Minyue (Chinese: 閩越) was an ancient kingdom in what is now Fujian province in southern China. It was a contemporary of the Han dynasty, and was later annexed by the Han empire as the dynasty expanded southward. Its inhabitants were groups of indigenous non-Chinese tribes called the Baiyue. The kingdom survived roughly from 334–110 BC.
|334 BC–111 BC|
The location of Minyue kingdom before the conquest of Han Dynasty
|Capital||Ye (冶, modern Wuyishan) |
later Dongye (東冶, modern Fuzhou)
• 202 – 192 BC
• ? – 135 BC
• 135 – 120 BC
• 135 – 111 BC
• 120 – 110 BC
• Defeated and annexed by the Han dynasty
|Today part of||China|
Both Minyue and Dong'ou were founded by the royal Zou family who fled Yue after being defeated by Chu and Qi in 334 BC. When the Qin dynasty fell in 206 BC, the Hegemon-King Xiang Yu did not make Zou Wuzhu and Zou Yao kings. For that reason they refused to support and instead joined Liu Bang in attacking Xiang Yu. When Liu Bang won the war in 202 BC, he made Zou Wuzhu king of Minyue and in 192 BC, he made Zou Yao king of Dong'ou (Eastern Ou).
In 154 BC, Liu Pi King of Wu, revolted against the Han and tried to persuade Minyue and Dong'ou to join him. The king of Minyue refused but Dong'ou sided with the rebels. However when Liu Pi was defeated and fled to Dong'ou, they killed him to appease the Han, and therefore escaped any retaliation. Liu Pi's son, Liu Ziju, fled to Minyue and worked to incite a war between the Minyue and Dong'ou.
In 138 BC, Minyue attacked Dong'ou and besieged their capital. Dong'ou managed to send someone to appeal for help from the Han. Opinions at the Han court were mixed on whether or not to help Dong'ou. Grand commandant Tian Fen was of the opinion that the Yue constantly attacked each other and it was not in the Han's interest to interfere in their affairs. Palace counsellor Zhuang Zhu argued that to not aid Dong'ou would be to signal the end of the empire just like the Qin. A compromise was made to allow Zhuang Zhu to call up troops, but only from Kuaiji Commandery, and finally an army was transported by sea to Dong'ou. By the time the Han forces had arrived, Minyue had already withdrawn its troops. The king of Dong'ou no longer wished to live in Dong'ou, so he requested permission for the inhabitants of his state to move into Han territory. Permission was granted and he and all his people settled in the region between the Changjiang and Huai River.
In 137 BC, Minyue invaded Nanyue. An imperial army was sent against them, but the Minyue king was murdered by his brother Zou Yushan, who sued for peace with the Han. The Han enthroned Zou Wuzhu's grandson, Zou Chou, as king. After they left, Zou Yushan secretly declared himself king while the Han backed Zou Chou found himself powerless. When the Han found out about this the emperor deemed it too troublesome to punish Yushan and let the matter slide.
In 112 BC, Nanyue rebelled against the Han. Zou Yushan pretended to send forces to aid the Han against Nanyue, but secretly maintained contact with Nanyue and only took his forces as far as Jieyang. Han general Yang Pu wanted to attack Minyue for their betrayal, however the emperor felt that their forces were already too exhausted for any further military action, so the army was disbanded. The next year, Zou Yushan learned that Yang Pu had requested permission to attack him and saw that Han forces were amassing at his border. Zou Yushan made a preemptive attack against the Han, taking Baisha, Wulin, and Meiling, killing three commanders. In the winter, the Han retaliated with a multi-pronged attack by Han Yue, Yang Pu, Wang Wenshu, and two Yue marquises. When Han Yue arrived at the Minyue capital, the Yue native Wu Yang rebelled against Zou Yushan and murdered him. Wu Yang was enfeoffed by the Han as marquis of Beishi. Emperor Wu of Han felt it was too much trouble to occupy Minyue as it was a region full of narrow mountain passes. He commanded the army to evict the region and resettle the people between the Changjiang and Huai River, leaving the region (modern Fujian) a deserted land.
An ancient stone city located in the inner mountains of Fujian is said to have been the Minyue capital. The nearby tombs show the same funerary tradition as Yue state tombs in Zhejiang Province. Hence, it is concluded that the city was a Minyue center.
The ancient Baiyue of Fujian had customs similar to those of some of the Taiwanese aborigines, such as snake totemism, short hair-style, tattooing, teeth pulling, pile-dwellings, cliff burials, and uxorilocal post-marital residences. It is possible that the ancient Taiwan aborigines were related to the Baiyue culture, derived in ancient times from the southeast coast of Mainland China, as suggested by linguists Li Jen-Kuei and Robert Blust. It is suggested that in the southeast coastal regions of China, there were many sea nomads during the Neolithic era and they may have spoken ancestral Austronesian languages, and were skilled seafarers. In fact, there is evidence that an Austronesian language was still spoken in Fujian as late as 620 AD.
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