History Files

Far East Kingdoms



Southern Chen Kingdom (Northern & Southern Dynasties China)
AD 549 - 589

The 'Northern & Southern Dynasties' period of Chinese history saw the continuance of a chaotic period of internecine warfare. Restored to unity following the bitter, highly destructive wars of the 'Three Kingdoms' period, China almost immediately fractured again at the start of the 'Sixteen Kingdoms' period. Much of the conflict took place in the north, above the line of the Yangtze, and between various Chinese states and barbarian states. Towards the end of this period it became harder to tell the difference between Chinese and barbarian as the Northern Wei managed to secure control of the entire north. This triggered the start of the 'Northern & Southern Dynasties' period, which saw further warfare and fracturing.

Several regional kingdoms rose and fell, and each fought the other for power and territory. This process continued to permit various barbarian empires also to rise and fall along China's western borders. To the north-west this included the Rouran khaganate, which governed much of Mongolia until the middle of the sixth century AD.


Northern & Southern Dynasties / Six Dynasties

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Origin of the Turks and the Turkish Khanate, Gao Yang (Tenth Trk Tarih Kongresi, Ankara 1986), from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughin Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The Origins of Northern China's Ethnicities, Zhu Xueyuan (Beijing 2004), from Ethnogenesis in the tribal zone: The Shaping of the Turks, Peter Benjamin Golden (2005), and from External Links: China between empires: the northern and southern dynasties (Internet Archive), and Zizhi Tongjian: Comprehensive mirror to aid in government (ChinaKnowledge.de).)

557 - 560

Wu Ti


560 - 567

Wn Ti


567 - 569

Fei Ti


569 - 583

Hsuan Ti


583 - 589

Hou Chu

Surrendered to the Sui. Capital destroyed by fire.

588 - 589

Emperor Wen of Sui has built up a force of over half a million troops along the northern bank of the River Yangtze, largely between recently-conquered Sichuan and the East China Sea. The Southern Chen are unable to fend off such an overwhelming force, and the last of their emperors admits defeat in 589. The Sui forces enter Jiankang (Nanjing), burning the city to the ground and taking the nobility captive. The captives will bring their cultural and intellectual superiority to the northern court, enriching it and advancing China's overall progression, The Sui now govern a fully reunified China.