A History of China eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 461 pages of information about A History of China.
within the ruling family, leading to members of the family assassinating one another.  In 264 a member of the Ss[)u]-ma family declared himself king; when he died and was succeeded by his son Ss[)u]-ma Yen, the latter, in 265, staged a formal act of renunciation of the throne of the Wei dynasty and made himself the first ruler of the new Chin dynasty.  There is nothing to gain by detailing all the intrigues that led up to this event:  they all took place in the immediate environment of the court and in no way affected the people, except that every item of expenditure, including all the bribery, had to come out of the taxes paid by the people.

With such a situation at court, with the bad economic situation in the country, and with the continual fighting against the two southern states, there could be no question of any far-reaching foreign policy.  Parts of eastern Turkestan still showed some measure of allegiance to Wei, but only because at the time it had no stronger opponent.  The Hsiung-nu beyond the frontier were suffering from a period of depression which was at the same time a period of reconstruction.  They were beginning slowly to form together with Mongol elements a new unit, the Juan-juan, but at this time were still politically inactive.  The nineteen tribes within north China held more and more closely together as militarily organized nomads, but did not yet represent a military power and remained loyal to the Wei.  The only important element of trouble seems to have been furnished by the Hsien-pi tribes, who had joined with Wu-huan tribes and apparently also with vestiges of the Hsiung-nu in eastern Mongolia, and who made numerous raids over the frontier into the Wei empire.  The state of Yen, in southern Manchuria, had already been destroyed by Wei in 238 thanks to Wei’s good relations with Japan.  Loose diplomatic relations were maintained with Japan in the period that followed; in that period many elements of Chinese civilization found their way into Japan and there, together with settlers from many parts of China, helped to transform the culture of ancient Japan.

(B) The Western Chin dynasty (A.D. 265-317)

1 Internal situation in the Chin empire

The change of dynasty in the state of Wei did not bring any turn in China’s internal history.  Ss[)u]-ma Yen, who as emperor was called Wu Ti (265-289), had come to the throne with the aid of his clique and his extraordinarily large and widely ramified family.  To these he had to give offices as reward.  There began at court once more the same spectacle as in the past, except that princes of the new imperial family now played a greater part than under the Wei dynasty, whose ruling house had consisted of a small family.  It was now customary, in spite of the abolition of the feudal system, for the imperial princes to receive large regions to administer, the fiscal revenues of which represented their income.  The princes were

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A History of China from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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