The Sui Dynasty: An Overview

The Sui Dynasty (581 AD - 618 AD) was a powerful dynasty which ruled China for 38 years. This dynasty was preceded by the Southern and the Northern dynasties and succeeded by the Tang Dynasty. The Sui Dynasty was established by Yang Jian, who was also known as Emperor Wendi. Chang'an (the present day Xian) was the capital of the Sui Dynasty.

A markerXi’an -
Xi An, Shaanxi, China
[get directions]

The Northern Zhou Dynasty was ruled by Emperor Xuandi. People suffered during this period due to his inefficient rule. Emperor Xuandi died in the year 580 AD due to illness. Eight year old Emperor Jingdi inherited the throne. The Han generals seized this opportunity to overthrow the regime. They chose Yang Jian as their leader. Yang Jian assisted Emperor Jingdi as his prime minister for some time. He had the military under his control.

Yang Jian dethroned Emperor Jingdi and established the Sui Dynasty in the year 581 AD. In the year 589 AD he defeated the southern Chen rulers and brought about the unification of China. He initiated many reforms during his regime. His foreign policy was excellent.

People experienced a sense of well being during Emperor Wendi's rule. He introduced the system of "Three Cabinets and Six Departments". By doing so, he improved the efficiency of the administration. He brought all government officials under annual assessment. His policies encouraged meritocracy in appointment of government officials.


He succeeded in controlling the growth of population by taking appropriate measures. He introduced the land equalization system. In the year 584 AD, he constructed the Guangtong Canal. This enhanced agricultural production and improved water transportation.

Emperor Wendi encouraged his soldiers to practice farming during peace time. Zhaozhou Bridge, the first bridge in the world was built during the rule of Sui Dynasty. Great advances in science and art were made during this period.

Yang Jian chose Yang Guang, his second son, as his successor. Unfortunately, Yang Guang killed Yang Jian after he came to power. He also killed his elder brother. Yang Guang was also known as Emperor Yangdi. Yang Guang was a tyrant and was unpopular among his subjects.

Yang Guang abused workers and other resources of the empire. He tried to conquer Korea three times, but failed miserably. His unnecessary wars and unreasonable expenses weakened the state. His regime witnessed many peasant uprisings. Yang Guang was killed by his followers in the year 618 AD. The Sui Dynasty came to an end with his death.

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Top 3 Most Powerful Dynasties of China

Han Dynasty
206 B.C.E. - 220 C.E.
Tang Dynasty
618 C.E. - 907 C.E.
Qing Dynasty
1368 C.E. - 1644 C..E.

All the people within the four seas may, without exception, develop enlightenment and together cultivate fortunate karma, bringing it to pass that present existences will lead to happy future lives, that the sustained creation of good causation will carry us one and all up to wondrous enlightenment.

— Emperor Wendi

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