10 Facts About the Three Kingdoms’ War

Civil wars are scattered throughout world history as power struggles that have torn governments apart. From the U.S. in the 19th century, to Spain, Korea and Vietnam in the 20th century, the division of power in a country is nothing new. Usually, that division is split between two sides, north and south. Going back almost two thousand years, the Three Kingdoms’ War was unique for featuring a three-way tie for power. Here are 10 facts about the Three Kingdoms’ War:

    1. The Three Kingdoms’ War took place in China, ultimately driving the country into three warring regions as they engaged in a makeshift civil war.
    2. The Three Kingdom’s War took place between the Han Dynasty and the Jin Dynasty, starting in the year 220 AD and lasting until 280 AD.
    3. Although the Three Kingdom’s War lasted for a period of 60 years, the origins of the conflicts go back further than 220 AD, to 189 AD. At that time, the Han emperor died and a young emperor was placed on the throne.
    4. Many generals were unhappy with the new emperor and were dismayed at the influence that eunuchs had in the role of government. The young emperor was eventually ousted and replaced, but the fighting and political tension continued to grow. Civil wars broke out and divided the country into three kingdoms.
    5. The Three Kingdoms were the Wei Kingdom, the Shu Kingdom and the Wu Kingdom. The Wei Kingdom was led by Cao Pi, who controlled the northern part of China; the Shu Kingdom was led by Liu Bein, who controlled the southwestern part of China; and the Wu Kingdom was led by Sun Quan, who controlled the southeastern part of China.
    6. Of the Three Kingdoms, the Wei Kingdom had the strongest military. Located north of the Yangtze (Yellow) River, the Wei Kingdom was unable to conquer the other two kingdoms. The two kingdoms in the south, the Shu and Wu, formed an alliance out of military strategy to keep the Wei contained to the north.
    7. The Wei Kingdom was overthrown as the Jin Dynasty emerged in 265 AD. After conquering the north, they turned their sights south and gradually took over the Shu and Wu kingdoms, declaring victory in 280 AD. The Jin dynasty lasted until 420 AD.
    8. This period of fighting was responsible for one of the deadliest periods in China’s history. During the Han Empire, China boasted a population of 54 million, but during the Jin Empire, their population fell to 16 million. This population loss was a result of ongoing fighting and internal displacement brought on by war.
    9. Despite the fighting and death tolls, innovation thrived. This period is credited with the invention of gunpowder for weaponry. Additionally, irrigation systems were updated while shipbuilding increased to meet the demands of the trade from the growing Silk Route.
    10. The history of the war was immortalized in the book The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This popular historical fiction was written by Luo Guan Zhong. The exact publication year is unknown but is speculated to have been written between 1279 and 1644.

Jeffery Silvey

Photo: Flickr