In the early fourth century CE, after the escalation of a series of succession disputes among the imperial Sima clan, the Jin dynasty collapsed and its capital city of Luoyang 洛陽 was destroyed. However, the end of the dynasty did not cause the Sima clan to fall from power entirely. Instead, the Jin dynasty was reestablished in the new capital of Jiankang 建康, the city known today as Nanjing. The earlier incarnation of the Jin would come to be known as the Western Jin dynasty, while the restored Jin dynasty is referred to as the Eastern Jin. The impact of this cataclysm on the inhabitants of Luoyang and the surrounding regions is difficult to quantify, and even harder to understand in more personal terms. We know that many of those who did not perish fled to the southeast, crossing the Yangzi River to resettle in the new capital. Later texts refer to this period as “The disorder of the Yongjia Reign” (Yongjia zhi luan 永嘉之亂). This epithet uses the imperial reign name given to the period between 307 and 313, even though the disasters did not neatly begin and end with those years. Although the Yongjia troubles are addressed throughout surviving historiographic material, there is no work of history dedicated to documenting the ensuing exodus from Luoyang to Jiankang.

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