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Three Kingdoms

Three Kingdoms (三國 pinyin san1 guo2) (220 - 265) refers to a period of time after the fall of the Han Dynasty in China. It was so named because it was marked by the struggle of three rival kingdoms: the Kingdom of Wei (魏 wei4), the Kingdom of Shu (蜀 shu3) and the Kingdom of Wu (吳 wu2) for control of China. Wei was always the most powerful kingdom and conquered the Shu kingdom in 263. As the Sima clan had effectively wrested control of Wei away from the Cao family, Sima Yan formally seized the throne in 265 and established the Jin Dynasty (265-420). The Kingdom of Wu was later conquered in 280 resulting in the unification of China.

The famous Chinese epic novel Romance of Three Kingdoms was based on this period. The authoritative historical record of this era is the Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms.

Map depicted significant regions of China at that time (http://www.threekingdoms.com/map2.htm)



Three Kingdoms Sovereigns
Posthumous Names ( Shi Hao 諡號) Family (in bold) and first names Year(s) of Reigns Era Names (Nian Hao 年號) and their range of years
Kingdom of Wei 220-265 AD
Convention: "Wei" + posthumous name, sometimes except Cao Pi and Cao Fang who are referred to using personal name.
Wen Di (文帝 wen2 di4) Cao Pi曹丕 cao2 pi1 220-226 Huangchu (黃初 huang2 chu1) 220-226
Ming Di (明帝 ming2 di4) Cao Rui|Cao Rui 曹叡 cao2 rui4 226-239 Taihe (太和 tai4 he2) 227-233
Qinglong (青龍 qing1 long2) 233-237
Jingchu (景初 jing3 chu1) 237-239
Qi Wang (齊王 qi2 wang2) Cao Fang|Cao Fang 曹芳 cao2 fang1 239-254 Zhengshi (正始 zheng4 shi3) 240-249
Jiaping (嘉平 jia1 ping2) 249-254
Gao Gui Xiang Gong (高貴鄉公 gao1 gui4 xiang1 gong1) Cao Mao|Cao Mao 曹髦 cao2 mao2 254-260 Zhengyuan (正元 zheng4 yuan2) 254-256
Ganlu (甘露 gan1 lu4) 256-260
Yuan Di (元帝 yuan2 di4) Cao Huan|Cao Huan 曹奐 cao2 huan4 260-265 Jingyuan (景元 jing3 yuan2) 260-264
Xianxi (咸熙 xian2 xi1) 264-265
Kingdom of Shu or Kingdom of Shu Han 221 - 263
Convention: use personal name
Zhao Lie Di (昭烈帝 zhao1 lie4 di4) Liu Bei (劉備 liu2 bei4) 221-223 Zhangwu (章武 zhang1 wu3) 221-223
Hou Zhu (後主 hou4 zhu3) Liu Chan 劉禪 (liu2 chan2)[?] 223-263 Jianxing (建興 jian4 xing1) 223-237
Yanxi (延熙 yan2 xi1) 238-257
Jingyao (景耀 jing3 yao4) 258-263
Yanxing (炎興 yan2 xing1) 263
Kingdom of Wu 222-280
Convention: use personal name
Da Di (大帝 da4 di4) Sun Quan 孫權 sun1 quan2 222-252 Huangwu (黃武 huang2 wu3) 222-229
Huanglong (黃龍 huang2 long2) 229-231
Jiahe (嘉禾 jia1 he2) 232-238
Chiwu (赤烏 chi4 wu1) 238-251
Taiyuan (太元 tai4 yuan2) 251-252
Shenfeng (神鳳 shen2 feng4) 252
Kuai ji wang (會稽王 kuai4 ji1 wang2) Sun Liang|Sun Liang 孫亮 sun1 liang4 252-258 Jianxing (建興 jian4 xing1) 252-253
Wufeng (五鳳 wu3 feng4) 254-256
Taiping (太平 tai4 ping2) 256-258
Jing Di (景帝 jing3 di4) Sun Xiu|Sun Xiu 孫休 sun1 xiu1 258-264 Yongan (永安 yong3 an1) 258-264
Wu Cheng Hou (烏程侯 wu1 cheng2 hou2) Sun Hao|Sun Hao 孫皓 sun1 hao4 264-280 Yuanxing (元興 yuan2 xing1) 264-265
Ganlu (甘露 gan1 lu4) 265-266
Baoding (寶鼎 bao3 ding3) 266-269
Jianheng (建衡 jian4 heng2) 269-271
Fenghuang (鳳凰 feng4 huang2) 272-274
Tiance (天冊 tian1 ce4) 275-276
Tianxi (天璽 tian1 xi3) 276
Tianji (天紀 tian1 ji4) 277-280

Check here for a complete list of Chinese rulers

See also: Chinese history -- Han dynasty -- Chinese sovereign -- Liu Bei -- Sun Quan -- Cao Cao


The Three Kingdoms is also an expression for the three Korean kingdoms Koguryo, Paekche[?] and Silla[?] as depicted in Samguk Sagi.


The Three Kingdoms is also an expression used to describe England, Scotland and Ireland in the days before the United Kingdom. For instance, it is found in the works of Jonathan Swift.


The Three Kingdoms is also an expression used to describe the animal, the vegetable and the mineral in Bahya ibn Paquda's classic work, Duties of the Heart.



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