General Introduction to Wu Hu Period

Wu Hu Period The Wu Hu uprising was one of the most devastating events in Chinese history, causing close to 270 years of division, the longest period China had been divided since the Warring States Period. Wu Hu forces rose up against the Jin Dynasty of China, who they had formerly served, in 304 CE, and by 316 CE their victory was complete. The Jin Dynasty's control was thus limited to terroritory south of the Huai River.

 

Background of Wu Hu

Most of the Wu Hu tribes had been moved into Jin China by the Chinese imperial government in order to serve as labourers for the Chinese economy (which was badly damaged during the Three Kingdoms period). They had revolted before; for example, the Xiongnu revolted against Jin rule in 294 CE when forced to migrate into Chinese terroritory. Many Jin officials identified this potential threat and recommended extermination or expulsion of the barbarians. This advice was not heeded by the Jin court

 

Beginnings of the uprising

After the devastating War of the Eight Princes, the Jin Dynasty was exhausted and unable to control the Wu Hu peoples it had moved into its terroritory several decades earlier to provide labour. Taking advantage of this, Xiongnu Chieftain Liu Yuan rebelled against the Jin Dynasty and soon thousands of other barbarians joined his army in its fight against the Jin. In an attempt to make claims to be a legitimate dynasty, Liu Yuan choose his imperial state to be named Han, after the previous Chinese dynasty before the Wei and Jin

Jin Response

The Jin Dynasty was ineffective in its attempts to halt the uprising. The Jin capital, Luoyang was open to Liu Yuan's son Liu Chong(who was now commander of the Wu Hu forces), and he attacked Luoyang in 309 and 310 CE twice, without success. However, the Jin Challcenor Sima Yue fled Luoyang in 310CE with 40,000 troops to Xiabgcheng in Henan in an attempt to flee this threat[2]. After Sima Yue's death, the main Jin forces in Henan, led by Wang Heng, decided to proceed to Shantung to defeat Shi le(one of the Wu Hu generals), but was defeated by the Wu Hu forces and more than 100,000 soldiers perished, resulting in the loss of much of Jin's army.

 

Capture of Luoyang and Chang'an

After the defeat of Wang Heng's forces, Jin forces were no longer able to hold Luoyang, who fell to the Wu Hu in 311CE. Upon entering the city, the Wu Hu engaged in a promiscuous massacre, killing over 30,000 people and turning the city into a pile of rubble. This event in Chinese history was known as the Disaster of Yongjia. The Jin emperor was also captured and later killed. Although another Jin regime was set up in Chang'an, it too was destroyed in 316CE by Liu Chong. Following this, millions of Chinese fled to South China to escape barbarian rule.

 

Surviving Jin forces in the North

Although the main Jin regime in the North was defeated, Jin forces continued to hold three provinces in the North, namely Yozhou, Liangzhou, and Binzhou. These provinces, however, were cut off from the main Jin forces now in the South and eventually conquered by the barbarian forces, reducing Jin control to the area south of the Huai river.