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Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From the inauguration of dynastic rule by Yu the Great in circa 2070 BC to the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor on 12 February 1912 in the wake of the Xinhai Revolution, China was ruled by a series of successive dynasties.[a][b] Dynasties of China were not limited to those established by ethnic Han—the dominant Chinese ethnic group—and its predecessor, the Huaxia tribal confederation, but also included those founded by non-Han peoples.[6]

Dividing Chinese history into periods ruled by dynasties is a common method of periodization utilized by scholars.[7] 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.[8] For example, a porcelain made during the Ming dynasty may be referred to as a "Ming porcelain".[9] The word "dynasty" is usually omitted when making such adjectival references.

Ruling for a total length of 789 years, the longest-reigning orthodox dynasty of China was the Zhou dynasty, albeit it is divided into the Western Zhou and the Eastern Zhou in Chinese historiography, and its power was drastically reduced during the latter part of its rule.[10] The largest orthodox Chinese dynasty in terms of territorial size was either the Yuan dynasty or the Qing dynasty, depending on the historical source.[11][12][13][14][15][c]

Chinese dynasties often referred to themselves as "Tiāncháo" (天朝; "Celestial Dynasty" or "Heavenly Dynasty").[19][20] As a form of respect and subordination, Chinese tributary states referred to Chinese dynasties as "Tiāncháo Shàngguó" (天朝上國; "Celestial Dynasty of the Lofty State") or "Tiāncháo Dàguó" (天朝大國; "Celestial Dynasty of the Great State").[21]

Terminology

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

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

  • cháo (): a dynasty
  • cháodài (朝代): an era corresponding to the rule of a dynasty
  • wángcháo (王朝): while technically referring to royal dynasties, this term is often inaccurately applied to all dynasties, including those whose rulers held non-royal titles such as emperor[22]
  • huángcháo (皇朝): generally used for imperial dynasties[22]

History

Start of dynastic rule

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

As the founder of China's first dynasty, the Xia dynasty, Yu the Great is conventionally regarded as the inaugurator of dynastic rule in China.[23][a] 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.[24][d] By tradition, the Chinese throne was inherited exclusively through the male line, but there were numerous cases whereby the consort kins came to possess de facto power at the expense of the monarchs.[28][e] This concept, known as jiā tiānxià (家天下; "All under Heaven belongs to the ruling family"), was in contrast to the pre-Xia notion of gōng tiānxià (公天下; "All under Heaven belongs to the public") whereby leadership succession was non-hereditary.[24][30]

Dynastic transition

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

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.[31] This method of explanation has come to be known as the dynastic cycle.[31][32][33]

Dynastic transitions (改朝換代; gǎi cháo huàn dài) in the history of China occurred primarily through two ways: military conquest and usurpation.[34] The supersession of the Liao dynasty by the Jin dynasty was achieved following a series of successful military campaigns, as was the later unification of China under the Yuan dynasty; on the other hand, the transition from the Eastern Han to the Cao Wei, as well as from the Southern Qi to the Liang dynasty, were cases of usurpation. Oftentimes, usurpers would seek to portray their predecessors as having relinquished the throne willingly—a process called shànràng (禪讓; "voluntary abdication")—as a means to legitimize their rule.[35]

One might incorrectly infer from viewing historical timelines that transitions between dynasties occurred abruptly and roughly. Rather, new dynasties were often established before the complete overthrow of an existing regime.[36] For example, AD 1644 is frequently cited as the year in which the Qing dynasty succeeded the Ming dynasty in possessing the Mandate of Heaven. However, the Qing dynasty was officially proclaimed in AD 1636 by the Emperor Taizong of Qing through renaming the Later Jin established by his father the Emperor Taizu of Qing in AD 1616, while the Ming imperial family would rule the Southern Ming until AD 1662.[37][38] The Ming loyalist Kingdom of Tungning based in Taiwan continued to oppose the Qing until AD 1683.[39] Meanwhile, other factions also fought for control over China during the Ming–Qing transition, most notably the Shun and the Xi dynasties proclaimed by Li Zicheng and Zhang Xianzhong respectively.[40][41][42] This change of ruling houses was a convoluted and prolonged affair, and the Qing took almost two decades to extend their rule over the entirety of China proper.

Similarly, during the earlier Sui–Tang transition, numerous regimes established by rebel forces vied for control and legitimacy as the power of the ruling Sui dynasty weakened. Autonomous regimes that existed during this period of upheaval included, but not limited to, Wei (; by Li Mi), Qin (; by Xue Ju), Qi (; by Gao Tancheng), Xu (; by Yuwen Huaji), Liang (; by Shen Faxing), Liang (; by Liang Shidu), Xia (; by Dou Jiande), Zheng (; by Wang Shichong), Chu (; by Zhu Can), Chu (; by Lin Shihong), Yan (; by Gao Kaidao), and Song (; by Fu Gongshi). The Tang dynasty that superseded the Sui launched a decade-long military campaign to reunify China proper.[43]

Frequently, remnants and desc

Dividing Chinese history into periods ruled by dynasties is a common method of periodization utilized by scholars.[7] 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.[8] For example, a porcelain made during the Ming dynasty may be referred to as a "Ming porcelain".[9] The word "dynasty" is usually omitted when making such adjectival references.

Ruling for a total length of 789 years, the longest-reigning orthodox dynasty of China was the Zhou dynasty, albeit it is divided into the Western Zhou and the Eastern Zhou in Chinese historiography, and its power was drastically reduced during the latter part of its rule.[10] The largest orthodox Chinese dynasty in terms of territorial size was either the Yuan dynasty or the Qing dynasty, depending on the historical source.[11][12][13][14][15][c]

Chinese dynasties often referred to themselves as "Tiāncháo" (天朝; "Celestial Dynasty" or "Heavenly Dynasty").[19][20] As a form of respect and subordination, Chinese tributary states referred to Chinese dynasties as "Tiāncháo Shàngguó" (天朝上國; "Celestial Dynasty of the Lofty State") or "Tiāncháo Dàguó" (天朝大國; "Celestial Dynasty of the Great State").[21]

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

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

  • cháo (): a dynasty
  • cháodài (朝代): an era corresponding to the rule of a dynasty
  • wángcháo (王朝): while technically referring to royal dynasties, this term is often inaccurately applied to all dynasties, including those whose rulers held non-royal titles such as emperor[22]
  • huángcháo (皇朝): generally used for imperial dynasties[22]

History

Start of dynastic rule

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

As the founder of China's first dynasty, the Xia dynasty, Yu the Great is conventionally regarded as the inaugurator of dynastic rule in China.[23][a] 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.[24][d] By tradition, the Chinese throne was inherited exclusively through the male line, but there were numerous cases whereby the consort kins came to possess de facto power at the expense of the monarchs.[28][e] This concept, known as jiā tiānxià (家天

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

As the founder of China's first dynasty, the Xia dynasty, Yu the Great is conventionally regarded as the inaugurator of dynastic rule in China.[23][a] 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.[24][d] By tradition, the Chinese throne was inherited exclusively through the male line, but there were numerous cases whereby the consort kins came to possess de facto power at the expense of the monarchs.[28][e] This concept, known as jiā tiānxià (家天下; "All under Heaven belongs to the ruling family"), was in contrast to the pre-Xia notion of gōng tiānxià (公天下; "All under Heaven belongs to the public") whereby leadership succession was non-hereditary.[24][30]

Dynastic transition

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

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.[31] This method of explanation has come to be known as the dynastic cycle.[31][32][33]

Dynastic transitions (改朝換代; gǎi cháo huàn dài) in the history of China occurred primarily through two ways: military conquest and usurpation.[34] The supersession of the Liao dynasty by the Jin dynasty was achieved following a series of successful military campaigns, as was the later unification of China under the [31] This method of explanation has come to be known as the dynastic cycle.[31][32][33]

Dynastic transitions (改朝換代; gǎi cháo huàn dài) in the history of China occurred primarily through two ways: military conquest and usurpation.[34] The supersession of the Liao dynasty by the Jin dynasty was achieved following a series of successful military campaigns, as was the later unification of China under the Yuan dynasty; on the other hand, the transition from the Eastern Han to the Cao Wei, as well as from the Southern Qi to the Liang dynasty, were cases of usurpation. Oftentimes, usurpers would seek to portray their predecessors as having relinquished the throne willingly—a process called Dynastic transitions (改朝換代; gǎi cháo huàn dài) in the history of China occurred primarily through two ways: military conquest and usurpation.[34] The supersession of the Liao dynasty by the Jin dynasty was achieved following a series of successful military campaigns, as was the later unification of China under the Yuan dynasty; on the other hand, the transition from the Eastern Han to the Cao Wei, as well as from the Southern Qi to the Liang dynasty, were cases of usurpation. Oftentimes, usurpers would seek to portray their predecessors as having relinquished the throne willingly—a process called shànràng (禪讓; "voluntary abdication")—as a means to legitimize their rule.[35]

One might incorrectly infer from viewing historical timelines that transitions between dynasties occurred abruptly and roughly. Rather, new dynasties were often established before the complete overthrow of an existing regime.[36] For example, AD 1644 is frequently cited as the year in which the Qing dynasty succeeded the Ming dynasty in possessing the Mandate of Heaven. However, the Qing dynasty was officially proclaimed in AD 1636 by the Emperor Taizong of Qing through renaming the Later Jin established by his father the Emperor Taizu of Qing in AD 1616, while the Ming imperial family would rule the Southern Ming until AD 1662.[37][38] The Ming loyalist Kingdom of Tungning based in Taiwan continued to oppose the Qing until AD 1683.[39] Meanwhile, other factions also fought for control over China during the Ming–Qing transition, most notably the Shun and the Xi dynasties proclaimed by Li Zicheng and Zhang Xianzhong respectively.[40][41][42] This change of ruling houses was a convoluted and prolonged affair, and the Qing took almost two decades to extend their rule over the entirety of China proper.

Similarly, during the earlier Sui–Tang transition, numerous regimes established by rebel forces vied for control and legitimacy as the power of the ruling Sui dynasty weakened. Autonomous regimes that existed during this period of upheaval included, but not limited to, Wei (; by Li Mi), Qin (; by Xue Ju), Qi (; by Gao Tancheng), Xu (; by Yuwen Huaji), Liang (; by Shen Faxing), Liang (; by Liang Shidu), Xia (; by Dou Jiande), Zheng (; by Wang Shichong), Chu (; by Zhu Can), Chu (; by Lin Shihong), Yan (; by Gao Kaidao), and Song (; by Fu Gongshi). The Tang dynasty that superseded the Sui launched a decade-long military campaign to reunify China proper.[43]

Frequently, remnants and descendants of previous dynasties were either purged or granted noble titles in accordance with the Èr Wáng Sān Kè (二王三恪; "two crownings, three respects") system. The latter served as a means for the reigning dynasty to claim legitimate succession from earlier dynasties.[44] For example, the Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei was accorded the title "Prince of Zhongshan" by the Emperor Wenxuan of Northern Qi following the latter's deposition of the former.[45] Similarly, Chai Yong, a nephew of the Emperor Shizong of Later Zhou, was conferred the title "Duke of Chongyi" by the Emperor Renzong of Song; other descendants of the Later Zhou ruling family came to inherit the noble title thereafter.[46]

According to Chinese historiographical tradition, each new dynasty would compose the history of the preceding dynasty, culminating in the Twenty-Four Histories.[47] This tradition was maintained even after the Xinhai Revolution overthrew the Qing dynasty in favor of the Republic of China. However, the attempt by the Republicans to draft the history of the Qing was disrupted by the Chinese Civil War, which resulted in the political division of China into the People's Republic of China on mainland China and the Republic of China on Taiwan.[48]

Dynastic rule in China collapsed in AD 1912 when the Republic of China superseded the Qing dynasty following the success of the Xinhai Revolution.[49][50] While there were attempts after the Xinhai Revolution to reinstate dynastic rule in China, they were unsuccessful at consolidating their rule and gaining political legitimacy.

During the Xinhai Revolution, there were numerous proposals advocating for the replacement of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty by a new dynasty of Han ethnicity. Kong Lingyi (孔令貽), a 76th-generation descendant of Confucius and the holder of Duke Yansheng, was identified as a potential candidate for Chinese emperorship by Liang Qichao.[51] Meanwhile, gentry in Anhui and Hebei supported a restoration of the Ming dynasty under Zhu Yuxun (朱煜勳), the Marquis of

During the Xinhai Revolution, there were numerous proposals advocating for the replacement of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty by a new dynasty of Han ethnicity. Kong Lingyi (孔令貽), a 76th-generation descendant of Confucius and the holder of Duke Yansheng, was identified as a potential candidate for Chinese emperorship by Liang Qichao.[51] Meanwhile, gentry in Anhui and Hebei supported a restoration of the Ming dynasty under Zhu Yuxun (朱煜勳), the Marquis of Extended Grace.[52] Both suggestions were ultimately rejected.

The Empire of China (AD 1915–1916) proclaimed by Yuan Shikai sparked the National Protection War, resulting in the premature collapse of the regime 101 days later.[53] The Manchu Restoration (AD 1917) was an unsuccessful attempt at reviving the Qing dynasty, lasting merely 11 days.[54] Similarly, the Manchukuo (AD 1932–1945; monarchy since AD 1934), a puppet state of the Empire of Japan during World War II with limited diplomatic recognition, is not regarded as a legitimate regime.[55] Ergo, historians usually consider the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor on 12 February 1912 as the end of the Chinese dynastic system. Dynastic rule in China lasted almost four millennia.[49]

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

Relations between Chinese dynasties during periods of division often revolved around political legitimacy, which was derived from the doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven.[56] Dynasties ruled by ethnic Han would proclaim rival dynasties founded by other ethnicities as illegitimate, usually justified based on the concept of Hua–Yi distinction. On the other hand, many dynasties of non-Han origin saw themselves as the legitimate dynasty of China and often sought to portray themselves as the true inheritor of Chinese culture and history. Traditionally, only regimes deemed as "legitimate" or "orthodox" (正統; zhèngtǒng) are termed cháo (; "dynasty"); "illegitimate" or "unorthodox" regimes are referred to as guó (

Relations between Chinese dynasties during periods of division often revolved around political legitimacy, which was derived from the doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven.[56] Dynasties ruled by ethnic Han would proclaim rival dynasties founded by other ethnicities as illegitimate, usually justified based on the concept of Hua–Yi distinction. On the other hand, many dynasties of non-Han origin saw themselves as the legitimate dynasty of China and often sought to portray themselves as the true inheritor of Chinese culture and history. Traditionally, only regimes deemed as "legitimate" or "orthodox" (正統; zhèngtǒng) are termed cháo (; "dynasty"); "illegitimate" or "unorthodox" regimes are referred to as guó (; usually translated as either "state" or "kingdom"[f]), even if these regimes were dynastic in nature.[57] The issue of political legitimacy pertaining to some of these dynasties remains contentious in modern academia.

Such legitimacy dispute existed during the following periods:

While periods of disunity often resulted in heated debates among officials and historians over which dynasty could and should be considered orthodox, the Northern Song statesman Ouyang Xiu propounded that such orthodoxy existed in a state of limbo during fragmented periods and was restored after political unification was achieved.[80] From this perspective, the Song dynasty possessed legitimacy by virtue of its ability to end the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period despite not having succeeded the orthodoxy from the Later Zhou. Similarly, Ouyang considered the concept of orthodoxy to be in oblivion during the Three Kingdoms, the Sixteen Kingdoms, and the Northern and Southern dynasties periods.[80]

As most Chinese historiographical sources uphold the idea of unilineal dynastic succession, only one dynasty could be considered orthodox at any given time.[66] Most modern sources consider the legitimate line of succession to be as follows:[66]

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

These historical legitimacy disputes are similar to the modern competing claims of legitimacy by the People's Republic of China based in Beijing and the Republic of China based in Taipei. Both regimes formally adhere to the One-China policy and claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the whole of China.[81]

Agnatic lineages

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

There were several groups of Chinese dynasties that were ruled by families with patrilineal relations, yet due to various reasons these regimes are considered to be separate dynasties and given separate 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 and Eastern Zhou
  • Western Han, Eastern Han, Shu Han, and Liu Song
  • Western Jin and Eastern Jin
  • Han Zhao 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 respectively; according to the History of the Northern

      As most Chinese historiographical sources uphold the idea of unilineal dynastic succession, only one dynasty could be considered orthodox at any given time.[66] Most modern sources consider the legitimate line of succession to be as follows:[66]

      These historical legitimacy disputes are similar to the modern competing claims of legitimacy by the People's Republic of China based in Beijing and the Republic of China based in Taipei. Both regimes formally adhere to the One-China policy and claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the whole of China.[81]

      Agnatic lineages

      ᡩᡠᠯᡳᠮᠪᠠᡳ
      ᡤᡠᡵᡠᠨ
      )—in official capacity in numerous international treaties beginning with the Treaty of Nerchinsk dated AD 1689, its dynastic name had remained the "Great Qing".[114][115] "Zhōngguó", which has become nearly synonymous with "China" in modern times, is a concept with geographical, political, and cultural connotations.[116]

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

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

      When more than one dynasty shared the same Chinese character(s) as their formal name, as was common in Chinese history, prefixes are retroactively applied to dynastic names by historians in order to distinguish between these similarly-named regimes.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.[7][36][117] Frequently used prefixes include:

      A dynasty could be referred to by more than one retroactive name in Chinese historiography, albeit some are more widely used than others. For instance, the Western Han is also known as the "Former Han", and the Yang Wu is also called the "Southern Wu".[125][126]

      Scholars usually make a historiographical distinction for dynasties whose rule were interrupted. For example, the Song dynasty is divided into the Northern Song and the Southern Song, with the Jingkang Incident as the dividing line; the original "Song" founded by the Emperor Taizu of Song was therefore differentiated from the "Song" restored under the Emperor Gaozong of Song.[127] In such cases, the regime had collapsed, only to be re-established; a nomenclatural distinction between the original regime and the new regime is thus necessary for historiographical purpose. Major exceptions to this historiographical practice include the Western Qin and the Tang dynasty, which were interrupted by the Later Qin and the Wu Zhou respectively.[128][129]

      In Chinese sources, the term "dynasty" (; cháo) is usually omitted when referencing dynasties that have prefixes in their historiographical names. Such a practice is sometimes adopted in English usage, even though the inclusion of the word "dynasty" is also widely seen in English scholarly writings. For example, the Northern Zhou is also sometimes referred to as the "Northern Zhou dynasty".[130]

      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.[131] <

      Scholars usually make a historiographical distinction for dynasties whose rule were interrupted. For example, the Song dynasty is divided into the Northern Song and the Southern Song, with the Jingkang Incident as the dividing line; the original "Song" founded by the Emperor Taizu of Song was therefore differentiated from the "Song" restored under the Emperor Gaozong of Song.[127] In such cases, the regime had collapsed, only to be re-established; a nomenclatural distinction between the original regime and the new regime is thus necessary for historiographical purpose. Major exceptions to this historiographical practice include the Western Qin and the Tang dynasty, which were interrupted by the Later Qin and the Wu Zhou respectively.[128][129]

      In Chinese sources, the term "dynasty" (; cháo) is usually omitted when referencing dynasties that have prefixes in their historiographical names. Such a practice is sometimes adopted in English usage, even though the inclusion of the word "dynasty" is also widely seen in English scholarly writings. For example, the Northern Zhou is also sometimes referred to as the "Northern Zhou dynasty".[130]

      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.[131]

      While the earliest Chinese dynasties were established along the Yellow River and the Yangtze River in China proper, numerous Chinese dynasties later expanded beyond the region to encompass other territorial domains.[132][133][134][135][136][137][138][139][140][141][142][143][144]

      At various points in time, Chinese dynasties exercised control over China proper (including Hainan, Macau, and Hong Kong),[132][133][134] Taiwan,[135] Manchuria (both Inner Manchuria and Outer Manchuria),[136][137] Sakhalin,Hainan, Macau, and Hong Kong),[132][133][134] Taiwan,[135] Manchuria (both Inner Manchuria and Outer Manchuria),[136][137] Sakhalin,[138][139] Mongolia (both Inner Mongolia and Outer Mongolia),[137][140] Vietnam,[141][145] Tibet,[136][137] Xinjiang,[142] as well as parts of Central Asia,[137][138] the Korean Peninsula,[143] Afghanistan,[144][146] and Siberia.[137]

      Territorially, the largest orthodox Chinese dynasty was either the Yuan dynasty or the Qing dynasty, depending on the historical source.[11][12][13][14][15][c] This discrepancy can be mainly attributed to the ambiguous northern border of the Yuan realm: whereas some sources describe the Yuan border as located to the immediate north of the northern shore of Lake Baikal, others posit that the Yuan dynasty reached as far north as the Arctic coast.[147][148][149] 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.[150] The Chinese tributary system first emerged during the Western Han and lasted until the 19th century AD when the Sinocentric order broke down.[151][152]

      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.[15][153][154][155][156]

      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.


Timeline of major regimes

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

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b While the Xia dynasty is typically considered to be the first Chinese dynasty, numerous historical sources like the Book of Documents mentioned two other dynasties that preceded the Xia: the "Tang" () and the "Yu" () dynasties.[1][2][3][4] The former is sometimes called the "Ancient Tang" (古唐) to distinguish it from other dynasties named "Tang".[5] If the historicity of these earlier dynasties were attested, Yu the Great would not have been the initiator of dynastic rule in China.
  2. ^ All attempts at restoring monarchical and dynastic rule in China after the success of the Xinhai Revolution ended in failure. Hence, the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor in AD 1912 is typically regarded as the formal end of the Chinese monarchy.
  3. ^ a b As per modern historiographical norm, the "Yuan dynasty" in this article refers exclusively to the realm based in China. However, the Chinese-style dynastic name "Great Yuan" (大元) as proclaimed by the Emperor Shizu of Yuan was meant to be applied to the entire Mongol Empire.[16][17][18] In spite of this, "Yuan dynasty" is rarely used in the broad sense of the definition by modern scholars due to the de facto disintegrated nature of the Mongol Empire.
  4. ^ In AD 1906, the Qing dynasty initiated a series of reforms under the auspices of the Empress Xiaoqinxian to transition to a constitutional monarchy. On 27 August 1908, the Principles of the Constitution (欽定憲法大綱) was promulgated and served as an outline for a full constitution originally intended to take effect 10 years later.[25] On 3 November 1911, as a response to the ongoing Xinhai Revolution, the Qing dynasty issued the constitutional Nineteen Creeds (憲法重大信條十九條) which limited the power of the Qing emperor, marking the official transition to a constitutional monarchy.[26][27] The Qing dynasty, however, was overthrown on 12 February 1912.
  5. ^ A powerful consort kin, usually a male, could force the reigning monarch to abdicate in his favor, thereby prompting a change in dynasty. For example, Wang Mang of the Xin dynasty was a nephew of the Empress Xiaoyuan who in turn was the spouse of the Western Han ruler, the Emperor Yuan of Han.[29]
  6. ^ The term "kingdom" is potentially misleading as not all rulers held the title of king. For example, all sovereigns of the Cao Wei held the title huángdì (皇帝; "emperor") during their reign despite the realm being listed as one of the "Three Kingdoms". Similarly, monarchs of the Western Qin, one of the "Sixteen Kingdoms", bore the title wáng (; usually translated as "prince" in English writings).
  7. ^ "Anterior" is employed in some sources in place of "Former".[118][119]
  8. ^ "Latter" or "Posterior" is employed in some sources in place of "Later".[120][121][122][123][124]
  9. ^ The English and Chinese names stated are historiographical nomenclature. These should not be confused with the guóhào officially proclaimed by each dynasty. A dynasty may be known by more than one historiographical name.
  10. ^ a b The English names shown are based on the Hanyu Pinyin renditions, the most common form of Mandarin romanization currently in adoption. Some scholarly works utilize the Wade–Giles system, which may differ drastically in the spelling of certain words. For instance, the Qing dynasty is rendered as "Ch῾ing dynasty" in Wade–Giles.[157]
  11. ^ a b The Chinese characters shown are in Traditional Chinese. Some characters may have simplified versions that are currently used in mainland China. For instance, the characters for the Eastern Han are written as "東漢" in Traditional Chinese and "东汉" in Simplified Chinese.
  12. ^ While Chinese historiography tends to treat dynasties as being of specific ethnic stocks, there were some monarchs who had mixed heritage.[158] For instance, the Jiaqing Emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty was of mixed Manchu and Han descent, having derived his Han ancestry from his mother, the Empress Xiaoyichun.[159]
  13. ^ The status of a dynasty was dependent upon the chief title bore by its monarch at any given time. For instance, since all monarchs of the Chen dynasty held the title of emperor during their reign, the Chen dynasty was of imperial status.
  14. ^ The monarchs listed were the de facto founders of dynasties. However, it was common for Chinese monarchs to posthumously honor earlier members of the family as monarchs. For instance, while the Later Jin was officially established by the Emperor Gaozu of Later Jin, four earlier members of the ruling house were posthumously accorded imperial titles, the most senior of which was Shi Jing who was conferred the temple name "Jingzu" (靖祖) and the posthumous name "Emperor Xiao'an" (孝安皇帝).
  15. ^ In addition to the ancestral name Si (), the ruling house of the Xia dynasty also bore the lineage name Xiahou (夏后).[160]
  16. ^ a b c The dates given for the Xia dynasty, the Shang dynasty, and the Western Zhou prior to the start of the Gonghe Regency in 841 BC are derived from the Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project.
  17. ^ a b The rule of the Xia dynasty was traditionally dated 2205–1766 BC as per the calculations made by the historian Liu Xin.[162][163] Accordingly, the Xia dynasty lasted 399 years excluding the 40-year interregnum between the reign of Xiang and Shao Kang.
  18. ^ a b The Xia dynasty was interrupted by the rule of Yi and Han Zhuo for approximately 40 years.[164] Sources disagree on the dates of the start and end of the interregnum. Chinese historiography does not make a distinction between the realm that existed prior to the interregnum and the restored realm. Xiang was the last ruler before the interregnum; Shao Kang was the first ruler after the interregnum.[164]
  19. ^ a b The rule of the Shang dynasty was traditionally dated 1766–1122 BC as per the calculations made by the historian Liu Xin.[162][166] Accordingly, the Shang dynasty lasted 644 years.
  20. ^ a b The Western Zhou (西周) and the Eastern Zhou (東周) are collectively known as the Zhou dynasty (周朝; Zhōu Cháo; Chou1 Ch῾ao2; ㄓㄡ ㄔㄠˊ).[10][82]
  21. ^ a b The rule of the Western Zhou was traditionally dated 1122–771 BC as per the calculations made by the historian Liu Xin.[162][166] Accordingly, the Western Zhou lasted 351 years.
  22. ^ a b c The terms "Chinese Empire" and "Empire of China" refer to the Chinese state under the rule of various imperial dynasties, particularly those that had unified China proper.[87][88]
  23. ^ In addition to the ancestral name Ying (), the ruling house of the Qin dynasty also bore the lineage name Zhao ().[168]
  24. ^ a b The Western Han (西漢) and the Eastern Han (東漢) are collectively known as the Han dynasty (漢朝; Hàn Cháo; Han4 Ch῾ao2; ㄏㄢˋ ㄔㄠˊ).[83]
  25. ^ a b Some historians consider 206 BC, the year in which the Emperor Gao of Han was proclaimed "King of Han", to be the start of the Western Han.[171] Accordingly, the Western Han lasted 215 years.
  26. ^ Liu Ying was not officially enthroned and maintained the title huáng tàizǐ (皇太子; "crown prince") during the regency of Wang Mang.[172] The last Western Han monarch who was officially enthroned was the Emperor Ping of Han.
  27. ^ a b The Western Jin (西晉) and the Eastern Jin (東晉) are collectively known as the Jin dynasty (晉朝; Jìn Cháo; Chin4 Ch῾ao2; ㄐㄧㄣˋ ㄔㄠˊ).[84]
  28. ^ a b c The names of the Jin dynasty (晉朝) of the Sima clan and the Jin dynasty (金朝) of the Wanyan clan are rendered similarly using the Hanyu Pinyin system, even though they do not share the same Chinese character for "Jin".
  29. ^ a b The Sixteen Kingdoms are also referred to as the "Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarians" (五胡十六國; Wǔ Hú Shíliù Guó), although not all dynasties counted among the 16 were ruled by the "Five Barbarians".[181]
  30. ^ The ruling house of the Han Zhao initially bore the surname Luandi (攣鞮).[183][184] Liu () was subsequently adopted as the surname prior to the establishment of the Han Zhao.
  31. ^ a b c Some historians consider AD 303, the year in which the Emperor Jing of Cheng Han declared the era name "Jianchu" (建初), to be the start of the Cheng Han.[187] Accordingly, the Cheng Han was founded by the Emperor Jing of Cheng Han and lasted 44 years.
  32. ^ The ruling house of the Former Qin initially bore the surname Pu ().[191] The Emperor Huiwu of Former Qin subsequently adopted Fu () as the surname in AD 349 prior to the establishment of the Former Qin.[191]
  33. ^ a b c Some historians consider AD 350, the year in which the Emperor Huiwu of Former Qin was proclaimed "Prince of Three Qins", to be the start of the Former Qin.[192] Accordingly, the Former Qin was founded by the Emperor Huiwu of Former Qin and lasted 44 years.
  34. ^ As Lan Han, surnamed Lan (), was not a member of the Murong (慕容) clan by birth, his enthronement was not a typical dynastic succession.[193]
  35. ^ a b The Emperor Huiyi of Yan was of Goguryeo descent. Originally surnamed Gao (), he was an adopted member of the Murong (慕容) clan.[194] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  36. ^ a b Depending on the status of the Emperor Huiyi of Yan, the Later Yan ended in either AD 407 or AD 409 and lasted either 23 years or 25 years.
  37. ^ a b The Emperor Huiyi of Yan could either be the last Later Yan monarch or the founder of the Northern Yan depending on the historian's characterization.[194]
  38. ^ The Western Qin was interrupted by the Later Qin between AD 400 and AD 409. Chinese historiography does not make a distinction between the realm that existed up to AD 400 and the realm restored in AD 409. The Prince Wuyuan of Western Qin was both the last ruler before the interregnum and the first ruler after the interregnum.
  39. ^ a b The names of the Later Liang (後涼) of the Lü clan and the Later Liang (後梁) of the Zhu clan are rendered similarly using the Hanyu Pinyin system, even though they do not share the same Chinese character for "Liang".
  40. ^ a b Duan Ye, surnamed Duan (), was of Han descent. The enthronement of the Prince Wuxuan of Northern Liang was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.[200]
  41. ^ The ruling house of the Hu Xia initially bore the surname Luandi (攣鞮).[204] Liu () was adopted as the surname prior to the establishment of the Hu Xia.[205] The Emperor Wulie of Hu Xia subsequently adopted Helian (赫連) as the surname in AD 413 after the establishment of the Hu Xia.[205]
  42. ^ a b The Emperor Huiyi of Yan was of Goguryeo descent. Originally surnamed Gao (), he was an adopted member of the Murong (慕容) clan.[194] The enthronement of the Emperor Wencheng of Northern Yan was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  43. ^ a b Depending on the status of the Emperor Huiyi of Yan, the Northern Yan was established in either AD 407 or AD 409 and lasted either 29 years or 27 years.
  44. ^ The ruling house of the Northern Wei initially bore the surname Tuoba (拓跋).[209] The Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei subsequently adopted Yuan () as the surname in AD 493 after the establishment of the Northern Wei.[209]
  45. ^ The ruling house of the Western Wei initially bore the surname Tuoba (拓跋).[209] The Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei subsequently adopted Yuan () as the surname in AD 493 prior to the establishment of the Western Wei, only for the Emperor Gong of Western Wei to restore the surname Tuoba in AD 554 after the establishment of the Western Wei.[209][212]
  46. ^ The ruling house of the Sui dynasty initially bore the surname Yang (). The Western Wei later bestowed the surname Puliuru (普六茹) upon the family.[218] The Emperor Wen of Sui subsequently restored Yang as the surname in AD 580 prior to the establishment of the Sui dynasty.
  47. ^ The ruling house of the Tang dynasty initially bore the surname Li (). The Western Wei later bestowed the surname Daye (大野) upon the family.[220] Li was subsequently restored as the surname in AD 580 prior to the establishment of the Tang dynasty.
  48. ^ The Tang dynasty was interrupted by the Wu Zhou between AD 690 and AD 705. Chinese historiography does not make a distinction between the realm that existed up to AD 690 and the realm restored in AD 705. The Emperor Ruizong of Tang was the last ruler before the interregnum; the Emperor Zhongzong of Tang was the first ruler after the interregnum.
  49. ^ The ruling house of the Later Tang initially bore the surname Zhuye (朱邪).[225] The Emperor Xianzu of Later Tang subsequently adopted Li () as the surname in AD 869 prior to the establishment of the Later Tang.[225]
  50. ^ The Emperor Mingzong of Later Tang, originally without surname, was an adopted member of the Li () clan.[226] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  51. ^ a b Li Congke was of Han descent. Originally surnamed Wang (), he was an adopted member of the Li () clan.[227] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  52. ^ a b The names of the Later Jin (後晉) of the Shi clan and the Later Jin (後金) of the Aisin Gioro clan are rendered similarly using the Hanyu Pinyin system, even though they do not share the same Chinese character for "Jin".
  53. ^ The Emperor Shizong of Later Zhou, originally surnamed Chai (), was an adopted member of the Guo () clan.[230] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  54. ^ a b c Some historians consider AD 902, the year in which the Emperor Taizu of Yang Wu was proclaimed "Prince of Wu", to be the start of the Yang Wu.[234] Accordingly, the Yang Wu was founded by the Emperor Taizu of Yang Wu and lasted 35 years.
  55. ^ As Zhu Wenjin, surnamed Zhu (), was not a member of the Wang () clan by birth, his enthronement was not a typical dynastic succession.[236]
  56. ^ The ruling house of the Jingnan initially bore the surname Gao (). The Prince Wuxin of Chu subsequently adopted Zhu () as the surname, only to restore the surname Gao prior to the establishment of the Jingnan.[237]
  57. ^ The ruling house of the Southern Tang initially bore the surname Li (). The Emperor Liezu of Southern Tang subsequently adopted Xu () as the surname, only to restore the surname Li in AD 939 after the establishment of the Southern Tang.[238]
  58. ^ a b The Emperor Yingwu of Northern Han was of Han descent. Originally surnamed He (), he was an adopted member of the Liu () clan.[240] His enthronement was therefore not a typical dynastic succession.
  59. ^ a b Some historians consider AD 907, the year in which the Emperor Taizu of Liao was proclaimed "Khagan of the Khitans", to be the start of the Liao dynasty.[243] Accordingly, the Liao dynasty lasted 218 years.
  60. ^ a b Kuchlug, originally without surname, was of Naiman descent. As he was not a member of the Yelü (耶律) clan by birth, his enthronement was not a typical dynastic succession.[244][245]
  61. ^ a b The Northern Song (北宋) and the Southern Song (南宋) are collectively known as the Song dynasty (宋朝; Sòng Cháo; Sung4 Ch῾ao2; ㄙㄨㄥˋ ㄔㄠˊ).[85]
  62. ^ The ruling house of the Western Xia initially bore the surname Tuoba (拓跋). The Tang dynasty and the Song dynasty later bestowed the surnames Li () and Zhao () upon the family respectively. The Emperor Jingzong of Western Xia subsequently adopted Weiming (嵬名) as the surname in AD 1032 prior to the establishment of the Western Xia.[249]
  63. ^ a b Some historians consider AD 1260, the year in which the Emperor Shizu of Yuan was proclaimed "Khagan of the Great Mongol State" and declared the era name "Zhongtong" (中統), to be the start of the Yuan dynasty.[253] Accordingly, the Yuan dynasty lasted 108 years.
  64. ^ a b Choros Esen, surnamed Choros (綽羅斯), was of Oirat descent. As he was not a member of the Borjigin (孛兒只斤) clan by birth, his enthronement was not a typical dynastic succession.[254][255]
  65. ^ a b c Traditional Chinese historiography considers the Northern Yuan to have ended in either AD 1388 or AD 1402 when the dynastic name "Great Yuan" was abolished.[257][258] Accordingly, the Northern Yuan lasted either 20 years or 34 years, and its last ruler was either the Tianyuan Emperor or the Örüg Temür Khan. However, some historians regard the Mongol regime that existed from AD 1388 or AD 1402 up to AD 1635—referred to in the History of Ming as "Dada" (韃靼)—as a direct continuation of the Northern Yuan.[259]
  66. ^ a b c Some historians consider AD 1664, the year in which the reign of the Dingwu Emperor came to an end, to be the end of the Southern Ming.[262] Accordingly, the Southern Ming lasted 20 years and its last ruler was the Dingwu Emperor. However, the existence and identity of the Dingwu Emperor, supposedly reigned from AD 1646 to AD 1664, are disputed.
  67. ^ The Jurchen ethnic group was renamed "Manchu" in AD 1635 by the Emperor Taizong of Qing.[263][264]
  68. ^ The Articles of Favorable Treatment of the Great Qing Emperor After His Abdication (關於大清皇帝辭位之後優待之條件) allowed the Xuantong Emperor to retain his imperial title and enjoy other privileges following his abdication, resulting in the existence of a titular court in the Forbidden City known as the "Remnant Court of the Abdicated Qing Imperial Family" (遜清皇室小朝廷) between AD 1912 and AD 1924.[267] Feng Yuxiang revoked the privileges and abolished the titular court in AD 1924.[267]
  69. ^ The Qing dynasty was briefly restored between 1 July 1917 and 12 July 1917 when Zhang Xun reinstalled the Xuantong Emperor to the Chinese throne.[54] Due to the abortive nature of the event, it is usually excluded from Qing history.
  70. ^ As proposed by scholars such as Tan Qixiang, the geographical extent covered in the study of Chinese historical geography largely corresponds with the territories once ruled by the Qing dynasty during its territorial peak between the AD 1750s and the AD 1840s, prior to the outbreak of the First Opium War.[268] At its height, the Qing dynasty exercised jurisdiction over an area larger than 13 million km2, encompassing:[269][270][271] Modern Chinese historiography considers all regimes, regardless of the ethnicity of the ruling class, that were established within or overlapped with the above geographical boundaries to be part of Chinese history.[278][279] Similarly, all ethnic groups that were active within the above geographical boundaries are considered ethnicities of China.[278][279] Regions outside of the above geographical boundaries but were under Chinese rule during various historical periods are included in the histories of the relevant Chinese dynasties.
  71. ^ The dynastic regimes included in this timeline are the same as the list above.

References

Citations

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    ChinaTaiwanSouthern MingQing dynastyLater Jin (1616–1636)Ming dynastyNorthern Yuan dynastyYuan dynastySong dynasty#Southern Song, 1127–1279Qara KhitaiJin dynasty (1115–1234)Western XiaNorthern Song DynastyNorthern HanLater ZhouLater Han (Five Dynasties)Southern TangLater Jin (Five Dynasties)Later ShuJingnanLater TangSouthern HanLiao dynastyMin KingdomWuyueMa ChuYang WuFormer ShuLater Liang (Five Dynasties)Tang dynastyZhou dynasty (690–705)Tang dynastySui dynastyChen dynastyNorthern Zhou