Dynasties in Chinese history

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"History of China" for template heading.svg
ANCIENT
Neolithic c. 8500 – c. 2070 BC
Xia c. 2070 – c. 1600 BC
Shang c. 1600 – c. 1046 BC
Zhou c. 1046 – 256 BC
  Western Zhou
  Eastern Zhou
    Spring and Autumn
    Warring States
IMPERIAL
Qin 221–207 BC
Han 202 BC – 220 AD
  Western Han
  Xin
  Eastern Han
Three Kingdoms 220–280
  Wei , Shu and Wu
Jin 266–420
  Western Jin
  Eastern Jin Sixteen Kingdoms
Northern and Southern dynasties
420–589
Sui 581–618
Tang 618–907
  (Wu Zhou 690–705)
Five Dynasties and
Ten Kingdoms

907–979
Liao 916–1125
Song 960–1279
  Northern Song Western Xia
  Southern Song Jin Western Liao
Yuan 1271–1368
Ming 1368–1644
Qing 1636–1912
MODERN
Republic of China on the mainland 1912–1949
People's Republic of China 1949–present
Republic of China in Taiwan 1949–present

Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From the inauguration of dynastic rule by Yu the Great in circa 2070 BC to the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor on 12 February 1912 in the wake of the Xinhai Revolution, China was ruled by a series of successive dynasties. [lower-alpha 1] [lower-alpha 2] Dynasties of China were not limited to those established by ethnic Han—the dominant Chinese ethnic group—and its predecessor, the Huaxia tribal confederation, but also included those founded by non-Han peoples. [4]

Contents

Dividing Chinese history into periods ruled by dynasties is a convenient method of periodization. [5] Accordingly, a dynasty may be used to delimit the era during which a family reigned, as well as to describe events, trends, personalities, artistic compositions, and artifacts of that period. [6] For example, porcelain made during the Ming dynasty may be referred to as "Ming porcelain". [7] The word "dynasty" is usually omitted when making such adjectival references.

The longest-reigning orthodox dynasty of China was the Zhou dynasty, ruling for a total length of 789 years, albeit it is divided into the Western Zhou and the Eastern Zhou in Chinese historiography, and its power was drastically reduced during the latter part of its rule. [8] The largest orthodox Chinese dynasty in terms of territorial size was either the Yuan dynasty or the Qing dynasty, depending on the historical source. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [lower-alpha 3]

Chinese dynasties often referred to themselves as " Tiāncháo " (天朝; "Celestial Dynasty" or "Heavenly Dynasty"). [17] [18] As a form of respect and subordination, Chinese tributary states referred to Chinese dynasties as "Tiāncháo Shàngguó" (天朝上國; "Celestial Dynasty of the Lofty State") or "Tiāncháo Dàguó" (天朝大國; "Celestial Dynasty of the Great State"). [19]

Terminology

In the Chinese language, the character "cháo" () originally meant "morning" and "today". Politically, the word is taken to refer to the regime of the incumbent ruler.

The following is a list of terms associated with the concept of dynasty in Chinese historiography:

History

Start of dynastic rule

A depiction of Yu, the initiator of dynastic rule in China, by the Southern Song court painter Ma Lin. King Yu of Xia.jpg
A depiction of Yu, the initiator of dynastic rule in China, by the Southern Song court painter Ma Lin.

As the founder of China's first orthodox dynasty, the Xia dynasty, Yu the Great is conventionally regarded as the inaugurator of dynastic rule in China. [21] [lower-alpha 1] In the Chinese dynastic system, sovereign rulers theoretically possessed absolute power and private ownership of the realm, even though in practice their actual power was dependent on numerous factors. [22] [lower-alpha 4] By tradition, the Chinese throne was inherited exclusively by members of the male line, but there were numerous cases whereby the consort kins came to possess de facto power at the expense of the monarchs. [26] [lower-alpha 5] This concept, known as jiā tiānxià (家天下; "All under Heaven belongs to the ruling family"), was in contrast to the pre-Xia notion of gōng tiānxià (公天下; "All under Heaven belongs to the public") whereby leadership succession was non-hereditary. [22] [28]

Dynastic transition

An illustration of the Battle of Shanhai Pass, a decisive battle fought during the Ming-Qing transition. The victorious Qing dynasty extended its rule into China proper thereafter. Shanhaiguan.gif
An illustration of the Battle of Shanhai Pass, a decisive battle fought during the Ming–Qing transition. The victorious Qing dynasty extended its rule into China proper thereafter.

The rise and fall of dynasties is a prominent feature of Chinese history. Some scholars have attempted to explain this phenomenon by attributing the success and failure of dynasties to the morality of the rulers, while others have focused on the tangible aspects of monarchical rule. [29] This method of explanation has come to be known as the dynastic cycle. [29] [30] [31]

Dynastic transitions (改朝換代; gǎi cháo huàn dài) in the history of China occurred primarily through two ways: military conquest and usurpation. [32] The supersession of the Liao dynasty by the Jin dynasty was achieved following a series of successful military campaigns, as was the later unification of China proper under the Yuan dynasty; on the other hand, the transition from the Eastern Han to the Cao Wei, as well as from the Southern Qi to the Liang dynasty, were cases of usurpation. Oftentimes, usurpers would seek to portray their predecessors as having relinquished the throne willingly—a process called shànràng ( 禪讓 ; "voluntary abdication")—as a means to legitimize their rule. [33]

One might incorrectly infer from viewing historical timelines that transitions between dynasties occurred abruptly and roughly. Rather, new dynasties were often established before the complete overthrow of an existing regime. [34] For example, AD 1644 is frequently cited as the year in which the Qing dynasty succeeded the Ming dynasty in possessing the Mandate of Heaven. However, the Qing dynasty was officially proclaimed in AD 1636 by the Emperor Taizong of Qing through renaming the Later Jin established by his father the Emperor Taizu of Qing in AD 1616, while the Ming imperial family would rule the Southern Ming until AD 1662. [35] [36] The Ming loyalist Kingdom of Tungning based in Taiwan continued to oppose the Qing until AD 1683. [37] Meanwhile, other factions also fought for control over China during the Ming–Qing transition, most notably the Shun and the Xi dynasties proclaimed by Li Zicheng and Zhang Xianzhong respectively. [38] [39] [40] This change of ruling houses was a convoluted and prolonged affair, and the Qing took almost two decades to extend their rule over the entirety of China proper.

Similarly, during the earlier Sui–Tang transition, numerous regimes established by rebel forces vied for control and legitimacy as the power of the ruling Sui dynasty weakened. Autonomous regimes that existed during this period of upheaval included, but not limited to, Wei (; by Li Mi), Qin (; by Xue Ju), Qi (; by Gao Tancheng), Xu (; by Yuwen Huaji), Liang (; by Shen Faxing), Liang (; by Liang Shidu), Xia (; by Dou Jiande), Zheng (; by Wang Shichong), Chu (; by Zhu Can), Chu (; by Lin Shihong), Yan (; by Gao Kaidao), and Song (; by Fu Gongshi). The Tang dynasty that superseded the Sui launched a decade-long military campaign to reunify China proper. [41]

Frequently, remnants and descendants of previous dynasties were either purged or granted noble titles in accordance with the Èr Wáng Sān Kè ( 二王三恪 ; "two crownings, three respects") system. The latter served as a means for the reigning dynasty to claim legitimate succession from earlier dynasties. [42] For example, the Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei was accorded the title "Prince of Zhongshan" by the Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi following the latter's deposition of the former. [43] Similarly, Chai Yong, a nephew of the Emperor Shizong of Later Zhou, was conferred the title "Duke of Chongyi" by the Emperor Renzong of Song; other descendants of the Later Zhou ruling family came to inherit the noble title thereafter. [44]

According to Chinese historiographical tradition, each new dynasty would compose the history of the preceding dynasty, culminating in the Twenty-Four Histories . [45] This tradition was maintained even after the Xinhai Revolution overthrew the Qing dynasty in favor of the Republic of China. However, the attempt by the Republicans to draft the history of the Qing was disrupted by the Chinese Civil War, which resulted in the political division of China into the People's Republic of China on mainland China and the Republic of China on Taiwan. [46]

End of dynastic rule

A photograph of the Xuantong Emperor, widely considered to be the last legitimate monarch of China, taken in AD 1922. Puyi (1922).jpg
A photograph of the Xuantong Emperor, widely considered to be the last legitimate monarch of China, taken in AD 1922.

Dynastic rule in China collapsed in AD 1912 when the Republic of China superseded the Qing dynasty following the success of the Xinhai Revolution. [47] [48] While there were attempts after the Xinhai Revolution to reinstate dynastic rule in China, they were unsuccessful at consolidating their rule and gaining political legitimacy.

During the Xinhai Revolution, there were numerous proposals advocating for the replacement of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty by a new dynasty of Han ethnicity. Kong Lingyi ( 孔令貽 ), the Duke of Yansheng and a 76th-generation descendant of Confucius, was identified as a potential candidate for Chinese emperorship by Liang Qichao. [49] Meanwhile, gentry in Anhui and Hebei supported a restoration of the Ming dynasty under Zhu Yuxun (朱煜勳), the Marquis of Extended Grace. [50] Both suggestions were ultimately rejected.

The Empire of China (AD 1915–1916) proclaimed by Yuan Shikai sparked the National Protection War, resulting in the premature collapse of the regime 101 days later. [51] The Manchu Restoration (AD 1917) was an unsuccessful attempt at reviving the Qing dynasty, lasting merely 11 days. [52] Similarly, the Manchukuo (AD 1932–1945; monarchy since AD 1934), a puppet state of the Empire of Japan during World War II with limited diplomatic recognition, is not regarded as a legitimate regime. [53] Ergo, historians usually consider the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor on 12 February 1912 as the end of the Chinese dynastic system. Dynastic rule in China lasted almost four millennia. [47]

Political legitimacy

Imperial seal of the Qing dynasty with "Da Qing Diguo zhi xi" (Da Qing Di Guo Zhi Xi 
; "Seal of the Great Qing Empire") rendered in seal script. Seals were a symbol of political authority and legitimacy. Seal of Qing dynasty.svg
Imperial seal of the Qing dynasty with "Dà Qīng Dìguó zhī xǐ" (大清帝國之璽; "Seal of the Great Qing Empire") rendered in seal script. Seals were a symbol of political authority and legitimacy.

China was politically divided during multiple periods in its history, with different regions ruled by different dynasties. These dynasties effectively functioned as separate states with their own court and political institutions. Political division existed during the Three Kingdoms, the Sixteen Kingdoms, the Northern and Southern dynasties, and the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms periods, among others.

Relations between Chinese dynasties during periods of division often revolved around political legitimacy, which was derived from the doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven. [54] Dynasties ruled by ethnic Han would proclaim rival dynasties founded by other ethnicities as illegitimate, usually justified based on the concept of Hua–Yi distinction. On the other hand, many dynasties of non-Han origin saw themselves as the legitimate dynasty of China and often sought to portray themselves as the true inheritor of Chinese culture and history. Traditionally, only regimes deemed as "legitimate" or "orthodox" ( 正統 ; zhèngtǒng) are termed cháo (; "dynasty"); "illegitimate" or "unorthodox" regimes are referred to as guó (; usually translated as either "state" or "kingdom" [lower-alpha 6] ), even if these regimes were dynastic in nature. [55] The issue of political legitimacy pertaining to some of these dynasties remains contentious in modern academia.

Such legitimacy dispute existed during the following periods:

Traditionally, periods of disunity often resulted in heated debates among officials and historians over which prior dynasties could and should be considered orthodox, given that it was politically imperative for the current dynasty to present itself as being linked in an unbroken lineage of moral and political authority back to ancient times. However, the Northern Song statesman Ouyang Xiu propounded that such orthodoxy existed in a state of limbo during fragmented periods and was restored after political unification was achieved. [78] From this perspective, the Song dynasty possessed legitimacy by virtue of its ability to end the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period despite not having succeeded the orthodoxy from the Later Zhou. Similarly, Ouyang considered the concept of orthodoxy to be in oblivion during the Three Kingdoms, the Sixteen Kingdoms, and the Northern and Southern dynasties periods. [78]

As most Chinese historiographical sources uphold the idea of unilineal dynastic succession, only one dynasty could be considered orthodox at any given time. [64] Most modern sources consider the legitimate line of succession to be as follows: [64]

Xia dynastyShang dynastyWestern ZhouEastern ZhouQin dynastyWestern Han → Eastern Han → Cao Wei → Western Jin → Eastern Jin → Liu SongSouthern QiLiang dynastyChen dynastySui dynasty → Tang dynasty → Later Liang → Later Tang → Later Jin → Later Han → Later Zhou → Northern Song → Southern Song → Yuan dynasty → Ming dynasty → Qing dynasty

These historical legitimacy disputes are similar to the modern competing claims of legitimacy by the People's Republic of China based in Beijing and the Republic of China based in Taipei. Both regimes formally adhere to the One-China policy and claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the whole of China. [79]

Agnatic lineages

Han Guangwu Di.jpg
Liu Bei Tang.jpg
The Emperor Guangwu of Han (top) and the Emperor Zhaolie of Shu Han (bottom) were members of the same family but are considered to be founders of two separate dynasties.

There were several groups of Chinese dynasties that were ruled by families with patrilineal relations, yet due to various reasons these regimes are considered to be separate dynasties and given distinct retroactive names for historiographical purpose. Such conditions as differences in their official dynastic title and fundamental changes having occurred to their rule would create the need for nomenclatural distinction, despite these dynasties sharing common ancestral origins.

Additionally, numerous other dynasties claimed descent from earlier dynasties as a calculated political move to obtain or enhance their legitimacy, even if such claims were unfounded.

The agnatic relations of the following groups of Chinese dynasties are typically recognized by historians:

Classification

A German map of the Chinese Empire during the height of the Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty is considered to be a "Central Plain dynasty", a "unified dynasty", and a "conquest dynasty". Chinesisches Reich LOC 2011585250.jpg
A German map of the Chinese Empire during the height of the Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty is considered to be a "Central Plain dynasty", a "unified dynasty", and a "conquest dynasty".

Central Plain dynasties

The Central Plain is a vast area on the lower reaches of the Yellow River which formed the cradle of Chinese (Han) civilization. "Central Plain dynasties" ( 中原王朝 ; Zhōngyuán wángcháo) refer to dynasties of China that had their capital cities situated within the Central Plain. [84] This term could refer to dynasties of both Han and non-Han ethnic origins. [84]

Unified dynasties

"Unified dynasties" (大一統王朝; dàyītǒng wángcháo) refer to dynasties of China, regardless of their ethnic origin, that achieved the unification of China proper. "China proper" is a region generally regarded as the traditional heartland of the Han people, and is not equivalent to the term "China". Imperial dynasties that had attained the unification of China proper may be known as the "Chinese Empire" or the "Empire of China" (中華帝國; Zhōnghuá Dìguó). [85] [86] [lower-alpha 7]

The concept of "great unity" or "grand unification" (大一統; dàyītǒng) was first mentioned in the Gongyang Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals that was supposedly authored by the Qi scholar Gongyang Gao. [87] [88] [89] Other prominent figures like Confucius and Mencius also elaborated on this concept in their respective works. [90] [91]

Historians typically consider the following dynasties to have unified China proper ("Central Plain" (中原)): the Qin dynasty, the Western Han, the Xin dynasty, the Eastern Han, the Western Jin, the Sui dynasty, the Tang dynasty, the Wu Zhou, the Northern Song, the Yuan dynasty, the Ming dynasty, and the Qing dynasty. [92] [93] The status of the Northern Song as a unified dynasty is disputed among historians as the Sixteen Prefectures of Yan and Yun were partially administered by the contemporaneous Liao dynasty while the Western Xia exercised partial control over Hetao; the Northern Song, in this sense, did not truly achieve the unification of China proper. [92] [94]

Conquest dynasties

"Conquest dynasties" (征服王朝; zhēngfú wángcháo) refer to dynasties of China founded by non-Han peoples that ruled parts or all of China proper. [95] This term was first coined by the historian and sinologist Karl August Wittfogel and remains a source of controversy among scholars who believe that Chinese history should be analyzed and understood from a multiethnic and multicultural perspective. [96] For instance, the Northern Wei and the Qing dynasty, established by the Xianbei and Manchu ethnicities respectively, are considered conquest dynasties of China. [95]

Naming convention

Official nomenclature

It was customary for Chinese monarchs to adopt an official name for the realm, known as the guóhào ( 國號 ; "name of the state"), upon the establishment of a dynasty. [97] [98] During the rule of a dynasty, its guóhào functioned as the formal name of the state, both internally and for diplomatic purposes.

The formal name of Chinese dynasties was usually derived from one of the following sources:

There were instances whereby the official name was changed during the reign of a dynasty. For example, the dynasty known retroactively as Southern Han initially used the name "Yue", only to be renamed to "Han" subsequently. [105]

The official title of several dynasties bore the character "" (; "great"). In Yongzhuang Xiaopin by the Ming historian Zhu Guozhen, it was claimed that the first dynasty to do so was the Yuan dynasty. [106] [107] However, several sources like the History of Liao and the History of Jin compiled by the Yuan historian Toqto'a revealed that the official dynastic name of some earlier dynasties such as the Liao and the Jin also contained the character "". [108] [109] It was also common for officials, subjects, or tributary states of a particular dynasty to include the term "" (or an equivalent term in other languages) when referring to this dynasty as a form of respect, even if the official dynastic name did not include it. [107] For instance, The Chronicles of Japan referred to the Tang dynasty as "Dai Tō" (大唐; "Great Tang") despite its dynastic name being simply "Tang".

While all dynasties of China sought to associate their respective realm with Zhōngguó (中國; "Central State"; usually translated as "Middle Kingdom" or "China" in English texts), none of these regimes officially used the term as their dynastic name. [110] [111] Although the Qing dynasty explicitly identified their state with and employed "Zhōngguó"—and its Manchu equivalent "Dulimbai Gurun" (ᡩᡠᠯᡳᠮᠪᠠᡳ
ᡤᡠᡵᡠᠨ
)—in official capacity in numerous international treaties beginning with the Treaty of Nerchinsk dated AD 1689, its dynastic name had remained the "Great Qing". [112] [113] "Zhōngguó", which has become nearly synonymous with "China" in modern times, is a concept with geographical, political, and cultural connotations. [114]

The adoption of guóhào, as well as the importance assigned to it, had promulgated within the Sinosphere. Notably, rulers of Vietnam and Korea also declared guóhào for their respective realm.

Retroactive nomenclature

In Chinese historiography, historians generally do not refer to dynasties directly by their official name. Instead, historiographical names, which were most commonly derived from their official name, are used. For instance, the Sui dynasty is known as such because its formal name was "Sui". Likewise, the Jin dynasty was officially the "Great Jin".

When more than one dynasty shared the same Chinese character(s) as their formal name, as was common in Chinese history, prefixes are retroactively applied to dynastic names by historians in order to distinguish between these similarly-named regimes. [5] [34] [115] Frequently used prefixes include:

A dynasty could be referred to by more than one retroactive name in Chinese historiography, albeit some are more widely used than others. For instance, the Western Han is also known as the "Former Han", and the Yang Wu is also called the "Southern Wu". [123] [124]

Scholars usually make a historiographical distinction for dynasties whose rule were interrupted. For example, the Song dynasty is divided into the Northern Song and the Southern Song, with the Jingkang Incident as the dividing line; the original "Song" founded by the Emperor Taizu of Song was therefore differentiated from the "Song" restored under the Emperor Gaozong of Song. [125] In such cases, the regime had collapsed, only to be re-established; a nomenclatural distinction between the original regime and the new regime is thus necessary for historiographical purpose. Major exceptions to this historiographical practice include the Western Qin and the Tang dynasty, which were interrupted by the Later Qin and the Wu Zhou respectively. [126] [127]

In Chinese sources, the term "dynasty" (; cháo) is usually omitted when referencing dynasties that have prefixes in their historiographical names. Such a practice is sometimes adopted in English usage, even though the inclusion of the word "dynasty" is also widely seen in English scholarly writings. For example, the Northern Zhou is also sometimes referred to as the "Northern Zhou dynasty". [128]

Often, scholars would refer to a specific Chinese dynasty by adding the word "China" after the dynastic name. For instance, "Tang China" refers to the Chinese state under the rule of the Tang dynasty and the corresponding historical era. [129]

Territorial extent

Approximate territories controlled by the various dynasties and states throughout Chinese history, juxtaposed with the modern Chinese border. China Dynasties.gif
Approximate territories controlled by the various dynasties and states throughout Chinese history, juxtaposed with the modern Chinese border.

While the earliest orthodox Chinese dynasties were established along the Yellow River and the Yangtze River in China proper, numerous Chinese dynasties later expanded beyond the region to encompass other territorial domains. [130] [131] [132] [133] [134] [135] [136] [137] [138] [139] [140] [141] [142]

At various points in time, Chinese dynasties exercised control over China proper (including Hainan, Macau, and Hong Kong), [130] [131] [132] Taiwan, [133] Manchuria (both Inner Manchuria and Outer Manchuria), [134] [135] Sakhalin, [136] [137] Mongolia (both Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia), [135] [138] Vietnam, [139] [143] Tibet, [134] [135] Xinjiang, [140] as well as parts of Central Asia, [135] [136] the Korean Peninsula, [141] Afghanistan, [142] [144] and Siberia. [135]

Territorially, the largest orthodox Chinese dynasty was either the Yuan dynasty or the Qing dynasty, depending on the historical source. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [lower-alpha 3] This discrepancy can be mainly attributed to the ambiguous northern border of the Yuan realm: whereas some sources describe the Yuan border as located to the immediate north of the northern shore of Lake Baikal, others posit that the Yuan dynasty reached as far north as the Arctic coast. [145] [146] [147] In contrast, the borders of the Qing dynasty were demarcated and reinforced through a series of international treaties, and thus were more well-defined.

Apart from exerting direct control over the Chinese realm, various dynasties of China also maintained hegemony over other states and tribes through the Chinese tributary system. [148] The Chinese tributary system first emerged during the Western Han and lasted until the 19th century AD when the Sinocentric order broke down. [149] [150]

The modern territorial claims of both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China are inherited from the lands once held by the Qing dynasty at the time of its collapse. [13] [151] [152] [153] [154]

List of major Chinese dynasties

This list includes only the major dynasties of China that are typically found in simplified forms of Chinese historical timelines. This list is neither comprehensive nor representative of Chinese history as a whole.

Major dynasties of China
DynastyRuling housePeriod of ruleRulers
Name [lower-alpha 10]
(English [lower-alpha 11] / Chinese [lower-alpha 12] / Hanyu Pinyin / Wade–Giles / Bopomofo)
Origin of name Surname
(English [lower-alpha 11] / Chinese [lower-alpha 12] )
Ethnicity [lower-alpha 13] Status [lower-alpha 14] YearTermFounder [lower-alpha 15] Last monarch List / Family tree
Semi-legendary
Xia dynasty
夏朝
Xià Cháo
Hsia4 Ch῾ao2
ㄒㄧㄚˋ ㄔㄠˊ
Tribal nameSi [lower-alpha 16]
Huaxia Royal2070–1600 BC [159] [lower-alpha 17] [lower-alpha 18] [lower-alpha 19] 430 years [lower-alpha 18] [lower-alpha 19] Yu of Xia Jie of Xia (list)
(tree)
Ancient China
Shang dynasty
商朝
Shāng Cháo
Shang1 Ch῾ao2
ㄕㄤ ㄔㄠˊ
ToponymZi
HuaxiaRoyal1600–1046 BC [163] [lower-alpha 17] [lower-alpha 20] 554 years [lower-alpha 20] Tang of Shang Zhou of Shang (list)
(tree)
Western Zhou [lower-alpha 21]
西周
Xī Zhōu
Hsi1 Chou1
ㄒㄧ ㄓㄡ
ToponymJi
HuaxiaRoyal1046–771 BC [165] [lower-alpha 17] [lower-alpha 22] 275 years [lower-alpha 22] Wu of Zhou You of Zhou (list)
(tree)
Eastern Zhou [lower-alpha 21]
東周
Dōng Zhōu
Tung1 Chou1
ㄉㄨㄥ ㄓㄡ
From Zhou dynastyJi
HuaxiaRoyal770–256 BC [165] 514 years Ping of Zhou Nan of Zhou (list)
(tree)
Early Imperial China [lower-alpha 23]
Qin dynasty
秦朝
Qín Cháo
Ch῾in2 Ch῾ao2
ㄑㄧㄣˊ ㄔㄠˊ
ToponymYing [lower-alpha 24]
HuaxiaImperial
(221–207 BC)
Royal
(207 BC)
221–207 BC [167] 14 years Qin Shi Huang Qin San Shi (list)
(tree)
Western Han [lower-alpha 25]
西漢
Xī Hàn
Hsi1 Han4
ㄒㄧ ㄏㄢˋ
Toponym & Noble titleLiu
Han Imperial202 BC–AD 9 [168] [lower-alpha 26] 211 years [lower-alpha 26] Gao of Han Liu Ying [lower-alpha 27] (list)
(tree)
Xin dynasty
新朝
Xīn Cháo
Hsin1 Ch῾ao2
ㄒㄧㄣ ㄔㄠˊ
"New"Wang
HanImperialAD 9–23 [171] 14 years Wang Mang Wang Mang (list)
(tree)
Eastern Han [lower-alpha 25]
東漢
Dōng Hàn
Tung1 Han4
ㄉㄨㄥ ㄏㄢˋ
From Han dynastyLiu
HanImperialAD 25–220 [172] 195 years Guangwu of Han Xian of Han (list)
(tree)
Three Kingdoms
三國
Sān Guó
San1 Kuo2
ㄙㄢ ㄍㄨㄛˊ
AD 220–280 [173] 60 years(list)
(tree)
Cao Wei
曹魏
Cáo Wèi
Ts῾ao2 Wei4
ㄘㄠˊ ㄨㄟˋ
Noble titleCao
HanImperialAD 220–266 [174] 46 years Wen of Cao Wei Yuan of Cao Wei (list)
(tree)
Shu Han
蜀漢
Shǔ Hàn
Shu3 Han4
ㄕㄨˇ ㄏㄢˋ
From Han dynastyLiu
HanImperialAD 221–263 [175] 42 years Zhaolie of Shu Han Huai of Shu Han (list)
(tree)
Eastern Wu
東吳
Dōng Wú
Tung1 Wu2
ㄉㄨㄥ ㄨˊ
Noble titleSun
HanRoyal
(AD 222–229)
Imperial
(AD 229–280)
AD 222–280 [176] 58 years Da of Eastern Wu Sun Hao (list)
(tree)
Western Jin [lower-alpha 28] [lower-alpha 29]
西晉
Xī Jìn
Hsi1 Chin4
ㄒㄧ ㄐㄧㄣˋ
Noble titleSima
司馬
HanImperialAD 266–316 [177] 50 years Wu of Jin Min of Jin (list)
(tree)
Eastern Jin [lower-alpha 28] [lower-alpha 29]
東晉
Dōng Jìn
Tung1 Chin4
ㄉㄨㄥ ㄐㄧㄣˋ
From Jin dynasty (AD 266–420)Sima
司馬
HanImperialAD 317–420 [178] 103 years Yuan of Jin Gong of Jin (list)
(tree)
Sixteen Kingdoms [lower-alpha 30]
十六國
Shíliù Guó
Shih2-liu4 Kuo2
ㄕˊ ㄌㄧㄡˋ ㄍㄨㄛˊ
AD 304–439 [180] 135 years(list)
(tree)
Han Zhao
漢趙
Hàn Zhào
Han4 Chao4
ㄏㄢˋ ㄓㄠˋ
Toponym & From Han dynastyLiu [lower-alpha 31]
Xiongnu Royal
(AD 304–308)
Imperial
(AD 308–329)
AD 304–329 [183] 25 years Guangwen of Han Zhao Liu Yao (list)
(tree)
Cheng Han
成漢
Chéng Hàn
Ch῾eng2 Han4
ㄔㄥˊ ㄏㄢˋ
Toponym & From Han dynastyLi
Di Princely
(AD 304–306)
Imperial
(AD 306–347)
AD 304–347 [184] [lower-alpha 32] 43 years [lower-alpha 32] Wu of Cheng Han [lower-alpha 32] Li Shi (list)
(tree)
Later Zhao
後趙
Hòu Zhào
Hou4 Chao4
ㄏㄡˋ ㄓㄠˋ
Noble titleShi
Jie Royal
(AD 319–330)
Imperial
(AD 330–351)
Princely
(AD 351)
AD 319–351 [186] 32 years Ming of Later Zhao Shi Zhi (list)
(tree)
Former Liang
前涼
Qián Liáng
Ch῾ien2 Liang2
ㄑㄧㄢˊ ㄌㄧㄤˊ
ToponymZhang
HanPrincely
(AD 320–354, AD 355–363)
Imperial
(AD 354–355)
Ducal
(AD 363–376)
AD 320–376 [187] 56 years Cheng of Former Liang Dao of Former Liang (list)
(tree)
Former Yan
前燕
Qián Yān
Ch῾ien2 Yen1
ㄑㄧㄢˊ ㄧㄢ
ToponymMurong
慕容
Xianbei Princely
(AD 337–353)
Imperial
(AD 353–370)
AD 337–370 [188] 33 years Wenming of Former Yan You of Former Yan (list)
(tree)
Former Qin
前秦
Qián Qín
Ch῾ien2 Ch῾in2
ㄑㄧㄢˊ ㄑㄧㄣˊ
ToponymFu [lower-alpha 33]
DiImperialAD 351–394 [188] [lower-alpha 34] 43 years [lower-alpha 34] Jingming of Former Qin [lower-alpha 34] Fu Chong (list)
(tree)
Later Yan
後燕
Hòu Yān
Hou4 Yen1
ㄏㄡˋ ㄧㄢ
From Former YanMurong [lower-alpha 35] [lower-alpha 36]
慕容
Xianbei [lower-alpha 36] Princely
(AD 384–386)
Imperial
(AD 386–409)
AD 384–409 [193] [lower-alpha 37] 25 years [lower-alpha 37] Chengwu of Later Yan Zhaowen of Later Yan
Huiyi of Yan [lower-alpha 38]
(list)
(tree)
Later Qin
後秦
Hòu Qín
Hou4 Ch῾in2
ㄏㄡˋ ㄑㄧㄣˊ
ToponymYao
Qiang Royal
(AD 384–386)
Imperial
(AD 386–417)
AD 384–417 [194] 33 years Wuzhao of Later Qin Yao Hong (list)
(tree)
Western Qin
西秦
Xī Qín
Hsi1 Ch῾in2
ㄒㄧ ㄑㄧㄣˊ
ToponymQifu
乞伏
XianbeiPrincelyAD 385–400, AD 409–431 [195] 37 years [lower-alpha 39] Xuanlie of Western Qin Qifu Mumo (list)
(tree)
Later Liang [lower-alpha 40]
後涼
Hòu Liáng
Hou4 Liang2
ㄏㄡˋ ㄌㄧㄤˊ
Toponym
DiDucal
(AD 386–389)
Princely
(AD 389–396)
Imperial
(AD 396–403)
AD 386–403 [196] 17 years Yiwu of Later Liang Lü Long (list)
(tree)
Southern Liang
南涼
Nán Liáng
Nan2 Liang2
ㄋㄢˊ ㄌㄧㄤˊ
ToponymTufa
禿髮
XianbeiPrincelyAD 397–414 [197] 17 years Wu of Southern Liang Jing of Southern Liang (list)
(tree)
Northern Liang
北涼
Běi Liáng
Pei3 Liang2
ㄅㄟˇ ㄌㄧㄤˊ
ToponymJuqu [lower-alpha 41]
沮渠
Xiongnu [lower-alpha 41] Ducal
(AD 397–399, AD 401–412)
Princely
(AD 399–401, AD 412–439)
AD 397–439 [199] 42 years Duan Ye Ai of Northern Liang (list)
(tree)
Southern Yan
南燕
Nán Yān
Nan2 Yen1
ㄋㄢˊ ㄧㄢ
From Former YanMurong
慕容
XianbeiPrincely
(AD 398–400)
Imperial
(AD 400–410)
AD 398–410 [200] 12 years Xianwu of Southern Yan Murong Chao (list)
(tree)
Western Liang
西涼
Xī Liáng
Hsi1 Liang2
ㄒㄧ ㄌㄧㄤˊ
Toponym Li
HanDucalAD 400–421 [201] 21 years Wuzhao of Western Liang Li Xun (list)
(tree)
Hu Xia
胡夏
Hú Xià
Hu2 Hsia4
ㄏㄨˊ ㄒㄧㄚˋ
From Xia dynastyHelian [lower-alpha 42]
赫連
XiongnuImperialAD 407–431 [204] 24 years Wulie of Hu Xia Helian Ding (list)
(tree)
Northern Yan
北燕
Běi Yān
Pei3 Yen1
ㄅㄟˇ ㄧㄢ
From Former YanFeng [lower-alpha 43]
Han [lower-alpha 43] ImperialAD 407–436 [205] [lower-alpha 44] 29 years [lower-alpha 44] Huiyi of Yan [lower-alpha 38]
Wencheng of Northern Yan
Zhaocheng of Northern Yan (list)
(tree)
Northern dynasties
北朝
Běi Cháo
Pei3 Ch῾ao2
ㄅㄟˇ ㄔㄠˊ
AD 386–581 [206] 195 years(list)
(tree)
Northern Wei
北魏
Běi Wèi
Pei3 Wei4
ㄅㄟˇ ㄨㄟˋ
Toponym Tuoba [lower-alpha 45]
拓跋
XianbeiPrincely
(AD 386–399)
Imperial
(AD 399–535)
AD 386–535 [208] 149 years Daowu of Northern Wei Xiaowu of Northern Wei (list)
(tree)
Eastern Wei
東魏
Dōng Wèi
Tung1 Wei4
ㄉㄨㄥ ㄨㄟˋ
From Northern WeiYuan [lower-alpha 46]
XianbeiImperialAD 534–550 [209] 16 years Xiaojing of Eastern Wei Xiaojing of Eastern Wei (list)
(tree)
Western Wei
西魏
Xī Wèi
Hsi1 Wei4
ㄒㄧ ㄨㄟˋ
From Northern WeiYuan [lower-alpha 47]
XianbeiImperialAD 535–557 [209] 22 years Wen of Western Wei Gong of Western Wei (list)
(tree)
Northern Qi
北齊
Běi Qí
Pei3 Ch῾i2
ㄅㄟˇ ㄑㄧˊ
Noble titleGao
HanImperialAD 550–577 [209] 27 years Wenxuan of Northern Qi Gao Heng (list)
(tree)
Northern Zhou
北周
Běi Zhōu
Pei3 Chou1
ㄅㄟˇ ㄓㄡ
Noble titleYuwen
宇文
XianbeiImperialAD 557–581 [209] 24 years Xiaomin of Northern Zhou Jing of Northern Zhou (list)
(tree)
Southern dynasties
南朝
Nán Cháo
Nan2 Ch῾ao2
ㄋㄢˊ ㄔㄠˊ
AD 420–589 [211] 169 years(list)
(tree)
Liu Song
劉宋
Liú Sòng
Liu2 Sung4
ㄌㄧㄡˊ ㄙㄨㄥˋ
Noble titleLiu
HanImperialAD 420–479 [212] 59 years Wu of Liu Song Shun of Liu Song (list)
(tree)
Southern Qi
南齊
Nán Qí
Nan2 Ch῾i2
ㄋㄢˊ ㄑㄧˊ
A prophecy on defeating the Liu clanXiao
HanImperialAD 479–502 [213] 23 years Gao of Southern Qi He of Southern Qi (list)
(tree)
Liang dynasty
梁朝
Liáng Cháo
Liang2 Ch῾ao2
ㄌㄧㄤˊ ㄔㄠˊ
ToponymXiao
HanImperialAD 502–557 [214] 55 years Wu of Liang Jing of Liang (list)
(tree)
Chen dynasty
陳朝
Chén Cháo
Ch῾en2 Ch῾ao2
ㄔㄣˊ ㄔㄠˊ
Noble titleChen
HanImperialAD 557–589 [215] 32 years Wu of Chen Chen Shubao (list)
(tree)
Middle Imperial China [lower-alpha 23]
Sui dynasty
隋朝
Suí Cháo
Sui2 Ch῾ao2
ㄙㄨㄟˊ ㄔㄠˊ
Noble title ("" homophone)Yang [lower-alpha 48]
HanImperialAD 581–619 [217] 38 years Wen of Sui Gong of Sui (list)
(tree)
Tang dynasty
唐朝
Táng Cháo
T῾ang2 Ch῾ao2
ㄊㄤˊ ㄔㄠˊ
Noble title Li [lower-alpha 49]
HanImperialAD 618–690, AD 705–907 [219] 274 years [lower-alpha 50] Gaozu of Tang Ai of Tang (list)
(tree)
Wu Zhou
武周
Wǔ Zhōu
Wu3 Chou1
ㄨˇ ㄓㄡ
From Zhou dynastyWu
HanImperialAD 690–705 [220] 15 years Wu Zhao Wu Zhao (list)
(tree)
Five Dynasties
五代
Wǔ Dài
Wu3 Tai4
ㄨˇ ㄉㄞˋ
AD 907–960 [221] 53 years(list)
(tree)
Later Liang [lower-alpha 40]
後梁
Hòu Liáng
Hou4 Liang2
ㄏㄡˋ ㄌㄧㄤˊ
Noble titleZhu
HanImperialAD 907–923 [222] 16 years Taizu of Later Liang Zhu Youzhen (list)
(tree)
Later Tang
後唐
Hòu Táng
Hou4 T῾ang2
ㄏㄡˋ ㄊㄤˊ
From Tang dynastyLi [lower-alpha 51] [lower-alpha 52] [lower-alpha 53]
Shatuo [lower-alpha 53] ImperialAD 923–937 [226] 14 years Zhuangzong of Later Tang Li Congke (list)
(tree)
Later Jin [lower-alpha 54]
後晉
Hòu Jìn
Hou4 Chin4
ㄏㄡˋ ㄐㄧㄣˋ
ToponymShi
ShatuoImperialAD 936–947 [227] 11 years Gaozu of Later Jin Chu of Later Jin (list)
(tree)
Later Han
後漢
Hòu Hàn
Hou4 Han4
ㄏㄡˋ ㄏㄢˋ
From Han dynastyLiu
ShatuoImperialAD 947–951 [227] 4 years Gaozu of Later Han Yin of Later Han (list)
(tree)
Later Zhou
後周
Hòu Zhōu
Hou4 Chou1
ㄏㄡˋ ㄓㄡ
From Zhou dynastyGuo [lower-alpha 55]
HanImperialAD 951–960 [227] 9 years Taizu of Later Zhou Gong of Later Zhou (list)
(tree)
Ten Kingdoms
十國
Shí Guó
Shih2 Kuo2
ㄕˊ ㄍㄨㄛˊ
AD 907–979 [229] 62 years(list)
(tree)
Former Shu
前蜀
Qián Shǔ
Ch῾ien2 Shu3
ㄑㄧㄢˊ ㄕㄨˇ
Toponym / Noble titleWang
HanImperialAD 907–925 [230] 18 years Gaozu of Former Shu Wang Yan (list)
(tree)
Yang Wu
楊吳
Yáng Wú
Yang2 Wu2
ㄧㄤˊ ㄨˊ
ToponymYang
HanPrincely
(AD 907–919)
Royal
(AD 919–927)
Imperial
(AD 927–937)
AD 907–937 [231] [lower-alpha 56] 30 years [lower-alpha 56] Liezu of Yang Wu [lower-alpha 56] Rui of Yang Wu (list)
(tree)
Ma Chu
馬楚
Mǎ Chǔ
Ma3 Ch῾u3
ㄇㄚˇ ㄔㄨˇ
ToponymMa
HanRoyal
(AD 907–930)
Princely
(AD 930–951)
AD 907–951 [233] 44 years Wumu of Ma Chu Ma Xichong (list)
(tree)
Wuyue
吳越
Wúyuè
Wu2-yüeh4
ㄨˊ ㄩㄝˋ
ToponymQian
HanRoyal
(AD 907–932, AD 937–978)
Princely
(AD 934–937)
AD 907–978 [233] 71 years Taizu of Wuyue Zhongyi of Qin (list)
(tree)
Min

Mǐn
Min3
ㄇㄧㄣˇ
ToponymWang [lower-alpha 57]
HanPrincely
(AD 909–933, AD 944–945)
Imperial
(AD 933–944, AD 945)
AD 909–945 [233] 36 years Taizu of Min Tiande (list)
(tree)
Southern Han
南漢
Nán Hàn
Nan2 Han4
ㄋㄢˊ ㄏㄢˋ
From Han dynastyLiu
HanImperialAD 917–971 [233] 54 years Gaozu of Southern Han Liu Chang (list)
(tree)
Jingnan
荊南
Jīngnán
Ching1-nan2
ㄐㄧㄥ ㄋㄢˊ
ToponymGao [lower-alpha 58]
HanPrincelyAD 924–963 [233] 39 years Wuxin of Chu Gao Jichong (list)
(tree)
Later Shu
後蜀
Hòu Shǔ
Hou4 Shu3
ㄏㄡˋ ㄕㄨˇ
ToponymMeng
HanImperialAD 934–965 [233] 31 years Gaozu of Later Shu Gongxiao of Chu (list)
(tree)
Southern Tang
南唐
Nán Táng
Nan2 T῾ang2
ㄋㄢˊ ㄊㄤˊ
From Tang dynastyLi [lower-alpha 59]
HanImperial
(AD 937–958)
Royal
(AD 958–976)
AD 937–976 [237] 37 years Liezu of Southern Tang Li Yu (list)
(tree)
Northern Han
北漢
Běi Hàn
Pei3 Han4
ㄅㄟˇ ㄏㄢˋ
From Later HanLiu [lower-alpha 60]
Shatuo [lower-alpha 60] ImperialAD 951–979 [239] 28 years Shizu of Northern Han Yingwu of Northern Han (list)
(tree)
Liao dynasty
遼朝
Liáo Cháo
Liao2 Ch῾ao2
ㄌㄧㄠˊ ㄔㄠˊ
"Iron" ( Khitan homophone) / Toponym Yelü
耶律
Ei.ra.u.ud.svg
Khitan ImperialAD 916–1125 [240] [lower-alpha 61] 209 years [lower-alpha 61] Taizu of Liao Tianzuo of Liao (list)
(tree)
Western Liao
西遼
Xī Liáo
Hsi1 Liao2
ㄒㄧ ㄌㄧㄠˊ
From Liao dynasty Yelü [lower-alpha 62]
耶律
Ei.ra.u.ud.svg
Khitan [lower-alpha 62] Royal
(AD 1124–1132)
Imperial
(AD 1132–1218)
AD 1124–1218 [244] [lower-alpha 63] 94 years [lower-alpha 63] Dezong of Western Liao Kuchlug (list)
(tree)
Northern Song [lower-alpha 64]
北宋
Běi Sòng
Pei3 Sung4
ㄅㄟˇ ㄙㄨㄥˋ
Toponym Zhao
HanImperialAD 960–1127 [246] 167 years Taizu of Song Qinzong of Song (list)
(tree)
Southern Song [lower-alpha 64]
南宋
Nán Sòng
Nan2 Sung4
ㄋㄢˊ ㄙㄨㄥˋ
From Song dynasty Zhao
HanImperialAD 1127–1279 [247] 152 years Gaozong of Song Zhao Bing (list)
(tree)
Western Xia
西夏
Xī Xià
Hsi1 Hsia4
ㄒㄧ ㄒㄧㄚˋ
ToponymWeiming [lower-alpha 65]
嵬名
𗼨𗆟
Tangut ImperialAD 1038–1227 [249] 189 years Jingzong of Western Xia Li Xian (list)
(tree)
Jin dynasty [lower-alpha 29]
金朝
Jīn Cháo
Chin1 Ch῾ao2
ㄐㄧㄣ ㄔㄠˊ
"Gold" Wanyan
完顏
Wo-on gia-an.png
Jurchen ImperialAD 1115–1234 [250] 119 years Taizu of Jin Wanyan Chenglin (list)
(tree)
Late Imperial China [lower-alpha 23]
Yuan dynasty
元朝
Yuán Cháo
Yüan2 Ch῾ao2
ㄩㄢˊ ㄔㄠˊ
"Great" / "Primacy" Borjigin
孛兒只斤
ᠪᠣᠷᠵᠢᠭᠢᠨ
Mongol ImperialAD 1271–1368 [251] [lower-alpha 66] 97 years [lower-alpha 66] Shizu of Yuan Huizong of Yuan (list)
(tree)
Northern Yuan
北元
Běi Yuán
Pei3 Yüan2
ㄅㄟˇ ㄩㄢˊ
From Yuan dynasty Borjigin [lower-alpha 67]
孛兒只斤
ᠪᠣᠷᠵᠢᠭᠢᠨ
Mongol [lower-alpha 67] ImperialAD 1368–1635 [255] [lower-alpha 68] 267 years [lower-alpha 68] Huizong of Yuan Borjigin Erke Khongghor [lower-alpha 68] (list)
(tree)
Ming dynasty
明朝
Míng Cháo
Ming2 Ch῾ao2
ㄇㄧㄥˊ ㄔㄠˊ
"Bright" Zhu
HanImperialAD 1368–1644 [259] 276 years Hongwu Chongzhen (list)
(tree)
Southern Ming
南明
Nán Míng
Nan2 Ming2
ㄋㄢˊ ㄇㄧㄥˊ
From Ming dynasty Zhu
HanImperialAD 1644–1662 [260] [lower-alpha 69] 18 years [lower-alpha 69] Hongguang Yongli [lower-alpha 69] (list)
(tree)
Later Jin [lower-alpha 54]
後金
Hòu Jīn
Hou4 Chin1
ㄏㄡˋ ㄐㄧㄣ
From Jin dynasty (AD 1115–1234) Aisin Gioro
愛新覺羅
ᠠᡳᠰᡳᠨ
ᡤᡳᠣᡵᠣ
Jurchen [lower-alpha 70] RoyalAD 1616–1636 [264] 20 years Tianming Taizong of Qing (list)
(tree)
Flag of the Qing Dynasty (1889-1912).svg
Qing dynasty
清朝
Qīng Cháo
Ch῾ing1 Ch῾ao2
ㄑㄧㄥ ㄔㄠˊ
"Pure" Aisin Gioro
愛新覺羅
ᠠᡳᠰᡳᠨ
ᡤᡳᠣᡵᠣ
Manchu ImperialAD 1636–1912 [265] [lower-alpha 71] [lower-alpha 72] 276 years Taizong of Qing Xuantong (list)
(tree)
Legend
  Dynasties of relatively great significance
  Major time periods
  Dynasties counted among the "Three Kingdoms"
  Dynasties counted among the "Sixteen Kingdoms" [lower-alpha 30]
  Dynasties counted among the "Northern dynasties" within the broader "Northern and Southern dynasties"
  Dynasties counted among the "Southern dynasties" within the broader "Northern and Southern dynasties"
  Dynasties counted among the "Five Dynasties" within the broader "Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms"
  Dynasties counted among the "Ten Kingdoms" within the broader "Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms"
Criteria for inclusion
This list includes only the major dynasties of China that are typically found in simplified forms of Chinese historical timelines. There were many other dynastic regimes that existed within or overlapped with the boundaries defined in the scope of Chinese historical geography. [lower-alpha 73] These were: [279]

Dynasties that belonged to the following categories are excluded from this list:

Timelines

Timeline of major historical periods

Xia–Shang–W. Zhou
Spring and Autumn
Warring States
Qin–Han
Six Dynasties
Sui–Tang
Liao–Song–W. Xia–Jin–Yuan
Ming–Qing
ROC–PRC

Timeline of major regimes

ChinaTaiwanSouthern MingQing dynastyLater Jin (1616–1636)Ming dynastyNorthern Yuan dynastyYuan dynastySong dynasty#Southern Song, 1127–1279Qara KhitaiJin dynasty (1115–1234)Western XiaNorthern Song DynastyNorthern HanLater ZhouLater Han (Five Dynasties)Southern TangLater Jin (Five Dynasties)Later ShuJingnanLater TangSouthern HanLiao dynastyMin KingdomWuyueMa ChuYang WuFormer ShuLater Liang (Five Dynasties)Tang dynastyZhou dynasty (690–705)Tang dynastySui dynastyChen dynastyNorthern ZhouNorthern QiWestern WeiEastern WeiLiang dynastySouthern QiLiu Song dynastyWestern QinNorthern YanXia (Sixteen Kingdoms)Western Liang (Sixteen Kingdoms)Southern YanNorthern LiangSouthern Liang (Sixteen Kingdoms)Northern WeiLater Liang (Sixteen Kingdoms)Western QinLater QinLater YanFormer QinFormer YanFormer LiangLater ZhaoJin dynasty (266–420)#Eastern JinCheng HanFormer ZhaoJin dynasty (266–420)Eastern WuShu HanCao WeiHan dynasty#Eastern HanXin dynastyHan dynasty#Western HanQin dynastyEastern ZhouWestern ZhouShang dynastyXia dynastyThree Sovereigns and Five EmperorsDynasties in Chinese history
Legend
  Protodynastic rulers
  Dynastic regimes [lower-alpha 74]
  Non-dynastic regimes

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 While the Xia dynasty is typically considered to be the first orthodox Chinese dynasty, numerous historical sources like the Book of Documents mentioned two other dynasties that preceded the Xia: the "Tang" ( ) and the "Yu" () dynasties. [1] [2] The former is sometimes called the "Ancient Tang" (古唐) to distinguish it from other dynasties named "Tang". [3] If the historicity of these earlier dynasties were attested, Yu the Great would not have been the initiator of dynastic rule in China.
  2. All attempts at restoring monarchical and dynastic rule in China after the success of the Xinhai Revolution ended in failure. Hence, the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor in AD 1912 is typically regarded as the formal end of the Chinese monarchy.
  3. 1 2 As per modern historiographical norm, the "Yuan dynasty" in this article refers exclusively to the realm based in China. However, the Chinese-style dynastic name "Great Yuan" (大元) as proclaimed by the Emperor Shizu of Yuan was meant to be applied to the entire Mongol Empire. [14] [15] [16] In spite of this, "Yuan dynasty" is rarely used in the broad sense of the definition by modern scholars due to the de facto disintegrated nature of the Mongol Empire.
  4. In AD 1906, the Qing dynasty initiated a series of reforms under the auspices of the Empress Xiaoqinxian to transition to a constitutional monarchy. On 27 August 1908, the Principles of the Constitution was promulgated and served as an outline for a full constitution originally intended to take effect 10 years later. [23] On 3 November 1911, as a response to the ongoing Xinhai Revolution, the Qing dynasty issued the constitutional Nineteen Creeds which limited the power of the Qing emperor, marking the official transition to a constitutional monarchy. [24] [25] The Qing dynasty, however, was overthrown on 12 February 1912.
  5. A powerful consort kin, usually a male, could force the reigning monarch to abdicate in his favor, thereby prompting a change in dynasty. For example, Wang Mang of the Xin dynasty was a nephew of the Empress Xiaoyuan who in turn was the spouse of the Western Han ruler, the Emperor Yuan of Han. [27]
  6. The term "kingdom" is potentially misleading as not all rulers held the title of king. For example, all sovereigns of the Cao Wei held the title huángdì (皇帝; "emperor") during their reign despite the realm being listed as one of the "Three Kingdoms". Similarly, monarchs of the Western Qin, one of the "Sixteen Kingdoms", bore the title wáng (; usually translated as "prince" in English writings).
  7. As proposed by scholars such as Fu Sinian and Ray Huang, there were three major Chinese empires historically. The "First Chinese Empire" (中華第一帝國) included the Qin dynasty, the Western Han, the Eastern Han, the Cao Wei, the Western Jin, the Eastern Jin, the Liu Song, the Southern Qi, the Liang dynasty, and the Chen dynasty. The "Second Chinese Empire" (中華第二帝國) encompassed the Northern Wei, the Western Wei, the Northern Zhou, the Sui dynasty, the Tang dynasty, the Later Liang, the Later Tang, the Later Jin, the Later Han, the Later Zhou, the Northern Song, and the Southern Song. The "Third Chinese Empire" (中華第三帝國) consisted of the Liao dynasty, the Jin dynasty, the Yuan dynasty, the Ming dynasty, and the Qing dynasty. Accordingly, the terms "Chinese Empire" and "Empire of China" need not necessarily refer to imperial dynasties that had unified China proper.
  8. "Anterior" is employed in some sources in place of "Former". [116] [117]
  9. "Latter" or "Posterior" is employed in some sources in place of "Later". [118] [119] [120] [121] [122]
  10. The English and Chinese names stated are historiographical nomenclature. These should not be confused with the guóhào officially proclaimed by each dynasty. A dynasty may be known by more than one historiographical name.
  11. 1 2 The English names shown are based on the Hanyu Pinyin renditions, the most common form of Mandarin romanization currently in adoption. Some scholarly works utilize the Wade–Giles system, which may differ drastically in the spelling of certain words. For instance, the Qing dynasty is rendered as "Ch῾ing dynasty" in Wade–Giles. [155]
  12. 1 2 The Chinese characters shown are in Traditional Chinese. Some characters may have simplified versions that are currently used in mainland China. For instance, the characters for the Eastern Han are written as "東漢" in Traditional Chinese and "东汉" in Simplified Chinese.
  13. While Chinese historiography tends to treat dynasties as being of specific ethnic stocks, there were some monarchs who had mixed heritage. [156] For instance, the Jiaqing Emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty was of mixed Manchu and Han descent, having derived his Han ancestry from his mother, the Empress Xiaoyichun. [157]
  14. The status of a dynasty was dependent upon the chief title bore by its monarch at any given time. For instance, since all monarchs of the Chen dynasty held the title of emperor during their reign, the Chen dynasty was of imperial status.
  15. The monarchs listed were the de facto founders of dynasties. However, it was common for Chinese monarchs to posthumously honor earlier members of the family as monarchs. For instance, while the Later Jin was officially established by the Emperor Gaozu of Later Jin, four earlier members of the ruling house were posthumously accorded imperial titles, the most senior of which was Shi Jing who was conferred the temple name "Jingzu" (靖祖) and the posthumous name "Emperor Xiao'an" (孝安皇帝).
  16. In addition to the ancestral name Si (), the ruling house of the Xia dynasty also bore the lineage name Xiahou (夏后). [158]
  17. 1 2 3 The dates given for the Xia dynasty, the Shang dynasty, and the Western Zhou prior to the start of the Gonghe Regency in 841 BC are derived from the Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project.
  18. 1 2 The rule of the Xia dynasty was traditionally dated 2205–1766 BC as per the calculations made by the historian Liu Xin. [160] [161] Accordingly, the Xia dynasty lasted 399 years excluding the 40-year interregnum between the reign of Xiang and Shao Kang.
  19. 1 2 The Xia dynasty was interrupted by the rule of Yi and Han Zhuo for approximately 40 years. [162] Sources disagree on the dates of the start and end of the interregnum. Chinese historiography does not make a distinction between the realm that existed prior to the interregnum and the restored realm. Xiang was the last ruler before the interregnum; Shao Kang was the first ruler after the interregnum. [162]
  20. 1 2 The rule of the Shang dynasty was traditionally dated 1766–1122 BC as per the calculations made by the historian Liu Xin. [160] [164] Accordingly, the Shang dynasty lasted 644 years.
  21. 1 2 The Western Zhou (西周) and the Eastern Zhou (東周) are collectively known as the Zhou dynasty (周朝; Zhōu Cháo; Chou1 Ch῾ao2; ㄓㄡ ㄔㄠˊ). [8] [80]
  22. 1 2 The rule of the Western Zhou was traditionally dated 1122–771 BC as per the calculations made by the historian Liu Xin. [160] [164] Accordingly, the Western Zhou lasted 351 years.
  23. 1 2 3 The terms "Chinese Empire" and "Empire of China" usually refer to the Chinese state under the rule of various imperial dynasties, particularly those that had unified China proper. [85] [86]
  24. In addition to the ancestral name Ying (), the ruling house of the Qin dynasty also bore the lineage name Zhao (). [166]
  25. 1 2 The Western Han (西漢) and the Eastern Han (東漢) are collectively known as the Han dynasty (漢朝; Hàn Cháo; Han4 Ch῾ao2; ㄏㄢˋ ㄔㄠˊ). [81]
  26. 1 2 Some historians consider 206 BC, the year in which the Emperor Gao of Han was proclaimed "King of Han", to be the start of the Western Han. [169] Accordingly, the Western Han lasted 215 years.
  27. Liu Ying was not officially enthroned and maintained the title huáng tàizǐ (皇太子; "crown prince") during the regency of Wang Mang. [170] The last Western Han monarch who was officially enthroned was the Emperor Ping of Han.
  28. 1 2 The Western Jin (西晉) and the Eastern Jin (東晉) are collectively known as the Jin dynasty (晉朝; Jìn Cháo; Chin4 Ch῾ao2; ㄐㄧㄣˋ ㄔㄠˊ). [82]
  29. 1 2 3 The names of the Jin dynasty (晉朝) of the Sima clan and the Jin dynasty (金朝) of the Wanyan clan are rendered similarly using the Hanyu Pinyin system, even though they do not share the same Chinese character for "Jin".
  30. 1 2 The Sixteen Kingdoms are also referred to as the "Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarians" (五胡十六國; Wǔ Hú Shíliù Guó), although not all dynasties counted among the 16 were ruled by the "Five Barbarians". [179]
  31. The ruling house of the Han Zhao initially bore the surname Luandi (攣鞮). [181] [182] Liu () was subsequently adopted as the surname prior to the establishment of the Han Zhao.
  32. 1 2 3 Some historians consider AD 303, the year in which the Emperor Jing of Cheng Han declared the era name "Jianchu" ( 建初 ), to be the start of the Cheng Han. [185] Accordingly, the Cheng Han was founded by the Emperor Jing of Cheng Han and lasted 44 years.
  33. The ruling house of the Former Qin initially bore the surname Pu (). [189] The Emperor Huiwu of Former Qin subsequently adopted Fu () as the surname in AD 349 prior to the establishment of the Former Qin. [189]
  34. 1 2 3 Some historians consider AD 350, the year in which the Emperor Huiwu of Former Qin was proclaimed "Prince of Three Qins", to be the start of the Former Qin. [190] Accordingly, the Former Qin was founded by the Emperor Huiwu of Former Qin and lasted 44 years.
  35. As Lan Han, surnamed Lan (), was not a member of the Murong (慕容) clan by birth, his enthronement was not a typical dynastic succession. [191]
  36. 1 2 The Emperor Huiyi of Yan was of Gaogouli descent. Originally surnamed Gao (), he was an adopted member of the Murong (慕容) clan. [192] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  37. 1 2 Depending on the status of the Emperor Huiyi of Yan, the Later Yan ended in either AD 407 or AD 409 and lasted either 23 years or 25 years.
  38. 1 2 The Emperor Huiyi of Yan could either be the last Later Yan monarch or the founder of the Northern Yan depending on the historian's characterization. [192]
  39. The Western Qin was interrupted by the Later Qin between AD 400 and AD 409. Chinese historiography does not make a distinction between the realm that existed up to AD 400 and the realm restored in AD 409. The Prince Wuyuan of Western Qin was both the last ruler before the interregnum and the first ruler after the interregnum.
  40. 1 2 The names of the Later Liang (後涼) of the Lü clan and the Later Liang (後梁) of the Zhu clan are rendered similarly using the Hanyu Pinyin system, even though they do not share the same Chinese character for "Liang".
  41. 1 2 Duan Ye, surnamed Duan (), was of Han descent. The enthronement of the Prince Wuxuan of Northern Liang was therefore not a typical dynastic succession. [198]
  42. The ruling house of the Hu Xia initially bore the surname Luandi (攣鞮). [202] Liu () was adopted as the surname prior to the establishment of the Hu Xia. [203] The Emperor Wulie of Hu Xia subsequently adopted Helian (赫連) as the surname in AD 413 after the establishment of the Hu Xia. [203]
  43. 1 2 The Emperor Huiyi of Yan was of Gaogouli descent. Originally surnamed Gao (), he was an adopted member of the Murong (慕容) clan. [192] The enthronement of the Emperor Wencheng of Northern Yan was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  44. 1 2 Depending on the status of the Emperor Huiyi of Yan, the Northern Yan was established in either AD 407 or AD 409 and lasted either 29 years or 27 years.
  45. The ruling house of the Northern Wei initially bore the surname Tuoba (拓跋). [207] The Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei subsequently adopted Yuan () as the surname in AD 493 after the establishment of the Northern Wei. [207]
  46. The ruling house of the Eastern Wei initially bore the surname Tuoba (拓跋). [207] The Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei subsequently adopted Yuan () as the surname in AD 493 prior to the establishment of the Eastern Wei. [207]
  47. The ruling house of the Western Wei initially bore the surname Tuoba (拓跋). [207] The Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei subsequently adopted Yuan () as the surname in AD 493 prior to the establishment of the Western Wei, only for the Emperor Gong of Western Wei to restore the surname Tuoba in AD 554 after the establishment of the Western Wei. [207] [210]
  48. The ruling house of the Sui dynasty initially bore the surname Yang (). The Western Wei later bestowed the surname Puliuru (普六茹) upon the family. [216] The Emperor Wen of Sui subsequently restored Yang as the surname in AD 580 prior to the establishment of the Sui dynasty.
  49. The ruling house of the Tang dynasty initially bore the surname Li (). The Western Wei later bestowed the surname Daye (大野) upon the family. [218] Li was subsequently restored as the surname in AD 580 prior to the establishment of the Tang dynasty.
  50. The Tang dynasty was interrupted by the Wu Zhou between AD 690 and AD 705. Chinese historiography does not make a distinction between the realm that existed up to AD 690 and the realm restored in AD 705. The Emperor Ruizong of Tang was the last ruler before the interregnum; the Emperor Zhongzong of Tang was the first ruler after the interregnum.
  51. The ruling house of the Later Tang initially bore the surname Zhuye (朱邪). [223] The Emperor Xianzu of Later Tang subsequently adopted Li () as the surname in AD 869 prior to the establishment of the Later Tang. [223]
  52. The Emperor Mingzong of Later Tang, originally without surname, was an adopted member of the Li () clan. [224] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  53. 1 2 Li Congke was of Han descent. Originally surnamed Wang (), he was an adopted member of the Li () clan. [225] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  54. 1 2 The names of the Later Jin (後晉) of the Shi clan and the Later Jin (後金) of the Aisin Gioro clan are rendered similarly using the Hanyu Pinyin system, even though they do not share the same Chinese character for "Jin".
  55. The Emperor Shizong of Later Zhou, originally surnamed Chai (), was an adopted member of the Guo () clan. [228] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  56. 1 2 3 Some historians consider AD 902, the year in which the Emperor Taizu of Yang Wu was proclaimed "Prince of Wu", to be the start of the Yang Wu. [232] Accordingly, the Yang Wu was founded by the Emperor Taizu of Yang Wu and lasted 35 years.
  57. As Zhu Wenjin, surnamed Zhu (), was not a member of the Wang () clan by birth, his enthronement was not a typical dynastic succession. [234]
  58. The ruling house of the Jingnan initially bore the surname Gao (). The Prince Wuxin of Chu subsequently adopted Zhu () as the surname, only to restore the surname Gao prior to the establishment of the Jingnan. [235]
  59. The ruling house of the Southern Tang initially bore the surname Li (). The Emperor Liezu of Southern Tang subsequently adopted Xu () as the surname, only to restore the surname Li in AD 939 after the establishment of the Southern Tang. [236]
  60. 1 2 The Emperor Yingwu of Northern Han was of Han descent. Originally surnamed He (), he was an adopted member of the Liu () clan. [238] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  61. 1 2 Some historians consider AD 907, the year in which the Emperor Taizu of Liao was proclaimed "Khagan of the Khitans", to be the start of the Liao dynasty. [241] Accordingly, the Liao dynasty lasted 218 years.
  62. 1 2 Kuchlug, originally without surname, was of Naiman descent. As he was not a member of the Yelü (耶律) clan by birth, his enthronement was not a typical dynastic succession. [242] [243]
  63. 1 2 Some historians consider AD 1132, the year in which the Emperor Dezong of Western Liao was proclaimed "Gurkhan", to be the start of the Western Liao. [245] Accordingly, the Western Liao lasted 86 years.
  64. 1 2 The Northern Song (北宋) and the Southern Song (南宋) are collectively known as the Song dynasty (宋朝; Sòng Cháo; Sung4 Ch῾ao2; ㄙㄨㄥˋ ㄔㄠˊ). [83]
  65. The ruling house of the Western Xia initially bore the surname Tuoba (拓跋). The Tang dynasty and the Song dynasty later bestowed the surnames Li () and Zhao () upon the family respectively. The Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia subsequently adopted Weiming (嵬名) as the surname in AD 1032 prior to the establishment of the Western Xia. [248]
  66. 1 2 Some historians consider AD 1260, the year in which the Emperor Shizu of Yuan was proclaimed "Khagan of the Great Mongol State" and declared the era name "Zhongtong" ( 中統 ), to be the start of the Yuan dynasty. [252] Accordingly, the Yuan dynasty lasted 108 years.
  67. 1 2 Choros Esen, surnamed Choros (綽羅斯), was of Oirat descent. As he was not a member of the Borjigin (孛兒只斤) clan by birth, his enthronement was not a typical dynastic succession. [253] [254]
  68. 1 2 3 Traditional Chinese historiography considers the Northern Yuan to have ended in either AD 1388 or AD 1402 when the dynastic name "Great Yuan" was abolished. [256] [257] Accordingly, the Northern Yuan lasted either 20 years or 34 years, and its last ruler was either the Tianyuan Emperor or the Örüg Temür Khan. However, some historians regard the Mongol regime that existed from AD 1388 or AD 1402 up to AD 1635—referred to in the History of Ming as "Dada" ( 韃靼 )—as a direct continuation of the Northern Yuan. [258]
  69. 1 2 3 Some historians consider AD 1664, the year in which the reign of the Dingwu Emperor came to an end, to be the end of the Southern Ming. [261] Accordingly, the Southern Ming lasted 20 years and its last ruler was the Dingwu Emperor. However, the existence and identity of the Dingwu Emperor, supposedly reigned from AD 1646 to AD 1664, are disputed.
  70. The Jurchen ethnic group was renamed "Manchu" in AD 1635 by the Emperor Taizong of Qing. [262] [263]
  71. The Articles of Favorable Treatment of the Great Qing Emperor After His Abdication allowed the Xuantong Emperor to retain his imperial title and enjoy other privileges following his abdication, resulting in the existence of a titular court in the Forbidden City known as the "Remnant Court of the Abdicated Qing Imperial Family" ( 遜清皇室小朝廷 ) between AD 1912 and AD 1924. [266] Following the Beijing Coup, Feng Yuxiang revoked the privileges and abolished the titular court in AD 1924. [266]
  72. The Qing dynasty was briefly restored between 1 July 1917 and 12 July 1917 when Zhang Xun reinstalled the Xuantong Emperor to the Chinese throne. [52] Due to the abortive nature of the event, it is usually excluded from Qing history.
  73. As proposed by scholars such as Tan Qixiang, the geographical extent covered in the study of Chinese historical geography largely corresponds with the territories once ruled by the Qing dynasty during its territorial peak between the AD 1750s and the AD 1840s, prior to the outbreak of the First Opium War. [267] At its height, the Qing dynasty exercised jurisdiction over an area larger than 13 million km2, encompassing: [268] [269] [270] Modern Chinese historiography considers all regimes, regardless of the ethnicity of the ruling class, that were established within or overlapped with the above geographical boundaries to be part of Chinese history. [277] [278] Similarly, all ethnic groups that were active within the above geographical boundaries are considered ethnicities of China. [277] [278] Regions outside of the above geographical boundaries but were under Chinese rule during various historical periods are included in the histories of the relevant Chinese dynasties.
  74. The dynastic regimes included in this timeline are the same as the list above.

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