A history of China., [3d ed. rev. and enl.] eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 469 pages of information about A history of China., [3d ed. rev. and enl.].
to maintain his hold on the throne.  Thus we find many members of the Hsia-hou and Ssu-ma families in government positions.  The Ssu-ma family especially showed great activity, and at the end of Wen Ti’s reign their power had so grown that a certain Ssu-ma I was in control of the government, while the new emperor Ming Ti (227-233) was completely powerless.  This virtually sealed the fate of the Wei dynasty, so far as the dynastic family was concerned.  The next emperor was installed and deposed by the Ssu-ma family; dissensions arose within the ruling family, leading to members of the family assassinating one another.  In 264 a member of the Ssu-ma family declared himself king; when he died and was succeeded by his son Ssu-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

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A history of China., [3d ed. rev. and enl.] from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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