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Chinese History - Southern Dynasties Period Geography

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The Southern Dynasties 南朝 (420~589) reigned over the southern part of China. The borderline to the north was in constant change. While the Eastern Jin dynasty 東晉 (317-420) was able to regain large territories between the River Huai 淮河 and the Yellow River 黃河, there was more and more territory lost to the north during the 170 years of rule of the four Southern Dynasties. This situation was aggravated when northern China was unified under the Northern Wei dynasty 北魏 (386-534). The Northern Wei and their successors first conquered the area of the modern province of Shandong, then Henan, and then drove the last of the Southern Dynasties, Chen 陳 (557-589), back to the Yangtze River. The Chen also lost the territories of Yizhou 益州 (modern Sichuan) and Ningzhou 寧州 (modern Yunnan). The southern capital Jiankang 建康 (modern Nanjing 南京/Jiangsu) was so directly exposed to the enemy.
With the colonization of southern China, more commanderies (jun 郡) were created in the regions of Guangzhou 廣州 (Guangdong) and Ningzhou. The administration structure of the region south of the River Huai was very complex because fugitives from the north named their new homelands after their old hometowns, like the European immigrants mirrored the names of their hometown in the Americas (New Orleans, New York, Frankfort). In a political sense, these virtual commanderies served as contemporary administration units in the hope to return the to the north once later. Therefore we can find designations for provinces in the area of modern Jiangsu province that are normally located in Shandong, Henan or even close to Beijing, like Qingzhou 青州, Yanzhou 兖州 and Youzhou 幽州. Likewise, vitual commanderies were installed like Qi 齊 or Nan-Qiao 南譙, or even Jingzhao 京兆, which was the traditional name for the metropolitian commandery around the old capital Chang'an 長安 (modern Xi'an/Shaanxi) that was now created near modern Xiangfan 襄樊, Hubei. Because there were too many small temporary or semi-temporary commanderies, the map above is not wholly complete, especially in regards to the provinces of Liangzhou-Qinzhou 梁州秦州, Yongzhou 雍州, Sizhou 司州, Yuzhou 豫州, Nan-Xuzhou 南徐州 and the three provinces in the east (Yuzhou 徐州, Nan-Xuzhou 南徐州, Nan-Yanzhou 南兖州).


April 26, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail

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