What Are The Three Kingdoms Of China And Who Won?

The three kingdoms of ancient China, also known as the San-Kuo, refer to the trio of the Chinese Warring States that followed and ruled China after the Han Dynasty was conquered. The three kingdoms ruled between 220 and 280CE. And the Han Dynasty had ruled previously between 206BCE and 220CE.

During the brief disruption period in 25CE when the Han Empire was reconstituted as Dong Han or the Eastern Han. But by the end of the 2nd Century, the Eastern Han disintegrated into a state of extreme chaos, with its emperor turning into a puppet, ceding the throne in 220 to Cao Pi. This change started the Wei Kingdom from northern China, with two other Han generals installing themselves as emperors at the same time, taking over southern and western China. These were the Shu-Han or modern-day Sichuan province and the WU empire located south of the Yangtze River.

Between 263 and 264, the Wei gained control over the Shu-Han, although the throne was usurped 2 years later when Sima Yan took over the throne, forming the Jin Dynasty. The Jin Dynasty then conquered the Wu Dynasty, reuniting the country. Unfortunately, this win was short-lived as the dynasty fell apart soon after, leaving the whole country in chaos.

Although the 3 kingdoms survived for a very short time and did not contribute much to the arts and the current state of modern China, the Three Kingdoms period is still an important era in Chinese history with great political intrigue. It’s also seen as an era that was rather romantic and interesting and still played an integral role in China’s long history.

When Was The Three Kingdoms Period?


The Three Kingdoms period was between 220 and 280CE.

What Happened During The Years Between The Three Kingdoms

Well, the time that the Three Kingdoms reigned over a rather divided China is largely seen as a period during which the state of Wei was founded in 200AD, featuring the conquests of the Wu State under the Jin Dynasty.

In addition to the formation of the three states of Wei, Shu, and Wu, each run by an emperor who successfully led their kingdom until it was defeated by the stronger kingdom. But with three kingdoms ruling, there was a lot of infighting between the kingdoms. The middle part between 220 and 263 was, however, marked by a lot of stability in the military between the three rival states. However, the later years from the period featured the collapse of the tri-partite states. And the first kingdom to fall apart was the kingdom of Shu, which was conquered by the Wei kingdom. It was followed by the downfall of the Wei dynasty, which was conquered by the Jin Dynasty, and lastly, the Kingdom of Wu was conquered by the Jin Dynasty.

Cao Wei

Also known as the Wei, Cao Wei, formerly Wie, was one of the 3 main states from the Three Kingdoms. The state was in competition with the two other states over the supremacy of China. Its capital was located in Xuchang, and it was later moved to Luoyang, which was a state established in 220 by the Cao Pi. The state was created based on the foundation that was put up by Cao Cao, his father, as the reign of the Eastern Han Dynasty came to an end.

Cao Wei was, for the longest time, the strongest of the kingdoms, and they were able to successfully repel invasions by Shu Han, as well as Eastern Wu. In 263AD, the Cao Wei conquered the Shu Han following a short invasion, with the help of a rather corrupt eunuch called Huang Hao. In 265AD, Cao’s family was overthrown by Sima’s family, creating the Western Jin Dynasty that succeeded the Sima Family.

Eastern Wu Dynasty

This was one of the 3 states/ kingdoms that fought for rule over China during the Three Kingdoms Era. It controls a large section of China in the south and the southern territory. It buffered Shu Han to the North West of China.

Eastern Wu or Dong Wu existed between 229 and 280AD, and it was the surviving state by the time the Jin Kingdom won the fight over what was left of the Three Kingdoms.

Shu Dynasty

shu han three kingdoms

Shu Dynasty dates back to 23, and it rose to the throne between 224 and 225 during the southward campaigns. The state was, however, conquered in 263/264 by the Wei dynasty. During its reign, the Shu Dynasty had control over the present-day Sichuan province.

Notably, between 238 and 262, the Shu Dynasty had successfully launched 11 expeditions attacking the Wei Kingdom, and though they won more battles than they lot, these wars meant a significant loss in terms of money, food, as well as human recourses. These all weakened the Shu significantly, and when the Wei invaded the Shu Dynasty in 262, where Liu Shan was the last king, he opted to surrender to the Wei. Upon surrender, Liu Shan would be allowed to live out the rest of his days in peace in Wei’s capital, Luoyang.

Who Won The Three Kingdoms

Many events occurred during the reign of the three kingdoms, but at the end of the warring period between these three kingdoms, Wu’s kingdom or state that was founded by the Jin Dynasty in 280AD won the battle and ruled over a unified China.

The Wu was established in 229 by Sun Quan. It was the last of the three kingdoms, and the kingdom flourished since its establishment. The migration of a large number of people south from Northern China, as well as the subjugation of the people called Shanyue, resulted in the increase in the population of the Wu people. Agricultural production was also increased by the Wu people.

In 252, however, Sun Quan passed on, and Sun Liang, his son, ascended to the throne. But the son was only 10 years old, and the kingdom declined under his rule. And by the year 279, the Jin kingdom attacked Dong Wu, and they conquered the Wu. In 280AD, however, Sun Hao, Wu’s last king, surrendered, and the Jin dynasty went on to rule China up until 420AD.

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