Sui Dynasty

Sui Dynasty (581-618) 589 A.D. is the year when the Northern and Southern Dynasties ended. Although past regimes, including Northern and Southern Dynasties dreamt unity for China, the result would always be disunity and chaos among its people. North and South China just seemed so impossible to unite.

Unification of the divided China became the challenge of dynasty that preceded Northern and Southern Dynasties, known as the Sui Dynasty. According to many historians, it was Sui, which finally realized the dream of uniting China. It was established from 581 A.D. to 618 A.D.

Northern China was reunited when Northern Zhou conquered the Northern Qi in 577. Northern Zhou was run by a total of 5 emperors from the Yuwen family. This family came from an ethnic group known as Xianbei. Before the Northern Zhou Dynasty totally vanished in 589 A.D., a man named Yang Jian usurped the throne in 581 A.D. So, there was an overlapping of two dynasties.

Yang Jian was said to be a relative of the royal family. After his successful take over, he renamed the empire to Sui Dynasty. He was then later crowned as Emperor Wen.

Emperor Wen founded his capital at Chang?an, presently known as Xian City in Shaanxi Province. Immediately after doing this, Emperor Wen planned to attack the Chen Dynasty, the last and remaining dynasty of Southern Dynasties. His motive was to gain total power so he could reunite the divided nation. Emperor Wen was able to do this feat when he wiped out Chen Dynasty in 589.

Political Reforms

Like every leader, Emperor Wen wanted a strong government. He imposed reforms and policies, which he believed, would strengthen his empire. He pushed for the re-establishment of a centralized administrative system that was patterned from the Han. All the state affairs were tasked to a group, which they called, ?Three Departments and Six Ministries.?

Local areas weren't also spared from the changes. The existing three-tier form of government was replaced with and reduced to a two-tier system. This move they felt would promote efficiency since the system was simplified.

If the previous dynasties? governments were riddled with corrupt officials, the Sui Dynasty thought of a way to lessen this problem. Officials of the government were chosen according to their qualifications and not because of their lineage. An imperial examination system was introduced as a means of choosing civil servants. This system was later on adapted by the succeeding dynasties.

Social Reforms

The Sui Dynasty was faced with financial crisis due to long period of wars before it was established. Its poor citizens were suffering because of the unequal opportunities between the rich and the poor. Emperor Wen had the burden of bridging this gap.

The Emperor thought of reverting the existing ?land equalization system.? A number of land ownerships were given to the farmers. Although much of the landowners were still rich families, some of the less fortunate to own a piece of land were also given the opportunity to farm their own. It's in this period that the agricultural sector became vigorous.

The currency they were using was standardized by the government. This is another way of unifying the peoples of the north and the south. Farmers and merchants were also charged with a much lower tax.

Great Contributions

As if those reforms weren't enough, the Sui Dynasty under Emperors Wen and Yang introduced great projects. In an effort to improve the means of transportation from the north to south and vice versa, they constructed the Great Canal. This project connected the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. The project was a success and improved the economic and cultural aspects of the Sui Dynasty.

The empire wasn't free of attacks from other groups; the Turks threatened to overthrow the Sui Dynasty. So, their rulers thought of a way to protect their empire and its people. They extended the length of the Great Wall of China. Sections of Ninxia and Inner Mongolia were built to withstand the invasions of the Turks.

The Fall of Sui Dynasty

Although the Sui Dynasty seemed to be the best dynasty to rule China, it only lived for a total of 38 years. If you check history books, it?s one of those dynasties, which were short-lived. The reforms and improvements didn?t help to stop its fall.

Emperor Yang became the successor of Emperor Wen after his death in 604. The fall of Sui Dynasty was blamed on Emperor Yang. As soon as his reign started, Emperor Yang engaged in lavish expenses and abused his power. Because of these, the empire?s resources were exhausted prompting numerous rebellions. Emperor Yang was murdered by one of his aides. This became the end of Sui Dynasty and the beginning of Tang Dynasty.