每天读报(三十八)
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1已有 374 次阅读  2014-02-23 05:50


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As warfare brought in its wake banditry and famine, rural communities all over north China built forts and organized self-defence forces, with power devolving to the local level even more than it thad in the waning years of the Han. The commercial economy suffered and the circulation of money declined. A couple of million residents of north China packed up what movable property they had and fled southward across the Yangzi. Even the wealthy and high-ranking, facing depredations and the unknown peril of alien rule, made the trek in huge numbers. At Jiankang(modern Nanjing) leading officials set a Jin prince on the throne, creating a government in exile. This Eastern Jin dynasty (317-420) was followed by four other dynasties that ruled from Nanjing - the Song, Qi, Liang, Chen, collectively called the Southern Dynasties (420-589). These four short dynasties were all founded by generals who proved capable of holding the government together during their lifetime but not of assuring a successful transfer of power to their heirs. They possessed the desire to create imperial institutions but not the ability to concentrate power.

Part of the difficulty these rulers faced can be traced to the emergence of a hereditary aristocracy that entrenched itself in the higher reaches of officialdom. Much more than in the Han period, these families judged themselves and others on the basis of their ancestors, and would only marry with other families of equivalent pedigree. They even compiled lists, complete with genealogies, of the most eminent families. By securing near automatic access to higher government posts through the Nine Rank system, the aristocrats were assured of government salaries and exemptions from taxes and labour service. Many were also able to build up great landed estates worked by destitute refugees from the north who were settled as self-like dependants. At court, the aristocrats often set themselves at odds with the 'upstart' rulers, doing what they could to frustrate these emperors' efforts to appoint or promote whom they wished. But the aristocrats should not be looked on as foes of Chinese civilization. The men in these families saw themselves as embodying Chinese civilization, maintaining the high cultural accomplishments of Han dynasty and the tradition of scholar-official. The solidarity of these cultivated families provided a centre around which Chinese culture could adhere during a period when no state could serve that function.

Constructing a capital south of the Yangzi had a beneficial effect on economic development of the south. When Luoyang fell in 311, the south probably had only about 10 per cent of the registered population of the Jin (which did not include non-Chinese, indigenous people of the south who paid no taxes). To pay for an army and to support the imperial court and aristocracy in a style that matched their pretensions, the government had to expand the area of taxable agricultural land, whether through settling migrants or converting the local inhabitants into tax-payers. The south, which its temperate climate and ample supply of water, offered nearly unlimited possibilities for such development.


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