Three Kingdoms Period

In the late Eastern Han Dynasty, the influence of the powerful landlords expanded rapidly. Dong Zhuo, a gentry-lord from Liangzhou, entered Luoyang in the name of eliminating the eunuchs to enthrone Emperor Xian Di. Another gentry-lord, Yuan Shao, led his forces to attack Dong Zhuo. Other powerful lords seized the chance to rise and fight against each other. In no time, the whole country was thrown into the chaos of civil war. Later, Yuan Shao took the four states of Ji, Qing, You, and Bing, becoming the strongest warlord in the north. Cao Cao, a general at first had only Yanzhou, then, incorporated into his own forces 300,000 Qingzhou Yellow Turbans, getting to be more powerful. Later he forced Emperor Xian Di moved capital from Luoyang to Xuchang and ordered the lords about in the emperor's name. In this way, he gained the political upper hand. In A.D. 200, Cao Cao fought and won a decisive battle against Yuan Shao at Guandu. Cao Cao then became the strongest military power in the north. In the 13th year of Jian'an (208), Cao Cao led a massive force southward to defeat Liu Biao and capture Jingzhou, threatening Sun Quan's army in the middle and lower Yangtze River valley, who was a gentry-lord control the Yangtze River valley. At that time, Liu Bei, a descendant of the Han royal family in exile planning to restore the Han Dynasty, he also anticipated in the battle against Dong Zhuo, but he was not powerful enough. He tried very means to win the support of all the talents, as like Zhuge Liang, General Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and so on. In 208, Cao Cao brought his troops, aiming at the seizure of Jingzhou (today's Xiangyang, Hubei Province) and further occupation of east of the Yangtze River so as unify the whole country.  Liu Bei sent his military adviser Zhang Liang to persuade Sun Quan to attack Cao. The allied troops of Sun and Liu encountered Cao's troop at Chibi (south of Yangtzs River). In this battle Cao Cao was utterly defeated and forced to return north. This resulted in Liu Bei occupying Jingzhou and later Chengdu. Sun Quan consolidated his occupation in the south of the middle and low Yangtze River valley. Thereafter, a situation arose in which the country was divided and ruled by the three feudal lords Cao Cao, Sun Quan and Liu Bei.

Cao Cao, the Duke of Wei, moved his capital to Ye and later became the King of Wei. In 220, after Cao died, his son Cao Pi dethroned Emperor Xian Di and proclaimed himself the Emperor of Wei, with Louyang as his capital, the title of his dynasty Wei. So Eastern Han came to an end. The next year Liu Bei declared himself the Emperor of Han, his Kingdom known as Shu or Shu Han. In 229, the King of Wu, Sun Quan named himself the Emperor of Wu with Jianye (today's Nangjing) as his capital. With this, the period of the Three Kingdoms began.
In the earlier period of the Three Kingdom, they all focused their efforts on reforming local administration, restoring social order and developing economy. And the Wei achieved greater success than the other two. From the time Cao Cao unified the northern region and practiced garrison agricultural land reclamation, production increased and economy grew. Then Cao restrained the power of the landlords and wiped out the power of the eunuchs and the empress's relatives by recruiting middle- and low-ranked landlords to join the government. In the reign of the Emperor Wen of the Wei, a recruitment system ("classifying talented people into nine grades for government appointment") was established and a law instituted to acknowledge the gentry-lord's right to serve the government and be granted economic privileges. In the Kingdom of Shu, Prime Minister Zhuge Liang rigorously pushed for law enforcement, adopted strict disciplinary measures and meted out impartial rewards and punishments, which effected new development of its agriculture and handicraft industries, thus increasing the strength of the Kingdom. His pacification of the southwestern ethnic minorities, which opened up the minority areas for development, achieved further racial amalgamation. With regard the Kingdom of Wu, the southeastern areas were also rapidly developed since Sun Quan's removal to Jianye in 211, which came up with 313 counties under 43 prefectures. The Wu was remarkable for its land and nautical development, advanced agriculture. In 230, Sun Qun dispatched Wei Wen led a group of sailboat to Taiwan.

There were still wars during the Three Kingdoms Period. In 263, Wei conquered Shu. In 265, a general Sima Yan dethroned emperor of Wei, proclaimed himself emperor founded the Jin Dynasty, known as the Western Jin Dynasty, with the capital Louyang. In 280, Western Jin defeated Wu and ends the turbulence.
 
Among the three kingdoms, the Wu lasted the longest (52 years), the Wei the second (45 years) and the Shu the shortest (43 years). In the first year of the Jin Emperor Wu's reign (280), the Jin finished off the Wu. The Three Kingdoms Period which lasted nearly ninety years came to an end.