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Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were
hereditary Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of traits Trait may refer to: * Phenotypic trait in biology, which involve genes and characteristics of organisms * Trait (computer programming), a model for str ...
monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of
its history
its history
. From the inauguration of dynastic rule by
Yu the Great Yu the Great (大禹) was a legendary king in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was me ...
in circa 2070 BC to the
abdication Abdication is the act of formally relinquishing monarchical A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political legitimacy and ...
of the
Xuantong Emperor Puyi (; February 7, 1906 – October 17, 1967), courtesy name Yaozhi (曜之), was the last emperor of China as the eleventh and final Qing dynasty emperor, Qing dynasty ruler. He became the Xuantong Emperor (then spelled as Hsuan Tung Emper ...
on 12 February 1912 in the wake of the
Xinhai Revolution The 1911 Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution or the Xinhai Revolution, ended China's last imperial dynasty, the Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria ...
, China was ruled by a series of successive
dynasties A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). Th ...
. Dynasties of China were not limited to those established by ethnic
Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
. Huayuqiao.org. Retrieved on ...
—the dominant Chinese ethnic group—and its predecessor, the
Huaxia ''Huaxia'' is a historical concept representing the Chinese nation ''Zhonghua minzu'' (; "Chinese nation") is a key political term in modern Chinese nationalism related to the concepts of nation-building, ethnic group, ethnicity, and rac ...
tribal confederation, but also included those founded by non-Han peoples. Dividing Chinese history into periods ruled by dynasties is a convenient method of
periodization Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Institute for the Study of the Ancient Wo ...
. 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. For example, porcelain made during the
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
may be referred to as "Ming porcelain". The word "dynasty" is usually omitted when making such adjectival references. The longest-reigning orthodox dynasty of China was the
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
, ruling for a total length of 789 years, albeit it is divided into the
Western Zhou The Western Zhou ( zh, c=, p=Xīzhōu; c. 1045 BC – 771 BC) was the first half of the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chin ...
and the
Eastern Zhou The Eastern Zhou (; zh, c=, p=Dōngzhōu; 770–256 BC) was the second half of the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the an ...
in
Chinese historiography Chinese historiography is the study of the techniques and sources used by historians to develop the recorded history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty ...
, and its power was drastically reduced during the latter part of its rule. The largest orthodox Chinese dynasty in terms of territorial size was either the
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
or the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
, depending on the historical source. Chinese dynasties often referred to themselves as "" (; "Celestial Dynasty" or "Heavenly Dynasty"). As a form of respect and subordination, Chinese tributary states referred to Chinese dynasties as "" (; "Celestial Dynasty of the Lofty State") or "" (; "Celestial Dynasty of the Great State").


Terminology

In the Chinese language, the character "" () originally meant "morning" and "today". Politically, the word is taken to refer to the regime of the incumbent
ruler A ruler, sometimes called a rule or line gauge, is a device used in geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ' "earth", ' "measurement") is, with , one of the oldest branches of . It is concerned with properties of spac ...
. The following is a list of terms associated with the concept of dynasty in Chinese historiography: * (): a dynasty * (): an era corresponding to the rule of a dynasty * (): while technically referring to royal dynasties, this term is often inaccurately applied to all dynasties, including those whose rulers held non-royal
titles A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...
such as
emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...
* (): generally used for imperial dynasties


History


Start of dynastic rule

As the founder of China's first orthodox dynasty, the
Xia dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty The Xia dynasty is the first dynasty in traditional Chinese historiography. According to tradition, the Xia dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great, after Shun, the last of the Five ...

Xia dynasty
,
Yu the Great Yu the Great (大禹) was a legendary king in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was me ...
is conventionally regarded as the inaugurator of dynastic rule in China. 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. By tradition, the Chinese throne was inherited exclusively by members of the male line, but there were numerous cases whereby the
consort kin {{unreferenced, date=January 2008 The consort kin – written in the Sinosphere as 外戚 (waiqi) is the Sinospheric kin or a group related to an empress dowager Empress dowager (also dowager empress or empress mother) () is the English lan ...
s came to possess ''de facto'' power at the expense of the monarchs. This concept, known as (; "
All under Heaven ''Tianxia'' () is a Chinese term for an ancient Chinese cultural concept that denoted either the entire geographical world or the metaphysical realm of mortals, and later became associated with political sovereignty. In ancient China ...
belongs to the ruling family"), was in contrast to the pre-Xia notion of (; "All under Heaven belongs to the public") whereby leadership succession was non-hereditary.


Dynastic transition

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. This method of explanation has come to be known as the
dynastic cycle Dynastic cycle () is an important political theory Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. I ...
. Dynastic transitions (; ) in the history of China occurred primarily through two ways: military conquest and usurpation. The supersession of the
Liao dynasty The Liao dynasty (; Khitan language, Khitan: ''Mos Jælud''; ), also known as the Khitan Empire (Khitan: ''Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur''), officially the Great Liao (), was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that ex ...
by the Jin dynasty was achieved following a series of successful military campaigns, as was the later unification of
China proper China proper, Inner China or the Eighteen Provinces was a term used by Western writers on the Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym a ...

China proper
under the
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
; on the other hand, the transition from the
Eastern Han#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...
to the
Cao Wei Wei (220–266), also known as Cao Wei or Former Wei, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). With its capital initially located at Xuchang, and thereafter Luoyang, the ...
, as well as from the
Southern Qi The Southern Qi ( or ) (479–502) also known as Xiao Qi () was the second of the Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589, following the tumultuous era of ...
to the
Liang dynasty The Liang dynasty () (502–557), also known as the Southern Liang (), was the third of the Southern Dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589, following the tumultuo ...
, were cases of usurpation. Oftentimes,
usurper A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power Power typically refers to: * Power (physics) In physics, power is the amount of energy transferred or converted per unit time. In the International System of Units, the unit of ...
s would seek to portray their predecessors as having relinquished the throne willingly—a process called (; "voluntary abdicating and passing the throne")—as a means to legitimize their rule. One might incorrectly infer from viewing that transitions between dynasties occurred abruptly and roughly. Rather, new dynasties were often established before the complete overthrow of an existing regime. For example, AD 1644 is frequently cited as the year in which the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
succeeded the
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
in possessing the
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsEmperor Taizong of Qing
Emperor Taizong of Qing
through renaming the Later Jin established in AD 1616, while the Ming imperial family would rule the
Southern Ming The Southern Ming (), also known as the Later Ming (), officially the Great Ming (), was a series of dynastic rump state A rump state is the remnant of a once much larger state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatu ...

Southern Ming
until AD 1662. The Ming loyalist
Kingdom of Tungning The Kingdom of Tungning (), also known as Tywan by the British at the time, pp. 347–348. was a dynastic Thalassocracy, maritime state that ruled part of southwestern Formosa (Taiwan) and Penghu islands between 1661 and 1683, and regarded as th ...

Kingdom of Tungning
based in Taiwan continued to oppose the Qing until AD 1683. 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 Li Zicheng (22 September 1606 – 1645), born Li Hongji, also known by the nickname, Dashing King, was a Chinese peasant rebel leader who overthrew the Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty ...
and
Zhang Xianzhong Zhang Xianzhong (张献忠 or Chang Hsien-chung; 18 September 1606 – 2 January 1647), nickname Huanghu (literally 'Yellow Tiger'), was a leader of a peasant revolt This is a chronological list of conflicts in which peasant A peasant is a ...
respectively. 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 The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Han Chinese, Han in the entirety of ...

Sui dynasty
weakened. Autonomous regimes that existed during this period of upheaval included, but not limited to, Wei (; by ), Qin (; by
Xue Ju Xue Ju () (died 618), formally Emperor Wu (武皇帝, "Martial"), was the founding emperor of a short-lived state of Qin at the end of the Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republi ...
), Qi (; by Gao Tancheng), Xu (; by
Yuwen Huaji Yuwen Huaji (; died March 22, 619) was a general of the Chinese Sui Dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dy ...
), Liang (; by Shen Faxing), Liang (; by
Liang Shidu Liang Shidu (梁師都) (died June 3, 628) was an agrarian leader who rebelled against the rule of the Chinese dynasty Sui Dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the ...
), Xia (; by
Dou Jiande Dou Jiande (; 573 – 3 August 621) was a leader of the agrarian rebels who rose against the rule of Emperor Yang of Sui Emperor Yang of Sui (隋煬帝, 569 – 11 April 618), personal name Yang Guang (), alternative name Ying (), Xianbei ...
), Zheng (; by
Wang Shichong Wang Shichong (王世充; 567–621), courtesy name Xingman (行滿), was a general of Sui dynasty who deposed Sui's last emperor Yang Tong and briefly ruled as the emperor of a succeeding state of Zheng. He first became prominent during the reign ...
), Chu (; by Zhu Can), Chu (; by Lin Shihong), Wu (; by
Li Zitong Li Zitong (died 622 CE) was an agrarian leader who claimed the title of emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It w ...
), Yan (; by
Gao Kaidao Gao Kaidao (高開道) (died 624), at one point known as Li Kaidao (李開道), was an agrarian rebel leader who rose against Sui Dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China of pivot ...
), and Song (; by
Fu Gongshi Fu Gongshi (輔公祏; died 624) was an agrarian rebel leader who served as Du Fuwei's lieutenant during the disintegration of the Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of Ch ...
). The
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
that superseded the Sui launched a decade-long military campaign to reunify China proper. Frequently, remnants and descendants of previous dynasties were either purged or granted
noble titles Traditional rank amongst European royalty Royalty may refer to: * Kingship * Royal family, the immediate family of a king or queen regnant, and sometimes his or her extended family * Royalty payment for use of such things as intellectual prope ...
in accordance with the (; "two crownings, three respects") system. The latter served as a means for the reigning dynasty to claim legitimate succession from earlier dynasties. For example, the
Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei ((東)魏孝靜帝) (524–552), personal name Yuan Shanjian (元善見), was the only emperor of the Eastern Wei The Eastern Wei (;Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi Emperor Wenxuan of (Northern) Qi ((北)齊文宣帝) (526–559), personal name Gao Yang (高洋, Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific s ...
following the latter's deposition of the former. Similarly, Chai Yong, a nephew of the
Emperor Shizong of Later Zhou Chai Rong () (27 October 921 – 27 July 959) or Guo Rong (), also known by his temple name Temple names are posthumous titles accorded to monarchs of the Sinosphere The East Asian cultural sphere, Chinese cultural sphere or Sinosphere ...
, was conferred the title "Duke of Chongyi" by the
Emperor Renzong of Song Emperor Renzong of Song (30 May 1010 – 30 April 1063, Chinese calendar The traditional Chinese calendar (officially known as the Agricultural Calendar [], Former Calendar [], Traditional Calendar [] or Yin Calendar []), is a lunisolar ...
; other descendants of the
Later Zhou The Later Zhou (; ) was the last in a succession of five dynasties A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (b ...

Later Zhou
ruling family came to inherit the noble title thereafter. According to Chinese historiographical tradition, each new dynasty would compose the history of the preceding dynasty, culminating in the ''
Twenty-Four Histories The ''Twenty-Four Histories'' (), also known as the ''Orthodox Histories'' (), are the Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is t ...
''. This tradition was maintained even after the Xinhai Revolution overthrew the Qing dynasty in favor of the
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
. However, the attempt by the Republicans to draft the history of the Qing was disrupted by the
Chinese Civil War The Chinese Civil War was a civil war in China fought between the Kuomintang (KMT)-led Nationalist government, government of the Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China (ROC) and forces of the Communist Party of China (CPC) lastin ...
, which resulted in the political division of China into the
People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
on
mainland China The term "mainland China" refers to the area directly governed by the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies ...

mainland China
and the
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...

Republic of China
on
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
.


End of dynastic rule

Dynastic rule in China collapsed in AD 1912 when the Republic of China superseded the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
following the success of the Xinhai Revolution. 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 The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in ...
-led Qing dynasty by a new dynasty of Han ethnicity. Kong Lingyi (), the Duke of Yansheng and a 76th-generation descendant of
Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; ) was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), ...

Confucius
, was identified as a potential candidate for Chinese emperorship by
Liang Qichao Liang Qichao (February 23, 1873 – January 19, 1929) was a Chinese social and political activist, journalist, and intellectual who lived during the late Qing dynasty and the early Republic of China (1912–1949), Republic of China. His thou ...

Liang Qichao
. Meanwhile, gentry in
Anhui Anhui (; Postal romanization, formerly romanized as Anhwei) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China, part of the East China region. Its provincial capital and largest city is Hefei. The province is l ...

Anhui
and
Hebei Hebei (; alternately Hopeh) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, f ...
supported a restoration of the
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
under Zhu Yuxun (), the
Marquis of Extended Grace Marquis of Extended Grace was a title held by a descendant of the imperial family of the Ming dynasty#REDIRECT Ming dynasty {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ... (1368–1644) during the subsequent Qing ...
. Both suggestions were ultimately rejected. The
Empire of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was mentioned as the twenty-first Shang king by the same. Ancient histo ...
(AD 1915–1916) proclaimed by
Yuan Shikai Yuan Shikai (; 16 September 1859 – 6 June 1916) was a Chinese military and government official who rose to power during the late Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last Dynasties in Chinese histo ...

Yuan Shikai
sparked the
National Protection War The National Protection War (), also known as the anti-Monarchy War, was a civil war that took place in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies b ...
, resulting in the premature collapse of the regime 101 days later. The
Manchu Restoration The Manchu Restoration or Dingsi Restoration (), also known as Zhang Xun Restoration (), or Xuantong Restoration (), was an attempt to restore the Chinese monarchy by General Zhang Xun, whose army seized Beijing Beijing ( ), Chinese po ...
(AD 1917) was an unsuccessful attempt at reviving the Qing dynasty, lasting merely 11 days. Similarly, the
Manchukuo Manchukuo, officially the State of Manchuria prior to 1934 and the Empire of (Great) Manchuria after 1934, was a puppet state of the Empire of Japan in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia from 1932 until 1945. It was founded as a republic in 19 ...
(AD 1932–1945; monarchy since AD 1934), a puppet state of the
Empire of Japan The was a historical nation-state A nation state is a political unit where the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of Sta ...

Empire of Japan
during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
with limited diplomatic recognition, is not regarded as a legitimate regime. Ergo, historians usually consider the abdication of the
Xuantong Emperor Puyi (; February 7, 1906 – October 17, 1967), courtesy name Yaozhi (曜之), was the last emperor of China as the eleventh and final Qing dynasty emperor, Qing dynasty ruler. He became the Xuantong Emperor (then spelled as Hsuan Tung Emper ...
on 12 February 1912 as the end of the Chinese dynastic system. Dynastic rule in China lasted almost four millennia.


Political 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 A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Sta ...
and political institutions. Political division existed during the
Three Kingdoms The Three Kingdoms () from 220 to 280 AD was the tripartite division of China among the states of Cao Wei, Wei, Shu Han, Shu, and Eastern Wu, Wu. The Three Kingdoms period started with the End of the Han dynasty, end of the Han dynasty#East ...

Three Kingdoms
, the
Sixteen Kingdoms The Sixteen Kingdoms (), less commonly the Sixteen States, was a chaotic period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty ...
, the
Northern and Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding ...
, and the
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (), from 907 to 979 was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from ...
periods, among others. Relations between Chinese dynasties during periods of division often revolved around
political legitimacy In political science Political science is the scientific study of politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decis ...
, which was derived from the doctrine of the
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past events 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 The distinction between ''Huá'' and ''Yí'' ( zh, t=, p=Huá Yí zhī biàn), also known as Sino–barbarian dichotomy, is an ancient Chinese concept that differentiated a culturally defined "China" (called Huá, Huaxia ''Huaxia'' is a histor ...
. 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 Chinese culture () is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The culture prevails across a large geographical region in East Asia and is extremely diverse and varying, with customs and traditions varying grea ...
and history. Traditionally, only regimes deemed as "legitimate" or "orthodox" (; ) are termed (; "dynasty"); "illegitimate" or "unorthodox" regimes are referred to as (; usually translated as either "state" or "kingdom"), even if these regimes were dynastic in nature. The issue of political legitimacy pertaining to some of these dynasties remains contentious in modern academia. Such legitimacy dispute existed during the following periods: * Three Kingdoms ** The
Cao Wei Wei (220–266), also known as Cao Wei or Former Wei, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). With its capital initially located at Xuchang, and thereafter Luoyang, the ...
, the
Shu Han Han (; 221–263), known in historiography as Shu Han ( ; often shortened to Shu ; pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland ...
, and the
Eastern Wu Wu (Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous count ...
considered themselves legitimate while simultaneously denounced the rivaling claims of others ** The
Emperor Xian of Han Emperor Xian of Han (2 April 181 – 21 April 234), personal name Liu Xie (劉協), courtesy name Bohe, was the 14th and last Emperor of China, emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty in China. He reigned from 28 September 189 until 11 December 220. ...
abdicated in favor of the Emperor Wen of Cao Wei, hence the Cao Wei directly succeeded the
Eastern Han#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...
in the
timeline of Chinese history __NOTOC__ This is a timeline of Chinese history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in China and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of China The earliest ...

timeline of Chinese history
** The
Western Jin Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
accepted the Cao Wei as the legitimate dynasty of the Three Kingdoms period and claimed succession from it ** The
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
viewed the Cao Wei as the legitimate dynasty during this period, whereas the
Southern Song The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
scholar
Zhu Xi Zhu Xi (; ; October 18, 1130 – April 23, 1200), Wade-Giles, W-G Chu Hsi, also known by his courtesy name Yuanhui (or Zhonghui), and self-titled Hui'an, was a Chinese Confucianism, Confucian scholar philosopher and government official of Son ...

Zhu Xi
proposed treating the Shu Han as legitimate *
Eastern Jin Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited (), also known as China Eastern, is an airline An airline is a company that provides air transport services for traveling passenge ...
and Sixteen Kingdoms ** The Eastern Jin proclaimed itself to be legitimate ** Several of the Sixteen Kingdoms such as the
Han Zhao The Han Zhao (; 304–329 AD), or Former Zhao (), was a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is ...
, the
Later Zhao The Later Zhao (; 319–351) was a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press ...
, and the
Former Qin The Former Qin, also called Fu Qin (苻秦) (351–394) was a dynastic state of the Sixteen Kingdoms The Sixteen Kingdoms (), less commonly the Sixteen States, was a chaotic period in Chinese history The earliest known written r ...
also claimed legitimacy * Northern and Southern dynasties ** All dynasties during this period saw themselves as the legitimate representative of China; the
Northern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also histori ...
referred to their southern counterparts as "" (; "island dwelling barbarians"), while the
Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also histori ...
called their northern neighbors "" (; "barbarians with braids") * Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms ** Having directly succeeded the Tang dynasty, the
Later LiangLater Liang may refer to the following states in Chinese history: * Later Liang (Sixteen Kingdoms) (後涼; 386–403), one of the Sixteen Kingdoms * Western Liang (555–587) The Liang (555–587), known in historiography as the Western Liang () ...
considered itself to be a legitimate dynasty ** The
Later Tang Tang, known in historiography as the Later Tang, was a short-lived imperial dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford Unive ...

Later Tang
regarded itself as the restorer of the earlier Tang dynasty and rejected the legitimacy of its predecessor, the Later Liang ** The Later Jin accepted the Later Tang as a legitimate regime ** The
Southern Tang Southern Tang () was a state in Southern China that existed during Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, which proclaimed itself to be the successor of the former Tang Dynasty. The capital was located at Jinling, Nanjing in present-day Jiangsu ...
was, for a period of time, considered the legitimate dynasty during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period ** Modern historiography generally considers the
Five Dynasties The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–979) was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century Imperial China. Five states quickly succeeded one another in the Central Plain, and more than a dozen concurrent states were e ...
, as opposed to the contemporary
Ten Kingdoms The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–979) was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang d ...
, to be legitimate *
Liao dynasty The Liao dynasty (; Khitan language, Khitan: ''Mos Jælud''; ), also known as the Khitan Empire (Khitan: ''Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur''), officially the Great Liao (), was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that ex ...
,
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
, and Jin dynasty ** Following the conquest of the Later Jin, the Liao dynasty claimed legitimacy and succession from it ** Both the
Northern Song The Northern Song (北宋; 4 February 960 – 20 March 1127) is an era during the Song dynasty, Song Dynasty. It came to an end when its capital city, the city of Kaifeng, was conquered by enemies from the north. Later, the provisional capital of ...
and Southern Song considered themselves to be the legitimate Chinese dynasty ** The Jin dynasty challenged the Song's claim of legitimacy ** The succeeding
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
recognized all three in addition to the
Western Liao The Qara Khitai or Kara Khitai (alternatively known as "Black Khitan" or "Black Cathay", mn, Хар Хятан; 1124–1218), also known as the Western Liao (), officially the Great Liao (), was a sinicized Sinicization, sinofication, sinifi ...
as legitimate Chinese dynasties, culminating in the composition of the ''
History of Liao The ''History of Liao'', or ''Liao Shi'' (''Liáo Shǐ''), is a Chinese historical book compiled officially by the Mongols, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), under the direction of the historian Toqto'a (Yuan dynasty), Toqto'a (Tuotuo), and f ...
'', the '' History of Song'', and the ''
History of Jin The ''History of Jin'' (''Jin Shi'') is a Chinese historical text, one of the ''Twenty Four Histories The ''Twenty-Four Histories'' (), also known as the ''Orthodox Histories'' (), are the China, Chinese official history, official historical bo ...
''Brook, Walt van Praag & Boltjes (2018). p. 52. *
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
and
Northern Yuan The Northern Yuan () was a dynastic regime ruled by the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; ) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia Mongolia (, Mongolian language, Mongolian: , Mongolian ...

Northern Yuan
** The Ming dynasty recognized the preceding Yuan dynasty as a legitimate Chinese dynasty, but asserted that it had succeeded the Mandate of Heaven from the Yuan, thus considering the Northern Yuan as illegitimate ** Northern Yuan rulers maintained the dynastic name "Great Yuan" and claimed Chinese titles continuously until AD 1388 or AD 1402; Chinese titles were restored on several occasions thereafter for brief periods ** The Mongol historian Rashipunsug argued that the Northern Yuan had succeeded the legitimacy from the Yuan dynasty; the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
, which later defeated and annexed the Northern Yuan, inherited this legitimacy, thus rendering the Ming as illegitimateBrook, Walt van Praag & Boltjes (2018). p. 54. * Qing dynasty and
Southern Ming The Southern Ming (), also known as the Later Ming (), officially the Great Ming (), was a series of dynastic rump state A rump state is the remnant of a once much larger state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatu ...

Southern Ming
** The Qing dynasty recognized the preceding Ming dynasty as legitimate, but asserted that it had succeeded the Mandate of Heaven from the Ming, thus refuting the claimed legitimacy of the Southern Ming ** The Southern Ming continued to claim legitimacy until its eventual defeat by the Qing ** The Ming loyalist
Kingdom of Tungning The Kingdom of Tungning (), also known as Tywan by the British at the time, pp. 347–348. was a dynastic Thalassocracy, maritime state that ruled part of southwestern Formosa (Taiwan) and Penghu islands between 1661 and 1683, and regarded as th ...

Kingdom of Tungning
in Taiwan denounced the Qing dynasty as illegitimate ** The
Joseon dynasty Joseon (also transcribed as Chosŏn, ko, 대조선국; 大朝鮮國, ) was a Korean dynastic kingdom that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was the last dynastic kingdom of Korea. It was founded by Yi Seong-gye in July 1392 and repl ...
of Korea and the Later Lê dynasty of Vietnam had at various times considered the Southern Ming, instead of the Qing dynasty, as legitimate ** The
Tokugawa shogunate The Tokugawa shogunate (, Japanese 徳川幕府 ''Tokugawa bakufu''), also known as the , was the military government {{Systems of government Military dictatorships A military government is generally any government A government is th ...

Tokugawa shogunate
of Japan did not accept the legitimacy of the Qing dynasty and instead saw itself as the rightful representative of (; "China"); this narrative served as the basis of Japanese texts such as ''Chūchō Jijitsu'' and ''Kai Hentai'' 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 a 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 Ouyang Xiu (1007 – 1072), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East Asian cultural sphere, including Ch ...

Ouyang Xiu
propounded that such orthodoxy existed in a state of limbo during fragmented periods and was restored after political unification was achieved. 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 The Later Zhou (; ) was the last in a succession of five dynasties A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (b ...

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. As most Chinese historiographical sources uphold the idea of unilineal dynastic succession, only one dynasty could be considered orthodox at any given time. Most modern sources consider the legitimate line of succession to be as follows: These historical legitimacy disputes are similar to the modern competing claims of legitimacy by the People's Republic of China based in
Beijing Beijing ( ), as Peking ( ), is the of the . It is the world's , with over 21 million residents within an of 16,410.5 km2 (6336 sq. mi.). It is located in , and is governed as a under the direct administration of the with .Figures ...

Beijing
and the Republic of China based in
Taipei Taipei (), officially Taipei City, is the Capital city, capital and a Special municipality (Taiwan), special municipality of the Taiwan, Republic of China (Taiwan). Located in Regions of Taiwan, Northern Taiwan, Taipei City is an enclave of t ...

Taipei
. Both regimes formally adhere to the
One-China policy The "One-China policy" is a United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , a , five major , 326 , and some . At , it is ...
and claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the whole of China.


Agnatic lineages

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: *
Western Zhou The Western Zhou ( zh, c=, p=Xīzhōu; c. 1045 BC – 771 BC) was the first half of the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chin ...
and
Eastern Zhou The Eastern Zhou (; zh, c=, p=Dōngzhōu; 770–256 BC) was the second half of the Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the an ...
** The Western Zhou and the Eastern Zhou are collectively known as the
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
** The founder of the Eastern Zhou, the
King Ping of Zhou King Ping of Zhou (; died 720 BC), personal name Ji Yijiu, was the thirteenth king of the Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is ...
, was a son of the last Western Zhou ruler, the
King You of Zhou King You of Zhou (; 795–771 BC), personal name Ji Gongsheng, was the twelfth king King is the title given to a male in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is , which title is also given to the of a king. *In the context of ...
*
Western Han#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...
,
Eastern Han#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...
,
Shu Han Han (; 221–263), known in historiography as Shu Han ( ; often shortened to Shu ; pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland ...
, and
Liu Song The Liu Song dynasty (420–479 CE; ), also known as Former Song (前宋) or Southern Song (南朝宋), was the first of the four Southern Dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China that laste ...
** The Western Han and the Eastern Han are collectively known as the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
** The first emperor of the Eastern Han, the
Emperor Guangwu of Han The Emperor Guangwu of Han (15 January 5 BC – 29 March AD 57), born Liu Xiu (), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a t ...
, was a ninth-generation descendant of the Western Han founder, the
Emperor Gao of Han Emperor Gaozu of Han (256 – 1 June 195 BC), born Liu Bang () with courtesy name Ji (季), was the founder and first emperor of the Han dynasty, reigning in 202–195 BC. His temple name was "Taizu" while his posthumous name was Emper ...

Emperor Gao of Han
; he was also a seventh-generation descendant of the sixth Western Han monarch, the
Emperor Jing of Han Emperor Jing of Han (Liu Qi 劉啟; 188 BC – 9 March 141 BC) was the sixth emperor of China, emperor of the Chinese Han dynasty from 157 to 141 BC. His reign saw the limiting of the power of the feudal kings/princes which resulted in the Rebel ...
** The founder of the Shu Han, the , was also descended from the Emperor Jing of Han ** The ''
Book of Song The ''Book of Song'' (''Sòng Shū'') is a historical text of the Liu Song Dynasty of the Southern Dynasties of history of China, China. It covers history from 420 to 479, and is one of the Twenty-Four Histories, a traditional collection of histo ...
'' states that the first Liu Song ruler, the
Emperor Wu of Liu Song Emperor Wu of (Liu) Song (()宋武帝; 363–422), personal name Liu Yu (), courtesy name Dexing (), nickname Jinu (), was a statesman and strategist of ancient China, and the founding emperor of the Chinese dynasty Liu Song The Liu Song dyna ...
, was a male-line descendant of a younger brother of the Emperor Gao of Han, the Prince Yuan of Chu *
Western Jin Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
and
Eastern Jin Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited (), also known as China Eastern, is an airline An airline is a company that provides air transport services for traveling passenge ...
** The Western Jin and the Eastern Jin are collectively known as the Jin dynasty ** The Eastern Jin founder, the
Emperor Yuan of Jin Emperor Yuan of Jin (; 276 – 3 January 323), personal name Sima Rui (司馬睿), courtesy name Jingwen (景文), was an emperor of the Jin dynasty (265–420), Jin dynasty and the first of the Eastern Jin. His reign saw the steady gradual loss ...
, was a great-grandson of the Western Jin progenitor, the Emperor Xuan of Jin; he was also a grandson of the Prince Wu of Langya and a son of the Prince Gong of Langya *
Han Zhao The Han Zhao (; 304–329 AD), or Former Zhao (), was a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is ...
and Hu Xia ** The Han Zhao founder, the Emperor Guangwen of Han Zhao, and the Hu Xia founder, the Emperor Wulie of Hu Xia, were descended from Liu Qiangqu and
Liu Qubei Liu Qubei (; pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland China, Taiwan (ROC), and Singapore. It is often used to teach Standard Chin ...
respectively; according to the ''
History of the Northern Dynasties History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
'', Liu Qiangqu and Liu Qibei were brothers *
Former Yan The Former Yan (; 337–370) was a dynastic state ruled by the Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mongol lang ...
,
Later Yan The Later Yan (; 384 – 407 or 409) was a dynastic state ruled by the Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mon ...
, and
Southern Yan The Southern Yan (; 398–410) was a Xianbei-led Dynasties in Chinese history, dynastic state during the era of Sixteen Kingdoms in China. Its territory roughly coincided with modern Shandong. Its founder Murong De was a son of Murong Huang and bro ...
** The founder of the Later Yan, the Emperor Chengwu of Later Yan, was a son of the Former Yan founder, the Emperor Wenming of Former Yan ** The first monarch of the Southern Yan, the Emperor Xianwu of Southern Yan, was also a son of the Emperor Wenming of Former Yan * Western Liang and
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
** The founder of the Tang dynasty, the
Emperor Gaozu of Tang Emperor Gaozu of Tang (7 April 566 – 25 June 635, born Li Yuan, courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the ...
, was a seventh-generation descendant of the Western Liang founder, the Prince Wuzhao of Western Liang *
Northern Wei The Northern Wei (), also known as the Tuoba Wei (拓跋魏), Later Wei (後魏), was a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Pres ...
,
Eastern Wei The Eastern Wei (;"Wei"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ) followed the disintegration of the Northern Wei Dynast ...
, and
Western Wei The Western Wei (;"Wei"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ) was a Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty of China ...
** The only ruler of the Eastern Wei, the
Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei ((東)魏孝靜帝) (524–552), personal name Yuan Shanjian (元善見), was the only emperor of the Eastern Wei The Eastern Wei (;Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei ((北)魏孝文帝) (October 13, 467 – April 26, 499), personal name né Tuoba Hong (拓拔宏), later Yuan Hong (元宏), or Toba Hung II, was an emperor of the Northern Wei from September 20, 471 to April 26, ...

Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei
** The Western Wei founder, the
Emperor Wen of Western Wei Emperor Wen of Western Wei ((西)魏文帝) (507–551), personal name Yuan Baoju (元寶炬), was an emperor of Western Wei—a branch successor state to Northern Wei Maitreya Maitreya (Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃ ...
, was a grandson of the Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei *
Southern Qi The Southern Qi ( or ) (479–502) also known as Xiao Qi () was the second of the Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589, following the tumultuous era of ...
and
Liang dynasty The Liang dynasty () (502–557), also known as the Southern Liang (), was the third of the Southern Dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589, following the tumultuo ...
** The founder of the Liang dynasty, the
Emperor Wu of Liang Emperor Wu of Liang (梁武帝) (464–549), personal name Xiao Yan (蕭衍), courtesy name Shuda (叔達), nickname Lian'er (練兒), was the founding emperor of the Liang Dynasty of Chinese Northern and Southern dynasties, Northern and southern ...

Emperor Wu of Liang
, was a son of the Emperor Wen of Liang who was a distant cousin of the Southern Qi founder, the
Emperor Gao of Southern Qi Emperor Gao of Southern Qi ((南)齊高帝; 427–482), personal name Xiao Daocheng (蕭道成), courtesy name Shaobo (紹伯), nickname Doujiang (鬥將)) was the founding emperor of the History of China, Chinese dynasty Southern Qi. He served as ...
* Later Han and
Northern Han The Northern Han () was a dynastic state of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–979) was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century Imperial China. Five states quickly s ...
** The first ruler of the Northern Han, the Emperor Shizu of Northern Han, was a younger brother of the Later Han founder, the
Emperor Gaozu of Later Han Liu Zhiyuan () (March 4, 895 – March 10, 948), later changed to Liu Gao (), formally Emperor Gaozu of (Later) Han (), was the ethnically-Shatuo founder of the Later Han (Five Dynasties), Later Han, the fourth of the Five Dynasties in the Five Dy ...
*
Liao dynasty The Liao dynasty (; Khitan language, Khitan: ''Mos Jælud''; ), also known as the Khitan Empire (Khitan: ''Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur''), officially the Great Liao (), was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that ex ...
and
Western Liao The Qara Khitai or Kara Khitai (alternatively known as "Black Khitan" or "Black Cathay", mn, Хар Хятан; 1124–1218), also known as the Western Liao (), officially the Great Liao (), was a sinicized Sinicization, sinofication, sinifi ...
** The Western Liao founder, the Emperor Dezong of Western Liao, was an eighth-generation descendant of the first emperor of the Liao dynasty, the
Emperor Taizu of Liao Abaoji (8726 September 926), posthumously known as Emperor Taizu of Liao, was a Khitan leader and founder of the Liao dynasty The Liao dynasty (; Khitan: ''Mos Jælud''; ), also known as the Liao Empire, officially the Great Liao (), the ...
*
Northern Song The Northern Song (北宋; 4 February 960 – 20 March 1127) is an era during the Song dynasty, Song Dynasty. It came to an end when its capital city, the city of Kaifeng, was conquered by enemies from the north. Later, the provisional capital of ...
and
Southern Song The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
** The Northern Song and the Southern Song are collectively known as the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
** The first ruler of the Southern Song, the
Emperor Gaozong of Song Emperor Gaozong of Song (12 June 1107 – 9 November 1187), personal name Zhao Gou, courtesy name Deji, was the tenth emperor of the Song dynasty of China and the founding emperor of the Southern Song dynasty. He was the ninth son of Empero ...
, was a son of the eighth Northern Song monarch, the
Emperor Huizong of Song Emperor Huizong of Song (7 June 1082 – 4 June 1135), personal name Zhao Ji, was the eighth emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another ...

Emperor Huizong of Song
; he was also a younger brother of the last Northern Song emperor, the
Emperor Qinzong of Song An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the he ...
*
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
and
Northern Yuan The Northern Yuan () was a dynastic regime ruled by the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; ) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia Mongolia (, Mongolian language, Mongolian: , Mongolian ...

Northern Yuan
** The Emperor Huizong of Yuan was both the last emperor of the Yuan dynasty and the first ruler of the Northern Yuan *
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
and
Southern Ming The Southern Ming (), also known as the Later Ming (), officially the Great Ming (), was a series of dynastic rump state A rump state is the remnant of a once much larger state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatu ...

Southern Ming
** The Southern Ming founder, the
Hongguang Emperor The Hongguang Emperor (; 1607–1646), personal name Zhu Yousong (), was the first emperor of the Southern Ming Dynasty. He reigned briefly in Southern China from 1644-1645. His Chinese era name, era name, Hongguang, means "Great light". Biography ...
, was a grandson of the 14th emperor of the Ming dynasty, the
Wanli Emperor The Wanli Emperor (; 4 September 1563 – 18 August 1620), personal name Zhu Yijun (), was the 14th Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1572 to 1620. "Wanli", the era name A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign Sovereign i ...
* Later Jin and
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
** The was both the last Later Jin khan and the first emperor of the Qing dynasty


Classification


Central Plain dynasties

The is a vast area on the lower reaches of the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
which formed the cradle of Chinese civilization. "Central Plain dynasties" (; ) refer to dynasties of China that had their
capital cities A capital or capital city is the municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or jurisdiction as granted by national and regional laws ...
situated within the Central Plain. This term could refer to dynasties of both Han and non-Han ethnic origins.


Unified dynasties

"Unified dynasties" (; ) 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" (; ). The concept of "great unity" or "grand unification" (; ) was first mentioned in the '' Gongyang Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals'' that was supposedly authored by the Qi scholar Gongyang Gao. Other prominent figures like Confucius and
Mencius Mencius ( ); born Mèng Kē (); or Mengzi (; 372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucian , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's R ...

Mencius
also elaborated on this concept in their respective works. Historians typically consider the following dynasties to have unified China proper: the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Qin dynasty
, the
Western Han#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...
, the
Xin dynasty The Xin dynasty (; ) was a short-lived Chinese dynasty 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 t ...
, the
Eastern Han#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...
, the
Western Jin Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
, the
Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Han Chinese, Han in the entirety of ...

Sui dynasty
, the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
, the Wu Zhou, the
Northern Song The Northern Song (北宋; 4 February 960 – 20 March 1127) is an era during the Song dynasty, Song Dynasty. It came to an end when its capital city, the city of Kaifeng, was conquered by enemies from the north. Later, the provisional capital of ...
, the
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
, the
Ming dynasty The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the Dynasties in Chinese history, ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol Empire, Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynas ...

Ming dynasty
, and the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
. The status of the Northern Song as a unified dynasty is disputed among historians as the were partially administered by the contemporaneous
Liao dynasty The Liao dynasty (; Khitan language, Khitan: ''Mos Jælud''; ), also known as the Khitan Empire (Khitan: ''Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur''), officially the Great Liao (), was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that ex ...
while the
Western Xia The Western Xia or the Xi Xia (), officially the Great Xia (), also known as the Tangut Empire, and known as ''Mi-nyak''Stein (1972), pp. 70–71. to Tanguts and Tibetans, was a Tangut people, Tangut-ruled empire and a Dynasties in C ...

Western Xia
exercised partial control over
Hetao Hetao () is a C-shaped region in northwestern China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populati ...
; the Northern Song, in this sense, did not truly achieve the unification of China proper.


Conquest dynasties

"Conquest dynasties" (; ) refer to dynasties of China founded by non-Han peoples that ruled parts or all of China proper. This term was first coined by the historian and sinologist
Karl August Wittfogel Karl August Wittfogel (; 6 September 1896 – 25 May 1988) was a German-American playwright, historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is ...
and remains a source of controversy among scholars who believe that Chinese history should be analyzed and understood from a multiethnic and multicultural perspective. For instance, the
Northern Wei The Northern Wei (), also known as the Tuoba Wei (拓跋魏), Later Wei (後魏), was a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Pres ...
and the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
, established by the
Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mongol language, the language spoken at the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empir ...
and Manchu ethnicities respectively, are considered conquest dynasties of China.


Naming convention


Official nomenclature

It was customary for Chinese monarchs to adopt an official name for the realm, known as the (; "name of the state"), upon the establishment of a dynasty.Wilkinson (2000). pp. 13–14. During the rule of a dynasty, its 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: * The name of the ruling tribe or tribal confederation ** e.g., the
Xia dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty The Xia dynasty is the first dynasty in traditional Chinese historiography. According to tradition, the Xia dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great, after Shun, the last of the Five ...

Xia dynasty
took its name from its ruling class, the Xia tribal confederation * The noble title held by the dynastic founder prior to the founding of the dynasty ** e.g., the
Emperor Wu of Chen Emperor Wu of Chen (陳武帝;Chen Wudi; 503–559), personal name Chen Baxian (陳霸先), courtesy name Xingguo (興國), nickname Fasheng (法生), was the first emperor of the Chen dynasty of China. He first distinguished himself as a Liang ...

Emperor Wu of Chen
adopted the dynastic name "Chen" from his pre-imperial title "Prince of Chen" upon the establishment of the
Chen dynasty The Chen dynasty (; 557–589), also known as the Southern Chen (南陳 / 南朝陈), was the fourth and last of the Southern Dynasties in China. Following the Liang dynasty, the Chen dynasty was founded by Chen Baxian (Emperor Wu of Chen, Empero ...
* The name of a historical state that occupied the same geographical location as the new dynasty ** e.g., the
Former Yan The Former Yan (; 337–370) was a dynastic state ruled by the Xianbei The Xianbei (; ) were a Proto-Mongolic Proto-Mongolic is the hypothetical ancestor language of the modern Mongolic languages. It is very close to the Middle Mongol lang ...
was officially named "Yan" based on the ancient
State of Yan Yan (; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the ancestor of all modern varieties of Chinese. The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscriptions on oracle ...
located in the same region * The name of a previous dynasty from which the new dynasty claimed descent or succession from, even if such familial link was questionable ** e.g., the officially proclaimed the
Later Zhou The Later Zhou (; ) was the last in a succession of five dynasties A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (b ...

Later Zhou
with the official title "Zhou" as he claimed ancestry from Guo Shu, a royal of the
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China ...
* A term with auspicious or other significant connotations ** e.g., the
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
was officially the "Great Yuan", a name derived from a clause in the '' Classic of Changes'', "" (; "Great is the Heavenly and Primal") There were instances whereby the official name was changed during the reign of a dynasty. For example, the dynasty known retroactively as
Southern Han Southern Han (; 917–971), officially Han (), originally Yue (), was one of the ten kingdoms that existed during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–979) was an era of political upheav ...
initially used the name "Yue", only to be renamed to "Han" subsequently. The official title of several dynasties bore the character "" (; "great"). In ''Yongzhuang Xiaopin'' by the
Ming The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming
historian
Zhu Guozhen Zhu Guozhen (; 1557–1632) was a Chinese historian, politician, and writer of the Ming dynasty. Biography He was born in 1557. He was Jinshi (imperial examination), jinshi in the imperial examination in 1589 and was a Grand Secretariat, Chief Gran ...
, it was claimed that the first dynasty to do so was the Yuan dynasty. 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 "". 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. For instance, '' The Chronicles of Japan'' referred to the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
as "" (; "Great Tang") despite its dynastic name being simply "Tang". While all dynasties of China sought to associate their respective realm with (; "Central State"; usually translated as "Middle Kingdom" or "China" in English texts), none of these regimes officially used the term as their dynastic name. Although the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
explicitly identified their state with and employed ""—and its
Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym and endonym, exonym for a historical and geographic region of Russia and China in Northeast Asia (mostly in ...
equivalent "''Dulimbai Gurun''" ()—in official capacity in numerous international treaties beginning with the
Treaty of Nerchinsk The Treaty of Nerchinsk () of 1689 was the first treaty between the Tsardom of Russia The Tsardom of Russia or Tsardom of Rus' (russian: Русское царство, ''Russkoye tsarstvo''; later changed to: , ''Rossiyskoye tsarstvo''), also c ...
dated AD 1689, its dynastic name had remained the "Great Qing". "", which has become nearly synonymous with "China" in modern times, is a concept with geographical, political, and cultural connotations. The adoption of , as well as the importance assigned to it, had promulgated within the
Sinosphere The East Asian cultural sphere, also known as the Sinosphere, the Sinic world, the Sinitic world, the Chinese cultural sphere or the Chinese character sphere, encompasses countries in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of As ...
. Notably, rulers of
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...
and Korea also declared 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 The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Han Chinese, Han in the entirety of ...

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. Frequently used prefixes include: * Cardinal direction ** "Northern" (; ): e.g.,
Northern Qi The Northern Qi (), also called Later Qi and Gao Qi, was one of the Northern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China that lasted from 420 to 589, following the tumultuous era of the Sixteen K ...
,
Northern Yuan The Northern Yuan () was a dynastic regime ruled by the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; ) are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia Mongolia (, Mongolian language, Mongolian: , Mongolian ...

Northern Yuan
** "Southern" (; ): e.g.,
Southern Yan The Southern Yan (; 398–410) was a Xianbei-led Dynasties in Chinese history, dynastic state during the era of Sixteen Kingdoms in China. Its territory roughly coincided with modern Shandong. Its founder Murong De was a son of Murong Huang and bro ...
,
Southern Tang Southern Tang () was a state in Southern China that existed during Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, which proclaimed itself to be the successor of the former Tang Dynasty. The capital was located at Jinling, Nanjing in present-day Jiangsu ...
** "Eastern" (; ): e.g.,
Eastern Jin Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited (), also known as China Eastern, is an airline An airline is a company that provides air transport services for traveling passenge ...
,
Eastern Wei The Eastern Wei (;"Wei"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''. ) followed the disintegration of the Northern Wei Dynast ...
** "Western" (; ): e.g., Western Liang,
Western Liao The Qara Khitai or Kara Khitai (alternatively known as "Black Khitan" or "Black Cathay", mn, Хар Хятан; 1124–1218), also known as the Western Liao (), officially the Great Liao (), was a sinicized Sinicization, sinofication, sinifi ...
* Sequence ** "Former" (; ): e.g.,
Former Qin The Former Qin, also called Fu Qin (苻秦) (351–394) was a dynastic state of the Sixteen Kingdoms The Sixteen Kingdoms (), less commonly the Sixteen States, was a chaotic period in Chinese history The earliest known written r ...
,
Former Shu Great Shu (Chinese: 大蜀, Pinyin: Dàshǔ) called in retrospect Former Shu (Chinese: 前蜀, Pinyin: Qiánshǔ) or occasionally Wang Shu (王蜀), was one of the Ten Kingdoms formed during the chaotic period between the rules of the Tang dynast ...
** "Later" (; ): e.g.,
Later Zhao The Later Zhao (; 319–351) was a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press ...
, Later Han * Surname of the ruling family ** e.g., Wu Zhou,
Ma Chu Chu (), often referred to as Ma Chu () or Southern Chu () to distinguish it from other historical states called Chu, was a kingdom in south China South China () is a geographical and cultural region that covers the southernmost part of China ...
* Other types of prefixes ** e.g.,
Shu Han Han (; 221–263), known in historiography as Shu Han ( ; often shortened to Shu ; pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland ...
(the prefix "Shu" is a reference to the realm's geographical location at
Sichuan Sichuan (; , ; alternatively romanized as Szechuan or Szechwan) is a landlocked province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, admini ...

Sichuan
), Hu Xia (the prefix "Hu", meaning "
barbarian A barbarian is a human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Bioc ...

barbarian
", refers to the dynasty's
Xiongnu The Xiongnu (, ) were a tribal confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal ...

Xiongnu
origin) 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#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...
is also known as the "Former Han", and the
Yang Wu Wu (), also referred to as Huainan (), Hongnong (), Southern Wu (), or Yang Wu (楊吳), was one of the Ten Kingdoms in eastern China which was in existence from 907 to 937. Its capital was Jiangdu Municipality () (modern Yangzhou Yangzhou, P ...
is also called the "Southern Wu". Scholars usually make a historiographical distinction for dynasties whose rule were interrupted. For example, the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
is divided into the
Northern Song The Northern Song (北宋; 4 February 960 – 20 March 1127) is an era during the Song dynasty, Song Dynasty. It came to an end when its capital city, the city of Kaifeng, was conquered by enemies from the north. Later, the provisional capital of ...
and the
Southern Song The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
, with the Jingkang Incident as the dividing line; the original "Song" founded by the
Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kuangyin, courtesy name Yuanlang, was the founder and first emperor of the Song dynasty in China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a ...
was therefore differentiated from the "Song" restored under the
Emperor Gaozong of Song Emperor Gaozong of Song (12 June 1107 – 9 November 1187), personal name Zhao Gou, courtesy name Deji, was the tenth emperor of the Song dynasty of China and the founding emperor of the Southern Song dynasty. He was the ninth son of Empero ...
. 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 The Western Qin (; 385-400, 409-431) was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), ...
and the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
, which were interrupted by the
Later Qin The Later Qin (; 384–417), also known as Yao Qin (), was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The St ...
and the Wu Zhou respectively. In Chinese sources, the term "dynasty" (; ) 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 The Northern Zhou (; ) followed the Western Wei, and ruled northern China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populou ...
is also sometimes referred to as the "Northern Zhou dynasty". 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.


Territorial extent

While the earliest orthodox Chinese dynasties were established along the Yellow River and the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
in China proper, numerous Chinese dynasties later expanded beyond the region to encompass other territorial domains.Tanner (2009). p. 167. At various points in time, Chinese dynasties exercised control over China proper (including
Hainan Hainan (, ; ) is the smallest and southernmost province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational enti ...

Hainan
,
Macau Macau or Macao (; ; ; ), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (MSAR), (RAEM) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. Lond ...

Macau
, and
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Pe ...

Hong Kong
),
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
,
Manchuria Manchuria is an exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

Manchuria
(both and
Outer Manchuria Outer Manchuria (russian: Приаму́рье, translit=Priamurye; zh, t=外東北, p=Wài Dōngběi, l=Outer Northeast) or Russian Manchuria is a term for a territory in Northeast Asia that is part of Russia Russia (russian: link=no, ...
),
Sakhalin Sakhalin; ja, 樺太 ''Karafuto'') is the largest island of Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. The ...

Sakhalin
,
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...
(both
Inner Mongolia Inner Mongolia, officially the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous administrative division (also referred to as an autonomous area, entity, unit, region, subdivision, or territory) is a subnati ...

Inner Mongolia
and
Outer Mongolia Outer Mongolia (Mongolian script The classical or traditional Mongolian script, also known as the , was the first writing system A writing system is a method of visually representing verbal communication Communication (from ...
),
Vietnam Vietnam ( vi, Việt Nam, ), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,, group="n" is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the ...
,Lockard (2020). p. 262.
Tibet Tibet (; ; ) is a region in East Asia covering much of the Tibetan Plateau spanning about . It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa people, Monpa, Tamang people, Tamang, Qia ...

Tibet
,
Xinjiang Xinjiang (),, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; alternately romanized as Sinkiang officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and formerly romanized as Sinkiang, is a landlocked autonomous region An autonomous ...
, as well as parts of
Central Asia Central Asia is a region in Asia which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north, including the former Soviet Union, Soviet republics of the Sov ...

Central Asia
, the
Korean Peninsula Korea is a region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental ...

Korean Peninsula
,
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages The Iranian or Iranic languages are a branch of t ...

Afghanistan
,Hsu (2012). p. 268. and
Siberia Siberia (; rus, Сибирь, r=Sibir', p=sʲɪˈbʲirʲ, a=Ru-Сибирь.ogg) is an extensive geographical region, constituting all of North Asia, from the Ural Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. It has been a part of R ...

Siberia
. Territorially, the largest orthodox Chinese dynasty was either the
Yuan dynasty The Yuan dynasty (), officially the Great Yuan (; xng, , , literally "Great Yuan State"), was a successor state Successor is someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after (see success and succession) Film and TV * ''The Succ ...
or the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
, depending on the historical source. 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 Lake Baikal (; russian: Oзеро Байкал, Ozero Baykal ; bua, Байгал далай, Baigal dalai; mn, Байгал нуур, Baigal nuur) is a rift lake A rift lake is a lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized i ...

Lake Baikal
, others posit that the Yuan dynasty reached as far north as the
Arctic The Arctic ( or ) is a polar regions of Earth, polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth. The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Danish Realm, ...

Arctic
coast. 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 The tributary system of China (), or Cefeng system () was a network of loose international relations focused on China which facilitated trade and foreign relations by acknowledging China's predominant role in East Asia. It involved multiple relatio ...
. The Chinese tributary system first emerged during the
Western Han#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...
and lasted until the 19th century AD when the
Sinocentric Sinocentrism refers to the worldview that China is the cultural, political or economic center of the world. It may be considered analogous to Eurocentrism Eurocentrism (also Eurocentricity or Western-centrism) is a worldview that is centered ...
order broke down. 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.Tanner (2009). p. 419.


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.


Timelines


Timeline of major historical periods


Timeline of major regimes

ImageSize = width:1600 height:auto barincrement:15 PlotArea = top:10 bottom:30 right:210 left:20 AlignBars = early DateFormat = yyyy Period = from:-2500 till:2000 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:200 start:-2500 Colors = id:canvas value:rgb(0.97,0.97,0.97) id:PD value:rgb(1,0.2,0.6) id:DY value:rgb(1,0.6,0.2) id:ND value:rgb(0,0.6,0) Backgroundcolors = canvas:canvas BarData = barset:Regimes PlotData= width:5 align:left fontsize:S shift:(5,-4) anchor:till barset:Regimes from: -2500 till: -2070 color:PD text:"
Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors were two groups of mythological Myth is a consisting of s that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or s. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as , s, ...
(before 2070 BC)" from: -2070 till: -1600 color:DY text:"
Xia Xia (Hsia in Wade–Giles) may refer to: Chinese history * Xia dynasty (夏) (c. 2070 – c. 1600 BC) * Xia (Sixteen Kingdoms) (夏) (407–431), a Xiongnu state * Xia (夏) (617–621), a state founded by Dou Jiande near the end of the Sui dynast ...

Xia
(2070–1600 BC)" from: -1600 till: -1046 color:DY text:"
Shang The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From ...

Shang
(1600–1046 BC)" from: -1046 till: -771 color:DY text:" W. Zhou (1046–771 BC)" from: -770 till: -256 color:DY text:" E. Zhou (770–256 BC)" from: -221 till: -207 color:DY text:"
QinQin may refer to: Dynasties and states * Qin (state) (秦), a major state during the Zhou Dynasty of ancient China * Qin dynasty (秦), founded by the Qin state in 221 BC and ended in 206 BC * Daqin (大秦), ancient Chinese name for the Roman Empi ...

Qin
(221–207 BC)" from: -202 till: 9 color:DY text:" W. Han (202 BC–AD 9)" from: 9 till: 23 color:DY text:" Xin (AD 9–23)" from: 25 till: 220 color:DY text:" E. Han (AD 25–220)" from: 220 till: 266 color:DY text:"
Cao Wei Wei (220–266), also known as Cao Wei or Former Wei, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period (220–280). With its capital initially located at Xuchang, and thereafter Luoyang, the ...
(AD 220–266)" from: 221 till: 263 color:DY text:"
Shu Han Han (; 221–263), known in historiography as Shu Han ( ; often shortened to Shu ; pinyin ''Hanyu Pinyin'' (), often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in mainland ...
(AD 221–263)" from: 222 till: 280 color:DY text:" E. Wu (AD 222–280)" from: 266 till: 316 color:DY text:" W. Jin (AD 266–316)" from: 304 till: 329 color:DY text:"
Han Zhao The Han Zhao (; 304–329 AD), or Former Zhao (), was a dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is ...
(AD 304–329)" from: 304 till: 347 color:DY text:"
Cheng Han Cheng Han (; 303 or 304 – 347) was a dynastic state of the Sixteen Kingdoms The Sixteen Kingdoms (), less commonly the Sixteen States, was a chaotic period in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of Chin ...
(AD 304–347)" from: 317 till: 420 color:DY text:" E. Jin (AD 317–420)" from: 319 till: 351 color:DY text:" L. Zhao (AD 319–351)" from: 320 till: 376 color:DY text:" F. Liang (AD 320–376)" from: 337 till: 370 color:DY text:" F. Yan (AD 337–370)" from: 351 till: 394 color:DY text:" F. Qin (AD 351–394)" from: 384 till: 409 color:DY text:" L. Yan (AD 384–409)" from: 384 till: 417 color:DY text:" L. Qin (AD 384–417)" from: 385 till: 400 color:DY text:" W. Qin (pre-interregnum; AD 385–400)" from: 386 till: 403 color:DY text:" L. Liang (AD 386–403)" from: 386 till: 535 color:DY text:" N. Wei (AD 386–535)" from: 397 till: 414 color:DY text:" S. Liang (AD 397–414)" from: 397 till: 439 color:DY text:" N. Liang (AD 397–439)" from: 398 till: 410 color:DY text:" S. Yan (AD 398–410)" from: 400 till: 421 color:DY text:" W. Liang (AD 400–421)" from: 407 till: 431 color:DY text:" Hu Xia (AD 407–431)" from: 407 till: 436 color:DY text:" N. Yan (AD 407–436)" from: 409 till: 431 color:DY text:" W. Qin (restored; AD 409–431)" from: 420 till: 479 color:DY text:"
Liu Song The Liu Song dynasty (420–479 CE; ), also known as Former Song (前宋) or Southern Song (南朝宋), was the first of the four Southern Dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China that laste ...
(AD 420–479)" from: 479 till: 502 color:DY text:" S. Qi (AD 479–502)" from: 502 till: 557 color:DY text:"
Liang Liang may refer to: Chinese history * Liang (state) (梁) (8th century BC – 641 BC), a Spring and Autumn period state * Wei (state) (403–225  BC), a Warring States period state, also known as Liang (梁) after moving its capital to Daliang ** ...
(AD 502–557)" from: 534 till: 550 color:DY text:" E. Wei (AD 534–550)" from: 535 till: 557 color:DY text:" W. Wei (AD 535–557)" from: 550 till: 577 color:DY text:" N. Qi (AD 550–577)" from: 557 till: 581 color:DY text:" N. Zhou (AD 557–581)" from: 557 till: 589 color:DY text:"
Chen Chen may refer to: People *Chen (surname) Chen () () is a common East Asian surname and one of the most common surnames in the world. It is the most common surname in Taiwan (2010) and Singapore (2000). Chen is also the most common family na ...
(AD 557–589)" from: 581 till: 619 color:DY text:" (AD 581–619)" from: 618 till: 690 color:DY text:" Tang (pre-interregnum; AD 618–690)" from: 690 till: 705 color:DY text:" Wu Zhou (AD 690–705)" from: 705 till: 907 color:DY text:" Tang (restored; AD 705–907)" from: 907 till: 923 color:DY text:" L. Liang (AD 907–923)" from: 907 till: 925 color:DY text:" F. Shu (AD 907–925)" from: 907 till: 937 color:DY text:"
Yang Wu Wu (), also referred to as Huainan (), Hongnong (), Southern Wu (), or Yang Wu (楊吳), was one of the Ten Kingdoms in eastern China which was in existence from 907 to 937. Its capital was Jiangdu Municipality () (modern Yangzhou Yangzhou, P ...
(AD 907–937)" from: 907 till: 951 color:DY text:"
Ma Chu Chu (), often referred to as Ma Chu () or Southern Chu () to distinguish it from other historical states called Chu, was a kingdom in south China South China () is a geographical and cultural region that covers the southernmost part of China ...
(AD 907–951)" from: 907 till: 978 color:DY text:"
Wuyue Wuyue (; Shanghainese: ), 907–978, was an independent coastal kingdom founded during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–960) of Chinese history. It was ruled by the Haiyan County, Zhejiang, Haiyan Qian (surname), Qian clan (海 ...
(AD 907–978)" from: 909 till: 945 color:DY text:" Min (AD 909–945)" from: 916 till: 1125 color:DY text:" Liao (AD 916–1125)" from: 917 till: 971 color:DY text:" S. Han (AD 917–971)" from: 923 till: 937 color:DY text:" (AD 923–937)" from: 924 till: 963 color:DY text:"
Jingnan Jingnan (), also known as Nanping (南平; alternatively written as Southern Ping) and Northern Chu () in historiography, was one of the Ten Kingdoms in south-central China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a countr ...
(AD 924–963)" from: 934 till: 965 color:DY text:" L. Shu (AD 934–965)" from: 936 till: 947 color:DY text:" L. Jin (AD 936–947)" from: 937 till: 976 color:DY text:" S. Tang (AD 937–976)" from: 947 till: 951 color:DY text:" L. Han (AD 947–951)" from: 951 till: 960 color:DY text:" (AD 951–960)" from: 951 till: 979 color:DY text:" N. Han (AD 951–979)" from: 960 till: 1127 color:DY text:" N. Song (AD 960–1127)" from: 1038 till: 1227 color:DY text:" (AD 1038–1227)" from: 1115 till: 1234 color:DY text:" Jin (AD 1115–1234)" from: 1124 till: 1218 color:DY text:" W. Liao (AD 1124–1218)" from: 1127 till: 1279 color:DY text:" S. Song (AD 1127–1279)" from: 1271 till: 1368 color:DY text:" Yuan (AD 1271–1368)" from: 1368 till: 1635 color:DY text:" (AD 1368–1635)" from: 1368 till: 1644 color:DY text:"
Ming The Ming dynasty (), officially the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644 following the collapse of the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an eth ...

Ming
(AD 1368–1644)" from: 1616 till: 1636 color:DY text:" L. Jin (AD 1616–1636)" from: 1636 till: 1912 color:DY text:"
Qing The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
(AD 1636–1912)" from: 1644 till: 1662 color:DY text:" (AD 1644–1662)" from: 1912 till: 2000 color:ND text:" (AD 1912–present)" from: 1931 till: 1937 color:ND text:" (AD 1931–1937)" from: 1949 till: 2000 color:ND text:" (AD 1949–present)" barset:skip


See also

*
1911 Revolution The 1911 Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution or the Xinhai Revolution, ended China's last imperial dynasty, the Manchu The Manchu (; ) are an officially recognized ethnic minority in China and the people from whom Manchuria ...
*
Ancient Chinese states Ancient Chinese states () were typified by variously sized city-states and territories that existed in China prior to its unification by Qin Shi Huang Qin Shi Huang (, ; 259–210 BCE), or Shihuangdi, was the founder of the Qin dynasty, and ...
* Chinese expansionism *
Chinese historiography Chinese historiography is the study of the techniques and sources used by historians to develop the recorded history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty ...
*
Chinese sovereign The Chinese sovereign was the ruler of a particular regime in ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historical ...
*
Conquest dynasty A conquest dynasty () in the history of imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was mentioned ...
*
Dragon Throne The Dragon Throne () is the throne of the Emperor of China. As the dragon was the emblem of Mandate of Heaven, divine Emperor, imperial power, the throne of the Emperor was known as the Dragon Throne. The term can refer to very specific seating, as ...
*
Dynastic cycle Dynastic cycle () is an important political theory Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. I ...
*
East Asian cultural sphere The East Asian cultural sphere, also known as the Sinosphere, the Sinic world, the Sinitic world, the Chinese cultural sphere or the Chinese character sphere, encompasses countries in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of A ...
*
Eighteen Kingdoms The historiographical term "Eighteen Kingdoms" ( zh, t=十八國) refers to the eighteen ''fengjian ''Fēngjiàn'' ( zh, c=封建, l=enfeoffment and establishment) was a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Att ...

Eighteen Kingdoms
*
Emperor at home, king abroad Emperor at home, king abroad was a system of conducting relations between states within the East Asian cultural sphere. Rulers of non-Chinese regimes would use the title of ''emperor'' (皇帝, or other equivalents) domestically and adopt the titl ...
*
Emperor of China Emperor of China, or ''Huángdì'' (), was the Chinese sovereign, monarch of China during the History of China#Imperial China, imperial period of Chinese history. In traditional Chinese political theory, the emperor was considered the Son of He ...
*
Family tree of Chinese monarchs (ancient) In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity (law), affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the ...
*
Family tree of Chinese monarchs (early) This is a family tree of Chinese emperors from the foundation of the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE (by Qin Shihuangdi), till the end of the Sixteen Kingdoms period, in 453 CE. Family tree of Chinese monarchs (ancient) → Family tree of Chinese monarchs ...
*
Family tree of Chinese monarchs (late) This is a family tree of Chinese emperors from the Yuan dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty, officially the Great Qing (), was the last History of China#Imperial China, imperial Dynasties in Chinese history, dynasty of ...
*
Family tree of Chinese monarchs (middle)The following is a family tree of Chinese emperors (420–1279), from the Northern and Southern dynasties period, of first half of the fifth century AD, until the conquest of China by the Mongols under Kublai Khan, and the end of the Song dynasty, ...
*
Family tree of Chinese monarchs (Warring States period) This is a family tree of Chinese kings during the Warring States period, from 475 BCE to 251 BCE. Family tree of Chinese monarchs (ancient) → Family tree of Chinese monarchs (Warring States period) → Family tree of Chinese monarchs (early) → ...
* ''
Fanzhen ''Fanzhen'' (), also called ''fangzhen'' (), was a governmental system involving administration through regional governors (''jiedushi The ''jiedushi'' (), or jiedu, was a title for regional military governors in which was established in ...
'' * ''
Fengjian ''Fēngjiàn'' ( zh, c=封建, l=enfeoffment and establishment) was a political ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is ...
'' * Golden ages of China *
Historical capitals of China This is a list of historical capitals of China. Four Great Ancient Capitals There are traditionally four major historical capitals of China referred to as the "Four Great Ancient Capitals of China" (). The four are Beijing Beijing ( ), ...
* ''
Jiedushi The ''jiedushi'' (), or jiedu, was a title for regional military governors in China which was established in the Tang dynasty, Tang dynasty and abolished in the Yuan dynasty, Yuan dynasty. The post of ''jiedushi'' has been translated as "milit ...
'' *
Jimi system The Jimi system () or Jimifuzhou () was an autonomous administrative and political organization system used in China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1. ...
*
List of Chinese monarchs This list of Chinese sovereign, Chinese monarchs includes rulers of China with various titles prior to the establishment of the Republic of China (1912-1949), Republic in 1912. From the Zhou dynasty until the Qin dynasty, rulers usually held the ti ...
* List of Confucian states and dynasties * List of recipients of tribute from China * List of tributary states of China *
Mandate of Heaven The Mandate of Heaven () is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsThree Sovereigns and Five Emperors The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors were two groups of mythological Myth is a consisting of s that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or s. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as , s, ...
* ''Tianxia'' * Timeline of Chinese history * Tributary system of China * ''Tusi'' * ''
Twenty-Four Histories The ''Twenty-Four Histories'' (), also known as the ''Orthodox Histories'' (), are the Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is t ...
'' * Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project * ''Zhonghua minzu''


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* China Handbook Editorial Committee, ''China Handbook Series: History'' (trans., Dun J. Li), Beijing, 1982, pp. 188–189; and Shao Chang Lee, "China Cultural Development" (wall chart), East Lansing, 1984. * Specifically Section A.2 "Dynasties", in this and earlier editions, which includes subsections on "Naming the Dynasties", "Sets of Dynasties", "The Dynastic Cycle", "Legitimate Succession", "Grade School History" (the effect on common understanding of China's history).


External links

* Columbia University
''The Dynasties Song''
* Tan Qixiang
''The Historical Atlas of China''
{{authority control Dynasties in Chinese history, History of Imperial China, History of China Lists of dynasties, Chinese Royalty-related lists