A universal guide for China studies
Chinese History - The Sixteen Kingdoms 五胡十六國 (300~430)
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The Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarian Peoples (Wuhu Shiliuguo 五胡十六國: Di 氐, Jie 羯, Qiang 羌, Xianbei 鮮卑, Xiongnu 匈奴)
|period before (Jin Dynasty)|
-- Southern Dynasties
-- Northern Wei
next period (Sui)
|The weak central government of Later Han, the Cao-Wei and the Jin Dynasty allowed many Non-Chinese tribes to intrude on Chinese territory in the northwest. With the sixteen year long crisis of the Jin court during the Rebellions of the Eight Princes, military leaders of Chinese settlers and Non-Chinese tribes saw their chance to become independent the Jin Dynasty.|
The Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarian Peoples (Di 氐, Jie 羯, Qiang 羌, Xianbei 鮮卑, Xiongnu 匈奴) are not enlisted among the acknowledged dynasties. Although their rulers - most of them being of Non-Chinese origin - adopted Chinese customs and the Chinese administration system to govern their realms, they are not seen as righteous rulers of China. In fact, most of the short-lived empires were not able to develop a real working government. Their politics were all short-time oriented and in many cases determined by a simple surviving strategy. The hundred and thirty years of diverse foreign empires on Chinese soil were a period of suffering for the peasant population. The tenant farmers had not only to endure the permanent war campaigns, together with natural desasters and calamities, but also had to deliver tax and corvée labour for their landowners and the foreign rulers. A typical measure to support the economical and fiscal needs of the government was to resettle peasants around the capital. This short-eyed policy of the "barbarian" rulers lead to the economical and cultural backwardness of China's north during the 4th and 5th centuries. At the same time, the constituents of the northern Chinese population changed - with time going by the former "barbarians" gradually mixed with the Chinese population.
The period of the Sixteen Kingdoms (in fact, there were even a few more) can be divided into three stages: 300 to 350, the Former Liang, the two Zhao and the Cheng-Han empires rule the north and Sichuan. The dominating force 350 to 380 is the Former Qin empire. 380 on the north is splintered up into many short-lived and ever-changing empires that are finally destroyed by the power of the Tuoba empire of Northern Wei around 430.
For the history of the particular states, use the index via dynamic maps.
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