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Zhenjiang History & Culture


Zhenjiang is a time-honored city famous for history and culture. In accordance with the records, Zhenjiang has a history of more than 3000 years, and is an important origin of Wu culture. Many historically famous stories like Liu Bei Married Sun Shangxiang in Ganlu Temple(甘露寺刘备招亲) and Lady White Snake Flooded Jinshan Mountain(白娘子水漫金山) happened in Zhenjiang. For literature, three greatest classics were created here as well such as Wenxin Diaolong(文心雕龙, The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons), Zhaoming Wenxuan(昭明文选, Selections of Refined Literature Composed by Prince Zhaoming), Mengxi Bitan(梦溪笔谈, Dream Pool Essays). In the remote period, it was under the administration of Yangzhou, one of nine provinces of ancient China. In the early age of West Zhou age (1046BC-771BC). Anciently, it was alternatively named Runzhou(润州) or historically known as Southern Xuzhou. In Northern Song Dynasty, it was officially named Zhenjiang. The famous tourist sites include Jinshan Hill, Jiaoshan Hill, Beigushan Mountain, Helin Temple, Zhulin Temple, Zhaoyin Temple, Jiangtian Temple, Jiaoshan Stele Forest, The Ancient Street of Song and Yuan Dynasties, Stone Pagoda, Reading Platform of Prince Zhaoming, Mausoleum Stone-Carvings of Six Dynasties and Xijin Old Ferry.

Yihou Cegui   Ganlu Temple

The Age of Ferry – from Shang & Zhou Eras to Six Dynasties (1675BC-589AD)

The original local people of Zhenjiang in history was historically called Jingman(荆蛮, the uncivilized Chu people). In 1000 BC or so, Ce(夨) was appointed to be the marquis of Yi (宜侯). In 1954, a great bronze-ware named Yihou Cegui(宜侯夨簋) was excavated in Yandun Mountain, and the inscription comprised of 126 characters in total absolutely releases that the history of Zhenjiang at least 3000 years.

In Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), Zhenjiang belonged to Wu State, and later was named Zhufang(朱方, the red side literally translated). King Wu opened Hangou to connect The Yangtze River and Huai River as the origin of The Grand Canal. Zhenjiang located at the southern side of the interjection of Hangou and Yangtze River, and then gradually it turned to be a main ferry for south-north transportation in the downstream of the Yangtze River. Subsequently, Wu State was occupied by Yue State, and later, Yue Stated was occupied by Chu State, and then, Zhufang was changed to Guyang(谷阳, the southern side of valley, anciently in geography, the Yang was the southern side of mountain and the northern side of the rivers, and the opposite was Yin), which today is a site at the south side of Beigushan Mountain.

In the late period of East Han Dynasty(25-220), Sun Zhong(孙钟), who used to live in today’s Fuyang, exactly, today’s Longmen Ancient Town, moved to Zhongli Village, and his son and grandsons Sun Jian(孙坚, the son of Sun Zhong), Sun Ce(孙策, the grandson of Sun Zhong) and Sun Quan(孙权, the grandson of Sun Zhong) led the troops of east China to establish their regime, and then founded Wu State and selected Nanjing as the capital city. In 209, they built a solid military stronghold on Beigushan Mountain, which was widely known as Tieweng Town(铁瓮城), as the east barrier, it was also known as Jingkou(京口, the mouth of the capital).

In the late period of West Jin Dynasty(265-316), due to the War of the Eight Princes(八王之乱) and Turmoil of Five Northern Minorities(五胡乱华), a large population moved southwardly, in Southern China, lots of temporaries prefectures were established such as Southern Xuzhou, Southern Yanzhou, Southern Langya and so on. Lots of the northern people settled down here.

The Age of Canal – from Tang & Song Dynasties to Ming & Qing Dynasties (618-1911)

In 589, the troop of Sui Dynasty occupied Nanjing and Zhenjiang, and in 595, it was named Runzhou. As the opening of Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal in Sui and Tang Dynasties, Zhenjiang played an important role in connection of middle China and the flourishing Jiangnan Economic Zone. Zhenjiang became a great business city for waterway transportation. In 1113, Runzhou was officially named Zhenjiang. In the late period of Northern Song Dynasty, especially after the Incident of Jingkang (靖康之难), the troops of Jin occupied Yangzhou, and a large number of people southwardly fled to Zhenjiang. In the meantime, Zhenjiang became the frontline of the defense. In Yuan Dyansty, Zhenjiang became a city of multi-ethnic peoples’ settlements. In Ming Dynasty, it was a sub-center called South City Directly Administrated by the Capital Municipal Government.

The Age of the Yangtze River – The Late Period of the 19th Century

On July 21, 1842, in the late period of The Opium War, British troops took the policy of attacking Zhenjiang and blocking the waterways of Qing Government, to force Emperor Daoguang to sign the unequal agreement. The battle of Zhenjiang is the critical part of the whole war and one of the most crucial battles. Viscount Hugh Gougb led 15,000 British troops to attack Zhenjiang City and suffered from the counteraction of Hai Ling’s Mongolian troops. And finally Hai Ling was defeated and hung himself. On August 29, 1842, Nanking Treaty was signed.

In 1853, the troops of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom attacked Zhenjiang and blocked Grand Canal transportation. In 1858, The Treaty of Tianjin was signed, and Zhenjiang was selected as one of three trade port cities along the Yangtze River.

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