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Sui Dynasty

The Sui dynasty (581–618 AD) was a short-lived Imperial Chinese dynasty. Preceded by the Southern and Northern Dynasties, it unified China for the first time after over a century of north-south division. It was followed by the Tang dynasty. Founded by Emperor Wen of Sui, the Sui dynasty capital was Chang’an (which was renamed Daxing, 581–605) and the later at Luoyang (605–614). Emperors Wen and Yang undertook various centralized reforms including the equal-field system, intended to reduce economic inequality and improve agricultural productivity; the institution of the Three Departments and Six Ministries system; and the standardization and re-unification of the coinage. They also spread and encouraged Buddhism throughout the empire and undertook monumental construction projects including expanding the Great Wall and digging the Grand Canal. After its costly and disastrous military campaigns against the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo ended in defeat by 614, the dynasty disintegrated under a series of popular revolts culminating in the assassination of Emperor Yang by his ministers in 618. The dynasty’s short duration—only thirty seven years—is often attributed to its heavy demands on its subjects, including taxation and the compulsory labor demanded by its ambitious construction projects. The dynasty is often compared to the earlier Qin dynasty, which also undertook wide-ranging reforms and construction projects yet lasted only a few decades.