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A Look at Emperor Sui Yang's Construction of Eastern Capital on Changes in Economic Structure in North and South China

The first major project implemented by Emperor Sui Yang after coming to power was construction of Luoyang, eastern capital. For any era, construction of a new capital is not a project. However, construction of Eastern Capital took only 10 months before and after Sui Dynasty, and progress of project can be described as rapid. Of course, people and material resources spent on construction of Eastern capital are also amazing. According to historical records, a total of "two million servants" were expropriated for Dundu's construction, and almost half of them died during construction. The construction of Dongdu became one of tyranny of Emperor Sui Yang. So, why did Emperor Sui Yang build Eastern Capital?

First, economic power of Guanzhong area has declined.

During Qin and Han dynasties, Guanzhong was most economically developed region of China. After hundreds of years of development under Qin and Han dynasties, land resources in Guanzhong area have been fully developed, and water conservation projects are widespread, known as "Land of Abundance". Guanzhong also has Bashu, Longxi and Hexi Corridors as a rear with sufficient strategic resources.

Sima Qian said in Historical Records, "The land in Guanzhong is one-third of world, and number of people does not exceed three, but wealth is only six." That is, Guanzhong area occupies a third of country ( Guanzhong here includes Bashu, Hexi, Northern Shaanxi and other places), and population is less than 30%, but total wealth accounts for 60% of total population. a country.

In addition, Guanzhong area is a "country of four fortresses", surrounding area is dangerous, easy to defend and difficult to attack, and can "control princes from one side", so Guanzhong became seat of imperial capital.

A Look at Emperor Sui Yang's Construction of Eastern Capital on Changes in Economic Structure in North and South China

After Han Dynasty, situation changed dramatically. First, Guanzhong's economy was destroyed. During Western Han Dynasty, Guanzhong was abandoned due to war, and Liu Xiu was forced to move his capital to Luoyang. After Eastern Han Dynasty, a large number of nomads entered Guanzhong and agricultural production was destroyed. According to historical records: “Since opening of Zhengqu Canal in Qin Dynasty, 40,000 hectares of fields have been irrigated in Guanzhong; before opening of Baiqu Canal, more than 4,500 hectares of fields were irrigated during Han Dynasty. “During Tang Dynasty, Guanzhong Zhengqu and Baiqu could only irrigate more than 10,000 hectares of fields, and since then number has continued to decrease. The reduction in irrigated land in Guanzhong also indicates a decline in grain production.

The Northern Zhou, Sui and Tang dynasties had their capitals in Chang'an, but Sui and Tang dynasties became "Son of Heaven". During Sui Dynasty, due to development of bureaucratic system, number of bureaucrats in central government far exceeded number of officials in Han Dynasty. Therefore, at that time, Chang'an needed to transport a large amount of grain from Kanto region. If there is a famine year, emperor will personally bring all officials to Luoyang.

A Look at Emperor Sui Yang's Construction of Eastern Capital on Changes in Economic Structure in North and South China

In addition, situation in Guanzhong, which was originally a country of four fortresses, is changing. In pre-Qin period, threat to Guanzhong came mainly from Kantō region. As long as you protect Hangu Pass and Wuguan, you will always be safe; in Han Dynasty, threat of Guanzhong increased from Xiongnu in Mobei, but Great Wall was used as a barrier. During Southern and Northern Dynasties, nomadic peoples in northwest rebelled, and Guanzhong began to suffer from enemies; in Tang Dynasty, after rise of Tubo, Guanzhong was completely attacked by powerful enemies. Under such circumstances, Chang'an is really not suitable as a capital.

Second, economic development of Kangto and Jiangnan regions

The economic and political situation in Guanzhong is deteriorating, but economy in Kanto region and Jiangnan region is constantly developing. First, area of ​​the plain in Guanzhong region is too small to be compared with North China Plain in Kanto region. Ancient Guanzhong needed Kanto's material support, and Luoyang was just above his throat.

Luoyang, a place known as "the middle of world", is by no means in vain. China's first dynasty, Xia Dynasty, lived in Luoyang, so Luoyang was earliest "China". After King Wu of Zhou destroyed Shang Dynasty, he wanted to move east to Luoyang to realize his "hometown in China". After Zhou Gong settled rebellion in East, he built Eastern Capital at Luoyang and deployed heavy troops, making it a stronghold for remote control of East. Since then, Luoyang has often featured in Chinese history as a "companion capital".

A Look at Emperor Sui Yang's Construction of Eastern Capital on Changes in Economic Structure in North and South China

During Eastern Han Dynasty, with spread of iron plow farms in south, economy in Jiangnan area began to develop rapidly. During Eastern Han Dynasty, population of south reached one-third of entire country. During Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern dynasties, due to incessant wars in north, a large number of people moved to south, which led to further development of south, and economy of north and south gradually gravitated toward balance.

After Sui Dynasty unified country, economic structure of country was completely different from that of Han Dynasty. At this time, country's economic center of gravity shifted to south of Kanto region, and country's fiscal revenues began to rely more and more on Jiangnan region. How to control Jiangnan became a new problem.

A Look at Emperor Sui Yang's Construction of Eastern Capital on Changes in Economic Structure in North and South China


As economic center of gravity shifts, so does political center. The construction of Eastern Capital by Emperor Sui Yang was in line with this trend of historical development. Later, Emperor Yang of Sui Dynasty dug canals on a large scale, also to keep up with times. Based on map, two main canals in north and south converge near Luoyang, indicating that construction of Eastern Capital and excavation of canal must be coordinated projects.

Third, separation of economic center and political center

During Sui and Tang dynasties, Guanzhong District in Guanzhong District was no longer suitable as capital, so why didn't Sui and Tang dynasties directly decide to move capital? This is because Guanzhong area was base of Sui and Tang dynasties, and if Guanzhong were abandoned, ruling base of Sui and Tang dynasties would be shaken.

There were two main ruling bases in Sui and Tang dynasties, namely land equalization system and state military system. The land leveling system was first implemented under Northern Wei Dynasty, and then Northern Zhou Dynasty, Northern Qi Dynasty, Sui and Tang Dynasties inherited this land system. Under a land leveling system, farmers get a certain amount of land and social conflicts are mitigated. At same time, land leveling system is also main source of national budget revenue.

A Look at Emperor Sui Yang's Construction of Eastern Capital on Changes in Economic Structure in North and South China

Guanlong Group

The Fubing system was first created by Yu Wentai, and its purpose was to strengthen country's military power. After implementation of Fubing system, Xianbei, Qiang and Han in Guanzhong and Guanxi quickly united and became Guanlong group. The Northern Zhou Dynasty, Sui Dynasty, and Tang Dynasty were established with support of Guanlong group, and founders of Sui and Tang dynasties also came directly from "Eight Pillar Realm" of Guanlong group. After unification of whole country, contradictions began to appear between Guanlong group and Guandong group, and Sui and Tang dynasties could not leave Guanzhong and move to Guanzhong.

The state military system was merged with land leveling system under Northern Zhou Dynasty, forming a system of uniting soldiers and farmers. The army fights in wars and farms in peacetime, which not only guarantees number of national troops, but also guarantees production of food. In order to prevent landowners in Kangto and Jiangnan areas from eroding Guanlong group, Fubin system was not fully extended throughout country after founding of Sui and Tang dynasties. At beginning of Tang Dynasty, number of military mansions in Hedong, Guanzhong and Longxi reached 443, which accounted for three-quarters of country's territory. It can be seen that Guanzhong region is military and political center of country.

A Look at Emperor Sui Yang's Construction of Eastern Capital on Changes in Economic Structure in North and South China

Dongdu model map

Because capital cannot be moved to Kanto region, economic center of gravity can only be built in Kanto to separate political and economic centers of gravity, thus forming two-capital system of Chang'an in west and Luoyang in east.


Emperor Sui Yang's policy of building eastern capital of Luoyang was correct, but this process did not correspond to real situation. Due to rapid pace of construction and overuse of people's resources, resulting consumption was also great, exacerbating social conflicts. Therefore, construction of Dongdu was one of factors in death of Sui dynasty. After completion of Eastern Capital, Emperor Sui Yang took massive action to display his wealth here, trying his best to prove China's wealth to foreigners. When foreigner saw that book was wrapped in silk, he said, “There are also poor people in China who wrap trees with silk. What is this behaviour? It can be seen that downhole engineering has existed since ancient times. In addition to building Eastern Capital, Emperor Yang of Sui Dynasty also built Li Palace in Jiangdu, as well as more than 40 palaces along road from Luoyang to Jiangdu. All this increased burden on people and eventually led to collapse of empire.

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