Of all the nations in the world that have ever existed, China has the bloodiest. It's entire history can be summarised quite neatly: A dynasty is established, a civil war occurs, another dynasty is established, more civil wars,another dynasty.... etc etc. Research any dynasty and there is always a civil war preceding it and a civil war ending the dynasty.
In my honest opinion the three kingdoms period of china was just an extended civil war.
It all started when the Han dynasty was faced with the yellow turban rebellion and the five pecks of rice rebellion. The first of which was a peasant rebellion, both of which had ties to the Taoist/Daoist religion. Naturally, the royal court proceeded by absolutely crushing these rebellions by appointing generals and raising armies to slaughter the unruly peasants.
Unfortunately, the newly appointed generals were not keen to go back to their former jobs.
Instead the General-In Chief He Jin hung out outside the imperial capital with a few generals and petitioned the executions of the court eunuchs (for good reason, the eunuchs were always plotting against the imperial family). The eunuchs promptly replied by assassinating He Jin and all hell broke loose. He Jin's forces avenged his death and stormed the northern and southern palaces and killed the eunuchs.
I will save you the other bloody details but out of all this chaos, three contending dynasties emerged:
and The Shu
|Needless to say, the Shu had the smallest territory of the three clans|
|Yes I stole this from wikipedia. This is the three kingdoms in 262. Just before China was unified.|
Every story has a hero.
In this case it was Sima Yi. The Sima clan was a great land owning family of the Wei Empire and Sima Yi was one of the Wei Empire's great generals and one of the two co regents to help the young 8 year old Cao Fang rule his Empire. Cao Shuang was the other co regent and Sima's rival. I shall spare you the details of how Sima arranged a coup and made himself the new Wei Emperor but you are interested you can find out the details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incident_at_Gaoping_Tombs
When Sima Yi's son, Sima Zhao rose to the Wei Regency he had his eyes on conquering the Shu. Such a glorious conquest would convince everyone that the madate of heaven now sat firmly on the Sima Clan. Sima also wanted to conquer the Wu but settled on conquering the Shu first. The Wu had a natural barrier protecting them; the Yangtze River and an indisputably powerful navy to match. Invading the Shu would be be a nice easy land invasion by comparison.
The Wei had double the army that the Shu had and zerg rushed them to great effect. Nevertheless the Wei did employ some strategy; a three pronged attack marching onto one central location. Additionally, before the invasion, the Wei started building a massive fleet to give the impression that they were preparing to invade the Wu instead.
Unfortunately the conquest of the Wu was not going to happen in Sima Zhao's lifetime. Wei forces were exhausted and he was forced to consolidate. When Zhao's son, Sima Yan, rose to power the cogs of war started turning again. Sima Yan forced the rightful emperor of the Wei to abdicate, instead of the Sima Clan just being regents, now they were Emperors. Sima Yan renamed himself Emperor Wu of the Jin Dynasty.
The Jin Empire rapidly improved their navy and set out on another three pronged attack on the Wu. Wu Emperor Sun Hao responded by not really doing much at all. He was confident that the Yangtze and his navy were more than adequate to protect his empire. The Emperor of the Wu was wong, vewy vewy wong (sorry, I couldn't help myself there).
And thus the Three kingdoms fell and out of the ashes rose the mighty Jin dynasty, a dynasty constantly plagued by rebellion and wracked by civil war. Just like every other Chinese dynasty...