Chinese Name: 东晋
English Name: Eastern Jin Dynasty, Dong Jin
Other Name: Jin 晋, Zhong Jin 中晋
Duration: About 317 AD – 420 AD
King: Sima Rui 司马睿, Sima Shao 司马绍, Sima Pi 司马丕, Sima Yi 司马奕, Sima Dewen 司马德文
The Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 ~ 420) was a dynasty established by Sima Rui 司马睿, the royal family of the Western Jin Dynasty after he moved south. In addition, the history books also call the Eastern Jin Dynasty the Zhong Jin 中晋, imitating the Eastern Han Dynasty. It implies the revival of the Jin Dynasty.
The Eastern Jin Dynasty is a clan politics, which coexists with the Sixteen States in the north. This historical period is also called the Sixteen States of the Eastern Jin Dynasty 东晋十六国. In the Eastern Jin Dynasty, the interior was once fragmented. The Eastern Jin Dynasty, the former Sun Wu 孙吴, and the subsequent Song 宋, Qi 齐, Liang 梁, and Chen 陈 dynasties are collectively known as the Six Dynasties 六朝.
The Eastern Jin Dynasty tried to invade the north many times. However, due to internal disunity, except for Liu Yu 刘裕, who finally usurped the Jin Dynasty, and achieved certain results, the rest made no achievements. In 420, Liu Yu abolished Emperor Gong of Jin 晋恭帝 and established Liu Song. With the demise of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Chinese history entered the Northern and Southern Dynasties 南北朝.
Major Historical Events
Royal Southward Crossing 王室南渡
After the rebellion of the eight kings 八王之乱 in 307, Sima Rui followed the minister’s advice and moved to Jiankang 建康. After moving south, many decrees were issued to stabilize the regime. Gradually won the support of many clans, especially the Wu clan. Then a large number of northern aristocratic families and royal families crossed south to support Sima Rui. It made the Jiangnan prefectures subordinate, and the Eastern Jin Dynasty was able to settle down.
The terrain in the south is dangerous, with the natural danger of the Yangtze River, which is easy to defend but difficult to attack. It is very easy to defend and has strategic advantages.
And the situation in the north and South has been stable. The North-South boundary is roughly divided by the Yangtze River. The South has convenient water and land transportation, frequent commerce and trade, and a developed commodity economy. It is conducive to increasing the revenue of the national treasury.
The rebellion of WangDun 王敦之乱
The rebellion of Wang Dun 王敦 was a turmoil in the early Eastern Jin Dynasty. It broke out in 322 and ended in 324. Wang Dun and his cousin Wang Dao 王导 were both founding heroes of the Eastern Jin Dynasty. They established prestige for Sima Rui and established a court in a more stable place in the south. Wang Dao was in charge of policy affairs, while Wang Dun was in charge of military power, which made a great contribution to the establishment of the Eastern Jin Dynasty.
However, after the establishment of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Sima Rui hoped to weaken Wang’s influence. So Liu Kai 刘隗 and other scholars were promoted to check and balance the power of the Wang family. Sima Rui is afraid of Wang Dun, who holds military power and alienates Wang Dao, who once tried to support him. At the same time, Wang Dun gradually became arrogant. These things disgusted Sima Rui, and Wang Dun was also very unhappy with Sima Rui’s resistance.
General Zu Ti 祖逖 died of illness in 321. This made Wang dun think that no one could threaten him militarily. In the end, he decided to raise troops to cause chaos. In the early stage of the war, the imperial army was defeated continuously. He served as prime minister and controlled the court in Wuchang 武昌.
After the death of Emperor Yuan of the Eastern Dynasty, the Ming emperor 明帝 succeeded to the throne, and Wang Dun intended to seize the throne, but the Ming emperor was ready to fight back against Wang dun.
At the same time, Wang Dun also fell ill. In the face of the Ming emperor’s Crusade, his brother Wang Han and his subordinate General Qian Feng had to fight with the imperial army. But ultimately failed. Wang Dun also died of illness during the war.
Battle of Fei River 淝水之战
The battle of Fei River was a war between the Eastern Jin Dynasty and the former Qin Dynasty 前秦 in A.D. 383 in Fei River 淝水 (now the southeast of Shouxian County, Anhui Province 安徽寿县). In the end, Eastern Jin Dynasty defeated the former Qin army of more than 800,000 (actually 200,000) with only 80,000 troops.
The battle of Feishui made Xie Xuan 谢玄, Xie An 谢安, Xie Shi 谢石, and others famous in history. Sima Yao 司马曜, Emperor Xiaowu of the Eastern Jin Dynasty 东晋孝武帝, took this opportunity to recover his power and became the only emperor who held imperial power in the Eastern Jin Dynasty. And the defeated Fu Jian 苻坚 was not a cowardly and incompetent king. He killed the tyrant Fu Sheng 苻生 and brought more than 20 years of peace to the people in Guanzhong since the Yongjia rebellion.
The battle of Fei River is a famous battle example in Chinese history. The former Qin Dynasty, which had the absolute advantage, was defeated by the Eastern Jin Dynasty, and the country declined as a result. All ethnic groups in the North broke away from the rule of the former Qin Dynasty and split into several regimes dominated by the latter Qin Dynasty and the latter Yan Dynasty.
The Eastern Jin Dynasty took advantage of this northern expedition and pushed the boundary line to the south of the Yellow River 黄河.
Frequent rebellions and the rise of Liu Yu 叛乱频繁，刘裕崛起
The two most famous rebellions are the rebellion of Sun Lu 孙卢之乱 and the rebellion of Huan Xuan 桓玄之乱. The peasants’ anti-Jin struggle was led by Sun En 孙恩 and Lu Xun 卢循 in the late Eastern Jin Dynasty. This uprising was the largest and longest peasant uprising in the Eastern Jin and Southern Dynasties. The rebel army persisted in the struggle for 12 years and moved to the vast areas south of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River 长江. Although the uprising failed, it caused a heavy blow to the gentry of the Eastern Jin Dynasty.
When the Eastern Jin Dynasty attacked Sun En with all its strength, Huan Xuan 桓玄 took the opportunity to occupy two-thirds of the land of the Eastern Jin Dynasty. The Eastern Jin Dynasty lost its dependence and became a court with only an empty reputation. Huan Xuan thought it was time to destroy Jin and become emperor. Huan Xuan gathered in Jiangling 江陵 to seize Jiankang 建康. He established himself as the emperor and the country’s name was the Chu 楚.
In 404, Liu Yu 刘裕 gathered ministers to plot to attack Huan Xuan. He was widely promoted as the leader of the alliance. Liu Yu defeated Huan Xuan and took power in the Eastern Jin Dynasty.
Poetry and ode flourish 诗词歌赋大盛
Famous writers include Xie Lingyun 谢灵运, TaoYuanming 陶渊明, Wang Xizhi 王羲之, and others. He has also made outstanding achievements in painting and calligraphy. For example, Gu Kaizhi’s 顾恺之paintings and Wang Xizhi’s calligraphy have high artistic value.
The story of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai 梁山伯与祝英台, one of the four famous Chinese folklores, also took place in the Eastern Jin Dynasty.
give birth to a multitude of heroes
The Eastern Jin Dynasty existed for a short period of 103 years from its founding to its demise. It’s not long and on one side. But he never lost his integrity and never bowed to the aliens. Therefore, there are heroes such as Zu Ti 祖逖, Liu Kun 刘琨, Xie An 谢安, Xie Xuan 谢玄, Huan Wen 桓温, and Liu Yu 刘裕. They devoted themselves to the northern expedition, which saved the last bit of blood for our Chinese civilization.