from the time of the division of the Northern Wei into eastern and western parts in reality the Eastern Wei was the regime of the Kao clan, while the Western Wei was the regime of the Yu-wen clan. Kao Huan (高歡), who dominated the Eastern Wei, was a Hsien-pei-icized man of Han while Yu-wen T'ai (宇文泰) who dominated the Western Wei was a sinicized Hsien-pei. These two men were both brave warriors with a talent for schemes and for ten years battled each other with neither able to overcome the other, maintaining a situation of equilibrium. Kao Huan died in 547 with Kao Ch'eng following his father as Grand Chancellor and King of Po-hai. In 549 Ch'eng was promoted to the post of Minister of State and enfeoffed as the King of Ch'i, but because of his haughty and uninhibited temperment he was killed by his female kitchen-slave (膳奴 shan-nü) Lan Ching (蘭京). Ch'eng's younger brother Kao Yang followed his as Minister of State and in the next year he compelled the Eastern Wei ruler Hsiao-ching-ti to abdicate and then established a state with the name of Ch'i while he became the Northern Ch'i ruler Wen-hsüan-ti. The Northern Ch'i still had its capital at Yeh-ch'eng but with Chin-yang serving as the military center of the north, Kao Yang frequently travelled between Chin-yang and Yeh-ch'eng. When Kao Yang first ascended the throne he was quite able to devote his attention to government adminstration, his laws were stern and severe, he inspired respect throughout the land, and just before a battle he would fo out to lead the armies in person to time and again smash the armies of the Ch'i-tan, the Shan-hu and the Jou-juan as his majesty shook the deserts to the north. In 555 he also banished to the frontiers some 1,800,000 people for the construction of a Great Wall that extended over a thousand li from Yu-chou in the east to Hsüan-chou in the west. Presuming on the greatness of what he had already accomplished, he then became proud, profilgate and violent given over to drinking and excess, persisting in this evil conduct by ignoring everyone. Overall authority fell into the hands of the Chancellor Yang Yin who followed all the outward forms of a proper administation and in every area compensated for Wen-hsüan-ti so that his faults did not yet lead to the collapse of the country with the men of the time saying, "above the ruler is in darkness, below the administation is pure and clear."
In the Western Wei Yu-wen T'ai after he had set up Pao-chü as the ruler Wei Wen-ti, went about the tasks of planning and administration with great determination and dedication, establishing an organizational framework for the fu-ping military system and engaging in all sorts of reforms in the military field. After seventeen years on the Western Wei throne, Wen-ti died and Imperial Heir Yuan Ch'in succeeded to the throne to become the ruler Fei-ti (the Deposed Emperor). The first year of the reign, the year 552, was also the year that saw the destruction of Hou Ching. In 553 because of the internal conflicts of the Liang, Yu-wen T'ai attacked and took I-chou. In the next year the Wei ruler Yuan Ch'in made plans to execute Yu-wen T'ai because he resented T'ai's domination of political authority but then he was deposed by Yu-wen T'ai. Yu-wen T'ai directed the Wei to restore the surname of the T'o-pa clan abd then set up Yuan Ch'in's younger brother T'o-pa K'uo King of Ch'i as the Western Wei ruler Kung-ti. In the first year of Kung-ti's reign (554) Yu-wen T'ai sent out an army to occupy Chiang-ling and set up Ch'a as the King of Liang, thus the Western Wei occupied completely the lands of Kuan-chung and Lung-yu as well as those of Shu, Han, Ching and Hsiang. In 555 Yu-wen T'ai was promoted to the post of Grand Master, Grand Premier (Ta Chung-tsai) and enfeoffed as the Duke of An-ting while in the 9th lunar month of this same year he died. From start to finish Yu-wen T'ai dominated the government for twenty-two years in a life-long career as the Chancellor of the Wei state. With T'ai's passing his oldest son Yu-wen Chuen inherited his post as Grand MAster, Pillar of the State Grand Permier (Chu-kuo Ta Chung-tsai) and in the winter of this year (555) was enfeoffed as the Duke of Chou and then immediately after accepted the abdication of the Wei to become the Northern Chou ruler Hsiao-min-ti with the capital at Ch'ang-an, thus, the Western Wei followed the Eastern Wei to its end. From the designation of Tao-wu-ti as the King of Wei to the abdication of Kung-ti the Northern Wei state after seventeen rulers and 171 years came to its end. When Hsiao-min-ti came to the Northern Chou throne he was only fifteen years old so political authority over the kingdom and court was entirely in the hands of his older cousin the Commander-in-Chief Yu-wen Hu. Most of the ranking officials in the court counselled Yu-wen Chueh to eliminate Yu-wen Hu but when Hu learned of this he then killed Yu-wen Chueh and set up his older brother Yü who became the Northern Chou ruler Ming-ti. This all happened in the year 557. In this year at the Southern Court Ch'en Pa-hsien overthrew the Liang Dynasty and thus led to the creation of the three-power confrontation between the Northern Chou, the Northern Ch'i and the Southern Ch'en while among these three the Northern Chou controlled the largest territory and was the strongest.
Wu-ti of the Southern Court, Ch'en Pa-hsien, with the courtesy name Hsing-kuo, was a native of Wu-hsing who dabbled in historical records and excelled in strategy and planning. At the time he assumed the throne he was already fifty-five years old and was disposed toward thrift and frugality in his daily routine, as well as magnanimous in his administration. Among all of the rulers of the Southern Dynasties he was a ruler that did not make a single mistake. However, after replacing the Liang Dyansty the lands within the borders of the country were small and confined, limited to the corner of land southeast of the Yangtze. Although the revolt of the remnants of Wang Seng-pien's party and the invading Northern Ch'i army had been successfully dealt with in the countryside there were still numerous separatist powers. This was especially true of the area downstream from Ching-chou and upstream from Yu-chou in the area between Ch'en and the Latter Liang where the situation was extremely unsettled, the area becoming one that the four states of Chou, Ch'en, Ch'i and Liang took by force. When Chiang-ling was lost and Hsiao I, the Liang Emperor Yuan, died for his country, in Ch'ang-sha the Hsiang-chou Prefect Wang Lin revealed his grief with a call to arms to the empire and for a moment the provinces and garrisons of the middle river all supported Wang Lin as the leader ot their league to constitute a third center of power. Later after Ch'en Pa-hsien had absorbed Wang Seng-pien and installed Liang Ching-ti, Lin had already been summoned to the court to become the Minister of Works and the Chariots and Cavalry General-in-Chief but Wang Lin Maintained an army to refuse the order. Ch'en Pa-hsien thereupon sent Chou Wen-yu, Hou An-tu and other generals to reduce Wang Lin to submission. Wang Lin was a man who was brave and possessed knowledge about military tactics, who was humble toward his soldiers and thus able to obtain their all-out effort, the majority of the 10,000 men that he led being drifters and thieves, while also in Hsiang-chou there was a large scale program of ship construction so that his power and influence grew ever more great. When Chou Wen-yu and Hou An-tu joined in battle with Wang Lin there were both defeated and captured. Wang Lin then advanced from Hsiang-chou to occupy Ying-chou and then led his army east to attack Pe'ng-ch'eng in Chiang-chou where his forces increased to some one-hundred thousand men. He also sent envoys to contact the Northern Ch'i court and they sent troops to escort Hsiao Chuang the Liang King of Yung-chia (the grandson of Emperor Yuan, he was sent to Ch'i as a hostage) back south, and at the same time appointed Wang Lin the Liang Chancellor. Wang Lin then honored the King of Yung-chia as the emperor who ascended to the throne in Ying-chou. At the time that this was happening Ch'en Pa-hsien had already accepted the Liang abdication and then set about once again to send out a large army with the order that the Minister of Works Hou T'ien along with the Directs the Army General Hsu Tu go out and put down Wang Lin. Hou T'ien, hsu Tu and the great army were tied down with Wang Lin in Chiang-chou in a battle that had not yet been decided when suddenly Ch'en Wu-ti became ill and died in Chien-k'ang during the 3rd lunar month of 559, and it was the emperor's nephew Ch'en Ch'ien, King of Lin-ch'uan, who followed him to become the ruler Ch'en Wen-ti.
When Wang Lin heard the news of Ch'en Wu-ti's passing he then embarked upon a massive advance to the east, and the Northern Ch'i likewise sent Mu-jung Yen, the Mobile Administrator of the Yang-chou district to command a force that would come to the Yangtze in order to come to the aid of Wang Lin. Wang Lin passed through Hou T'ien's line of defense and with long and fast marches fought his way straight to Chien-k'ang. Hou T'ien led his naval force in pursuit to the area downstream of Wu-hu where they surprised Lin's warships in an attack setting them ablaze in a major setback for Lin who withdrew back to P'eng-ch'eng while the mass under his command broke and fled. Wang Lin and Hsiao Chuang both fled into exile in the state of Ch'i where Wang was sheltered and used as the Prefect of Yang-chou with a garrison at Shou-yang. With the defeat of Wang Lin the political situation of the Ch'en Dynasty once again could be considered settled. Wen-ti took advantage of this victory to recover Ying-chou and hsiang-chou thereby cutting off the numerous contending powers of the Central Plain and the men of Chou from the shores of Tung-t'ing lake, all of this in the year 561. It can be said that the revolt of Wang Lin was one of the aftereffects of the revolt of Hou Ching. After the subjugation of Wang Lin's rebellion once again the struggle between the north and south came to a temporary halt.
When Northern Ch'i Wen-hsüan-ti entered upon the later years of his life he became violent for in the year 559 dur to the occurance of a solar eclipse the Grand Astrologer (who was responsible for the selection of auspicious day) reported to the throne that it should act to sweep out the old and bring in the new with the consequence that several tens of families of the Yuan royal family of the Wei Dynasty were completely eliminated, with seven-hundred and twenty-one people killed to almost bring an end to the continuity of the T'o-pa clan. In this same year Kao Yang became ill as a result of his excessive drinking, stopped eating and then died. Imperial Heir Yin ascended the trone but during the first year of this reign he was deposed by the Chancellor Kao Yen King of Ch'ang-shan. Kao Yen was the younger brother of Kao Yang, Wen-hsuan-ti, and as soon as he had deposed Kao Yin he set himself up as the ruler becoming Northern Ch'i Chao-ti. Chao-ti passed away after eleven years on the throne and was followed by his younger brother kao Chan, King of Chang-kuang, who became Northern ch'i Wu-ch'eng-ti. Wu-ch'eng-ti favored and employed the glib ministers Ho Shih-k'ai and Tsu T'ing. Shih-k'ai was artful and clever in all affairs, flattering the loyal and the just, and also counselling the emperor not to worry himself with the affairs of government for he was at the proper age to indulge himself. Shih-k'ai said, "the Lords and rulers of the past have all become dust, Yao and Shun, Chieh and Chou in the end how is it that they differ? Your majesty is young and energetic and should focus all of his attention on enjoyment, grab hold of happiness for one day and you can compare it to a thousand years." Kao Chen therefore deputized his subordinates Chao Yen-shao, Wen yan, T'abg yao and others to run the government while day and night he gave himself up to pleasure to bring the adiminstration of the state of Ch'i to the edge of ruin.
During the administrative disorders of the Ch'i, the state of Northern Chou to the west day by day grew in power and flourished. In 560 the Northern Chou ruler Yu-wen Yu (Ming-ti) was poisoned by Yu-wen Hu and Yu-wen Yung Duke of Lu succeeded him (he was the fourth son of Yu-wen T'ai) to become the ruler Northern Chou Wu-ti while Yu-wen Hu became the Duke of Chin, Grand Master and Grand Prime Minister in control of the government. Although Hu was high-handed and arbitrary wielding his authority as he did, however, in the realm of administration he continued to honor the policies of Yu-wen T'ai officially promoting austerity, dignity and order. At the same time in 563 he ordered officials to compile a general law of twenty-five sections and also held the ceremonies for supporting the elderly. During this period the territories of the Northern Chou were immense, the resources of the country were abundant and in order to advance its eastward expansion envoys were sent to establish communications with the Tu'chüeh (Turks) in the north. A marriage alliance was arranged with the Turks and also an agreement for a joint attack on Ch'i. In the winter of 563 the Chou dispatched the Chu-kuo Ta Chiang-chün Yang Chung and others to lead 40,000 infantry and cavalry as well as the Turkish Mu-kan Khan and together they attacked Chin-yang, storming over twenty walled cities of the Ch'i. Kao Chan the ruler Ch'i Wu-ch'eng-ti personally led out an army to go to the rescue of Chin-yang where beneath the walls of the city a major battle was fought with Chou forces. The Turks held back their troops to await the outcome of the battle and when the Chou army was smashed the Turks let their troops loose to pillage and then left, it was the spring of the year 564. Although the men of Ch'i had fought off the Chou army and the Turks the population of the countryside had suffered grievously and the lands to the north of Chin-yang were devastated by the Turks for over 700 li leaving no trace of people or livestock. The Ch'i general Hu-lu Kuang spoke in lament, "in the past the men of Chou hammered the ice to guard against Ch'i, now the men of Ch'i hammer the ice to guard against Chou." In the 6th lunar month of the same year a group of over 100,000 Turks also invaded Ch'i-chou in the Yu region and also agreed with the men of Chou to attack the state of Ch'i. Once again Yu-wen Hu dispatched an army of 200,000, sending the capable generals Yu-ch'ih Hui, Ch'uan Ching-i and others to advance and attack the Ch'i cities of Lo-yang and hsuan-hu but they were again beaten back by the Ch'i generals Hu-lu Kuang, Tuan Shao, Kao Chang-kung King of Lan-ling and others. After this the two states of Chou and Ch'i were stalemated in the region of I-yang to the south of the Yellow River, while to the north of the Yellow River they confronted each other in the valley of the Fen River.
In the year after the great struggle for Lo-yang (齊 河清 Ch'i Ho-ch'ing 4, 陳 天嘉 Ch'en T'ien-chia 6, and 565 A.D.) at the Northern Ch'i court Wu-ch'eng-ti on the advice of Tsu T'ing handed over power to Kao Wei the Imperial Heir, changed the reign title to T'ien-t'ung and declared himself the Emperor in Retirement () with Kao Wei ascending the throne to become the last emperor of the Northern Ch'i. In 568 the Retired Emperor passed away and Kao Wei, who was the last emperor, took over personal control of the state. Ho Shih-k'ai accepted an edict from the dead emperor that he aid in the government of the state and so along with Lu Ling-hsuan (the nursemaid of the last emperor), Wei Chang-luan (Intendant of the Army Palace Attendant), Kao Ah-na-kung (Martial Guards General), Mu T'i-p'o (the husband of Lu Ling-hsuan) and other mean people came to power as "office is used to advance fortunes, imprisonment is used to garner bribes" and the Ch'i government fell into turmoil. The gentlemen at the court abandoned integrity and all hoped to become the adopted sons of Ho Shih-k'ai. In 571 Kao Yen King of Lang-yeh (the emperor's younger brother) forged an edict calling for the death of Ho Shih-k'ai and afterwards the emperor called for the death of Kao Yen. With the death of Ho Shih-k'ai, Tsu T'ing became the Left Supervisor of the Masters of Writing (尚書左僕射 Shang-shu Tso Pu-she) and again exercised power. At the time that the two states of Chou and Ch'i engaged in hostilities the frequent attacks on the Chou armies all depended on three leading figures: Tuan Shao the King of P'ing-yuan and Ping-chou Prefect; Kao Chang-kung the King of Lan-ling; and Hu-lu Kuang the King of Hsian-yang and Left Chancellor. In 571 Tuan Shao braved illness to push back the Chou army and after conquering Fen-chou he died of the illness leaving only the two men, Hu-lu Kuang and Kao Chang-kung remaining. Hu-lu Kuang repeatedly rendered distinguished military servie and at court he had a very impressive reputation of which Tsu T'ing and other unsavory characters were envious of and so togehter they spread rumors that were damaging to Hu-lu Kuang. The emperor believed the rumors to be true and summoned Kuang to the palace where hidden strong men strangled him and also killed Kuang's younger brothers Hu-lu Hsien the Yu-chou Prefect and Hu-lu Wu-tu the Prefect of Liang-chou and Yen-chou. And so in 572 when Chou Wu-ti heard of the death of Hu-lu Kuang he was overjoyed ordering a general amnesty and celebrations for the entire country. In the following year the men of ch'en took advantage of the situation to invade the north and smash the Ch'i army recovering Shou-yang and all of the garrisons of Huai-nan. The last emperor of Ch'i also poisoned Kao Chang-kung the King of Lan-ling (son of Kao Ch'eng) and thus while within the land generals were murdered and along the borders the armies were defeated, control of the court and the government was completely in the hands of Kao Ah-na-kung (Intendant of the Masters of Writing), Mu T'i-p'o (Palace Attendant) and Wei Chang-luan the King of Ch'ang-li, the men of the time calling them the Three Powers (Sna Kuei). Between the Three Powers and Tsu T'i irreconcilable differences developed and together they drove him out send T'ing to become the North Hsu-chou Prefect while Mu T'i-p'o replaced his as Left Supervisor of the Masters of Writing. Mu T'i-p'o was without any learning and brought even further ruin upon the affairs of state. In the beginning the Ch'i last emperor made the daughter of Hu-lu Kuang the empress but with the death of Kuang she was deposed and Mu Shao-i the daughter of Mu T'i-p'o was set up as the new empress. It was not long before Empress Mu's love faded and the emperor lavished his affections on the palace maidservant Feng Hsiao-lien, appointing her an imperial concubine to always sit and walk beside him. From the Wu-p'ing period (570-575) on the emperor's lifestyle became increasingly more dissolute and ruthless. In 573 he travelled to the southern park and in one day ordered over sixty attendant officials to commit suicide. When he restored and repaired some mansions the craftsmen all worked without any rests. During the night fires were lit to light up the work area and in one night they consumed 10,000 bowls of oil. The emperor was very fond of playing Wu-ch'ou chih ch'u (???? Song of No Sorrow) on the p'i-p'a and among the people he was therefore known as the No Sorrow Son of Heaven (Wu-ch'ou t'ien-tzu). Those favored by the emperor attended him night and day during his travels and feasts, the expenses for just one of these exceeded a great fortune. Thus, the treasuries and storehouses were emptied out so office was sold to obtain money and they competed in their avarice so that the people were unable to maintain their livelihood. The government of the Ch'i state eroded to this kind of situation and as a consequence led to the eastern advance of the men of Chou.
Yu-wen Yung the ruler Chou Wu-ti was a brave and intelligent ruler, however, the
reins of government were all in the hands of Yu-wen Hu the Duke of Chin. Wu-ti
put up a front to hide his activities and secretly plotted to eliminate him.
In 572 Wu-ti plotted along with Yu-wen Chih the Duke of Wei (the emperor's
younger brother) to use a summons to the emperor's living quarters for
an audience to bring him to court where hidden soldiers killed Yu-wen Hu,
allowing Wu-ti to formally take over personal control of the government. From
this point on the emperor made his won decisions and set about the tasks of
planning and management with spirit and determination. In addition, he promoted
Confucian statecraft and prohibited Buddhism and Taoism which brought about
a renewal of the political environment. This formed a strong contrast with the
profligacy and injustice of the last emperor of the Northern Ch'i. Having
stabilized the home adminstration, Chou Wu-ti then set his mind on planning a
campaign against Ch'i sending out a command to the border garrisons that while
they waited they should save and prepare. Wei Hsiao-k'uan the Hsun-chou Prefect
offered up a memorial that enumerated three strategies for attacking Ch'i. It
was in the year 575 then that Chou Wu-ti handed down a proclamation calling for
an all-out effort against Ch'i. Wu-ti personally supervised the armies which
stormed Ho-yin and advanced to encircle Lo-k'ou. The assault on Lo-k'ou
dragged on for a long time with no success when Chou Wu-ti suddenly came down
with an illness and so the troops withdrew and returned to the west. In 576
the emperor again mounted a campaign against Ch'i and perosnally led a large
force across the Yellow River to advance and attack P'ing-yang. Following
a fierce battle the city of P'ing-yang fell to the assault. Kao Wei, the
Ch'i ruler, led an army south from Chin-yang to come to the aid of P'ing-yang
and while on the journey there paused to enjoy himself by setting up a hunt.
Afterwards the army resumed its advance to retake P'ing-yang and met the Chou
armies in a great battle. The Ch'i emperor and Feng hsiao-lien both watched
the battle together from horseback and looking into the east they saw the
ranks of men withdraw a little which caused Feng Hsiao-lien to say in alarm,
"the army is defeated!", while beside then Mu T'i-p'o shouted, "everyone flee!
everyone flee!" Both the Ch'i emperor and Feng Hsiao-lien immediately fled to
the north. All at once the men's hearts became terrified and confused and the
Ch'i army completely fell apart leaving behind them a mountainous pile of arms
and equipment. The Ch'i emperor fled in ruin back to Chin-yang while the Chou
emperor took advantage of this victory to advance north. In an absolute panic
the Ch'i emperor took Feng Hsiao-lien with him and went south to Yeh-ch'eng
while Chou Wu-ti immediately attacked and took Chin-yang as the Ch'i armies
surrendered one by one. Having gained control of Chin-yang the Chou emperor
did not stop there but quickly led an army down south to advance on Yeh-ch'eng.
At this point the men of Ch'i had lost all of their will to fight and there was
one who could read the future in the clouds who said, "it is fitting that there
is a transformation" so the emperor abdicated the throne to the Imperial Heir Heng,
the reign title was changed and he proclaimed himself the Retired Emperor. It
was not until Chou troops were pressing close to Yeh-ch'eng that the emperor
along with Imperial Heir Heng, Lady Feng and tohers went out of the city to
head south to Kao-ao. As the Chou army fought its way into Yeh-ch'eng soldiers
were given the task of pursuing the Ch'i emperor and his son. The emperor and
those with him quickly fled south to Ch'ing-chou but on their journey they were
captured by the Chou office Yu-ch'ih Ch'in. Much to the surprise of the men of
Chou, with a power like that of the wind blowing away fallen leaves, within the
space of two years they had completely eliminated the state of Ch'i, and after
twenty-eight years and six successive rulers the Northern Ch'i Dynasty came to
an end. With this there only remained the two states of Chou and Ch'en. In
later years a T'ang poet by the name of Li Shang-yin had two poems that spoke
of the Northern Ch'i saying:
a smile between the two exhausts the kingdom which falls,
why labor in a difficult situation, begin sustaining injury
Hsiao-lien's jade body lies stretched out in the night
it is reported that the Chou army has already entered Chin-yang
A captivating smile, he knows he can bear the opposition of the many hidden sources of action,
the city is emptied out and finally dresses in battle gear,
Chin-yang had already fallen, they paused to look back,
again she asks her lord king to take up the hunt.
When Chiang-ling was lost to the Western Wei, Ch'en Wu-ti's eldest son, Ch'en Ch'ang the King of Heng-yang, along with his nephew, Ch'en Hsu the King of An-ch'eng (the second son of Ch'en Tao-t'an the King of Shih-hsing and younger brother of Ch'en Ch'ien the Emperor Wen-ti) were both captured by the Northern Court. After he ascended the throne, Ch'en Wu-ti asked the men of Chou to send Ch'en Ch'ang and the others back to the Southern Court and so Chou first sent Ch'en Ch'ang back south but he drowned during a river crossing. By 561 Chou had decided to send Ch'en Hsu back south and he returned to Chien-k'ang where he was appointed Inspector of the Palace Writers and because of this the Ch'en and Chou courts first came to restore good relations. In 566 Wen-ti died and Imperial Heir Po-tsung succeeded him while Ch'en Hsu was made Minister of the Masses, Chariots and Cavalry General-in-Chief and had full control of the government. The Palace Writers Member of the Suite (?) Liu Shih-chü and the Right Guards General Wei Tzu-kao competed for power with Ch'en hsu and so he had them killed. With this Hua Chiao the Hsiang-chou Prefect who had been on good terms with Liu Chung-chu, Wei Tzu-kao and the rest, mobilized his troops in opposition and also declared his submission to the Latter Liang kingdom in the west. Ch'en Hsu lost no time in ordering the Direct the Army General Wu Ming-ch'e and the Southern Expedition Generl Ch'un Yu-liang to command an army to chastise Hua Chiao. Chiao and the Liang ruler sent envoys to the Northern Chou court seeking their aid and so the Chou sent generals Wei Kung-chih, T'ien Hung, Ch'uan Ching-i and other with an army that joined with Chiao and the Liang ruler and then headed east where they were unexpectedly defeated by a Ch'en army. Wu Ming-ch'e and the others attacked and took Ho-tung from the Liang (Sung-tzu in Hu-pei) and Mien-chou from the Chou (Mien-yang in Hu-pei) and then taking advantage of the victory to make straight for Chiang-ling and seize it until finally in the 3rd lunar month of 568 they were beaten back by the Chou Chu-kuo Chiang-chün Pillar of the State General Wang Ts'ao. During the 11th lunar month Ch'en Hsu deposed the young emperor Ps-tsung and set himself up to become the ruler Ch'en Hsüan-ti. After Hsüan-ti ascended to the throne he was overcome with the desire to open up new lands and territories. In the fifth year after taking the throne in 573 he took advantage of the political confusion in the north connected with the last Ch'i emperor to dispatch General Wu Ming-ch'e to carry out major operations against Ch'i. Some 100,000 troops were sent out from Ch'in-chun and Li-yang to advance on the north. When Wang Lin surrendered to the Northern Ch'i at first they used him as their Yang-chou Prefect with a garrison at Shou-yang but later he was transferred to the court becoming a Palace Attendant. The Ch'i emperor now found it expedient to send Wang Lin along with generals Wei P'o-hu and Chang-sun Hung-lueh to lead a force south to defend against the Ch'en army. They met in battle with the Ch'en army at Lü-liang where the Ch'i army was smashed and Chang-sun Hung-lueh was killed in combat, so Wang Lin pulled the troops back to P'eng-ch'eng. With another order the emperor directed Wang Lin to recurit troops and then advance to hold Shou-yang. At this time south of the Huai River the towns of Li-yang, Ho-fei, Ch'i-ch'eng, Ch'iao-ch'eng, Liang-ch'eng, Lu-chiang and Ch'i-ch'ang had all been seized by Ch'en troops while north of the river all of the towns were rising up in popular support. Wu Ming-ch'e took advantage of the victory to advance and surround Shou-yang and then blocked the waters of the Fei River so they flooded back into Shou-yang as the siege went on from the 7th lunar month to the 9th lunar month when finally the town fell with both Wang Lin and the Ch'i Yang-chou Prefect Wang Kuei-hsien captured and then killed. Now in control of Shou-yang, the men of Ch'en restored it to Yu-chou with Wu Ming-ch'e serving as the Yu-chou Prefect which also restored the Huai River as the border between north and south in a singularly important victory.
By 577 Chou had eliminated Ch'i and united the north but Ch'en Hsüan-ti planned to take advantage of the confusion and division in the north to recover the lands of hsu and Fen in Huai-pei, therefore, he again ordered Wu Ming-ch'e to lead an army on a northern campaign. Leading his army up north, Wu advanced to assault P'eng-ch'eng. The Chou sent Wang Kuei at the head of an army to go to the aid of hsu-chou. Want sent out troops to take possession of Huai-k'ou cutting off the retreat fo the Ch'en navy with the result that their army collapsed and Wu Ming-ch'e suddenly became of prisoner of the Chou. These severe losses suffered by the Southern Court occurred in the year 578. In the next year, 579, the Chou Grand Prime Minister and Duke of Yun (鄖) Wei Hsiao-k'uan was made Commander-in-Chief of the Armies on Campaign ( hsing-chün yuan-shuai) to supervise the large force advancing to attack Huai-nan, capturing in succession Shou-yang, Kuang-ling and Huo-chou. The Ch'en withdrew the populations of Hsü-i, Shan-yang, Yang-p'ing, P'ei, North Ch'iao, South Liang and others, nine in all into Chiang-nan thus the lands to the north of the Yangtze were all lost to the Northern Chou. From this time on the Southern Ch'en kingdom was unable to recover from the losses creating a situation of prolonged restlessness.
Yu-wen Yung, the Northern Chou ruler Wu-ti, governed with discernment and magnaminity so that the officers and men all enjoyed working under him. Having eliminated the Northern Ch'i and obtained the lands of the Southern Court to the north of the Yangtze the kingdom was strong and prosperous, there was only the sudden rise of the Turks in the north and their incessant raids. It was in 578 then that Chou Wu-ti personally led an army out to subdue the Turks but having gone as far as Yun-yang he sudden became ill at ease, quickly withdrawing the army back to Ch'ang-an where he immediately died of an illness at the age of only thirty-six. Wu-ti was intelligent and had great plans so it is a pity that heaven did not avail him more years otherwise the Chou royal house would not only have been able to unite the nations but could also have avoided the usurpation of the Yang family.
With Chou Wu-ti's death the Imperial Heir, Yu-wen Yün, succeeded him to become the ruler Chou Hsüan-ti. Hsüan-ti set up a woman of the Yang family as his empress, making Yang Chien, the father of the empress, the Upper Pillar of the State Commander-in-Chief (上柱國 大司馬 Shang Chu-kuo Ta Ssu-ma). Hsüan-ti was profligate and tyrranical, completely reversing the style of doing things that his father had. While this was going on the Assistant to the Governor of the Capital, Yueh Yun, went to the court ahll with his coffin loaded on his carriage (signifying his determination to succeed or die) and enumerated eight errors by the Chou emperor; one, in all matters for the most part made his own decisions not consulting the ministers; two, seeking out beautiful women to fill the Rear Palace (the harem) and not allowing women above i-t'ung () to wed earning the hatred of noble and commoner alike; three, spending a long time in the Rear Palace, not coming out to attend court and handing over to the eeunuchs control of communications; four, hard and cruel punishments; five, initiating large construction programs of incredible extravagance; six, using compulsory labor service and land taxes to stage entertainment; seven, handing out punishments for mistakes in documents handed up by the ministers and officials bringing about restrictions on correspondence; eight, the signs in the heavens have handed down their warnings for he is unable to consult the path of virtue. Chou hsüan-ti, however, was unknowning and unaware. In 579 hsüan-ti made Lo-yang the Eastern Capital building many palaces and mansions there. Using the tale of Ch'i Wu-ch'eng-ti as a guide he passed on the throne to the Imperial Heir, Yu-wen Ch'an, who became the ruler Chou Ching-ti while he proclaimed himself the T'ien-yuan Emperor, naming his residence the T'ien-t'ai and addressing himself to his subordinates as T'ien. If any of the ministers were to have an audience in the T'ein-t'ai then he had to be sequestered for three days, purify his body for one day, and were not to use the words t'ien (heaven), kao (high), shang (upper) or ta (great) when they addressed him. The commoners who had the surname Kao all had it changed to Chiang. Frequently the high-ranking officials and ministers at court were flogged, each flogging consisting of 240 strokes and was called T'ien-chang (heaven's cane). This unimaginable and absurd behavior drove the government into turmoil. Chou hsüan-ti died only one year after passing on the throne but because Ching-ti was still a minor Yang Chien took over complete political authority as Grand Chancellor. Yu-ch'ih Chiung, the Hsiang-chou Regional Commander (Tsung-kuan), seeing in the great influence and power of Yang Chien that he clearly intended to usurp the regime, called up troops in Hsiang-chou and condemned Yang Chien. All at once all of the provinces of Ho-pei rose up in a tumult to support Yu-ch'ih Chiung, however, the outcome of this was they they were finally all put down by the armies Yang Chien sent out, all this taking place in 580. Following this Yang Chien went on to kill all of the Kings of the Chou royal house, King Hsien of Pi, King Chao of Chao, King Sheng of Yueh and others all in order to establish his authority. Thus it came about that no one at court dared to contend with Yang Chien. Yang Chien then rose in rank from Chancellor to Minister of State, while his noble rank rose from Duke of Sui to King of Sui. It was in 581 then that the young ruler Chou Ching-ti was forced to abdicate his throne. Yang Chien then delicately went about the task of usurping the political authority of the Chou royal family. After he was proclaimed emperor, Yang Chien changed the reign title to K'ai-huang and became the ruler Sui Wen-ti, having Chou Ching-ti killed to completely eliminate the Yu-wen family line and after twnety-five years and five rulers the Northern Chou kingdom came to an end.
In 582 the second year after seizing the Chou throne, Ch'en Hsu the southern emperor died. Imperial Heir Shu-pao followed his father to the throne to become the Last Ch'en Emperor (Ch'en Hou-chu). As emperor he became addicted to a life of ease and no longer regulated the affairs of government, trusting instead in the employment of Chiang Tsung the personnel officer for the Masters of Writing, K'ung Fan charged with the Officials of the Masters of Writing at the Capital, and other uncouths, while he along with ten or so men of letters and the women of the harem would gather to drink and party day and night and they were known as the hsia-k'e (meaning either a disrespectful person or the customer of a prostitute). Among the romantic songs they composed were the Yu-shu hou t'ing-hua (Flower in the Court Behind the Jade Tree), Lin ch'un le (To Approach the Joys of Spring/sex), and ch'un chiang hua yueh yeh (Night of the Spring River and Flower Moon). With unrestrained passion they sand and danced without pause. The emperor at first lavished his affections on the two palace women, Lady Kung and Lady K'ung, and later there was Chang Li-hua. In 584 the emperor had built in front of the Kuang-choa Palace three pavallions, Lin-ch'un, Chieh-ch'i and Wang-hsien, each some several tens of feet tall with sandalwood railings and gold and jade ornamentations so that every time there was a gentle breeze the fragrance filled the land. The emperor himself dwelt in the Lin-ch'un Ko (Pavillion of the Approaching Spring) while Chang Li-hua was in the Chieh-ch'i Ko (Pavillion of the Knotted Silks) and Ladies Kung and K'ung were in the Wang-hsien Ko (Pavillion of Viewing Fairies). He immersed himself in the pleasures of the flesh, ignoring comletely the affairs of government. For a long time he lived deep in the palace and the business and communications from the bureaucracy were all transmitted through the eunuchs as the emperor sat Chang Li-hua on his lap and together they would decide on them. Thus the administration fell into ruin, officials were bribed with gifts, synchophantic ministers wielded power, and the officers and men of the army fell apart. It was at this time then that the men of Sui advanced on the south in long, quick marches and the Southern Court was brought to an end.
After Yang Chien had usurped the Chou throne, on the one hand he appointed Ho Jo-pi the Grand Regional Commander of Wu-chou with a garrison at Kuang-ling in order to watch over Chiang-nan; while on the other hand carried out operations against the Turks in order to avoid having any worries about his rear. In 584 he initiated good relations with the Turks and then in 585 the Turkish Sha-po-lueh Khan declared his submission and sent his son to the court. In 587 over 100,000 men were mobilized to build a Great Wall, and in this way diplomacy and national defense were used together and stabilized the northern frontiers. In this same year the Latter Liang ruler, Hsiao Ts'ung, was summoned to the court while Ts'ui Hung-tu was ordered to take command of the Chiang-ling garrison, completely uniting the west and now all of Sui power could be concentrated against Chiang-nan. in 588 Sui Wen-ti handed down a directive calling for an all-out campaign against Ch'en. It ordered Yang Kuang the King of Chin, Yang Chun the King of Ch'in and Yang Su along with the great generals Han Ch'in-hu, Ho Ju-pi and others with 510,000 troops and 90 Regional Commanders to descend on the south in eight columns with an almost irresistable force. When Ch'en Shu-pa got word that the men of Sui were mounting a major operation to cross the river he was still drunk composing poetry, singing and dancing without a break. In 589 Ho Ju-pi crossed the river at Kuang-ling and stormed Ching-k'ou while Han Ch'in-hu crossed at Li-yang and took Ku-hy and then both of the armies joined forces at Chien-k'ang. The trusted Ch'en general Hsiao Mo-ho was captured and his army defeated as the southern armies melted away. The Sui troops immediately fought their way into the imperial capital as the officials all scattered and fled. Ch'en Shu-pa along with his ladies Chang and K'ung in a panic quickly threw themselves into a dry well behind the Ching-yang palace. When some Sui soldiers heard human voices coming from the well they used a rope to pull them out and it was only then that they realized they had Ch'en Shu-pa. The other members of the Ch'en royal house and the generals and ministers all put up little if any opposition and surrendered en masse. After thirty-three years and five rulers the Ch'en Dynasty came to an end. Thus, the Southern and Northern Dynasties resumed their unity to bring an end to the 273 years of continuous division and collapse that began with Yuan-ti of the Eastern Chin setting up his capital on the left bank of the Yangtze and ended with Sui Wen-ti eliminating the Ch'en.