In 557 CE, the Chen dynasty was established after the fall of the Liang dynasty and was the fourth, and last, of the Southern Dynasties era. Southern China, however, had been crippled by years of war and, despite military victories and an exertion of power against Northern Qi, the Chen government was weak with its influence limited to south of the Yangtze River. The north was beset by civil war; the territory was divided into Eastern Wei (534–50), replaced by Northern Qi, and Western Wei (550–56), replaced by Northern Zhou. Northern Qi was hindered by ineffectual emperors, corruption, a weak military and endemic violence. Northern Zhou suffered when its emperors were influenced and coerced by a former Western Wei general and his family. In time, however, Northern Zhou proved the most powerful dynasty, destroying Northern Qi and unifying northern China.
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