Northern Wei
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The Northern Wei (), also known as the Tuoba Wei (拓跋魏), Later Wei (後魏), was a
dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press 200px, The Pitt Building in Cambridge, which us ...
founded by the
Tuoba The Tuoba (Middle Chinese: *''tʰak-bɛt'') also known as the Taugast or Tabgach ( otk, 𐱃𐰉𐰍𐰲 ''Tabγač''), was a Xianbei clan in ancient China. The Tuoba founded the Northern Wei (386–535), a powerful dynasty that unified northern C ...
(Tabgach) clan of the
Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mongol language, the language spoken at the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire ...
, which ruled
northern China Northern China () and Southern China () are two approximate mega-regions within 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 ...

northern China
from 386 to 534 AD (''
de jure In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its ...
'' until 535), during the period of the
Northern and Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding ...
. Described as "part of an era of political turbulence and intense social and cultural change", the Northern Wei dynasty is particularly noted for unifying northern China in 439: this was also a period of introduced foreign ideas, such as
Buddhism 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, and ...

Buddhism
, which became firmly established. The Northern Wei were referred to as "Plaited Barbarians" (索虜 ''suolu'') by writers of the Southern dynasties, who considered themselves the true upholders of Chinese culture. During the Taihe period (477–499) of
Emperor Xiaowen
Emperor Xiaowen
, court advisers instituted sweeping reforms and introduced changes that eventually led to the dynasty moving its capital from
Datong Datong is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A prefectural-level municipali ...

Datong
to
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River in the west of Henan Henan (; Chinese postal romanization, alternatively Honan) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China, in the Central China ...

Luoyang
, in 494. The Tuoba adopted the surname Yuan (元) as a part of systematic
Sinicization Sinicization, sinofication, sinification, or sinonization (from the prefix , 'Chinese, relating to China') is the process by which non-Chinese societies come under the influence of Chinese culture, particularly Han-Chinese culture, language, so ...
. Towards the end of the dynasty there was significant internal dissension resulting in a split into
Eastern Wei The Eastern Wei (;"Wei"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ) followed the disintegration of the Northern Wei Dynast ...
and
Western Wei The Western Wei (;"Wei"
'' Taoist art and
Buddhist art Buddhist art is the art, artistic practices that are influenced by Buddhism. It includes art media which depict Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other entities; notable Buddhist figures, both historical and mythical; narrative scenes from the lives of a ...
, from this period have survived. It was the time of the construction of the
Yungang Grottoes The Yungang Grottoes, formerly the Wuzhoushan Grottoes (Wuzhou Shan 武州山 / 武周山), are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the province of Shanxi Shanxi (; Postal romanization, formerly romanised as ...

Yungang Grottoes
near
Datong Datong is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A prefectural-level municipali ...

Datong
during the mid-to-late 5th century, and towards the latter part of the dynasty, the outside the later capital city of Luoyang, in which more than 30,000
Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...

Buddhist
images from the time of this dynasty have been found.


Rise of the Tuoba Xianbei

The Jin Dynasty had developed an alliance with the Tuoba against the
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
state
Han Zhao The Han Zhao (; 304–329 AD), or Former Zhao (), was a Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty of Southern Xiongnu origin during Sixteen Kingdoms period of Chinese history coeval with the Sima clan's Jin dynasty (266–420), Jin dynasty. In Chinese ...
. In 315 the Tuoba chief was granted the title of the
Prince of Dai Prince or King of Dai was an ancient and medieval Chinese title. King of Dai is sometimes used to describe the heads of the Baidi state of Dai north of the Zhou Kingdom that was conquered by the Zhao clan of Jin. It was used as the title for t ...
. After the death of its founding prince,
Tuoba Yilu Tuoba Yilu (; died 316) was the chieftain of the western Tuoba territory from 295 to 307, supreme chieftain of the Tuoba from 307 to 316, Duke of Dai from 310 to 315, and first ruler of the Dai (Sixteen Kingdoms), Dai kingdom from 315 to 316. He wa ...
, however, the Dai state stagnated and largely remained a partial ally and a partial tributary state to
Later Zhao The Later Zhao (; 319–351) was a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press 200 ...
and
Former Yan The Former Yan (; 337–370) was a dynastic state ruled by the Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were an ancient nomadic people that once resided in the eastern Eurasian steppes in what is today Mongolia Mongolia (, Mongolian language, Mongol ...
, finally falling to
Former Qin The Former Qin, also called Fu Qin (苻秦) (351–394) was a dynastic state of the Sixteen Kingdoms The Sixteen Kingdoms (), less commonly the Sixteen States, was a chaotic period in Chinese history The earliest known written reco ...
in 376. After former Qin's emperor
Fu Jiān Fu or FU may refer to: In arts and entertainment *Fool Us ''Penn & Teller: Fool Us'' is a magic competition television program in which magicians perform tricks in front of American magician-comedian duo Penn & Teller Penn & Teller, Penn Ji ...
was defeated by Jin forces at the
Battle of Fei River The Battle of Fei River, also known as "Feishui" () was a battle in AD 383, where Fu Jiān Fu or FU may refer to: In arts and entertainment * Fool Us, Penn & Teller's magic-competition television show *Fǔ, a type of ancient Chinese vessel * Fu ...

Battle of Fei River
in his failed bid to unify China, the Former Qin state began to break apart. By 386, Tuoba Gui, the son (or grandson) of Tuoba Shiyijian (the last Prince of Dai), reasserted Tuoba independence initially as the Prince of Dai. Later he changed his title to the Prince of Wei, and his state was therefore known as Northern Wei. In 391, Tuoba Gui defeated the Rouran tribes and killed their chief, Heduohan, forcing the Rouran to flee west. Initially Northern Wei was a vassal of Later Yan, but by 395 had rebelled and defeated the Yan at the Battle of Canhebei. By 398 the Wei had conquered most of Later Yan territory north of the Yellow River. In 399, Tuoba Gui declared himself Emperor Daowu, and that title was used by Northern Wei's rulers for the rest of the empire's history. That same year he defeated the Tiele people, Tiele tribes near the Gobi desert.


Unification of Northern China

In 426, Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei made the Xiongnu-ruled Xia (Sixteen Kingdoms), Kingdom of Xia his target. He sent his generals to attack Puban (modern Yuncheng) and Shancheng (modern Sanmenxia), while he himself laid siege to the Xia's heavily fortified capital of Tongwancheng. Tongwancheng fell in 427, forcing the Xia emperor Helian Chang to flee westward. Nevertheless, he was captured in 428 and his brother, Helian Ding, took over as the emperor of Xia. In fall 430, while Helian Ding was engaging the Western Qin, the Northern Wei made a surprise attack on the new Xia capital Pingliang and conquered the kingdom. In summer 432, Emperor Taiwu, with Xia destroyed, began to attack Northern Yan and its capital Helong (和龍, in modern Jinzhou, Liaoning) under siege. He chose to withdraw at the start of winter and would launch yearly attacks against Northern Yan to weaken it gradually over the next few years. In 436 the Yan emperor Feng Hong had to evacuate his state and fled to Goguryeo, ending Northern Yan. In 439, the Northern Wei launched a major attack on Northern Liang, capturing its capital Guzang (modern Wuwei, Gansu) . By 441, the entirety of Northern Liang was under the Wei. Thus, Northern China was unified under Emperor Taiwu, ending the Sixteen Kingdoms era and beginning the Southern and Northern Dynasties era. In 446 an ethnic Qiang (historical people), Qiang rebellion was crushed by the Northern Wei. Wang Yu (w:zh:王遇_(北魏), 王遇) was an ethnic Qiang eunuch and he may have been castrated during the rebellion since the Northern Wei would castrated the rebel tribe's young elite. Fengyi prefecture's Lirun town according to the Weishu was where Wang Yu was born , Lirun was to Xi'ans's northeast by 100 miles and modern day Chengcheng stands at it's site. Wang Yu patronized Buddhism and in 488 had a temple constructed in his birth place.


Wars with the Southern Dynasties


War with Liu Song

War between Northern Wei and Han-ruled Liu Song dynasty broke out while the former had not yet unified northern China. Emperor Wu of Liu Song while still a Jin dynasty general, had conquered both Southern Yan in 410 and Later Qin in 417, pushing Jin frontiers further north into Wei territories. He then usurped the Jin throne and created the Song dynasty. After hearing the death of the Song emperor Wu in 422, Wei's emperor Emperor Mingyuan of Northern Wei, Mingyuan broke off relations with Song and sent troops to invade its southern neighbor. His plan is to seize three major cities south of the Yellow River: Luoyang, Hulao, and Huatai. Sizhou (司州, central Henan) and Yanzhou (兗州, modern western Shandong) and most cities in Song's Qing Province (青州, modern central and eastern Shandong) fell to the Wei army. The Liu Song general Tan Daoji commanded an army to try to save those cities and were able to hold Dongyang (東陽, in modern Qingzhou, Shandong),the capital of Qingzhou province. Northern Wei troops were eventually forced to withdraw after food supplies ran out. Wei forces also stalled in their siege of Hulao, defended by the capable Liu Song general Mao Dezu (毛德祖), but were meanwhile able to capture Luoyang and Xuchang (許昌, in modern Xuchang, Henan) in spring 423, cutting off the path of any Liu Song relief force for Hulao. In summer 423, Hulao fell. The campaign then ceased, with Northern Wei now in control of much of modern Henan and western Shandong. Emperor Wen of Liu Song continued the northern campaigns of his father. In 430, under the able general Dao Yanzhi, Liu Song recovered the four cities of Luoyang, Hulao, Huatai and Qiao'ao south of the Yellow River. However, the emperor's unwillingness to advance past this line caused the destruction of the empire's ally, Tiefu, Xia, by the Wei. The emperor was to repeat this mistake as several northern states such as Northern Yan who had offered to ally with Liu Song against Wei were declined, eventually leading to Wei's unification of the North in 439. In 450, Emperor Wen attempted to destroy the Northern Wei by himself and launched a massive invasion. Although initially successful, the campaign turned into a disaster. The Wei lured the Liu Song to cross the Yellow River, and then flanked them, destroying the Eastern army. As the Liu Song armies retreated, Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei, Emperor Taiwu of Wei ordered his troop to move south. The provinces south of the Yellow River were devastated by the Wei army. Only Huatai, a fortified city, held out against the Wei. Wei troops retreated in January 451, however, the economic damage to the Song was immense. Emperor Wen made another attempt to conquer Northern Wei in 452, but failed again. On returning to the capital, he was assassinated by the heir apparent, Liu Shao. In 466, Liu Zixun waged an unsuccessful civil war against the Emperor Ming of Liu Song. The governors of Xu Province (徐州) and Yan Province (兗州, modern western Shandong), who earlier pleaded allegiance to Liu Zixun, in fear of reprisal from the Liu Song Emperor, surrendered these territories to rival Northern Wei. Northern Wei forces quickly took up defense position against the attacking forces sent by Emperor Ming. With Liu Song forces unable to siege Pengcheng effectively, they were forced to withdraw in spring 467, making these populous provinces lost to the Northern Wei.


War with Southern Qi

In 479, Xiao Daocheng usurped the throne of Liu Song and became emperor of the new Southern Qi dynasty. Upon hearing the news, the Northern Wei emperor prepared to invade under the pretext of installing Liu Chang, son of Emperor Wen of Liu Song who had been in exile in Wei since 465 AD. Wei troops began to attack Shouyang but could not take the city. The Southern Qi began to fortify their capital, Jiankang in order to prevent further Wei raids. Multiple sieges and skirmishes were fought until 481 but the war was without any major campaign. A peace treaty was signed in 490 with the Emperor Wu of Southern Qi, Emperor Wu.


War with Liang

In 502, the Southern Qi general Xiao Yan toppled the Emperor Xiao Baojuan after waging a three years civil war against him. Xiao Yan enthroned in Jiankang to become the Emperor Wu of Liang dynasty. As soon as 503 AD, the Northern Wei was hoping to restore the Southern Qi throne. Their plan was install Xiao Baoyin, a Southern Qi prince to become Emperor of the puppet state. A southern expedition was led by Prince Yuan Cheng of Wei and Chen Bozhi, a former Qi general. Until spring 505, Xinyang and Hanzhong were fallen to the Northern Wei. In 505, Emperor Wu began the Liang offensive. A strong army was quickly amassed under the general Wei Rui (Liang dynasty), Wei Rui and caught the Wei by surprise, calling it the strongest army they have seen from the Southern Dynasties in a hundred years. In spring 506, Wei Rui was able to capture Hefei. In fall 506, Wei Rui attacked the Northern Wei army stationed at Luokou for nearly a year without advancing. However, when Wei army gathered, Xiao Hong Prince of Linchuan, the Liang commander and younger brother of Emperor Wu, escaped in fear, causing his army to collapse without a battle. Northern Wei forces next attacked the fortress of Zhongli (鍾離, in modern Bengbu), However, they were defeated by a Liang army commanded by Wei Rui and Cao Jingzong, effectively ending the war. After the Battle of Zhongli, there would continue to be border battles from time to time, but no large-scale war for years. In 524, while Northern Wei is plagued by agrarian rebellions to the north and west, Emperor Wu launched a number of attacks on Wei's southern territory. Liang forces largely met little resistance. In spring 525, the Northern Wei general Yuan Faseng (元法僧) surrendered the key city of Pengcheng (彭城, in modern Xuzhou, Jiangsu) to Liang. However, in summer 525, Emperor Wu's son Prince Xiao Zong (蕭綜), grew suspicions that he was actually the son of Southern Qi's emperor Xiao Baojuan (because his mother Consort Wu was formerly Xiao Baojuan's concubine and had given birth to him only seven months after she became Emperor Wu's concubine), surrendered Pengcheng to Northern Wei, ending Liang's advances in the northeast, although in summer 526, Shouyang fell to Liang troops after Emperor Wu successfully reemployed the damming strategy. For the next several years, Liang continued to make minor gains on the borders with Northern Wei. In 528, after a coup in Northern Wei, with the warlord Erzhu Rong overthrowing Empress Dowager Hu, a number of Northern Wei officials, including Yuan Yue, Yuan Yu, and Yuan Hao fled and surrendered territories they controlled to Liang. In winter 528, Emperor Wu created Yuan Hao the Prince of Wei—intending to have him lay claim to the Northern Wei throne and, if successful, become a Liang vassal. He commissioned his general Chen Qingzhi (陳慶之) with an army to escort Yuan Hao back to Northern Wei. Despite the small size of Chen's army, he won battle after battle, and in spring 529, after Chen captured Suiyang (modern Shangqiu). Yuan Hao, with Emperor Wu's approve, proclaimed himself the emperor of Northern Wei. In summer 529, troops under Erzhu unable to stand up to Chen Qingzhi, forcing Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei to flee the capital Luoyang. After capturing Luoyang, Yuan Hao secretly wanted to rebel against Liang: when Chen Qingzhi requested Emperor Wu to send reinforcements, Yuan Hao sent Emperor Wu a submission advising against it, and Emperor Wu, believing Yuan Hao, did not send additional troops. Soon, Erzhu and Emperor Xiaozhuang counterattacked, and Luoyang fell. Yuan Hao fled and was killed in flight, and Chen's own army was destroyed, although Chen himself was able to flee back to Liang. In 530, Emperor Wu made another attempt to establish a vassal regime in Northern Wei by creating Yuan Yue the Prince of Wei, and commissioning Yuan Yue's uncle Fan Zun (范遵) with an army to escort Yuan Yue back to Northern Wei. Yuan Yue made some advances, particularly in light of the disturbance precipitated soon thereafter when Emperor Xiaozhuang ambushed and killed Erzhu Rong and was in turn overthrown by Erzhu Rong's nephew Erzhu Zhao and cousin Erzhu Shilong. However, Yuan Yue realized that the Erzhus then became firmly in control of Luoyang and that he would be unable to defeat them, and so returned to Liang in winter 530. In 532, with Northern Wei again in civil war after the general Gao Huan rose against the Erzhus, Emperor Wu against sent an army to escort Yuan Yue back to Northern Wei, and subsequently, Gao Huan welcomed Yuan Yue, but then decided against making Yuan Yue emperor. Subsequently, Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei, whom Gao made emperor, had Yuan Yue executed. With Northern Wei divided into Eastern Wei and Western Wei in light of Emperor Xiaowu's flight, Emperor Wu initially continued to send his forces to make minor territorial gains on the borders, against both Eastern Wei and Western Wei, for several years.


Policies

Early in Northern Wei history, the state inherited a number of traditions from its initial history as a Xianbei tribe, and some of the more unusual ones, from a traditional Chinese standpoint: * The Chinese officials, officials did not receive salaries, but were expected to requisition the necessities of their lives directly from the people they governed. As Northern Wei Empire's history progressed, this appeared to be a major contributing factor leading to corruption among officials. Not until the 2nd century of the empire's existence did the state begin to distribute salaries to its officials. * Empresses were not named according to imperial favors or Chinese nobility, nobility of birth, but required that the candidates submit themselves to a ceremony where they had to personally forge golden statues, as a way of discerning divine favor. Only an imperial consort who was successful in forging a golden statue could become the empress. * All men, regardless of ethnicity, were ordered to tie their hair into a single braid that would then be rolled and placed on top of the head, and then have a cap worn over the head. * When a crown prince is named, his mother, if still alive, must be forced to commit suicide. According to some historians, this may not have been a Tuoba traditional custom, but believed it to be a tradition instituted by the founding emperor Emperor Daowu of Northern Wei, Emperor Daowu based on Emperor Wu of Han's execution of his favorite concubine Consort Zhao, the mother of his youngest son Emperor Zhao of Han, Liu Fuling (the eventual Emperor Zhao), before naming Prince Fuling crown prince. * As a result, because emperors would not have mothers, they often honored their wet nurses with the honorific title, "Nurse Empress Dowager" (保太后, bǎo tài hòu). As
Sinicization Sinicization, sinofication, sinification, or sinonization (from the prefix , 'Chinese, relating to China') is the process by which non-Chinese societies come under the influence of Chinese culture, particularly Han-Chinese culture, language, so ...
of the Northern Wei state progressed, these customs and traditions were gradually abandoned.


The reform of Empress Dowager Feng

After securing Xianbei hegemony in the hinterland of China, the North Wei regime, under the rule of Empress Dowager Feng (438-490; also known as Empress Dowager Wenming) implemented a package of reforms in 485-486 AD, greatly solidifying its fiscal foundations and strengthening state penetration to the local society. This reform introduced two far-reaching policies, namely, the "equal-field landholding system", and the "three-elder system". In the new "equal-filed system"(juntian-zhi)unveiled in 485, the state redistributed abandoned or uncultivated land to commoner subjects attached with obligations of tax duty in the forms of grain, cloth, and labor service. In principle, each household was entitled to lands proportional to its labor power. Specifically, two types of land with tenure were assigned to a household: the first was open land for crop cultivation (40 mu ) for each adult male in the household, and half those amounts for adult females) which was returnable after the recipient reached a specific advanced age or died. The second was the land to support textile production (10 or 20 mu , with the same gender distribution principle as open land) in one of two forms, namely, "mulberry lands" in silk-producing areas, and "hemp lands" in regions where sericulture was infeasible. Importantly, mulberry land was inheritable because of the long-term investment and care mulberry orchards required. Households possessing slaves and plow oxen were entitled to substantially larger allocations. The open land allocations would be doubled or tripled in areas where the land was less fertile or the population sparse. Sale of these land grants was forbidden, although subleasing was permitted under some circumstances. Land allocations would be adjusted annually to account for changes in the composition of the household and its number of oxen. Another policy was the establishment of the three-elders system (sanzhang-zhi) in 486, which was designed to compile accurate population registers and to integrate village society into the state administration. In this system, five households were to make up one neighborhood (li), headed by one neighborhood elder (linzhang) while five neighborhoods were grouped into a village and headed by one village elder (lizhang). Finally, over five villages, there was one ward elder (dangzhang). The three elders, appointed by the government, were responsible for detecting and re-registering population outside of state accounts, requisitioning corvee labor and taxes, and taking care of the poor and orphaned under their jurisdiction. This policy significantly bolstered the state's control over the common people.* Jacques Gernet (1972). "''A History Of Chinese Civilization''". Cambridge University Press. The reforms of Empress Dowager Feng boosted agricultural production and tax receipts on a long-term basis, and broke the economic power of local aristocrats who sheltered residents under their control living in fortified villages that dotted the rural landscape of the North from taxation. After the reform, the Northern Wei regime has doubled the registered population to more than 5 million households.* Ebrey, Patricia Buckley (1978). "The Aristocratic Families in Early Imperial China: A Case Study of the Po-Ling Tsui Family". Cambridge University Press. These institutional infrastructures erected by the Northern Wei state survived the fall of the dynasty and paved the way for China's eventual unification in 589 AD under the Sui Dynasty.


Deportations

During the reign of Emperor Daowu of Northern Wei, Emperor Daowu (386–409), the total number of deported people from the regions east of Taihangshan (the former Later Yan territory) to
Datong Datong is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A prefectural-level municipali ...

Datong
was estimated to be around 460,000. Deportations typically took place once a new piece of territory had been conquered.


Sinicization

As the Northern Wei state grew, the emperors' desire for Han Chinese institutions and advisors grew. Cui Hao (381–450), an advisor at the courts in
Datong Datong is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A prefectural-level municipali ...

Datong
played a great part in this process. He introduced Han Chinese administrative methods and penal codes in the Northern Wei state, as well as creating a The Northern Celestial Masters, Taoist theocracy that lasted until 450. The attraction of Han Chinese products, the royal court's taste for luxury, the prestige of Chinese culture at the time, and Taoism were all factors in the growing Chinese influence in the Northern Wei state. Chinese influence accelerated during the capital's move to
Luoyang Luoyang is a city located in the confluence area of Luo River and Yellow River in the west of Henan Henan (; Chinese postal romanization, alternatively Honan) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of China, in the Central China ...

Luoyang
in 494 and continued this by establishing a policy of systematic sinicization that was continued by his successors. Xianbei traditions were largely abandoned. The royal family took the sinicization a step further by changing their family name to Yuan. Marriages to Chinese families were encouraged. With this,
Buddhist Buddhism (, ) is the Major religious groups#Largest religions, world's fourth-largest religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists. Buddhism encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and ...

Buddhist
temples started appearing everywhere, displacing Taoism as the state religion. The temples were often created to appear extremely lavish and extravagant on the outside of the temples. Also from 460 onwards the emperors started erecting huge statues of the Buddha carved near their capital Pingcheng which declared the emperors as the representatives of the Buddha and the legitimate rulers of China. The Northern Wei started to arrange for Han Chinese elites to marry daughters of the
Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mongol language, the language spoken at the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire ...
Tuoba The Tuoba (Middle Chinese: *''tʰak-bɛt'') also known as the Taugast or Tabgach ( otk, 𐱃𐰉𐰍𐰲 ''Tabγač''), was a Xianbei clan in ancient China. The Tuoba founded the Northern Wei (386–535), a powerful dynasty that unified northern C ...
royal family in the 480s. More than fifty percent of Tuoba Xianbei princesses of the Northern Wei were married to southern Han Chinese men from the imperial families and aristocrats from southern China of the Southern dynasties who defected and moved north to join the Northern Wei. Some Han Chinese exiled royalty fled from southern China and defected to the Xianbei. Several daughters of the Xianbei Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei were married to Han Chinese elites, the Liu Song royal Liu Hui 劉輝), married Princess Lanling (蘭陵公主) of the Northern Wei,. Princess Huayang (華陽公主) to Sima Fei (司馬朏), a descendant of Jin dynasty (266–420) royalty, Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei's sisters, the Shouyang Princess, was wedded to the Liang dynasty ruler Emperor Wu of Liang's son Xiao Zong w:zh:蕭綜, 蕭綜. One of Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei's sisters was married to Zhang Huan, a Han Chinese, according to the Book of Zhou (Zhoushu). His name is given as Zhang Xin in the Book of Northern Qi (Bei Qishu) and History of the Northern Dynasties (Beishi) which mention his mariage to a Xianbei princess of Wei. His personal name was changed due to a naming taboo on the emperor's name. He was the son of Zhang Qiong. When the Eastern Jin dynasty ended Northern Wei received the Han Chinese Jin prince Sima Chuzhi (w:zh:司馬楚之, 司馬楚之) as a refugee. A Northern Wei Princess married Sima Chuzhi, giving birth to Sima Jinlong (w:zh:司馬金龍, 司馬金龍). Northern Liang Xiongnu King Juqu Mujian's daughter married Sima Jinlong. The Northern Wei's Eight Noble
Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mongol language, the language spoken at the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire ...
surnames (w:zh:八大贵族, 八大贵族) were the Buliugu (步六孤), Helai (賀賴), Dugu (surname), Dugu (w:zh:獨孤, 獨孤), Helou (賀樓), Huniu (忽忸), Qiumu (丘穆), Gexi (紇奚), and Yuchi (w:zh:尉遲, 尉遲). They adopted Chinese last names. Kongzi was honoured in sacrifices as was Earth and Heaven by the northern dynasties of non-Han origin. Kongzi was honored by the Murong Wei Former Yan Xianbei leader. Kongzi was honored by the Di ruler Fu Jian (337–385). Kongzi was honored in sacrifices by the Northern Wei Xianbei dynasty. Kongzi was honored by Yuoba Si, the Mingyuan emperor. Han dynasty Emperors, Shang dynasty ruler Bigan, Emperor Yao and Emperor Shun were honored by Yuoba Si, the Mingyuan Emperor. Kongzi was honored extensively by Tuoba Hong, the Xiaowen Emperor. A fief of 100 households and the rank of (崇聖侯) Duke Yansheng#Three Kingdoms period .28220.E2.80.93280 CE.29 through Northern and Southern dynasties era .28420.E2.80.93589.29, ''Marquis who worships the sage'' was bestowed upon a Confucius descendant, Yan Hui's lineage had 2 of its scions and Confucius's lineage had 4 of its scions who had ranks bestowed on them in Shandong in 495 and a fief of ten households and rank of (崇聖大夫) ''Grandee who venerates the sage'' was bestowed on Kong Sheng (孔乘) who was Confucius's scion in the 28th generation in 472 by Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei. An anti Buddhist plan was concocted by the Celestial Masters under Kou Qianzhi along with Cui Hao under the Taiwu Emperor. The Celestial Masters of the north urged the persecution of Buddhists under the Taiwu Emperor in the Northern Wei, attacking Buddhism and the Buddha as wicked and as anti-stability and anti-family. Anti Buddhism was the position of Kou Qianzhi. There was no ban on the Celestial Masters despite the nonfullfilment of Cui Hao and Kou Qianzhi's agenda in their anti-Buddhist campaign. Cui Zhen's wife Han Farong was buried in a Datong located grave.


Building the Great Wall

To resist the threats poised by the Rourans, Northern Wei emperors started to embark on building its own Great Wall, the first since the Han dynasty. In 423, a defence line over 2,000 ''li'' () long was built ; its path roughly followed the old Zhao (state), Zhao wall from Chicheng County in Hebei Province to Wuyuan County, Inner Mongolia. In 446, 100,000 men were put to work building an inner wall from Yanqing County, Yanqing, passing south of the Wei capital Pingcheng, and ending up near Pingguan on the eastern bank of the Yellow River. The two walls of Northern Wei formed the basis of the double-layered Xuanfu–
Datong Datong is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A prefectural-level municipali ...

Datong
wall system that protected Beijing a thousand years later during the Ming dynasty.


Disunity and breakup

The fall of Northern Wei began with rebellions staged by Six Garrison populations. This rebellion was rooted in the internal struggle within the Six Garrisons between up-class military elites and lower-class soldiers and ethnic settlers. Six Garrisons were established to protect the Northern Wei regime from the invasion of Rouran and consisted of numerous ethnic groups, such as Xianbei, Gaoche, and Xiongnu as well as Han Chinese. Tribes were the basic social units, although grouped into militarized garrisons. The up-class military elites who occupied governing offices mainly included the middle-to-low aristocrats of Xianbei, other tribe chiefs, and Han strongpersons. The internal conflict between up-class military elites and lower-class soldiers and ethnic settlers was on the basis of the vulnerable economic base (heavily relied on livestock production and the support from the central government) and harsh environmental conditions in Six Garrison areas. The struggle for survival drove military officers of Six Garrisons to implement unfair policies biased to their own ethnic groups at the cost of others.


Six Frontier Towns rebellions

Rebellions broke out on Six Frontier Towns, six major garrison-towns on the northern border and spread like wildfire throughout the north. These rebellions lasted for a decade. In 523, nomadic Rouran tribes suffered a major famine due to successive years of drought. In April, the Rouran Khan sent troops to raid the Wei territory. People of the town rose up and killed the town's commander. Rebellion soon broke out against across the region. In Woye, Poliuhan Baling (破六韓拔陵) became a rebel leader. His army quickly took Woye and laid siege to Wuchuan and Huaishuo. Elsewhere in Qinzhou (Gansu), Qiang ethnic leaders such as Mozhe Dati (莫折大提) also rose up against the government. In Gaoping (present-day Guyuan), Hu Chen (胡琛) and the Xiongnu rebelled and titled himself the King of Gaoping. In Hebei, Ge Rong rebelled, proclaiming himself the Emperor of Qi. The Poliuhan Baling rebellion was defeated in 525. Similar rebellions had spread to other regions such as Hebei and Guanzhong and were pacified by 530.


Rise of Erzhu Rong and Heyin Massacre

Exacerbating the situation, Empress Dowager Hu (Northern Wei), Empress Dowager Hu poisoned her own son Emperor Xiaoming of Northern Wei, Emperor Xiaoming in 528 after Emperor Xiaoming showed disapproval of her handling of the affairs as he started coming of age and got ready to reclaim the power that had been held by the empress in his name when he inherited the throne as an infant, giving the Empress Dowager rule of the country for more than a decade. Upon hearing the news of the 18-year-old emperor's death, the general Erzhu Rong, who had already mobilised on secret orders of the emperor to support him in his struggle with the Empress Dowager Hu, turned toward Luoyang. Announcing that he was installing a new emperor chosen by an ancient Xianbei method of casting bronze figures, Erzhu Rong summoned the officials of the city to meet their new emperor. However, on their arrival, he told them they were to be punished for their misgovernment and butchered them, throwing the Empress Hu and her candidate (another puppet child emperor Yuan Zhao) into the Yellow River. Reports estimate 2,000 courtiers were killed in this Heyin massacre on the 13th day of the second month of 528. Erzhu Rong claimed Yuan Ziyou grandson of Emperor Xianwen the new emperor as Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei. In 529, Liang general Chen Qingzhi sacked Luoyang, forced Emperor Xiaozhuang to flee and claimed Yuan Hao another grandson of Emperor Xianwen emperor, before his final defeat by Erzhu Rong.


Civil war and the two generals

The Erzhu clan dominated the imperial court thereafter, the emperor held power in name only and most decisions actually went through the Erzhus. The emperor did stop most of the rebellions, largely reunifying the Northern Wei state. However, Emperor Xiaozhuang of Northern Wei, Emperor Xiaozhuang, not wishing to remain a puppet emperor and highly wary of the Erzhu clan's widespread power and questionable loyalty and intentions towards the throne (after all, this man had ordered a massacre of the court and put to death a previous emperor and empress before), killed Erzhu Rong in 530 in an ambush at the palace, which led to a resumption of civil war, initially between Erzhu's clan and Emperor Xiaozhuang, and then, after their victory over Emperor Xiaozhuang in 531, between the Erzhu clan and those who resisted their rule. In the aftermath of these wars, two generals set in motion the actions that would result in the splitting of the Northern Wei into the Eastern and Western Wei. General Gao Huan was originally from the northern frontier, one of many soldiers who had surrendered to Erzhu, who eventually became one of the Erzhu clan's top lieutenants. But later, Gao Huan gathered his own men from both Han and non-Han troops, to turn against the Erzhu clan, entering and taking the capital Luoyang in 532. Confident in his success, he deposed Emperor Jiemin of Northern Wei, the emperor supported by the Erzhu clan, as well as Yuan Lang the emperor previously supported by Gao himself, and set up a new emperor Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei on the Luoyang throne and continued his campaigns abroad. The emperor, however, together with the military head of Luoyang, Husi Chun, began to plot against Gao Huan. Gao Huan succeeded, however, in keeping control of Luoyang, and the emperor and a handful of followers fled west, to the region ruled by the powerful warlord Yuwen Tai. Gao Huan then announced his decision to move the Luoyang court to his capital city of Ye (ancient China), Ye. "Within three days of the decree, 400,000 families—perhaps 2,000,000 people—had to leave their homes in and around the capital to move to Yeh as autumn turned to winter." There now existed two rival claimants to the Northern Wei throne, leading to the state's division in 534–535 into the
Eastern Wei The Eastern Wei (;"Wei"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ) followed the disintegration of the Northern Wei Dynast ...
and
Western Wei The Western Wei (;"Wei"
''
/ref> Many of the most important heritages of China, such as the
Yungang Grottoes The Yungang Grottoes, formerly the Wuzhoushan Grottoes (Wuzhou Shan 武州山 / 武周山), are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the province of Shanxi Shanxi (; Postal romanization, formerly romanised as ...

Yungang Grottoes
, the , the Shaolin Monastery, the Songyue Pagoda, were built by the Northern Wei. Important books such as Qimin Yaoshu and Commentary on the Water Classic, a monumental work on China's geography, was written during the era. The legend of Hua Mulan is originated from the Northern Wei era, in which Mulan, disguised as a man, takes her aged father's place in the Wei army to defend China from Rouran invaders.


Sovereigns of the Northern Wei dynasty

Image:Buddhist Stela Northern Wei period.jpg, A Buddhist stela from the Northern Wei period, built in the early 6th century File:Cernuschi Museum 20060812 128.jpg, Mounted warrior of the Northern Wei Dynasty from the collections of the Musée Cernuschi File:Officials, China, Northern Wei dynasty, c. 500-534, earthenware - Royal Ontario Museum - DSC04084.JPG, Figurines of court ladies, Royal Ontario Museum. File:Male figure from a lacquer painting over wood, Northern Wei.jpg, Male figure wearing ''Hanfu'' robes, from a lacquerware painting over wood, Northern Wei period, 5th century AD Image:Buddhist paintings Yungang.jpg, Northern Wei wall murals and painted figurines,
Yungang Grottoes The Yungang Grottoes, formerly the Wuzhoushan Grottoes (Wuzhou Shan 武州山 / 武周山), are ancient Chinese Buddhist temple grottoes near the city of Datong in the province of Shanxi Shanxi (; Postal romanization, formerly romanised as ...

Yungang Grottoes
, 5th to 6th centuries File:Seattle terracota china 04.JPG, Cavalry of the Northern and Southern dynasties


See also

* Change of Xianbei names to Han names * Jinping Commandery


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* ''Book of Wei''. * W.J.F. Jenner, Jenner, W. J. F. ''Memories of Loyang: Yang Hsuan-chih and the lost capital (493–534)''. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981. * ''History of Northern Dynasties''. * . * Tsiang, Katherine R. "Changing Patterns of Divinity and Reform in the Late Northern Wei" in ''The Art Bulletin'', Vol. 84 No. 2 (June 2002), pp. 222–245. * ''Zizhi Tongjian''.


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Wei Northern Wei, 386 establishments 4th-century establishments in China 6th-century disestablishments in China 535 disestablishments Dynasties in Chinese history Former countries in Chinese history History of Mongolia