China in the Nan-bei Chao Period (IV-VI centuries) - History of the East

9.5. China in the Nan-bei Chao period (IV-VI centuries)

It is difficult to say exactly which of the reasons served as the basis for a series of incursions, wave after wave swept in the IV. North China. There is a theory, the essence of which is that the cyclical climate fluctuations, very severely affecting the way of life of nomads (colds, ice cover, lack of grass and fodder, mass mortality of livestock - all referred to as the severe word jute) at times, literally pushed the nomadic tribes at the change of habitual places and conditions of existence. In themselves, such movements for nomads are simple and do not carry a threat to others. But in exceptional situations (the Huns at Attila or the Mongols under Genghis Khan), especially if the jute was repeated many times, the pressure of the nomads could prove irresistible and entail far-reaching consequences. Something like that happened in China. Nomadic tribes of the northern steppe strip, already with Han partially roamed under the strict control of the authorities in the North China steppes to the south of the Great Wall, from the beginning of the 4th century. began to show an unprecedented activity and a tendency to mass migrations to the south, to that zone of agricultural economy, which obviously did not correspond to their habitual conditions of existence. At first it was the invasion of the Huns ( Sünnu ), which in 311 occupied Luoyang, in 316 - Chang'an. The remnants of the Jin dynasties were concentrated only in the south and south-east of the country, as a result of which the dynasty changed its name to East Jin (317-420). Following the Huns, other tribes invaded China, xianbi, qiang, jie , di , etc. They all went in waves, one after another, and after each of these waves in North China, new kingdoms and ruling dynasties arose, sometimes coexisting side by side. Sixteen kingdoms of the five northern tribes - so it's called Chinese sources. For all these dynasties-kingdoms, who accepted classical Chinese names (Zhao, Yan, Liang, Qin, Wei, Han, Dai, etc.-there were no other terms for reflecting them in the texts of the tribes), there were two distinct political tendencies .

The first trend is the "barbarization of the way of life habitual for sedentary Chinese." It included the unbridled violence in Confucian China, abuse, disregard for human life, including mass killings, not to mention the reign of rulers the situation of instability, conspiracies, executions, coups and the total extermination of the losers with their families. The barbarization and instability of political power caused an increase in inter-tribal enmity and a mass flight of Chinese to the south, to East Jin.

The second trend was reversed and boiled down to the active desire of the reigning tribal chiefs of the nomads to use the Chinese experience of administration and Chinese culture to stabilize their power, which led to the gradual "sinking of foreign invaders" who also willingly took in the wives of Chinese women.

Over time, the second of these opposing objective trends came to the fore and became the leading one. And although with each next wave of foreign invasion the effect of barbarization was revived, in the final analysis all waves were extinguished by the power of the Chinese Confucian civilization. There are no words, IV in. left his tracks in it. However, we should not attach, in any case in terms of historical retrospection, too much importance to the impact of nomads on China, as it is sometimes done. The effect of Sinification not only neutralized the short-term process of barbarization of Northern China, but also led to more. Under the influence of Chinese culture flooded North China nomads in the V-VI centuries. so far away that by the end of the VI century. their descendants, including the rulers, and in the first place, they became ordinary Chinese.

At least with Han in China, there was an aphorism: "You can conquer an empire sitting on a horse, but you can not manage it sitting on a horse." This meant that the impact of Chinese culture sooner or later led to the assimilation and sinification of any ethnic group that conquered the country, especially since the conquerors were comparatively backward peoples in comparison with the Chinese, most often nomads.

At the end of the IV century. political fragmentation and internecine strife in the north came to an end. The leader of one of the Xianbi tribes, Toba Gui , seized power throughout the whole of the Yellow River basin and founded the Northern Wei dynasty (386-534). Eliminating rivals, the rulers of the Toba dynasty began to pursue an energetic domestic and foreign policy. In the struggle against the South China state, Sung, they gained success after success, reaching the end of the 5th century. coast of the Yangtze River in the region of its lower reaches. The internal policy of the Syanbi rulers boiled down to the administration's administration, although in the 1950s and 1970s, V in. this process was complicated by internecine quarrels at court.

Special mention should be made of the agrarian policy of the rulers of the house of Toba. Still Toba Gui began resettling Chinese farmers closer to the capital, in order to ensure the supply of its grain. The resettlement was something like giving the peasants land at the expense of the state. This practice was polished for a long time until, at the end of the fifth century, after overcoming all internal strife, the time for a series of reforms on a broader scale did not come. According to the decree of the emperor Toba Hun from 485, Sima Jan was introduced all-inclusive system, introduced two centuries earlier. Putting on a man equaled 40 mu (for a woman - 20 mu), but now additional facilities for an ox or slave were added to the family plot if they were (and in the North China conquered by the nomads there were enough cattle and many converts slaves). In addition, each family received 20-30 mu of garden land, which was not subject to sporadic redistribution, along with plots of arable land, and fixed to the yard as it were for eternity. Officials, as was the case with the all-inclusive Reform of Sima, received official holdings in temporary conditional possession, and their peasants treated the land, which paid taxes not to the treasury, but to the owner of the official allotment. The introduction of the allotment system did not exclude the existence of private landholdings of strong houses or temples, as well as the state ownership of members of the royal house. Meanwhile, it meant a noticeable shift towards the redistribution of the land fund and was directed, like the reform of Sima in 280, to restrict various forms of private land ownership. At the same time, the introduced administrative system of mutual guarantee within the five-year-olds, which was known in China since ancient times, was also intended to weaken the influence of rich houses on the ground.

The reforms of Toba Hun, in question, also included prohibitions on wearing Syanbi clothing and speaking Xianbi at the court. All noble fellow tribesmen were asked to change names and surnames to Chinese. However, several decades later, when the other northern Syaibian state was replaced by two others (Northern Qi, 550-577, and Northern Chou, 557-581), these prohibitions were forgotten, and instead of them came a short epoch of the so-called Xiangbi renaissance , i.e. Revival among the ruling upper classes of their own culture, including names. However, the Renaissance was short-lived. In the VI. North China has finally turned into Chinese, and it's hardly surprising. All foreigners, taken together, amounted to just over 20% in North China; all the rest of the population, despite the mass migration to the south, was Chinese.

As for Southern China and the so-called southern dynasties , their history in the IV-VI centuries. in something markedly different from the North-Chinese, although there were some common features. The main common thing that united the north and south was the large-scale migration of peoples, their migration and assimilation. As soon as the north began to undergo barbaric invasions accompanied by mass annihilations and enslavement of the Chinese, hundreds of thousands of them, especially rich and noblemen, masters of strong houses and especially educated Confucian Shi migrated to the south-all, according to some estimates, up to a million people . The southern regions, relatively recently annexed to the empire and still far from mastered by it, were a troubled place. It was there in the era of the Three Kingdoms that endless wars were waged, in which the aboriginal tribes also took part. The aliens from the north used to populate the fertile river valleys, where they began to grow rice. Over time, the rice belt of South China became the main breadbasket of the empire.

Aliens from the north, among which the prominent place was occupied by the nobility, including the imperial court (the Eastern Jin dynasty), not only prevailed. They brought with them a fairly high level of culture, both material and spiritual. Of course, both existed in the south and before they were there, most likely, and their strong houses, and even Confucian shi. But a wave of migrants from the north meant a sharp acceleration of the process of confessionalization of the southern regions, including the colonization of lands, and the sowing of the population, and the assimilation of local peoples. All this gave its results. Already from the V century. On the fertile fields of the rice belt began to collect two crops a year, which is practiced there to this day. In the south, new cities began to be created rapidly, old ones developed and new types of crafts arose, trade and commodity-money relations flourished.

Despite the fact that the southern dynasties also quickly replaced each other (Sun, 420-479; Qi, 479-502; Liang, 502-557; Chen, 557-589, coexisting with her Late Liang, 555-587) , on the whole the board in the south more corresponded to the usual Chinese standards. During its consolidation, the central government showed concern for replenishing the ranks of tax-paying peasants and even at times tried to organize wars in order to liberate the northern lands from nomads, however, without success. In the south concentrated the center of Chinese culture. Here lived outstanding scientists, poets, thinkers, vigorously developed strengthened in China in the II century. Buddhism.

For the sake of justice, it should be noted that the rulers of the northern dynasties also patronized this emerging religion from India, rooted in the beginning by the efforts of Western missionaries. Throughout China, both in the north and in the south, Buddhist temples were actively built, monasteries were created, to which a considerable amount of land with the peasants who cultivated it was being written off. Buddhism came to China at a very good time for itself. The situation of internecine wars and barbarian invasions weakened not only the central government, but also official Confucianism, which failed to stop the attempts of another's religion to gain a foothold in China. As for the Taoists confronting the Confucians, they even helped strengthen Buddhism. It was from their ranks that the first Chinese Buddhists came out; their terms and concepts were used by Buddhist monks as the proper Chinese equivalents when translating into Chinese the ancient Buddhist texts in Pali and Sanskrit. To all this, it should be added that in troubled times of wars the Buddhist monastery with its deaf walls enabled the suffering to find shelter, escapees - peace and rest, tired intellectuals - the necessary solitude, an opportunity for quiet communication. All these factors helped Buddhism not only to strengthen itself in China, but also to become there a prosperous religion, gradually adapted to the conditions of China and visibly Sinisterized.

And one more important fact should be noted. The aristocrats and connoisseurs of Confucianism who fled to the south, including representatives of well-known strong houses in China, brought with them to South China the norms of social and family relations consecrated by the Confucian ethic, including the practice of living together with large clans, especially characteristic of the social upper classes. Although this practice seems to have been well known to the not too advanced local semi-preemptive population, it is important to note that the social elite, settling in the best places in the south, contributed to the strengthening in the southern regions of clan-type settlements, which are still widespread there, sometimes clan-type. Southern China therefore became the focus of Chinese traditional culture (enriched by Buddhism), and a model of Confucian norms of clan dormitories and generally Confucian ethical values. All this eventually began to be appreciated more and more in the north, where natives of Southern China in the V-VI centuries, in the process of active Sinification of the barbarous was the north of the empire once again enjoyed considerable honor, and sometimes acquired high posts and corresponding official prestige.

In conclusion, it is worth paying attention to the specifics of the situation prevailing in China in the 4th-6th centuries, referring to the Nan-bei chao period. All the numerous and very complicated political, ethnocultural, social and economic processes that in their totality in another concrete historical situation could completely change the face of the state or direct its further development along a somewhat different path - as it happened, say , with the Middle East and even partially with India after Islamization - in Confucian imperial China, they did not lead to anything similar. There was no empire, official Confucianism was severely weakened, but the deep foundation of both, developed back in Han and having acquired the power of a social genotype, largely determined the evolution of the country during its fragmentation and weakening. After experiencing the Nan-bei chao era, the country reborn, and with it the Confucian empire also recovered.

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)