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Five Capitals in the History of Luoyang

2012-09-06 14:54:07     CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Duan Xuelian

Five Capitals in the History of Luoyang

1. Capital Zhenxun of Xia Dynasty

As the first dynasty in Chinese history, the Xia Dynasty spanned more than 470 years from 21 B.C. to 16 B.C.[?Check your date because this time frame is not 470 years long.] and the reigns of 17 kings. The Luoyang area was where Xia people established and built their state. In 1959, when the China Archaeological Research Institute carried out excavation work at Erlitong of Yanshi under the administration of Luoyang, he remains of a large-scale capital was discovered and referred to as Erlitou Culture. According to the results of carbon-14 dating, the remains existed during the Xia Dynasty and had a history of more than 4,000 years. Within the area's 3.75 square kilometers are the ruins of a large royal palace. Archaeologists believe that the Erlitou ruins are the remains of the capital city of the Xia Dynasty, which was called Zhenxun. The three kings of the Xia Dynasty, namely Taikang, Zhongkang and Xiajie, proclaimed the area the dynastic capital. According to historical records, Zhenxun had served as the capital of the Xia Dynasty for 94 years.

2. Capital Xibo of Shang Dynasty

As the second dynasty in Chinese history, the Shang Dynasty was also a period when slavery developed at an advanced level. Originally, an ancient tribe dwelling along the lower reaches of Yellow River, the Shang Dynasty was a branch of the Dongyi ethnic group and became a kingdom during Xia Dynasty. Its leader, Tang, settled in Shangqiu in eastern Henan Province, then known as Nanbo. After the collapse of the Xia Dynasty and the establishment of the Shang Dynasty around 1,600 B.C., Tang decided to build a new capital near the old capital city of the Xia Dynasty. When it was completed, Tang moved from Nanbo to the new capital, which was historically called Xibo.

It has been a mystery for several millennia as to where the capital of the Shang Dynasty, Xibo, was located. In 1983, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences conducted an archeological excavation at Yanshi of Luoyang and discovered the remains of the ancient capital, thereby uncovering the mystery of Xibo. The discovery has been regarded one of the major excavations in both domestic and international archeological circles. With a total area of 1.9 million square meters, the city contains the remains of the square-shaped palace. Behind the main hall, several royal structures stand opposite each other. The roads of the capital run in an orderly grid pattern, with a ring road surrounding the entire city. This magnificent ancient city of the Shang Dynasty was apparently built according to the standard of a capital. Carbon-14 dating shows that it was an ancient city built in the early period of the Shang Dynasty during which a twin-capital system had been set up since the reign of Pangeng. Both Xibo and Yin served as capitals at that time, making Luoyang and Anyang almost like sister cities during the Shang Dynasty.

3. Capital of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty

The west capital of the Zhou Dynasty, Haojing, was completely destroyed by wars and battles. In 770 B.C., the second year after Ping took the throne, the king decided to move the capital from west to east, thus starting the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. Although there was only one capital, Luoyang, during Eastern Zhou Dynasty, there were actually two towns ®C Wangcheng and Chengzhou°™which served as the residence of royal court and a military fortress, respectively. Wangcheng served as the capital for 310 years with 14 kings living there, while Chengzhou served as the capital for 205 years with 11 kings settling there. Altogether, Luoyang had served as the capital of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty for 515 years with 25 kings wielding their power here.

4. Capital during Han and Wei Dynasties (25 A.D. ®C 535 A.D.)

In 25 A.D., Liu Xiu ascended the throne at Boxiang in Hebei Province, and came to be known as Emperor Guangwu. The same year, he made Luoyang the capital, starting the Eastern Han Dynasty. After another decade of wars, Emperor Guangwu realized the unification of the country. During the Eastern Han Dynasty, Luoyang enjoyed great fame as a center of politics, economics and culture in China, as well as the largest metropolis for industry and commerce. The capital was located to the east of the current White Horse Temple, where the remains of the ancient city are located. From the beginning of the reign of Emperor Guangwu in 25 A.D. to the end of the reign of Emperor Xiandi in 220 A.D., the Eastern Han Dynasty lasted for 196 years during which time three cities serve as its capital, namely Luoyang, Xuchang and Chang'an. Luoyang served as the capital for 165 years, Xuchang for 26 years, and Chang'an for only five years. A total of 14 emperors once ruled the country from the capital Luoyang.

During the reign of Emperor Xiandi of the Han Dynasty, the entire country was separated by warlords who continued fighting with each other for years. The three kingdoms of the Wei, Shu and Wu gradually became the major powers in the country. After years of wars and battles, Cao Cao grew stronger and eventually took over the Eastern Han Dynasty. In 207, he unified north China. In 213, Emperor Xiandi made Cao Cao Lord of Wei. In 216, Cao Cao was made Duke of Wei. In 220, after Cao Cao's death, his son, Cao Pi, succeeded him and crowned himself emperor. Bestowing upon himself the title of Emperor Weiwen, he changed the Han Dynasty into the Wei Dynasty and made Luoyang its capital. From 220 to 265, Luoyang served as the capital of the Wei Dynasty for 46 years, with five emperors taking turns ruling the state.

5. Luoyang City during Sui and Tang Dynasties

In 604, Yang Guang ascended the throne as Emperor Yangdi of the Sui Dynasty. At the end of year, he went to Luoyang in person and climbed Mt. Mang, checking the landforms in the area. He believed that the place, which stood south of Mt. Mang, north of Yique, west of the Li River and east of the Jian River, had great advantages as a military fortress. He decided to build an eastern capital here. In March 605, designating Yang Su as general supervisor, Yang Da as deputy supervisor and Yuwen Kai as construction official, Emperor Yangdi began a huge project to build the eastern capital of Luoyang, which was completed the following January. When Emperor Yangdi, who was touring south China heard about the completion, he immediately decided to return Luoyang and arrived in the capital in April. Soon all the officials and royal families also moved to Luoyang, which gradually became the center of politics, economics, culture and transportation in China. With a population of more than one million, Luoyang boasted thousands of rich businessmen. Xiyuan, or West Garden, located west of the city, claimed to be the largest and the most beautiful garden in the country.

In 618, Li Yuan established the Tang Dynasty and named Chang'an the capital. Emperor Taizong, or Li Shimin, decided to rebuild Luoyang City, calling it Luoyang Palace. He had come to handle government affairs in Luoyang three times, staying in the city for as long as two years. In 649, Emperor Gaozong ascended the throne. In 657, he came to Luoyang to deal with affairs of state and decided to make Luoyang the east capital. After the rebellions of An Lushan and Shi Siming, the central authority of the Tang Dynasty had been greatly weakened with the accelerating growth of local powers. In 904, Xuanwu Governor Zhu Wen took Chang'an and controlled Emperor Zhaozong, moving the capital to Luoyang. In 907, Zhu Wen dethroned Emperor Aizong, ending the Tang Dynasty, which resulted in a separation period in China. During the Tang Dynasty, Luoyang served as the auxiliary capital for two years when Emperor Aizong, the last emperor, lived here, and witnessed the extinction of the Tang Dynasty.

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