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Liu Song and neighbors
Administrative divisions of Liu Song
|7 July 420|
|31 May 479|
|Currency|| Chinese coin,|
|Today part of|| China |
|History of China|
|Neolithic c. 8500 – c. 2070 BCE|
|Xia c. 2070 – c. 1600 BCE|
|Shang c. 1600 – c. 1046 BCE|
|Zhou c. 1046 – 256 BCE|
|Spring and Autumn|
|Qin 221–207 BCE|
|Han 202 BCE – 220 CE|
|Three Kingdoms 220–280|
|Wei , Shu and Wu|
|Eastern Jin||Sixteen Kingdoms|
| Northern and Southern dynasties |
|(Wu Zhou 690–705)|
| Five Dynasties and|
|Northern Song||Western Xia|
|Southern Song||Jin||Western Liao|
|Republic of China on mainland 1912–1949|
|People's Republic of China 1949–present|
|Republic of China on Taiwan 1949–present|
The Liu Song dynasty (420–479 CE; Chinese :劉宋), also known as Former Song (前宋) or Southern Song (南朝宋), was the first of the four Southern Dynasties in China, succeeding the Eastern Jin and followed by the Southern Qi.
The dynasty was founded by Liu Yu (劉裕) (363–422 CE), whose surname together with "Song" forms the common name for the dynasty, the Liu Song. This appellation is used to distinguish it from a later dynasty of the same name, the Song dynasty (960–1279 CE, ruled by the House of Zhao). Although the Liu Song has also at times been referred to as the "Southern Song", the name is now mainly used to refer to the Song dynasty after 1127 CE.
The Liu Song was a time when there was much internal turmoil. A number of emperors were incompetent and/or tyrannical, which at least partially led to many military revolts. These rulers include Liu Shao, Emperor Xiaowu, Emperor Qianfei, Emperor Ming, and Emperor Houfei. Emperor Ming was especially vicious, murdering many of his brothers, nephews, and other male relatives — many of them children. Such internal instability eventually led to the dynasty's destruction. However, its founder Emperor Wu was considered one of the greatest generals during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period, and the reign of its third emperor, Emperor Wen, is known for its political stability and capable administration, not only of its emperor but its strong and honest officials. This is known as the Reign of Yuanjia (425–453) and one of the relative golden ages for the Southern Dynasties.
Although he was a descendant of Emperor Gaozu of Han's younger brother Liu Jiao,he was still born into poverty. He joined the army at a young age, quickly distinguished himself in the army and was quickly promoted to the command of an army, the Beifu corps. Liu Yu was instrumental in fighting the rebel Huan Xuan. After Huan Xuan's fall, Liu Yu gained control of the Jin dynasty.
Regarded as one of the best generals of the Northern and Southern dynasties, Liu Yu started off by reclaiming much of the territory the Chinese had lost during the Sixteen Kingdoms era. He started off his career by campaigning against Southern Yan, which bordered Jin to the north and had adopted a policy of aggression and kidnapping citizens from the Jin. By spring of 410, he had captured the southern Yan capital at Guanggu, ending Southern Yan.
Afterwards, he campaigned against western Shu in modern Sichuan. Using a brilliant military manoeuver mentioned in the Art of War, Liu Yu instructed his generals to attack the capital of Shu by the Min River rather than the short route by the Fu river. Surprising the Shu forces, he quickly captured Chengdu and re-annexed that area back into Jin.
Following the death of the Later Qin Emperor Yao Xin, Liu Yu attacked the state of Later Qin, which controlled the valuable lands of Guanzhong, lands which had once housed the capital of the Qin, Han and Jin dynasties before the barbarian uprisings. After defeating the Later Qin army in several battles, as well as an army of Northern Wei troops which had crossed to assist the Later Qin, Liu Yu recaptured the vital cities of Chang'an and Luoyang, the former capitals of the Jin Empire. It is recorded that he engaged the Wei army by the use of spears launched by crossbows, panicking the Wei cavalry and allowing him to score a decisive victory.
After this success, it seemed that Jin would exterminate the remaining barbarian states in the north and reunify China. However, fortunes began to change for the Jin forces. Liu Mengzhi died and in order to secure his power, Liu Yu left for Jiankang (present-day Nanjing), abandoning the management of the North to his general Wang Zhen'e. After his departure, the state of Xia attacked Guanzhong and reoccupied it, and the loss of these lands prescribed Jin's frontier at the Yellow River. However, Jin retained its former eastern capital, Luoyang, as well as most of the Chinese heartland.
Following his return to Jiankang, Liu Yu ended the rule of the Jin and became emperor himself in 420, establishing the Liu Song dynasty. The name of the dynasty was taken from Liu's fief, which occupied roughly the same territory as the Spring & Autumn era State of Song. The Book of Song does not mention whether the Liu family had any blood relationship to the ancient state's ruling House of Zi, or by extension to the Shang dynasty. It is in any case noteworthy that Liu did not frame his new regime as a restoration of the Han dynasty, despite being demonstrably related to the Han imperial family. Liu died in 422 CE, and was succeeded by the incompetent Shaodi, who was quickly removed. His eventual successor would be his third son, Wendi.
Under Emperor Wen, the Liu Song economy prospered during the rule of Yuanjia (Chinese:元嘉之治), a period noted for its prosperity in the 400 years of conflict between the Han and Tang dynasties. However, the emperor's martial abilities were not equal to his father, and his inability to crush the remaining barbarian states allowed Northern Wei to complete the unification of the North, to the detriment of Liu Song. Afterwards, Northern Wei would remain a grave and permanent threat to the Liu Song.
Emperor Wen continued the campaigns of his father; nevertheless, he was unsuccessful. In 422 CE, the first year of his reign, he lost three commanderies to Wei. Under the able general Dao Yanzhi, however, 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, Xia, by the Wei. The emperor was to repeat this mistake as several barbarian states who had offered to ally with Liu Song against Wei were declined, eventually leading to Wei's unification of the North in 439 CE, to the detriment of the Chinese.
Towards the later part of his reign, Emperor Wen was less than able. He wrongfully executed the general Tan Daoji, who had hitherto commanded the Song armies, and took charge himself. The empire's decline was shown in 450 CE, where the emperor attempted to destroy the Northern Wei 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, the provinces south of the Yellow River were devastated by the Wei army. Only Huatai, a fortified city, held out against the Wei. However, the economic damage was immense. The barbarian troops laid waste to the provinces they had temporarily occupied, as described by Sima Guang:
The Wei forces laid South Yan, Xu, North Yan, Yu, Qing, and Ji Provinces to waste. The Song deaths and injuries were innumerable. When Wei forces encountered Song young men, the forces quickly beheaded them or cut them in half. The infants were pierced through with spears, and the spears were then shaken so that the infants would scream as they were spun, for entertainment. The commanderies and counties that Wei forces went through were burned and slaughtered, and not even grass was left. When sparrows returned in the spring, they could not find houses to build nest on, so they had to do so in forests. Wei soldiers and horses also suffered casualties of more than half, and the Xianbei people were all complaining.
Sima Guang also pointed out the cause of Liu Song's disaster:
Every time Emperor Wen sent generals out on battles, he required them to follow the complete battle plans that he had drafted, and even the dates for battles needed approval from the emperor. Therefore, the generals all hesitated and could not make independent decisions. Further, the non-regular troops that he conscripted were not trained, and they rushed to advance when they were victorious and scattered when they were defeated. These were the two reasons why he failed, and from this point on, the state was in recession, and the Reign of Yuanjia was in decline.
Another historian, Shen Yue, pointed out Emperor Wen was said to model his command on the great general Emperor Guangwu of Han, but he lacked the latter's command abilities.
Emperor Wen made another attempt to destroy Northern Wei in 452, but failed again. On returning to the capital, he was assassinated by the heir apparent, Liu Shao.
Liu Shao's assassination of his father in 453 CE raised indignation across the empire, as it disobeyed one of Confucianism's fundamental principles, that of filial piety. Quickly, his brother Liu Jun rose against him, defeated him, and beheaded him. Once Liu Shao was killed. Liu Jun ascended to the throne and became Emperor Xiaowu. However, he was regarded as immoral and committed incest with his cousins and sisters, and reputed to have even done so with his mother. Nevertheless, his reign was a relatively peaceful one.
Following his death in 464 CE, Liu Jun passed his throne to his son, Liu Ziye, who was generally regarded as a tyrant. He disrespected his father and was suspicious of his uncles, putting several of them to death. He continued the incestuous streak of his father, adopting several of his aunts and cousins as concubines. He was reputed to have ordered all of the princesses to come to his palace and have sexual intercourse with him. When one of his aunts refused, he executed her three sons. He also put to death a lady-in-waiting who bore a resemblance to a woman who cursed him in a dream. Eventually, one of his uncles could not bear it, rose up, and assassinated him.
The man who assassinated Qianfei quickly became emperor himself and declared himself emperor Ming. He ordered Liu Ziye's brother Liu Zishang and sister Liu Chuyu, who were reputed to have participated in the late emperor's sexual immorality and tyrannical governance, to commit suicide. However, his claim to the throne was not accepted by Liu Zixun, one of his nephews, who then rose against him.
The civil war at first was a great success for Liu Zixun, who quickly overran nearly the entire empire. However, he moved too slowly. Emperor Ming quickly sent an army westward, captured Kuaiji, a vital food supply. Another of his generals captured Qianxi and cut off Liu Zixun's supplies. Starving, his troops collapsed and Liu Zixun was killed, aged just 10.
However, Emperor Ming grew arrogant and refused to grant a pardon to those who had supported Liu Ziye. This action was extremely detrimental to Liu Song and its successors, as the governors of the northern commandries, fearing their lives, surrendered to Wei rather than face execution at Jiankang. This resulted in the loss of the Chinese heartland and the most fertile and cultivated lands at that time. This loss would eventually lead to the destruction of the southern regime, and resulted in North China languishing under a barbarian yoke for another 150 years. Although Emperor Ming attempted to recover them, his attempts were defeated.
Emperor Ming's later reign was extremely brutal. Suspicious of his nephews, he had them all executed. Afraid of usurpation from rival members of the royal family, he executed thousands of members of the royal family, which was greatly weakened. Upon his death, his son had to be assisted by the general Xiao Daocheng, as nearly all of Emperor Ming's brothers and nephews had been killed.
The successor to the emperor Ming, emperor Houfei, was resentful of the control Xiao Daocheng had over him and announced openly several times he would kill him. Fearful of his demise, Xiao had him assassinated and placed Emperor Shun on his throne. In 479, Xiao took the throne himself and declared himself Emperor of Qi, ending Liu Song. The ex-emperor Shun and his clan were soon put to the sword.
Liu Hui (刘辉) was a descendant of Liu Song royalty who fled north to the Xianbei Northern Wei in exile and married the Xianbei Princess Lanling (蘭陵公主),daughter of the Xianbei Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei. 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.
Despite, and certainly to some extent because of, the chaotic warfare between the Northern and Southern dynasties, the Liu Song produced much poetry ( shi 詩) notably the rhapsody, fu 賦. The imperial house sponsored many literary works, and many wrote themselves. The court of Emperor Wen was especially active in literary circles, with Liu supporting the compilation of a large collection of short prose anecdotes, A New Account of the Tales of the World (Shishuo Xinyu). The "Three Giants of Yuanjia," Bao Zhao (鮑照) (d.466), Xie Lingyun (謝霊運) (385–433 CE), and Yan Yanzhi (顏延之) (384–456 CE) are perhaps the best known poets of the Song, each of them being credited as the originators of the three major literary trends to follow.
Scientists and astronomers were also active during periods of relative peace. Buddhism also began to be better understood and more widely practised at this time, and some officials such as Xie Lingyun, were Buddhists.
Liu Song sculptors may have created a number of spirit way ensembles, generally characteristic of the Six Dynasties era, for the tombs of the dynasty's emperors and other dignitaries. However, according to a survey of the extant Six Dynasties' sculpture in the Nanjing and Danyang areas, only one of the extant Six Dynasties' tomb sculptural groups has been securely identified as belonging to the Liu Song: the Chuning Tomb of the first emperor of the dynasty. Two qilin statues of this tomb survive in the appropriately named Qilin Town in Nanjing's suburban Jiangning District.
Zu Chongzhi, a noted astronomer, lived during the Liu Song period. He was noted for calculating pi to seven decimal places and as the author of a variety of other astronomical theories.
|Posthumous name||Temple name||Family name and given names||Period of reigns||Era names and their according range of years|
|Wu, 武||Gaozu (高祖)||Liu Yu, 劉裕||420–422 CE||Yongchu (永初) 420–422|
|–||Liu Yifu, 劉義符||423–424 CE||Jingping (景平) 423–424|
|Wen, 文||Taizu (太祖) or Zhongzong (中宗)||Liu Yilong, 劉義隆||424–453||Yuanjia (元嘉) 424–453|
|–||Liu Shao, 劉劭||453||Taichu (太初) 453|
|Xiaowu, 孝武||Shizu 世祖||Liu Jun, 劉駿||453–464||Xiaojian (孝建) 454–456 CE|
Daming (大明) 457–464
|–||Liu Ziye, 劉子業||464–465||Yongguang (永光) 465 CE|
Jinghe (景和) 465
|Ming, 明||Taizong (太宗)||Liu Yu, 劉彧||465 –472||Taishi (泰始) 465–471 CE|
Taiyu (泰豫) 472
|–||Liu Yu, 劉昱||473–477 CE||Yuanhui (元徽) 473–477 CE|
|Shun, 順||–||Liu Zhun, 劉準||477–479 CE||Shengming (昇明) 477–479 CE|
|Liu Song family tree|
The Five Barbarians, or Wu Hu, is a Chinese historical exonym for ancient non-Chinese peoples who immigrated to northern China in the Eastern Han dynasty, and then overthrew the Western Jin dynasty and established their own kingdoms in the 4th–5th centuries. The peoples categorized as the Five Barbarians were the Xiongnu, Jie, Xianbei, Di, and Qiang. Of these five tribal ethnic groups, the Xiongnu and Xianbei were nomadic peoples from the northern steppes. The ethnic identity of the Xiongnu is uncertain, but the Xianbei appear to have been Mongolic. The Jie, another pastoral people, may have been a branch of the Xiongnu, who may have been Yeniseian. The Di and Qiang were from the highlands of western China. The Qiang were predominantly herdsmen and spoke Sino-Tibetan (Tibeto-Burman) languages, while the Di were farmers who may have spoken a Sino-Tibetan or Turkic language.
The Jin dynasty or the Jin Empire, sometimes distinguished as the Sima Jin (司馬晉) or the Two Jins (兩晉), was a Chinese dynasty traditionally dated from 266 to 420 AD. It was founded by Sima Yan, eldest son of Sima Zhao, who was made the King of Jin and posthumously declared one of the founders of the dynasty, along with Sima Zhao's elder brother Sima Shi and father Sima Yi. It followed the Three Kingdoms period, which ended with the conquest (平吴之战) of Eastern Wu, culminating in the reunification of China.
The Northern and Southern dynasties was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589, following the tumultuous era of the Sixteen Kingdoms and the Wu Hu states. It is sometimes considered as the latter part of a longer period known as the Six Dynasties. Though an age of civil war and political chaos, it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, advancement in technology, and the spread of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism. The period saw large-scale migration of Han Chinese to the lands south of the Yangtze. The period came to an end with the unification of all of China proper by Emperor Wen of the Sui dynasty.
The Northern Wei, also known as the Tuoba Wei (拓跋魏), Later Wei (後魏), was a dynasty founded by the Tuoba (Tabgach) clan of the Xianbei, which ruled northern China from 386 to 534 AD, during the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties. 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, which became firmly established. The Northern Wei were referred to as "Plaited Barbarians" by writers of the Southern dynasties, who considered themselves the true upholders of Chinese culture.
The Xianbei were an ancient nomadic people that once resided in the eastern Eurasian steppes in what is today Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Northeastern China. They originated from the Donghu people who splintered into the Wuhuan and Xianbei when they were defeated by the Xiongnu at the end of the 3rd century BC. The Xianbei were largely subordinate to larger nomadic powers and the Han dynasty until they gained prominence in 87 AD by killing the Xiongnu chanyu Youliu. However unlike the Xiongnu, the Xianbei political structure lacked the organization to pose a concerted challenge to the Chinese for most of their time as a nomadic people.
The Southern Qi (479–502) also known as Xiao Qi(simplified Chinese: 萧齐; traditional Chinese: 萧齊; pinyin: Xiāo Qí) was the second of the Southern dynasties in China, followed by the Liang Dynasty.
Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From the inauguration of dynastic rule by Yu the Great in circa 2070 BC to the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor on 12 February 1912 in the wake of the Xinhai Revolution, China was ruled by a series of successive dynasties. Dynasties of China were not limited to those established by ethnic Han—the dominant Chinese ethnic group—and its predecessor, the Huaxia tribal confederation, but also included those founded by non-Han peoples.
Emperor Gao of Southern Qi, personal name Xiao Daocheng (蕭道成), courtesy name Shaobo (紹伯), nickname Doujiang (鬥將)) was the founding emperor of the Chinese dynasty Southern Qi. He served as a general under the preceding dynasty Liu Song's Emperor Ming and Emperor Houfei. In 477, fearful that the young, cruel Emperor Houfei would kill him, assassinated Emperor Houfei and seized power, eventually taking the throne in 479 to start Southern Qi.
Emperor Wen of (Liu) Song, personal name Liu Yilong (劉義隆), courtesy name Che'er (車兒), was an emperor of the Chinese dynasty Liu Song. He was the third son of the dynastic founder Emperor Wu. After his father's death in 422, Liu Yilong's eldest brother Liu Yifu took the throne as Emperor Shao. In 424, a group of officials, believing Emperor Shao to be unfit to be emperor, deposed Emperor Shao and placed Liu Yilong on the throne as Emperor Wen.
Emperor Mingyuan of Northern Wei ( 魏明元帝), Chinese name Tuoba Si (拓拔嗣), Xianbei name Mumo (木末), was an emperor of the Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. He was the oldest son of the founding emperor Emperor Daowu. During his reign, Northern Wei's territory did not expand as much as it did under either his father's reign or the reign of his son Emperor Taiwu, but he helped the state stabilize over northern China, and started the tradition of meeting with important imperial officials to listen to their advice and make final decisions. He is generally regarded by historians to be an intelligent and rational ruler.
Tan Daoji was a high level general of the Chinese dynasty Liu Song. He was one of the most respected generals during the Southern and Northern Dynasties era. Because of this, however, he was feared by Emperor Wen and even more so by Emperor Wen's brother, the prime minister Liu Yikang the Prince of Pengcheng, and during an illness of Emperor Wen, Liu Yikang had Tan arrested and executed on false accusations of treason.
Emperor Ming of (Liu) Song ( 宋明帝), personal name Liu Yu (劉彧), courtesy name Xiubing (休炳), nickname Rongqi (榮期), was an emperor of the Chinese dynasty Liu Song. He became emperor after his violent and impulsive nephew Emperor Qianfei was assassinated in 465, as he was regarded as more lenient and open-minded, but he soon turned cruel and suspicious as well after becoming emperor, and during his reign, his nephews and brothers were nearly all slaughtered on his orders, greatly weakening the Liu Song state and contributing to its fall in 479, just seven years after his death.
You Prefecture or Province, also known by its Chinese name Youzhou, was a prefecture (zhou) in northern China during its imperial era.
The Invasion and rebellion of the Five Barbarians is a Chinese expression referring to a series of rebellions between 304 - 316 A.D. by four non-Chinese peoples living in North China against the Jin dynasty (265–420), which had recently been weakened by a series of civil wars. The uprisings helped topple Emperor Huai of Jin in Luoyang and ended the Western Jin dynasty in northern China.
Liu Yu's expeditions were a series of successful campaigns mounted by the Jin dynasty from 409 AD to 416 AD against Southern Yan, Later Qin, Northern Wei and Xia that successfully recovered all of Jin's territory south of the Yellow River with the exception of the Chang'an area, which was taken by Xia. These victories were the basis of the prosperity of the Reign of Yuanjia.
The Jin dynasty (265–420) was one of China's most crucial dynasties. Following the devastation of the Three Kingdoms period, the Jin unified those territories and fostered a brief period of prosperity between 280 and 304 CE. However, during this period many social problems developed as well, the most pressing of which was the migration of barbarian tribes into Jin territory, to the point where they outnumbered Han Chinese in some regions.
The Sixteen Kingdoms, less commonly the Sixteen States, was a chaotic period in Chinese history from 304 to 439 CE when the political order of northern China fractured into a series of short-lived dynastic states, most of which were founded by the "Five Barbarians," non-Chinese peoples who had settled in northern and western China during the preceding centuries and participated in the overthrow of the Western Jin dynasty in the early 4th century. The kingdoms founded by ethnic Xiongnu, Xianbei, Di, Jie, Qiang, as well as Chinese and other ethnicities, took on Chinese dynastic names, and fought against each other and the Eastern Jin dynasty, which succeeded the Western Jin and ruled southern China. The period ended with the unification of northern China in the early 5th century by the Northern Wei, a dynasty established by the Xianbei Tuoba clan, and the history of ancient China entered the Northern and Southern dynasties period.
Ji or Jicheng was an ancient city in northern China, which has become the longest continuously inhabited section of modern Beijing. Historical mention of Ji dates to the founding of the Zhou dynasty in about 1045 BC. Archaeological finds in southwestern Beijing where Ji was believed to be located date to the Spring and Autumn period. The city of Ji served as the capital of the ancient states of Ji and Yan until the unification of China by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC. Thereafter, the city was a prefectural capital for Youzhou through the Han dynasty, Three Kingdoms, Western Jin dynasty, Sixteen Kingdoms, Northern Dynasties, and Sui dynasty. With the creation of a Jizhou (蓟州) during the Tang dynasty in what is now Tianjin Municipality, the city of Ji took on the name Youzhou. Youzhou was one of the Sixteen Prefectures ceded to the Khitans during the Five Dynasties. The city then became the southern capital of the Liao dynasty and then main capital of the Jin dynasty (1115–1234). In the 13th century, Kublai Khan built a new capital city for the Yuan dynasty adjacent to Ji to the north. The old city of Ji became a suburb to Dadu. In the Ming dynasty, the old and new cities were merged by Beijing's Ming-era city wall.
The military history of the Jin dynasty encompasses the period of Chinese military activity from 266 AD to 420 AD. The Jin dynasty is usually divided into the Western and Eastern Jin eras. Western Jin lasted from its usurpation of Cao Wei in 266 to 316 when the Uprising of the Five Barbarians split the empire and created a number of barbarian states in the north. The Jin court fled to Jiankang, starting the era of Eastern Jin, which ended in 420 when it was usurped by Liu Yu, who founded the Liu Song dynasty.
The military history of the Northern and Southern dynasties encompasses the period of Chinese military activity from 420 to 589. Officially starting with Liu Yu's usurpation of the Jin throne and creation of his Liu Song dynasty in 420, it ended in 589 with the Sui dynasty's conquest of Chen dynasty and reunification of China. The first of the Northern dynasties did not however begin in 420, but in 386 with the creation of Northern Wei. Thus there is some unofficial overlap with the era of the Sixteen Kingdoms.
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