient indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as first peoples, first nations, aboriginal peoples, native peoples (with these t ...
peoples rose in revolt against Shu authority, captured and looted cities in Yi Province. Zhuge Liang, recognizing the importance of stability in the south, ordered the advance of the Shu armies in three columns against the Nanman. He fought a number of engagements against the chieftain Meng Huo, at the end of which Meng Huo submitted. A tribesman was allowed to reside at the Shu capital
Chengdu Chengdu (, ; simplified Chinese Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representa ...

Chengdu
as an official and the Nanman formed their own battalions within the Shu army. In the times of
Zhuge Liang Zhuge Liang ( ; 181–234), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Ko ...

Zhuge Liang
's northern offensives, the state of Wu had always been on the defensive against invasions from the north. The area around
Hefei Hefei (, ) is the capital and largest city of Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its prov ...

Hefei
was the scene of many bitter battles and under constant pressure from Wei after the Battle of Red Cliffs. Warfare had grown so intense that many of the residents chose to migrate and resettle south of the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
. After Zhuge Liang's death, attacks on the southern
Huai River The Huai River (), formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken ...
region intensified but nonetheless, Wei could not break through the line of the river defenses erected by Wu, which included the Ruxu fortress.
Sun Quan Sun Quan (, Chinese: 孫權) (182 – 252), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sph ...

Sun Quan
's long reign is regarded as a time of plenty for his southern state. Migrations from the north and the settlement of the Shanyue increased manpower for agriculture, especially along the lower reaches of the Yangtze and in
Kuaiji Commandery Kuaiji Commandery (Chinese language, Chinese: traditional characters, t , simplified characters, s , pinyin, p ''Kuàijī Jùn''), Wade-Giles, formerly romanized as K'uai-chi Commandery, was a former commandery (China), command ...
along the southern shore of
Hangzhou Bay Hangzhou Bay, or the Bay of Hangzhou (), is a funnel-shaped inlet of the East China Sea The East China Sea is an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean, located directly offshore from East China (hence the name), covering an area of roughly . ...
. River transport blossomed, with the construction of the Zhedong and Jiangnan canals. Trade with Shu flourished, with a huge influx of Shu cotton and the development of
celadon ''Celadon'' () is a term for pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with and other materials, which are fired at high temperatures to give them a hard, durable form. Major types include , ...

celadon
and metal industries. Sea journeys were made to Liaodong and the island of
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
. In the south, Wu merchants reached Linyi (Southern
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
) and
Funan Kingdom Funan ( or , Chu Han: 夫南, km, ហ្វូណន, ; vi, Phù Nam) or Nokor Phnom ( km, នគរភ្នំ, , lit. 'Mountain Kingdom') was the name given by Chinese cartographers, geographers and writers to an ancient Indianised s ...

Funan Kingdom
. As the economy prospered, so too did the arts and culture. In the Yangtze delta, the first
Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, an ...

Buddhist
influences reached the south from
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
. The Eastern Wu era was a formative period in Vietnamese history. A Jiaozhou (modern
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...

Vietnam
and
Guangzhou Guangzhou (, ; ; or ; ), also known as Canton and alternatively romanized as Kwongchow or Kwangchow, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the ...

Guangzhou
) prefect,
Shi Xie Shi Xie () (137–226), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including China ...
, ruled Vietnam as an autonomous warlord for forty years and was posthumously deified by later Vietnamese emperors.
Shi Xie Shi Xie () (137–226), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including China ...
pledged loyalty to
Eastern Wu Wu (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous count ...
. Originally satisfied with
Eastern Wu Wu (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous count ...
's rule, the
Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia ** A citizen of Vietnam. See Demographics of Vietnam. * Vietnamese people, or Kinh people, a Southeast Asian ethnic group native to Vietnam ** Oversea ...

Vietnamese
opposed
Shi HuiShi Hui may refer to: *Shi Hui (Three Kingdoms) (165–227), third son of the Han dynasty warlord Shi Xie *Shi Hui (Duke of Fan), Zhou dynasty general *Shi Hui (actor) (1915–1957), Chinese actor and film director {{hndis ...
's rebellion against Eastern Wu and attacked him for it. However, when the Wu general
Lü Dai Lü Dai (161 – 21 October 256), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere Th ...
betrayed Shi Hui and executed the entire Shi family, the Vietnamese became greatly upset. In 248, the people of
Jiaozhi Jiaozhi (standard Chinese Standard Chinese (), in linguistics known as Standard Northern Mandarin, Standard Beijing Mandarin or simply Mandarin, is a dialect of Mandarin that emerged as the lingua franca among the speakers of various Man ...
and
Jiuzhen Jiuzhen (Vietnamese: Cửu Chân, Chinese: 九真) was a Chinese commandery within Jiaozhou. It is located in present-day Thanh Hóa Province Thanh Hóa () is a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a countr ...
commanderies rebelled. Eastern Wu sent Lu Yin to deal with the rebels. He managed to pacify the rebels with a combination of threats and persuasion. However the rebels regrouped under the leadership of Lady Triệu in Jiuzhen and renewed the rebellion with a march on Jiaozhi. After several months of warfare she was defeated and committed suicide.


Wei

In 226, Cao Pi died (aged 40) and was succeeded by his eldest son Cao Rui (aged 22). Minister Chen Qun, General Cao Zhen, General Cao Xiu, and General Sima Yi were appointed as regents, even though Cao Rui was able to manage the government in practice.. Eventually the former three died, leaving only Sima Yi as the senior minister and military commander. In 226, Sima Yi successfully defended Xiangyang against an offensive from Wu; this battle was the first time he had command in the field.. In 227, Sima Yi was appointed to a post at Chang'an where he managed the military affairs along the Han River. In 238, Sima Yi was dispatched to command a military campaign against Gongsun Yuan of the self-proclaimed Yan Kingdom in Liaodong, resulting in Sima Yi's capture of his capital Xiangping and massacre of his government. Between 244 and 245, General
Guanqiu Jian Guanqiu Jian (died 16 March 255), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, includ ...
was dispatched to invade Goguryeo and severely devastated that state. The northeastern frontier of Wei was now secured from any possible threats. The invasions, a retaliation against a Goguryeo raid in 242, destroyed the Goguryeo capital of
Hwando Hwando () is a mountain fortress of the ancient Korean kingdom of Goguryeo Goguryeo (; , 37 BC–668 AD), also called Goryeo (; ), was a Korean kingdom located in the northern and central parts of the and the southern and central parts of . ...
, sent its king fleeing, and broke the tributary relationships between Goguryeo and the other tribes of Korea that formed much of Goguryeo's economy. Although the king evaded capture and eventually settled in a new capital, Goguryeo was reduced to such insignificance that for half a century there was no mention of the state in Chinese historical texts.Byington, Mark E
"Control or Conquer? Koguryǒ's Relations with States and Peoples in Manchuria,"
''Journal of Northeast Asian History'' volume 4, number 1 (June 2007):93.
In 238, Cao Rui perished at age 35. He was succeeded by his adopted son Cao Fang (aged 7), who was a close member of the imperial family. Cao Rui had appointed Cao Shuang and Sima Yi to be Cao Fang's regents, even though he had contemplated to establish a regency council dominated by imperial family members. Cao Shuang held the principal control over the court. Meanwhile, Sima Yi was received the honorific title of Grand Tutor, but had virtually no influence at the court.


Decline and end


Fall of Shu

After
Zhuge Liang Zhuge Liang ( ; 181–234), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Ko ...

Zhuge Liang
's death, his position as
chancellor Chancellor ( la, links=no, cancellarius) is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the ' of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the ''cancelli'' or lattice work screens of ...
fell to
Jiang Wan Jiang Wan (died November or December 246), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural spher ...
,
Fei Yi Fei Yi (died 16 February 253), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...
and
Dong Yun Dong Yun (died 246), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere The East Asian ...
, in that order. But after 258, Shu politics became increasingly controlled by the
eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot ...

eunuch
faction, led by
Huang Hao Huang Hao ( 240s–263) was a Chinese eunuch A eunuch ( ) is a man who has been castration, castrated. Throughout history, castration often served a specific social function. The earliest records for intentional castration to produce eunuchs ...
, and corruption rose. Despite the energetic efforts of
Jiang Wei Jiang Wei (202 – 3 March 264), Boyue, was a military general of the state of during the period of China. Born in Ji County (present-day , ), Jiang Wei started his career as a military officer in his native , which was a territory of . In 2 ...
, Zhuge Liang's
protégé Mentorship is the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor. Mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. In an organizational setting, a mentor influences the personal and pro ...
, 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 Jiange but he was outflanked by the Wei commander
Deng Ai Deng Ai (197 – March 264), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including Ch ...
, who force-marched his army from Yinping through territory formerly considered impassable. By the winter of the year, the capital
Chengdu Chengdu (, ; simplified Chinese Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representa ...

Chengdu
fell due to the strategic invasion of Wei by Deng Ai who invaded Chengdu personally. The emperor
Liu Shan Liu Shan () (207–271), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere Th ...

Liu Shan
thus surrendered. The state of Shu had come to an end after 43 years. Liu Shan was reinstated to the Wei capital of Luoyang and was given the new title of the "Duke of Anle". Directly translated, it meant the "Duke of Safety and Happiness" and was a trivial position with no actual power.


Fall of Wei

From the late 230s, tensions began to become visible between the imperial Cao clan and the Sima clan. Following the death of
Cao Zhen Cao Zhen (died April or May 231), courtesy name Zidan, was a military general of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He was an adopted son of Cao Cao, a warlord who rose to power in the late Eastern Han dynasty and lai ...
, factionalism was evident between
Cao Shuang Cao Shuang (died 9 February 249), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere The ...
and the Grand Tutor
Sima Yi Sima Yi ( ; 179 – 7 September 251), courtesy name Zhongda, was a Chinese military general, politician, and regent of the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period of China. He formally began his political career in 208 under the ...
. In deliberations, Cao Shuang placed his own supporters in important posts and excluded Sima Yi, whom he regarded as a dangerous threat. The power of the Sima clan, one of the great landowning families of the Han dynasty, was bolstered by Sima Yi's military victories. Additionally, Sima Yi was an extremely capable strategist and politician. In 238 he crushed the rebellion of
Gongsun Yuan Gongsun Yuan () (died 238), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Korea, ...
's self-proclaimed Yan Kingdom and brought the
Liaodong The Liaodong Peninsula (also Liaotung Peninsula, ) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends ...
region directly under central control. Ultimately, he outmanoeuvred Cao Shuang in power play. Taking advantage of an excursion by the imperial clansmen to the Gaoping Tombs, Sima Yi undertook a putsch in Luoyang, forcing Cao Shuang's faction from authority. Many protested against the overwhelming power of the Sima family; notable among these were the
Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove The Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove (also known as the Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove, ) were a group of Chinese scholars, writers, and musicians of the third century CE. Although the various individuals all existed, their interconnection is ...

Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove
. One of the sages, Xi Kang, was executed as part of the purges after Cao Shuang's downfall. Cao Huan succeeded to the throne in 260 after Cao Mao was killed in a failed coup against Sima Zhao. Soon after, Sima Zhao died and his title as Duke of Jìn was inherited by his son Emperor Wu of Jin, Sima Yan. Sima Yan immediately began plotting to become emperor but faced stiff opposition. Following 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 266 after forcing Cao Huan's abdication, effectively overthrowing the Wei dynasty and establishing the successor Jin dynasty (265–420), Jin dynasty. This situation was similar to the deposal of
Emperor Xian of Han Emperor Xian of Han (2 April 181 – 21 April 234), personal name Liu Xie (劉協), courtesy name Bohe, was the 14th and last Emperor of China, emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty in China. He reigned from 28 September 189 until 11 December 220. ...
by Cao Pi 40 years earlier.


Fall of Wu

Following
Sun Quan Sun Quan (, Chinese: 孫權) (182 – 252), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sph ...

Sun Quan
's death and the ascension of the young Sun Liang to the throne in 252, the state of Wu went into steady decline. Successful Wei suppression of rebellions in the southern
Huai River The Huai River (), formerly romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken ...
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, Emperor Wu of Jin, Sima Yan (grandson of Sima Yi), overthrew the Wei emperor and proclaimed his own dynasty of Jin in 266, ending 46 years of Cao dominion in the north. After Jin's rise, emperor Sun Xiu (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, a 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 (Jin dynasty), Wang Jun. Four years later, Lu Kang (Three Kingdoms), Lu Kang, the last great general of Wu, died leaving no competent successor. The planned Jin offensive finally came at the end of 279. Sima Yan launched five simultaneous offensives along the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
from Jianye (present-day
Nanjing Nanjing (; , Mandarin pronunciation: ), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Nanking, is the capital of Jiangsu Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, a sub-provincial city, a megacity and the List ...

Nanjing
) to Jiangling while the Sichuan fleet sailed downriver to
Jing Province Jingzhou or Jing Province was one of the Nine Provinces of ancient China referenced in Chinese historical texts such as the '' Tribute of Yu'', '' Erya'' and '' Rites of Zhou''. Jingzhou became an administrative division during the reign of Empe ...
. Under the strain of such an enormous attack, the Wu forces collapsed and Jianye fell in the third month of 280. 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 disunity.


Impact


Population

After the
Yellow Turban Rebellion The Yellow Turban Rebellion, also translated as the Yellow Scarves Rebellion, was a peasant revolt This is a chronological list of conflicts in which peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited l ...

Yellow Turban Rebellion
, serious famine followed in the Central Plain (China), Central Plains of China. After his coming to power,
Dong Zhuo Dong Zhuo () (died 22 May 192), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere ...
gave full swing to his army to loot and plunder the population, and abduct women into forced marriages, servants or consorts. When the Guandong Coalition was starting the campaign against Dong Zhuo, he embarked upon a scorched earth campaign, proclaiming that "all the population of
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin Chinese, Jin: uə xɔ Standard Beijing Mandarin, Mandarin: ''Huáng hé'' ) is the second-longest river in China, afte ...

Luoyang
be forced to move to
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
, all the palaces, temples, official residences and homes be burnt, no one should stay within that area of 200 ''Li (unit), li''". Considering the hardships of that time this amounted to a death sentence for many, and cries of discontent rose as the population of Luoyang decreased sharply. When Cao Cao attacked
Xu Province Xuzhou as a historical toponym refers to varied area in different eras. Ordinarily, it was a reference to the one of the Nine Provinces The term Nine Provinces or Nine Regions (), is used in ancient Chinese histories to refer to territorial di ...
, it was said that "hundreds of thousands of men and women were buried alive, even dogs and chickens did not survive. The Si River was blocked. From then on, these five towns never recovered." When
Li JueLi Jue may refer to: *Li Jue (Han Dynasty) (died 198), general of the Han Dynasty * Li Jue (Tang Dynasty) (c. 784–852), chancellor of the Tang Dynasty *Li Jue (Kuomintang) (1900–1987), general of the Republic of China {{hndis, Li, Jue