The era of the great north-south divide in China is known as the Northern and Southern Dynasties. In the north, the end of the Sixteen Kingdoms saw the powerful Tuoba clan unify the northern states and create the Northern Wei, the most influential dynasty of the whole Northern and Southern Dynasties period, ruling northern China for over 100 years through twelve emperors from nine generations. In the south, the fall of Eastern Jin saw the founding of the Liu Song dynasty (420–479) and an initial time of stability and prosperity. Later, however, tyrannical emperors led the state into disorder and decline, giving rise to the Southern Qi dynasty (479–502). Despite a shorter rule, this second Southern dynasty saw a similar pattern of stability preceding discord and disarray, leading to its downfall and the emergence of the Liang dynasty (502–557).
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