- An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art
About [Location: HOME > History > Sixteen Barbarian States > Southern Yan]

Chinese History - Southern Yan Dynasty 南燕 (398-410)

Periods of Chinese History
The Southern Yan Dynasty Nanyan 南燕 (398-410) ruled over one of the so-called Sixteen Barbarian States 五胡十六國 (300~430) that dominated northern China during the early Southern and Northern Dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600). It was founded by Murong De 慕容德 who belonged to the people of the Xianbei 鮮卑. The empire included the modern province of Shandong, as well as a part of Henan. The capital was Guanggu 廣固 (modern Yidu 益都, Shandong).
Murong De was an uncle of Murong Bao 慕容寶 (r. 396-397), ruler of the Later Yan dynasty 後燕 (384-409) and occupied the post of commander of the city of Ye. In 397 the armies of the Northern Wei 北魏 (386-534) attacked the capital Zhongshan 中山 (modern Dingxian 定縣, Hebei), and Murong Bao fled to Longcheng 龍城 (modern Chaoyang 朝陽, Liaoning). The armies of Wei advanced quickly to the east and divided the Northern Yan empire into two parts. Murong De, as the most powerful person in the southern part, withdrew to Huatai 滑臺 (modern Huaxian 滑縣, Henan) where he proclaimed himself King of Yan. In 399 the armies of Northern Wei attacked, and following the suggestion of Pan Cong 潘聰, Murong De further withdrew to the east where he proclaimed himself emperor (Emperor Xianwu 南燕獻武帝, r. 398-405) in 400. He died of sickness in 405 and was succeeded by his brother Murong Chao 慕容超 (r. 405-410). Murong Chao was not interested in government, left all administrative matters to his favourites and enjoyed hunting and gaming. In 409 Liu Yu 劉裕, a general of the Eastern Jin empire 東晉 (317-420) in the south, attacked the Southern Yan empire for the first time. A further campaign in the next year was ended by the capture of Murong Chao and the demise of his dynasty.
Murong Bao, when he came to the east, first acknowledged the inherited rights of the local gentry. He established a National University (taixue 太學) for the education of his higher officials. In order to raise the state income, minister Han Zhuo 韓𧨳 suggested investigating all households to prevent tax evasion (there were rampant figures of hidden client households, yinhu 蔭戶). The old state monopoly on the merchandise of salt and iron was also reintroduced.

Rulers of the Southern Yan Dynasty 南燕 (398-410)
Capital: Guanggu 廣固 (modern Yidu 益都, Shandong)
Ethnicity: Xianbei 鮮卑, clan or subtribe of Murong 慕容
dynastic title {temple name}
-----reign periods
personal name
Nanyan Xianwudi 南燕獻武帝{Shizu 世祖, Shizong 世宗} r. 398-404
-----Yanping 燕平 398-399
-----Jianping 建平 400-404
Murong De 慕容德
The Prince of Beihai 北海王 r. 404-410
-----Taishang 太上 405-410
Murong Chao 慕容超
410 Southern Yan conquered by Eastern Jin 東晉.

Sources: Lu Caiquan 魯才全 (1992), "Nanyan 南燕", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 2, p. 730. ● Zhongguo lishi da cidian bianzuan weiyuanhui 中國歷史大辭典編纂委員會 (ed. 2000), Zhongguo lishi da cidian 中國歷史大辭典 (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe), Vol. 2, p. 3321.

October 30, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail

Map and Geography

Event History

Emperors and Rulers

Government and Administration

Literature and Philosophy


Technology and Inventions